NHC Commissioners Vote On Community Foundation Bylaws; Reject Open Meetings

Sep 21, 2020

More than a billion dollars in public money could wind up under the control of an 11-member foundation board that is not overseen by the Local Government Commission – or open to the public. 

New Hanover County Commissioners on Monday approved bylaws for the new nonprofit that would manage the proceeds from the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant.  

New Hanover County Commissioners decided members of the foundation board should expect to serve three three-year terms – or nine years.


It will take a supermajority to remove a problematic member, and the public or the media should not necessarily have the right to observe the board’s proceedings.


Don Munford is a Raleigh attorney who drafted the bylaws.  


"When you apply the open meetings law, the body becomes political because you can have people come in and distort the process for political advantage… It’s not a political body.  It’s a deliberative fiduciary body." 


County Commissioner Rob Zapple disagrees.


"But it’s a private foundation with one-and-a-quarter billion dollars of public money that’s in it...  So to me, there’s nothing private about it."  


After approving the bylaws four-to-one with Zapple dissenting, Chair Julia Olson-Boseman chided critics -- saying the commissioners have worked hard on the foundation.  

"And any suggestion that any of us are doing anything behind closed doors or not in front is just – it’s not true.  So I don’t appreciate the continued suggestions and innuendos.  With that, it’s adjourned."


There is a meeting Monday, September 28, 2020 to review the final purchase agreement.


In a follow-up interview, Commissioner Zapple said discussions on open meetings for the foundation are still on his agenda.