Embezzlement charges against school board member

Does anyone know this Dennis Whitling fellow? Apparently he is a member of the Orange County School Board, and has been accused (not convicted) of embezzlement by a former employer. I know nothing about this and I don't want to jump to conclusions. Anyone have insights on this?

A Durham Police Department investigator applied in December for access to Dennis Alan Whitling's personal bank account information, writing that Whitling may have stolen more than $58,000 from a law office where he worked from 1984 to 2007, according to a search warrant.


Tuesday, Whitling slipped into the regularly scheduled Orange County School Board meeting 10 minutes after it started and left the room during the break before closed session at the end of the night. During the time for board comments, he did not offer any comments on the investigation.

What we can learn from John McCormick

In addition to being a fascinating drama, the John McCormick saga is also a cautionary tale for us. I never met the man, but I was long aware that something was not right with him. I knew for a fact that he was a slum lord with properties in my neighborhood, and I had also heard rumors that he was involved with the crack trade.

Now of course these were just rumors, and I was in no position to do anything about them. But if I knew a little, I have to think the Chapel Hill Carrboro Board of Education knew a lot more. It's hard to believe that this man, now known for shady real estate deals and thought to be living the life of a fugitive drug kingpin on the lam, was responsible for legally advising our school system. That concerns me. I always wondered why the school board did not take action to remove this questionable character. In hindsight I can now say they absolutely should have done something, and that they may have been putting our schools at risk by continuing to work with him for many years.

An ethical problem or just bad judgement?

The Daily Tar Heel's recent article about unearthing public records strikes a contrast to the News & Observer's relatively casual handling of a potentially very serious issue regarding Chapel Hill Town Council Member Bill Thorpe. On Saturday, the N&O reported that William Thorpe Jr. approached a local developer offering his services as a "public relations consultant" on their project which was pending approval by the Town Council.

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.

Ethics Moratorium Passes NC House

With each week the details of NC House Speaker Jim Black's political machine become more embarrassing to Democrats in particular and North Carolinians in general. Or at least it ought to be embarassing to Democrats. The latest revelations turn out to be sadly not-so-shocking:

Jim Black & Co. took control of the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2002 by bribing fellow house member Michael Decker with an offer of $50,000 and a job for Decker's son. Decker accepted the offer and took the $50,000 (primarily in donations to his campaign account). His son got the job at the legislature as well. In turn, Decker switched from Republican to Democrat and turned a 61-59 Republican majority into a 60-60 deadlock in the legislature. Yesterday Decker admitted to the bribery scheme in federal court:



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