Uh Oh, Idaho MAGA Found Some Woke, It Is In This 6000-Student Tech Training Community College
It's always worrying when I see that Idaho, my home state, has made the New York Times again, and the headline on Monday's story was a doozy: "The MAGA-fication of North Idaho College." It turns out that the community college, which is hardly a hotbed of wokeness, has been subjected to the tender mercies of board candidates backed by the super-rightwing Kootenai County Republican Party, that fun-loving bunch of MAGA loons who endorsed a raving antisemitic creep for a local school board (he lost) and also unsuccessfully tried to take over the local Democratic Party and steal its donations, through ratfucking most foul.
North Idaho GOP's Batsh*t Plan: Take Over Local Democratic Party, Steal Donations, ?????, PROFIT
Local GOP Proudly Endorses Sweaty Anti-Semite For Post Falls, Idaho School Board
Once the Kootenai GOP decided to push candidates for the board of trustees for North Idaho College (NIC) — officially nonpartisan seats, but nothing is nonpartisan here — things went weird quickly, as the Times explains.
For most of the past two years, the college’s governing board has been a volatile experiment in turning grievances into governance. Trustees backed by the county Republican Party hold a majority on the board. They have denounced liberal “indoctrination” by the college faculty and vowed to bring the school administration’s “deep state” to heel and “Make N.I.C. Great Again.”
The problem for the culture warriors who took over the NIC board of trustees seems to be that there simply wasn't a lot of radical Marxism to weed out at the school, which as the Times says is "better known locally for its technical training programs than the politics of its faculty."
But that was no reason not to sow chaos: The conservative majority on the board has chewed through several NIC presidents, resulting in votes of no confidence from the college faculty and the student government and departures of faculty and administrators, and all that instability led to warnings from the regional accrediting agency that the college was in danger of losing its accreditation. The agency put the college on notice in late February that it must "show cause" for keeping its accreditation, and that was quickly followed by a downgrade of NIC's bond rating by Moody's, which cited the warning and the "dysfunction" in the college's governance.
If North Idaho College loses accreditation, that would essentially shut it down after 75 years of operation, since students' credits for any future classes would no longer be transferable. We bet that would really own the libs, should any be found.
In the latest development, a degree of stability has been imposed on the college. Last Friday, a judge ordered the board to reinstate NIC President Nick Swayne, whom the board voted in December to put on administrative leave ... for no reason. Monday night, the board voted, grudgingly, to reinstate Swayne and put Greg South, the interim president with whom it replaced Swayne, on leave.
Swayne had sued the board, arguing that his contract didn't allow the board to put him on leave without cause, and Kootenai County District Judge Cynthia Meyer ordered he get his job back, at least until the lawsuit is resolved. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports that when the board voted unanimously to reinstate Swayne, "about half the crowded meeting room inside the student union erupted into applause."
So how the hell did this mess get started? This being North Idaho, a magnet for far-Right crazies of all sorts, the local population is already full of angry MAGA folks and anti-government loons; Donald Trump won 70 percent of the vote in 2020 and some Republicans think the election had to be rigged because how was it that low?
North Idaho Has A New Wingnut News Source, And It's A Doozy
Idaho Election Officials Not So Sure They Agree 100% With MyPillow Guy's Forensic Work
Idaho Wingnuts Fret Imaginary Hordes Of Antifa Super Soldiers Coming To Get Them
So it's not too surprising that the Kootenai GOP felt it had to get involved for the first time ever in the NIC board elections back in 2020, after the college's diversity council endorsed protests for social justice in the wake of George Floyd's murder, including those organized by Black Lives Matter. For context, also remember that Idaho was one of several places where armed wingnuts freaked the fuck out that summer over bullshit internet rumors of huge gangs of Antifa and BLM supersoldiers heading for every town to cause mayhem.
As the Times notes, a precinct committeewoman wrote an op-ed in the local paper complaining that the diversity council "states, in writing, that it supports Black Lives Matter, the radical, racist and Marxist organization," and claimed that a "seminar sponsored with your taxes validates the white male privilege theory. This translates into NIC supporting Black Lives Matter and guilting white male students."
So clearly, voters needed to take action, and they did, electing the two candidates endorsed by the Kootenai GOP. They joined up to form a rightwing majority with incumbent member Todd Banducci, who "had clashed on occasion with other trustees and the school’s administrators and staff." He seems nice!
In an email to a conservative student, Mr. Banducci wrote that he was “battling the N.I.C. ‘deep state’ on an almost daily basis,” and complained that “the liberal progressives are quite deeply entrenched.” [...]
In a conversation after the election, Mr. Banducci chided [Rick] MacLennan, then the college president, for his wife’s support for Hillary Clinton and told him that he would give him “marching orders,” according to Mr. MacLennan.
Well that's certainly proof of Marxist indoctrination at the college. Friction between MacLennan and the board continued, and a local civil rights group filed a complaint with the regional accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, saying Banducci was interfering with faculty and staff at the college.
Ultimately the the board shitcanned MacLennan — without cause, because it could, and then hired NIC's wrestling coach to be interim president. We should note here that it was not Jim Jordan; that was Ohio. The Times sums up the ensuing clusterfuckery:
A power struggle ensued, with the state education board at one point appointing several interim trustees who hired a new president. [That's Swayne, just to keep things clear-ish — Dok] In the November 2022 election, candidates backed by the G.O.P. committee once again claimed a majority and replaced him, too.
Along the way, there have been other ... moments, let's say. In December far-Right antisemitic podcaster Vincent James Foxx, who lives in the area, bragged online about harassing a student at a NIC board meeting:
“He’s like, ‘Oh wow, you’re like a literal Nazi, aren’t you?’ And I was like, ‘You’re like a literal f—t, aren’t you?” Foxx said, laughing. “He walked away with his head down. He did, like, the virgin walk down the whatever, down the hallway.”
The Times notes that Foxx also showed up at a January board meeting in January to offer the rightwing bloc his "100 percent support," which was nice of him. Another board meeting, in December, "was interrupted twice by fire alarms."
With the reinstatement of Swayne this week, the temperature may be dialed down a bit, maybe, as the college prepares its reply to the "show cause " order and tries to keep its accreditation. But the board is still plenty contentious. At Monday's meeting, chair Greg McKenzie, part of the GOP-endorsed faction, said that the "majority of the board members doesn’t necessarily agree with the court order, but the college will abide by the court’s ruling." The board also voted to keep South, the interim president, on paid leave, presumably to have him handy should Swayne lose his ongoing lawsuit.
Minority board member Tarie Zimmerman questioned the wisdom of keeping South at all.
“I think we should actually terminate his contract,” she said. “We have a president. We will as soon as we follow the court’s order. We don’t need the services of Dr. South any longer.”
McKenzie did not allow discussion about South’s compensation while on leave, calling it a personnel matter.
“You’re welcome to try to overrule the chair,” he told Zimmerman.
Sounds like everything should be smooth sailing, then. No wokeness has yet been discovered at NIC, but clearly fighting over who gets to be in charge is a dandy substitute for a culture war. And if worse comes to worst, and NIC loses accreditation, we bet the State of Florida would be happy to accredit whatever's left.
[NYT / Spokesman-Review / Coeur d'Alene Press / Spokesman-Review / Image: North Idaho College on Flickr]
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 monthly and we'll keep you hep to all the jive.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.