bird dogging Project Homestead

Guarino is at it again.  He keeps revisiting Greensboro’s Project Homestead scandal with a vengence, as if the money squandered by the now defunct non-profit homebuilder was his… which, of course, it was. (and mine and yours, too).

This time he is comparing and contrasting the Enron case with Project Homestead’s non-case (at least the local DA says it is a non-case.)

I admire Joe’s tenacity and agree with much of what he says.  I sense that there is a lot of justice left undone surrounding the Homestead debacle. In my opinion, District Attorney Doug Henderson exhibited a certain disturbing wimpiness seeing as he couldn’t bring himself to issue a single indictment after all of that investigating.  Surely, at the very least, Homestead’s board of directors should have spent some time in front of a judge to determine their culpability in fleecing the taxpayers.

So, the upshot of Henderson’s reluctance to indict is that we, the taxpayers, will never know which of our“…local politicians may have bowed to the considerable political clout of Project Homestead’s founder and leader, the Rev. Michael King“, as the N&R tantalizingly reported Henderson as saying back in May.

But I totally disagree with this hyperbolic grenade Gaurino hurled in point #6 of his post.

“Project Homestead occurred as a direct result of (and as a reflection of) the prevailing local governing culture in Greensboro and Guilford County, which is corrupt.”

No it’s not.  Gaurino just has a burr up his butt because a bunch of black leaders in Guilford County had what he seems to consider the uppity audacity to form a very successful political action committee known as the Simkins PAC.  Without evidence, he terms the PAC as ”a local political machine…” that somehow,”…required Homestead’s chief executive (King) … to be insulated from accountability.

I have every confidence that the Simkins PAC membership, either individually or collectively, has influenced local elections, policies and politics… but here’s a flash for you Joe…. That is what PACs do.  While Michael King was certainly a member of the Simkins PAC, and by all indications King commanded undue influence over some elected officials’ decisions, it is unfair for Gaurino to implicate the entire Simpkins PAC membership to the Homestead scandal via continued ”guilt by association” innuendo. 

Get yourself some proof to back up your Simkins PAC/Project Homestead conspiracies, Joe… barring that … put a sock in that part of your otherwise laudable efforts to keep the Project Homestead issue in the public’s eye.

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  1. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Joe Guarino has repeatedly called the Simkins PAC “corrupt.” (For the latest example of many, see fourth paragraph from the bottom here.) This is a serious accusation, made without serious support. Guarino has been given a pass on these near-libelous accusations, and needs to provide evidence connecting Simkins PAC individuals to acts of corruption. It’s not enough to point to Michael King and Project Homestead. Michael King is deceased and no evidence exists that his wrongdoing was directed by the Simkins PAC. Earl Jones political troubles are hi own. Guarino explicitly calls the Simkins PAC corrupt: what PAC members, and what acts of corruption?

    The most recent Simkins PAC endorsement letter was signed by Alma Adams and Steve Bowden. Are these individuals corrupt?

    Joe’s style is to throw out the crystal clear accusation about a specific group of people — our neighbors, and then retreat into a pedantic discussion of Tammany Hall and poltical machines. This cannot stand any longer. I don’t care if you are black, white, conservative, or liberal — when you call a group corrupt — be ready to make a simple list of people and their acts of corruption. In this case, it need not include the Daley’s in Chicago or any other town.

    What people in the Simkins PAC committed what acts of corruption. No lectures, no explanations about how machines work, no theoretical flights of fancy — itemize them, please.

  2. Posted June 25, 2006 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Sun and David, I responded back at my blog in some detail with names of councilmembers that were consistent boosters of Homestead in the City Council, and of the four who took action against Jacky Dowd to prevent her from auditing the organization as reported by the News and Record. Some of the names were obtained from the News and Record, and some were obtained from comments made by Tom Phillips previously on my blog.

    And David, I disagree with your characterization of the source of my concern on this matter. In fact, at least two white councilmen were among the four the performed the maneuver against Jacky Dowd. For some reason, they felt obliged to support Mr. King. My concern is clean, ethical local government.

    I have previously mentioned a News and Record story published after the election in which Joe Williams described the PAC as the source of Skip Alston’s power base. And I have been told that Alston sits with Earl Jones and Joe Williams on the “board” that interviews and selects candidates to be endorsed.

    It is not ultimately my job, however, to issue detailed charges against specific individuals. That is the District Attorney’s job.

  3. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Joe – What is the basis of your outright calling the Simkins PAC corrupt? You failed to answer the question. You’ve hinted at influence which is potentially excessive. Support your unambiguous and repeated accusation that the Simkins PAC is corrupt. Who is guilty of what act of corruption? Nothing on your blog supports this. It’s all about vague concerns related to political influence.

  4. Posted June 25, 2006 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    “It is not ultimately my job, however, to issue detailed charges against specific individuals. That is the District Attorney’s job.”

    The DA did not find evidence to do that.

  5. Posted June 25, 2006 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Sun, I did answer the question back at my blog, and I believe we have had this conversation before. But I will expand further back at my blog.

  6. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Joe – Here comes the long lecture about machines in which you give yourself enough rope to escape. You’ll talk about influence, dangers, connections, things you’ve heard, things you’ve read, red flags — everything but proven instances in which PAC officials committed corrupt acts related to PAC activities. Why can you not list right here the acts of corruption of Simkins PAC members that relate to activities of the PAC? I think we all know why — you need the cover of confusion to blanket the unfairness of your accusation. Itemize or be marginalized.

  7. Posted June 25, 2006 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    “…I have been told that Alston sits with Earl Jones and Joe Williams on the “boardâ€? that interviews and selects candidates to be endorsed”

    Jones and Williams do sit on the interview board and so does Skip Alston … so do Alma Adams, Claudette Burroughs-White, Yvonne Johnson, Katie Dorsett, Steve Bowden, and others.

    Are they corrupt in your book, too?

  8. Posted June 25, 2006 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Pressure should be applied to Allen Johnson and the News & Record to cease publishing Joe Guarino. They are exposing themselves to a libel lawsuit by partnering with him, and it should give them pause.

    The rest of us should routinely hold his irresponsible words up for scorn and ridicule. I have tried, also, to get him to be specific about accusations. He will not. He would rather speculate and cast innuendo without evidence.

    If I were a publisher, I would not let my reputation within 100 miles of his.

  9. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows exactly where this ends: an elegial think piece about political influence. I’d like to put a call out to Steve Bowden, who is an attorney — and any other lawyer who care about such issues: Joe Guarino has been calling the Simkins PAC corrupt in print for over a year now. As he notes, he’s been put on notice many times. At some point, this crosses the line into reckless disregard for the truth. It’s time for the PAC to defend itself from this point forward. Joe: keep calling the Simkins PAC corrupt.

  10. Posted June 25, 2006 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Sun, I do not think we will agree, and we have not on this matter previously. But my response is back at my blog. If an organization has had a significant number of its principals engaged in corrupt activities– and it has– then it is fair game to presume it is corrupt if does not undertake to correct the situation; and to repudiate and yes, repent, for those things that have taken place.

    JW, the DA had a conflict. He should have referred the matter to the State Attorney General’s office when he was seeking the PAC endorsement. And Julia Hejazi, an experienced prosecutor and his Democratic primary opponent, apparently did not agree with his handling of the matter.

  11. Posted June 25, 2006 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Joe –

    You said it was up to the DA to make the charges. When the DA did not find the evidence to support making charges, you find fault with his conclusion. Julie Hajazi did not win the election.

    What, exactly, do you want? I mean besides your bidding.

  12. Posted June 25, 2006 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Hejazi did not win the election apparently because Henderson got the PAC endorsement.

    I want Guilford County politics to be much more clean than it has been; and to have honorable people with integrity in positions of authority and influence– people who are not there to feather their own nests, and who do not succumb to inappropriate pressure or facilitate inappropriate activities.

  13. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    “If an organization has had a significant number of its principals engaged in corrupt activities– and it has– then it is fair game to presume it is corrupt …”

    No, Joe. It isn’t. It isn’t at all. As I said, keep it up and you might learn more on the matter.

    In December 1990, a judge on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court won a $6 million libel verdict against the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper because of a series of articles it carried in 1983 that suggested he was guilty of influence peddling. And in one of the largest libel verdicts ever reached against the media, a former district attorney from Texas named Victor Feazell was awarded $58 million in April 1991 after a Dallas television station accused him of accepting bribes to fix drunken driving cases. “This verdict sends a message to the rest of the media to get your facts straight,” Feazell said after the jury announced its verdict. A jury in Chicago, Illinois, awarded businessman Robert Crinkley $2.25 million in May 1991 because a Wall Street Journal article falsely linked him to bribery payments made to foreign officials.

  14. Posted June 26, 2006 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “Hejazi did not win the election apparently because Henderson got the PAC endorsement.”

    So, then in order to get elected, all you have to do is get the PAC endorsement? How about winning the election because more voters resonated with your beliefs. Hajazi didn’t agree with Henderson’s handling of the Homestead issue, so SHE should be elected? “Apparently” a majority of the voters did not agree with that.

  15. Posted June 26, 2006 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Mr. Sun, are you suggesting that the News and Record is prone to being charged with libel because of its previous reporting on the political environment surrounding PH, and on the players who were involved? As I said previously, Mr. Sun, our interpretations are not going to coincide on this matter.

    JW, Doug Clark of the N&R analyzed the results and concluded that the endorsement had a dispositive influence on the outcome of the race. As you know, the PAC endorses candidates and advises its folks for whom to vote. And it has had enormous clout with this group in the past. But you already knew that.

  16. Posted June 26, 2006 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I knew that. BUT I also know what you have to do to get YOUR voters out to vote. Elections are NOT won solely on the influence of the PAC.

  17. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 26, 2006 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    No one at the News & Record had explicitly accused the Simkins PAC of being corrupt. You have. Back it up. This isn’t a matter of interpretation. If you had said the Simkins PAC wielded power beyond what is good for Greensboro, that would be a matter of interpretation. You have repeatedly and plainly accused them of corruption. Back it up. This can’t be wiggled out of with your grand theoretical schemes: state the person and act of corruption.

  18. Posted June 26, 2006 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I agree. But there is a powerful influence when you can deliver a substantial bloc of voters; and it becomes a very difficult hurdle to overcome. And with that powerful influence comes enormous responsibility to use it in an honest, ethical, upstanding way– in a way that is beyond even the appearance of impropriety.

  19. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 26, 2006 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I find it dishonest and unethical to accuse an organization made up of real people of corruption without clear and convincing evidence, but instead on appearance.

  20. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 26, 2006 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Joe will no longer discuss this with me due to his new rule about pseudonymous bloggers. As I exit, I’d love to hear from an actual member of the Simkins PAC. Mr. Bowden, Ms. Adams, Ms. Burroughs-White, Ms. Johnson — how do you feel about being called corrupt?

  21. Posted June 26, 2006 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    What? Changing the rules in the middle of the game? Especially when you’re LOSING? Hmmm.

  22. Posted June 26, 2006 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    JW, the bluster combined with the practice of hiding behind a pseudonym led me to stop the conversation, particularly in view of the fact that we will not agree no matter how much we converse. No changed rules– just reached diminishing returns in a conversation with a pseuonymous blogger who began issuing threats. No need to go there. And I did not perceive I was “losing”. If you want to defend all the behaviors that I discussed, feel free to do so.

  23. Posted June 26, 2006 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Pseudonym or not, his points are right on.

    You, my friend, are on shaky ground, bordering on an irrational obsession about something with which you have little experience.

    Understand that I am very firm in my concern about and opposition to any type of fraud, political, personal, religious. etc. But I am very careful to have FACTS before I issue any kinds of accusations about anybody. Understand, too, that I could turn this argument by “playing the race card.” But you’re not a racist, are you Joe?


    Read your own writing.

  24. Posted June 26, 2006 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t “JW” a pseuodonym?

  25. Posted June 26, 2006 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Description of Red Herring

    A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

    Topic A is under discussion.
    Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
    Topic A is abandoned.

    This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.


    This isn’t about pseudonyms.

  26. Posted June 26, 2006 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I met JW at ConvergeSouth, and I believe, at one or two meetups, but I do not know Chewie or Mr. Sun, both of whom have been known the step well over the line in terms of personalizing discussions and launching personal attacks as they hide behind their respective pseudonyms. The technique is to launch personal attacks on the writer, and issue confrontational challenges, rather than to engage the substance of what is being written. JW is beginning to step over the line as well, but she also did not respond to my invitation to defend the behaviors and circumstances I had discussed. Every salvo from the far left need not be heeded.

    David, a couple of us have the courage and integrity to use our real names– and to take responsibility for what we write, personally and professionally– when we make statements online.

    The rest of my response is over at my blog.

  27. Mr. Sun
    Posted June 26, 2006 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Don’t defend me: Joe is characteristically changing the subject. This is about Joe Guarino’s explicit accusation that the Simkins PAC — our neighbors — are corrupt, and his inability to back up that accusation by tying a member of the PAC to an act of corruption. I care not about the diversionary excursion into pseudonyms. The personal attack in question is the accusation of corruption. Don’t waste another byte on anything else, because who cares?

  28. Posted June 26, 2006 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Nope, David, JW is my initials. I will identify myself to anyone who emails and asks me. YOU know who I am and have since day 1.

  29. Posted June 26, 2006 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    And I have been introduced to Joe but we’ve never had a conversation. Re: My integrity and/or crossing over the line, I’m just trying to understand what we’re talking about here, because as clear as you think you are trying to make it, Joe, you are pretending that the elephant is not in the room. We’re all talking around it. Is it going over the line to mention race, especially when you’ve tried so HARD to ignore it? Well then, I guess I’m over the line because the “Good Government PAC” tries to influence the people they contribute to. I don’t hear any accusations about THEM. As David said earlier, that’s what they do and the fact that you don’t like the Simpkins PAC isn’t the issue. You got proof that laws have been broken, then by God BRING IT! Otherwise find another horse to ride.

  30. Posted June 26, 2006 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Guarino said: “The technique is to launch personal attacks on the writer, and issue confrontational challenges, rather than to engage the substance of what is being written… Every salvo from the far left need not be heeded.”

    It has nothing to do with left/right, liberal/conservative.

    It has nothing to do with writing under a real or pen name.

    It is not in any way a personal attack on Joe Guarino.

    It is engaging the substance of what is written: Joe Guarino’s personal attacks on others.

  31. Posted June 27, 2006 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Joe: “If an organization has had a significant number of its principals engaged in corrupt activities– and it has– then it is fair game to presume it is corrupt if does not undertake to correct the situation; and to repudiate and yes, repent, for those things that have taken place.”

    So glad to see you’re now backing the call for an apology from the GPD by the TRC!

    Oops, that was my Red Herring. Carry on…

  32. Posted June 27, 2006 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I actually do not have any major objections to an apology on the TRC process (except for any potential legal implications if it came in the form of an official apology from the city.) Unlike the current matter under discussion, the problems addressed by the TRC process do not impact honest, clean, ethical government on a day-to-day basis– which is my primary concern.

    So here goes: I apologize for the 1979 occurrence, even though I did not arrive in Greensboro until 15 years later, and even though my nuclear family was firmly ensconced in the working class at that time.:)

  33. Posted June 28, 2006 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    you trumped my sarcastic, red herring with an even bigger one… touche, joe.

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