Serial fatigue

From a comment over at Wharton’s place regarding the Rhino Times’ ongoing “Cops in Black & White” series…

“…If anyone from the Rhino is reading this please know that a significant portion of the community has lost interest in Jerry’s musings. I personally stopped reading the story in the Rhino because I was disgusted with the reporting of events while using gossip and innuendo as fact…”

After months of hurrying to get my copy of the Rhino every Thursday to read the latest in Bledsoe’s ongoing saga about David Wray, Officer Hinson and the rest, I haven’t yet taken the time to read last week’s nor this week’s installments.  That’s not to say I haven’t read the Rhino during that time, just not Jerry’s part of it.

Best as I remember from where I left off three weeks ago, former chief Wray was doing everything right and everyone else was all screwed up. 

I get it already… what else ya got?

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17 Comments

  1. Wendell Sawyer
    Posted December 8, 2006 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading your column that appeared in the News & Record a few days ago. As you know, I made some of my own comments about the topic on another thread. You made some thoughtful observations and said some things that needed to be said about certain practices in the banking industry.

    As for Jerry Bledsoe’s series, I continue to find the whole episode to be quite fascinating. Back when Mitch Johnson locked David Wray out of his office, the news media indicated that Wray had been engaging himself in conduct that was based on improper racial considerations. Shucks, I can provide you with boatloads of comments from city officials and reports from the News & Record that were made at the time about the racial aspects of the controversy. Then, later on, Mayor Holliday said, “There is absolutely no way that this is a black-white issue,â€? he says. “At the beginning it might have looked that way with the Hinson investigation and the black book. When we started peeling the onion back, it had nothing to do with race…â€?

    After reading Keith’s statement to YesWeekly, inquiring minds may want to know the answer to this simple question: If not the purported racial issues that were promulgated at the time, what were the real reasons that motivated Mitch Johnson to lock Wray out of his office? I, for one, find it difficult to ignore Jerry Bledsoe’s series regarding this matter. After all, the man has a proven track record as a national award-winning journalist and best-selling author. I don’t think that Bledsoe could have attained that lofty status by writing slanted stories filled with “gossipâ€? and presenting “innuendo as fact.â€?

    At this point in time, most of us don’t really have enough facts to make a judgment one way or the other regarding this controversy. In all fairness, we should let David Wray present his side of the story. Any one of us would want that same minimal consideration if we were in his shoes.

  2. Nick Scott
    Posted December 8, 2006 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I can generally agree with many of your comments Wendell, however there is an element of unfairness also to the City of Greensboro and Mitch Johnson in particular. It was not until David Wray and his as you say “national award-winning journalist and best-selling author” started putting out their version of the truth, that the City probably felt it had to do something to get its story out. From the beginning they asked for patience so they could complete the various investigations. (internal, SBI etc.)

    Let me tell you a bit of my truth about David Wray. As a former officer in the department he was a man of two faces for sure. He had the uncanny knack of feeling your pain (so to speak) to the public, but internally when he took over the good ole boy network started up again. Only a few close insiders ever knew what was happening. He often made comments of “if you dont like it just leave to various officers.” He also wore his “proven track record” on his sleeve and often mentioned how he was a graduate of the Harvard Police Executive school etc. etc. In one open meeting, he stated how he was more well known than the City Managers and Council and many didnt like his power and influence. How arrogant I thought at the time.

    So to me, it is not a matter of black and white. I actually liked the comments from anonymous on Whartons site. A man lied to his boss…plain and simple. I dont deny he should try to clear his name but at what cost. He is selling his old department down the river for the sake of his pride. How typical because it was never about the department for Chief Wray…it was always about him.

  3. dhoggard
    Posted December 8, 2006 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Wendell,

    We ARE getting Wray’s side of the story… through Bledsoe.

    I think I would have remained more interested if he were presenting some other sides to the story, but Hinson, the N&R folks and others have chosen not to speak with him on the record.

    Nick,

    Thanks for weighing in.

    Your statement, “…He is selling his old department down the river for the sake of his pride. How typical because it was never about the department for Chief Wray…it was always about him.” was not the first time I had heard similar comments from GPD folks both past and present.

    One officer I know quite well recently used the term “Napoleon complex” when describing his impressions of Wray”s demeanor.

    I get the feeling that David Wray is a good man – of that I have no doubt. But I also am gathering he was not the best people manager to ever come down the pike.

  4. Posted December 8, 2006 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    We need to remember, though, that these were not the reasons the RMA and city attorney’s reports were initiated, nor were they the reasons that Wray was pushed out.

    It is undoubtedly true that Wray faced insubordinate attitudes and behaviors among his ranks, even though police departments are supposed to organized and operated in a quasi-military manner. But if the GPD workplace is like many others, there were some employees who did not think much of the boss’ attitudes and behaviors; and yes, there was a boss who may not have always felt that his employees were exhibiting proper attitudes and behaviors.

    Wray should have been assessed primarily based on how well crime was being controlled. As a taxpayer and citizen, that is my primary concern– that the public’s interest in the primary mission of the department is being served maximally.

  5. Posted December 9, 2006 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Your assessment of how Wray should have been assessed IS of primary concern, and I think he did a good job on that count. However, if I were his boss, and if I believed I wasn’t getting the unvarnished truth from my law enforcement chief… I’d do a little investigating of my own and take appropriate action based on my findings.

    THAT would be the manager’s responsibility in serving the public’s interest… maximally…

    I take it that you are kind of, sort of, admitting that the ‘Wray-could-do-no-wrong’ story line might have holes in it with this shocking admission,”…and yes, there was a boss who may not have always felt that his employees were exhibiting proper attitudes and behaviors.”

    Say it ain’t so, Joe… are you SURE you meant to be so critical?

  6. Posted December 9, 2006 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    It is hard to know whether Johnson’s representation regarding the truthfulness of what Wray told him is fundamentally accurate. And there is reason to believe that Wray’s representations to the public during June 2005 might have been true. I still think the most important thing is the service the police department was delivering to the general public in controlling and reducing crime, which seems to have been forgotten. City leaders allowed petty grievances and charges based on race-based politics to escalate to the point that they attained greater importance than the department’s primary mission.

    If the GPD is like many large employers with hundreds of staff, it is inevitable that at least some employees would not be always be exhibiting the right attitudes and behaviors on the job, and especially toward the command structure. I simply don’t buy the premises that every one of the “line employees” was virtuous and blameless; and that the command structure was inherently wrong or corrupt.

    But I do agree with you to some extent, David, regarding the matter of fatigue. While I remain acutely interested in Bledsoe’s series, I wish there was a way to present more information in fewer installments, and bring the series to a close sooner. But Bledsoe has done a yeoman’s job of providing greater depth and a more complete picture than that which we had previously seen.

  7. Wendell Sawyer
    Posted December 9, 2006 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    David:

    Honestly, I don’t ascribe to the ‘Wray-could-do-no-wrong’ doctrine. Like you, I have read and heard the serious allegations that have been made against him. When all of the facts are finally dribbled out to the public, we might decide that Wray is the bad guy or we might conclude that he was the good guy. But, at this point in time, I don’t think that most of us have enough of the relevant facts to make such a final determination. I think that a “wait-and-see” approach may be the most prudent until The Rhino Times publishes Bledsoe’s final installment.

    I know that some of us can feel comfortable knowing that the city council members and the city staff have reviewed the allegations and concluded that Wray’s forced resignation was the only proper resolution to this controversy. However, I remind you that the council members and the city staff have made serious errors of judgment before on other controversies. For example, the city council continued to allocate substantial funding to the Project Homestead program even though the red flags of impropriety were popping up everywhere. Finally, after Stan Swofford’s expose’ on the PH mess was published in the N&R, the city council felt compelled to take action against PH.

    Could the Wray controversy be another example of poor judgment by the city council and the city staff? I’ll use one example. According to The News & Record on March 10, 2006, “The RMA report found that Bellamy, who is black, was intentionally excluded from matters relating to Hinson, Special Intelligence, and even the internal discipline of officers under his command…â€? (According to Joe Guarino, this excerpt was actually from the city attorney’s report, not RMA).

    On November 30, 2006, in The Rhino Times, Jerry Bledsoe writes: “Wray called a meeting of some of his top commanders… He wanted detectives to give a full presentation of everything that had been done involving James Hinson since the arrest of Elton Turnbull….�

    Bledsoe’s article states that Assistant Chief Tim Bellamy attended the meeting on June 14th. Bellamy and other GPD commanders listened to the presentation regarding Hinson by detectives who were assigned to various divisions within the GPD including the Special Intelligence Division (Ahearn’s purported “secret police�). According to the Bledsoe installment, the meeting lasted about six hours. Before the meeting was over, Bellamy attempted leave the meeting to attend another engagement. Bledsoe quotes David Wray as saying: “Tim, I need you to stay for this. It’s very important.� According to Bledsoe, Bellamy remained at the meeting.

    Which version is correct? Is Wray’s version simply a convoluted spin in an effort to clear his name? Or, is the city attorney’s version simply another error in judgment by the city staff?

    In David Wray’s version, he named the names of some of those officers, including Bellamy, who participated in the meeting. Ask them! If there is confirmation by these officers of Wray’s account of this meeting, the city staff’s conclusion on this particular matter can be challenged for its veracity. And, if the city’s version was wrong on this issue, it may very well be wrong about other important issues in this controversy.

  8. Posted December 10, 2006 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    The truth is not for everyone.

  9. Posted December 10, 2006 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps there will be people who are uncomfortable with the truth, but it matters nonetheless. Like it or not, we NEED to know the truth. However it goes, whatever the truth, the real story, ends up being, we have to hear it, accept it, and deal with it.

    Running this City and its police department amid gossip and speculation it NOT acceptable.

    The truth IS for everyone.

  10. Ashanti
    Posted December 11, 2006 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Someone is sounding like a holocaust denier, David. !! What is your hurry? To get in bed with JR, Lorraine , Eric Townsend and most of all that weasal Mitch Johnson.. As Tommy Flanagan( John Lovitz ) said:” Ah yeah
    that’s the ticket” . Your tedium is shallow and not interested in the truth.

  11. Posted December 12, 2006 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Ashanti,

    You are correct in that I have little patience for tedium. However, the second part of that sentence is plain wrong.

  12. wayne
    Posted December 12, 2006 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    David,
    The N&R, the City Council, Ed Cone, and all the Mitch Johnson fans have run for the trees. This problem is NOT going away. Even if Mitch did nothing wrong, he is done for in this town. His credibility is gone. Linda Miles is in the same boat. The present city council is the weakest in many, many years. They have their heads in the sand.

    Around town, people are asking how did this happen ? We all know, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS It has ruled this town for a long time. The N & R has become a joke. They didn’t learn a d— thing with Ethan Finesilver. Lorrain Ahearn has lost her respectabilty as a journalist. How can you believe anything she writes. All of you are afriad of being branded a racist by the Simpkins Pac . What a mess

  13. Posted December 12, 2006 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Even if Wray did have a “Napolean Complex”, why play a phony race card? Further, Johnson and the N&R and others allowed Wray to be categorized as a racist and played an active role in same. To act as if they are somehow sympathetic figures (well, not the N&R which has done nothing in response to Bledsoe) who were being unfairly maligned by Wray via Bledsoe is to ignore who drew the first blood. Wray wasn’t even given access to the RMA report and had it mischaracterized and spread all over the front page.

    Why doesn’t Hinson talk? Why is the N&R silent? Why is Johnson getting so defensive? If Wray is lying, why isn’t he being sued?

    As Ben points out- the truth may be ugly- but it must come out. The real reasons for Wray’s departure are either unknown or have been disguised as something that does not appear to be true.

    Harry Truman said upon firing MacArthur: “I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals.” If it comes down to Wray being arrogant, then just come out and say it. The race angle and a lot of the other allegations that are being eroded by Bledsoe week after week have been incredibly destructive.

  14. Nick Scott
    Posted December 12, 2006 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    “The race angle and a lot of the other allegations that are being eroded by Bledsoe week after week have been incredibly destructive.”

    On this point I agree. I still stick to the fact that we are hearing only one side of the story from Wray via Bledsoe. The man (Wray) obviously has an incredible memory and knack for keeping notes of meetings/times/dates etc. While the race angle sells papers, I never thought it was entirely about race. My previous post here stands in terms of the other issues that may have been at play. The part that always seems to be missed are the reports that when the investigation started, people of all ranks, races, and gender brought up issues about Wrays leadership.

    Again, to me it is very simple….he lied to his boss, lost the faith of employees through nefarious and clandestine actions and misread the fact that the title of Chief does not equate to being appointed King.

  15. Posted December 13, 2006 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    But Nick, you must realize that some here will brush your comments off as those from a (former) disgruntled employee.

    I agree with your assessments, however.

  16. The CA
    Posted December 13, 2006 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps we will hear from a gruntled current employee.

  17. Nick Scott
    Posted December 14, 2006 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    David,

    I would hope my previous posts here reflect my thoughts not only as a former employee but also one that has reached entirely different conclusions than (shall I dare i say it)….the conspiracy theory and it’s always been about race crowd. I wasn’t nor am i currently disgruntled. I just find it rather sad that the good men and women of GPD are being raked over the coals by many in the blog community and by the former Chief. I wish David Wray the best in his future endeavors. However sometimes an ego can be so badly bruised that no logic, best wishes or sound reasoning can bring that person back. When faced with this dilemma, two paths can be chosen: The first path is to clear their name by any means necessary. (seek and destroy all who have wronged me mentailty) The second path is to defend some heartfelt points, acknowledge mistakes and fallibility and graciously move on out of respect for yourself and others. I think we know the path chosen by Wray and company.

    I enjoy your blog because it is one of the few where an element of civility remains and a true conversation of varying opinions can occur. How refreshing!!!