Dark clouds are gathering over the political organization of House Speaker Jim Black. Stories about Meredith Norris, Kevin Geddings, investigations, lobbying laws, and investigations are accumulating.
(1.11.12) Offer to Buy Jim Black’s Land for Half Price Rejected
CARY — In 2009, supporters of the deal to buy the ex-speaker's land claimed it would fetch at least the $500,000 he owed for a conviction on corruption charges. Instead, nearly three years later, the Town of Matthews made an initial offer to purchase it for less than $300,000.
(6.28.11) Property Jim Black Used to Settle Criminal Fine Drops in Value
RALEIGH — Prosecutors and the former House speaker's attorneys said the undeveloped land was worth more than the $500,000 he owed on a $1 million criminal fine, but tax records have put the value at less than 30 percent of his outstanding debt.
(12.01.10) Wake County Schools Having No Luck Selling Jim Black Property
RALEIGH — The school board was hoping proceeds of the sale could help with the district's flagging finances. Critics say Black should have been forced to settle his criminal fine with cash.
(7.20.09) A Piece of the Action
Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens lost his cool last week. It remains to be seen what else has been lost in this latest sorry episode of the Jim Black saga.
(7.08.09) Wake School Board Not Informed About Black Fine Settlement
RALEIGH – The Wake County School Board learned of imprisoned former House Speaker Jim Black’s offer to use some undeveloped Mecklenburg County real estate to settle a criminal corruption fine after the deal went through, said school board chair Kevin Hill.
(6.29.09) Critics: Black Got Sweetheart Deal on Fines
RALEIGH — As jailed former state House Speaker Jim Black mounts a campaign for early release from federal prison, critics contend that the state justice system did favors for Black regarding the settlement of his $1 million fine in a corruption and bribery scheme.
(6.22.09) Questions Still Surround Black Property Settlement
RALEIGH — Wake County officials say imprisoned former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black satisfied a court-ordered $1 million fine recently by surrendering some Mecklenburg County real estate, but questions remain about the real market value of the property, who owns the parcels, and whether the transfer was legitimate.
(6.18.09) Jim Black’s Property Settlement in Corruption Case May Not Add Up
CHARLOTTE — Imprisoned former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black used undeveloped land with a tax value of less than $150,000 to pay off an outstanding $500,000 state fine linked to his conviction on corruption charges, according to Mecklenburg County property records.
(11.13.07) Scandal Returns To The Headlines
Jim Black is in prison, and his son is now in the crosshairs. But there are many other politicians and political operators who play similar games and just haven’t been caught yet.
(8.28.07) Interview: Decker Discusses His Fall
RALEIGH — Rep. Michael Decker knew he was doing wrong, but he did it anyway because “it got easy to lie,” he said in an exclusive interview with Carolina Journal.
(8.27.07) Decker Job Process Questionable
RALEIGH — Gov. Mike Easley, Cultural Resources Secretary Libba Evans, or their designees apparently violated state law in 2005 when they honored former House Speaker Jim Black’s request to provide a job for former Rep. Michael Decker.
(8.01.07) Well, Of Course He Was
In what may go down as the least-surprising political news story of 2007, Black confirmed that Don Beason was the lobbyist who loaned him half-a-million dollars back in 2000.
(3.21.07) The Incumbency- Protection Device
Because incumbents start a campaign with valuable advantages such as name recognition, challengers must often outspend incumbents to be competitive.
(3.01.07) An Agenda for Legislative Reform
To regain the public trust, and to set right at least some of what has gone so horribly wrong, state policymakers must be forthright, resolute, and bold.
(2.21.07) The Governor's Missed Opportunity
If Easley thought that walking through a pigsty with a clothespin on his nose would make everyone else smell roses, he was seriously deluded.
(2.21.07) 9 Senators: Keep Black's Promise
RALEIGH — Nine state senators want to fulfill a promise made by former House Speaker Jim Black, who in 2002 made a "personal commitment" to give Johnson & Wales University $10 million in state money in exchange for relocating a campus in Charlotte.
(2.16.07) Black Pleads Guilty to Corruption
RALEIGH — Former House Speaker Jim Black, in a plea agreement with the United States Attorney, admitted guilt in federal court yesterday to "corruptly accepting things of value concerning programs receiving federal funds."
(2.15.07) Lessons From The Downfall
The Jim Black affair demonstrates the temptation to conclude that the ends justify the means. Many politicians truly believe their policy goals are so important that they must “play the game.”
(1.15.07) Why Legislative Fairness Works
Reform won’t “work,” say its critics, because allowing a full and fair debate interferes with the passage of legislation. That's not the fundamental purpose of representative government, however.
(1.12.07) Thanks to Black, It’s Hackney
So, it’s Joe Hackney. The veteran liberal lawmaker from Chapel Hill will be the Democratic nominee for speaker of the North Carolina House.
(1.11.07) Thanks to Black, It’s Hackney
Despite controversy, Jim Black retains influence within the House caucus and apparently had a major hand in convincing members not to support Dan Blue – thus, in the end, putting Joe Hackney into the speakership.
(1.08.07) Black Wasn't Good to Blue
By bailing out on his attempt at reelection to the speakership, Black deprived Blue of his best selling point to reluctant House moderates and business lobbyists.
(12.20.06) A Short-Term Solution
To argue for limiting the terms of politicians or political leaders is not necessarily to question either their competence or their intentions.
(10.27.06) Change Is Gonna Come – to Raleigh
No matter what happens on Election Day, change is coming to the North Carolina General Assembly. That’s an eventuality that all people of good faith should welcome with relish.
(10.26.06) No Doubt, Change is Coming
No matter what happens on Election Day, change is coming to the General Assembly. That’s an eventuality that all people of good faith should welcome with relish.
(10.23.06) Multiple Means of Accountability
Elections and effective self-government are not synonymous. It might seem an odd time to say this, with elections in just two weeks, but the point is that other checks exist on politicians besides periodic balloting.
(10.19.06) JimBlackMustGo.com To Shut Down
RALEIGH — The creator of the Web site jimblackmustgo.com, citing his belief that House Speaker Jim Black will be indicted as a result of ongoing investigations, has announced that he will remove his site from the Internet at the end of this month.
(10.12.06) Breaking Down Political Corruption
The jury is out, quite literally, in the Kevin Geddings/Jim Black trial. But on a related matter, there is no need to wait for juror deliberation to render a verdict.
(9.28.06) Who Is on Trial, Again?
North Carolina voters following the politically significant Kevin Geddings trial in Raleigh can be forgiven for wondering just who is on trial.
(9.19.06) Will Scandals Affect Nov. Elections?
RALEIGH — Less than two months remain before the elections in November, and while Republicans nationally worry how scandals and spending could lessen their prospects for maintaining power in Congress, in North Carolina it’s the reverse — Democrats fear that corruption might be their undoing.
(8.28.06) Black’s Three Little Words
“For this matter.” These three words of House Speaker Jim Black may be what he's counting on in a legal sense — but they won’t help politically.
(8.02.06) Decker Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy
RALEIGH — Former N.C. Rep. Michael Decker, Sr. of Forsyth County pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to crimes associated with efforts to elect Jim Black to another term as speaker of the House in 2003. Court documents tell of a deal made with an unnamed legislator that resulted in Decker receiving envelopes stuffed with checks and cash.
Salisbury stakes were high for Decker
How it unfolded
Decker's plea agreement (.pdf)
'It was a show of repentance on his part'
Dem: 'I don't want (Black) to be involved'
Columnist: Decker could have gotten 40 years
Decker had unspectacular career
CJ: Did caucus disrespect Decker?
CJ: Spotlight on Speaker Black
CJ: Who's who at the Board of Elections hearings
(7.27.06) Monumental Arrogance on Jones Street
Lawmakers seem poised to conclude in 2006 session by loosening, not tightening, key ethical standards, saving their toughest new regulations for their critics.
(5.23.06) Complaint Filed on Payday Lenders
RALEIGH — A critic of House Speaker Jim Black has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections asking for an investigation of campaign contributions from the payday lending industry to dozens of state legislators.
Related NC Ethics & Corruption Articles:
Reports hid IDs, complaint says
'I believe that somehow this was orchestrated'
Norris charged in lottery lobbying
Norris among three charged
(5.19.06) Why Speaker Jim Black is Right
Jim Black is right — about video poker. Or at least he was when he opposed prohibition on the grounds that North Carolinians have the freedom to be foolish.
(5.15.06) Why Jim Black is Right
The speaker is right to argue that state interference in private, voluntary transactions results in fewer jobs and less freedom. Why so selective, though?
(4.21.06) Jim Black’s Plea Bargain
After weeks of suspense, and a small trickle of Democrats coming out against House Speaker Jim Black’s continued tenure, the House Democratic caucus met in Raleigh to talk things over. I think a fair reading of what transpired is that Black has made a plea bargain to retain the speakership through the 2006 session.
(4.18.06) The Dems Defending Black
There appears to be a sort of plea-bargain arrangement between House Speaker Jim Black and the Democrats he has led for years. It would leave him the speakership but only for the rest of 2006.
(4.03.06) It Pays to Consider Reform
Sure, state legislators in Raleigh are more than willing to enact major reforms of lobbying and the legislative process this year. They just want to be paid for it.
(3.31.06) A Question of When, Not If
It’s not a question of if, but of when. By which I mean, when Rep. Jim Black, Democrat of Mecklenburg, will become just plain Rep. Jim Black, Democrat of Mecklenburg.
(3.28.06) BOE Who's Who Site Updated
RALEIGH — The State Board of Elections conducted public hearings in response to a formal complaint filed by Democracy North Carolina in June 2004 alleging illegal campaign activity by contributors to House Speaker Jim Black's political campaigns. The special Carolina Journal Online Web site, "Who's Who at the Board of Elections Hearings," has been updated to reflect the latest activity.
(3.27.06) It’s Not a Question of If
It’s not a question of if but of when the Speaker of the North Carolina House will leave his post and become just a representative from Mecklenburg.
(3.06.06) Did Caucus 'Disrespect' Decker?
RALEIGH — House Speaker Jim Black told the State Board of Elections last month that former Rep. Michael Decker switched political parties in 2003 because of a lack of respect from fellow Republicans — but GOP members present at a caucus meeting have differing memories of what took place at the time.
(3.03.06) The System Made Me Do It
There is plenty of mocking and sneering in Raleigh these days over House Speaker Jim Black's present difficulties, which surround his questionable practice of handing out political favors concurrently with distributing blank $100 checks to legislative supporters. A lot of people are blaming it on "the system."
(2.15.06) Who's Who at the Board of Elections Hearings
The State Board of Elections is conducting public hearings in response to a formal complaint filed by Democracy North Carolina in June 2004 alleging illegal campaign activity.
Democracy North Carolina is a nonpartisan watchdog organization committed to a range of campaign-finance reforms that include improving disclosure of the flow of political money.
At least 60 persons have received subpoenas to bring records and appear in person to answer questions.
Who's Who at the Board of Elections Hearings
(2.12.06) Board Now Turns to Video Poker
RALEIGH — After three days investigating the campaign-finance activities of State House Speaker Jim Black and the state's optometrists, the State Board of Elections will now turn its attention to the contributions of the state's video poker industry.
For Background: Who's Who at the Board of Elections Hearings
(2.09.06) The Jim Black Hearings Begin
The State Board of Elections began three days of hearings Wednesday on the campaign-finance practices of House Speaker Jim Black’s political organization. The testimony was revealing.
(12.09.05) No “Miller Time” For Democratic Activist
Democratic activist Joe Sinsheimer says that it would be in the best interest of his party for House Speaker Jim Black to step down. NC Republicans hope their rivals don’t listen to Sinsheimer.
(12.06.05) Faison: Black's Incidental Defender
RALEIGH — Democrat Bill Faison, the only state representative from Orange County who's not from Chapel Hill, says he does not consider himself an intentional defender of House Speaker Jim Black, who is the subject of a federal investigation into his relationship with former political and legislative aide, and lobbyist, Meredith Norris.
(12.05.05) Black Foe Explains Web Site
RALEIGH — Joe Sinsheimer, a former Democratic political consultant who a few weeks ago started a website calling for the resignation of N.C. House Speaker Jim Black, says he did so because his disgust with continuous revelations of unethical conduct reached a boiling point.
(11.23.05) Time for More Truthful Anagrams
Can important truths be found in anagrams? Yes, if you consider the relevation that the phrase “Hijack Tool Found: None” is an anagram of the “John Locke Foundation.”
(11.11.05) Turns Out a Black Cloud Can Darken
Speaker Jim Black’s political and legal woes are getting worse. The case of economist John Connaughton and political payback is a troubling one.
(11.10.05) A Peek at Black’s Enemies List
The latest story out of the Black political machine is arguably the worst — an example of political payback against a state contractor because he expressed an opinion that the speaker didn’t like.
(11.07.05) The Shark-Jumping in Morehead City
Speculation about the political future of House Speaker Jim Black is unremarkable in Raleigh political circles — but surprising when it is shouted over the sounds of a marching band at a Veteran’s Day parade.
(11.04.05) Meanwhile, In a Different Scandal. . .
The political buzz this week may have been all about the Black-Norris-Geddings affair, but there’s been another development in the ferryboat-to-nowhere story in the senate leader’s corner of the state.
(11.02.05) Know When to Talk, and Not To
Many folks in public life — and not a few in private life — get into the worst sort of trouble by talking when they shouldn’t and not talking when they should. Take former lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings.
(10.31.05) A Slightly Scary Scandal Verse
It’s about time for a good fright — which is what some readers might receive after finishing a certain verse about Scooter Libby and Meredith Norris.
(10.25.05) Two Face Bad-News Cascades
Two political leaders, one in Raleigh and one in Washington, are facing a barrage of questions and concerns. The specifics may differ, but the phenomenon displays similar characteristics.
(10.18.05) Jim Black Should Resign
The speaker has again managed to show his disdain for an open political process by giving access to lottery deliberations to the friends of insiders.
(10.17.05) The Scandal & the Non-Scandal
A gambling firm suggested language that made it into North Carolina's final lottery bill this year. Believe it or not, that’s not really the scandalous relevation contained in a News & Observer scoop last week.
(4.05.05) Black and White and Wrong All Over
NC Speaker Jim Black seems to think he is doing a great job of helping Mecklenburg County while presiding over a slush fund-greased political machine. Oh, were that true.
(3.24.05) Black Should Buy, Sell Building
In their recommendation that the state sell a building to Johnson & Wales University for a dollar, the editorial board of The Charlotte Observer demonstrates that they have no idea who in government is authorized to make promises on behalf of the state.