First, I am happy to report that this past Saturday, over 225 people gathered at Red Lion Hotel Templin’s on the River in Post Falls to attend our Hijacking Democracy Symposium.

To kick things off, US Representative Pramila Jayapal (D, WA) contributed a moving three-minute video to welcome attendees. Then, Boise-based Constitutional scholar Dr. David Adler moderated two panel discussions.

The first panel focused on National Threats to Democracy. The panelists for this discussion were Idaho State Rep. Ilana Rubel, Luke Mayville of Reclaim Idaho, and Dr. Sarah Lynch from the North Idaho Pride Alliance.

The second panel centered on a local threat: the ongoing partisan fight over the future of North Idaho College. This panel included Dr. Teresa Borrenpohl, Christie Wood representing the Kootenai County Taskforce on Human Relations, Sarah Martin from NIC Workforce Training Center, and CDA City Council member Dan Gookin.

There were several take home lessons from the panel discussions. For example, we learned that there is value in coming together to share views and vent frustrations about these threats to our democracy. We also heard that there is a reason we are NOT getting laws that reflect the will of the people. The reason being that legislation is often crafted to reflect the will of a small well organized and well financed minority.

The symposium also made it clear that the malfeasance by the Board of Trustees is likely to cause NIC to lose its accreditation within the next few months. In this event, we can expect that area high school students will be unable to dual enroll, NIC graduates will be unable to transfer credits to other accredited institutions, and enrollment will fall. Moreover, as the college’s standing declines, the faculty and staff will seek opportunities elsewhere. This outcome will cause the college’s finances to destabilize, and the county’s economy will take a hit. This outcome is frightening, and we must do all we can to prevent it if possible. More on that later.

On the other hand, there is some reason for optimism. For example, even here in conservative controlled Idaho, we learned that there is a majority who support fully funding public schools. In fact, in Kootenai County alone, fifty-one percent of voters showed support for Reclaim Idaho’s efforts to put a public initiative on the ballot to fully fund public schools. So, there is reason to hope.

Ways to Support NIC

First, it is important to acknowledge that the three NIC Trustees who command the majority seem deaf to our concerns. Therefore, all we can do now is petition our elected state leaders to step in.

So, take a moment and write to urge them to do what they can to SAVE NIC. You can find a list of Kootenai County’s state legislators on our Take Action page.  You can also look up your state legislators at Legislature.Idaho.Gov. In addition, send a note to Governor Little at: Gov.Idaho.Gov and Attorney General Raul Labrador at AG.Idoho.Gov to ask for their help. Whoever you contact, please politely request that they investigate the trustees for breaching their fiduciary duty to the college and its students. And let them know that we value our local community college and need them to defend it.

Looking Forward

Following the symposium, one attendee commented that the event was the best we have staged in years. The moderating was smooth, the conversations flowed, and the back and forth between the panelists was enlightened and respectful. The fact is the crowd loved it. When asked if we should repeat events like this, the response was an overwhelming YES. I can assure you that we will take this feedback seriously.

There is however one unfortunate outcome I need to address. It turns out that a meddler surreptitiously recorded a portion of the event which he later edited to create a false narrative about the forum. This intruder later posted the recording on an obscure right-wing website. To make matters worse, the post was accompanied by a push to doxx certain panelists. It is unfortunate but a standard operating procedure of some of our opponents.

I apologize for this unfortunate incident. At future events we will take further steps to assure the security of the people who participate in our events. Going forward, we will review our methods and refine them as best we can to prevent future transgressions.

And finally, I want to acknowledge the many folks who worked long and hard to produce the symposium. They are Shari Williams, Paula Marano, Jan Studer, Christi Milan, Shawn Keenan, and Brian Seguin. A big pat on the back to all.

So, keep up the good fight everyone and keep hope alive.

Have a fantastic week and thanks for being a Democrat.

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