Vernon Jones

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Vernon Jones
Personal details
Born (1960-10-31) October 31, 1960 (age 54)
Laurel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater North Carolina Central
University

Vernon Jones (born October 31, 1960) is an American Democratic politician from Georgia who served as chief executive officer of Dekalb County, Georgia, from 2001 until 2009. Jones was found guilty of racial discrimination in a federal lawsuit upheld on appeal in 2009. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found "In 2001, DeKalb County, Georgia embarked on a wholesale plan to replace its white county managers with African Americans."[1] The New York Times reported "According to trial testimony, the county had 33 black and 61 white top managers when Mr. Jones took office and 60 blacks and 57 whites five years later.[2] The suit ultimately cost DeKalb County, GA taxpayers over $4 million in legal fees and penalties.[3] On January 18, 2013, a special purpose grand jury report found widespread " incompetence, patronage, fraud and cronyism" dating to the beginning of the administration of Vernon Jones.[4]

Early life and business career[edit]

Born in Laurel Hill, North Carolina to a WWII veteran, Jones grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina before attending North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC, earning a B.A. in business administration in 1983. Jones is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Jones later graduated from Harvard's two-week[5] John F. Kennedy School of Government's Executive Program.[6]

Jones began his career in the telecommunications industry, first working with WorldCom and later BellSouth Corporation.[6] At BellSouth, he was part of a team that established wireless communications in Montevideo, Uruguay.[citation needed] Jones served on the DeKalb Board of Health, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the DeKalb Library Board, the DeKalb Pension Board, and the Board of Visitors for Emory University and North Carolina Central University.[7]

Political career[edit]

Jones sought election to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1992. He served from 1993 to 2001, during which time he served on the Appropriations and Insurance Committees, the Health and Ecology Committee, the Banking Committee, and a special Judiciary Committee. He was elected as chief executive officer of Dekalb County, Georgia in 2000, winning 64% of the vote, and was re-elected in 2004 with 54% of the vote. Jones is the first African American to serve as CEO of the county, and the youngest ever elected in the county.[6] DeKalb County established the first local Homeland Security Office in 2001, and, under Jones, passed laws creating a new senior center, increasing funding for road, library, and park improvements while maintaining a balanced budget.[7] Jones has been criticized for vetoing pay raises for police officers,[8] illegally using campaign funds to promote the 2005 bond referendum,[9] and was accused of rape.[10] No charges have ever been filed against Jones for the alleged rape or for misusing campaign finances, and Jones has claimed his innocence throughout both controversies.

Jones was defeated 60% to 40% in the 2008 run-off for Georgia's Democratic US Senate campaign.[11]

In 2010, Jones launched an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Congress, representing GA Fourth Congressional District.

In 2014, Jones ran an unsuccessful campaign for Sheriff of DeKalb County, GA. He was defeated by Jeff Mann, a political newcomer, 76% to 24%.[12]

United States Senate campaign[edit]

On March 23, 2007 Jones announced he was running for the United States Senate against incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss. His campaign saw immediate controversies. In campaign literature, Jones sent out a flier in which he appeared in a picture next to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama with the words "Yes We Can." However, Obama himself stated he not only never posed with Jones (the picture had been digitally altered), he did not endorse Jones or any other candidate for the Democratic nomination for Senate. In response, Jones blamed his "liberal opponents backed by the liberal media" for trying to ruin his campaign.[13]

Jones also received criticism for the appearance of the tagline "VOTE Vernon Jones for GA Senate" on tickets, produced using county funds, for the Dekalb County Blues and Jazz Festival. The company who printed the tickets, supporters of Jones' campaign, have taken responsibility for the incident; the company said it was unaware campaign finance laws made such an action illegal.[14]

Another source of criticism leveled against Jones, mostly by chief rival Jim Martin, attacked his more conservative national record. On his campaign website, Jones acknowledged being a conservative Democrat, and in an interview, told the press he voted for George W. Bush.[15] Additionally, Jones donated more than $2,464 in two separate donations to the Georgia Republican Party in 2001.[16][17]

On July 15, 2008, Jones won a plurality of votes in the Democratic primary. However, Georgia requires a majority; if no majority is reached by a candidate, the two top vote-getters must face one another in a runoff. On August 5, 2008 Jones lost the run-off election to Jim Martin by a margin of 20 points. Jones unexpectedly lost to Martin in his home base of Dekalb County.[18] Jones had lost support within the black community before the runoff election, and only captured 2/3 of the black vote in the head to head match up against Martin. The black turnout was also substantially lower than the initial primary election, further hurting Vernon Jones' chances in the runoff.[19]

2008 Georgia U.S. Senate Democratic primary election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Vernon Jones 199,029 40.4
Democratic Jim Martin 169,640 34.4
Democratic Dale Cardwell 79,183 16.1
Democratic Rand Knight 25,670 5.2
Democratic Josh Lanier 19,721 4.0
Turnout 493,243 100.0

Runoff results (with 98% reporting):[20]

2008 Georgia U.S. Senate Democratic primary election runoff
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jim Martin 188,137 59.8 +25.4
Democratic Vernon Jones 126,425 40.2 -0.2
Turnout 314,562

Issues[edit]

Vernon Jones considers himself to be a conservative Democrat supporting limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a strong, active military. Jones has been critical of the National Democratic Party for being too liberal, and says he is more in touch with most Georgians than either major party. Ontheissues.org considers Jones a "Moderate Libertarian Conservative." [21]

Abortion[edit]

Jones is pro choice and supports spending federal money on embryonic stem cell research, and supports new lines of stem cells from new embryos.[22]

Budget and Economy[edit]

Jones supports federal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, saying "it's ironic that the government bailed out Bear Sterns in Wall Street while there are millions of American families losing their homes every day." Furthermore, Jones supports balancing the budgets by cutting spending instead of raising taxes.[23]

Civil Rights[edit]

Jones supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.[24]

Jones was found guilty by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of discriminating against white employees. The decision's first sentence states “In 2001, DeKalb County, Georgia, embarked on a wholesale plan to replace its white county managers with African Americans.”[25]

Death Penalty[edit]

Jones supports the death penalty for federal crimes and supports a states right to execute its prisoners.[26]

Drug Enforcement[edit]

Jones supports mandatory prison sentences for those convicted of selling illegal drugs.[27]

Education[edit]

Jones supports federal funding for pre-K programs as well as federal testing of students (No Child Left Behind). Jones also advocates school vouchers to give parents more choices of which schools to send their children.[28]

Energy and Oil[edit]

Jones supports allowing drilling in federally protected areas, including the Outer Continental Shelf. Jones also supports federal funding for alternative energy sources, and "cap and trade" laws. Without limiting emissions, Jones believes global warming will be devastation to America and the rest of the world.[29]

Environment[edit]

Jones wants to strengthen the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act while increasing minimum fuel efficiency standards on all gasoline and diesel engines. Jones supports creating new nuclear reactors to decrease America's dependence on foreign oil.[30]

Government Reform[edit]

Jones supports removing all limits on donations to candidates and political parties. Jones also supports making Election Day a national holiday and prohibiting ads containing candidates' name paid for by third parties from airing 60 days before a primary and 30 days before a general federal election.[31]

Gun Control[edit]

Jones favors eliminating as many regulations on gun ownership as feasible while allowing concealed weapons permits for law abiding citizens.[32]

Homeland Security[edit]

Jones supports military tribunal for terrorists while opposing domestic wiretapping and a national I.D. card. Jones supports investing in a missile shield defense system and supports preemptive strikes against countries unwilling to help in the global war on terror.[33]

Social Security[edit]

Jones supports completely revamping Social Security to preempt its bankruptcy so long as it doesn't lower the standard of care for seniors.[34]

Tax Reform[edit]

Jones favors repealing the estate tax and favors a constitutional amendment requiring the federal budget being balanced.[35]

Controversies[edit]

Vernon Jones administration was marked with controversies from the beginning. Unlike his predecessors who celebrated taking office with cookies and punch at county headquarrters, Jones threw himself a lavish Inaugural Ball. Shortly after taking office he reversed a key campaign pledge to keep the homestead exemption sales tax in place.[36] Two grand juries found Jones $250,000 per year taxpayer funded security detail excessive. He was the subject of several questionable real estate transactions, one netting him $200,000 profit when he purchased and quickly sold land in anticipation of a county greenspace project he initiated.[37] In December 2004, a woman accused Jones of rape. The woman maintained her story, but she later dropped the charges.[38] In 2004, Commissioner Elaine Boyer filed a police report alleging Jones pushed her into a wall after a contentious meeting. The police report came soon after a Dekalb constituent claimed Jones had harassed and intimidated her.[39]

In the 2008 Creative Loafing article "Vernon goes to church," Jones possible illegal involvement with Bishop Earl Paulk of Decatur, Georgia was detailed. The article described a sexual encounter arranged by Paulk that involved Jones and one of Paulk's former mistresses. The encounter was later brought up in a court case in which Jones refused to answer questions regarding the incident under oath. Jones later bailed the fallen bishop out of a financial crisis by donating county funds through purchasing property from the church.[40]

In 2010, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a finding of discrimination against Vernon Jones in BRYANT v. JONES [1] awarding three white former DeKalb County Parks and Recreation Department managers more than $180,000 plus legal fees costing county taxpayers over $4 million. The three claimed they were victims of a campaign to replace white managerial employees with black ones. A fourth employee who is African American says he suffered mistreatment after he refused to "dig up dirt" on his white coworkers. The three judge panel found that Chief Executive Officer, Vernon Jones, devised a wholesale plan to "replace its white county managers with African Americans" and "monitored its execution".[1] Other employees who were discriminated against settled before trial or chose to move on and not be part of or file suit against Jones. Jones denied he had discriminated against white employees. [41]

A grand jury report on 1/18/2013 itemizes a long list of "incompetence, patronage, fraud and cronyism" which "emerged during the Vernon Jones administration".[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20FCO%2020090731059.xml/BRYANT%20v.%20JONES
  2. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/us/02brfs-AWARDINREVER_BRF.html?_r=1
  3. ^ http://www.peachpundit.com/2014/02/24/vernon-jones-might-become-dekalbs-next-sheriff/
  4. ^ a b http://archive.11alive.com/assetpool/documents/130822060720_dekalb%20grand%20jury%20report.pdf
  5. ^ "HKS Executive Education". Ksgexecprogram.harvard.edu. 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  6. ^ a b c "CEO Biography". Dekalb County, Georgia Government. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  7. ^ a b Meet Vernon
  8. ^ CEO To Veto Public Safety Pay Raises Approved By Divided BOC
  9. ^ DeKalb Ethics Complaint
  10. ^ Vernon Jones
  11. ^ http://vanquishinggeorgia.blogspot.com/2008/08/defeated-vernon-jones-senate-hope.html
  12. ^ http://www.peachpundit.com/2014/07/23/vernon-jones-and-the-politics-of-drinking-clorox/
  13. ^ Jim Tharpe, Aaron Gould Sheinin (2008-07-08). "Obama: Jones Used Image Without Asking". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  14. ^ Jim Galloway (2008-07-22). "Political Note on Tickets Cause Stir". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  15. ^ "More on Vernon Jones and Dale Cardwell". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  16. ^ "FEC Individual Contributions". Federal Election Commission. 2001-01-12. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  17. ^ "FEC Individual Contributions". Federal Election Commission. 2001-01-12. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  18. ^ Rachel Kapochunas (2008-08-05). "Martin Wins Georgia Dem Runoff, Will Challenge Sen. Chambliss". Congressional Quarterly. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  19. ^ What's Next for Vernon Jones?
  20. ^ "8/5/2008 - United States Senator, Chambliss". Sos.georgia.gov. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  21. ^ Vernon Jones on the issues
  22. ^ Vernon Jones on Abortion
  23. ^ Vernon Jones on Budget and Economy
  24. ^ Vernon Jones on Civil Rights
  25. ^ http://www.thecrier.net/article_aa04f610-3220-535f-829a-3d1b577b0f68.html
  26. ^ Vernon Jones on Crime
  27. ^ Vernon Jones on Drugs
  28. ^ Vernon Jones on Education
  29. ^ Vernon Jones on Energy and Oil
  30. ^ Vernon Jones on the Environment
  31. ^ Vernon Jones on Government Reform
  32. ^ Vernon Jones on Gun Control
  33. ^ Vernon Jones on Homeland Security
  34. ^ Vernon Jones on Social Security
  35. ^ Vernon Jones on Tax Reform
  36. ^ http://clatl.com/atlanta/tyrannosaurus-jones/Content?oid=1254943&storyPage=3
  37. ^ http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/dekalb-ceo-jones-defends-arabia-mountain-land-deal/nJWbQ/
  38. ^ "More on Vernon Jones and Dale Cardwell". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  39. ^ "Vernon Jones a Real Liability for Democrats". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  40. ^ John F. Sugg (2008-04-02). "Vernon goes to church". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  41. ^ Shalia Dewan (2010-04-01). "Georgia: Award in Reverse Discrimination Suit". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-14.