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Ding Dong The Mitch Is Gone! (Greensboro NC fires corrupt city manager)
Rhino Times Greensboro ^ | March 5, 2009 | John Hammer

Posted on 03/05/2009 1:16:15 PM PST by MitchellC

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

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.

Councilmember Sandra Anderson Groat explained to the press, "The manager is going to continue to be a city employee."

As soon as the public meeting reconvened, Mayor Yvonne Johnson made a statement about what the council had decided, which was to relieve Mitch Johnson (no relation) of his duties as city manager immediately, but to keep him employed by the city until July 15. At the end of the day, July 15, Mitch Johnson's employment with the city will be terminated.

The motion to approve the agreement, which the council had reached with Mitch Johnson's attorneys in the back room, was made by Councilmember Mary Rakestraw, who first made a motion to fire Mitch Johnson on Feb. 14, 2008.

Unlike the motion in 2008, which failed, 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.


This was the third motion that had been made to remove Mitch Johnson from office since this council, with three new members, took office in December 2007. In February 2008 it looked like the same five that voted to fire Mitch Johnson this week were lined up to do so, but the coalition fell apart and in the end Rakestraw, Wade and Barber voted to remove the city manager and Groat and Matheny voted to keep him.


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. Brown is also the local president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

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. Rakestraw had attended every day of the trial.

The charges against Sanders were the result of an investigation of the Police Department under Wray, instigated by Mitch Johnson and performed by the City Legal Department, Risk Management Associates (RMA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and – for 16 months – the State Bureau of Investigation.

After all that, the only charges filed were against Sanders and Greensboro Police Sgt. Tom Fox. The charges against Sanders and Fox related to obstruction of justice were dropped after Sanders was found not guilty of the single computer charge. But 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. After Mitch Johnson was named city manager he hired RMA and started a full fledged investigation. The result of the RMA investigation was that Mitch Johnson locked Wray out of his office, and then forced Wray to resign. The final result of all the investigations, which began four years earlier, was the charges against Sanders and Fox. So 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. Sanders was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Jim Coman, known as one of the best prosecutors in the state and the top prosecutor in the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, but in the end he couldn't convince one person on the jury that Sanders was guilty.

During speakers from the floor Tuesday night, after an individual spoke in favor of Mitch Johnson – saying that the acquittal of Sanders on Feb. 20 should not be a reason to be critical of the city manager – Rakestraw responded that from when she was first elected to the council, she was told by the manager and other councilmembers, "If you only knew what I know. But nobody could tell me what they knew" about the whole Police Department fiasco. Rakestraw said she went to the trial every day to find out what the truth was about the charges. She said watching the trial was "a life changing experience for me."


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. The first motion to remove Mitch Johnson as manager only had two affirmative votes – Wade and Rakestraw. The next motion garnered three – Wade, Rakestraw and Barber. All three are former Guilford County commissioners, but Wade and Rakestraw are Republicans and Barber is a Democrat, so when they were on the Board of Commissioners they were often on different sides of the issues.

Some have criticized the three former commissioners for joining forces, but as Wade has pointed out, they have all worked with good managers and know what to expect. It is a good explanation of why it took longer for Groat and Matheny to come to the same conclusion. Neither Groat nor Matheny had ever worked with any city or county manager other than Mitch Johnson.

Then there was 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.

Wells and Bellamy-Small have been Mitch Johnson's loudest supporters on the City Council. Bellamy-Small went so far as to make a motion that a motion could not be made to fire the manager unless the other councilmembers agreed to it. The motion was, of course, out of order. And 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.


In August 2006, The Rhino Times started running a series by New York Times best-selling author Jerry Bledsoe on the Greensboro Police Department based on extensive records and interviews with former police officers.

As a result of that series the FBI notified Bledsoe of what they considered to be a serious threat against his life. The FBI could not provide Bledsoe protection because that would have revealed their source, but they advised him on actions to take to make him less of a target. As a result, Bledsoe and his wife not sleep in their own home for weeks.

Eventually those involved were arrested on other charges and Bledsoe could go back to a more normal lifestyle.

The series was intended to end after about 12 or 16 installments, but there was a wealth of information that lengthened the series to 71 installments so far.

(Excerpt) Read the entire article on the Rhino Times website

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; US: North Carolina
KEYWORDS: greensboro; mitchjohnson

1 posted on 03/05/2009 1:16:16 PM PST by MitchellC
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To: 100%FEDUP; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; ~Vor~; a4drvr; Adder; Aegedius; Afronaut; alethia; ...

NC *Ping*

Please FRmail MitchellC if you want to be added to or removed from this North Carolina ping list.
2 posted on 03/05/2009 1:17:16 PM PST by MitchellC
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To: MitchellC

Darn I thought this was about Mitch McConnell.

3 posted on 03/05/2009 1:19:28 PM PST by exist
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To: MitchellC

According to my parents, Bellamy-Small is the one they need to get rid of..........

4 posted on 03/05/2009 1:27:24 PM PST by JoeDetweiler
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To: MitchellC

Now that his protector is out of the picture, will Lt. James Hinson finally be dismissed?

5 posted on 03/05/2009 1:28:55 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: RegulatorCountry

Nah, Hinson is untouchable until there a new Chief and city manager who don’t bow to the City Council.

6 posted on 03/05/2009 1:45:11 PM PST by Rebelbase
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To: MitchellC

The only mistake Wray made was not calling it a white book.

7 posted on 03/05/2009 3:23:40 PM PST by shaft29 (Just your typical black woman.)
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To: MitchellC

Wow, and I thought Charlotte was a soap opera!

8 posted on 03/05/2009 4:58:08 PM PST by AnalogReigns
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