The $74,999 question. Can UNC's bad deal be stopped?
Published February 6, 2020
By WRAL TV
The reporters and editors at the Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill have been doing their job in examining the Silent Sam consent agreement between the University of North Carolina, the UNC Board of Governors and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It’s a good thing. They are digging to answer the basics: Who did what, where, when and why.
The DTH has also been working to uncover the how. Did the procedures the UNC Board use follow the state’s Open Meetings Law?
The DTH investigation, so far, raises disturbing questions about a lack of basic due diligence by the board and the university.
The newspaper, a non-profit student-run publication that’s been around for 127 years, has gone to court to nullify the consent agreements. The two deals with the Sons of Confederate Veterans that pays the group $74,999 to not protest on campus and $2.5 million to shelter and display Silent Sam were reached “in total secrecy in violation of the Open Meetings Law.”
In addition, the lack of transparency leads to wonder why and how could a university pay anyone to give up their 1st Amendment rights? It goes against the most basic precepts for freedom of inquiry that quality universities stand for.
Will the university now pay other groups to stay off campus? This deal sets a terrible precedent.
The most basic due-diligence on the part of UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC Board of Governors clearly has been neglected.
The DTH revelations are raising questions about whether the key party to the deal, Sons of Confederate Veterans, violated tax and campaign spending laws. State Attorney General Josh Stein, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall who oversees non-profits -- along with the state Revenue Department and state Board of Elections, all must look into these serious matters.
The rush to approve anything, at any cost, to get rid of the Silent Sam issue has done just the opposite. In fact, Superior Court Judge Allan Baddour, who signed the initial consent judgment and order is reexamining his approval and will be holding a hearing on Feb. 12 to further look into the deal.
It is time for the courts and regulators to say enough-is-enough. Terminate the deal. University officials should be ashamed of themselves.