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Charlotte City Council admits Richardson had access to closed meetings

Richardson Getty Images

The City of Charlotte has been sued for violating open meetings laws in connection with the negotiations that culminated in a deal to renovate Bank of America Stadium.

And the plaintiffs in that litigation now have a potential smoking gun.

Via WFAE-FM radio, Charlotte City Council had admitted that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson attended council sessions that were closed to the public.

Specifically, Richardson attended two of the four closed sessions (commonly known as “executive sessions”) during which the use of taxpayer money to upgrade the stadium Richardson owns was discussed.

“I don’t know if it was appropriate or not, but it was important to him,” Councilman Andy Dulin said, indicating that he has yet to figure out the primary purpose of, you know, legal services.  “It must have been of importance because he did show up – you know that put an exclamation point on the seriousness of the negotiations that some might not have done.  I appreciated him being there.”

Councilman Michael Barnes comes much closer to admitting that City Council screwed the proverbial pooch on this one.

“I thought Jerry Richardson had a very good personal story to tell about what he was trying to do with the team and where he was trying to place the team long-term, so I wanted that to be much more public than it was, and I still think that we should have made more of it public,” Barnes said.  “I think it hurt the transparency piece from a public perspective and public confidence, but I don’t think it hurt the negotiation.”

Open meetings laws aren’t about negotiations, they’re about transparency in government.  Richardson found a way to force his way behind the curtain, at a time when the public otherwise was kept out.

It’s hard to fault Richardson for taking advantage of the situation.  Success in life often flows from showing up in places where you aren’t supposed to be, and essentially daring someone else to politely tell you to get the hell out.

No one told Richardson to get the hell out, and now City Council will inevitably have to deal with the likelihood that their defense in the pending lawsuit won’t be successful.

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44 Responses to “Charlotte City Council admits Richardson had access to closed meetings”
  1. eaglesw00t says: May 7, 2013 10:29 AM

    Richardson was looking at hundreds of millions of dollars of both his own money, and taxpayer money.

    Do you expect him to be completely nonchalant about it, and not care how everything goes?

    It isnt Richardsons fault that you let him into the meetings. I think every person who has that much to lose would have done the same.

  2. trollaikman8 says: May 7, 2013 10:29 AM

    But he looks like such a nice, open and honest individual.

  3. stillers1229 says: May 7, 2013 10:31 AM

    “It’s hard to fault Richardson for taking advantage of the situation. Success in life often flows from showing up in places where you aren’t supposed to be, and essentially daring someone else to politely tell you to get the hell out.”

    Is this a serious statement?

  4. tremoluxman says: May 7, 2013 10:40 AM

    It’s the new Golden Rule: ‘Those with the Gold makes the Rules’.
    If it were a citizen trying to crash a closed door meeting, they would have called the cops and had them thrown in jail. Richardson? They get all teary wanting to hear his sad personal story. I call BS. It’s payola time.

  5. catman72 says: May 7, 2013 10:43 AM

    State law permits the city council to hold private sessions for economic development purposes, this lawsuit is going nowhere. Like many lawsuits, it was brought forth to try to scare the city council into delaying the vote on the stadium and it didn’t work, the city council (most of whom are lawyers themselves) didn’t blink because they knew they had every right to hold a private session to discuss matters of economic development under state law.

    The lawsuit is brought by members of the media, so it’s nothing more than a temper tantrum by a few spoiled media brats who think they have the right to print JR’s personal and business finances on the front page of the newspaper.

  6. joetoronto says: May 7, 2013 10:43 AM

    This is ugly.

  7. tatatoothy says: May 7, 2013 10:47 AM

    too many lawsuits in this country

  8. boonevol says: May 7, 2013 10:50 AM

    Calm down, nothing will happen. NC is weak on politicians.

    There will be some judicial finger wagging, a scolding from the local paper, then they’ll all retire to the club for drinks and a chuckle.

    The 2nd past governor ago never paid his civil fine for campaign violations and doesn’t intend to.
    We’re as crooked in NC as Chicago and Louisiana, but much more gentile about it.

  9. keylimelight says: May 7, 2013 10:54 AM

    No one is going to tell a very powerful gajillionaire to “get the hell out”. Elected officials become willing puppets in the presence of money bags and each hoped to curry favor with Richardson in hopes that he would help bankroll their re-election.

    This happens everywhere, all the time. But don’t worry, as Barnes said, “it didn’t hurt the negotiations”. SMH.

  10. denverdude7 says: May 7, 2013 10:57 AM

    Roger, oh Roger, it’s time to discipline one of your “good ole boys”.

    Forfeiture of Carolina’s 2014 #1 draft pick seems less than fitting for ripping off taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars. Let’s make the penalty a little stiffer and force them to trade Newton to Cleveland for Weeden.

    That should put Richardson in his place for awhile.

  11. piratesofthecoliseum says: May 7, 2013 10:58 AM

    I want to make some upgrades to my house, you think my city/state will fork out some $$$ to help me out? HA!!!

  12. terraj35 says: May 7, 2013 11:01 AM

    And Richardson continues to shows why he’s the scummiest owner in the NFL (and that’s saying a lot)

  13. floratiotime says: May 7, 2013 11:03 AM

    He needs another bag of taxpayer welfare-for-the-rich money.

  14. djcoreylee says: May 7, 2013 11:04 AM

    How about we take money out of it and go the GREEN BAY WAY!

  15. nfloracle says: May 7, 2013 11:13 AM

    I wish Richardson would dump the team the way he dumped his two sons and go back to selling greasy hamburgers and cheesy fries.

    This guy’s been giving the Carolinas a bad team for years now, and most of us have had more than enough of his weasel ways of sticking it to the public while adding more millions to his pocket.

    Is there ever an “I have enough money” point with these billionaires?

  16. pilot2011 says: May 7, 2013 11:15 AM

    How about we write a story about how great a man Mr. Richardson really is?

    People don’t like him because he has a backbone, and quite frankly, a pair between his legs. Some of you little boys are so weak.

    Greg Olsen has been on the Panthers for 2 years, but named his only son after Mr. Richardson. Why don’t yall look that story up and learn something about the real Jerry Richardson.

    Go Panthers.

  17. olcap says: May 7, 2013 11:19 AM

    For all of Jerry Richardson’s money, tell me, would you trade places and actually attempt to have to live life as Jerry Richardson?

  18. SparkyGump says: May 7, 2013 11:28 AM

    Billionaires are more imprtant than the common man and not subject to common laws. Remember; it’s socialism for the already rich and capitalism for the rest. You get what you vote for.

  19. shackdelrio says: May 7, 2013 11:32 AM

    “Success in life often flows from showing up in places where you aren’t supposed to be, and essentially daring someone else to politely tell you to get the hell out.”

    Sort of like the shower scene in Porky’s

  20. citizenstrange says: May 7, 2013 11:46 AM

    The Rolling Stones are slashing ticket prices for their current tour because sales are low.

    Isn’t there any way that they can get taxpayer money to sell out their shows?

    It only seems fair.

  21. eaglesfan290 says: May 7, 2013 11:47 AM

    I know it’s fashionable to hate on people who are billionaires these days, but at the end of the day professional sports is a competitive business, and all business have the ability to move and take those jobs and revenue someplace else. What happens to the tax base if the Panthers move to Los Angeles?

    Having an NFL team brings in a lot of money! The improvements to a Stadium are no different than a city, town, or state offering tax subsidies to a business or say a movie that wants to shoot on location in its State. When Beth Purdue the former Democratic governor of NC brought Iron Man III to the state a little over 2 years ago that was a huge win for the state of NC. How is it any different when liberals in Hollywood get tax break than a Republican sports owner?

    Jobs don’t come cheap especially when the work force participation rate has about 17-18% of this country out of work. Business owners have the responsibility of making sure they get the best return on investment in a hard economy.

    The capital those billionaires put in banks is what allows banks to then turn around and lend it at cheap rates. The access to cheap capital is really the secret weapon that makes chasing the American dream possible for so many in the middle class.

  22. cartire says: May 7, 2013 12:03 PM

    piratesofthecoliseum says: May 7, 2013 10:58 AM

    I want to make some upgrades to my house, you think my city/state will fork out some $$$ to help me out? HA!!!
    ———————————————-
    this is a very stupid comment. Tons of Cities help finance Stadiums because they bring in tons of tourist and usually allows the city to use the venue for non-team purposes as well.

    Richardson shouldnt have been there because he obviously was influencing the amount the city would put up so he wouldnt have to pay so much himself.

    But regardless, you comment was stupid.

  23. spideysdog says: May 7, 2013 12:15 PM

    would the city council help finance the remodel of your house? seriously? do any of you ever take a single economics class? is your “house” going to make the city and local economy 10s of millions annually? no? i didnt think so. its called public/private partnerships people and its thé job or your local electorates to negotiate thé best possible one for the citizens they represent. would you rather NOT have a football team? I guarantee you that AIG and Los Angeles would be interested.

    No, I get it, you think business owners should solely foot the bill for all things related to the teams, and the local region should just reap the rewards right? SMH. The best part, is most of you illiterate inbreds are the same people calling Obama a socialist. it’s called education. you know why Jerry Richardson gets public money? Cause he, much like Richard Sherman, is better at life than you.

  24. nfloracle says: May 7, 2013 12:19 PM

    “The capital those billionaires put in banks is what allows banks to then turn around and lend it at cheap rates. The access to cheap capital is really the secret weapon that makes chasing the American dream possible for so many in the middle class.”

    Oh, you mean the cheap capital my son can borrow at 5.9% to 11.2% for a college loan while the banks you like so much are paying me less than 1% interest on the capital I work my arse off for and the little I manage to put into a savings account?

    I don’t see banks lending money out at cheap rates to anyone other than billionairies… and then it’s capital the banks are getting from the Federal Reserve bailouts… with money the common man pays in taxes.

    There is no American Dream for the middle class, sir. No anymore. Not in our time. And if you think otherwise you’re obviously living in an alternative universe.

  25. antneejay2 says: May 7, 2013 12:23 PM

    Jerry Richardson breaks the law, but he’s filthy rich. He’s a wonderful man. Mother Tereasa wasn’t particularly well to do. She was bad.

  26. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: May 7, 2013 12:33 PM

    Jerry has the entire city of Charlotte and its government by the proverbial short hairs.

  27. sbh1cats says: May 7, 2013 12:38 PM

    I am more interested in a great article on John Kasay retiring as a Panther today. Where is that one? Quit your whining.

  28. sbh1cats says: May 7, 2013 12:40 PM

    spideys dog…with you all the way

  29. thegreatgabbert says: May 7, 2013 12:46 PM

    Everything Jerry touches turns to crap. Sooner or later.

  30. halbert53 says: May 7, 2013 12:53 PM

    Having covered government entities for newspapers in four states, I can say with certainty the lawsuit is DOA. Most executive sessions include one or more persons who are not members of the government body. I am not saying the city should or should not help with stadium upgrades but having a closed session with an invited resource person is not only legal, it is commonplace. Just because the general public is excluded from a meeting doesn’t mean the public body cannot allow someone in the meeting if that person’s views or information is deemed relevant to the purpose of the meeting.

  31. jdvalk says: May 7, 2013 1:17 PM

    I like how the guy wonders whether it was appropriate or not when there’s apparently a clear law on the subject.

  32. drewsylvania says: May 7, 2013 1:28 PM

    Good. Let the corrupt fry.

  33. harrisonhits2 says: May 7, 2013 1:34 PM

    Talk about blatant corruption. Hopefully this deal is dead and the council is looking at corruption charges.

  34. beachsidejames says: May 7, 2013 1:36 PM

    Football team owners, politicians and taxpayer dollars. After hearing those 3 things what one word comes to mind?

  35. northstarnic says: May 7, 2013 2:11 PM

    I wonder if he would want some of my money. I’m sure he could do just wonderful things with it.

  36. cliffordc05 says: May 7, 2013 2:15 PM

    What’s wrong with these people. Are there no smoke filled back rooms in the City of Charlotte?

  37. onbucky96 says: May 7, 2013 3:16 PM

    Uh oh Charlotte. You’ve got some ‘splaining to do!

  38. miriam45 says: May 7, 2013 3:46 PM

    denverdue 7:

    Newton for Weeden sounds too cheap. Richardson should be forced to include a couple of draft picks

  39. 4greatestvikingever says: May 7, 2013 4:03 PM

    Back door deal? I,m shocked! Shocked I say!

  40. 4greatestvikingever says: May 7, 2013 4:04 PM

    The NFL should take away some cap money because of this….From the Redskins and Cowboys.

  41. granadafan says: May 7, 2013 4:07 PM

    My company in LA is upgrading and expanding. We’re going to spend about 70 million to do so. We will likely create 300 new jobs to contribute to the local economy and housing market on a DAILY basis (not just once a week). Did we go crying to the city for money? No. We took out a loan and have the proper collateral to do so.

    Multi-billionaire owners of billion dollar football teams in a league worth tens of billions of dollars can refurbish their own lavish palaces.

  42. rcali says: May 7, 2013 4:09 PM

    Rules do not apply to the rich in any country.

  43. halbert53 says: May 7, 2013 5:44 PM

    The other aspect that seems to be getting overlooked by media is that IF the city council violated the open meetings law, the state attorney general’s office or other entity could prosecute all of the city council members who voted to go into executive session. But, in this situation, it does not seem like the law was broken. If the law wasn’t broken, civil suit is frivolous.

  44. catman72 says: May 7, 2013 6:20 PM

    For all those asking if the city council would finance upgrades to your house, does your house bring 600 million in revenue to the city and state each year?

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