Saturday, June 4, 2011

John Hammer: Ding Dong The Mitch Is Gone! (Greensboro NC fires corrupt city manager): Roch Smith and Sam Spagnola

"Mitch Johnson was fired as Greensboro city manager at 9:27 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, [2009].

The vote was quick and there was no public discussion. After a closed session of a little over an hour, the council came back into the council chambers. On the way in, Councilmember Goldie Wells turned to me and said, "You've got your victory. You should be glad."

Councilmember Robbie Perkins and Mitch Johnson both declined to comment.

...the motion Tuesday night passed by a 5-to-4 vote. Voting in favor of moving forward were Councilmembers Groat, Rakestraw, Trudy Wade, Mike Barber and Zack Matheny.

The naysayers voting no on the motion to fire the manager were Mayor Johnson and Councilmembers Dianne Bellamy-Small, Robbie Perkins and Goldie Wells.

...Mitch Johnson made the removal of former Police Chief David Wray from office a racial issue and Mitch Johnson has had the support of the black leadership. Tuesday night four speakers came forward in favor of the manager: two women who speak frequently at City Council meetings, often in support of the city manager, and Revs. Greg Headen and Cardes Brown, both members of the Pulpit Forum.

...Shortly after Greensboro Police Officer Scott Sanders was found not guilty of accessing a government computer without authorization by a unanimous decision of the 12 member jury on Feb. 20, Rakestraw went on television and asked for Mitch Johnson's resignation...

The charges against Sanders were the result of an investigation of the Police Department under Wray, instigated by Mitch Johnson...

...those were the only charges that resulted from these lengthy investigations, which tore the Police Department apart and caused the resignation or retirement of Wray's entire command staff, with the exception of current Chief Tim Bellamy.

Mitch Johnson started the investigation of Wray while Mitch Johnson was still interim city manager 2005.

...Mitch Johnson locked Wray out of his office, and then forced Wray to resign.

...offenses that Mitch Johnson deemed of sufficient gravity that they required locking the police chief out of his office while he was still in charge of the Police Department turned out to be nothing.

...Wray had been forced out because, according to Mitch Johnson, Wray had targeted black police officers for special investigations and had a squad known as the "secret police" that was set up to investigate black officers. The infamous "black book" was, according to the RMA investigator, shown to every drug dealer and prostitute in the area to try and get something against black police officers.

However, last year in a sworn statement in response to a lawsuit filed by Roch Smith and Sam Spagnola, Mitch Johnson stated that the city had no written or recorded evidence that the black book was ever shown to anyone other than the prostitute who had reported that a black Greensboro police officer, who was in uniform and on duty, had molested her. Sanders had been put in charge of that investigation and had helped create the black book, which included photos of 19 black police officers who were in uniform and on duty at the time of the incident, as well as photos of 95 black men of similar age and characteristics.

After much discussion the City Council was shown something last year that Mitch Johnson and the city staff claimed was the black book, but in reality it was only a portion of the black book. Rakestraw was particularly upset about being misled by the city manager about the black book.

Seth Cohen of Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, who represents Sanders, offered to meet with the City Council and explain the black book.

The City Council voted to invite Cohen, but as Barber has pointed out frequently, a vote of the City Council during the reign of Mitch Johnson really didn't mean much, and despite the vote Cohen was not contacted.

But lawyers were hired without the council's knowledge to prepare a report on why the City Council should not meet with Cohen.

Many governing bodies would have fired a manager on the spot for openly defying it, but this council took it in stride.

The Rhino Times has been calling for the council to fire Mitch Johnson for some time.

...Wells, who said that the job of the City Council was just to appoint people to boards and commissions and to follow the directions of the manager.

...according to city councilmembers, while in closed session, Bellamy-Small refuses to sit with the rest of the council at the table.

She sits in a chair against the wall and harangues her fellow councilmembers from a distance."

John Hammer
Rhino Times, March 5, 2009

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