The lacrosse case put a lot of pressure on many of us. I happened to be the president of the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association (the house is in our neighborhood) at the time the case broke. It was a very difficult time for us.
There were pressures from many sides threatening to cause this situation to spiral out of control. It easily could have. Many of us worked very hard to keep the focus on the positive aspects of the neighborhood and Durham, the many positive contributions of Duke and most of its students to Durham, and to keep the lacrosse incident in the proper perspective.
Mayor Bill Bell was a key individual in this effort. I personally witnessed his calm demeanor on a cold night in front of the courthouse while we both were being interviewed on national television.
Is Bill Bell perfect? No, he's human like the rest of us. But I've seen him show a command of considerable calmness under the bright lights when we really needed it. I know he did a good job under a difficult situation. I also think he has done a pretty good job, in general, of keeping the City Council moving ahead. He has my vote.
The letter writer was John Dagenhart.
That's the same John Dagenhart whose wife, Ellen, was a member of the potbangers' organization and then expressed skepticism about the possibility of a civil suit between the players and the city. (In a 2003 article, Ellen Dagenhart charged that Duke students' actions made the neighborhood "a dump.") And it's the same John Dagenhart who appeared in the Times' first guilt-presuming article (March 31, 2006) and who appeared on Larry King the day the first DNA results came back negative to assert "this is one episode amongst many years of problems that we have had with a small number of students causing a large problem." The only complaints filed about this "one episode," of course, were wholly fraudulent ones.
It's reassuring to hear Dagenhart assert that Bell's leadership helped him in his efforts "to keep the focus on the positive aspects of the neighborhood and Durham, the many positive contributions of Duke and most of its students to Durham, and to keep the lacrosse incident in the proper perspective."