The Wake school system's involvement in the Jim Black scandal goes to court today.
As noted in today's article, a Wake judge is expected to give Black a concurrent sentence on his state corruption charges after he settled the remaining half of his $1 million fine by deeding over 9.5 acres of undeveloped land in Matthews to the school system.
The deal is raising questions from some quarters in Wake, especially from school board member Ron Margiotta.
Margiotta says Wake should have gotten cash instead of being given land it will have to turn around and sell. He also argues that board members should have been notified ahead of time about the land transfer.
Margiotta is going to have a lot of questions at Tuesday's board meeting when the board votes to declare the land as surplus, allowing it to be sold.
School system attorneys, who were involved in the negotiations for the land deal, appear to be taking a two-pronged response.
On one hand, Ann Majestic, the board's attorney, said the decision to accept the land was made by Wake DA Colon Willoughby and Judge Donald Stephens. She does say that attorneys from her firm were involved but didn't have the final say.
While Wake gets the fine money, Majestic said it wasn't a debt to the school system. She said it's different from the school transportation fraud case, in which money was taken from Wake so they had a more active role.
But at the same time, Majestic said they supported the decision to accept the land.
"The school system is thankful for the hard work of the District Attorney," Majestic said. "The school system will benefit from this."
Willoughby is also defending the deal.
Willoughby said one of the things they were trying to avoid was Black being able to argue that he could avoid paying the fine by serving 30 days in jail. That's the legal argument being used by one of the people convicted in the transportation fraud case to try to avoid paying a $500,000 fine.
Willoughy said the eventual resale of the land by the school system will allow Wake to recoup most of and possibly even more than the fine amount. He said it's rare for major fines to be collected.
As to the questions about board notification, Majestic said they followed their standard practice when it comes to collecting fines. She said that staff typically gets the fine money without contacting the board ahead of time.