First, the meta-story before the story itself: Tip of the hat to the Herald-Sun's Ray Gronberg for scooping the rest of the media on the lacrosse suit story appearing in today's news. Gronberg's piece hit the Herald-Sun web site at 1:40pm this afternoon, nicking the N&O by almost three hours and TV outlets by even more.
Gronberg remains the best-in-class for beat reporters covering the Bull City. Sometimes the intraday work doesn't get the press it deserves, since the Herald-Sun as an organization is rather sluggish at posting new news during the day, while the N&O recently revamped their web site to explicitly focus on within-the-day breaking news and blog posts.
In any case, someone down on Pickett Road found the "Print to Web..." option and the story made it up mid-day. Anyone who watched last Monday's Council meeting had to wonder about the closed session at its conclusion; congrats to Gronberg for apparently being the first to teast out the truth.
Now to the actual story itself. As I've stated here before, this blog isn't about the lacrosse case, an event that has already gotten a more-than-disproportionate share of national news. That said, the potential for lawsuits against the City and the potential impact on the blue-ribbon panel that's supposed to be getting to the bottom of where the City may have made mistakes is daunting.
Still, I have to ask -- why start with the City government instead of the man himself, Mike Nifong? Admittedly, Nifong's pockets aren't too deep at this point in time, but he's an elected employee of the state, whose coffers most certainly are. I am not a lawyer, so I can't speak with any certainty about how this would all work, but it would seem that suing the Attorney General of N.C. (not personally, but in his capacity as the responsible elected official over the justice system) would be the right place to start. (I'm genuinely curious about this -- anyone with more legal chops have any thoughts on this choice of action?)
The really unfortunate part of all this is, I think Bell took the difficult but right step in tossing the Patrick Baker-authored "screw up? whaaaa?" report on its ear and convening, with Council's support, the independent investigative panel. Suddenly, the City's insurer is threatening to drop its coverage if the City investigates itself.
Understandable from the insurer's perspective, since you don't exactly want your client exposing any dirty laundry that increases the chances you're going to have to pay out. But on the flip side, it's a big monkeywrench in the gears of getting to the bottom of what happened here.
Today's seemingly-likely scenario: lawsuit threats continue, City settles for a few mil, insurance picks up the cost -- and the commission disbands.
All of which leads to a sub-optimal outcome. In this case, the sub is short for "submarined."