Linda Miles, who retired as Greensboro’s city attorney in November and returned as a consultant to lead the legal department earlier this month, has been the object of a sustained barrage of criticism from The Rhinoceros Times and a handful of strong-willed bloggers.
Initially, her public relations problems stemmed from her role, alongside City Manager Mitchell Johnson, in handling the departure of former police Chief David Wray, but since then her detractors have promulgated a blossoming number of alleged offenses.
A blog post by Ben Holder, identified as “The Troublemaker,” announcing Miles’ retirement is typical of the heat: “Miles, who arguably has the worst reputation in Guilford County’s legal community, started with the city as a part-time employee in the late 70’s before being promoted to city attorney in 1998.”
The lead story by Editor John Hammer in today’s Rhinoceros Times is similarly disparaging. Bearing the hopeful title “End In Sight for Mitch & Miles Administration,” it states, “Just the fact that her title includes former and acting is indicative of how absurd this situation has become. Miles retired at the end of November 2007, but signed a contract on Nov. 16, 2007, to run the City Legal Department for an additional six months as a consultant starting Jan. 9. This maneuver may be as bizarre as locking the police chief out of his office. Miles was allowed to retire and then hired back, not as a part-time consultant, not to tie up some loose ends, not to help with the search for a new attorney, but to run the legal department just as she had been doing, but starting in January she would be collecting her retirement and getting paid $91.50 an hour by the city to do her old job. She would be paid more for doing her job as a paid-by-the-hour consultant than she was paid as a city department head and she even got to keep her old parking place.”
Miles fires back in statement released this evening indicating that her motives for returning as a consultant are altruistic rather than self-serving.
“At the urging of the city manager and with the understanding of the previous city council, I agreed to return from my retirement to guide the transition as acting city attorney until a new city attorney was recruited and hired. If the city needed my help, then I was glad to put aside my personal desires and continue to serve.”
Miles has been accused of both withholding public records and of releasing public records that might compromise a criminal investigation.
In her statement this evening, she cites a recent e-mail from NC Deputy Attorney General Jim Coman acknowledging the city for complying with his request to not release the so-called “black book” to the public.
Coman said, “To my knowledge [the city has] complied with my request and apparently [has] been criticized in some circles for complying with my request not to release anything that would be harmful to the rights of the accused or could hurt the investigation. This case is proof of how difficult it is to protect the rights of the accused and to keep the city leaders and the public informed.”
Miles says that Coman “speaks eloquently to the importance of preserving the right of a fair trial for all those accused.”
Then comes her public-relations offensive: “In defending this basic American right, I have been subject to scorn, ridicule, half-truths, and out-and-out falsehoods. Through it all, I have held fast to the conviction that the ends of justice were far more important than responding to personal attacks, however personally hurtful or professionally defaming they might be.”
Miles concludes by insisting that she serves at the pleasure of the city.
“My return from retirement was solely to assist in the management of important legal matters until a new city attorney is hired,” she says. “I am glad to spend as much or as little time in this capacity as the city manager and the city council desire.”