North Carolina Media Won't Sue over UNC Open Meetings Law Violations

Diverse Issues in Higher Education, January 26, 2006 | Go to article overview

North Carolina Media Won't Sue over UNC Open Meetings Law Violations


RALEIGH, N.C.

North Carolina's media outlets have decided against suing the University of North Carolina for failing to alert the public before conducting closed-door meetings during its search for a new system president, a violation of the state's open meetings law.

In a letter to Brad Wilson, chairman of the university system's board of governors, the North Carolina Press Association says its members and state broadcasters were "deeply troubled by the university's arrogant refusal to publicly acknowledge the rather obvious violations to the North Carolina Open Meetings Law."

After receiving complaints from the press association, The Associated Press, The News & Observer of Raleigh, The Charlotte Observer and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, state attorney general Roy Cooper reminded state officials that public notice is required for official government meetings, including closed-door sessions.

"Despite this open-and-shut case, we don't think the public gains much from litigating this matter," NCPA President Rip Woodin wrote to Wilson. "So, we will not pursue a lawsuit."

The board of governors chose Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff and twotime Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, as president of the system in late September, a few days after the search committee held private, unannounced meetings.

System attorney Leslie Winner says she relied on old advice from a state lawyer that it was not necessary to provide public notice of the meetings because it was the continuation of a meeting held earlier in the month.

According to Woodin, it was clear that the search committee had violated the law. …

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