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.
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
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