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Friday, October 12, 2007

Duke Case — Aftermath continues...

Today's items - updated:

Thomas StithNaureen Khan / Duke Chronicle:
Stith focuses on curbing crime in city, targets lacrosse case mishaps -- In the midst of escalating gang activity, crowded schools and a costly civil lawsuit stemming from the Duke lacrosse case, incumbent Bill Bell is facing stiff competition from challenger Thomas Stith in the race for the mayor's office.

"I really feel Durham is at a point where we need strong, bold leadership to address issues impacting our community," Stith said. "Durham has the potential not only to become a leading city in North Carolina, but in the country."

The initial handling of the lacrosse allegations has already become an election issue in light of the estimated $30-million civil lawsuit filed by attorneys representing Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, Trinity '06, against the city last Friday. The three were falsely accused of rape in March 2006.

Stith said he believes Bell pressured the Durham Police Department into rushing the investigation of the lacrosse case and therefore set the stage for litigation against the city.

"The mayor needs to be clearer on his involvement in the investigation," Stith said. "It is clear he tried to expedite the process. The question is in pressuring the department [to do so]... did he sacrifice thoroughness? [...]

Tamara Gibbs / ABC11-TV:
Durham mayor candidates debate hot button issues -- In a few weeks, voters in Durham will be choosing their next mayor. It's turning out to be a hotly contested race between incumbent Bill Bell and Councilman Thomas Stith. The two had a war of words at a debate Thursday evening.

Although both candidates have a longtime connection to the Bull City, they also have different visions for its future.
Mayor Bell says Durham is a city for jobs and he wants to improve that if re-elected.

Stith on the other hand believes there is room for improvement. He believes the city needs to do more to boost its economy and improve downtown.

Durham's downtown and its burgeoning economy are just a few hot button issues in the impending election. But crime is also a concern and a point of contention for the two candidates.

Stith says crime remains a problem and more funding needs to go to the police force. [...]
Ken Larrey Letter / Duke Chronicle [see comments]:
Brodhead needs to apologize for more

President Richard Brodhead's Sept. 29 apology has been widely mischaracterized, so let's set the record straight. For example, a Chronicle staff editorial recently commended "his apology for a rush to judgment by the administration." Not only did Brodhead not apologize for this, he didn't admit a rush to judgment either.

Read the speech. Brodhead apologized for one thing only, and that was not "getting the communication right" with the lacrosse families, which is euphemistic for "I never allowed them or their lawyers to talk to me or demonstrate their innocence, ever." If you want to be generous, you could count his "regret" that "we may have helped create the impression that we did not care about our students" as an apology. Eighteen months go by, and that's the only apology that he, Orin Starn and Ole Holsti think is necessary? THAT'S the extent of his administration's wrongdoing that recently cost the University a $10 million-plus settlement? President Brodhead not only sidestepped every major issue for which his administration is under criticism (and soon to be involved in more lawsuits), but he once again closed doors on other issues that require explanation or apology.

First of all, if Brodhead is going to have any chance to remain president, we need answers and explanations, not simply apologies, and this man is one of many who have a great deal to answer for. When one considers the body of performance from this administration, it is one ugly picture.

If we are going to move forward in all of this, we must speak with accuracy and precision. We must be courageous in challenging untruths, but we must be prepared to substantiate our claims and accusations. Similarly, when we are shown to be wrong, we must readily admit that we are wrong. Such is the ethic of a lover of truth.

As much as I respect professors James Coleman and Prasad Kasibhatla, I'm still going to call them exactly like I see them. When one considers the timing and wording of their recent letter as well as their utter refusal to substantiate their accusations, it is tough to view the letter as anything other than an academic drive-by.

Ken Larrey
Trinity '08
Founder, Duke Students for an Ethical Duke

LieStoppers forum:
Duke Divided by LAX Case and University Response, Faculty, Students Speak Out In Media
Forty Questions blog:
He Just Might Be Evil After All -- Last week, I vented more than a bit about my former boss, Richard Brodhead. I started out by saying I didn't think he was evil. But since then, I read a blog posting by Jason Trumpbour that has made me reconsider my earlier assertion. In his posting "Too Little Too Late," he says a very disturbing thing; Duke was gung ho about the lacrosse case going to trial:

"The administration wanted the case to go to trial. It believed that, if the case were dismissed before trial for whatever reason, people would say that Duke used its influence to have it dismissed. Robert Steel, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees told me that a year ago....

If Reade, Collin and David had to be exposed to the risks associated with a trial by a corrupt, unethical prosecutor who had done everything he could to inflame the jury pool, that was just the way it had to be. Steel told me that it did not matter if they were convicted because all the problems with the case would be sorted out on appeal. That is not the way the appeal process works and I told him that, but that was still his plan."

If this is true, Robert Steel and Duke leadership are thoroughly lacking both ethics and humanity. It means that they were so obsessed with making sure that the lacrosse story wasn't about Duke that they were completely willing to sacrifice three people in the process.

One of the stranger things about the lacrosse affair is the political right wing's insistence that Brodhead's motivation in cutting ties with the lacrosse players was his fear of far left faculty. Why anyone buys this argument is beyond me. Anyone who knows Duke knows that faculty governance is virtually non-existent. It's a top down organization. Faculty opinion means next to nothing. The idea that Brodhead was kowtowing to extremist faculty is completely without merit. Yes, there are many hard left faculty at Duke. No, they don't have any influence on presidential decision making.

Taylor and Johnson have made this claim about the influence of faculty political correctness on Brodhead's decision making while promoting their book, Until Proven Innocent. Whether this claim is in their book I do not know. I haven't read the book yet, but I will in a couple of weeks. Regardless, it is a claim without any foundation. The idea that Brodhead was fearful of losing his job if he didn't heed his hard left, politically correct faculty is patently absurd. Duke is not Harvard. Richard Brodhead is not Lawrence Summers. People who have made these claims simply don't understand how Duke University operates. These boats just don't float. [...]

Matt Dees / News & Observer:
Missteps turn up heat on Durham city manager -- Patrick Baker took over as Durham's city manager in August 2004 with what seemed at the time a modest goal: "to keep us out of the headlines as much as possible."

On that count, many agree, Baker has failed. That has kept him on a hot seat for 18 months, and a recent City Council decision to give him only a partial raise signaled that he's under pressure to improve Durham government's image.

Some say that a federal lawsuit filed last week by Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, lead in some drinking water, a two-week fire at a landfill and other problems have fed a perception that Durham is in constant crisis mode.

"Now folks just expect things to go wrong," said Chris Kukla, president of the Durham People's Alliance, a left-of-center political action committee. "We certainly think Patrick Baker is doing as much as he can, but the public's confidence in city government, frankly, is shaken."

In August, the City Council gave Baker a 3 percent raise, compared with 5 percent raises given to the city attorney and city clerk, the other two employees who report directly to the council. It was a slap on the wrist, bringing his annual salary to $165,685, but it sent a message. [...]
Princeton University News:
Writer examines Duke lacrosse case, Oct. 18 -- "Until Proven Innocent: An Examination of the Duke Lacrosse Case," a lecture by journalist and author Stuart Taylor Jr., will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in McCosh 50.

Taylor is the co-author, with K.C. Johnson, of "Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case." His lecture will explore the political, racial and cultural relevance of the controversial case, in which three Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape last year.

Taylor, a 1970 Princeton graduate, covers legal, policy and political issues as a senior writer and columnist.
KC Johnson:
Flexibly Forthcoming -- Kerry Haynie recently distinguished himself when he attacked UPI--which, he admitted, he hadn't read. Last October, he sent Steve Baldwin a nasty e-mail after Baldwin criticized the Group of 88. And, when asked why he signed the "clarifying" letter, Haynie refused to give an explanation, responding instead, "Get a freaking life! Quote me." [...]

Haynie came to Duke from Rutgers. Here's a line from his Rutgers website: "Professor Haynie's next book, Stepping Stones or Stumbling Blocks? Campaign Finance Reform and Minority Group Representation is under contract with Stanford University Press and is forthcoming in 2003."

Haynie has been quite . . . flexible . . . over a four-year period, in publicly asserting that the book was actually completed.
Michael Gaynor:
Parsing the Duke lacrosse suit -- To those Durhamites trying to assure themselves that the case is a legally baseless act of vindictiveness on the part of three Catholic families who should be grateful if the exonerated got fish sandwiches, bottles of YooHoo and bus tickets out of town (as suggested by a writer for Durham's News & Observer), take note: Mr. Taylor's Duke case track record is superb. [...]
LieStoppers forum: Gaynor on radio now about Duke Case
John in Carolina:
Andrew Beach / Duke Chronicle:
Provost speaks on new report -- Following Lange's report, Stephen Bryan, director of judicial affairs and associate dean of students, and Valerie Kolko, senior program coordinator for the Office of Judicial Affairs, gave an overview of judicial policies at Duke and, in particular, the role the Judicial Board gives to professors who suspect academic dishonesty.

In response to a column run in The Chronicle questioning student rights at Duke, Bryan said he hopes faculty members view the board as a fair, objective group.

"What you read is not always accurate, and hopefully those of you who have been involved in the process have seen it as a fair process," he said.

Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki said he is assembling a review of judicial processes that will include Noah Pickus, associate director of the Kenan Institute of Ethics at Duke.
David Rademeyer / Duke Chronice:
Paper ethics
Earl Ofari Hutchinson| / Huffington Post:
Hanging Nooses: Hate or Hoax Upsurge -- A hanging noose found dangling on the office door of Madonna Constantine, a black race relations expert at Columbia University, is supposedly proof positive of the hate wave. The noose on her office door and at other places may well be the handiwork of a loony with a racial ax to grind or it may just be a put up job by a few silly, clueless, students who think stringing up or planting nooses is good for a few yucks and a brief media titter

However, there's another painful possibility. One or more of the nooses could be a hoax to make a point about racism. More than a few writers on the CNN website in discussing the Columbia University noose discovery had no hesitation in pointing the blame finger at blacks. While others simply said they didn't believe that the noose had anything to do with race.

There's no evidence that the hanging nooses are anything other than what they appear, namely sick, racial digs. Yet, the fact that so many believe that blacks are capable of pulling a dumb prank to get attention, or play the race card can't and shouldn't be cavalierly chalked up to white ignorance or bigotry. While the overwhelming majority of those that racial wolf shout to cover misdeeds or for kicks have been white, some blacks have screamed it too. [...]

The Duke University rape case is a near textbook example of how those fears can boomerang. The female black college student that screamed that she was raped at a frat house by white Duke Lacrosse players ignited angry protests and a momentary deep soul search about racial and sexual victimization of blacks. As her story unraveled into a tissue of contradictions and lies, the soul search quickly turned into anger, rage, disgust and racial backlash not just against an on the make prosecutor but at black leaders that accepted her story at face value. [...]
comment: Crystal Mangum's college student status was questionable.
Letters to Herald-Sun:
Starn missed the point

Who does Orin Starn [Forum, Oct. 3] think he is stating that another person doesn't owe an apology for his actions in the lacrosse fiasco? Duke President Richard Brodhead may have advocated that the justice system be allowed to work. However, he negated that position when he canceled the entire lacrosse season.

If Starn doesn't think that was a clear indication of Brodhead's true feelings, then he is as myopic as he accuses the authors of "Until Proven Innocent" to be. He is correct that the young men failed to show good judgment, but that in no way justifies what ensued.

I have read at least two of the books on the case, and nowhere did I see the young men being held out to be heroes, angels or choir boys. "Scapegoats" is the term which came to my mind. They gave Nifong the ammunition with which he won an election he was losing, and the pseudo, academic elitists a forum from which they could spout their hatred for anyone who has attained financial standing greater than their own.

To describe the authors as myopic and mean-spirited is disingenuous at best. What was done to those young men by Nifong, some of the Duke administration, including President Brodhead and the 88 members of the faculty, would better meet those descriptions

For the most part, the book by Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson was merely a compilation of what eventually came to be known as fact. The book was published months after the damage had been done and the truth could no longer be denied by anyone, including apparently, Starn.

Curtis Casey
October 11, 2007
Don't punish taxpayers

Now that a civil suit has been filed by the Duke lacrosse players' families against the City of Durham and its Police Department, if a guilty verdict is returned, justice demands the city and police officials pay out of their own pockets.

If the city's tax monies are used to satisfy the suit, those individuals who are responsible for the witch-hunt would escape personal responsibility and would sidestep the pain of direct and immediate consequences for their actions. The city's taxpayers did nothing wrong. They did not make the decision to persecute and to prosecute the lacrosse players. Their tax monies ought not to be used to correct a blatant injustice perpetrated by officials who clearly demonstrated an unwillingness to be reasonable, rational, circumspect and cautious with their accusations or thorough with their investigations.

This isn't vengeance. It's real-life education.

George Mitchell
Blairsville, Ga.
October 11, 2007
What Durham deserves

Even a casual read of the substance of the Duke lacrosse case lawsuit must make the named defendants' blood run cold. My guess is that once this lawsuit runs its course and the dust settles, the name "Nifong" will become a verb in law enforcement circles.

I hope the locals who cheered their hero on in his pursuit of those lacrosse players have pockets as deep as their shared willingness to believe a man who was an obvious fraud from the get-go. I predict this civil suit will result in a mind-numbing seven- or eight-figure damage award.

Nifong, now out of work, and out of his chosen profession, will find that his idiotic and selfish conduct will mean a lot of potholes don't get filled in his home county for a lot of years to come.

Mike McNew
Marina, Calif.
October 11, 2007

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia