Gov. Mike Easley, saying proper procedure had not been followed, thwarted Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry’s attempt in a Council of State meeting Tuesday to learn the identities of the individuals awarded a new lease for the state-owned Southport Marina property.
When Berry tried to raise the issue at the meeting, Easley would not allow it. He told Berry that she “didn’t allow enough time” for her request to be put on the agenda, though she said she had made the request five days in advance of the meeting. Easley indicated that her request would be taken up in August.
Berry said she wanted the individuals involved in the marina deal identified because she said the public has a right to know. She also said full disclosure is necessary so state officials can avoid a conflict of interest when voting on real estate matters.
Berry, Carolina Journal, and other media organizations have tried unsuccessfully to identify the leaseholders since Easley coaxed the lease though the approval process in January. Neither Easley’s office nor the North Carolina State Ports Authority, the agency that controls the property, will identify the new owners of the marina operating company.
This was a shady deal from the get go. A lot of Southport residents are upset at how this process was handled. They really feel betrayed by Easley and the state. A lot of questions have been brought up about who holds the lease and what their relationship to the governor is and with why the deal was made without giving residents input but so far very few answers have emerged from Raliegh.