Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cogdell hiring needs independent probe

Friday's Observer editorial:

The public does not yet know all the details surrounding Harold Cogdell and how he landed a job with a local nonprofit. But if this thing that walks and quacks like a duck is indeed a duck, Mecklenburg County’s new commissioners chairman should resign from public office and authorities should determine whether he broke the law.


The county should have an independent investigation launched to determine exactly what happened. A dismissive “it’s politics” from Cogdell is not enough.


Here’s what we know: During county budget talks last summer, County Manager Harry Jones proposed cutting less than $2,000 from the county’s $281,957 allocation to C.W. Williams Community Health Center, a nonprofit that provides medical care for the poor. Cogdell, who supported cuts to other social service spending, successfully pushed for a $110,000 increase for C.W. Williams – a 39 percent hike in a tough budget year. Two months later, Cogdell took a job as a lawyer for the group.


Cogdell, a Democrat, says there’s no connection. That’s possible. But it looks extremely suspicious and the public deserves a full accounting of what happened. Had Cogdell started talking with C.W. Williams about a job before he pushed for sharply higher county funding for it? What promises, if any, were made? How much is Cogdell, now the county’s top public official, being paid by an organization he helps fund? How did this one nonprofit, of the many the county funded, get to the top of Cogdell’s funding priorities?


The public deserves answers to these and other questions. Cogdell and C.W. Williams CEO Beverly Irby did not return calls from the Observer editorial board before our deadline Thursday.


Even if there was no explicit quid pro quo, it would at a minimum be unethical to fight for more funding for an agency that is a prospective employer. If any talks of a job had already been held, Cogdell should have recused himself. And fellow Democrats should have raised questions as soon as they had them, not only after Cogdell sided with Republicans to become chairman.


If Cogdell used his public office and control of taxpayers’ wallets for his personal gain, it would be a betrayal of public trust of the highest order. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison this week for public corruption. We don’t want that kind of pay-to-play culture in our local government.


Maybe this is all a big misunderstanding. Maybe Cogdell was just a big C.W. Williams fan and pushed for a sizable budget increase because he thought the group does good work. Maybe C.W. Williams then offered Cogdell a job just weeks later completely independent from his work on its behalf at county budget meetings. Maybe. An investigation needs to find out.


When Cogdell dethroned fellow Democrat Jennifer Roberts for the chairman’s title this week, he said it was about getting away from politics as usual. But if Cogdell won a job by pushing tax dollars toward one nonprofit, it’s politics at its worst.

20 comments:

DistrictSix said...

Yes we need to investigate many things in Charlotte/Mecklenburg.

Perhaps you, and the other currently outraged individuals at The Charlotte Observer, will finally ask for an investigation into the use of a day of rides and special visits to the light rail lot before it originally opened to the public?

Especially since it was only for paid guests from a fund raising event of the Chamber.




We asked you to report it when it happened but you were remiss.

Jack said...

No, the Observer is after Cogdell b/c he betrayed the party. Otherwise they would continue to turn a blind eye as they have in the past. Just as the other Democrats on the board are only now having a problem with his impropriety. Ethics is only an issue for a Democrat if they break ranks with the party. Then they suffer the full wrath of the party and the press.

Wiley Coyote said...

It's obvious Jen Jen wrote this.

By the way, where is the outrage over Harry Jones' continued ineptness?

razorsedge said...

I agree that their should be an investigation, and that if it was a quid pro quo, Cogdell should resign or be removed from office. Since George Dunlap and Jennifer Roberts obviously knew of the potential conflict of interest and did nothing to initiate an investigation prior to voting to increase the funding, they should also resign. It is equally wrong for council members to overlook possible illegalities as long as the potential wrongdoing might work for blackmail purposes (we won't tell if you won't run for chairman.) It looks to me like once it was clear the blackmail wouldn't work, they begin crying
"foul." I think the whole bunch--with the possible exception of Karen, Cooksey and Bill James--are a bunch of self-serving (derogatory term self censored by author). And I intentionally included the former sheriff in that list.

razorsedge said...

The use of their instead of there in the above post was a typo, lest you think I ain't got no learning.

heavymetal said...

How about newly elected District 5 councilman John Autry, his proud ties with Veterans for Peace and their August vote to urge Congress to impeach President Obama for war crimes?
In light of that, you still opted to endorse him.
You'll be opining on him next, right? You know, with the DNC coming to town and all.
Oh yes, he distanced himself from that vote, but was it simply to get elected?
After all, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck....

todd said...

Taylor is upset that Jenny got thumped...

ThaQueenCity said...

This is just TOO funny! ONE of your own pulls one of YOUR stunts and NOW the Charlotte Observer wants to investigate! TOO FUNNY and TOO LATE!

Any investigation would ONLY be to get back at him for what he learned from HIS mentor ....

I could care less about any investigation unless it is into Rodney Monroe, Harry Jones, and the rest of the "other" crooked FIRST!

FrankWIll said...

Beyond PATHETIC! Once a DEM always a DEM, right? Did she sit right next to you while you typed? Wow.

Skippy said...

This is beyond transparent, not once have any of you so called journalist watchdogs called for any probes into anything Democrat in this "world class" city including but hardly limited to the corrupt Harry Jones, DSS and CRVA, phony attendance projections, etc. As usual, this paper is best served in the bottom of the kitty litter box.

But at least Nick Mackey is back in the news, the one time real hero in this community who pulled off election shenanigans of course ignored by this paper.

larrydpowell said...

Public corruption we don’t want that kind of pay-to-play culture in our local government.

The problem... it's every where,local,state and DC...
Cogdell is just following the rules...Pay for play has been around since our founding and until we get the money out... nothing will change!
Harold Cogdell is a lawyer and knows what he has done is unlawful, what he calls "politics" and it politics as usual and the public at large knows it stinks!
It matters not which party he's in because we know that both do it! He needs to step a side as chairman until this matter is resolved? If he knows pay for play didn't happened then the truth will come out.

We know public corruption when we see it... Cogdell needs to tell the public how this relation came about and C.W. Williams Community Health Center has become part of the public corruption story not a great way for a local nonprofit to brand it's self and could lose more than it has gained from Cogdell's duck walk.

FrankWIll said...

Where is the OUTRAGE over the fake tax evaluations that were sent out? Or the utilities that are stealing money claiming faulty equipment? Or anything else besides defending your Chicklet faced liberal buddy? You talk about corruption? Where is your liability in providing non-biased NEWS in this paper in general. Your O-Pinion page is simply your lame attempt to shape public opinion to fit your liberal agenda. You need an independent probe as much as anyone. This hit job is just more proof of your agenda.

DistrictSix said...

With out competition from another daily major news source, The Charlotte Observer is basking in the glow of being able to do what ever it wishes.

With their declining sales and lack of care for customers, a tipping point is nigh.

FrankWIll said...

Lets look closely if there is any connection between Mr. Batten's wife's firm and the articles coming out of the Charlotte Observer over the years. Mr. Limo Liberal - yes kiddies - Batten's home purchase was over a MILLION dollars (1% OWS crowd)is telling you how to feel. He is part of the evil 1%. Going to spend some real time checking these connections and report back. Glass House, Batten.

Fed Up In Clt said...

Unfortunately, the Observer once again has shown its bias in reporting. And its the only game in town, so it can do so. What about other corruption that the Observer chooses not to look into, such as Commissioner Pendergraph's connection to the lucrative contracts that the Sheriff's office has with a company that he works for. Conflict of interest???

cltindependent said...

If a Democrat who wasn't in the Republicans pocket had done anything like this, they would be calling for his head. Interesting Republicans have no problem with it because they know they can count on Howard to be their guy. I'm surprised he even had the nerve to run for County Commission after his last term on city council ended in disgrace. Very short memory Charlotte.

par said...

Cogdell is a slime ball from day one and needs to be dethroned. How stupid is the people of Mecklenburg County to vote for this guy.

Jack said...

Cltindependent - I haven't read a single post implying republicans think Cogdell's pay to play scheme was okay. They just think it odd that the Dems were okay with it until he broke ranks with them. I'd hardly call him "in their pocket". Then again, my reading comprehension skills are good enough to at least get his name right.

cltindependent said...

I'm sure your reading comprehension is great Jack. You obviously knew who I was talking about though I called him "Howard". Democrats don't have any more ethical problems than Republicans. The fact that you started out early this morning on a different track tells me all I need to know about you and your kind. (talking points) And Cogdell is now calling for an investigation, still agree with him or not? Because I type quickly you may find another error, thank you for your free grammatical and spelling checks on behalf of the Observor.

Jack said...

I'm on the same track I've been on all along - laughing at and pointing out the hypocracy of folks like you. The point of my later post was that you seem to be insisting "republicans" believe something with no evidence of such. I made no remarks about your spelling or grammar, but nice deflection. You used the wrong name and then proceeded to rant about what a group of people think when there was no supporting evidence for your argument. It seemed fair to wonder about your reading comprehension. And for the record, I'm certainly in favor of full disclosure about Cogdell's job. Why wouldn't I be? It's the right thing to do - regardless of political affiliations.