Robert Porreca: Nichol’s ‘activity’ open to scrutiny

December 30, 2013 

Highly opinionated Gene Nichol is tied to the train tracks of open government like Little Nell while the Civitas Flyer is chugging his way with a Freedom of Information Request tied to the cowcatcher. Oh, the horror, the horror!

Nichol regularly spouts his opinions in The N&O with factual abandon, making sweeping claims of knavery among those with whom he disagrees. There are no secrets as to where Nichol stands on the topics he writes about. But, as a government employee, his work at the Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity, a political advocacy organization created at the law school to give John Edwards visibility as he ran for president, should be open to public scrutiny.

Nichol’s opinions are protected by the First Amendment. Nichol’s freedom to research, write and teach are solidly in place at the university. However, Nichol’s activity and his correspondence as the head of a state university-sponsored, if not funded, non-academic organization are open to public scrutiny in accordance with “the law of the land.” Is Nichol above this law? Will the train be stopped in time?

Robert Porreca

Hillsborough

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