Mitch Johnson interview

Ryan over at GreensboroPolitics interviewed the city manager yesterday.  Johnson’s answers and demeanor match those I encountered on Sunday.  To wit…

Ryan: “Does City Hall have a communications problem?”

Mitchell: “Um…. Well, Um… I think based on, based on what’s…. I would say yes. We have not been effective getting a message out and communicating the environment in which we have to work….”

It is my understanding that additional documents regarding “…the environment in which we have to work…” have been cleared through the city’s legal department and may be available soon.

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40 Comments

  1. Spag
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    He…still…doesn’t….get…it…

    What an arrogant asshole.

  2. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    And, Sam, in light of your vulgar comment above… what should we make of you?

  3. Posted February 12, 2008 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Sam and I have a shared interest that we have committed to pursuing together. This type of attack is not part of our agenda and I disassociate myself from these kinds of remarks.

  4. Posted February 12, 2008 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I thought the last sentence in the answer you quote was more interesting: “You have to understand that if I go against clear advice from a lawyer and in fact I end up breaking the law then I become personally liable.”

    Sounds at first like more excuses, but coupled with Sam’s post about the mayor’s forum, I think it might help explain why thiings have gone down in the way that they have.

  5. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    As you should, Roch, thanks.

    I think Sam just might be taking this all a little too personally. I can see a Rhino Times headline coming from that comment – Local Attorney Calls City Manager Arrogant Asshole.

  6. Beau D. Jackson
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    What an arrogant asshole.

    Hoggster…………..
    It’s apparent “Sprag” is anti on arrogant assholes!

  7. Beau D. Jackson
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Local Attorney Calls City Manager Arrogant Asshole

    You have to admit this does have a certain “ring” to it!

  8. Spag
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I admit to going overboard. I’m still a little steamed. I stick by the arrogant part. I am not taking this personally as I have absolutely no personal interest invested in this, I never have.

    I just refuse to be lied to by anyone in the government. I have played nice for a very long time, but the excuses keep on coming.

    Tell you what, David. I’ll meet with Mitch if he clears it with Alan Duncan first. I will apologize for calling him an asshole, because that was out of line. I promise I will be fair, but he will have to answer my questions. Clearing up the whole David Wray affair should only take about 10 questions. If at the end, I find Mitch’s story plausible, then I will say as much. I said that from the beginning. Unfortunately at this point, it isn’t plausible, but he could clear that up.

  9. Posted February 12, 2008 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “Supercilious Sphincter” may keep people guessing more and actually sounds a little kinder.

  10. Old Casey
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Spag, your comment sounded pretty descriptive to me.

  11. Spag
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    No, I was out of line. I’ve never met Johnson and I shouldn’t have said that about him. It was a quick reaction to the continued political deafness that I see him engaging in.

    I was actually thinking last night what I would do if I was in Mitch Johnson’s shoes. What would I say. Maybe sometime I’ll write a Mitch Johnson speech that might explain what I think he needs to do and say.

    These little piecemeal interviews that he is giving are all one sided, and as I have repeated over and over again, nearly every time he does them, he makes things worse. I am amazed at why he still does these things when they always turn out the same and that is why I think he must be either extremely arrogant or entirely clueless. Blaming the N&R now when they essentially helped sell his story for the past two years is just another example of this.

    I’m serious Hogg. We talked about a meeting with Mitch. I’ll do it if he clears it through legal and I will be fair to him. My only perception of him is what I read that he says and does. Maybe he can change that. But I do have some tough questions for him.

  12. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I have met Mitch and know him better than anyone on this thread. People take this personal becuase it is personal. lots of things have been said and done to alot of people that many of us know. I am about sick of all the people working to excuse Mitch and his crew. Enough is enough. Mitch should not be the city manager for the simple fact that council is divided 4-5 either way on any given day about whether to keep him or not. The city cannot go on and heal with miles and Johnson. That is the bottom line.

  13. Spag
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Ben, it isn’t personal with me. I don’t even live in Greensboro, and I don’t know most of the key players. My frustration is simply due to what I perceive as elected officials and their appointees not telling the truth when telling the truth doesn’t seem that hard to do.

    To the extent any of my criticisms about Mitch seem personal, they are really only commentaries on how has conducted affairs and the perception I and others have as a result.

    I’ve said before, he may be a great guy, but I don’t believe he is competent to be the City Manager. I formed that opinion based on the public record of what he has said and done, not anything personal.

  14. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I find it curious that some of the most vocal detractors of Greensboro’s goverment don’t reside in the city that is the subject of their ire. Not that citizenship is a prerequisite for condemnation of anything… but it is curious.

    Sam, I should have deleted your comment this morning instead of perpetuating the gaff. I apologize for not doing so knowing that you would have thought better of it after reflection.

    As Ryan and I have exhibited, Johnson is accessible. Give him a call yourself. As you have witnessed, I’m afraid I have caught more than enough crap trying to be a go between.

    Keep in mind, however, that he is – despite what some obviously think – human and probably not real keen on voluntarily subjecting himself to hostility nor abuse.

  15. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Hogg,

    I know Greensboro way better than you do. My work for the city should be applauded instead of some superficial membership crap you continually try to pull. Willow Oaks was federal money sweet pea, it was not the secret money you and Mitch saved together.

    The majority of the people I know in Greensboro see the double talk and double standard. The Rhino has many, many loyal readers. I find it curious that you know so little about local Government. The closed session to decide if PUBLIC RECORD should be released is alarming. But to you, even the public record needs to be hidden at times?

    I may not live in Greensboro, but I know way more about what is going on than you do. You should thank me for the free education.

  16. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    All of that is true and I do thank you, Ben.

    My comment was not to bring up any “superficial membership crap”, but when I learned from his comment that Sam is not a citizen of Greensboro it just hit me as a curious pattern.

    I think Sam’s motives behind his actions are just as pure as yours.

  17. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Curious pattern:

    People in Greensboro get brainwashed becuase Mitch sends out radio active waves to control Greensboro residents mind.

  18. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Is Linda Miles good for Greensboro?

  19. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    My house is wrapped in aluminum foil so I’m just as safe as you are in W.S. My brainwashing is due to other factors that I can’t quite figure out.

    No.

  20. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Mitch urged her to stay.

    Is that good Management?

  21. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I think it is good management to have the legal department as fully staffed as possible. Where else should Johnson have gone to handle the day-to-day legal stuff for the city. Smith-Moore? Peterson-Buie? The options are limited until a new CA is hired… none of which are going be satifactory to everyone and definitely not to you.

    I would have thought you had emptied your bucket list of Linda Miles.

    (Before you fire back… after this comment I’ll be out of pocket until tonight)

  22. Spag
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Hogg, I do work here and deal with law enforcement all the time, so I think I at least am qualified to comment on that basis. But more importantly, all citizens should be concerned when they don’t get answers from government.

    I live in Oak Ridge, but I pay attention to what happens in Summerfield (a mess), Stokesdale (I was on the Planning Board), High Point (I grew up there), Raleigh, Washington, and anywhere I see problems with government accountability.

    You are correct that I should have reflected further before calling Mr. Johnson that name, and I can appreciate that you considered removing it. It was a knee jerk reaction which is something I rarely do, and I admit to having a more frequently used colorful vocabulary than most.

    I’m a professional when it comes to asking questions. I ask them all of the time to people under oath. Some questions I might ask Mr. Johnson may be seen as hostile questions, but I won’t be hostile in asking. There is a difference. Tough, yes. Professional and fair, yes. Abusive or demeaning, no. All I want is the truth. I have no other dog in this fight.

  23. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Where else should Johnson have gone to handle the day-to-day legal stuff for the city. Smith-Moore?

    they do that already

  24. Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    “People in Greensboro get brainwashed becuase Mitch sends out radio active waves to control Greensboro residents mind.”

    Uh, has someone had a break with reality?

  25. Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Change your headline to “Local Attorney And Local Poet Call City Manager Arrogant Asshole” and then it will be factually correct.

  26. Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    There are very good reasons actual citizens of Greensboro, such as myself, have lost confidence in the City Manager’s office. Eventually I suppose there will be lawsuits to settle details (or not) but Mitch Johnson has by all appearances betrayed public trust. Greensboro needs to give him a nice incentive to move on, and if he does not, the city council should fire him. He may be the nicest guy on the planet as far as I know, but there seem to be good reasons that people have lost faith, and the city needs to move on. He himself could have helped the city out of its crisis and he did not. I do not know of any rule, law, or code of ethics that would have kept him from releasing to the media and to the public what he knew was being requested of him. The slightest desire to be transparent would have settled this long ago. I am left wondering if he and the city are bracing for a huge lawsuit from David Wray. I am just trying to find a way to understand the obstruction. Only by transparency and the trust that brings can we move forward in a healthy manner. Oh, and there are many ways to be profane other than saying a few naughty words…

  27. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    JW,

    Only you

  28. Posted February 12, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    “People in Greensboro get brainwashed becuase Mitch sends out radio active waves to control Greensboro residents mind.�

    Ooops! I apologize Ben!

    Who made that statement above? I thought it was Ben. If I made an error I am sorry.

  29. Posted February 12, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    “The slightest desire to be transparent would have settled this long ago.”

    There has been NO desire for transparency from our high ranking city employees throughout this whole affair.

    There has been NO accountablity demanded by past city councils.
    Will this current city council break with that tradition?

    Or will we continue to suffer from the “business as usual” mentality, and once again, be asked to “move forward”?

    Sam and Billy’s description of Mitch Johnson was way too generous and entirely too kind, based upon all the evidence we have, and despite any additional “evidence” that might be manufactured.

  30. Ben Holder
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    JW,

    You are really special

  31. Posted February 12, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Hogg, you are a very decent person so I am sure your final column will be balanced..I told Mitch 18 mos. ago that this problem would consume he and Miles if it wasn’t brought to a close

  32. dhoggard
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Robert,

    Thank you. I’ll do my best.

    In case you haven’t noticed, balance is a rare thing among the rough and tumble conversation on blogs. I suppose it is the nature of the medium that people think they can’t communicate effectively unless they are boorish, abrasive and sometimes downright rude.

    Not sure who you are, but you gave the two of them good advice. I’m guessing that if they could have closed it out, they would have.

  33. meblogin
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Thanks for expressing your thoughts about Mitch. They are valuable to many.

    Sam,

    Why don’t you post your 10 questions? Others will pick them up and ask Mitch. I would rather hear his well thought out answers.

    I still like what Patrick wrote some time back—”I believe if the city, its staff, and/or its elected officials had released information like this during the last year and a half, public perception about Wray’s departure might be different. Their silence has left a vacuum that has been filled by people who have legitimate concerns and others who see a witch behind every tree.”

  34. Spag
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Meblogin, you can’t ask questions that way and get a straight reliable answer because you can’t do follow ups when someone tries to bail out on you. Give someone 10 questions in writing and they can always find a non-answer that appears to be a real answer. Do it face to face with a follow up (like a deposition) and they can’t dodge you.

  35. Posted February 13, 2008 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    David,
    It is heartbreaking to see our former county commissiners, come over to the city council and stir up things.
    We do not need to go without a city manager AND a school superintendent, simultaneously.
    I know Mitch, and he is as honest as the day is long. Unlike many, I’ve actually read all the information that has been released and for the life of me, can’t understand why people are not upset at Chief Wray instead of the city manager!
    This police case belongs in the courts and not at the feet of city council, Mitch or anyone else.
    Mary Rakestraw’s disingenuous comments about making up her mind, were laughable. She went door to door telling people she was going to get rid of Mitch Johnson—but unbeknownst to her, Mitch’s family is very well woven into the fabric of Greensboro. I have several people who want to go public on Mary’s comments, but I told them that would be a diversion at this time. There WILL be a time for it, and it may be sooner than later. I am so disappointed in the three former commissioners and their behavior on this.

    CITY COUNCIL IS SUPPOSED TO BE A “NON PARTISA” BOARD!

    Looks like our former commissioners have brought some very bad habits over to the council.
    Keep up the good work, David.
    John Graham

  36. Spag
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    “I know Mitch, and he is as honest as the day is long.”

    I don’t know Mitch, but appears to me that you must be speaking of those December days at the North Pole.

    He was either wrong, lying. or misleading when he said yesterday that he could be held personally liable for releasing records.

    That is not the law in North Carolina for people in Johnson’s position.

  37. HalfSmart
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I used to work for Mitch Johnson at the City. He’s the reason I left the City. It’s not an issue about whether he’s honest or not. It’s not an issue about whether he lied or not. It’s about the fact that the citizens of Greensboro have lost confidence in him. How can we move on if there’s so much mistrust. The council would be wise to ask for his resignation. Only then can Greensboro begin to heal from this mess.

  38. Posted February 13, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    David,
    If the council does not get 5 votes tomorrow, they will be voting again over the next 30-60 days….Mitch is a highly skilled technician but does not have the people skills to lead such a diverse group as our city staff….He has not gained respect of other governmental agencies…If Mitch had worked harder to have communications with David Wray rather than hide behind other forth-coming information they may have been able to avert this terrible situation……

  39. Bob Summer
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow…so much fuss, there are real issues here in Greensboro that are going unheard while the Rhino whips up all this fuss,…just to sell a paper ! Come on folks, if you have been around Greensboro so long, you should be able to see this one. This is not the first or last time the rumor-rag mounted a campaign just to have something to write about. If an mind-melding is going on the center of radio activity is 216 W. Market Street.
    Fact is: Mitch has, and does a better job that most of YOU could or would want to do…geez, give the man credit, he has to deal with a city council that is less than united on any issue, and has personnel issues rooted in the depths of quality that minimum wage and minimum education will get you all most all levels and departments.
    As for the self-richous (not sp wrong) city elected officials…they need to check their egos at the door and get about doing the business of the people…go find a few real issues to carp about or just plain show some leadership by proposing new solutions ! Some of them are using the same tatics they used as county commissioners (holler and moan) and do nothing…except as I recall give us a civics lesson in how to lose an election and stay in office…now that serves the public ! How about say, getting their communities involved in crime reduction programs…can’t just buy lower crime and charge higher taxes…gotta reach down and create grassroots solutions!
    How about: working with the development community to upgrade eastern g-boro, they have connections in thoes areas..?? How about working better with High Point and the county to find effeciencies that could LOWER our overall taxes ?? How about getting a few more jobs in here, How about WATER ? etc…???
    COME ON FOLKS lets focus on the stuff that counts !
    LOOK HERE ::: MITCH IS NOT THE PROBLEM !!!! He is just the poor guy that WE hired to: get the real work done, keep the mundane stuff running, keep the city somewhat in one piece, and take the heat from the politicians that were elected to say that they are incontrol and that they are the BOSS of Mitch so they can fire him….note they didn’t say they could actually RUN the city !!! Step back and you will see, the man has done ONE HECK of a JOB given the garbage he has to deal with… and don’t even start about lieing, or withholding, or conspiracy this or that…geez…you give these folks too much credit ! They are too busy just trying to run this mess to have time to think about devious ways to do underhanded things that have no apparent reason, or cause, or justification…. THATS JUST LIFE, people make mistakes, some people mess up the answer to a question when the pressure is on… GET OVER IT ….
    Geez, this subject makes me tired….I have said enough, I have a life to go live and no time to continue this foolishness.

  40. meblogin
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Sam,

    I believe it can be done both ways depending upon the quality of the questions.

    Sometimes I am asked questions that require time to consider in order to answer with a quality response.