Back again? Citizen activist claims 751 utilities extension pending for January 3 agenda
Falls Lake Rules on road to implementation without letter-induced delay

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for December 20, 2010

Another ADA Departure: A long line of assistant DAs have been exiting the Durham County district attorney's office this year, and that list grew longer after Mitchell Garrell's pending departure after 15 years. John McCann had the story first but without confirmation of the reason for the exit -- something the N&O's J. Andrew Curliss tracks down in today's must-read news story. Tracey Cline noted she had informed Garrell he would not be reappointed come 2011, despite being one of two ADAs linked to the office's toughest cases. The N&O story runs down one of Garrell's recent cases, including Cline's own contradictory testimony in a re-trial of a man jailed on what he claims were bad-acts by the SBI and Durham prosecutors; Cline said she hadn't been involved in the case, only to have documents with her initials appear. Garrell becomes the fifth veteran prosecutor of violent crimes to exit the DA's office this year. (N&O)

751 on 1/3: The Indy gets confirmation from City Councilwoman Diane Catotti that a utility extension vote on the 751 South project is set for Jan. 3; a vote on annexation with translational zoning from the controversial BOCC upzoning would happen at a later date. See our Saturday post here for more background, or the Indy's excellent primer. (Indy Weekly)

Scrutiny on Hiring: The H-S' Ray Gronberg has the latest on a movement seeking to get city/county governments and their private contractors to limit scrutiny of past criminal records to late stages of the application process, and perhaps then only for jobs with significant sensitivity. It's a move meant to open up outlets for ex-offenders, whose sometimes youthful transgressions can open the door to a hard time getting career traction. (Herald-Sun)

"Duke is in Durham, but Hillside is Durham!": So spake school board chair Minnie Forte-Brown at a celebration of Hillside's state football championship, telling the crowd, as the Herald-Sun's Matt Milliken reported, that the Hillside High victory meant more to the community than Duke's national championship. It's a great victory, but really, Ms. Forte-Brown? One would think elected officials with backgrounds in speech and communication (like our school board chair herself is) would have a better innate sense of the problem of the gaffe. (Herald-Sun)

More on DDNP: We usually don't cite op-ed pieces in the Fishwrap, but for those following the departure of Michael Palmer from Duke's community affairs office, Carl Kenney delivers a powerful sermon from the mount of The Durham News' inside pages this week, including Kenney's analysis on what he sees as a shift in Duke's philosophy on community engagement. (The Durham News)

Mid-January Wrecking Ball for Rolling Hills: The City is still seeking ways to fund the reconstruction of Rolling Hills, but at least the long-troubled site's deconstruction is set to begin. A January 16 date for demolition is set, the N&O's Jim Wise reports, in a story that also details the long path the project has taken and what funding is needed to move things forward. (The Durham News)

Stream Cleanin': After municipally funded efforts on Ellerbe Creek and Third Fork Creek, it's Northeast Creek's turn to get some water quality cleanup, as part of ongoing municipal efforts to bring betterments to water destined for Falls and Jordan. (The Durham News)

K for Record: A win against Elon at home tonight would bring Duke's Coach Krzyzewski into a tie with UNC's legendary Dean Smith for second place on the all-time Division I wins list. (Herald-Sun)


Rob Gillespie

One is left to wonder whether the rate of crimes committed by those out on bail has gone up over the past 12 months. We've had 5 very senior ADAs depart in an office that normally has [about] 20 prosecutors on staff. That's 25%.

We're very frequently told that the Administrative Office of the Courts is solely responsible for the long wait between arrest and trial. Yes, we're still short on courtrooms, clerks, conference rooms, and office equipment, but the loss of all these prosecutors can't help the situation.


I want to hear more about what exactly Mitch Garrell did that was so terrible that Tracy Cline fired him. From the N&O front page article, it sounded like he was doing his job, and a thorough one at that. Something really stinks.


At the risk of sounding uneducated, what was Ms. Forte-Brown's gaffe? If it was insulting Duke, I think Duke deserves the insult from our public officials after firing firing Michael Palmer and cutting back funding for community outreach.

And if it was the fact we're talking about a state championship vs. a national championship, I think it is a bigger deal that a bunch of high-schoolers born and raised in Durham at a public school won a state-wide title, compared to a private university composed of a significant number of out-of-state students. With a very well funded basketball team. (and add to that the town-gown tensions)

And if it was something else, then I've just missed it and will feel silly when BCR explains it to me.

Kevin Davis

@Matt: I'll be the first to admit this is just my opinion, but here's why I considered Forte-Brown's statement unfortunate.

There's nothing at all wrong with her having an opinion on the matter at hand, or on (if she were trying to comment on it) the Palmer departure, and I personally am fine with her expressing it in a suitable context, like a school board meeting, emails to public officials, comments to the media, etc. -- just like Pastor Davis did.

What public officials do is public, but to me I think of their work in private-public and public-public spheres.

Private-public is the work public officials do in support of their jobs as policymakers, in which disagreement happens and in which officials will take votes and find themselves on opposite sides of issues. (That's the context Frederick Davis' comments came in to me.)

But to me there's public-public, too -- ribbon cuttings, speeches to the Rotary Club or a visiting dignitary group, awards dinners, and yes, school pep rallies. I tend to think the actions elected officials take in those contexts should be broadly inclusive of all of the constituency, not divisive in nature.

Believing that Duke is in Durham but that it doesn't somehow matter to the community to the extent a state championship at Hillside does? That's a comment that, in the Durham context, carries layer after layer of spoken and unsaid meaning.

To me, public-public moments like pep rallies are about bringing the entire community together, not about making statements that can cause hard feelings or dissension.

The question is, was Forte-Brown speaking to what she thought was a community likely to agree with her, or to the entirety of Durham? Even if she assumed the former, you can't be chair of the school board without your comments being taken to mean the latter.

And that's what makes it, to me, a gaffe. Forte-Brown should have expected that her comment would get broader circulation, and I suspect, might have picked a phrasing more suitable to that broad-reaching, all-community role.

(As always, my comments at BCR reflect my opinions, not those of my employer, my neighbors, Gracie the gray-cat, etc.)


I totally agree with Kevin - comments like Ms. Forte-Brown's only further emphasize an "us vs. them" attitude in Durham, an attitude I find 1) regrettable, and 2) a hindrance to working together to solve common problems.


Greetings Bull City Rising from Washington, DC. I'm so proud of the 2010 Hillside High School football team!! I'm a member of the Class of 1997. Oh yeah, Durham, "born and bred" here.

"Hillside is Durham," I agree 110%!! Now as a politician, the councilwoman could choose her words more carefully on Duke and Durham, but for native "Durhamites," we know exactly where she was coming from. If you ask anybody who's lived in Durham for generations, its a good chance that they went, had a family member or knew somebody who went to Hillside. Hillside is the oldest school in Durham, that produced 115 graduating classes. I was in the 102nd class. Hillside was my mother's, my aunt's, my cousin's, and my school. This state championship may seem "small" for most, but for us, it’s a wonderful feeling. "Hillside" is a metaphor for "Durham." People make opinions, ridicule, and revile it based on rumors or other reasons that I won’t say...LOL. Despite that, WE LOVE DURHAM, WE LOVE HILLSIDE!!

Now, Duke doesn't have to worry about such things. The University enjoys a world-wide reputation. That's not even including the basketball program. Any Durhamite has a Duke connection but at times, the University can be so apart from the City. No College-Town relationship is perfect, but Duke tends to not help the situation. Take earlier this year, when the Devils won the Championship, only Duke Students were allowed on the West Campus to celebrate. Of course, Campus Police claimed it’s for safety, but how can you feel apart of a city, when you effectively cut it off during a happy moment. That's a problem. So, it means more for a city that here's an open celebration with students, families, alumni, and generations of Durhamites gathering to honor a State Championship, than a closed off bonfire to celebrate a National Championship. Just saying. This is my first comment here on BCR, WOOHOO!! LETS GO HORNETS!!


Sorry BCR...there is nothing to see here. I'm not a Hillside grad but I'm just as proud that they brought the title home to Durham. Same as when Northern brought it home in 1993. I hated hearing that it was the first FB championship for the Bull City in 17 years! Time Flies!!!

As far as the us vs. them, I will only address the Duke aspect because the other would require its own blog site. Only Duke can change their relationship with Durham. I personally understand most of the contributions by Duke but it is the attitude of the leaders that prevent harmony. They are just not community-oriented...they can pretend for a while and then walk behind the Gothic walls.

Side note: Does that disclaimer ever work??? I'm glad that I am an independent consultant right now. :)

The comments to this entry are closed.