E-mails show history of pressure to fire Johnson

by Jordan Green

From the moment David Wray resigned as police chief in January 2006 after being confronted with allegations of racism, improper administration and deception, speculation flourished in Greensboro that the City Manager’s Office took action based on ulterior motives — namely that City Manager Mitchell Johnson pushed Wray out to shore up support among black leaders who objected to the chief’s efforts to root out corruption among a group of black officers. The first year of the scandal was marked by frustration among many citizens as city leaders promised that answers would be forthcoming following a thorough investigation. In 2007, the city began to release various investigative documents and in September of that year Detective Scott Sanders and Sgt. Tom Scott — officers implicated in allegations of racial profiling under Wray — were indicted. Throughout this period, the city council remained solidly united behind Johnson, with Mayor Keith Holliday telling constituents that he believe a “cancer” had been growing inside the police department before Wray’s departure. In November 2007, Mary Rakestraw and Trudy Wade were elected to council after campaigning on promises to hold the city manager more accountable. In the two and a half years since Wray’s resignation, a vocal segment of the community has called for Johnson’s firing and a renewed investigation of the black officers formerly under scrutiny before Wray’s resignation. With the election of the new council, those voices have become more strident, and the consensus that once prevailed in Greensboro’s elected government has fractured along sharp lines of division related to the city manager’s job performance. The following e-mails and letters obtained from the city of Greensboro detail the many convulsions of the controversy, and city leaders’ attempts to shape public opinion.


Retired Greensboro police Deputy Chief David Williams, January 2006: “I conclude there were some questionable decisions, but I do not share the support for [Mitchell Johnson’s] handling of David Wray’s departure….’ For what it’s worth, many residents I have talked with concerning this matter agree some actions taken were poor judgment, the placing of the [black] book in the car trunk… being one example, but no one understood the action by Mitch to lock Wray out of the chief’s office.” Peggy Abernathy, former member, Guilford County School Board, September 2007: “The ongoing charge of racism is so typical of Greensboro. How detrimental it is to our city and to the individuals against whom the charge is made.” Mayor Keith Holliday, December 2007: “I and the other members of the council were very much in the thick of the manager’s actions and realized he had no choice. In fact, let’s be very clear about his. Knowing what I knew by March of 2006, if Mitchell Johnson had not taken action (and tried to cover up the actions of the GPD) I would have recommended to council that the manager be considered for termination!” Councilman Mike Barber, District 4, February 2008: “There are currently not 5 votes to find a new manager. Knowing that, I believe our best course is to set measurable objective standards for the manager and review them. This will either get us to where we want to be as a city or allow us to get the council support to find staff that can carry out council policies.” Michael O. Brodie, president, Gate City chapter of the North State Law Enforcement Officers Association, March 2008: “The Gate City chapter once again would like to reiterate our ongoing support of you as Greensboro’s city manager. We applaud your courage, leadership and professionalism while in the eyes of adversity.”

Jan. 9, 2006: Chief David Wray resigns from the Greensboro Police Department after being locked out of his office over the previous weekend by City Manager Mitchell Johnson. The city manager had presented the chief with allegations of racial profiling, deceit and mismanagement detailed in a then-confidential report by consultant Risk Management Associates and asked Wray to respond. The RMA Report faulted Wray for trying to link black police Lt. James Hinson to an investigation by an organized crime drug enforcement task force of convicted drug dealer Elton Turnbull, characterizing the chief’s behavior as a “final attempt to cover up Wray’s management failures that have crippled the good order of the Greensboro Police Department and brought his own veracity into question.” Assistant Chief Tim Bellamy is appointed to lead the department while the city undertakes a search for a new chief.

Date: Jan. 21, 2006, 12:18 p.m. From: David Williams To: District 3 Councilman Tom Phillips Subject: Wray affair I conclude there were some questionable decision, but I to [SIC] not share the suport [SIC] for his handling of David Wray’s departure…. For what it’s worth, many residents I have talked with concerning this matter agree some actions taken were poor judgment, the placing of the book in the car truck [SIC] [material redacted] being one example, but no one understood the action by Mitch to lock Wray out of the chief’s office. I hope information continues to be provided. I hope we have opportunity to fully discuss this case as I have concerns for future employee treatment. I realize the need to move on to other issues and hope we can. As always, thenks [SIC] and if I may be of help call me. David Williams is a retired Greensboro deputy police chief, a candidate for chief in 1997 and a former commander of the department’s internal affairs division. [ck] Date: Jan. 23, 2006, 9:16 p.m. From: Phillips To: Williams Subject: RE: Wray Affair Dave, I do agree with you on one thing. Mitchell should not have locked Wray out of his office. He should have fired him the minute I realized he wasn’t telling the truth. Date: Oct. 7, 2006, 11:59 p.m. From: Evelyn Andrew, Guilford College area To: Mayor Keith Holliday, Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Anderson Groat, at-large Councilwoman Yvonne Johnson, at-large Councilwoman Florence Gatten, District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small, District 2 Councilwoman Goldie Wells, District 3 Councilman Tom Phillips, District 4 Councilman Mike Barber and District 5 Councilwoman Sandy Carmany Subject: Police department City council: Keep pushing for answers! Mitchell Johnson still did not address the issues you requested in his news conference, (nor his website). It’s very scary for the citizens to see a man, Mitchell Johnson, gain this much power and control over our city government, can you please explain? What’s his agenda? What are his motives? Has the city council just given him all this power by not doing your jobs effectively? Remember, you didn’t have time to read the investigation of the police Dept. when released to you (as reported in the News & Record). Maybe all of this could have been avoided if Mitchell Johnson had been given some “informed” directives from the City Council. And if the council was not informed, why not? As a concerned citizen for the safety of our city, I urge you to get answers from all parties, including the former city manager and the public records. Date: Oct. 11, 2006, 11:04 a.m. From: Evelyn Andrew To: Mayor and council Subject: Police department I’m infuriated by the ignorance and lack of common sense portrayed by the suspension of [Detective Scott Sanders], yet another police officer of good reputation, who was doing his job. What’s wrong with the picture here? [material redacted] When we citizens of Greensboro ask for answers, we want answers to those questions!… For the city manager, [name redacted] , mayor and city council to continue to support [names redacted] over reputable police officers is totally incomprehensible! Is this really a “black and white” issue?… Further note: Homeland Security reinstated better communications among the CIA, FBI and local police departments. [material redacted] Now Mitchell Johnson has stirred up so many problems with these agencies that the city of Greensboro must be a joke to the rest of the nation, and our national security has just gone down the tube! Date: Oct. 11, 2006, 9:21 p.m. From: Phillips To: Andrew Subject: RE: Police department I’m sorry you don’t know what you are talking about. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Oct. 19, 2006, addressed to mayor and council members from Anne Snoek, Aycock neighborhood: Let me explain to you what is happening: [Material redacted] he saw that Mitchell Johnson was entirely too friendly with certain corrupt police officers, [material redacted]. As a result the whole city seems to be tottering on the brink of a corruption scandal. I am trying to keep this as simple as possible for you. I suggest you find yourselves a new city manager before worse befalls. Of course, Mitchell Johnson is in an impossible position anyway. [Material redacted] If he doesn’t fire them, it looks like he is in collusion with corruption and outlawry in the police department. How will he extricate himself? If he can prove he is not entwined with “bent coppers” as the British call them, he needs to be offered another job. Like in a hardware store. Or maybe he can brush up on his physics. No, seriously, it looks like he, and he alone, has brought this whole mess down on the city. Date: Dec. 19, 2006, 11:46 p.m. From: Wayne Stutts, Friendly Acres Drive To: Holliday, Groat, Gatten, Phillips and Carmany Subject: Manager’s review I respectfully request that your annual review of our city manager and all searches for a police chief be put on hold. The Bledsoe articles have raised so much doubt about Mitch Johnson [material redacted] that objectivity is gone. Your running for the trees has really hurt and we are almost at a crisis point. If you give him a good review, you’ll be highly criticized. A bad review and you’ll have to fire him. How did this happen? Dec. 19, 2006: City council votes unanimously to give Mitchell Johnson a 2.5 percent raise, increasing his annual pay from $170,000 to $174,250. The mayor states that he is pleased with Johnson’s performance in his first year on the job under trying circumstances. Feb. 6, 2007: District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small is pulled over for allegedly speeding after a city council meeting. Officer MJ Calvert indicates in a text message that he decided to not write a ticket in consideration of Bellamy-Small’s status as an elected official, while the councilwoman complains that the white officer treated her rudely. The incident prompts a call from at-large Councilwoman Florence Gatten for Bellamy-Small’s resignation and leads to a recall election, which the District 1 representative wins handily. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Feb. 23, 2007, addressed to Holliday from Jerry McDonald, Governor’s Court condominiums: Lately, I tend to believe more in what The Rhino Times publishes than what comes from the city officials especially the city council and city manager. Where was or is the outcry from city officials over the Bellamy-Small police incident? I have not [SIC] doubt that she was the one doing the intimidating not the police officer. I still believe you are a great person but I also believe you and the city council to include the city manager have become dysfunctional and manipulative. March 27, 2007: Tim Bellamy, who has served as acting chief since Wray’s resignation, is appointed chief by Mitchell Johnson. Sept. 17, 2007: Detective Scott Sanders, a member of the disbanded special intelligence section, and Sgt. Tom Fox, his direct-line supervisor are indicted for obstruction of justice and other charges related to investigating and interfering with the work of black police officers. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Sept. 20, 2007, addressed to Holliday, Groat, Gatten and Barber from John Barlow, Arbor House condominiums: After waiting a year and hearing assurance after assurance that in the end we’d be told why careers were wrecked and lives ruined in the Wray matter it appears that it was all over nothing. If you think these two puny indictments and the recently released tape of the Johnson/Wray conversation relative to the lockout justify your positions in the minds of most citizens, I think you’re dead wrong. The Wray tape shows nothing inconsistent with a man who’s about to be humiliated and doesn’t understand why. The indictments may have some tenuous connection to the matter. Where is the substance in this? Mitchell Johnson is at best a bungler who mishandled this in an embarrassing way. The other possibility is that the inmates are running the asylum at the GPD and we have an administration that enabled the takeover. Date: Sept. 20, 2007, 7:28 p.m. From: J. McDowell To: Holliday CC: Mitchell Johnson Subject: Corruption We have Jim Black, Mike Decker, Frank Balance, the racists [SIC] Bellamy-Small, just to name a few of the corrupt assholes and common bastards that infest state and local government. Holliday, you and the phony scumbag named Johnson are so damn corrupt and politically correct it is pathetic. The way both of you rotten bastards screwed Chief Wray is way behind comprehension. Are you proud, you gutless wonders? How do both of you imbeciles sleep at night? You racists and gutless assholes have finally fired every white person in any high position in Greensboro. You gutless bastards are scared. If both of you are married and married to a female, e-mail me back and tell me which one of you in the family has the biggest balls, you or your wife. On second thought, don’t waste your time, I already know. What two pathetic and scumbag humans. Date: Sept. 20, 2007, 9:04 p.m. From: Mitchell Johnson To: J. McDowell, Holliday CC: Groat, Yvonne Johnson, Gatten, Bellamy-Small, Wells, Phillips, Barber and Carmany Subject: RE: corruption Your comments speak to your character as an individual and based on them I can say I am quite comfortable with not being in your good graces. Date: Oct. 15, 2007, 7:21 a.m. From: Edward LaCrosse, Guilford Courthouse National Park area To: Holliday, Groat, Gatten, Yvonne Johnson, Bellamy-Small, Wells, Phillips, Barber and Carmany Subject: Only in Greensboro I’ve read and/or listened to what is on the city’s website and conclude that there is nothing therein that warranted forcing the majority of the GPD’s command staff to either resign or retire. I am particularly disturbed by the way the RMA group handled the so-called interviews; interrogations would more appropriately describe what took place. With all the redaction and lack of other supporting information, it’s still not possible for the citizens of Greensboro to come to an educated conclusion. I believe that the root problem, in the way that this matter was handled by the city manager, can be traced to a lack of pertinent information in how to manage a public entity. A bachelor’s degree in physics and a few seminars and classes does not prepare one for this particular job. The fact that this individual worked himself up to this position with all previous experience as an employee of the city of Greensboro is a situation commonly referred to as organizational inbreeding. Most ads that I have seen requesting applications for the position of city manager have required a master’s in public administration or at least the MBA degree. A review of the qualifications of Greensboro city department heads, reveals that there are quite a few that have no formal education pertinent to their jobs and that, on paper, several appear to be more qualified to be city manager. The way this entire matter was and is still being handled, indicates a deficit of people skills on the part of several individuals. When egos replace a strong desire to communicate effectively, the outcome is never positive. I do not have a solution to putting this behind us. But I do know that until something more is done, this entire matter will remain as an albatross around the neck of Greensboro. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Oct. 17, 2007, addressed to Holliday and copied to David Wray, lawyer Locke Clifford and blogger Ed Cone from Peggy Abernathy, Guilford College area: In your article [“The Real Story Behind Wray’s Lockout, by Keith Holliday, News & Record, Sept. 15, 2007] you mention that “of all the misunderstandings related to the investigation of the Greensboro Police Department and its former chief, David Wray, one has taken on a life of its own.” The misunderstanding is that [material redacted] in that article you did not do a satisfactory job of explaining what actually happened. I felt you were playing with semantics…. Unlike some Greensboro citizens, I am not privileged to know David Wray. My husband and I, however, have for many years known one of David’s attorneys, Locke Clifford. We have utmost respect for and confidence in Locke as an attorney. He is a person of integrity. David Wray is very fortunate to have Locke representing him. … The last News & Record article I have is “Wray, Racism and Fear” by Edward Cone and [SIC] appeared yesterday. Ed does a superb job of dealing with the climate in Greensboro. It is this climate that I truly believe has exacerbated the problem concerning David Wray and the Greensboro Police Department. The ongoing charge of racism is so typical of Greensboro. How detrimental it is to our city and to the individuals against whom the charge is made. I have lived in Greensboro forty-one years. Fourteen of those, I served on the former Greensboro City Board of Education and the merged Guilford County Board of Education. I heard the charge of racism frequently not necessarily about myself personally but directed to the board. I truly believe [material redacted] that’ Mitchell Johnson, city manager; you, our mayor; and members of the city council experienced the type of fear that Ed Cone expresses so well in his article. The city authorized several investigations: (1) The FBI ruled that no one’s civil rights were violated. (2) I have not read the RMA report but, to my knowledge, no criminal charges have been brought against David Wray as a result of that report. (3) An August 3, 2007 article says that EEOC ruled on behalf of the black police officers. What’s the status of that? (4) The result of the SBI investigation is that two suspended officers, Sgt. William Fox and Officer Scott Sanders have been indicted. Time will tell if those indictments are proven to be fact. This report did not result in any criminal charges against David Wray. So where do we go from here?… Keith, I know that Greensboro is progressing and that you, as mayor, and the other city council members can share in the credit along with many dedicated citizens, of course. But unless you as our elected officials will bring closure to the saga of David Wray and the police department, I believe that will be a most important part of your legacy. I agree with Ed Cone’s statement, “And I know that David Wray, whatever else he did or did not do, deserves to reclaim a vital piece of his good name.” Only you, our mayor; the city council, as our elected body; and our city manager have the power to do that. I trust your conscience will see that through before you leave office.” Nov. 20, 2007: Council votes 7-2 to give Mitchell Johnson a 3 percent raise, from $174,250 to $179,478, with Barber and Groat dissenting. Barber expresses concern that the raise will make Johnson one of the most well compensated city managers in North Carolina. Date: Nov. 28, 2007, 2:15 p.m. From: Charles Nichols, UNCG area To: Mayor and council Subject: City manager I have grown up in Greensboro and Guilford County and I have never seen such a mess created by the city manager’s office. When one creates a fa’ade of racial injustice in order to force employees from their position and then has to pay to defend the very people that were forced out it becomes obvious that the manager’s office is not capable of handling its mission! This is just one example of incompetence. There is also the question of Mitch Johnson’s veracity. It is time that this or the next city council fire Mitchell Johnson! Date: Nov. 28, 2007, 5:44 p.m. From: Phillips To: Nichols Subject: RE: City manager As a councilmember that is leaving, let me simply say that you are entitled to your opinion no matter how wrong you are. Date: Dec. 2, 2007, 5:58 p.m. From: McDowell To: Mitchell Johnson and Holliday CC: Council Subject: RE: Corruption Johnson: After you, the corrupt asshole named Holliday, and the rest of the scum in the city council screwed Chieft [SIC] Wray, I read this week you received a raise. I wanted to puke. I was always told the low performers did not receive a raise. However, I am beginning to have suspicions about you and Holliday since he was pushing very hard for it…. Hmmmm, are both of you corrupt scumbags married? After looking at both of your pictures, I am inclined to think you two are a little strange. I would not be surprised if both of you announced you were coming out of the closet sometime in the future. Merry Christmas to all you scumbags and now I am going out in the back yard and vomit. Date: Dec. 2, 2007, 7 p.m. From: Holliday To: Nichols CC: Council, Mitchell Johnson, Public Affairs Director Pat Boswell Subject: City manager Charlie, While I realize we have never had that long conversation regarding GPD issues I am sure you have heard me speak publicly, (on TV, print media, etc.) and as a result probably know how much I and other members of council have been defending Mitchell Johnson. I also know you have had a long and personal relationship with many members of the GPD and thus feel you have inside knowledge of the many issues of controversy. (I suspect you even know [Wray] personally.)’ I am sure by the end of this e-mail we both will simply have to agree to disagree but I must tell you a few specifics that I have tried for many months to be somewhat diplomatic about regarding [David Wray]. I also should point out that after we were freed up by the NC Atty. General to release a lot of the info (tapes, documents, etc.) [material redacted] have come to realize what we on council already knew and that was there was a clear “cancer” growing in the [material redacted]…. If you have not seen the material or heard the tapes then I strongly urge you to make time as a citizen and come to city hall to see the very compelling information that shows me and others that one of two things occurred that make what Mitch Johnson did correct action on his part…. [material redacted to the point of incoherence] Keep in mind, I and the other members of the council were very much in the thick of the manager’s actions and realized he had no choice. In fact, let be very clear about this. Knowing what I knew by March of 2006, if Mitchell Johnson had not taken action (and tried to cover up the actions of the GPD) I would have recommended to council that the manager be considered for termination! … I did not want to believe all of this any more than you and many others want to but Charlie it is what it is…. The good news is most of the changes with the command staff has been made and the moral [SIC] is definitely up and the department is trying to move on…. No matter how badly The Rhino and a few others don’t want that to occur…. Also, you are correct we do have lawsuits that may need defending by the city regarding the command staff that may or may not have damaged certain officers and others in the community…. It would be no different than my making a mistake at the bank with one of my customer’s money and the customer sues FCB…. Even if I’m fired the suit still must be defended by the bank…. Hopefully there will be a day that this finally gets put behind us…. In the mean time, please believe me, Mitchell Johnson was correct with his actions and if anything should have acted sooner!!!!! Thanks for reading this far…. Dec. 4, 2007: Yvonne Johnson is sworn in as the new mayor, and Robbie Perkins, Mary Rakestraw, Zack Matheny and Trudy Wade are sworn in as new members of council. Holliday, Gatten, Phillips and Carmany retire from the council. Date: Dec. 27, 2007, 10:24 a.m. From: At-large Councilman Robbie Perkins To: Nichols Subject: Mitchell on the dais The city manager in Greensboro has always sat on the dais with the council. I believe High Point has the same seating arrangement. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Jan. 8, 2008, addressed to the mayor and council members from Anne Snoek: I am not happy with the new mayor’s genial remark that the police department problem needs to have closure even if all that happens is that “we agree to disagree.” This is highly suitable language in a debate where no factual damage can ensue. It is not suitable in an operating government where the purpose of discussion is to achieve justice whatever that justice might turn out to be. Therefore I hope the mayor will be more serious. The phrase she used is helpful in cocktail party conversation, in a sidewalk debate, in a heated discussion over which detergent to use (after all ours come out cleaner doesn’t it?) I repeat, it is a phrase not suitable when we are in the midst of a tragedy, and we have great power. As do you. It is a phrase we employ when we want to de-fuse a situation and change the subject. Therefore to me her statement has ominous undertones. It tells me she wants to be liked, and she wants everyone to be happy; and that she doesn’t really want to have much, if anything, serious to do with the police situation. Meanwhile the city is bleeding out at the pores in spite of its wealth. Lovely, isn’t it? Atlantic City, New Jersey was lovely once too. Until the city officials got mixed up with the wrong people. You, the city council, haven’t demanded to be shown the so-called black book. Do you know why you haven’t? I do. It doesn’t take much training in psychology for that one. You haven’t demanded to see it because you are afraid if you see it you will be confronted with the raw truth instead of your fantasies; and that if you are confronted with the raw truth this will put you in a position in which you will have to act; or even worse, have to live with bad consciences. And this is just the first step. Let us go through this contact with reality one step at a time. Date: Jan. 14, 2008, 11:19 a.m. From: Brenda Bowers, Lake Brandt Place To: Mayor Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem Groat, at-large Councilman Perkins, at-large Councilwoman Rakestraw, District 1 Bellamy-Small, District 2 Councilwoman Wells, District 3 Councilman Matheny, District 4 Councilman Barber and District 5 Councilwoman Wade Subject: [None] It is long past time for the elected city council to take charge of the governance of the city of Greensboro. City Manager Mitchell Johnson has proven his incompetence again and again to the cost of the taxpayers. Bowers maintains the blog And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Jan. 30, 2008, addressed to the mayor and council members from Anne Snoek: I am glad you saw the black book, but without an accompanying narrative there would be something missing. The next thing, in my opinion, that needs to be done is to backtrack because it floors me, the mystery of it [material redacted] as Mitchell Johnson assures us, no hatred of powerful white men when Johnson caused the destruction of the careers of all the top white commanders in the police department…. Did he feel secure because this was a racist purge? I’m talking about racism in reverse here, as hatred of powerful white men. Anyway I would very much like for the truth to come out…. And is it possible the vindictive yelp of racism that started this unfortunate avalanche was nothing more than a front for drugs, as many people in Greensboro are now beginning to believe? There is a book in the library by David Durk and Ira Silverstein called The Pleasant Avenue Connection. Most of the book is concerned with heroin dealers, heroin addiction and police corruption in New York City in the sixties. But toward the end of the book Durk describes how after the roundup of Italian mafia and corrupt New York City policemen the Italians were replaced by blacks and that from now on it appeared the big dealers would be blacks, Chicanos, Cubans and Chinese. He says, “Few police hesitate about going into a busy bar on Eighth Avenue in Harlem to get a man with a gun but all too often, many now have second thoughts about going in to pick up a man with a half-kilo of heroin (read cocaine). Narcotics detectives and their superiors have become uncertain of themselves and uncertain of public support. Black dealers have exploited this uncertainty…. Men who were once victims of oppression have become oppressors themselves. And the lion’s share of the profits from the addiction of black children is now going to blacks…. Police bosses often decide not to make an arrest rather than risk the possibility of setting off a street disturbance.” In Greensboro the fear would be of setting off a disturbance amongst black ministers, black politicians and some black organizations, I would think. I hope Robert Perkins meant no harm by what he said when he was interviewed by WSJS radio recently. I do not remember the exact words of either of them but Perkins and the interviewer were discussing bringing in an outside agency to examine the Greensboro Police Department; that is, an agency to be chosen by Mitchell Johnson and Timothy Bellamy, in order to restore public trust. Perkins said, or words to the effect, that Johnson and Bellamy were good guys and folks should trust them and trust them to be the ones to bring in the agency that would do the job to restore the public trust. Has Perkins forgotten that trust was dramatically and suddenly destroyed by the very process he is now suggesting? … Mitchell Johnson alone appointed Timothy Bellamy chief of police, and Perkins wants the two of them together to restore the trust that Mitchell Johnson is responsible for destroying in the first place. I hope it is needless to say this will do nothing but refuel the ongoing distrust. It seems to me a light needs to be played back and forth, back and forth in detail over the events from November 2005 to January 30, 2006, and the flashlight should not be held by Mitchell Johnson. Date: Jan. 31, 2008, 2:11 p.m. From: Evelyn Andrew To: Yvonne Johnson, Groat, Perkins, Rakestraw, Bellamy-Small, Wells, Matheny, Barber and Wade Subject: Mitchell Johnson As a taxpayer and voting citizen of the city of Greensboro, I resent out city being “run” by (1) one young, under-qualified man of now apparent questionable character! I voted for a person to serve on the city council to represent me in “running” my city government, and I don’t remember seeing Mitchell Johnson’s name on the ballot! He’s asking to be fired by his continued defiant actions toward the city council…. That’s very obvious to everyone. In my opinion, he has misappropriated my tax money, ruined the police department, been deceptive to the city council and the public. Please replace him before he takes over the fire department as well, and runs it into the ground!!! Feb. 8, 2008: After previously telling the News & Record the city does not possess a memo describing the purpose of the so-called black book, Mitchell Johnson is forced to acknowledge that, in fact, the city does have the document after it appears in the pages of The Rhinoceros Times and the Winston-Salem Troublemaker blog. Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on Feb. 12, 2008, addressed to the mayor and city council from Anne Snoek: Surely an intelligent, well-intentioned city manager would not have had to be asked for the memo by anyone. He would have automatically sent the memo with the black book to the city council as a helpful informant gives a roadmap to a traveler who is traveling to a distant village that he is unfamiliar with. It appears Mr. Johnson is dimwitted therefore. But how can someone as dimwitted as he seems to be push himself so aggressively forward and take over the city of Greensboro and create so much chaos? Above all, where is his heart? A conscientious man would have wondered, even if he were not particularly intelligent, if this might possibly be the memo desired. He would have painstaking enquired within his own mind if the information in the memo could be of any assistance in unraveling the mystery plaguing the city and the Greensboro Police Department; and in case it might be, he probably would have offered it for inspection. He might have said, “Perhaps this is what you are looking for?” In consideration of the misery caused to the city and to so many police officers in the last two years a man of good heart would have done everything to bring the truth to light. Has he? Not very long ago David Wray wrote in a letter to someone: “I am sustained by faith and the hope for justice.” Feb. 14, 2008: Council votes 7-2 to direct Mitchell Johnson to address issues in the police department, reorganize the city manager’s office, communicate better with the council and develop an action plan to present to city council. Two earlier motions made respectively by Rakestraw to fire Johnson and by Perkins to retain him fail to receive seconds. The successful compromise motion is made by Barber. Date: Feb. 15, 2008, 10:58 a.m. From: Ned Harrison To: Rakestraw CC: Yvonne Johnson Subject: It is time to be quiet Frankly, your behavior as a group has been dreadful — and Mary, I am really appalled at the way you personally are pictured — a loud and rancorous headline grabber. The picture that comes across is one of personal vindictiveness, mean-spirited and unforgiving. This is not the Mary Rakestraw I have come to know and feel affection for. First of all, the personal attacks on the city manager are really no-class — and that is about the worst thing I can say about anybody. As the leader of the attack group, you must take all the blame for this. I also feel that you have a personal agenda as far as the city manager is concerned — Mary, you weren’t elected to have a personal agenda; you were elected to help run the city as effectively and economically as possible — can your recent behavior stand up to these two requirements? I think not. Anybody is entitled to make mistakes — from what I have read, many of the mistakes the city manager has made (or is accused of having made) are in the grey area, and can be looked at in many ways. (This is where your personal agenda reverberates the loudest.) An added consideration: If you do dump the city manager, who in his/her right mind could you hire to take his place? If I were an experienced city manager looking for a better job, the last place I would try to work is Greensboro, North Carolina. You and the rest of the city council are the most dysfunctional group I have ever heard about. Ask anybody who has every appeared before you! One last comment — as a voter, I am giving you some instructions: 1. Tone down the rhetoric. 2. Get off the front pages. Mary, I hope you are still my friend. You are too intelligent to let this go on and not be corrected. Ned Harrison is a World War II veteran who contributes articles to the News & Record about veterans’ experiences. Date: Feb. 17, 2008, 4:10 p.m. From: George Kennon, Starmount Forest neighborhood To: Barber CC: Groat, Rakestraw, Matheny and Wade Subject: Good government I have been out of the country for the past week, only to return to find that the council has met to discuss the city manager and done nothing. I read that you have been given credit for the “plan” to manage Mr. Johnson instead of dismissing him. You have been quoted as saying that good government is evidenced by “both sides” being unhappy about the “plan.” We all need to be on the side of honest, law-abiding and open government officials. It is very clear that Mitchell Johnson has misled the council and the public on many occasions. He should be removed, but more than that we need an independent investigation to determine the extent of corruption in the police department, city government and the city council. There are many people who will not let this rest until this happens. Until now I believed that you might be part of the solution. The longer we delay this the more the good people of Greensboro are hurt. Date: Feb. 18, 2008, 8:34 a.m. From: Barber To: Barber Subject: RE: Good government Hi George: I hope you had a great trip! There are currently not 5 votes to find a new manager. Knowing that, I believe our best course is to set measurable objective standards for the manager and review them. This will either get us to where we want to be as a city or allow us to get the council support to find staff that can carry out council policies. Please continue to provide me with feedback on this issue. Date: Feb. 25, 2008, 8:01 p.m. From: Arnold Rogers, Four Seasons Town Centre area To: Mayor and council Subject: Mitchell Johnson Please fire Mitchell Johnson. Then take back the city that we voted you to govern, and govern it like it should be. It seems apparent that Mitchell Johnson has now become your boss! Enough of his crap! F-I-R-E him! Letter received by city of Greensboro’s legislative department on March 13, 2008, addressed to Mitchell Johnson and copied to the mayor and council members from Michael O. Brodie, president of Gate City chapter of the North State Law Enforcement Officers Association: The Gate City chapter once again would like to reiterate our ongoing support of you as Greensboro’s city manager. We applaud your courage, leadership and professionalism while in the eyes of adversity. Our chapter is committed to assist in the effort to heal divisions that might have been created surrounding the Greensboro Police Department and the citizens that we serve. Please don’t hesitate to call upon us if we can assist you. The North State Law Enforcement Officers Association is an organization of minority law enforcement officers that was founded in 1952. Lt. Brodie is employed by the Greensboro Police Department. July 7, 2008: Carroll Buracker & Associates, a Virginia consulting group, delivers a generally favorable report on the police department. The study team reports being impressed with officers’ professionalism, educational attainment, commitment and honesty, and concludes that “at least 99 percent of the employees in the Greensboro Police Department, including the current police chief and executive staff, had nothing to do with the prior activities by a few employees that resulted in recent negative publicity.” To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at