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Oct 15, 2007

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jc

If Jim doesn't believe the "Wray the racist" theory, why would he believe that he was justly fired? The racist angle came from the same guy that fired him, Mitch. I would not trust anything this guy says or does. He should be held accountable for the mess the city is in and locked out like Wray.

Fred Gregory

Justly fired ? Jim, what is this Wonderland? The Queen of Hearts sez off with his head ! Verdict first..trial later..maybe. Give that one some more thought. I appreciate your humor but there was no justice in what happened to David Wray.

Jim Rosenberg

Yes, justly fired. I believe Johnson had sufficient evidence to conclude Wray was silent, maybe even subtly deceptive about suspect ongoing investigations at a time when Johnson's fiduciary duty required him to have absolutely comprehensive knowledge of the situation. I realize no one has enough trust in anyone else to see these shades of gray, but any hope to really learn something from the Wray case requires that we pick apart what happened from every angle. It's a huge mistake to smugly pick the bad guy, and I've just completely lost patience with the effort of every side to do just that. For once, can't we unpack the whole thing -- the dirty cops, the renegade investigation, the racial politics, the media coverage -- all of it -- and judge how each behavior contributed to the whole without making certain that it all aligns with our preconceived ideological beliefs?

Elizabeth Wheaton

Jim: Amen.

Roch101

Well put, Jim. But I don't know how anybody can reach any conclusions, you included, when we know that we don't, in fact, have the whole story.

We cannot do the unpacking you (and I) desire while the City has information it refuses to release to the public.

Jim Rosenberg

I also favor the release, but even with what is already out there the truth is taking a beating in this case. Again, this is the lead paragraph to the big A1 "Black Book" story:

"GREENSBORO — Former police Chief David Wray misled city leaders when he covered up the actions of a “secret police” unit that targeted black officers for unfair internal investigation, Greensboro officials said."

That is one seriously bold lead. It directly quotes Greensboro officials as accusing Chief Wray of misleading, then covering up a covert unit that intentionally and unfairly targeted black officers (note plural).

You don't get to un-ring a bell that loud. It's not credible to argue for the equivalence of that position to the current one: "Chief Wray failed to inform the Manager that Officer Hinson was no longer the subject of a multi-jurisdictional investigation."

I'm a yellow-dog Democrat and literally a card-carrying member of ACLU, but it's an offense to my intelligence for the Manager and newspaper to pretend as if it didn't outright accuse Wray of lying about and covering-up a covert operation which unfairly targeted black officers as a group. It did. It's right there. It's an embarrassment to claim otherwise, and just plain wrong.

Ed Cone

Jim, the City has not dropped these claims. From Mitch Johnson's 10/2/2007 statement:

"I was told that the Special Intelligence Division was investigating various black officers without following the standards as prescribed in the Departmental Directives...

"Investigations by our Internal Affairs officers have verified that certain members of the Special Intelligence Division were, in fact, operating outside of the chain of command and accepted practice for proper department investigations. In addition, we now are faced with indictments for criminal obstruction of justice by two of our officers. Also the City is now defending itself from EEOC charges that are the direct result of these activities..."

Jim Rosenberg

Ed -- Right. They haven't dropped them, but in Johnson's statement [http://tinyurl.com/ysd7u2] he states Chief Wray's actions were not the result of racist beliefs and no one in the City ever said they were. That cannot be squared with: "Former police Chief David Wray misled city leaders when he covered up the actions of a “secret police” unit that targeted black officers for unfair internal investigation, Greensboro officials said." This isn't semantics. There is an A1 article out there directly quoting City officials as accusing Chief Wray of intentionally misleading and covering-up a covert operations which unfairly targeted black officers. This is insane. They said the guy running a back door operation to get black cops, then tried to cover it up. C'mon, let's be real.

Ed Cone

The allegedly targeted officers were black.

Wray is said not to be a racist.

How do those statements square with this one: "Former police Chief David Wray misled city leaders when he covered up the actions of a 'secret police' unit that targeted black officers for unfair internal investigation, Greensboro officials said."

Tony Wilkins

That is very true Jim.
Let's play Perry Mason (and Roch is very good at this game).
Let's find a time line.
Can anyone find evidence that before John Robinson decided to allow a columnist the responsibility to write a major news story insinuating racism on the part of the police chief that anyone else had made the claim?
We should be able to completely track the "origin" of this and actually name the original culprit.
How about it Roch? Got time to play?

Jim Rosenberg

Ed - I'm going to admit I am operating under an assumption: intentionally lying about and covering up an operation that targets black officers for unfair internal investigation is a racist act. So, if someone comes up to me and says, "Dude, you intentionally lied about and covered up an operation that targeted black officers for unfair internal investigation," I'll be all "Don't call me a racist!" because it's the same thing to me. Finally, and most importantly, I have this gnawing question that I wish I could get an answer to: "Did Chief Wray intentionally lie about and cover up an operation that targeted black officers for unfair internal investigation?" I read somewhere that he did.

Ed Cone

What if the word "black" is removed from your last sentence?

Where does that leave Wray, the City, and the N&R?

The CA

Ed, you're being purposely ignorant on this. People from all sides of the political spectrum are pretty much in agreement that Wray was tagged as a racist by Johnson and the N&R, and a growing number of them are in agreement that the evidence doesn't support this.

Johnson's statement is literally true in that the officers were black and that alone isn't an allegation of racism, but add the word "unfair" along with the ensuing noise from Johnson and others that is documented, there is no question that there was a deliberate attempt to label Wray as a racist.

From your own column yesterday:

"Even with Wray's personal views on race clarified and the case devolving into a kind of management procedural, the specter of race and accusations of racism hang over the whole story. Early reports from both the media and the city made much of the racial aspects."

The way to square your two premises up is simple- they aren't true. If you want to go with the misled theme according to Johnson (now as opposed to then) you might say "Former police Chief David Wray misled city leaders about the nature and scope of investigations into Lt. James Hinson, and the justifications for those investigations."

No black book, no racism, etc.

The CA

Sorry about that last bit, Ed, vis-a-vis "ignorance". I didn't catch your latest comment.

Jim Rosenberg

Ed - That's silly. Start reading all of the stories from the bottom of this page [http://tinyurl.com/38jzs5] and you can see the story about a police chief intentionally leading a covert operation unfairly targeting black officers morph into a costly accident involving the botched dismantling of a racially-charged bomb.

Bubba

Gee, I guess the meme has now officially been changed from "Wray the Racist" to "Wray the Liar".

We know this is true becuase of official pronouncement from such authorities as Cone, Rosenberg, Hoggard, et al, our "movers and shakers" and final authjorities of style, taste, and agenda for our city.

This will be in effect until the "Wray as Liar" meme is completely discredited.

Then we'll once again switch back to "Wray the Racist" with the pretext being a new interpretation of information provided by the N&R or Mitch Johnson.

No one will really be surprised.

Anthony

Jim said: "I'm going to admit I am operating under an assumption: intentionally lying about and covering up an operation that targets black officers for unfair internal investigation is a racist act."

It's not that big of an assumption when you add in Johnson's explicit statement that if he were a black officer, he would feel targeted. That seems to clearly say that he didn't think it was incidental that the officers were black, but rather that they were targeted because they were black.

Joe Killian

I don't have a dog in this fight, wasn't in on the writing of the stories which started before my time with the N&R, don't want to be in the middle of the mudslinging, etc.

But I thought I'd leap in and say that while I agree with a lot of what Jim is saying (particularly about everyone acknowledging that the whole story is more complicated than one person did this one thing wrong because they're evil) the lede he keeps citing does not contain any "direct quote."

It's an attribution.

Direct quotes are things people have said in quotation marks -- their exact works, as they said them.

"Black book" seems to be in quotes, but that's likely because that's what city leaders at that point were calling it and how it was colloquially known.

The lede he's pointing to is actually an paraphrasing of what some city leader has said to the reporter with an attribution to "city leaders."

There are all sorts of reasons not to go with the direct quote -- maybe someone wouldn't say it on the record, maybe what they said was too long not to paraphrase, maybe (and most probably) the writer just didn't want to make the lede a quotation for style reasons.

But I just thought it was worth pointing out.

Jim Rosenberg

Joe - My point was that it was an account of something a City officials said, not a reporter reflecting on the case. It was an account of something a city official said. I'm assuming that the act of paraphrasing doesn't alter the reporter's obligation to be truthful. How is the distinction you raise relevant to the debate?

Joe Killian

I'm not sure it alters the debate, but I think it is relevant. It may seem like a small distinction but the longer I do this job (and the longer I see how people react to reporting) the more I think it's important to be very clear about everything.

I agree that reporters who paraphrase leaders have a responsibility to say what they actually said as closely as they can -- and I'm sure they did in this case.

But if "direct quote" gets thrown around enough that's suddenly going to be what people believe in the same way that people now say that the News & Record called Wray a racist when what they mean is that they reported on city officials saying that he covered up what they believed was an investigation that went along racial lines. Somehow, through repetition of inaccurate information, people now believe that the N&R made accusations rather than reporting the accusations of others.

Here's a question I guess I'm interested to have answered by people who aren't reporters: if city leaders did say what was reported (and I don't see anyone saying that they didn't) how would the N&R justify NOT reporting that?

I hear people say constantly that the paper shouldn't have reported this thing or that because it wasn't the whole story -- even if more of the story is later told as it develops and we can get at it. It's irresponsible to tell just that part of a story, they say.

But just as many people say just as loudly that if we hold back in reporting something until we know more about it we're media dinosaurs withholding information from the people because we, as elitist gatekeepers, have decided for them what they should know and when.

Is there any way to win? Or is everything a reporter could possibly do in a story that's likely to be controversial wrong, depending on who you ask? And if that's the case -- why should they bother worrying about it?

Ed Cone

Jim, I'm asking where it leaves Wray, the City, and the N&R if the racial angle is removed-- not saying it wasn't there in the first place.

We are where we are. Where is that, exactly?

Tony Wilkins

Our desired location is currently Mitchell Johnson, all city council members who share in equal guilt, and the N&R issuing an apology to David Wray and his benefits being restored.
Are we there yet?

Jill Williams

The day that (then interim) Chief Bellamy called me at the GTRC office to tell me I had been surveilled by someone in the GPD (still don't know any details and have absolutely no memory of the two women who apparently met with other citizens), I talked with several reporters who wanted quotes about how I "felt" knowing that I had been surveilled. My responses were apparently too long for the soundbytes the reporters wanted, but my concern then (and now) is that David Wray and Randall Brady were going to become scapegoats in this whole story and that we'd lose focus on the larger issues. Although I understand that David Wray deserves a fair public "trial" in terms of character allegations, our larger concern really should be about making sure we have a safe community, made possible in part by a well functioning police department. It is much easier to blame one person (Mitch Johnson, David Wray, James Hinson, etc.) for the problem than it is to question the much larger and more unweildy system. But allowing one person to become the scapegoat for what is obviously a much larger problem (the GPD had serious problems prior to David Wray, Mitch Johnson and James Hinson) is taking the easy way out and denying ourselves the opportunity to make Greensboro a stronger community.

Jim Rosenberg

I see. My take is that we will never get out of this pattern until a stakeholder for the status quo makes a conspicuous out-of-character gesture in the direction of the truth. This could b the N&R acknowledging in retrospect that its coverage of the story sensationalized the racial aspect of the case. It could be Wray taking off his mouthpiece and saying that he can't win for losing because the whole reason he kept some stuff secret was because he didn't want it to turn into some huge racial thing, and now it has. It could be Johnson admitting that when Ahearn's story hit the fan, he felt the heat from all directions and felt pressure to do something decisive. It could be affinity groups and people on both ideological sides remaining open to a narrative other than a parable pure good versus pure evil. To me, it's like we're in Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day." We need someone to show a sign that they have learned something or we will be doomed to repeat this insanity.

Bubba

"Are we there yet?"

We are, others are not.

Too many people diverted themselves to La La Land quite some time ago.

They're too far gone to see and hear what we've been telling them for quite some time now.

Jill  Williams

I think I agree, Jim, for the most part. It seems like Greensboro has a prime opportunity right now (in the face of this mess and the GTRC report's release) to come together and come up with an action plan for making sure the GPD is accountable to the community and that the community is open to being in partnership with the GPD to help them do their work. The question, for me, is which party (stakeholder) has the credibility to initiate an effective process?

Perhaps, as you said, the first step needs to be one party making itself vulnerable regarding the limited "good vs. evil" allegations against David Wray. Or perhaps we could start earlier, and a first step could be the city council acknowledging the GPD's failure to protect citizens on Nov. 3, 1979. Either way might get the ball rolling...

Jim Rosenbgerg

In my opinion, the next best opportunity to build trust is the civil rights museum. It seems like a good thing for Greensboro, both socially and economically. It sure would be nice to come together around something positive with respect to race. It's obvious that the involvement of Skip Alston and Earl Jones is the reason the museum does not enjoy broad community and taxpayer support. This is a classic Greensboro situation. There are dozens of ways to structure funding to incorporate concerns over financial oversight. There are dozens of ways for Skip and Earl to distance themselves from day-to-day authority over the organization's financial expenditures. There are impartial standards that could be developed and applied to consideration of all such projects that would take the issue of race out of the equation. There are also obvious ways this whole thing could devolve into a bitter and highly publicized war over whether racism is to blame for this southern city's reluctance to support a civil rights museum. How will it play out, and who will make a gesture designed to build trust? Whoever does will be starting something.

The CA

I submit the answer to your question Ed, "where does it leave us now", is that it leaves us where we started. Until the drumbeat of making sensational allegations about racism in this City comes to an end, there will be more David Wray's because those who push it have learned that it works. The facts aren't important.

In the specific case of David Wray, it is either a misunderstanding that blew up, or a nicely orchestrated coup driven by special interests who duped an incompetent City Manager.

I agree with Bubba that the meme has deliberately changed from racist to mere liar because the evidence doesn't support the former. That is often the case especially when the N&R gets involved. They are quick to sensationalize racist allegations and hesitant to downright stubborn in correcting the record or providing the facts that disprove race as an issue.

There is a difference from a headline that reads "Chief Targeted Blacks" and a page two story line captioned "Race Not A Factor Says Chief". The first is essentially a statement of fact, the second an attribution. It's easy to see what side the paper is taking by such things. Joe says they only report what people say. But it's more than that. It's how it is reported and whether these people are asked for evidence before it is reported. Then there is always the other side which should get equal attention when such accusations are tossed around.

Johnson, Miles, and the N&R ALL tried to paint Wray as a racist. That is pretty much a universal understanding by everyone paying attention to the story from all different perspectives.

Nobody should allow any of those people to get away now simply by saying "well, he may not be a racist, but he did lie". Even if that is true, and I don't believe it is, it does not justify the smear campaign especially in this city where race relations are always being beat into a frenzy without cause.

Bubba

".....it does not justify the smear campaign especially in this city where race relations are always being beat into a frenzy without cause."

Ah, but don't you know we can solve all this simply by funding and building the Civil Rights Museum, to show outsiders we're not the racists and a racist society, despite what the local enablers and the N&R would have the rest of the world believe?

Ed Cone

"...the meme has deliberately changed from racist to mere liar because the evidence doesn't support the former."

The problem with this as a blanket statement is that it ignores the documented facts.

Alleged misleading statements by Wray have always been central to the story.

Also, the fact that Wray himself shows no signs of being motivated by racism doesn't rule out the possibility that race played some role in this story.

Anthony

"Also, the fact that Wray himself shows no signs of being motivated by racism doesn't rule out the possibility that race played some role in this story."

I still kind of like jaycee's theory from this time last year as to what may have been part of the underlying cause, and how it ended up looking like racism:

Wray, like most every other CEO who takes over a major business, sought to dismantle the "good ol' boy" structure left by his predecessor and put in place a command structure loyal to him. In this case, unfortunately, the "good ol' boys" happened to be black, and therein lies the rub. Chief White did basically the same thing with his predecessor's "good ol' boys" but they were white, so the N&R, the Pulpit Forum, Nelson Johnson, et. al., didn't scream "Racism!" and attack.
Bubba

"The problem with this as a blanket statement is that it ignores the documented facts."

Such as?

Ed Cone

The documented facts showing that the City's case against Wray has long involved allegations of misleading statements and conduct include the items linked in the comment above.

That includes the statement from Mitch Johnson from January 2006 that lists as its lead item "Chief Wray misled, or failed to properly inform, the City Manager, the City Council, and others within the City administration with a need to know, that Lieutenant James Hinson's possible involvement with subjects of a combined investigation [...] had been reviewed and determined to be without merit...the Chief failed to notify the City Manager at any point that Lt. Hinson had been cleared of any criminal liability in 2003 and cleared by Internal Affairs in 2004..." Etc.

Item 2 is about hiding the alleged black book -- not its existence, which is acknowledged to be potentially legit.

Item 3 is about SID operating outside the chain of command.

John Hammer wrote this in January 2006: "The Police Chief David Wray resignation story [...] isn't just about race although there are some racial factors that cannot be ignored.

"This story is about honesty and trust, and it can be summed up simply: City Manager Mitch Johnson, Mayor Keith Holliday, and [the rest of the Council members] didn't trust former Police Chief David Wray and don't believe Wray was honest with them..."

The trust and honesty meme was in place from the start.

That does not mean that race was not factored in, and perhaps exaggerated (and attributed wrongly to Wray himself) but it does put the lie to the story that honesty and trust were added only later in the tale.

Bubba

So,Ed.....have you asked John Hammer if he still feels that way?

Or shall we accept his later comments as evidence of his current opinion?

Let's start here:

"Johnson talks about how he supported Wray right up until he locked him out of his office, but the facts don't support that. Johnson had earlier taken away Wray's ability to hire and fire. And from the very beginning, when Johnson overruled Wray on a key dismissal, it was clear that Johnson was working to undermine Wray."

So why did you post your Rhino link, Ed?

The other link you provided reads like good fiction.

"Alleged misleading statements by Wray have always been central to the story" doesn't platy anymore, particularly given the current knowledge we have about the writer of the second link, and the obvious change of opinion by the writer in the first link.

Why the continuous defense of a meme that, along with the "racism" garbage, clearly doesn't work anymore?

Perhaps it's just that you have an alternate set of "documented facts" reserved for you alone.

Ed Cone

The question you raised, Bubba, is whether or not the issues of trust and honesty were in place from the start, or added late in the game ("...the meme has deliberately changed from racist to mere liar...")

As the links and quotes above show, those themes of trust and honesty were very much present quite early on.

That's the relevance of the Hammer quote -- it shows what he was thinking, and being told, way back in January of 2006. Whether he's since changed his mind on any number of things doesn't undo that fact.

By the same token, Mitch Johnson's statement from Jan. '06 cites Wray's alleged withholding of information. Your views of Johnson's own trustworthiness don't change that documented fact; he wasn't just crying racism, he was calling Wray a liar.

The timeline of statements about Wray's alleged dishonesty clearly extends back quite far into the history of this case.

Bubba

The timeline has nothing to do with it. This is not some sort of pulp fiction/

WHERE is the evidence that supports anything Mitch Johnson has said or done?

WHERE is the rest of the documentation and information that caused Sandy Carmany to say she "smirked" knowing the information she had seen (or was that had been "told"?) that the rest of us had not?

Do you not think it's a very good possibility at this point that nothing of that nature exists?


Mitch Johnson, and Linda Miles need to be held accountable to justify their conduct displayed by their words and actions

Our new City Council should be told in no uncertain terms that we expect them to conduct the accountability audit of our highest ranking city employees.

If they do not, we will hold them accountable too.

Jim Rosenberg

Enough.

The CA

Ed, you are confusing racism with race. Yes, there is a racial overtone but that doesn't make it a racist overtone. The meme has indeed changed from Wray being a racist and a liar (maybe that's the part I left out) to Wray simply being a liar. No evidence has been presented that Wray did anything because he has a problem with black people.

Ed Cone

"No evidence has been presented that Wray did anything because he has a problem with black people."

That would make a good starting point for a newspaper column, huh?

Bubba

"No evidence has been presented that Wray did anything because he has a problem with black people."

And no evidence has been presented that Wray is a "liar".

David Wray should not have to prove he is innocent of the charges that have been carefully crafted against him.

Mitch Johnson and his enablers need to provide evidence of his guilt.

That has clearly not happened.

meblogin

How about we try this...

If Wray was fired for not giving enough or adequate information to his superior...then Johnson should be fired for same.

Sandy C. (I like her) has said much earlier...if only we knew what she knows we would all understand. We are waiting for her subordinate to do precisely that.

Mitch (I don't know him) has said that he is finished with this subject and has released all that he is going to.....darn

Miles (nope..don't know her) needs to fully explain the Jones letter or be fired for same.

So far we do not have adequate information to move on....or I don't.

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