Thursday, September 22, 2011

Updates, Including an Extraordinary Passage

[Update, Friday 9.09pm: A blockbuster piece in today's N&O detailing the degree to which DA Cline twisted the truth in her public "town hall" denouncing the N&O series. Using Cline's own words, the article (penned by Andrew Curliss and Joe Neff) demonstrates that Cline, at best, has convinced herself of self-serving versions of events that aren't true; and, at worst, is simply incapable of telling the truth.]

A few case-related items in the news:

First, Andrew Curliss reports that Frankie Washington—whose conviction was tossed out on grounds that Durham authorities denied his right to a speedy trial—has filed a lawsuit against not only the city of Durham but also embattled “minister of justice” Tracey Cline. As a district attorney, Cline possesses virtually total immunity for decisions made as a prosecutor. But the suit, filed by the Bob Ekstrand, accuses Cline of libel and slander, based on her recent public statements reiterating her absolute, seemingly faith-based, belief in Washington’s guilt. (Cline had no comment on the suit.)

The suit asks both for money and for an independent oversight board for the DPD. Curliss reports that Durham Mayor Bill Bell said that the city would consider reform steps even before a court order—but given that Bell and Durham politicians did nothing when the massive misconduct associated with the lacrosse case was revealed, it’s hard to imagine any forthcoming action from the Washington case, either.

Second, the Daily News caught up with ex-BOT chairman Bob Steel, now (after his . . . sterling . . . performance running Wachovia) a deputy mayor in New York City. Thanks to an executive order from Mayor Bloomberg, top city officials must live in the city unless they receive a waiver, which Steel did not. Yet the Daily News caught up with Steel at what the paper described as his “extravagant Greenwich [CT] mansion”—at which his wife, four dogs, and Porsche, Mercedes, and Lexus all reside.

When the Daily News reporter dropped by, Steel’s wife claimed that he was at his other residence in the city, only to have Steel then appear “wearing golf shoes, shorts, and a preppie sweater.” Steel, naturally, denies any wrongdoing, and claims that his primary residence is in New York.

Finally, the Atlantic is a publication of unusually high quality. How, then, to explain the following passage, from an article about prominent African-Americans’ personal confrontations with racism?

Duke Professor Wahneema Lubiano, who was introduced to me by a brilliant college professor as "one of the smartest people in America," [triple emphasis added] internalized a racist comment and it shifted the course of her life. In the early seventies, in Pennsylvania, in high school, she took the National Merit Scholar's test and placed as a semifinalist. But when she went to the guidance counselor, he suggested she go to secretarial school. "And I believed it," she said. "I went home crying but I believed it." Lubiano ended up going to the University of Pittsburgh but she left after freshman year. "I dropped out, thinking, 'You're too stupid to do this,'" she said. "The damage had been done." She didn't return to college for ten years.

When she went back she went to Howard University and it changed her life. "I was surrounded by really smart black people who were pretty casual about it," she said. "It's not like you walked into a class and sat down and said, 'This is a miracle there are so many smart black people here.' No, you normalized it, it was routine. And in that way it was really nurturing because being smart was routine." For someone with tremendous mental capability and a self-esteem so fragile that it could be broken by a slight comment from a white man she respected, Howard was a life-saver. "By the time I finished with Howard I could go to grad school at Stanford because I was ready."

At least the so-called “brilliant college professor” had the good sense to offer such a breathtaking description on a not-for-attribution basis, to avoid any personal embarrassment. But perhaps this item will provide a new excuse for Prof. Lubiano’s perpetually-forthcoming manuscripts: her sheer brilliance prevents her from getting her thoughts down on paper.

Hat tip--T.S.


skwilli said...

Apparently, "Brilliance" and $5 will still get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. I have met some brilliant people in my life. Something tells me my standards have been way too high.

Jim In San Diego said...

Sorry, but brilliant people do brilliant things. They think and communicate well. They are articulate.

Wahneema does not seem to qualify as brilliant in any identifiable way. Or, for that matter, as merely bright. Or, for that matter, as merely average.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Imagine that professor Wahneema really is brilliant, then the tragedy would be that she is in system that asks nothing of her but that she takes up a space on roster to promote diversity. A brilliant person might figure this out and get tenure.

77Devil said...


I'm no fan of Bob Steel's behavior during the lacrosse mess, but sniping about his tenure at Wachovia is misinformed at best and undermines your credibility which I have generally respected on this blog. The bank's fate was sealed well before Steel was involved by it's abysmal acquisition of sub-prime lender Golden West Financial and otherwise poor management. Given the disaster he inherited and the lock up of the financial system in the Fall of 2008, the sale to Wells Fargo was more orderly and preserved more shareholder value than other transactions. Just ask the shareholders of Bear Stearns and WAMU.

Anonymous said...

Funny, "penned", "embattled". You sound like Zane Grey.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 12.40:

I should have linked ( to the specific Steel episode to which I was referring.

That said: it seemed to me, both at the time and since, that Bloomberg's appointment of a figure associated with the downfall of a major bank was politically tone-deaf--a rare political mistake by the mayor.

William L. Anderson said...

I have serious, serious doubts that a National Merit Semi-Finalist would be dismissed as someone who had no academic future. The prep school where I attended always made a big deal out of students who made that designation. It still does, and never misses a chance to parade those students in its publications (which always precedes a request for more donations).

Interestingly, the average high school does not administer the PSAT (on which the Merit awards based), and I am sure that when Lubiano was in high school, even fewer schools gave that test. They gave them precisely to be part of the National Merit parade.

So, when one of its students actually got that prestigious award, most schools at that time would make a big deal out of it. Furthermore, the article implies that she took the test on her own. That just didn't happen, as it was administered by schools.

What I am saying is that this story does not make sense. Lubiano strikes me as someone who has had a lot of personal problems in her life and that those problems often got in the way of whatever else she was doing. The notion that this intelligent person would drop out of Pitt because of what an anonymous counselor said just does not fly.

In the early 1970s, most high schools in the country that had a black National Merit Semi-Finalist would have trumpeted that fact, not disowned it.

Given Lubiano's past flirtations with lies and half-truths during the Lacrosse case, I cannot help but think she made up this one. Furthermore, secretaries are supposed to be able to record things accurately and actually get things done, something Lubiano is not well-known for doing (except getting slanderous statements into print in time to meet a newspaper deadline). Lubiano might be able to "make it" as a college professor (although her academic record is so spotty that only places like Duke and the Ivies would fall for it), but she would make a lousy secretary. To be honest, I have much, much more respect for a person who can be a good secretary than a college professor who draws a big salary, does next to nothing, and then accuses her employer or "racism."

77Devil said...

I'm agnostic on the Bloomberg appointment, but we'll have to agree to disagree on the Wachovia tenure.

The SEC investigation appropriately went nowhere because practically every bank CEO was in public on September 15 and afterward making somewhat opaque and disingenuous remarks. Everyone was trying to ameliorate sentiment to prevent a run on the banks.

Someone other than Steel may very well have done better winding down the bank. Nevertheless, he was not the villain in the Wachovia melodrama that he was in the lacrosse debacle.

Anonymous said...

Saw Nancy Grace on dancing with the stars. Too bad Mike Nifong wasn't there with her as a dance partner. They both would make a great couples on the dance floor!

Anonymous said...

@2:43 what a visual.