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« NewzJunky | Main | No do-overs? »

Feb 12, 2008

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Fec

It will be done because it is politically expedient and keeps a few campaign promises.

jw

"Whatever Johnson's missteps, if the Council fires him it should serve scapegoat for dinner that night."

Friend speaks my mind.

John D. Young

Is our Greensboro system of a part time "weak mayor" that places most of the official responsibility onto a city manager the proper system for Greensboro in the 21st Century?

Some cities have found that a "weak mayor system" like ours does not allow sufficient focus and responsibility. Some cities have found the "weak mayor" or "city manager system" to be organizationally weak and not sufficiently responsible to the entire community.

I guess the idea behind the appointed city manager (a system widely used) is to provide more "professionalism" and to provide a somewhat nonpolitical approach that is suppose to be less affected by "political motivations, cronyism, or a political buddy system."

Is the lack of direct responsibility and accountability to the citizens of Greensboro a structural problem of our city manager system? Could our city benefit from a full time, strong mayor? No doubt the strong mayor system provides an official spokesperson.

Ed Cone

John Hammer and I are among those to opine that GSO should at least reconsider it's current system.

My argument was not to replace the manager, but to add a full time mayor: We need a mayor who wields enough authority to make the office a special position. That may not have been true in decades past, when for better or worse power was concentrated in fewer hands. But power has become much more diffuse over the last generation, leaving Greensboro with no focus of leadership. Corporations come and go. Interest groups put their own interests first. Who speaks for all of the city? Who can bring the players together? The mayor should fill that void...

...The mayor doesn't need to be the chief administrative officer...but the mayor's status of first among equals, squandered too often by the laid-back Holliday and his reticent predecessor, Carolyn Allen, would get some added heft. The redefined mayor's job might attract more dynamic individuals, but in any case the gavel would be wielded with more authority."

Patrick

As a very casual observer of city politics, here's what this looks like to me: (1) Axes are being ground on every side of this thing that have very little to do with the ostensible subject(s) of the debate. What they're really fighting about is race. (2) All bureaucracies, but especially governmental and working class ones (police departments are both), tend to become cauldrons of entitlement and resentment, which is one reason they need leadership from without. There's too much promoting from the inside around here. (3) The manager appears arrogant, a trait he might have noticed his predecessor employ to apparent success. (4) Moderate mayors and city council members have been too reticent, and now they won't be able to stop the former county commissioners from turning everything upside down for their own political purposes and because that's the only way they know how to act.

Bubba

"This is a failure of political leadership as much as anything."

.....which does not in the least exonerate the city manager from his absolutely inexcusable and wholly execrable behavior over the past several years in many separate incidents and situations.

It also does not grant a pass to the non-official and non-accountable outside interests who have taken effective control of the city government away from the citizens.

It's up to the citizens to correct the failure of the "political" portion, something that the special interests groups are apparently not willing to allow us to have.

Spag

"Moderate mayors and city council members have been too reticent, and now they won't be able to stop the former county commissioners from turning everything upside down for their own political purposes and because that's the only way they know how to act."

Interesting observation, Patrick. On the other hand, those Commissioners are also a lot more battle scarred and may be far more experienced at getting things done because they are used to taking big hits.

Anthony

If Mitch is fired, and that's the end of the story, then I'd agree - a goat is definitely getting scaped there. However, if he's fired as part of a larger effort to restore confidence in city leadership and prevent this sort of thing from happening again, then I think that would be a legitimate action. Considering the City Council's role in this (as you pointed out), there would still be an element of scapegoatery, but it wouldn't be nearly as blatant.

Jeffrey Sykes

Bledsoe:

"Late October 2005

Draft of the city legal report is completed by Assistant City Attorneys Blair Carr and ToNola Brown-Bland. It discusses the photo lineups described in the memo turned over by Brady. It also states: "Creating line-ups to depict all African-American officers who were on patrol during the time of the offense is an appropriate investigative tool."

Ed: What do you think of this one revelation vis a vis the later depiction of the black book as a racist tool and Johnson's statement that "he would have felt discriminated against"?

Doesn't this revelation by the city legal staff call in to question the entire scope of the city's posture and rhetoric related to the black book that has followed?

Can anyone rationally deny that the inflamed rhetoric of a "black book" is the most palpable aspect of the entire Fray? Yet they already had deemed it an appropriate police tool?

On that one question, what are your thoughts?

Others?

Ed Cone

Jeff, that lineups are a legitimate tool is not in doubt; it's the alleged usage of this one that is at issue -- and that's not even the whole issue.

As noted quite recently in another thread, the RMA report says the "Black Book" was created by Sanders' unit to "investigate a criminal allegation of misconduct by a GPD officer...The suspected officer was black, but his identity was unknown to the complainant/victim. When Sanders first attempted to have a civilian GPD employee create these 'line-ups', she resisted...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."

The City Attorney's report goes on after the section you quote from Bledsoe to say that Wray discussing the lineup with investigators might have "gone a long way to dispelling the allegations" of misuse. "Instead, the Chief ordered Deputy Chief Brady to secure and conceal it...these line-ups have been in the trunk of Brady's police vehicle -- their existence sequestered from the black officers, their attorneys and the City Attorney."

The "black book" certainly got a lot of media coverage and public attention. But if you read the RMA report and the City statements, it is just one element among many said to contribute to the loss of trust to which Wray alluded in his resignation statement.

Jeffrey Sykes

"Instead, the Chief ordered Deputy Chief Brady to secure and conceal it...these line-ups have been in the trunk of Brady's police vehicle -- their existence sequestered from the black officers, their attorneys and the City Attorney."

But this rhetoric does not even match the accurate description of events, which show that Wray told Brady to secure the book on July 8 and told Johnson about that book on July 11, months before RMA came into the picture. So to say he hid the book instead of bringing it forward is inaccurate, and in my view, an untenable position for the city to hang its hat on.

Further, the city attorneys knew about the book because it says so in their memo of late October, yet these accusations of hiding the black book are made much later.

Second, if city investigators are looking for a book containing "all" black police officers, and no such book exists, is it not an accurate statement for Wray to say no such book exists?

If the time line Bledsoe presents is true, how can citizens of Greensboro acccept such distortions of truth on the part of the city staff and Chief Bellamy?

I could not.

I understand the position of saying it wasn't just the black book, but the Hinson aspect tilts to Wray's favor from my perspective and I'm just now hearing any talk of the academy.

It was the black book they used to crucify David Wray. It was what Johnson went on about in early 2006 and it is the aspect that most of the specific debate has focused on.

I feel like Hoggard most of the time, in that it's not really any of my business, but even from Reidsville the City of Greensboro's actions smell really bad.

Ed Cone

You mischaracterize Johnson's statements in early 2006 and generally oversimplify a complex case. Not to be unkind, but if you are just now hearing about the police academy, I wonder what other aspects of the public record on this story might be unfamiliar to you.

Look, I'm not a spokesman for the city. I think it says something that the Council has backed the manager, but I also would like to see more information. And I think the coverage of the black book by the media helped skew this thing from the start.

There are so many important issues, including some raised by Bledsoe about the culture Wray faced at GPD and crime in GSO, and the political consequences of the City's handling of this whole thing, that need to be addressed. Trying to come up with a Wray-did-no-wrong story at this point seems to me like magical thinking, and a big distraction as well.

Jeffrey Sykes

Ed: Not saying he did no wrong. In fact, I've said several times he likely made mistakes or things he could have done different.

What I don't understand is the black and white failure of the charges leveled against him to stand up to logical examination piece by piece.

It's one thing to examine each aspect on its own merits and something else to say its too complex to be broken down into components.

That's where the clarity is lost, in my opinion.

History is broken into two aspects, the broad strokes and the slice of life details. You generally can't understand one without the other.

I agree with the middle third of your previous comment.

Roch101

"photographs of a number of them were shown for various reasons to people in the community." -- RMA Report

Has this ever been substantiated by anything other than this sentence in the RMA report? Is this claim sourced in the RMA report? I seem to recall that it is not.

Ed Cone

Roch, the sourcing for the allegation in the RMA report is a group of minority officers who approached the manager with the information. Later in the report, it is stated as a "fact." The RMA report, for what it's worth, devotes three paragraphs of its 31 pages to the "black book," along with two numbered items on a list of 38 conclusions.

The City Attorney's report, equally parsimonious in the amount of attention paid to the "black book," says it was "rumored" that Special Intelligence was "indiscriminately" showing an earlier set of arrays to "suspects and informants."

Spag

"If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right."
- Animal Farm

Ed, you base your opinion on what Mitch Johnson has said as if what he says is conclusive evidence. That is not evidence, that is his characterization or interpretation of events. In order to determine if Wray lied to Johnson, we need to know exactly what Wray said to Johnson in private. There is nothing restraining Johnson legally from disclosing that information, yet he hasn't.

Who were the officers that said the "black book" was shown to others and what evidence do they have to support this? That is also something that there is no legal impediment to revealing, yet it remains undisclosed.

Once again, the evidence you claim is simply what someone said, and even that is categorized by the RMA at one point as simply rumors.

You imply that there must be something to the allegations (despite the passage of two years and no additional evidence to support the allegations being released) because of the way City Council voted on the matter.

This discounts that the City Council was also relying on what they were being told by Miles and Johnson. Miles clearly had an axe to grind with Wray as evidenced by the garage memo that was released and to this date has never been explained by her or anyone else at the City.

It also discounts that some on the Council may have also had a stake in seeing David Wray axed because of their own involvement in Project Homestead and quite possibly some other matters that have been rumored but not yet mentioned anywhere.

I have heard all kinds of things from some people involved in various activities that could possibly be connected to this story in some manner and if true, would be extremely embarrassing to a number of surprising people, but none of it is concrete and I have seen no evidence to support any of it. But it could explain the actions of some people. Would it be fair to rely on this kind of hearsay without evidence to use it against others and then argue that it has any substance? No it wouldn't. But somehow we treat rumors about the GPD under Wray as told by "three officers" as substantial.

At some point you need to question why more explanations haven't been forthcoming and why none of the allegations have been substantiated with evidence. Recall that in October, Johnson said he was done explaining things and nothing else would be released. Is that satisfactory? Has it occurred to you that maybe there is nothing else to release to support the City and that is why there is nothing else coming out?

Don't you think Johnson would have shown his hand on some of these key issues if had the cards by now? There is nothing preventing him from doing so legally or otherwise. And contrary to his assertion the other day, he faces no personal liability for anything so long as the City Council votes to release documents in the public interest. Now wouldn't evidence of what Wray actually told him fit the bill? He could go to the Council and say "I want to release this because I think it is in the public interest to know exactly what was said, and I'm asking for your permission to do so". If they vote to allow him, he has NO liability.

But this hasn't been done. Instead, we are told he can't. What he hasn't said is that he has evidence to support his position. It certainly looks like he's hiding behind the law (incorrectly) because he doesn't want to admit that he has nothing- so he bluffs and again says "if you only knew what I knew" making us believe he still has cards.

Then ask yourself why the documents that have been released unofficially contradict what we have been told. Does it start to make sense yet that the reason nothing else is coming from the City is because the documents prove that Johnson was wrong about the way he has characterized things and that he might have a very big interest in not letting that out?

Look at the big picture, Ed, and what do you really see ? Is there really any explanation for it? Do you continue to trust someone who has been repeatedly undermined by the evidence in the case and who makes excuses over and over, and who has contradicted himself on several occasions while denying the same, and who incorrectly states the law and uses it as a shield to prevent further disclosures?

I knew you were a big government kind of guy, but don't you think this is giving them way too much lenience considering what is known?

Tony Wilkins

Ed Cone: "Roch, the sourcing for the allegation in the RMA report is a group of minority officers who approached the manager with the information. Later in the report, it is stated as a "fact."

Any idea as to the identity of these officers?
To say "a group" is a very generic description to substantiate such an important "fact".

Joe Guarino

Who was responsible for making the initial allegations regarding the "black book"? I am told by two sources in a position to know, clearly independent of each other, that one of the black officers circulating this allegation was Allen Wallace-- perhaps not coincidentally, who also happens to be one of the three fellows recently accused in the sexual assault incident that occurred a couple of months ago. He was one of Wray's critics; and was one of the black officers hurling accusatory questions at Wray during the August, 2005 meeting organized jointly by Joe Williams and Mitchell Johnson.

Spag

Joe, don't you know by now that mere anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations are facts, and that you are guilty until you prove your innocence?

I think it's also accurate to say that if you substituted "George W. Bush" for "Mitch Johnson" many of the people who are buying into this whole notion of some innocent explanation by the City that has yet to come forward two years into this ordeal would have a completely different take, would be making the same argument that myself and others have been making about the lack of evidence (WMD anyone?) and screaming for impeachment.

Anthony

Sam,

"I think it's also accurate to say that if you substituted "George W. Bush" for "Mitch Johnson" many of the people who are buying into this whole notion of some innocent explanation by the City that has yet to come forward two years into this ordeal would have a completely different take"

And of course it's likely that the opposite is also true.

Spag

I don't believe I have ever said anything to the contrary, Anthony.

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