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5 Things to Know: David Tepper Fined Pocket Change for Throwing Drink at Fans

...and four more stories from Dec. 31, 2023 - Jan.

David Tepper holds an empty cup in a suite while surrounded by nervous looking people in a still from a video
David Tepper (far right) holds his cup after throwing the contents through a suite window onto Jaguars fans below on Sunday. (Original video posted by Christy Honsberger)

David Tepper Fined Pocket Change for Throwing Drink at Fans

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper made national headlines for all the wrong reasons this week after he was filmed throwing a drink on a section of Jaguars fans from his booth in EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville during the Panthers’ embarrassing 26-0 loss to the Jaguars.

Following a day of radio silence from the owner, Tepper released a statement on Tuesday that did not include an apology but instead stated, “I am deeply passionate about this team and regret my behavior on Sunday. I should have let NFL stadium security handle any issues that arose. I respect the NFL’s code of conduct and accept the League’s discipline for my behavior.”

Shortly after he released his statement, the NFL fined David Tepper $300,000 on Tuesday. For perspective, Tepper is worth $20.6 billion dollars, so $300,000 to him is the equivalent of about $1.46 to someone worth $100,000 — or $10.46 to someone worth $1 million.

The Panthers are 2-14 going into Sunday’s final game of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, guaranteeing them the worst record in the league when the season ends. While that would normally lock in a first overall pick in next year’s NFL draft, the Panthers traded away their next first-round pick in order to move into the first overall spot last year, with which they selected quarterback Bryce Young.

Sunday’s loss was the worst of the season for the team, as many in the Panthers fanbase have lost patience with David Tepper’s management style. Since he bought the team in 2018, the Panthers have a 31-67 record and are yet to make the playoffs.

Observer columnist Scott Fowler called him “a cartoonish villain of a sports owner” in a column on Monday.

“In a dozen different ways — both socially and football-wise — Tepper needs help,” Fowler wrote. “I just don’t know who’s going to be able to convince him to accept it.”

Learn more: Scott Fowler Discusses ‘Sports Legends of the Carolinas’ and the State of Local Sports

Superintendent Hill Implements Organizational Change at CMS

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools(CMS) Superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill on Friday unveiled plans to restructure the district’s leadership configuration. Commencing with the 2024-25 academic year, the district will transition from its existing organizational framework “to an infrastructure centered around systems, processes and procedures,” according to a release from the district on Friday night.

Under the new arrangement, separate leaders will be designated to manage elementary, middle, high and pre-K-8 schools with a goal of “maintaining a focused approach on specific education models tailored to each grade level,” the release stated.

“Our new organizational excellence model supports and reinforces the culture we want, while delivering on the goals and staying within the guardrails adopted by the Board of Education,” Dr. Hill stated in the release.

Dr. Crystal Hill, the new CMS interim superintendent. (Photo courtesy of CMS)

Most of the changes will become effective July 1, 2024, with preparation for the transition beginning now. Some moves will become effective before July 1, as some of the district’s challenges such as teacher and staff recruitment require ongoing attention, the release read.

Over the next few months, the district’s senior leadership team, under the superintendent’s guidance, will conduct interviews for positions within the new organizational structure. Open positions will be posted on the district’s career pages. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled.

DNA Results Made Public in Kim Thomas Cold Case

CMPD on Sunday made DNA evidence in the 33-year-old cold case murder of Kim Thomas available to the public, showing that suspect Marion Gales was tied to the scene of Thomas’ brutal killing in her Cotswold home in 1990.

Thomas’ husband at the time, Dr. Ed Friedland, was charged with the murder four years after it happened, though those charges were later dropped. A civic court found Gales to be responsible for Thomas’ death in 1997, when a jury awarded Friedland $8.6 million in damages in his wrongful death suit against Gales.

Kim Thomas (Photo courtesy of Nancy Verutto)

Some of Thomas’ family members and closest friends have maintained that they believe Friedland was responsible for her murder.

While Sunday’s public release of information, which was not newly obtained by CMPD but has been evidence in the investigation since at least 2022, does not fully exonerate Friedland criminally, as his attorney claims it does, though he could be exonerated fully if new charges are brought against Gales. It’s unclear at this time if that will happen.

Gales is currently in prison on unrelated charges and is scheduled to be released in March 2025.

Judge Doubles Bond for Alleged Romare Bearden Park Shooter

During a hearing on Tuesday, the mother of a 19-year-old suspect accused of shooting five people at Romare Bearden Park on Sunday night told judge and former Charlotte City Council member Matt Newton that her son was innocent, insisting that police did not have enough evidence in the case to keep him.

While a detective admitted that the actual gun used in the shooting had not yet been found and acknowledged that the suspect told detectives his friend had fired the shots into the crowd, police still believe video evidence from the scene shows they have the right man.

Several people were arrested at the scene of a shooting at Romare Bearden Park on Sunday night.

Newton sided with the detective, increasing the suspect’s bond from $750,000 to $1.5 million. Meanwhile, Mayor Vi Lyles broke her silence about the shooting on Tuesday afternoon, calling the incident “horrific” and “evident of the continued focus we must have on addressing public safety” in a statement.

“With the rise of youth gun violence as a national concern, it is increasingly clear that creating a safe, gun-violence-free environment is a collective responsibility we all must share within our own community,” Lyles wrote. “The well-being of our residents and visitors remains our utmost priority, and we are committed to ensuring our city is a safe place for everyone to enjoy.”

Learn more: New Alternatives to Violence Team Launches on West Boulevard

Charlotte City Council members Tariq Bokhari (District 6) and Tiawana Brown (District 3) took to social media during the week to make calls for solutions in response to Sunday’s mass shooting.

Bokhari has begun to act on his proposal to create a cross-departmental “crime task force,” meeting with state lawmakers and local community organizers to brainstorm the best approach, while Brown met with constituents to hear their concerns and called on the city to create a “Community Public Safety Committee.”

“People that are close to the problems will have the solutions,” Brown wrote on Twitter on Friday. “They need space at the table!”

WFAE Employees Win First Union Contract

Content staff at 90.7 WFAE announced Thursday that they have signed their first contract with the station since forming a union with SAG-AFTRA 13 months ago. The bargaining unit “overwhelmingly voted to approve” the three-and-a-half-year agreement with WFAE, according to a release from the union.

The contract guarantees higher minimum salaries for full-time and part-time employees and annual raises over the term of the contract. It includes additional time off and new policies for promotions, scheduling and remote work.

WFAE also has agreed to regular reviews of compensation and diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring and departures, and mandatory posting of salary minimums on union job ads.

“WFAE was the first public radio station in the Carolinas to unionize, under the banner of #WeMakeWFAE,” read a statement from the bargaining committee, which includes hosts, reporters, announcers, producers and editors who create content for all parts of the station. “After a year and a half of organizing and bargaining, we’re celebrating new guarantees on pay, time off and promotions. We’ll also have a seat at the table as WFAE grows and evolves in the coming years.”

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