by Sam Hieb
Back in the days of the old Piedmont Publius blog I covered the crazy situation regarding a $300,000 loan from the City of Greensboro to the local production company Black Network Television (BNT) to produce a sitcom called Watcha Cookin’. For reasons explained below, the matter has been tied up in court for five years, but the Rhino Times reports the matter may finally be drawing to a close:
A brief history of the lawsuit is that on June 18, 2013, the City Council by a 7-to-2 vote passed a resolution agreeing to loan BNT $300,000 if certain conditions were met. One of those conditions was that the city would take a second position on the home owned by Michael and Ramona Woods, who owned BNT, to secure the loan. It is stated twice times in the resolution that the city will have the second lien on the home and the amount of the first mortgage was $509,000 on the home appraised at $975,000.
In the due diligence period, the city discovered that there was not only a mortgage on the home but a home equity loan, which would put the city in the third position. It was also discovered that the amount owed on the home was not $509,000 but $580,000.
…According to the city memos, city staff repeatedly recommended that BNT use more traditional financing rather than asking the City of Greensboro for a loan.
However, after the City Council didn’t revise the resolution, BNT filed suit claiming, among other things, racial discrimination. In layman’s terms they claimed that the city backed out of the loan because the owners of BNT were black. One of the reasons stated for passing the resolution was to assist minority-owned businesses.
What’s amazing is how far up the court system the Woods’ lawsuit reached—the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case–but how did it even get that far? A three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina’s dismissal of the case–that’s how it got that far. But –according to John Hammer–after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the Fourth Circuit ruling stood and the case was sent back to Middle District Court to be tried. So in theory the Woods could win the case. That’s our legal system at work.