Saturday, December 17, 2016

Earl Jones and Skip Alston sue Warren Buffett for Fake News

"The International Civil Rights Center and Museum refilled a lawsuit against the News & Record for libel and unfair and deceptive trade practices on Nov. 30.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sit-In Movement Inc., Hurley Derrickson, Earl Jones, Richard Koritz and Skip Alston against the News & Record, BH Media Group and Allen Johnson for over $25,000.

The suit is based on a series of articles, editorials and columns that began on Nov. 20, 2014, with the front-page headline, "Museum debt close to $26 M."

The lawsuit notes that, later, Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson wrote an editorial using the same inaccurate information about the museum's debt.

...As the editorial page editor, Johnson would not control what articles went on the front page or the headlines for those articles.  Johnson did write for the editorial page based on the information in the article, so he is in effect being sued for believing what was published in the News & Record.

Alston created a ruckus by threatening City Council members 
...with political retaliation through his association with the Simkins PAC,
a powerful African American group that endorses candidates.

...Alston’s presence has poisoned this process.

...the most courageous act he could perform is to yield to a greater good.

He could forever alter his image and his legacy if he were to do the honorable thing. 

And take a hike.

GN&R's Allen Johnson on Skip Alston

At issue are the tax credits that the sit-in museum used to finance turning the Woolworth building into the museum and getting it open.  The museum ended up with about $25 million in funds from tax credits...

...It all worked and the final payments to the tax credit financing entity were paid last summer.

Paid for with Greensboro taxpayer monies

...The sit-in museum is claiming that the reporter who wrote the article and Johnson who wrote the editorial understood tax credit financing to the point that they knew the museum didn't owe $25 million and wrote the articles and editorial anyway.

Although it is true that tax credits are not paid back in terms of interest or principal, there were payments that had to be made to the tax credit entity.  The answer to the question, "What would happen if those payments were not made," was varied.  The museum is adamant there was no way that in November 2014 the museum could have been liable for $25 million in debt.  If the court can establish exactly what the liability would have been if the museum had stopped payment, that in itself would be an accomplishment.

...It's hard to argue that the money was free when the sit-in museum went to the city in 2014 and asked for a $1.5 million loan in order to make its tax credit payments.  It is true that interest and principal are not paid back like a loan, but it also isn't true that the money is free when a payment of $62,000 a quarter was required.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan is on the board of directors of Sit-In Movement Inc.  ...Although she is a member of the Sit-In Movement board and the board is suing the News & Record, when asked about the suit Vaughan said, "I am not suing the News & Record and I don't support the decision to sue the News & Record."

Board of Directors

Deena Hayes-Green, Chairman, Earl F. Jones, Vice Chairman, Dr. Edward B. Fort, Secretary
Daniel Duncan, Treasurer, Melvin “Skip” Alston, George Clopton, Bruce Davis
Hurley W. Derrickson, Mark Dimondstein, Robert Goldstein, Doug S. Harris
Sallie Hayes-Williams, Hugh Holston, Henry Isaacson, Richard A. Koritz
Samantha Magill, Frank McCain, Ronald L. Milstein, James “Jim” Morgan
Gladys F. Shipman, Nancy Vaughan, James Westmoreland

Vaughan added, "I think in some ways suing is very short sighted.  There is something called discovery in lawsuits.  Suing the News & Record means you're going to have to open your books to them to prove that there was a negative impact on fundraising."

Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland said Wednesday 
...the museum cannot be sustained on its current course.

Westmoreland, speaking to the Greensboro Rotary Club, 
said the City Council's decision in 2013 to loan $1.5 million to the museum was sound.

..."The operational model is not sustainable."...

...The News & Record may be celebrating this lawsuit because it will give the newspaper access to the financial records of the museum at a relatively low cost.

...Greensboro Internal Audit Director Len Lucas went over the sit-in audit and his report on the finances of the museum was not good.  Lucas reported that the museum had lost over $2 million during the past three years and "has no working capital or contingency reserves."

...all of that information about the financial situation of the sit-in museum is going to come to light if this lawsuit goes forward...