Last Friday, blogger Kevin Davis at Bull City Rising revealed a link between Durham County Manager Mike Ruffin and an anonymously authored blog called One Guy's View, which promised -- and apparently delivered -- behind-the scenes information about county government and politics.
Checking the root folder of an image file posted to One Guy's View, Davis discovered a set of images from Devotions.com, a religious web site Ruffin authors under his name.
Davis gave Ruffin the benefit of the doubt:
Now, just because some graphics from Mike Ruffin's web site are posted on "One Guy's View" doesn't necessarily mean that Ruffin is the voice behind this anonymous 'insider' blog.
Frankly, I've sat on this particularly story for three days because I figured it was just too obvious, that someone must be trying to set up the good County Manager, since it's really not hard to find these images up there.
Shortly after Davis's post, One Guy's View was deleted and vanished from the web. Google cache offers an incomplete version here.
The Indy placed a call to Ruffin's office Monday morning. Around 4 p.m., a county staffer called back to say Ruffin had been in meetings all day and was unavailable. She added that he would be on vacation through the rest of the week and could not be reached by phone. The Indy sent an email to Ruffin Tuesday, seeking comment.
County Commissioners Chairman Ellen Reckhow sent an email to Ruffin Saturday with a link to the BCR post asking, "Do you know what is going on?"
In his response (obtained by the Indy) , Ruffin wrote:
I don’t. My only guess is someone is trying to make it look like the blogger is me. I’ve contacted the guy is [sic] manages my devotions.com website to see who might have hacked it and downloaded some files. The files that Bull City Rising uses are public files on my devotions website. Anyone can download them and repost them to their blog. I’ll let you know what I hear.
Reckhow said Tuesday afternoon she had heard no news since the exchange. "I don’t question his response to me at this point."
What's the big deal, you might ask?
Whoever "Guy" is, he or she posted development plans for the county's Justice Center a day in advance of their becoming public and has characterized the actions and intentions of at least one Durham City official with whom Ruffin works.
Davis explains the issue best:
[... T]here's something that's just a bit -- off -- about the idea of an elected official or senior administration staff member alike blogging anonymously in such a way as to share information that could shape the public discourse.
Nothing at all wrong with that kind of communication, but it just seems best done in the open under one's John Hancock.
This is not the first time Ruffin has been the subject of controversy during his tenure as county manager. He was abruptly fired from the job in 2004 and later reinstated after many prominent community members came to his defense.
Joe Bowser, who initiated the firing vote, lost re-election to the board later that year, but won election once again during this year's primary. He will be sworn in next year.
Update 9/10: Davis has posted emails he received from "Guy" in order to crowd-source investigation into the identity of the mystery blogger.