Once again, Becki Gray made her regular appearance on North Carolina Public Radio with WUNC Politics host Jeff Tiberii. Joining Gray and Tiberii was Rob Schofield from the N.C. Justice Center. Together, the three discussed recent updates to the Silent Sam settlement, an ethics complaint on Superintendent Mark Johnson, and the lieutenant governor race.
Tiberii brought up a recent ruling by a Superior Court judge that reversed the controversial Silent Sam settlement between UNC and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. On the subject, Gray stated:
I think the way this settlement came about – I think there were just too many questions [like] the lack of transparency [and that] you are using taxpayer money for this.
…I think the lack of transparency in the settlement warranted a second look at it.
Schofield chimed in to agree with Gray:
The whole agreement was negotiated in secret. They sprung it on people right before Thanksgiving. It was highly predictable that [the judge] would nix the whole plan once the facts were understood.
Tiberii also asked about the emails and text messages Superintendent Mark Johnson sent requesting parents take a survey about Common Core. Johnson is running for lieutenant governor, and with the primary rapidly approaching, many were quick to file ethics complaints claiming the superintendent misused his resources as a public official for political gain.
Gray commented that this was a poor use of government records:
I think the fact that DPI and education officials have contact information for parents and teachers is appropriate… I think this is clearly a question on appropriate use of that.
In this case, I don’t see where the immediacy or where the real need for it was.
Schofield commented that this action will likely never be fully investigated, as Johnson is not running for reelection as superintendent. Schofield said:
We don’t have much of a record in this state of ethics officials taking strong action against politicians who violate the law. By the time they get around to taking action on it, Johnson may already be out of a job.