by John Grooms
WRAL-TV in Raleigh used a public records request to obtain 5,000 pages of documents giving more details of the deal that handed MetLife $100 million in publicly funded grants.
One of the most interesting revelations is the manner in which elected officials and corporate lawyers communicate with one another when those officials are essentially groveling before Uptown Charlotte sharks.
Some officials, such as Karen West, general counsel for the state Commerce Department, tried to keep the game as honest as possible, considering that what was being worked out was basically legal bribery. West exchanged barbs with Mike Delaney, a lawyer for Moore and Van Allen, the Charlotte law firm that negotiated the agreement. (Gov. Pat McCrory worked for Moore and Van Allen right up to the day before his inauguration.) West accused Delaney of demanding a guarantee that MetLife would get the incentives grants if the company went to the trouble to apply for them, even after West had told him such an arrangement would be against N.C. law. West finally had to go to Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker to get the point across. Delaney, in return, griped about the inconvenient way West formatted the agreements. Hey, he's a lawyer, he has to say something in response.
The documents also show that Commerce Department officials called the MetLife application "a nightmare" as late as mid-February, and complained repeatedly that MetLife was too slow in providing figures that could verify the company's eligibility for a taxpayer-funded blowjob (the incentives).
Some in the press, meanwhile, keep talking about the 1,300 jobs MetLife is ostensbily "bringing" to Charlotte, although the actual number of locals getting jobs here would only number around 520. But who cares about accuracy when there's a bigtime business bribe to be hyped?
So, in quick recap, to paraphrase the BlueNC website's summation, here are the morals to this story:
1. If you're a private citizen in need (particularly if you're poor and your health has gone south), you are officially out of luck. No bribes for you.
2. If you're an insurance company already operating in North Carolina, one of your major competitors just added $100 million to its bottom line without lifting a finger, and will have an easier than usual time setting up shop to compete with you.
3. If you're a taxpayer in North Carolina, a big chunk of your tax liability is being redistributed to a multinational company whose leaders would wail and moan if that money was being redistributed the other way, to people who actually need it.