RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislative leaders want to hear from key players in discussions over prison maintenance contracts which were renewed after a meeting Gov. Pat McCrory attended on the issue.
A draft agenda has been released for the scheduled Nov. 18 meeting of the General Assembly’s chief oversight committee when the legislature is not in session. One item says Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry, prisons commissioner David Guice and State Budget Director Lee Roberts would give presentations to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. The agenda doesn’t give specifics.
Contractor Graeme Keith Sr. is McCrory’s friend and a campaign donor. Perry said the contracts to Keith’s company for maintenance at three prisons shouldn’t have been renewed because they failed to save taxpayer money. McCrory has defended his actions, saying he told Roberts to evaluate the efficacy of private maintenance. Roberts said his office calculated the contracts would save $1 million annually.
The contracts were extended for up to a year, and all now expire Dec. 31.
A 2014 state budget provision allowed the Department of Public Safety to expand private maintenance contracts to additional prison facilities if it determined savings could be realized and safety could be maintained at those facilities. But leaders of the General Assembly’s non-partisan staff offered a legal opinion this week that the law was silent on extending existing contracts.
The News & Observer of Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer first reported about the October 2014 meeting in Charlotte between McCrory, Keith, Perry and other Department of Public Safety officials.
The draft legislative commission agenda also cites the University of North Carolina Board of Governors as a topic. Legislative leaders had pressed the board to follow legislation last month that required the board to consider at least three candidates in choosing a new system president.
The board also approved last week during a closed-door session pay raises of up to 20 percent to chancellors at 12 of the state’s 17 campuses. Details of the raises weren’t released until early this week. The agenda lists the board and its general counsel as presenters.