Greensboro, check your facts

Update: The N&R’s Margaret Banks was there and files a report and she must have been totin’ a microphone as well.  Links to the entire press conference are in box next to the article.  Q&A from members of the press are here (mp3)

One of the most interesting exchanges was between Rhino publisher Willie Hammer, Mitch Johnson and the Mayor.  Willie asked Johnson to either “confirm of deny” two rumors that have been swirling around town.  Go to 14:45.

While questioning the rumor about Wray and Johnson dating the same woman was a little strange, the part about security clearance issues and endangered lives due to some things reported in Jerry Bledsoe’s serial is, perhaps, destined to become the next investigation to come from all of this.  (Sat morning update: Here’s what I mean (N&R)


I attended today’s news conference at City Hall pertaining to the ongoing investigations, rumor milling, and general mess surrounding the Greensboro Police Department.

While I don’t have much time to flesh out everything that was imparted by City Manager Mitch Johnson and Mayor Holliday… one development announced during the conference in an effort at combating what Johnson termed “urban legends” is a new city sponsored website:

I asked Johnson during the conference if comments were enabled, he responded, “No… its not a blog.” (Here @ 11:45)

Too bad, that.  But at least the new site is a stab at more governmental transparency and rumor control which are two things that are desparately needed down at City Hall.

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  1. Posted October 6, 2006 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Given the simplicity and “Fun Potential”, why not a BLOG – ???

    I think they opening a CAN OF WORMS that is only going to get far worse before it clears up.

  2. Posted October 6, 2006 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    they were sooooo close to becoming a part of the community. instead, the site will become another mouthpiece for an “official take” on issues.

    why are they afraid of their own citizens?

  3. Wendell Sawyer
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    From the N&R, 10/6/06:

    “Another myth among some in the community is that Wray was fired,” Johnson said.

    “Chief Wray was not fired,” Johnson said. “Wray quit.”"

    “Myth?” Mitch Johnson, did you forget that you locked the man out of his own office? I think that most employees would assume that their job is history if the boss locks them out. It is my opinion that Johnson did
    not handle this manner in a professional way. However, his message to Wray was clear: “Hit the road, Wray, and don’t you come back no more.” (Apologies to Ray Charles)

  4. Posted October 6, 2006 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Wendell, Mitch Johnson adressed that issue (after a question from Ben Holder, I believe). He said that it is policy that anytime any employee is placed under administrative review, they are kept out of their office and offered the opportunity to take paid leave — which was offered to Wray. Wray, according to Johnson, declined the paid leave and, instead, resigned.

  5. Brenda Bowers
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I commented on Joe’s blog last week that it was just about time for the “rats to start coming out of the woodwork spilling their guts and covering their butts”. I wasn’t surprized then to read about this news conference. After listening carefully I take it they aren’t yet “spilling their guts” however because they still think they can pull off fooling the public with smoke and mirrors. My take: Johnson is in up to his ears, but there are a few more in city government right there wilth him. The majority of the council members have been taken in by the players. Brenda Bowers

  6. Wendell Sawyer
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 5:22 pm | Permalink


    I was relying on an early report of the press conference and I didn’t know of Johnson’s follow-up response when I wrote my post. However, many of us believe that Wray was forced to resign.

    I tend to agree with Joe Guarino on this matter. On his blog, he wrote:

    “The fact is that the lock-out, the escalating investigation, the public humiliation, the political environment, the demands from the city leadership essentially to prove a negative, and the perceived need to fight publicly to save his job were perhaps among the circumstances that led him to resign.

    “He was, indeed, forced out….”

  7. Posted October 7, 2006 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Perhaps financial considerations were involved in Wray’s decision to resign.

    I’ll have to check to be sure, but my understanding is that if Wray was fired then his pension or other benefits would have been in jeopardy. Less so via resignation.

    Johnson asked Wray to reconcile the findings of the RMA report with contrary representations Wray had previously provided to the manager.

    Wray either couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide those reconciliations and CHOSE to resign.

    If Wray had stayed on after the lock-out, perhaps he would have ultimately been fired by Johnson… I don’t know. But I DO know that if he HAD been fired, and subsequent investigations (via Bledsoe or whomever) proved it had been an unjust vendetta firing as the Rhino series is suggesting.. he WOULD have legal recourse.

    Because he resigned, he has none. I think he got the wrong lawyer.

  8. Margaret Banks
    Posted October 7, 2006 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    David, lest you think John Robinson has me wearing a wire these days … Two guys from NR Interactive were at at the press conference – Michael Grossman and Mike Fuchs. They worked the – what do the kids call it these days? – automatic recording device, then put it up on that thing called the Internet.

  9. Wendell Sawyer
    Posted October 7, 2006 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    David, I think you made a good point about Wray’s departure. Otherwise, I’m not so sure that there is much difference from being “fired” or being “forced to resign.”

    I read the N&R news article regarding the city’s press conference about Wray/Bledsoe/Rhino Times. I really didn’t see anything from Johnson that refuted the facts that have been presented by Jerry Bledsoe in his series. Instead, Johnson seemed to focus primarily on a leak of drug case files and the circumstances surrounding Wray’s resignation. Then, the N&R summarized what had been previously reported in the newspaper regarding Wray’s departure. I really didn’t think that Johnson provided any substantial new information regarding the Wray controversy.

    I guess I’ll have to wait for Bledsoe’s next installment in The Rhino.

  10. Posted October 7, 2006 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Mitch Johnson adressed that issue (after a question from Ben Holder, I believe).


    U r wrong. It was during the myth/fact chart speech. It was nice to meet you.

  11. Posted October 7, 2006 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Wendel Sawyer. Wonder how deeply involved Mitch Johnson is in the ‘myths’. Who is he
    protecting? It only takes one bad apple on a police force to ruin a bunch; Wray was trying to get rid of the
    bad apple, but some people took offense. Shame on those people! Bring back Wray.

  12. Posted October 8, 2006 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Wendel, I was just relaying Johnson’s explanation — not defending it.

    I agree with Sean about the city’s new web page. I congratulated communications director Pat Boswell on it because, from the description at the press conference, it seemed like a step in the right direction. After looking at it, I think it’s not going to help much. For one thing, who is going to know when it is updated? For another, it is, as Sean points out (at this stage, anyway) nothing more than a repository for top-down official communications. As long as it’s one-way, it’s not going to be of much use — or interest.

  13. Posted October 8, 2006 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I live in Raleigh, but am from Greensboro and pretty much all the news I have gotten off of the Wray case has been thru blogs and most recently Jerry Bledsoe’s series on the Rhino News. My belief is that Mitch Johnson is doing a tremendous amount of covering up. A whole website dedicated to a fact check portrays a much worse image for the City of Greensboro than it does help. It almost seems like a desperate attempt to maintain contol of a situation in which control was lost a very long time ago.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Hogg’s Blog » Excellent Ed Cone Google grab on October 7, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    [...] More: WFMY TV’s Frank Mikens was at yesterdays news conference asking some of the most intelligent questions of the day.  He aired two well-done segments as a result.  They can be accessed from video boxes to the right of this online text report which contains this memorable line… “Johnson blames local bloggers and the Rhino Times for spreading inaccuracies about the police department.” -dhoggard no comments trackback this article comment on this article [...]

  2. By Hogg’s Blog » I trust my police department on October 11, 2006 at 6:41 am

    [...] My personal truth regarding the police department saga (past N&R coverage) was gleaned from a seemingly innocuous statement made by City Manager Mitch Johnson during last Friday’s news conference.  [...]