"All kinds of political systems (democracy, monarchy, feudalism, etc.) put enormous emphasis on the personal "loyalty" of subordinates - not loyalty to the public, or even to the government, but to their immediate supervisors - thereby sealing off a source of leaks of knowledge to outsiders." - Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions, pg. 115, 1996 edition
The linked January 4, 2013 letter from Barbara Harris, Neighborhood Services Division Manager, City of Greensboro to then Deputy City Manager Jim Westmoreland indicates that while things were bad at Heritage House, the City and the Heritage House Homeowners Association were moving in the right direction.
The letter indicates that police and a majority of property owners were meeting to explore options as to how to move forward.
This clearly isn't the picture put forth by the City in the local media 18 months later when out of the blue Ben Holder who was at the time neither an employee of the City nor a contractor rushed in with his petition to force the inspection of Heritage House. A petition that was then carried to a magistrate to be used as probable cause with which to get a warrant of which one was issued for each floor.
Of course that wasn't the first time Ben Holder had put forth a petition to inspect Heritage House. Ben Holder was also behind the 2012 petition to inspect Heritage House.
Those petitions will be examined in greater detail in a later post. The astute among you might want to give them both a look. Yes, Ben filled out petitions for each and every unit the first time 'round I just didn't link to them all because all the pertinent information is the same.
Just days after Ms Harris wrote her letter the City of Greensboro released a press release:
“We are committed to making the Heritage House a safer place for people to live,” said Capt. Shon F. Barnes who commands the Southern Patrol Division. “School-age children live in this building and they deserve to grow up in an environment that is drug-free. Elderly people live in this building and they deserve to live their lives in peace.”
"The six-story 177-unit Heritage House, which is located in Barnes’ patrol division, had more than 1,200 police calls for service in 2013. Of those calls, approximately 150 were narcotics related and 178 were in reference to disorderly persons or crowds.
To address these crime and disorder issues, Barnes implemented a problem-oriented policing strategy that included more police presence and increased involvement from residents and landlords. “This sounds like a simple strategy,” said Barnes. “And it is simple in theory, but not so easy in practice. It has taken us a while to develop relationships with some of the people who live in the Heritage House. We’ve had to get back to basics; back to foot patrols; back to walking the hallways and talking to people and hearing about what’s important to them. Based on those conversations, we can take action and improve their quality of life.”
But was the City committed to making Heritage House a safe place to live or was the City already committed to closing Heritage House?
So if things were going so well that Barbara Harris was writing positive progress reports to Jim Hightower in January of 2013, why was it that Ben Holder and his band of little freelance housing inspectors-- none of which who lived at Heritage House in 2012 or 2014-- were sent in to provide excuses for Code Enforcement Officers to rush back in come June of 2014 and not find a single unit they could condemn thus forcing the City of Greensboro to turn off the water and hide the water bill from the public?
Had what Capt. Shon F. Barnes said actually been implemented and remained in place, crime would have gone down at Heritage House but instead in July 2014 Councilman Zack Matheny is heard telling us there have been over 2800 police emergencies at Heritage House. The only way that could have happened with Capt. Barnes problem-oriented policing strategy still in place would be if the police were in-fact themselves selling the drugs and committing the crimes. Do we need to call in the FBI to investigate GPD as well?
Methinks Commander Barnes was redirected elsewhere, as far from Heritage House as possible. In a letter dated April 24, 2014, Barnes wrote to GPD Chief Ken Miller promising a 35% reduction in crime across the board at Heritage House but according the the GPD Website the Commander of the Southern Division is not Capt. Shon F. Barnes but is now in-fact Captain Jeffrey Lowdermilk.
And so while Barnes and Councilwoman Hightower of District 1 were working to resolve the issues at Heritage House, forces greater than them, forces within Greensboro City Government were working to undo and destroy their every effort. Hence the reason Ken Miller refuses to investigate. Ken Miller was under orders to let Heritage House fall apart.
Remember: Crime went up, not down. Why did Chief Ken Miller replace Barnes? It has been suggested to me off the record by several sources within the Greensboro Police Department and elsewhere that Ken Miller was frustrated that his department was being micro-managed by the City Manager's office and by members of City Council and thus the reason Miller is leaving Greensboro to take the job as Chief of Police in Greenville, South Carolina despite the fact that his retirement won't carry over from one state to the other.
We also know that on July 7, 2014, in the lead-up to the events at Heritage House the City of Greensboro made a payment of $7,239 ( PIRT # 3729, titled Interactive Resource Center) to the non profit IRC where Heritage House refugees were eventually housed in a day room turned shelter. Had the decision already been made to close Heritage House no matter what? Going back many months, despite the efforts of Sharon Hightower and others who worked to save it, everything points in that direction.
Mayor Vaughan, you, Councilman Barber you and little Benny Boy have already lost-- the longer you hide the worse this gets. There are too many people involved, too many loose ends and more evidence left lying around than you ever knew existed to begin with.
Sonny Vestal claimed that his real estate company ran the Heritage House HOA in name only but witnesses have told me that Nina Coffey always carried the HOA payments directly to Sonny's office every month. Anyone see a conflict there? Now Charles and Nina Coffey are missing and yet the Greensboro Police Department refuses to acknowledge that any crime(s) might have been committed. Methinks a lot of crimes have been committed including the theft of 177 individually deeded properties by high ranking officials with the City of Greensboro.
There were so many other options for Heritage House but instead Heritage House became a study in how cities design and build bad neighborhoods. The first floor could have been rezoned for commercial allowing for stores to go in to provide for the needs of the community there and push property values up instead of down-- you know, mixed-use just as is being pushed Downtown. But no, no options were considered.
Investigators with experience in document forensics have suggested to me that Skip Alston, real estate broker and treasurer of the Simkins PAC, is somehow involved-- perhaps council is repaying him for having to reign on their promise to give him the Bessemer Shopping Center last year. After all, his name was first on Ben Holder's application to the City along with Mayor Vaughan, Councilman Barber and Councilwoman Johnson. Coincidence? Is it coincidence that Ben Holder has never had anything good to say about Skip Alston in the past? Is it coincidence that Ben Holder-- one of Greensboro's most vocal activists-- is suddenly silent and has hidden his blog from public view just as the City hides evidence from the public?
People ask why Heritage House was ignored? Heritage House wasn't ignored, Heritage House was planned.
Removing renters from an unsafe situation was the right thing to do. Removing renters from an unsafe situation created with help from the Fascist Totalitarian City of Greensboro makes you co-conspirators in a land grab that threatens neighborhoods all across America. This, Madam Mayor is a felony. Have you seen the Federal low security women's prisons in Florida? Hope you like the heat 'cause you spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer. You call what I do sport, a pastime, I call it restoring truth and liberty to the City in which I've spent my life. Unless you release the truth, Heritage House, Madam Mayor, will be your Ferguson, your Watts Riots and your Waterloo.
But I think Frank Zappa said it best: