Mail to the Chief

Mail to the Chief-attachment0

Sometimes a scandal begets a scandal, which then leads to another scandal, much like the famous 1556 engraving by Pieter Bruegel, “Big Fish Eat Little Fish,” in which a man slices into his sizable catch, only to find that the fish itself is full of fish, and those fish are full of fish.

On July 11, Asheville City Council held “a special meeting [and] declared its support for Police Chief William Anderson, announcing that an internal investigation had found no evidence that he had engaged in a cover-up related to a March car crash involving his son, as alleged by Lt. William Wilke,” David Forbes reported. “However, the inquiry did note that Anderson acted inappropriately when he ordered Wilke, the watch commander the night of the crash, to meet with him as the State Bureau of Investigation reviewed the case later that same month.”

Many readers questioned the efficacy of the city administration’s oversight regarding the police chief’s behavior, and wondered what other details came to light in the closed session that preceded the announcement. See the full story, which contains links to previous coverage, at http://avl.mx/x2, and join the conversation, some of which is excerpted here.

Via Mountainx.com

The city of Asheville has experienced a number of troubling issues in the past couple of years. This announcement from a police officer is just the latest in a long long line of questionable management practices. Again, the city employee went through proper channels to handle the issue internally, only to be ignored.

Issues that have occurred are: the human-resource scandal and what appears to be gross mismanagement; the sexual harassment lawsuit that could have been nipped in the bud when the young woman went through channels and then was forced to seek legal action (amounting to $48,000 to settle a lawsuit that should have been effectively dealt with internally); the human resources department convictions regarding falsifying medical claims; the Pack Place overruns; Momentum’s $8 million mud hole on North Broadway; missing evidence at the police department and $175,000 to audit the evidence room; unanswered questions swirling around the operations of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council and the City paying $18,000 in back taxes for that organization. …

These costly or embarrassing examples are due to a lack of oversight by the city managers office. We need to clean up our leadership, starting with the city manager. ― D. Dial

How do you like your Progressive City Council now? ― timothypeck

About as much as I like my conservative reps over in Raleigh. That’s the problem with politics these days ― no more centrists. ― Robert

This stinks. ― Yeppers

So there was no cover-up or attempt at a cover-up, only the APPEARANCE of an attempt at a cover-up, which has been dealt with by supervisory counseling. How is this any better? The city, in supporting the chief, has in effect called Lt. [William] Wilke a liar. How is he, or any other APD officer with a legitimate grievance against this chief (and apparently there are many) supposed to keep their jobs and do their jobs without the distraction of possible retaliation? The Asheville mayor, City Council and city manager have all done a great disservice to this community. No wonder Raleigh seeks to micromanage this city. City government is a farce. ― Big Al

Mr. David Forbes … I think the Mountain Xpress should look more into this. We need the truth! ― JOHN-C

Anderson was the subject of civil-rights-violation complaints while in Deland, Fla., as well as a 22-page complaint by a department police commander. He resigned in the middle of an investigation. [See http://avl.mx/vj for articles pertaining to Anderson’s stint as chief of police in Deland, Fla.] He was subsequently faced with a petition from the citizens of Greenville, N.C., for his removal from office after barely two years, due to “escalating crime rates” and “mistreatment” of officers, among other complaints. It’s not too hard to see why those who selected him would want to keep this latest controversy contained. That an apparent honest officer with 13 years tenure would be thrown under the bus to help accomplish it should be a source of deep shame, but don’t bet on it. ― Dionysis

It’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up. And now the cover-up has grown to include the City Council, city manager and the district attorney. What a disappointment our leadership has revealed themselves to be. Mayor Bellamy embarrasses me. ― Kelly

Boy is it popular to be a conspiracy theorist nowadays. It’s probably a good idea to be skeptical, but I’ve found the Mayor and City Council to be generally sincere in their quest for truth. I think the APD is trying to undergo not just true change for the better but fighting a lot of negatives from the past. ― Zen

Perhaps, but “fighting a lot of negatives from the past” is pretty hard to do when new ones arise in the present. ― Dionysis

I have to agree with Zen. If there are institutional problems, and a new chief takes over and tries to make changes, there will be any number of people who decide to fight back. When we started Asheville Justice Watch 10 years ago, after the abuses by APD during the anti-war protests, you should’ve heard the stories we [heard], from current or past APD employees, about corrupt or criminal behavior within the department. A decade later, under Chief [William] Hogan and now Anderson, I think there’s been improvement. But anything you or I think of as improvements, there’s somebody who’s not happy. As I’ve said before, I’ll call the city, Council or manager, on their sh—as fast as anybody if I think they deserve it. But the outcry and the scandal and the sturm und drang over this doesn’t seem deserved, IMHO. I get a whiff of partisan attack underlying everything here. — bsummers

Three career officers coming forward with similar stories is troubling to anyone not drinking the Kool-Aid. It is very difficult to take this type of thing public, but lack of proper management to deal with internal issues forces the issue and dirty laundry is going to eventually be aired out in public. ― D. Dial

Via Facebook

Yes, your Mayoress and Council-folk, there was no criminal wrongdoing because an honest man came forward on March 13 (just four days after the wreck and a few days after the meeting with the chief and Capt. [Stony] Gonce) and reported the coercive actions of his “superiors.”

After more than three months of inaction by the city, suddenly these matters are resolved. What has happened to the other APD officers who were prepared to come forward in support of Lt. Wilke? Has anyone looked into the possible real reasons the first officer on the scene the night of the infamous wreck resigned for “personal reasons” in May? Lt. Wilke also indicated in his statement(s) that evidence he submitted related to the car wreck and which was placed in the “newly secured” evidence room was missing or had been altered from its original content — is anyone looking into that? There are several instances where those involved agree that what the chief did was “wrong” — wrong to call Lt. Wilke out of a meeting with the SBI (if the chief and Gonce did not attempt to coerce Wilke, why did they remove him from the meeting?) — wrong to not call for an investigation into the wreck (the gun, the attempts by police on the scene to alter witnesses testimony) by another outside agency; wrong to lie to the public at a videotaped presser, where the chief basically repeated the same lies his son had told him as if an investigation had proven the facts. How many “wrongs” does it take? … — Jeff Murphy

Just because you can not PROVE something happened behind a closed door does not mean NOTHING HAPPENED behind a closed door. — John Baughman

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35 thoughts on “Mail to the Chief

  1. bsummers

    I find this article to be really troubling. What is the purpose of re-printing online comments & referring to them as “Mail to the Chief”? I am also noticing that whoever compiled these comments chose to leave out several of mine, which call into question the legitimacy of the “Get Chief Anderson” drumbeat.

    If we’re all about attacking the City because of an “appearance” of wrongdoing, I think that I’m allowed to question whether this article right here is an agenda-driven act of churnalism.

    What’s up, XPress?

  2. boatrocker

    I’ve wondered the same thing in the past- writing an article about an article and padding it with comments from the original article. Some of these Mountain X articles about previous articles have also been touted as featured articles.

    That’s news?

    Thanks for assigning a term for it- churnalism is a great word to describe it.

    Re-boot, re-mix and mash-up amazingly still have positive connotations but your term captures the essence of what I feel when I get suckered into reading one of these.

    However, it sure as hell sells tickets for movies, albums and the kids go crazy for it in the clubs.

  3. D. Dial

    Thank you for including my thoughts/remarks on this issue.

    We get better leadership the more the citizens of the community pay attention.

    The only folks not concerned by the issues in these comments seem to be playing cya.

  4. bsummers

    Some “folks” who have had a vendetta against the City (& especially against the City Manager) for the past couple years, are jumping on this like they know the facts.

    We’ve seen this among some who would be happy to see the City lose the water system – “Hey, I don’t care what happens to the water afterwards, I just wanna see the City of Asheville eat some crow…”.

    I trust Cecil on this – he has actually seen the facts underlying all this, and has come out for the Chief & against the “innuendo”. If there is really any substance to any of the claims, it will come out. If it’s all smoke, deliberately choreographed or just random, that will come out too.

  5. Margaret Williams

    “Mail to the Chief” is labeled opinion, as it represents the views of our readers and viewers on what’s been in the news lately.

    For several months now in our print editions, and occasionally online, we’ve compiled online reader/viewer remarks on our most-commented-on stories. In print, we have space constraints, so try to provide a sampling of comments. Our readers raise interesting questions and perspectives on both sides of this particular issue, and we sought to honor that.

  6. D. Dial

    To the litany of troubling issues that I mentioned in the first section of the reader responses, I would add this. We lost a fireman due to faulty stand pipes. The inspector should have known and had tht building closed till water flowed through the pipes. This too was swept under the rug, and no one has been held accountable for faulty inspections. Wo does the inspector answer to? I’d say our City Manager.

    This is not a vendetta (as mentioned by B.S., it is a private citizen watching as a parade of troubling issues passes by unattended to. I wonder just how much dirt can this rug hold.

  7. bsummers

    And I believe that Asheville’s City Manager knows what happened to Judge Crater, that he was on the grassy knoll in Dallas with a rifle, and that he’s responsible for me skidding off the road while high as a kite in my ’66 Chevelle SS in 1976.

    But I’m having a hard time convincing anyone else of all of that, so I roll over & go back to sleep.

  8. bsummers

    I’m not going to get into a point-by-point re-hashing of your pogrom against Gary Jackson. Some are his responsibility, many are not. I’ll just point out that this campaign to oust him started when he didn’t intercede on an issue you were deeply invested in, URTV.

    http://www.citizen-times.com/assets/pdf/B0172992413.PDF

    Whatever the merits of that case, and whoever was to blame for it’s sad resolution, it’s clear that this is the nub of your problem with him: he didn’t come down on your side on your pet issue.

    http://www.douglasmediacorp.com/moonshine/gary-jackson-watch/

    Since then, you’ve been looking for anything even remotely in his purview to publicly slam him over, and even some things which are crazily not his responsibility, like innocent men rotting in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

    http://www.mountainx.com/article/42302/Contract-City-due-a-copy-of-APD-evidence-room-audit

    Thank the Gods that prosecution or appeal of capitol crimes are not handled out of the Asheville City Manager’s office, but you tried to lay that at his feet nonetheless.

    The roots of your beef with Mr. Jackson, and the out-of-bounds nature of some of the charges has led me to seriously question the relevance and propriety of what you are constantly throwing at him. It’s too bad that this latest issue, the APD Chief, isn’t being discussed solely on the facts, it’s just one more globule in your “litany” against Gary Jackson.

    If you really want him gone, lobby his bosses, the City Council. But I for one won’t be dragged into a torch/pitchfork mob by someone who’s clearly acting on a personal vendetta.

  9. Jaye Bartell

    I compiled these comments, and do so on a semi-weekly basis for articles on a variety of subjects, from city politics to a piece on the closing of a long-open West Asheville taqueria. The

    • bsummers

      Jaye

      I posted three comments on the earlier thread. I only see the first, more general of the three. I’m not claiming that every word of mine is gold, and has to be included, but the other two comments contain links that go to the relevance and credibility of those charges against Chief Anderson. I think we’ll find that there is substantial misdirection underlying this whole “scandal” as you call it, but instead of investigating that, XPress is just re-posting selected opinions and unrelated rants against the City Manager.

      My kingdom for an investigative reporter!!

  10. D. Dial

    To BS,
    You keep wanting to make this thread about me, it is not about me, it is about gross ineptitude in the management of this City. Which you seem to be ignoring.

    I will continue my Gary Jackson / City Council watch as I believe it is my privilege and responsibility to do so. My radar went up on Jackson when the URTV management contract was not enforced Jackson. I wrote Jackson and gave him an extensive listing of violations. ***See link below. Leading me to ask what other contracts in the city are not being adhered to? And who is watching besides me. Who cares if important entities like a public access station for Citizens to broadcast various points of view are run into the ground? I do, and I will continue to hold people accountable, who place themselves in the position of responsibility of running our city (If that’s alright with you or not).

    ***http://www.scribd.com/doc/59404686/Letter-to-City-Manager-Gary-Jackson

  11. bsummers

    You keep wanting to make this thread about me…

    Yes, I’m the one who is misdirecting the conversation. Any topic relating to the City is now yours to turn into a “fire Gary Jackson” thread. Instead of looking dispassionately at the charges leveled at the Chief of Police, you turn it into yet another part of your “litany”. This is a gross disservice to the discussion. There are huge issues underlying this that have not been brought up at all, while you twist it into being about the City Manager and your personal beef with him.

    City Council is not going to fire Gary Jackson for you, Davyne. The huns are at the gate, and it’s all hands on deck. The only people cheering for you at this point are the huns.

    • Jaye Bartell

      bsummers, I did pick one comment of your three, and it was the first one. Generally, I use one comment per reader, although there are cases where I’ll use more than one if there is a back and forth. The introduction directs readers to the full story, where all comments can be viewed. “Conversations” is a selection from the larger discussion.

  12. D. Dial

    @ b.s.
    We simply must agree to disagree. Employees as well paid as Jackson need to deliver superior management. We’re simply not getting it. Think Jackson gets over$170.000 plus travel
    , plus benefits.

  13. Big Al

    Normally, I would agree on the moniker “churnalism”, i.e. the stirring up of otherwise peaceful waters with foreign matter, BUT this story has enormous consequence to ALL of the community, without regard to political or social divisions.

    Not only is the story relevant, but so is the nearly unprecedented public response and concern. For once, there are almost as many on-line comments on a public issue as on movie reviews.

    City government has chosen to ignore the people and join the abuse and cover-up. The police rank-and-file are cowed into silence. There are only two groups left to speak out: the people and the press.

    If ever there was a time for the reporting of the story, and the public response, to become the next story, it is now. Otherwise it all just gets swept under the rug.

  14. Big Al

    “The huns are at the gate, and it’s all hands on deck.”

    Way to mix metaphors! Good thing for the Navy the Huns fought on horseback.

    • bsummers

      “Way to mix metaphors!”

      Um, I was referring to the Huns vs. Asheville softball game… and the Huns’ bus is just coming through the gate… so Asheville batters should all gather in the ‘on deck’ circle???..

      Yeah, that’s obviously what I meant…

  15. bsummers

    City government has chosen to ignore the people and join the abuse and cover-up.

    Based on what? Wow, you sound really certain. Tell us exactly what evidence you have to back up that statement.

  16. D. Dial

    What seems to be being missed by those claiming there is nothing to see here is this. The police department must have moral authority. By pretending that there is nothing here to be concerned with, when three seasoned policeman come forward with serious allegations, coupled with the story that came out in Dianty-Gate does not assure anyone who is concerned that there is nothing here. It serves to destroy trust in a department that can only function well with the citizens if they trust that department. So not only is the police department de-moralized, so too are private citizens who want to place their trust in our leadership but have been given reason not to, given the woefully inept handling of this matter by our elected officials and (well paid) paid staff.

    That’s my final say on this, it’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  17. bsummers

    Davyne, I don’t know of anyone who has commented on this who has said that “there is nothing to be concerned with” or “nothing to see here”. You are willfully misrepresenting the issue and insulting people with that kind of statement. Readers will take note at the dishonesty underlying that characterization.

    What I’ve said is that there is a whole lot that has not yet been reported on here, and that people like Davyne who wave the bloody shirt & ask you to pick up pitchforks, because they know what is happening here, are deceiving you.

    I’ll restate one thing – I trust Cecil to tell us if there is any “there” there. If there is one local politician who is not an “all establishment, all the time” kool-aid drinker, it’s Cecil. He says that based on information that he has seen, which people like Davyne have not seen, we should cool down & wait for more facts before going off half-cocked.

    While we’re waiting, rhetorical show of hands: How many readers here (or reporters or editors for that matter) know that there are basically two factions within law enforcement (including the APD): the FOP, and the PBA?

    Second question: What major figure in all of this is on record as hating Democratic politicians who hold him back from his well-deserved promotion within law-enforcement?

  18. D. Dial

    @ Barry Summers AGAIN, you are attempting to make this thread about me, it is not about me, it is about the irresponsible manner in which this whole fiasco has been handled. This public comment area is a place for people to hold their elected and paid representatives ACCOUNTABLE. And when we see such woefully questionable behavior, it is our duty to say to call them out on it.

    Why can’t you stick to your own points of view on this issue rather than vainly attempting to control what I say? And when you cannot control what I say make disparaging remarks in a lame attempt to discredit my remarks. I am entitled to state my opinion. This is not a fascist community where Barry Summers gets to control what people think and express.

    Get a life.

  19. D. Dial

    This just in;

    Apparently there’s a tape of the conversation between Wilke and Anderson. Who in the position to investigate this, heard the tape and when did they hear it, and if they didn’t hear it, why didn’t they??? And when you get attention on this issue from the right (WWNC) and the left (MtnXp) leaning folks…well there may be something there.

    Kaliner/ Tape of meeting between Wilke & Anderson

    http://www.wwnc.com/pages/petekaliner.html?article=11506343

  20. bsummers

    Thank the Gods! More third-hand, unconfirmed reports completely free of specifics!! This proves our suspicions!!!

  21. bsummers

    And Davyne, commenting on what you say, is not the same as controlling what you say.

    Sorry, I know this must feel like I’m unfairly challenging your right to decide for everyone else what this issue is about – but if you get up on the soapbox & speak your piece, I have the right to do the same.

    And this is just a suggestion – you might ease up on the ‘fascism’ charge. It sounds ridiculous.

  22. Jonathan Wainscott

    I think the general ire of the community is aimed at the Cover Your (Ass)heville protocol that was on display during this whole unfortunate incident. Guess the lesson wasn’t learned. This was/is an opinion piece, not an article. It is informative though about how critical opinions are received. Too often they are dismissed or defended by ignoring the message and attacking the messenger. Dismissing this piece as irrelevant dismisses the opinions of many in the community who are demanding that at least a more stern admonishment of Chief Anderson, and the manner in which this was handled or not handled, be made. The community wants to see more attention, not the MountainXpress.

  23. D. Dial

    At this point all you are doing is preaching to your yellar dog choir whom, I must say have been have been deafeningly silent on this issue of coverup.

    Meanwhile with each additional personal attack you make to attempt to discredit my comments, you give me yet another opportunity post even more info, and consequently give those who are not drinking the Koolaid more to ponder, scratch their heads and a say to themselves, what’s up with this.

    So thanks for the ongoing opportunities.

    • bsummers

      I’m not sure what a “yellar dog choir” is, or who it is that I’m supposedly preaching to…

      But wow – you’re saying that you are only able to keep posting comments if I allow it? Man, I am all powerful…

  24. bsummers

    Oh, and – I see you posted three comments. I only gave you permission to post one.

    Drowned out by the “OMG! There might be a tape!!” rumor, is the fact that the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has quietly abandoned their announced plans to stage a no-confidence vote on the Chief at Council tonight.

    Gosh, will anyone ask them why? Didn’t think so…

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