EDITORIAL: Regents’ support of chancellor shows election can’t come soon enough

Once custodians finished mopping up all the drool from last week’s Board of Regents meeting, which featured enough slobbering to shame North Korea’s Workers’ Party, the fiesta staged by the alleged overseers of the state’s higher education system made perfect sense.

Regents chose to celebrate, not condemn, Chancellor Dan Klaich’s suppression of an outside review that criticized college governance, because a majority of regents had no interest in hearing that perspective. Why else would they have paid another consultant some $57,500 to “investigate” and say Mr. Klaich did nothing wrong?

The Review-Journal provided regents with all the information they needed to determine that Mr. Klaich had engaged in unethical behavior at the least, and the subversion of the board and an interim legislative committee at the most. A newspaper review of Mr. Klaich’s emails ordered a $10,000 report that was critical of community college oversight rewritten, then hidden from regents and a legislative panel evaluating the governance of two-year institutions.

Putting community colleges under local control would have shrunk the empire ruled by Mr. Klaich and regents. Neither he nor the board wanted their power reduced, even if doing so makes Nevada’s community colleges better. Regents farmed out an inquiry that wasn’t needed so that they wouldn’t have to ask Mr. Klaich any tough questions.

The surest sign Mr. Klaich’s offense was serious? Thursday’s shock-and-awe presentation by Nevada’s political establishment, which featured testimony and letters lauding the greatness of Mr. Klaich while completely ignoring the material facts that compelled them to provide letters and testimony in the first place.

But the letters from Gov. Brian Sandoval, Sen. Harry Reid and others had nothing on the embarrassing remarks from regents, who made it clear they answer to Mr. Klaich, instead of the other way around.

Regent Kevin Page urged system leaders to have more conversations and send fewer emails, presumably so there is no record of their future wastefulness and deceit. Regent James Dean Leavitt said, “The chancellor is guilty of caring too much.” Caring too much about his authority, yes.

Someone should have handed out air-sickness bags — and after-dinner mints. All that was missing was regents forming a kickline while singing “Everything is Awesome!” and blowing kisses to the donor class.

Voters can’t fire Mr. Klaich. But they can fire regents. And the next general election is less than 14 months away.

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