Charlotte Observer/Raleigh News and Observer. April 21, 2022.
Editorial: Will the Panthers still move to SC? What Charlotte should take away from the dispute
There’s a not-so-new lesson for everyone in the Carolinas to learn this week: if David Tepper has leverage, you might as well assume he’s going to use it.
That’s what happened Tuesday, when the Carolina Panthers announced they had terminated their contract with the City of Rock Hill for the team’s new headquarters and training facility, worth $800 million.
Construction was already underway on the massive 240-acre project, but was halted last month due to funding issues. Tepper Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Panthers, said Rock Hill had been “unable to contribute to the agreed investment to fund the construction of public infrastructure”. The city, for its part, claimed to have fulfilled all the obligations required under the agreements, although reports indicate that there were some hiccups in the issuance of the $ 225 million in bonds it had promised. .
It is unclear exactly what will happen to the project in the future. Tepper Sports & Entertainment has already invested $170 million in development, which is currently dormant and half-completed on I-77.
Some form of reconciliation may not be entirely out of the question. In a statement provided to local media, a spokesperson for GT Real Estate Holdings, which represents Tepper Sports & Entertainment in the deal, said the representatives “stand ready to sit down with the city and other interested parties. to discuss important challenges ahead”.
Tepper didn’t amass his great fortune by leaving money on the table, and he certainly isn’t going to start doing that now. When he decided to move his operations across the border to South Carolina, it came with a nice package of government incentives and investments, including $225 million in government bonds. local government and $115 million in state tax relief.
There is no indication that the Panthers would want to bring the project back to Charlotte, near Bank of America Stadium where the team plays its games. It wouldn’t hurt Charlotte to check out that possibility, anyway, but for now, Charlotte should take the saga across the border as a cautionary tale.
Somewhere down the line, Tepper will make a formal request for more money from Charlotte, and more than likely, he’ll be asking for a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium in the heart of downtown. Bank of America Stadium is one of the NFL’s oldest stadiums, and Tepper has expressed interest in building a new one. He says, however, that he is not going to build it alone.
Which means, of course, that Charlotte would have to shell out a lot of money to make it happen – probably at least a third of the cost.
But splitting the bill for a stadium that could cost more than $1 billion may not be wise, let alone feasible, for Charlotte. The idea that stadiums more or less pay for themselves in jobs and economic development is often not true, and some Charlotte residents object to the idea of investing much more in professional sports when issues like that public transport and housing have not yet been resolved. Also, it’s unclear if Charlotte even has the debt capacity to contribute such a large sum. And yet, if the city isn’t able or willing to shell out the money, Tepper could walk away and take the Panthers somewhere else.
There’s no indication — and no apparent concern among city leaders who spoke to the editorial board — that this is the first step toward the team’s departure from the Charlotte area. But when it comes time for a new stadium, Charlotte should be careful about untying the purse strings of a billionaire who also happens to be the NFL’s wealthiest owner.
As we’ve said before, city leaders should find a way to broker a deal that benefits both Tepper and Charlotte, perhaps creating a major entertainment district near the stadium that could generate revenue. additional taxes on food and beverages. The stadium, and the two Tepper-owned professional sports teams that play there, are undoubtedly of enormous value to the city – not just economically, but also culturally – and no official wants to be seen by sports fans as the reason for which the Panthers left Charlotte.
Regardless of what happens at team headquarters in South Carolina, it’s another reminder that Tepper is a negotiator who isn’t afraid to play hard and walk away. Charlotte executives, who have had to play ball with Tepper since he bought the Panthers in 2018, surely know that. If they don’t, they just have a clearer signal.
Winston-Salem Journal. April 23, 2022.
Editorial: The GOP’s contempt for our public schools
If the decades-long debate over school funding in North Carolina did little else, it removed any doubt about Republicans’ position on public education in North Carolina.
The GOP-controlled General Assembly is not only indifferent to the issue of money for schools, it is downright hostile.
Republican disdain for public education in North Carolina is so evident that you could strap on a blindfold, turn your back, and plug your ears knowing it’s there.
With a big budget surplus and higher-than-expected revenues, the legislature still refuses to give underfunded schools the resources they need and deserve.
And he will fight tooth and nail to keep things that way.
The final front of this shameful battle is back in a familiar setting: a courtroom.
In case you missed the final twists of the saga, the new judge in charge of the case has asked for more time.
The state Supreme Court has granted Special Superior Court Judge Michael Robinson a one-week extension, until Wednesday, to decide whether he will order the state to fully fund a remediation plan for the districts. poor schools.
What’s one more week? The Leandro lawsuit was originally filed 28 years ago, in 1994, by needy schools seeking fairer funding.
As for why there is a new judge in the first place?
Because the previous one has been deleted. Chief Justice Paul Newby reassigned the case to David Lee, who had angered GOP leaders with his insistence that the state send $1.75 billion to schools to address inequality. The money would fund a turnaround plan to improve K-12 schooling through mid-2023.
Lee rightly argued that lawmakers are violating the “possibility of a strong basic education” for North Carolina, mandated by the state constitution. At-risk students and students from poor neighborhoods don’t have that opportunity, Lee said.
Republicans argued that was not Lee’s call to make — that he was infringing on the legislature’s power to determine how the state spends its money, they say.
The Republican-majority state Court of Appeals agreed, blocking Lee’s order.
But now the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, but only after Robinson considered how school appropriations in the current state budget affect the total amount.
As for Lee, he had presided over the fundraising case, Leandro v. North Carolina, since 2016. He has reached the mandatory retirement age for judges, 72, but many retired judges have been allowed to preside over pending cases beyond retirement – with the l Chief Justice’s approval.
Newby didn’t approve, kicking Lee without telling him why. Thus Lee, a Democrat who was nominated by a Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, in 2016, was replaced by Robinson, a Republican.
Lee was allowed to continue presiding over another case, but Leandro was not.
“I never received any official notice or explanation,” Lee told The Associated Press at the time. “My guess on this is as good as yours.”
To be clear, Newby was well within his authority to remove Lee from the Leandro case. That didn’t help matters.
So, in Lee’s place is Robinson, who will assess what the current budget provides for Leandro against what Lee ordered.
To recap: Republicans fiercely disagree with Lee’s order that the state invest more in its schools, even calling it “unbalanced.”
Newby, a Republican, removes Lee from the case and replaces him with a Republican.
With a massive budget surplus, the state can easily afford this expense.
However, this will not be the case and here we are.
The need is clearly there. This state ranks 47th in the nation in funding per student, 33rd in teacher salaries, even as the state struggles to find and keep enough educators on the job.
According to a recent WRAL-TV poll, 62% of North Carolinians say public schools are underfunded, 59% of Republicans. Sixty-six percent of North Carolina residents say teachers are underpaid, along with 66% of Republicans.
Teachers have faced COVID, culture wars and poor working conditions, and yet their concerns are maligned and dismissed.
Instead of providing books, the GOP seems more concerned with suppressing them.
Public schools should be the backbone of healthy communities and economies.
But even as Republican lawmakers puff on “accountability,” they are trying to dodge their own accountability to voters with gerrymandered districts.
Otherwise, how can all this be explained other than by an aversion to public schools?
Will someone please prove us wrong, and do good through our schools?
It’s only been almost 30 years.