Charlotte Observer accused of racism in Mecklenburg County budget controversy

Last week the Charlotte Observer reported Mecklenburg County commissioners had email and phone conversations about the county’s proposed budget, prompting the question of whether or not commissioners violated state open meetings law.

The nearly $2 billion budget passed by an 8-1 vote, complete with a tax hike. But in the process board Chairman George Dunlap accused fellow Commissioner Pat Cotham—and the Observer—of perpetuating “racism and stereotypes.”

Dunlap accused Cotham of leaking to a reporter the emails that were traded between him and other commissioners.

“The media supports Cotham and her antics,” Dunlap said. “They perpetuate racism and stereotypes.”

The comments come after an Observer report last week revealed that commissioners discussed the budget outside of public view in the days before a public meeting on the issue.

In one email from his personal account, dated May 22, Dunlap told commissioners he had compiled a list of budget amendments commissioners wanted to see. During the meeting, he wrote, he would call for a vote on the recommended changes and the budget should pass unanimously.

Not surprisingly, Cotham was the lone ‘no’ vote.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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