Meeting with Mitch Johnson

Ironically, I was on the phone with Ben as City Manager Mitch Johnson came by today.  Johnson had called a little earlier and asked if I could meet with him, asking, “…have you written your last column yet?”.  When I told him I had not, he said there are some things he would like to talk about.

Some things“, was an understatement.  We talked for the better part of three hours in his office at City Hall.  While it will take me a while to digest everything we talked about, I know the predicament I’m in.

If I say anything that is perceived as being in defense of the city’s embattled top executive, I will be labeled a “Mitch lover”, naive, gullible and a mouthpiece.  If I relate the opposite, I will be labeled another type of mouthpiece influenced by the Wray-as-saint forces.

But what I’d realy like to do is tell you my impressions without all of the usual knee-jerking, preening and rawness that usually follows any post on this subject.  People’s lives have been, and continue to be, deeply affected by this whole affair.  Good people… including David Wray, Brian James, Tim Bellamy, Mitch Johnson, Scott Sanders, Jerry Bledsoe, Randall Brady… and many many others.   But what we need to finally do is get this whole thing behind us before it tears us apart any further.

Let me sleep on things and get back to you tomorrow. 

Update 5:28p: I just received a call from a knowledgable local political operative advising me not to involve myself into this mess any further.   Stated reason: Five votes will be needed from Council if I’m to have any expectation of saving War Memorial Stadium from the wrecking ball.

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25 Comments

  1. Ben Holder
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Hogg,

    This is not a good time for a quick game of, “Guess what you and Mitch talked about.” The fact that he called you instead of a press conference is disturbing. I am guessing Mitch broke some personnel laws in y’alls three hour discussion. Wonder why Trudy and Mary were not called? Hogg, the idea of a special meeting called by Johnson that only inbcludes you is disturbing. Prove me wrong? How ’bout this idea?

    Tell us everything that was said. Be trasparent and honest. If it was off the record secret stuff only for your ears, then well, Mitch probably just hurt his cause way more than he helped his cause. By chance, was this meeting taped? I don’t wanna play the “I woulda asked Mitch so and so game” You just do your best and replay the entire meeting. Seems as if Greensboro is going backwards in the transparency department. Once upon a time, there was this thingy called Willow Oaks that caused an uproar of sorts. Mitch had an open meeting. Now, it was just a nice little three hour meeting with you. I gotta tell you, if Mitch woulda called me I woulda turned him down. I woulda said, “I will attend your press conference” and left it at that.

  2. wayne
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I would like to ask him– No, never mind, I would like to tell him good-bye and please move to California, and take Linda with him.

  3. Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, Ben. I have removed that part of my post asking for questions. Dumb idea on my part.

    As far as transparency goes, I’m sure you agree that should be a two way street. The best way to go about that would be for David Wray, Randall Brady, Mitch Johnson and Linda Miles to hold a public forum. But that ain’t gonna happen. Information gets out when it is most beneficial to the side doing the leaking from what I’ve seen and everyone seems to like it that way.

    I am quite confident that Mary and Trudy can meet with the manager anytime they wish. His number is probably in their cell phones.

    Ben, please, lets don’t get into a pissing contest over this. We have a lot of history you and me. You can either trust me to do the right thing or you don’t.

  4. Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Mitch is tone deaf. We don’t want to hear his version of things again. There are records that will answer the questions the public wants to know.

  5. Ben Holder
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    No pissing here. I trust you, Hogg!

  6. Posted February 9, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    You’re being played, Hoggard.

  7. Ben Holder
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Update 5:28p: I just received a call from a knowledgable local political operative advising me not to involve myself into this mess any further. Stated reason: Five votes will be needed from Council if I’m to have any expectation of saving War Memorial Stadium from the wrecking ball.

    and that means what? Are you gettin’ distance or not? Damn, your blog is exciting!

  8. Fred Gregory
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    David,

    I don’t really have any advice. Hindsight is so 20-20 . I won’t say what I would have done under similar circumstances, except grabbed a mini-tape recorder with a 3 hour capacity and concealed it on my person.. Perhaps, as Ben suggests, you should have said no thanks and BTW Mitch you are trespassing.

  9. Posted February 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    “Update 5:28p: I just received a call from a knowledgable local political operative advising me not to involve myself into this mess any further. Stated reason: Five votes will be needed from Council if I’m to have any expectation of saving War Memorial Stadium from the wrecking ball.”

    Tragic, just tragic.

  10. Posted February 9, 2008 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    That said, sometimes you have to pick your battles– just a sad fact of life.

    Besides, we’ve no shortage among the Ditch Mitch ranks so I’m happy to excuse you on this one. ;-)

  11. dookie
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Aw, good people like Jerry Bledsoe of such impeccable moral scruples are having their lives “deeply affected?” Really, and for true? Boo, hoo. Now let me write another 20 installments about it. What horseshit. He is loving it. And anybody who takes a “death threat” (bullshit) seriously doesn’t write a tell-all about it. Oh, wait. The danger’s past. It’s safe to tell my story at last, so long as I keep daddy’s piece loaded by my computer. Give me a break.

  12. Posted February 9, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Finding out how the real world works, eh Hoggie?

    It’s not very nice is it?

  13. Posted February 9, 2008 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Nothing new, Mary. I’ve dealt with 5 votes before. But thanks for your concern.

  14. Old Casey
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Your are already in this up to your waist now, Dave, so go ahead and tell us who gave you the horse’s head. Surely not Goldie Wells. These people play hardball, Dave.

  15. Spag
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    David, if you did receive such a call, then I think you should make it publicly known who called you. That is a form of bribery and a federal offense.

  16. Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Sam, my statement above was pretty clear… “Johnson had called a little earlier and asked if I could meet with him.”

    Don’t throw “federal offense” nor “bribery” at me, Spag. Such innuendo is way out of line. I spoke to you personally earlier and told you there was nothing nefarious, illegal, nor underhanded about the meeting and have been as straightforward about it as I know how.

  17. Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    David: I am certain Sam is asking you to reveal who told you to stay out of it in exchange for saving the stadium and not referring to the meeting with Mr. Johnson.

  18. Posted February 9, 2008 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, Jeffrey. Light and air on that kind of threat negates the threat.

    My concerns for your situation mirrors your own for mine, Hogg.

    And before you get started with the sneers, the difference between me and David Wray and/or Mitchell Johnson is that I am telling my truth in the first person on my blog. No lawyers involved.

    You’ve/others never respected that.

  19. Spag
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    That’s right, Jeffrey. I was referring to the War Memorial threats, not the conversation with Mitch.

    I am not suggesting that Johnson did anything unlawful when he called you, David.

    Let’s not confuse things here.

  20. Posted February 10, 2008 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Sorry for the confusion, Sam. I had several conversations yesterday.

    I won’t say who did make the call, but I will say who it was NOT.

    It was NOT a city council member nor anyone who works for the city. It was from someone who is genuinely interested in the future of the stadium.

  21. Ben Holder
    Posted February 10, 2008 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    It Bill Berkley, duh

  22. Posted February 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    My question is whether this “knowledgable local political operative” is speculating or does this person have specific knowledge about Council members’ intentions.

    If they have heard from Council members who have said this is their intention than that needs to be brought forward. If this person is just speculating or trying to intimidate you because of their own political agenda (and you said it wasn’t a Council member), I’d question the source’s “knowledge.”

  23. Posted February 10, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    “that needs to be brought forward.”

    Wouldn’t that be a personnel issue?

  24. Posted February 10, 2008 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m referring to the threat that if David doesn’t back off the Stadium might not have Council support. David doesn’t work for the City. It’s not a personnel issue.

    Maybe a personal issue.

  25. Posted February 10, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I guess I’m no Rosenberg.