The motion to go into closed session at the 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 25 City Council meeting including a real blast from the past.
The main purpose of the closed session according to Mayor Nancy Vaughan was to interview applicants for the job of Greensboro city manager. In the official language of the motion made by Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter, it was: “to discuss and consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, and conditions of initial employment of a prospective public officer or employee.”
But the second part of that motion had a series of names that have not been discussed at a City Council meeting in a while. The second portion of the motion to go into closed session is: “and consult with an attorney and to preserve the attorney-client privilege in connection with existing litigation involving the following parties: William Thomas Fox, Scott Everett Sanders, Mitchell Johnson, Timothy R. Bellamy, Gary W. Hastings, Ernest L. Cuthberson, John D. Slone, Norman O. Rankin, and Martha T. Kelly.”
In 2006, David Wray, who was then police chief, was first locked out of his office by then City Manager Mitch Johnson and Wray was then forced to resign and Bellamy was hired to replace him as police chief.
A number of investigations of the Police Department ensued, with the word on the City Council being that Wray and some of the senior staff of the Police Department would be charged with felonies.
The result of those investigations was that charges against Fox, who was then a sergeant, and Sanders, who was a detective, were filed.
Sanders was tried for illegally accessing a government computer and found not guilty. The charges against Fox and additional charges against Sanders were dismissed following the trial.
Shortly after that trial, the City Council fired Johnson as city manager.
A number of lawsuits were filed as a result of all the turmoil and Johnson, Bellamy, Hastings, and Kelly were all named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by Fox and Sanders.
It appears that current City Attorney Chuck Watts plans to discuss these lawsuits with the City Council.
The investigations of the Greensboro Police Department and the actions that led to those investigation were all detailed in “Cops in Black and White,” a 92 part series by Jerry Bledsoe that was published in The Rhinoceros Times.