The Charlotte City Council did not break the law when it voted privately to offer the Carolina Panthers millions in tax-backed incentives to stay in town, a judge ruled Thursday.
Three former TV reporters sued last year, claiming that the council’s discussion and votes during closed-door sessions in 2012-13 violated the state’s open-meetings law.
City lawyers argued that the meetings were legal since the law allows government groups to meet privately to discuss economic development.
On Thursday, Catawba Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Poovey, who heard arguments Tuesday, ruled for the city.
“We believed all along that the council was legally justified,” City Attorney Bob Hagemann said. “We understand that some disagree with the council’s decision, but the process was perfectly legal.”
Mike Cozza, a former longtime reporter at WBTV and one of the city’s accuser, called the ruling “a sad day for open government in Charlotte.”
“I’m sorry to see a ruling that allows government secrecy, especially on a plan to raise taxes,” Cozza said. “...Secrecy is part of what led to the current municipal corruption in Charlotte. This ruling may foster more closed meetings, more dicussions and actions behind the backs of taxpayers.” Michael Gordon
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less