Updated — today's items:
Shae, Crisson, ABC11-TV/WTVD:
Battle Over Durham's Top Elected Position -- Two-term city councilman Thomas Stith is throwing his hat into the ring to unseat Mayor Bill Bell.
Stith is the first to fill out the forms and make it official, however, Bell plans to file for re-election next week.
He was planning to a break from politics, but with recent violence against teenagers he has changed his mind.
Stith was prompted to become a candidate for Durham's next mayor, after a young man was shot earlier this year while shopping with his mother.
The incident occurred around the same time a 14 year old girl was killed, when bullets were fired into a car she was riding in.
"This was a chilling wake up call not only for our city but for me. Because you see, when I look into the eyes of my 15 year old daughter I see their pain." Stith said.
He calls the 30% increase in violent crime from 2005 to 2006 unacceptable...
StithForMayor.com -- ... Durham is a city that continues to struggle with the horror of violent crime and gang activity. We are literally losing our children.
I say, we can do better. And we will do better with new leadership that has a vision of what Durham can become.Sincerely
Thomas Stith---------Ray Gronberg, Herald-Sun
Stith resigns job at Civitas Institute, may announce mayoral bid -- City Councilman Thomas Stith has quit his day job in preparation for his all-but-announced bid to become Durham's next mayor.
Stith stepped down Friday as vice president of the John William Pope Civitas Institute, a Raleigh think tank that, according to IRS tax filings, tries to promote "conservative solutions for North Carolina's pressing issues."
The move came as Stith prepared for an event today at which he's expected to formally announce his bid to replace incumbent Mayor Bill Bell. He said it was clear he wasn't going to be able to "work full-time, campaign and serve full-time as mayor."
Leaving the institute was "a huge step," Stith said, adding that it was a similarly "huge step to decide to run for mayor."
Stith, a Republican and one-time aide to former Gov. Jim Martin, has been vice president of the Civitas Institute since its founding in 2005. He received a salary of $116,365 from the group in fiscal 2005-06, according to its most recent IRS filing...
TJN (Oct. 3, 2006): Durham's Gangland
Steel shouldn't serve as Duke board's chair
While Duke has finally announced seven new members of its Board of Trustees, the university has yet to reveal results of May's election of leaders of the board. With two new vice chairs, including the first African-American, this certainly is newsworthy.
This secrecy has the result of shielding Chairman Robert Steel from scrutiny for standing for re-election. Yes he is a titan from Wall Street, and yes he's a loyal son and benefactor. But he has now accepted a key position in the federal Treasury Department. The potential for conflict of interest properly caused Steel to recuse himself from overseeing Duke Management Company, the arm of the university that invests more than $7 billion. This is a responsibility assigned to him by university by-laws and a key element of his job; unable to fulfill this requirement, he should have retired.
Duke has invested an unusually high percentage of its money in private equity and hedge funds -- two bets that have paid off big for several years. But day after day, we see how similar investments are wobbling. Even the major hedge fund run by Goldman Sachs, Steel's former Wall Street firm, lost six percent last year. Two tangled hedge funds run by the firm of another Trustee are in the financial news daily with loses likely to exceed $1.2 billion.
Duke faces critical decisions on investment strategy and as contemplated by the by-laws, the chair should give his imprimatur. In this context, Steel's re-election is inappropriate.
The writer is a Duke alumnus, '63, Duke Law '66.
July 10, 2007
John in Carolina:
INNOCENT: Will Steel Resign? -- Many Duke alums share Rickards’ concerns. And so do many experts in the area of government ethics...
Steel needs to resign. Does anyone think there are trustees on the board with enough courage, influence and love for Duke to convince Steel to do that?
Duke's Board of Trustees: We don't know anybody who lives in Durham -- Fifteen months ago, i wrote about why Duke University president Richard Brodhead pissed me off in his handling of the lacrosse case.
What set me off was Brodhead's casual inclusion of himself as one of "Durham's leaders," along with Mayor Bill Bell and then NCCU Chancellor Jmaes Ammons.
See, Duke's president serves at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees of the University. Of the 37 members of the board last year, precisely 2 were Durham residents, and one of those was Brodhead himself. So any claim by Brodhead to be a "Durham leader" is specious...
Catotti files for second council term -- Incumbent City Councilwoman Diane Catotti filed for re-election Monday, becoming the first of Durham's sitting officials to add her name to the fall election ballot.
Catotti is seeking her second term. She is a health policy consultant and a former president of the liberal People's Alliance, one of the city's three major political groups.
In office she has specialized in land-use and environmental issues. She is a member of the Joint City/County Planning Committee, the group of council members and county commissioners who supervise work on local zoning regulations and policies.
Catotti is one of three council incumbents whose terms are up this year. Another, Eugene Brown, has said he will run for another term but has yet to file. The other, Thomas Stith, is an all-but-announced candidate for mayor.
The only other candidate to file with the county Board of Elections is David Thompson Jr., a 35-year-old auto mechanic. Two other men, David Harris and Farad Ali, have signaled interest in running as challengers but have yet to file.
Zogby Poll: Most Think Political Bias Among College Professors a Serious Problem -- Four in 10 said the problem is "very serious;" Tenure seen as harmful to teaching quality -- As legislation is introduced in more than a dozen states across the country to counter political pressure and proselytizing on students in college classrooms, a majority of Americans believe the political bias of college professors is a serious problem, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.
Nearly six in 10 - 58% - said they see it as a serious problem, with 39% saying it was a "very serious" problem.
The online survey of 9,464 adult respondents nationwide was conducted July 5-9, 2007, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.0 percentage points.
Predictably, whether political bias is a problem depends greatly on the philosophy of the respondents. While 91% of very conservative adults said the bias is a "serious problem," just 3% of liberals agreed. Conservatives have long held that college campuses are a haven for liberal professors.
comment: The Gary North insight comes to mind: "Job security tends to corrupt, and tenure corrupts absolutely."
Titus Played the Fool -- Just when we thought nothing could surprise us in Durham’s now closed production of the Theatre of the Absurd, the Nifong/Mangum Hoax again stretches the bounds of amazement.
It appears that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) protected key card records of Duke University students which District Attorney Mike Nifong sought by subpoena 0n May 31, 2006 were actually provided to the Durham Police Department, and in turn to the ex-DA, on March 31, 2006. Although Nifong had access to the records for months, he pretended to seek them with his subpoena and then, incredibly, argued vigorously for their production in a July court hearing.
A review of the case notes and State Bar deposition of Sgt. Mark Gottlieb reveals that the private key card records were obtained from Duke University without a court order and in violation of FERPA. Gottlieb's deposition also reveals that the information provided illegally by Duke University contributed to the indictment of Collin Finnerty while leading directly to the indictment of Reade Seligmann. The key card date, illegally obtained and purposefully misconstrued by Sgt. Gottlieb, offered the only "corroboration" presented to the Grand Jury of Seligmann's presence at the scene of the imagined crimes.
LS forum: LAX Key card info and FERPA
TalkLeft: Illegally-obtained records used in grand jury then asked for in court.
Pulitzer Prize Winner Doug Marlette Killed in Auto Accident -- Doug Marlette, a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist and North Carolina native who once worked at The Charlotte Observer, was killed in a single-car accident Tuesday morning in Mississippi, authorities said. He was 57.
Marlette was the passenger in the car, which struck a tree in wet conditions just before 10 a.m., said John Garrison, the coroner in Mississippi's Marshall County.
"Evidently, it hydroplaned, left the highway and struck the tree," Garrison said. "There was heavy rain in the area at the time."
Marlette, who divided his time between homes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Hillsborough, won the Pulitzer prize for editorial cartooning in 1988, for his work at the Observer and the Atlanta Constitution. The Observer won the Pulitzer's public service prize the same year for its work detailing the misuse of funds by Jim Bakker's PTL television ministry.
He said at the time that his biting approach could be traced in part to "a grandmother bayoneted by a guardsman during a mill strike in the Carolinas. There are some rebellious genes floating around in me."
Marlette's editorial cartoons and his comic strip, "Kudzu," - a comic about rural Southerners whose main characters include the Rev. Will B. Dunn - are syndicated worldwide.
Born in Greensboro, Marlette started at the Observer in 1972. He moved to the Atlanta newspaper after more than a decade in Charlotte, and would later draw cartoons for the New York Newsday, the Tallahassee Democrat and the Tulsa World...
LS forum: Doug Marlette killed in accident, N&O Cartoonist
Doug Marlette killed in traffic accident
Doug Marlette, ComicsPage.com:
I will never join a lynch mob again...
The Depositions and the Whichard Committee, I -- The depositions of Officer Ben Himan, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, ex-Investigator Linwood Wilson, and Lt. Mike Ripberger should be required reading for all members of the Whichard Committee, which is investigating the DPD’s mishandling of the lacrosse case...
How could any fair-minded committee not be horrified by Gottlieb’s admission that his inability to evaluate evidence led to a grand jury receiving such an inaccurate portrayal of the facts of the case?
Woman falsely accuses men of rape -- Suzanne M. Young, 38, 200 Gordon Ave., Monroe, was arrested Monday and charged with a filing a false report after she told deputies two men tried to rape her and took $5 from her pocket in the College Point area of western Ouachita Parish.
Deputies talked with both men and realized Young was lying. They questioned her again, and she told deputies the two men had given her a ride and she paid them $5, but wanted her money back, the report stated.
Young was booked into Ouachita Correctional Center. Bond had not been set late Monday.
Grand jury considers indicting deputy -- A grand jury resumed deliberations this morning on whether a New Hanover County sheriff's deputy broke the law Dec. 1 when he shot to death an unarmed teenager.
Special prosecutors have asked the grand jury of 18 citizens to indict Christopher Long on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Peyton Strickland, 18, a college student from Durham. Grand jurors began hearing evidence behind closed doors Monday afternoon.
Long, who was fired after the shooting, will either walk free today or launch a fight to stay out of prison.
A judge has taken the unusual step of allowing Long to testify before the grand jury to explain his actions the night he unleashed his fully automatic submachine gun at Strickland through his front door...
Duke case affecting others? -- Two rape cases have been rejected by the Durham grand jury in recent days -- while an Orange County rape conviction was overturned by the state Court of Appeals -- prompting some to think the Duke lacrosse scandal might have fostered a recalibration of the scales of justice.
"A lot of people have always felt the grand jury was a rubber-stamp machine for the District Attorney's Office. That's been the reputation," John Fitzpatrick, president of the Durham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said Monday.
"But maybe they are now asking more questions and demanding more information from police officers," Fitzpatrick added. "They're probably looking at things with a more meticulous eye. At least, I hope they are. That would be a good thing and would help restore confidence in the system."
Because grand jury proceedings are secret, it can't be determined precisely why Durham panelists cold-shouldered an attempt by the District Attorney's Office to indict Cameron Tyler Crabtree for second-degree rape on June 25, or why they did the same on July 2 for a second-degree forcible rape charge against Craig L. Fuller.
It is known only that, for whatever reasons, grand jurors determined there wasn't "probable cause" to return an indictment in either case.
Probable cause means there are grounds to believe a crime was committed and a given suspect did it.
In rejecting the rape charges, grand jurors defied an old lawyers' quip that any modestly competent prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.
The reason for that oft-quoted saying is simple. Only prosecution evidence is presented at grand jury sessions. Suspects and their lawyers cannot attend or submit anything in their favor.
Still, Assistant District Attorney Jan Paul said grand jurors may sometimes reject cases merely because the wrong charges are submitted.
When the grand jury spurns a case, it is called a "not-true bill."
"It doesn't mean no crime happened," said Paul. "It just means that maybe we should have used a different, more appropriate charge." ...
Duke case alters perception for victims, local D.A.s -- If national statistics are anything to go by, it seems that it’s always been difficult for victims of sexual assault to come forward and face their attackers.
But after the Duke lacrosse case debacle, coming forward may be even harder, at least that’s what advocates of sexual assault victims say.
Deana Joy, director of Crossroads Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center, says the way the case was handled and portrayed in the media has added a layer of scrutiny for victims who report sexual assault crimes.
Joy says words used in media reports such as “falsely accused” or “wrongfully accused” send the message to society that the victim lied or that an attack never occurred, putting into question the credibility of all victims.
She says this assumption validates the widespread misconception that a large number of reported sexual assaults are false claims.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s Web site cites a 2003 FBI report that showed that 5.5 percent of all sexual assaults reported nationwide were determined to be unfounded.
“It’s a very, very, small percentage,” Joy says. She adds that what is alarming is the average 59 percent of victims who don’t come forward for fear of being stigmatized.
She says people prefer to believe these types of accusations are not true because they don’t want to accept that this is happening every day to children, adults and elderly people in our community.
Part of what the center does, besides having prevention and victim outreach programs in Alamance County, is educate the community to be more sympathetic towards victims. The organization sees an average of 100 new adults and 236 children a year.
BESIDES CALLING INTO question the credibility of witnesses, District Attorney Rob Johnson points out that the case has also impacted the perception people have about the justice system’s ability to properly investigate accusations of sexual assault.
Durham Center Access moving to Oakleigh -- At Durham Center Access, the familiar smell of cleaning product gives it away as a medical facility as soon as the door opens.
But a cafeteria -- where mental health patients eat a morning snack of yogurt and ripple potato chips -- looks suspiciously like a corporate conference room. A spot called the "chair area," where patients, such as those who are involuntarily committed, can be monitored over video screens, is small and crowded.
And the riskiest patients, such as those committed because they may harm someone, can't even stay at the small facility in the Central Medical Park on North Duke Street. It's too small and not secure enough.
"We took an office building, and tried to create a medical facility," said Ellen Holliman, director of The Durham Center. "It served us well. But when you hit the kind of occupancy we have, you reach a need."
But by this time next year, those problems will be behind Durham Center Access. The center, run by The Durham Center -- the county's mental health department -- is moving to the Oakleigh Building. Twice the size and closer to other medical facilities, such as Durham Regional Hospital, the new building will allow for more beds, more personnel and -- most importantly -- more patients.
The current building has 12 beds. At Oakleigh, there will be 16. It also will have scenic porches and rest areas for patients to relax, and a "locked" facility for those who have been involuntarily committed by a magistrate. Now, the majority of those patients are sent to John Umstead Hospital, a psychiatric center in Butner.
"The idea is we'd be able to intervene and stabilize the patient right here, and avoid them having to go to the hospital," said James Osborn, program director for Durham Center Access. "We want to keep them in Durham, keep them connected to their food, family, shelter and clothing." ...
General Order 4077 -- The Bar's exhibit list contains the full text of General Order 4077, the DPD's procedure for handling eyewitness photo ID's. Excerpts from the order are below.
A quiz: how many sections of the edited General Order did Nifong and the DPD violate?
GENERAL ORDER 4077Subject: EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION...