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« Oh yeah, didn't they have something to do with 9/11? | Main | Normal, if you ignore the burned-out buildings »

Feb 09, 2008

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Doug H

"...this is not the way Greensboro politics have been practiced in the past."

If, indeed, some on the City Council are starting to show signs of leadership, I ask that they take to heart Jim Rosenburg's words on an earlier thread, which I misquote here:

"What policies have been instituted to keep something like this from happening again?"

Are we going to see true leadership, or knee jerks?

Jiim Rosenberg

I see no problem with this, Ed. It's not pointless bickering, but aggressive oversight.

After the tremendous cost of this whole affair to individuals and the city at large, Mitch Johnson says the following last week in a prepared statement:

"At one time, I stated that 'I would be uncomfortable if I was a black officer'. I stand by that statement given the way these issues were handled by the previous administration."

Stunning. This is simply "Connect the dots" [http://snipurl.com/1zbyh] with different words. I'm trying to wrap my mind around that statement. At the very least, if I were a on the Council here is what I would say to Mitch Johnson: "Stop Hinting At Racism, Period. You've done quite enough damage with your sloppy statements, thank you very much. Go back and find everything and release absolutely any of it that is legally permissible by the broadest definition. Stop hinting that the rest of it supports your case. The Council will be meeting to discuss your performance."

Stormy

Mitch Johnson actual comments were:

“If I was a black officer, I would certainly feel targeted,” Johnson said. “Whether it represents systematic racism or simply very poor decision making … is yet to be determined.”

Mr. Rosenberg, this is much more stunning than his new statement. Use of racism...yeah.

jc

Mitch has no one to blame for what is going on in Greensboro but himself. He started the Wray fray with the lockout but he has continued to make blunders at every turn, as Jim has alluded to above, and now we are where we are. I really believe he has told so many stories he can't keep them straight anymore. He has to be held accountable for the mess we are in. The city is divided. We need someone who can unite us. I hope the council members will back Rakestraw next week. His game is old and tired.

Brideshead

Ed, you are absolutely on target with your comments. So many facts have been lost in the sound and fury. First, no one did anything to David Wray except inform him that an outside agency found enough irregularities in the department to justify an investigation, during which Wray would be on paid leave.

This is absolutely standard in the department, and Wray had certainly taken that action himself many times. Yes, it was unusual for it to be someone of such high rank, but then his second-in-command was one of the ones who had been at the center of the controversy. The City's web site contains a wealth of factual information which, if carefully studied, demonstrates just how dangerous the practices of some of the officers had become.

Wray, as chief, could and should have worked with the Manager, as Bellamy did, to clean it up. The tape of his conversation with the Manager, which is public, clearly shows he was given the chance to do that. It would appear that his pride wouldn't let him admit any problems. Instead, when informed of the upcoming investigation, Wray chose to resign. Instead of explaining to Johnson then how the lineup book came to be, he waited until two weeks after his resignation to announce it to the public. This weekend's memo shows that he knew about it and "secured" it in July of 05.

But at this point, none of this seems to matter. All facts are dismissed as cover-up and excuse. I'm not sure that anything can be done to fix the damage done to this community or City government by a small group of influential and unscrupulous people who seem to be out for blood. They have been brilliant at manipulating local government's inability to release much of the information on which it bases its actions, and not even the mainstream media has been responsible enough to admit that Manager Johnson is, indeed, following the law in these matters.

Johnson is a good manager and a man of integrity. The Police Department, while disappointingly uncomfortable saying so publicly, has expressed enormous gratitude to him for having the courage to address a problem which most managers would have been reluctant to tackle.

It's been said that more City Managers have been fired by their Police Chiefs than the other way around; since Johnson didn't come up through the traditional training routes for this job, he believed if he did the right thing, he could handle the consequences. He has had to. Apparently Greensboro can't.

Billy The Blogging Poet

"Mitch has no one to blame for what is going on in Greensboro but himself."

Well JC, it's not often you and I agree but this time I believe you to be dead on the money.

The thing that has troubled me from the very beginning is that resigned or fired the Wray Fray never had to come to this. Johnson went about shooting his mouth off making insinuations about Wray when, if what Johnson is now saying is the truth is in-fact true, Johnson never had to answer to anyone.

We all know Johnson is a favorite son of the Bobble head so there would have been no pressure on his job and yet he chose to go public with matters that could have been just as easily kept private. All Johnson had to say was, "Chief Wray resigned," and if anyone called him on it he had tape to prove it but instead Johnson chooses the theatrical performance. WTF?

For some reason Johnson felt the need to discredit Wray and that is the cause of this entire mess.

I, for one, have been fired from several jobs but in the instances where I was the problem my bosses simply showed me the door. It was only when fired unfairly that bosses chose to drag my name through the mud.

A good boss remains above the fray but Mitch Johnson chose to create the fray. So either Johnson is a very bad boss or a crook?

Spag

"It would appear that his pride wouldn't let him admit any problems."

That could be just as easily applied to Mitch Johnson.

Is Bellamy cleaning things up? Read the newspaper, because it doesn't appear so.

Is Mitch an innocent victim of the restraints that the law has put upon him?

I doubt it. He has no problem commenting on matters or offering his opinion on evidence that he claims the law will not allow him to reveal. You can't have it both ways. If the law won't allow him to release the documents, it won't allow him to comment on their content. There is no distinction between providing a piece of paper publicly and quoting from that piece of paper publicly. If he can quote it or comment and characterize it, he can release it to the public.

Otherwise, he should have just kept his mouth shut and let the legal department or the City Council (who have the authority to release such things) handle those issues.

The simple fact AND the law is that the City Council can vote to release anything they want to regardless of what the legal department says.

He may be a great guy, but his troubles on these matters are of his own doing with a little help from his friends.

Stormy

Brideshead,

Your post sounds oh so reasonable and calm. But, you made a statement that bothers me, and hopefully, you can provide some facts and content. What I read of your post appears to be nothing more than your opinion.

"The City's web site contains a wealth of factual information which, if carefully studied, demonstrates just how dangerous the practices of some of the officers had become."

So, please provide us some information on what you believe were practices that were so dangerous. Give us the facts and the documentation that supports them as facts.

John Amberg

Was the Black Book a tool of racial profiling or was it just routine police work? Another question: if a description of a suspect is "a black man, 6 ft 2, 210 pounds, wire rim glasses, etc," is THAT considered racial profiling or simply a cop doing his job to bring in the suspect?

There are two scenarios here, and neither one are very attractive for Mitch Johnson. Either he did not know the Black Book memo existed, which means he's running a slipshod and incompetent department, or he deliberately misled the media and was caught in a boldface lie.

This city deserves better. And none of this is helping solve the real problems in Greensboro. We have crime spiraling out of control, gang activity and violence on the increase, and nowhere near enough cops on the street. Response time has slowed to a crawl.

Will you feel safer when Greensboro citizens decide enough is enough and begin arming themselves?

Nick

Ed you are right! This one has been coming from quite some time. It was a not so subtle part of the Rakestraw and Wade campaign. The interesting part is that they might see bringing the manager down as satisfying for their political supporters which may be true on a temporary basis. However, in less than 2 years when they face the entire electorate, their current actions will match their previous track record which caused them to be booted as commissioners. What goes around, come back around.Rakestraw assumes she has a mandate but in realtiy a political newcomer Abuzaiter almost eclipsed her for the 3rd at large spot. That doesnt sound like a mandate to me.

Brideshead.. great post and i could not agree with you more. Those of us that believe in our community must fight back against the tabloid crowd where innuendo and gossip replace the facts.

I have always said perhaps the truth about this entire drama is somewhere in the middle. I know many of you believe i am a Johnson supporter. I am not so much a Johnson supporter as I am void of any "real" answers from Wray. What disturbs me is why is Wray hiding behind Bledsoe/Rhino? Why does he continue to refuse interviews with the News & Record or other media so hard questions can be answered and not the sanitized Bledose version? Please explain in his own words, why he asked Brady to secure the black book. Why didnt he tell Johnson that he knew of the exisitence of the book. Why would Wray question the integrity of retired investigators (Thacker etc.) that he brought in to investigate Hinson. Was it because they didnt reach the conclusion he wanted. There are just so many questions that only Wray can answer but he refuses to speak. Johnson, whether you believe him or not, has been willing to talk as much as he legally could, and granted interviews about the topic on multiple occasions. So Stormy, Joe, Bubba, Spag and all the others.....when you can get Wray to do a news conference and answer the HARD questions, perhaps I can truly believe his version of events. Right now however....silence is deafening. Any if you choose to respond to this post, please give me definitive comments made BY Wray and not through surrogates, Rhino,Bledsoe etc.

Roch101

"Manager Johnson is, indeed, following the law in these matters." -- Brideshead

No, he is not. He casts about for reasons to obstruct the release of what should be public information under the guise of following the law, but he ignores the law that would compel him to act against his desires for secrecy.

There are plenty of examples, I'll give you one: The RMA Report. First we were told that it couldn't be released because it was part of an SBI investigation. When that investigation came to an end, Johnson said that the RMA report could not be released because of "Gardner/Garrity" rules. I asked Mitch at a press conference if Gardner/Garrity rules prohibited the release of information or simply protected information obtained by compelled interviews of police from being used against them. He concurred, rightly, that it was the later. So I asked him what reason he had left for not releasing the RMA report. His reply? "Common sense."

You might find these shifting rationals and excuses of convenience to be signs of integrity. I find them to be contemptuous of the people Johnson serves.

Nick

Roch101 you didnt answer me. You keep mentioning Johnson. Where are the definitive Wray statements about his actions, NOT using Bledsoe, Rhino or other surrogates. Only in HIS words explaining things.????

Roch101

"Roch101 you didnt answer me." -- Nick

Nick, I didn't know you where addressing me. I can address your concerns about Wray by noting that, were I Wray, I'd have good reason not to trust the N&R or that, despite your desire to deal with the facts, you get them wrong a lot, when you write that Wray did not tell Johnson of the line-up book, for example.

But, more importantly, I keep "mentioning Johnson" because Johnson is a public servant accountable to you and me, Wray, Bledsoe et al. are not. The organization Johnson leads has obligations under the law to provide us with information it thus far has refused to release. If you desire not to see this played out in a "tabloid" fashion any longer, then you'll join me in calling for the release of documents surrounding this affair. Contemporaneous documentation of the events as they transpired are they key to the truth. Sam Spagnola, Joe Guarino and I made a formal request of the city for public documents over three months ago. It has gone largely unfulfilled. Will you voice your support for our request?

Roger Greene

Somebody cut David Wray down off the cross. Greensboro developers need the wood to build more multi family housing.

Roch101

Nick you didn't answer me.

Tony Wilkins

Cone: "For better or worse, this is not the way Greensboro politics have been practiced in the past.
Rakestraw and Wade are bringing a County commission vibe to the City Council."

As opposed to say, bobbleheads?

Exciting isn't it?

Tony Wilkins

Ed,
So far nobody can answer this question. Do you know specifically who originally claimed the photo line up book was racially motivated?

Question to Margaret Banks cc Line Up Book Accusations
http://www.busybeingbornblog.com/?p=18

Roch101

Nick you didn't answer me.

Tony Wilkins

Roch, I also pose this same question to you. You're good at the research stuff.

So far nobody can answer this question. Do you know specifically who originally claimed the photo line up book was racially motivated?

Question to Margaret Banks cc Line Up Book Accusations
http://www.busybeingbornblog.com/?p=18


Roch101

Tony,

One of the things I think would be extremely helpful for our community would be to create a time-line of these events, searchable and interactive with links to source documents. I could build a cool one, but have little time right now to give to un-paid work. (Maybe the N&R or the Weaver Foundation would hire me...)

Because no such time-line exists, I caution that my recollection may not be complete. I do not remember anybody saying specifically that the black book was racially motivated, per se. I first find the claim being made by inference in this January 11, 2006 N&R article by Eric J.S. Townsend and Eric Swensen. It opens with:

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.

Part of the cover-up included the hiding of a “black book” that contained photos of at least 19 African American officers, officials said late Tuesday. The book was eventually recovered by investigators probing allegations of misconduct within the Greensboro Police Department.

What remains unclear to me is if "targeted black officers" are the reporters' words or if those were the words of "Greensboro officials."

You can contact the reporters if you want to try to clarify:

eswensen@news-record.com
etownsend@news-record.com

Stormy

Roch,

The RMA Report of December 19, 2005, made this suggestion on Page 26. This page begins to advance the theory that the black book was used to target black officers. The following statement "The perception of the minority officers is supported by the fact that they were the focus of Sanders' investigative efforts and photographs of a number of them were shown for various reasons to people in the community." makes it pretty clear. It is interesting to note that there is nothing in the report to document the "fact" that they cite.

I suspect that the alleged targeting of back officers via the black book originated here with RMA. Of course, they made that accusation without any proof, but that was just one of the many shortcomings of that report. Obviously, the city gave copies of this report to council members to horrify them with the atrocities of the Wray Administration, but never intended for it to get into the public view. Once that occurred, many questions began to be asked. Otherwise, Wray and his command staff could have been purged with no opposition.

Roch101

Good point, Stormy. I was thinking in the public realm. There was an attachment to the RMA report, I think it may have been referred to as "staff report" or something like that, it may offer some insight into who lead RMA to make that claim.

Ed Cone

Is there a copy of the RMA report on line these days? My old links are all busted.

Spag

Johnson himself said on January 10, 2006:

"If I was a black officer, I would certainly feel targeted. “Whether it represents systematic racism or simply very poor decision making … is yet to be determined.”

Okay so it was an either or question. Now we know that there was no "systematic racism" going on by use of the black book, so that leaves us with "very poor decision making". What exactly was a "very poor decision" in using the photo lineup in the way that the infamous two page memo says it was used?

Are standard police techniques considered "very poor decisions"?


Roch101

"Is there a copy of the RMA report on line these days?"

Have you checked the City's web site? There's a new commitment to transparency, you know.

Roch101

Nick, you didn't answer me.

Nick

I supported the request when you and Joe and Sam made it awhile back. I believe my exact comment was that i trust Joe to do the right thing.

There seems to be a consistent unwillingness( which is why I drop in less often on this site) to believe anything other than the version served up by the award winning journalist. I hope more people like me not only question the City version but ALSO question the AWJJBRHV. (Award winning journalist jerry bledsoe revisionist history version)

My fear now is the same as it was then. Will you do the right thing once you get the information, or is it only to further an agenda. This entire mess has too many variables, too many players who feel they were wronged for me to buy the AWJJBRHV hook, line and sinker. It is that failure to only allow in your thinking that the former Chief "may have made a few mistakes" then quickly attack all of the other players which makes me question motives.

I also think individuals deserve a fair chance instead trial by media...first assumptions.. (Duke case, Richard Jewel etc) In one of the memos recently released i totally agreed with the comment that the right to a fair trial trumps everything else. If you or I or anyone else were in this situation, i would hope the facts and truth would matter. Yet, we are a society of polarization and instant gratification...NEWS NOW, a sense of entitlement...and the belief that we should always be in the know.

So this was probably more of an answer than you wanted...I am traveling again and not posting as often.

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