Closing the case of the disappearing attorney

Remember John McCormick? The lawyer for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (and the money that went missing with him) hasn't been seen since his abandoned car was found at Duke Forest on July 11. The School Board fired McCormick after his disappearing act - only about a decade too late, in my opinion - and now they're hiring a replacement to advise and represent the school system.

2006 seems to be the year of new executive staff at at our local governments with the managers of Chapel Hill and Orange County retiring as well.

Representatives of the three firms will participate in one-hour interview sessions with subcommittee members on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 4-7 pm at Lincoln Center. The subcommittee is scheduled to meet at 6 pm on Oct. 17 at Linclon Center [sic] to determine its recommendation regarding legal counsel to the entire Board. That recommendation is expected to appear on the Board agenda on November 2.

The Board issued the Request for Proposal last month following the disappearance of Board Attorney John McCormick. The Board has been represented on an interim basis by Phillip Dixon of Greenville, NC. McCormick had served as the Board Attorney for more than 20 years.
- CHCCS Press Release, 10/9/06

I understand McCormick's wife has filed for access to some of the financial resources he didn't abscond with, so I guess she's not planning for him to came back either. I feel awful for the family and others he left behind, but I hope we can remember this as a cautionary tale of what happens when we turn our noses the other way to avoid that fishy smell...

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I know McCormick's been portrayed as a good guy who just got in over his head. Maybe so. But there's something odd about his role at the district. In June 2004 I was piching a business plan to school administrators to allow the special needs kids at Chapel Hill High to run a tiny school store as a learning tool and to get them out of 1950-style isolation. (Totally parent funded.) Aside from the nutty resistence I encountered, eventually overcome, I recall thinking it weird when someone, a school official, recommend that I talk to McCormick. I did place a call (that he never returned) but I remember thinking this guy must have some real power beyond that of a normal lawyer on retainer. I thought, "This is just a toy lemonade stand for god's sake!"

 

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