RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The interim chair of the North Carolina Board of Governors told a key legislative body that he wants to see the board vote in public on issues like the raises for chancellors.
Lou Bissette, speaking to the General Assembly’s Governmental Operations Committee said, “It would have been in the best interests of the board to return to open session to vote on chancellor salaries.”
The panel also heard two top administrative officials defend a controversial prison contract with a Charlotte company.
The Board of Governors met in private and then voted in private to raise the salaries of 12 of the system’s 17 chancellors. The board said a consulting group had urged the board to raise the salaries, but media groups and faculty questioned the move and how the decisions were handled.
The raises came shortly after a secretive search for a new president of the UNC system, where Margaret Spellings was given the job. Board chair John Fennebresque resigned shortly after the hiring of Spellings.
The board members have previously said voting in private was not in conflict with the state’s Open Meetings Law.
The commission’s agenda Wednesday includes presentations by State Budget Director Lee Roberts and public safety Secretary Frank Perry. They were involved in decision-making that ultimately allowed a Charlotte company to keep its prison contracts for another year.
A company executive is a political donor to Gov. Pat McCrory and other elected officials in the past. McCrory set up a meeting last year between the donor and state prison officials.
“We did everything the right way,” Roberts said.
And Perry added, “I am confident the administration acted properly.”
Documents obtained by WNCN showed the two were at odds over whether the state should extend a contract with The Keith Corporation of Charlotte. Documents show Gov. Pat McCrory pushed for a meeting between the company chairman, Graeme Keith, and state leaders.
Documents show Perry had concerns about extending the contract.
On Wednesday, Perry told the panel, “I think I would have been acting in bad faith had I not accepted Mr. Robert’s conclusions. I don’t agree with them, but I accept them.”
The News & Observer has reported the FBI is investigating. When a lawmaker asked Perry to address any information he may have if there is an FBI investigation into the matter, he said he could not.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.