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Heated exchange between Sen. Neal Hunt and Wake County school board member Jim Martin

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Things got a little testy today between state Sen. Neal Hunt and Wake County school board member Jim Martin after a committee passed a bill giving authority for school construction to the county commissioners.

Following today's vote in the Senate Rules Committee, I interviewed Hunt in the hallway about the new bill that would limit the change in school construction authority to Wake. During the interview, Martin stepped in to ask Hunt questions.

Martin, an opponent of the bill, was not happy with Hunt's characterization at the committee meeting of the change as being needed to protect taxpayers.

Following the interview, Hunt told Martin to "get out of my face." They then proceeded to have a brief conversation in the Legislative Office Building hallway before Hunt got on the elevator.


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Who's Next....

We have STFU Sutton....
We have microphone grabbing Evans....
Now we have interrupting in your face Martin....

Who's next?

politics vs governance

Very big difference. Jim seems to have embraced politics, the Lincoln-era throwing of insults and jabs. I am guilty of this at times too (the pot is calling the kettle black here, I admit it). But I am not an elected official with a responsibility to govern. Where is the governance from these guys?


There is no governance. They are out to prove they are right - period. No discussions, no listening - just hammering their "facts".

As an elected official, Martin was completely out of line to behave in this manner. Not sure what's worse - his ego or his temper.

Just goes to show..

what I always say, Dems are NOT nice people. In fact, most are kinda like rear ends, which is why the ass is their mascot.

oh no, you can't lump us all in with

the arrogant, selfishness of this BOE! There are many democrats who are voting with their feet ans walking away from this system because it is a train wreck. This public school system is being driven into the ground by a select few democrats, not all.

So Martin interrupted your

So Martin interrupted your interview? What a classy guy!

What question(s) was Martin asking?

Honestly, I was thrown off

Honestly, I was thrown off guard by the interruption so I'm not really sure what the exact questions were. I know that Martin wasn't happy about Hunt bringing up the 2007 Apex land deal that the board has gotten flak about.

Martin has argued that the only reason they got the site for half the price in 2011 was due to the recession, which he says the commissioners can't take credit for. Other school board members say they shouldn't take the hit on the deal as none of them were in office in 2007.

That Land Deal story

Martin may have behaved inappropriately, but it's easy to understand why somebody would get PO'd at a half-true, six-year-old story involving a different set of school board members. Plus, there's the sheer idiocy of the commissioners taking credit for negotiating a lower price in the midst of a recession.... I guess I can blame them for the bottom dropping out of my Bank of America stock, too.

The land deal story is a tall tale that never should have been told in the first place, much less repeated in the General Assembly. BTW, it's the only substantiation the commissioners have produced that they should take over school construction. No other facts. Just that.


The Apex deal wasn't the only one - there were a series of purchases where the district signed a contract, the commissioners rejected it, and then the district negotiated a better deal. IIRC, the (now surplus) Forestville Rd r
land was an example of this.

....and that school board...

...was whom? Definitely not the people currently sitting on the school board.

Second point...you just made one of the strongest points yet for keeping the responsibility for school construction as is.
The two-stage approval process is a natural checks and balances system, which will evaporate if the commissioners get their way.

The current system is far more likely to result in greater value, as the school system is in a better position to leverage a lower-cost deal with a two-step process. With only one elected body vetting the deal, you've got much more of a seller's market. Yippee, I wish I had some acreage along I-540!!
Thanks for pointing that out

A flawed argument...

The board did what district real estate staff recommended. That staff doesn't change nearly as much. Hunt's view, I think, is that the district is institutionally weak in this area.

The legal relationship between the two boards is dysfunctional - the school board just isn't elected based on financial acumen, while the commissioners aren't elected to have any idea about the legitimate needs of schools.

Don't get me wrong - I think the bill is a bad idea. I just prefer better forms of reform.

no, we have one elected body

with a concern for the financial well-being of the county on their mind. 100% of the county. Not just 6 elite magnet schools, but all 160 schools and all the children that attend them.
Having "2 buyers" does not change the price of a product. Does a seller lower the price of a house if there is a husband and a wife, but keep it higher if is just one man? The price of land is based on skilled negotiations and on the buyer doing their homework.

flawed logic

It's not two buyers: It's a two-step approval process. If the school board says yes and the County says no, the school system has leverage to work toward a lower price. The only points of negotiation are money and land and how much the seller wants to sell. It's not like either body can sweeten the deal with perks or other compensation. So superior negotiation skills are pretty useless in this scenario.

Based on your comments about "6 elite magnet schools" and "160 schools" I am assuming you live out-of-state and do not monitor the activities of the local boards.


I think snordore schooled you enough, but I wanted to point out one of the ways in which the board has treated magnets and base schools differently: at base middle schools, students are required to take 6 semesters of health, as per board policy. That policy, however, isn't enforced at magnets which, as a result, get an additional elective.

Also, consider how many of Carolyn Massengil's 2000 recommendations to keep the base schools from competing with magnets were eventually implemented.

you are funny

yes, I live out of state, or I live out of ITB, which is the equivalent in your mind. I don't "monitor" the activities of the local boards, you are right. I was only the growth chair for a rim Title I school, BAC vice chair and chair, ED task force member and sat on a school improvement committee. I was also on the WEP candidate vetting committee in 2008 (or the 21st century schools initiative because WEP is technically not supposed to engage in political activity). I worked Stan Norwalk, Dudley Flood, etc.. in 2008-09 to start addressing the poor academic achievement of our low income kids. Time volunteering in science expos and classrooms of a title I school does not count.
The 6 elite magnets are Underwood, Wiley, Carnage, Martin, Ligon and Enloe. Daniels and Broughton were demagnitized but kept their magnet curriculum and resources, so I did not count them.
You are completely clueless about the way this system works my friend. But keep reading the N&O and attending democratic party meetings. It is clearly what makes you the "worlds leading authority" on rhetoric.

dont forget the Brier Creek land deal too

the district was offered land in brier creek for 3 schools if the developer could guarantee buyers those would be their schools and WCPSS said no because of policy 6200.

Exactly the right decision. . .

They said "no" because it's clearly unethical, not just because of policy 6200, which is based in NC General Statute. So, don't be so quick to criticize. And the Brier Creek offer isn't the first time it's happened.
The school board simply cannot hand over its statutory authority to someone who shows up with acreage. Wouldn't that be a great marketing strategy and well worth the cost of the land to the developer?
And you think that would be okay?
You should run for the state legislature!!

it was unethical to not accept the land

and it would have been fiscally responsible to save the taxpayers money.
Do you even understand policy 6200? I don't think that you do, neither in theory or practice. The underlying premise is that middle class schools are strong because middle class parents understand that their child's education is determinative of their future. They are schools that are financially sound and stable with respect to behavior. Parents are engaged. The goal of policy 6200 was to bring ED children into this environment so they could receive an education in a stable environment. It would also allow us to cope with lower taxes because we could use a robin hood funding system, those with more could give to those with less - in TDA, in MOE, in Fund 6 and in PTA dollars. A lot was missing from this theory, including the fact that those kids walked into the door facing institutional racism, but that is another post. The failure of 6200 was the idiocy that we could bus middle class families into failing schools, that complete defies the underlying premise of the damn policy. We will repeat this failure in 2014.

We could have bused ONE WAY into Brier Creek. The developer did not say "keep poor AA kids out," he said leave these families close to home and I'll give you millions in land. It could have been a diverse, stable set of schools that would have saved this county millions and those families a lot of heartache, they have been bused all over the place. In 2009 they threatened to bus them 20 miles to Millbrook HS. INSANITY.

Again, REALLY BAD governance on the part of our democratic leadership. Unethical decisions that had long-term ramification for the taxpayers of Wake.

Yep, totally understand

Yep, totally understand Policy 6200 and the historical foundations of it; have read dozens of case studies; experienced in other areas and here what happens when disadvantaged students are concentrated in a few schools. Good teachers don't want to work there, and experienced teachers shun those settings. And, it seems that paying more still doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

And it still would have been a serious (and probably prosecutable) breach of ethics to have accepted land from a developer in exchange for student assignment guarantees. It's kinda like buying votes, you see. And if you think it would have saved millions, you are 180 degrees off. Ethical violations are a lot more expensive than anything saved by jumping in bed with developers... or any other group offering a deal for a vote. Look up the word "bribe" for additional information.

Broughton lost its magnet

Broughton lost its magnet status because a couple of ITB neighborhoods didn't want to go to Sanderson. Of course Broughton ultimately got to keep their IB program without having to let in anybody else. All at our expense of course.

To me that is worse than accepting a donation from a developer in exchange for letting kids from the development adjacent to the school attend that school. IIRC, one of the deals offered didn't even require that all of the students from the neighborhood attend, only a certain percentage of seats would be guaranteed to the surrounding neighborhood. So while the rest of us are paying extra for Broughton kids to have an IB programme, that other deal would have required nothing from us.

Talk to Judy Hoffman....

about a student assignment guarantee she made with our neighborhood (Wood Valley) about 20+ years ago. I'm sure this wasn't the only deal made by a sitting member over the years.

not a bribe

by any stretch of the imagination. and you don't understand the policy. you understand what you have been told to understand. Read a little bit more, dig a little deeper.
Demographics don't define a child's ability to succeed academically, the effectiveness of the teacher is determinative. Two schools in the same area with the same demographics can have strikingly different results - it is not the kids, it is the adults in the room.
In 2008 when I was part of the WEP group I advocated for controlled choice, ask anyone on that committee. We were sitting in the conference room of an unmentioned bank and I strongly advocated for controlled choice. We need the ability to maintain a robin hood funding system, we can't survive without it. But we are hemorrhaging high income families and the system is doomed to fail with the return of forced busing.


And, they've been short on land in that area ever since.

there is a sizable subset of this county

- that is not defined by political party - that would like for the CC to take over our public schools for the reason of accountability. We have had incredible mismanagement of resources that has caused huge inequity across schools. There is no legitimate way to hold the BOE accountable because they cite financial reasons for inequity when in reality it is their policy. With the CC bearing responsibility for the schools and the money they will be more apt to force the BOE and central office to change policy and distribute resources equitably. So the issues at hand are far greater than buying land and whether a school gets a track.

A lot more classy than Neal

A lot more classy than Neal Hunt! Here's the question: Why does the legislature need to vote on an issue that just concerns Wake County? Answer: Because Neal Hunt doesn't care what Wake County citizens want for their schools, he just wants to make sure republicans get revenge for a democratically-controlled school board. More people need to get in Hunt's face.


Wasn't the 1976 merger of the Raleigh City and Wake County school districts forced by the GA after it was rejected by the public? If it was OK then, why is it not OK now?

"Why does the legislature

"Why does the legislature need to vote on an issue that just concerns Wake County?"

Because that's how the law gets changed!

FYI-Neal Hunt was elected by WC citizens.

Not all WC citizens

Check your election info. He represents one district. There are several in Wake. And not everybody in his district voted for him. My guess is if he runs for re-election, a lot more will vote for someone....anybody...else. I voted for him last election. So I am definitely part of the problem.

Hunt is also not the only WC

Hunt is also not the only WC GA rep that supported the bill. It would have never progressed if that was the case.


My guess..."Do you know I have a PhD?"

isn't that always the opening remark? No matter what...

Q. Do you want fries with that?
A. Did you know I have a PhD?

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.