N&R reports the Greensboro City Council decided to move forward with the last installment of its loan to the International Civil Rights Museum. That decision was taken without a formal vote and despite the fact that City Attorney Tom Carruthers “detailed for the first time publicly the museum’s breach of its loan contract with the city.”

Carruthers revealed Thursday he told the council the museum breached that part of the agreement, instead taking so much money from the restricted account to cover operating expenses that it was $44,629 short of what was needed to make payments to the tax credit authorities.

A July 2 memo from museum CEO John Swaine alerted the city to the shortfall.
The city met with the museum to discuss the problem late last month, Carruthers said Thursday. The museum wrote a check to the restricted account to cover the shortfall, Carruthers said, but then cancelled the check and instead used the money to make payments of $77,429 and $12,375 toward the tax credits.

The breach and the unusual move of cancelling the check led Carruthers to contact the loan processors for the tax credit authority to get assurances that the museum was caught up with its payments.

Again, the council didn’t take a formal vote on whether or not to let the loan go forward, but —according to the N&R—council members Mike Barber, Tony Wilkins and the recently-appointed Justin Outling — “said that given all of that information and the breach of contract, the city had to consider, and publicly discuss, whether to proceed with the final loan installment to the museum.”

I guess what jumped out at me were Oulting’s comments that “if the city doesn’t continue to give the museum money, it isn’t going to just go away tomorrow….there are other entities that have an interest in the museum continuing to operate.”

Don’t get me wrong —to say the least I agree with Outling that “it may not be smart for the city to continue giving money.” But—-given the museum’s well-known financial problems for years now—- I’m not sure who Outling thinks the “other entities” are that will step up and save the museum. If they existed, they would have done so by now.