Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thoughts On the Solution to the Mess in Greensboro

I don't usually write about politics, particularly on a local level. There are lots of other folks who do a very good job of that. I'm making an exception in this post.

An editorial in the WSJ this morning on a different subject quotes federal judge Laurence Silberman: "I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends." He was speaking of some of J. Edgar Hoover's actions at the FBI, but it applies to two more recent events, the Duke lacrosse mess in Durham and the Scott Sanders trial here this week. It also applies to the enter David Wray situation.

I've commented at Gaurino's place about this whole mess, and advocated the removal of Mitch Johnson as Greensboro City Manager. But on further thought, I don't believe that is the real solution to this matter. There are cries from lots of folks that we should just move on now, and I don't think that is the right path either.

I'm reminded of a person who, after having some physical symptoms, visits his doctor and finds he has a serious medical condition. The man has several possible courses of action:

1. He can ignore the symptoms and begin to live a better live-style, perhaps eating more healthily, getting more exercise, cutting back on drinking and smoking, etc. These are all good things to do, but none will help his underlying problem. This is the equivalent of the city "just moving on."

2. He can just treat the symptoms, and with the state of medicine today he may well be able to make them seem to go away, but this doesn't cure the underlying condition either. I think this is the equivalent of replacing Mitch Johnson, and perhaps even Tim Bellemy, and maybe even some political leadership, but the basic problem will still be there.

3. He can take whatever treatment steps are required to cure or arrest the condition causing all the problems. These may be difficult and unpleasant, but it the only way to cure the real problem. I don't know what these actual steps are. I'm not a doctor, or a politician, but I believe the people at the head of our city government, the city administration, and the various other groups and organizations that are interested in making this a better city must identify and implement these solutions.

When the Wray Fray first began, I thought it was basically a labor/management dispute over rotating police work schedules. As time went by, there appeared to be a significant racial tint to that dispute as well. I believe it was Sam Spagnola who first proposed the theory that the Fray was a continuation of the Project Homestead problem and the desire of certain powers-that-be to see Project Homestead just go away not be re-opened and examined. Again, there was a strong racial aspect. Other folks have voiced the thought that there is some other yet untold conspiracy orchestrated by some other unidentified group that is behind all this.

I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that just moving on or just replacing certain management and political leaders is not the right path. We need Leadership – new people with the ability to identify problems, craft solutions, and manage their implementation. If these people aren't currently in the proper roles, we need to find the right people and get them installed. Otherwise we'll still be writing about these problems in five years but to a much smaller audience.

No comments: