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« Vincible | Main | Contradictions »

Jan 05, 2009

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Fec the Apostate

Jerry & the Hammers need to boil that cabbage down and really go for a publisher.

Doug H

We're supposed to believe that Mitch Johnson, a white man, "discriminated against David Wray based on his race (Caucasian)"?

Yes. I read the situation that Mitch was (and is) the puppet of the Simkins PAC and the pulpit forum, and did their bidding. They, in turn, were (presumably) covering for the black officers named in the suit, protecting them from investigation and from being fired from the force.

I agree, though, that it's curious that DW is taking this tack. Maybe he's just concerned for the community and is being very altruistic (since he's moved on to TN).

Spag

The suit alleges that the allegations against Wray were orchestrated to remove him from power and replace him with a black chief and/or to placate black officers and/or influential black leaders. That is discriminatory and not bizarre at all.

As far as the resignation, it's pretty clear that Wray was told to leave or lose his benefits. That is a constructive termination under any definition.

I am actually a little surprised that there wasn't a defamation action filed as well.

Fec the Apostate

Re defamation: St. Wray would have to sue himself. I think we should start a legal defense fund for our courageous city mgr, Mitch Johnson.

Don Moore

I'm still having issues imagining who will play the main characters in the Movie Version. Right now, we are still at Movie-Of-The-Week or Direct-To-Home level; hopefully, the lawsuit might promote this to A-List Stars.

I'm pretty sure the whole thing will get filmed in Vancouver, BC. No reason to come to Greensboro because all the action is not related to the location.

If we could get the movie made in Greensboro, we might break even financially.

Dr. Mary Johnson

It is very easy for people who have not walked this path to be critical and/or question legal tactics.

Spag is correct re: "constructive termination".

In terms of making light of defamation, let me share this aspect of my own experience. In my own situation, there is NO QUESTION that I . . . and acutally my former partner as well . . . were maligned/defamed and black-balled (for about an hour's radius around Asheboro). She had a family to support and chose to leave North Carolina.

North Carolina's loss.

If you want to keep your home and your life, you have no choice but to fight.

But as you fight, you garner a reputaion for the fight - oftentimes as harmful (if not more so) than the original defamation/blackball. It remains a problem for me in the immediate area. I am "radioactive" in the area surrounding Asheboro. While a practice may "love" me, hospital administrators hate my guts - or are scared of me (this was borne out fairly recently in a local job interview). I don't think that's going to change now. Ergo, I have no reason to stop.

It's amazing to me how the people that do these kinds of nasty/vindictive/destructive things to other people - especially professionals (like David Wray/like myself) - do not seem to get that when you destroy all of someone's viable options for happiness/success, they are much more likely to hang in until they fry you.

There's a lot of truth in the notion that "revenge" (in my case, and in Wray's, I don't think this is an accurate description) is a dish best served cold.

But fighting back is almost always a no-win in terms of getting back what you had. Of course you don't realize that until you've committed and invested so much of yourself. So it morphs into a battle rationalized on notions of right & wrong, or principle and/or about preventing what happened to you from happening to others. Alas, modern attention spans are short, and (as I have discovered) most of the people you're trying to enlighten/help could care less.

David Wray moved on the a "better job" in Tennessee. So fricking what? I would expect he would have preferred to stay and finish the job he was hired to do - and was fired for doing.

He was fortunate at least one newspaper and a local novelist took up his cause. Not everyone is so lucky.

I'm not surprised at all that Wray did not file a defamation claim. Of all my claims against Randolph Hospital, the defamation claim was the only one that the judge summarily dismissed. It was maddening given the blackball, but we live in America, and "slander"/"libel" claims are virtually impossible to win.

And Fec, the Dewey, Cheatem & Howe reference was cute. I hear "the firm" and "partners" are used on law-school exams.

Roch101

"let me share this aspect of my own experience..."

Ah, the perfect cure for insomnia.

Spag

And it all goes downhill from here. I'm gonna duck now and get out of the way...

Spag

Doyle v. Asheville Orthopaedic Association, 148 N.C. App. 173 (2001)

In general, evidence establishing constructive discharge “must demonstrate that the employer deliberately made working conditions intolerable and thereby forced [the plaintiff ] to quit.” Graham v. Hardee's Food System, Inc., 121 N.C. App. 382, 385, 465 S.E.2d 558 (1996) (citing E.E.O.C. v. Clay Printing Co., 955 F.2d 936, 944 (4th Cir. 1992)). “Deliberateness exists only if the actions complained of 'were intended by the employer as an effort to force the employee to quit.'”

Wray has a very strong case on the fundamentals here. The question then becomes proving that the constructive termination was in violation of public policy such as his race. When Johnson admitted he had no evidence to support the allegations against Wray yet constructively discharged him anyway, it certainly raises questions. Add to that all of the documented pressure that Johnson was under and secret meetings and what ultimately happened, it is a reasonable conclusion that Wray's discharge was not based on wrongdoing but rather to appease certain people for racial reasons. Wray doesn't have to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, only that is more likely than not.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Heavy sigh. It was a New Year. I gave it a shot. My mistake.

I simply "get" the motivation of a major player in this case because of my own experience. And there's nothing "bizarre" about it (Ed). As Spag points out, Wray has a very good case. I hope he accomplishes at least a small part of whatever goal he still has.

When Roch has similiar insight to share, I'll be happy to hear it out.

Ed Cone

Squeezing Wray because he wouldn't play ball with an alleged black clique is not the same thing as squeezing him because he is white.

Also, didn't he serve at the manager's pleasure, meaning that no proof of wrongdoing would be required to discharge him (had he not resigned)?

My prediction: the City agrees to pay his legal bills, and the other stuff goes away.

Joe Guarino

It was not just a matter of legal bills for Wray. He lost a couple of years worth of earnings, and probably became unemployable in his chosen field in this vicinity. The harm went beyond his legal bills.

And it was not just a matter of squeezing Wray because he was not playing ball with an alleged black clique. It was a matter of the city taking certain actions based on the racial concerns expressed by, and meetings held with, representatives and leaders of several local African-American organizations that have a certain degree of clout with the city-- concerns that turned out to be largely erroneous, and based on exaggerated and fabricated claims of victimization. And it was then a matter of Wray being replaced with a black police chief because that was the political imperative.

As Sam suggested, Wray's attorney only has to demonstrate a greater-than-50% likelihood that he was pushed out because of race. If it is demonstrated he was pushed out based on flimsy racial justifications-- and that this was instead a power grab, as appears likely-- it seems the attorneys might have a case.

Tony Wilkins

Spag, how would the Wray trial be affected if Johnson is relieved of his duties before trial?
Since the suit names him in his capacity as manager would he still testify for the city of Greensboro?

Tony Wilkins

Ed, do you continue to sit on Mitch Johnson's side of the courtroom in this matter?
In reviewing back through the WrayFray links you don't show any love for the former police chief.

Ed Cone

Joe, a black police chief could just as easily have refused to go along with an alleged cabal, and a white chief could have bent to the political winds.

That's the sticking point for me in the discrimination case: it assumes that Wray was targeted for being white, when the real argument is that he was targeted for being honest.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Ahhhhhhh . . . and there's the rub. The state of North Carolina does not protect public servants against retaliation for doing their duty and/or being "honest".

It's not on "the list" in terms of wrongful termination.

Move on along. Nothing more to see. Tony, I think your question just got answered.

Ed Cone

I'm not suggesting that people move along, or that there's nothing more to see.

I am questioning the race-based discrimination aspect of this lawsuit.

As the column linked above says, I believe Wray was unfairly maligned as a racist. As I wrote long before that, "the Greensboro Police Department appears to have been a snakepit of racial politics, where some officers, including Lt. James Hinson, the man at the center of much of the controversy, allegedly comported themselves in a variety of unsavory ways."

It is possible to believe those things, and at the same time to question the claim that Wray was discriminated against for being white.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Heavy sigh. And in the end, Ed, what does all of your writing accomplish?

Right here in THIS thread, we've identified a deficiency in the laws pertaining to public servants - be it Police Chief David Wray or Dr. Mary Johnson.

The more I think about it, the more I think that Roch (who everyone knows has ALL of the experience here with "libel" and slander and wrongful discharge claims) is just jealous because Councilman Matheny picked Mary Johnson as THE GSO blogger to dump on . . . and she doesn't even live in GSO.

You talk about snakepits (in Wray's case featuring "racial politics"), then you turn right around and try to rip the man's legal claim to shreds.

Wray had to file something - the statute of limitations was about to bite him in the ass. In this "right-to-work" state, what he's filed is about as good as it gets.

If you REALLY think that Wray was mistreated . . . indeed, if you really wish me well (something I sincerely doubt) . . . then get off the journalistic fence and start doing what you-all (i.e. you, JR, Sue, Lex, etc.) said you were going to do four years ago - some REAL citizen journalism.

I, for one, do not buy the "poor pitiful Lex" argument. He took the easy out.

Joe, Sam (and yes, even Roch) have made some real headway. But it's clear some laws need to be changed/legislated . . . and that good people (be they in a cop car or a hospital) should be protected when they do their jobs the right/ethical/honest way.

Let's see some real CHANGE. Starting with the blogging.

cheripickr

I don't have any knowledge or opinion on this one BUT IF I DID I'm sure it would be wrong.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Or be a cure for insomnia.

scharrison

Just a slightly off-topic question for those here who support Wray's lawsuit: what is your opinion of the historic and current need, value and validity of the Civil Rights Act(s) signed into law by our Federal government?

Ed Cone

Not to undermine your interesting question, sch, but I have no problem with the legal-cost portion of the lawsuit.

I'm just puzzled by the discrimination claim. And, subsequently, by some of the reactions to my puzzlement.

People treat this thing like sporting event, where one must choose a side and root for that team at all times, no matter what. But even sports fans sometimes question the strategy of the coach.

Dr. Mary Johnson

It's not a sporting event, Ed. It's about someone's life, home, reputation and career - things worth fighting for. And yes, sometimes, you have to choose sides.

Otherwise, puzzling until your puzzler is sore IS just a cure for insomnia.

scharrison

I'm a little behind on this. I'm still trying to figure out why the "black book" is no longer an issue, but the shadow of the black book is. I'm also trying to figure out why a stripper alleging rape should have been ignored, but a prostitute alleging rape is grounds for a super-secret, vehicle-tracking, mugshot-flashing investigation.

I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that second one, but I'm also equally sure I would be tarred and feathered by everyone here.

cheripickr

Dr Johnson, I wish you knew the familiarity and meaning your last post evokes for me and the restraint required just to leave it at that.

Spag

"Squeezing Wray because he wouldn't play ball with an alleged black clique is not the same thing as squeezing him because he is white."

That isn't what Wray is claiming. He is saying that he was prevented from doing his job which included investigating some black officers and that this was part of a larger plot to have Wray replaced with a black man who ostensibly would not investigate those same black officers. In other words "as long as that white man Wray is in charge, my client(s) are gonna be under the microscope. We need to get rid of the white guy because he isn't being fair to the black guys". The problem is that if the white guy is being fair to the black guys and you fire him anyway because the black guys (their lawyers, leaders, etc) still don't trust the white guy because they think he's a racist, that is racial discrimination against the white guy.

Imagine if it was Bellamy and a bunch of white guys demanded that he be removed because he is a racist and couldn't be trusted to deal fairly with white guys, so he is forced out and replaced with a white guy to appease them. The only way the termination would be justified would be if the allegations of unfairness/racism were true. Even then, that doesn't mean you automatically have to replace him with someone else based on racial considerations. If Wray was replaced by another white guy, his case would be much weaker. But as it stands he does at least have a story to tell that could lead one to believe that getting rid of him so he could be replaced with a black guy and so he would no longer investigate black officers is a plausible theory.

That aside, telling the white guy he can't investigate the black guys even if that is part of his job is discriminatory- i.e., he is being prevented from performing his job for racial reasons. Wray's predecessor was not treated the same way even though many of these allegations against black officers began on his watch.

Spag

Tony, Johnson leaving would have no effect on Wray's claim against him professionally or individually. Damages aren't any less simply because the Defendant quits.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Cheripickr, from what I've seen of you so far, I wish you'd have at it.

But I think I understand.

scharrison

"He is saying that he was prevented from doing his job which included investigating some black officers"

But...I was under the impression that Brady told Wray about the black book, and Wray told Brady to keep it stashed where nobody could find it. That may have been refuted elsewhere, but if it's true, that means that Wray was aware of the improper nature of the book, as well as its legal implications (exposure to lawsuits).

If he's not a racist and was merely trying to do a little CYA about the book, then he's exactly the kind of ass-covering bureaucrat that you conservative folks love to hate.

Both sides in this claim racism. And there may be some on both sides. But if you take racism totally out of the picture, what you have left is a police chief who schemed and apparently had little respect for the people who served under him, regardless of their color.

Tony Wilkins

scharrison...i'm schaying you don't know schit about this lawschuit or about David Wray.
You're being paged back at Sad&BlueNC.

Ben Holder

Ed,

where is the evidence Hinson/Fulmore/James etc were discriminated against for being black?

Spag

" But if you take racism totally out of the picture, what you have left is a police chief who schemed and apparently had little respect for the people who served under him, regardless of their color."

Once again, even though all the tangible evidence exonerates Wray, there are still those who side with Mitch Johnson despite his inability to produce one shred of evidence to support his accusations.

It defies logic. It's like watching a football game and claiming that the team who is winning 42-0 is actually losing.

Ed Cone

Ben, I don't claim to have any such evidence. As I've said clearly, my view is that Hinson seems to have been involved in some bad stuff.

None of which changes my opinion that Wray's own claim of racial discrimination is strange and unlikely to succeed. His claim for legal fees seems to me a much stronger one.

Ben Holder

Why does Wray have legal fees?

cheripickr

This is shaping up to be a good day for spectator sports. I for one see nothing puzzling or faulty about choosing the team you like better and rooting for them, even if it runs the wrong play now and then, but especially in a contest such as a lawsuit, where presumably will be an outcome, with winners and losers, in an attempt to ddetermine which side is more right than the other. . Or you can wallow on the sidelines in relativism, if you prefer.

Ben Holder

Ed,

Who smeared Wray and how?

Beelzebubba

if left to their own devices, the military would end all wars, the judicial system would put an end to our proclivity to pursue vexatious litigation and police departments would end all crime. attaching your egos to these institutions has almost put an end to bellicosity, cleared the dockets and lowered crime, hasn't it?

Ed Cone

CP, I'm identifying what I see as a poor play call. The gist of the sports fan analogy is that even fans question the coach from time to time.

Ben, in my view the perception that Wray's actions were driven by personal racism was more a read-between-the-lines aspect of media coverage and city statements than overt proclamations that he was a racist.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a lawyer, a strong Wray supporter, who said intellectual honesty compelled him to admit his reservations about the discrimination claims in the suit. I worry that those discrimination claims may rekindle speculation about Wray's views on race.

Tony Wilkins

Ben, the word smear stood out to me also.
Definition of smear: "slanderous defamation".
Ed, either I'm not keeping up with all your posts on this subject or you're wearing thick jeans to avoid the splinters on that fence.

EC: "Ben, in my view the perception that Wray's actions were driven by personal racism was more a read-between-the-lines aspect of media coverage and city statements than overt proclamations that he was a racist."
And with that statement Ed Cone gets the first supeenie for the defendants.

scharrison

"all the tangible evidence exonerates Wray"

Okay, let me get this straight: the taped conversations are irrelevant and/or taken out of context, the RMA investigation was either too ambiguous or tainted (or both), and the black book was merely a "tool" because Johnson said so, and it's the only thing he's said that can be trusted. Ergo, we have a spotless former police chief. Gotcha.

But the fact that there were two African-American police chiefs before Wray, and he was replaced by another, constitutes irrefutable evidence that an African-American PAC is involved in a conspiracy of epic proportions, allowing it to exert absolute control over city government, engineering the removal of Wray in order to protect the activities of a criminal cabal of African-American police officers who have singlehandedly turned Greensboro into Gotham City and put all law-abiding citizens' lives in peril.

I like it. I like it a lot. Not for the big screen, but maybe a 2-episode, Dennis Farina-narrated Unsolved Mysteries Special Edition.

Roch101

"But...I was under the impression that Brady told Wray about the black book, and Wray told Brady to keep it stashed where nobody could find it. That may have been refuted elsewhere, but if it's true, that means that Wray was aware of the improper nature of the book, as well as its legal implications (exposure to lawsuits)." -- Scharrison

There are conflicting accounts, none documented by any contemporaneous records. Include Wray's version of events and the account would be something like this:

The NAACP wrote a letter to Wray expressing concerns about the GPD, it asked about a lineup book containing all black police officers. After a meeting with NAACP leaders, Wray told Kitchen and Johnson that he didn't know of a book fitting the NAACP's description but, three days after learning of the line-up book containing the photos of 19 black police officers (assembled to investigate an alleged assault, the assailant having been described by the alleged victim as a black male police officer), Wray says he told Mitch Johnson of this book and ordered Brady to put it in the trunk of his car.

Roch101

"Okay, let me get this straight: the taped conversations are irrelevant and/or taken out of context, the RMA investigation was either too ambiguous or tainted (or both), and the black book was merely a "tool" because Johnson said so, and it's the only thing he's said that can be trusted. Ergo, we have a spotless former police chief..." -- S

I prefer to focus on the facts. Are there any that you find warrant locking Wray out of his office? Any that indicate sloppy or derelict actions by the City Manager? Or, if those aren't up your ally, what facts of this matter do you find most significant?

Ben Holder

Ed,

Thanks for answering my question. You are a nice man and a real contribution to the world of citizen journalism.


cod bliss ewe awl

i am a recovering nascarian racist. at one time, if anyone except the 3 car would get the pole or the flag, i would accuse the system of being institutionally flawed, but no more. when the 3 car would put a lesser car into the wall i knew they deserved it because not all were created equal in the eyes of codalmighty. i'm healed now and am a well balanced person as long as some black liberal queer doesnt get in a car on race day. always askk yourself.. ..WTGDMFSWJD?

cheripickr

Tony, he doesn't know schit about global warming either, but that doesn't dischcourage him from schmearing and disschmissing the schkeptics, either.

scharrison

Roch, I believe both Wray and Johnson exhibited behavior which calls their ethics and concern for the rights of others into question. And I've had my share of working under "unconventional" leadership who had contempt for following procedures designed to preserve those hard-won rights.

And I also admire your and Sam's efforts at discovery, although many of the questions asked in the suit seemed (to me) to be speculative probes about RMA designed to call into question the legitimacy of any results that came from their work.

What I think is important in this whole story doesn't have anything to do with specific evidence (or the lack of) in the Wray vs Johnson debate, it's about the hypocrisy of conservatism. Some of the folks here (and around Greensblogo) expend a great deal of effort chewing the fat about liberals flip-flopping on issues, or Ed being a trust-fund baby, or any number of other crude and outright personal attacks. But liberals are full of hate.

So I'm going to typecast a little bit, being the hateful liberal that I am: The Civil Rights Act was pointless because racism was on the mend, and should now be stricken from the rolls. But let's wait until after Wray's justifiable lawsuit prevails. Whenever a black person doesn't get what they want or they find themselves in trouble, "Racism!" is the automatic response. But Wray really was a victim of racism, and in this case it's valid. George Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn't have to produce confidential e-mails or even who attended some meetings. It's a fishing expedition, and disrespectful to their office. But we deserve to know every single word spoken and read every single document circulated within the City Council, and if they aren't totally forthcoming, it's evidence of malfeasance and should result in their removal from office.

Being so deeply involved in this case, you probably consider that off-topic and irrelevant. But I don't. There is an undercurrent of racism on this subject that peeks out from time to time, and the pursuit of the truth has done nothing to reduce it. It's merely redirected it. And that (I believe) is going to ensure that it continues to thrive.

Ben Holder

Ed: "I worry that those discrimination claims may rekindle speculation about Wray's views on race."

Ed is worried? What does that really mean? Is Ed making a Wray is a racist remark between these lines? To me, that is a weird statement. Ed is worried?

Tony Wilkins

scharrison: "There is an undercurrent of racism on this subject".
As is most subjects with you liberals when you don't agree with something.
Darn it sch, you just made me type liberals for the first time this year, only seven days in.

Ed Cone

Don't overthink it, Ben, it's pretty simple: Wray fought hard to have his views on race explained, a process in which I was happy to play a small part.

Now he files a lawsuit that, in my view, makes a convoluted argument about racial discrimination.

The risk is not that people will assume he's a racist, but that they'll think his views on what constitutes racial discrimination are kind of odd.

Maybe the discrimination angle came from his lawyer. Maybe, as my post suggests, it's the only line he's got on a wrongful termination claim. Maybe a trial would show he's got a great case, and that his discrimination claim has merit. Maybe not.

My guess is that we won't see a trial.

cheripickr

Tony, I outlasted you by about 20 minutes.

1.)Where else but in a left-leaning blog can a liberal claim ownership of the 'hateful' stereotype?

2.)I somehow missed the part in that dissertation where he exposed the hypocrisy of conservatism

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