After a 3-hour uneventful meeting, where the trustees were giving each other compliments of how well they were working together in the spirit of accreditation, the legal counsel conversation at the end got so heated that even the most casual observer was looking for popcorn. At long last, with grumblings from trustees and outbursts by some audience members, the board voted to approve Boyles Law Firm as North Idaho College's general counsel for the foreseeable future.
Timeline of Events:
December 23, 2022 - Original Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for full-time legal counsel (as opposed to the temporary counsel by Art Macomber).
February 13, 2023 - The original RFQ did not return enough interest so it was put out to the public again.
May 25, 2023 - The board voted to look at Holland & Hart's engagement letter while opening the RFQ for a 3rd time.
June 7, 2023 - At the June 7 meeting, Trustee Corkill made a motion for the board to retain the law firm Stevens Clay. The motion failed but it turned into a further discussion about the qualifications of the two "finalists:" Stevens Clay and Boyles Law. The board asked President Swayne to request additional information from both Boyles Law and Stevens Clay including 4 specific questions (and 2 more requested by Zimmerman the next day) surrounding qualifications.
August 23, 2023 - The board saved the legal counsel discussion for last knowing it would be the most contentious part of the meeting.
Art Macomber started by asking if he could make a quick statement. He wanted to remind the public that due to, in his legal opinion, the college's many violations under Title 6 of Idaho Code he was obligated to withdraw as legal counsel. He did say that he would help facilitate the transition to a new general counsel, and he also said that he in the process of finishing up three projects and would stay on in a narrow capacity to finish them out:
Finish giving legal counsel for the slew of policies that the board has been updating,
Continue to work through the Summer 2023 board evaluation of President Swayne, and
Continue to work with the board's investigation into a pending personnel matter.
Items 2 and 3 should be completed in the coming weeks and the policies should be completed in the next few months, depending on how quick the board gets to them.
It should be noted that Macomber is raising his hourly price from $325 to $400 moving forward. Macomber implies that due to the EXTREME attacks and threats made by...those who have a pattern towards a particular political leaning, and the narratives coming out of the CDA Trash Press, this raise is pretty much like hazard pay.
The board voted to continue using the counsel of Art Macomber in this very limited capacity, reporting directly to the board, and not beholden to whomever is chosen as new general counsel.
The discussion turned to the two general counsel candidates. Trustee Banducci starts by saying that it is inappropriate to discredit one law firm over another so he is just going to make the motion to hire Boyles Law. Waggoner seconds for discussion.
President Swayne mentions that he has a presentation comparing the two firms but he was shut down from presenting so the discussion moves to Stevens Clay. Trustee Corkill prefers Stevens Clay due to their educational experience. Banducci points out that only 2 attorneys at the Spokane-based firm have actually passed the Idaho Bar and Colton Boyles has more Idaho experience. Banducci also mentions that Stevens Clay has an entire group dedicated to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and asks how long before they try to inject that into the college?
The entire conversation turned into a back and forth argument and the audience finds out that one candidate did not give responses to the questions that were asked after the June 7th meeting. Swayne says that "in a normal RFQ a candidate that does not respond to requests would be immediately disqualified."
As Trustee McKenzie calls the question, Trustee Zimmerman asks if Art can walk through the Boyles Law engagement letter for potential legal liabilities; there was one line in the engagement letter that could get the board into trouble if it wasn't changed. Art will go through the engagement letter and report back to the board by Friday.
With that, the board approves Boyles Law as North Idaho College general counsel in a 3-2 vote.
The meeting ended immediately after the vote; there were some unhappy crowd participants that lashed out towards the board for the legal decision before storming out of the room, screaming through the lobby and down the stairs.
The next meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2023.
This article will be updated with video once it is available.