In lieu of a press conference….

 I received an interesting communication from the City of Greensboro today.  Entitled “Items for your information August 3rd, 2007” the originator is City Manager Mitch Johnson.

The thing that struck me about it was that some of the items addressed were very blog-centric, meaning, some of the issues Johnson addresses arose from being merely lowly blog posts to the level of an official inquiry or action.  Namely this one (Willow Oaks) and this one (Sewer pipeline).  This one (EEOC ruling) obviously didn’t originate on local blogs but has been widely discussed.

We are doing something right on these here blogs.  Keep it up everybody.

The entire communique’ can be found after the jump.  M E M O R A N D U M  

DATE:            August 3, 2007

TO:                 Mayor and City Council

FROM:            Mitchell E. Johnson, City Manager

SUBJECT:            ITEMS FOR YOUR INFORMATION

  North Buffalo Sanitary Sewer Replacement Project

Park construction is continuing to make excellent progress on the North Buffalo Sanitary Sewer Project.  Blasting will continue through the month of August as progress moves from Elm Street to Wendover Avenue.  The concern of neighbors affected by the blasting appears to have abated now that detonations are occurring on a somewhat regular basis.  A few residents and businesses (including Cone Hospital) have requested daily notification of blasting schedules which the contractor is providing.   In a related issue, the City appears close to negotiating a solution to concerns over blasting in the vicinity of Revolution Mills which has caused contractors delays on the Yanceyville to Church segment.  Water Resources wishes to remind citizens that all blasts are seismically monitored and if any damage is reported, the contractor’s insurance carrier will investigate and settle any issues as appropriate.

If you have any questions please contact Allan Williams at 373-2050.

  Gang Issues (attachment)

Please see attached memo to department heads on this issue.  We hope to have a briefing ready by August 28th.

 Update on Willow Oaks Investigation (attachment)

I recently met with the investigating officer, M.P. Craft, his commanding officer, Captain Gary Hastings, and assistant District Attorney, Stephanie Reece. The purpose of the meeting was to have the investigating officer review the results of his investigation and to hear from the DA’s office on their decisions regarding the case. I also asked our City attorney, Linda Miles, to attend as well as Assistant City Manager Ben Brown and Director of Engineering and Inspections, Butch Simmons.

The attached memo from Officer Craft briefly reviews the results of his investigation. Based on the information developed in the investigation the DA determined that there was no actionable issue to pursue because the criminal investigation determined that the City did receive services equal to the amount we were billed. 

I then reviewed the case with Legal to determine if there is a basis for a civil claim on the part of the City of Greensboro. Because the investigation determined that the City received services equal to the amount the City was billed there is no basis for a claim for damages.

While I know there has been a great deal of controversy regarding this project and the decisions made by staff to address the claims by the contractor, I believe we have taken every action to ensure that our decisions and actions were fully supported by the facts of the issue. I am disappointed that Mr. Brown provided a document which was not accurate with regard to where he sent the debris from the demolition and excavation.

Therefore, based on the information developed during the investigation, I am asking our staff to remove Mr. Brown from our list of acceptable bidders at this time. If you have any further questions about this please contact me at 373-2002.

 Update on GTA/SCAT Issues (attachment)

I have attached two memos from Jim Westmoreland and staff regarding several issues which have come to Council’s attention regarding GTA and SCAT. If you have any questions please contact Jim Westmoreland at 373-2863.

 Recent Ruling by EEOC

There has been quite a bit of media coverage of the recent ruling by the EEOC with regard to a complaint filed by a group of black police officers. While it would be inappropriate for me to discuss this case in specific I would like to remind everyone of the actions taken by the City of Greensboro with regard to all officers in the Greensboro Police Department in the first few months after Chief Wray’s resignation.

  • Policy and Practice was changed so that SID no longer had any role in the investigation of officers.
  • An open memo was given to all officers requesting that they bring forward any claims or concerns regarding past administrative and disciplinary actions so that the Acting Chief could review and take appropriate actions to address, as warranted.
  • Promotion process and practices were reviewed and in many cases substantially changed especially with regard to Captains and above.
  • Investigations were undertaken to determine the full extent of any improper behavior or actions. This investigation is complete and the final actions resulting from this investigation are pending due to the criminal investigation as per the next statement.
  • The NC Attorney Generals office assigned a special prosecutor to investigate any potential actions which may have been criminal in nature. Due to unavoidable delays in the NC-AG’s office we are still waiting on the outcome of this effort.

 As you can see I believe we have taken the appropriate and prudent steps to address the concerns of all Greensboro officers. However, if in the process of addressing the EEOC we determine that other actions are warranted we certainly consider them.

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16 Comments

  1. Sandy Carmany
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Good for you in getting this information posted. I have it in a stack of “things I need to blog” but have been too *!^%#@! busy to get it posted. “Mainstream media” received this same memo on August 3 as well, and I was somewhat surprised that no one had done a story on any of the items.

  2. Margaret Banks
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Actually, Sandy, I didn’t receive it until Monday, Aug. 6.

  3. Posted August 7, 2007 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Mine was received Mon 8/6/07 11:02a.

  4. Ann Stringfield
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Neighbors concerns about “blasting” have not been abated due to “detonations … occurring on a somewhat regular basis”.

    Concerns are lessened because the impact of the blasts have been lessened. That first blast about which many, many neighbors called the City was tremendously more powerful than more recent blasts. Something went very wrong with that first blast. Neighbors throughout Fisher Park felt their homes lift, settle, and shift, heard a tremendous boom, sleeping pets jumped to their feet, and I was lifted an inch from my home office chair, which is no easy feat.

    No need to pretend the initial boom was just a matter of surprise. It was significantly more intense, enough to shake house foundations.

  5. Sandy Carmany
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the clarification, Margaret and David — received mine on the 3rd and figured that everyone else got theirs at that time as well.

    Ann,
    According to my information, unbeknown to the contractor, water got into the explosive charge for that first blast which substantially increased its power beyond what it was supposed to be. Appropriate steps have been taken to make sure that does not happen again.

  6. Posted August 9, 2007 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Sandy:

    The N&R actually covered three of those issues — EEOC, blasting and gangs — before the memo came out. I know because I personally reported on each of them.

  7. Posted August 9, 2007 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Joe rochs!

  8. Sandy Carmany
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Joe,
    Yes, I read those articles and thought you did a good job with them. My comment was referring to the additional information contained in that Aug. 3 memo and thinking that there was merit in getting the expanded information out there as well. I keep forgetting that the print media just can’t be as nimble as bloggers.

    I hope I didn’t come across as critical — I did not intend to. After all, I obviously received the memo before any of you guys did and I didn’t get it posted either.

  9. Preston Earle
    Posted August 10, 2007 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “The attached memo from Officer Craft briefly reviews the results of his investigation. Based on the information developed in the investigation the DA determined that there was no actionable issue to pursue because the criminal investigation determined that the City did receive services equal to the amount we were billed.”

    Can you post a copy of this attached memo?

    Preston Earle

  10. Posted August 10, 2007 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I would if I had it, Preston. None of the mentioned attachments came with the correspondence I posted.

  11. Posted August 10, 2007 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  12. Posted August 13, 2007 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    what really happened:

    While Councilwoman Carmany may have been technically wrong, it was an understandable error. I do not know how she was told of the problem; in writing or verbally. As I stated, it was water in the rock around the blast that yielded a greater concussive transmission (made it sound louder). Someone may have told her the correct technical explanation which she interpreted to be water in the explosive powder, or someone else may have made that conclusion and told HER it was water in the powder. So while she was technically incorrect as to the exact cause of the increased concussive force, I am not sure that it was she or someone else who wrongly concluded it was wet powder. I am copying Sandy this so she is aware of my observation on this.

  13. Sandy Carmany
    Posted August 13, 2007 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I received my information verbally about the Latham Park blasting in a quick phone call from a city staff person telling me there had been inquiries and that a press release was being sent out to address it. The mention of the “big blast” seemed to be an after-thought – if my memory is correct, I was told that water got into the charge, or at least, that is how I interpreted it. The most important point is that steps have been taken to make sure the possiblility of water infiltration has been addressed by the contractor to insure it doen’t happen again.

  14. Posted August 13, 2007 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    “The most important point is that steps have been taken to make sure the (sic)possiblility of water infiltration has been addressed by the contractor to insure it (sic)doen’t happen again.”

    Joe and JW,

    I found two spelling errors in Sandy’s response. Possibility and doesn’t are not spelled correctly in her comment. This ROCHS! Happy election time! Ed, I got sic with it.

    I used the

  15. Posted August 13, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    SIC thingy!

  16. Posted August 13, 2007 at 10:16 pm | Permalink