Accused, Tried, and Convicted

I don’t know what hacked me off more today, the fact that I was blind sighted because someone that I consider a friend, whose campaign I supported, and with whom I spent countless hours dishing about politics, love, and high school theatre didn’t tell me some heavy shit was going down in his life? Or the fact that so many people in the City of Wylie would jump to such opportunist and racist judgment calls. Today I am ashamed of my city.

Friday, an article was published in the Dallas Morning News by Rudolph Bush, Dallas employee caught steering contracts to son wasn’t fired after some on City Council rallied to his defense  I have to admit, when I saw the title, the very first thing I did was say someone needed to look into this. It certainly sounds damning. The name of this article says it all….or does it?

Upon further readings, the article was written with such a slant toward alleged misdeeds and perceived ill-gotten goods of our Wylie Councilman Bennie Jones, that the casual reader would draw the same snap conclusion I did.  When the texts, messages, and calls ensued from Wylie folk, I half expected Wylieites to be calling for his lynching.  I mean, isn’t that what they did to the black folk back in the day?

The title is a tad misleading. First of all, the writer uses the words ‘steering’ and ‘funneling’ yet when you read further down in the article it states, “Jones said he didn’t know it was wrong to recommend his son’s company for city work.”  For me the fundamental word here is ‘recommend’.  There is a huge difference in connotation between steering/funneling and recommending and every good wordsmith knows this. 

Something else that stands out in the article is the statement Jones made about a grey area. “Apparently it was a gray area with me,” Jones said. “Now that I do know that, I guess there were consequences.”  The article takes this statement out of context, as Jones was stating the grey area had to do with whether recommending his son’s company was an ethical issue in the City or not and evidently he found out the hard way that it was.  He also found out the hard way that there were consequences and believe me, he is feeling the brunt of them.  Sadly, his salary was printed in the paper which I’m sure caused many of his Wylie detractors to gloat because his salary dropped from respectable to a serious ouch level. To add further insult to injury by asking for his resignation is ludicrous. Why should he resign from Wylie City Council when Nathan Scott didn’t back out of his campaign when the wife beating episode came to light, and Todd Wintters didn’t resign when it was pointed out that his council seat represents a conflict of interest with his WEDC board seat. Yet the outcry I have heard from people has been vehement.  One must ask themselves why.

So too, there is also a huge difference between being ‘awarded City contracts’ and picking up the odd job.  I believe Rudolph Bush should print a retraction regarding his assertion that actual contracts were awarded. According to Jones, there were no contracts. In fact, the amount of money Jones’ son made on jobs between 2008 and 2013 equals $4422 per year or $368.50 per month or $85.03 per week.  Hardly enough to live on, let alone buy smokes on if you were a pack a day kind of guy. Not so glitzy now after applying the math is it?

The issue I take with the misleading crafting of this article is that it makes Bennie Jones look like there is all manner of deceptive activity going on between his boss, members of the council, and the investigator.   What readers should really walk away with is that Jones recommended his son’s company, and his son’s company was approved by someone.  When it was brought to HRs attention that it was unethical for him to make such a recommendation, he was investigated and punished. Those are the facts. Smearing him with others who took bribes, which is an illegal activity, and suggesting his recommendation requires firing like the bribe takers is a gross exaggeration of policy.

Whether Bennie Jones recommended someone or not, his employer still had to approve it.  Therein lies one of the issues I have with Bennie’s discipline. Why did he take the fall alone? The article states that his employers knew the company he recommended was his son’s.  In fact, there was no steering; there was nothing sly taking place.  The City could use his son; or not. The choice was up to someone else and the mere fact that someone signed off on using Jones’ son’s company and got them added to the Approved Vendor list should have removed at least a portion of the discipline burden from Jones. Frankly, when applying the City of Dallas code of conduct, his superiors should take some heat for approving that vendor because it is clear from the article that Jones let everyone know up front that it was his son’s company.  There was nothing sinister or secretive taking place.

In the article, it goes on to say, “his supervisors in the city’s troubled Communications and Information Services Department were aware that his son was doing the work.” To my point, the writer states, “No one else was disciplined in connection with the case.” Was Bennie out of line for suggesting his son’s company?  In my opinion, yes he was. I will be the first to tell him he should have known better.  Nearly every City has some sort of policy on this and so do many private sector employers.  Jones was wrong and he paid dearly for that.  He was demoted and had his pay cut by nearly $30K a year. A tad overkill in my opinion, but hey, someone had to be made an example of and it sure wasn’t going to be his superiors, though I’m certain he would disagree with my take on this.

This article goes on to name tag various City employees and Council members and in my opinion it’s all hyperbole. The author of this article is looking for a story and it is currently vogue to hate on the big bad cities. It’s not hard to gain tacit support from haters with the distasteful dealings and resultant bankruptcy of the City of Detroit recently in the news.

Secondarily, reference was made over again by Bush that Jones’ pals in the City came to his aid. If your job consisted of videotaping the Council meetings and other events, wouldn’t you have some sort of relationship with the Council members? Rudolph Bush is looking for a story where none exists. Shame too, because he conjured up quite a tale. He posts all manner of inference about how councilmembers came out to get Jones’ back.  In the article, Caraway stated, “The cavalry came over the hill.” Nothing like trying to make the friendships he has earned over the years look a tad untoward.  The fact is, the City of Dallas is run just like a corporation with respect to HR related issues and Jones’ superiors were the ones who would deal with such an issue.  Why Councilmembers were name-dropped is irrelevant, as is any relationship Jones might have with them. They don’t hire and fire employees and the article states that clearly, “The city charter is clear that council members may not “in any manner interfere” with employees who report to the city manager.”

The cast of characters is irrelevant to this story. It took reading it several times with a discerning eye to pick out all of the inconsistencies and conflation of facts. So some council members were informed of the issue, big deal.  They were not part of the discipline, rather that was handled by Jones’ boss and Human Resources. He was disciplined. Case closed, or so we thought. That was until an opportunistic reporter needed to find a story to report on.  He is, after all, a staff reporter with an office at City Hall.  He needs to justify his job.

Oh I can just see it now, all those Bennie Jones haters in Wylie that have flames shooting out their posteriers because they really hoped they had him.  They really hoped they could rid themselves of that Jones person.  I’m sure Mayor squirmed incessantly in his underpants and giggled with delight all day when he was contacted for a statement by none other than Chad Engbrock from the Wylie News. I find it sick just how many people can’t wait to see Mr. Jones fail, but for as many of those out there who dislike him, there are many who support him.  Let us not forget he won two elections to Wylie City Council by fairly healthy margins.

If I thought Jones did something sinister, I would state it here. The fact is, this article was written in such a way that the reader is left scratching their head. If you apply some logic to the article, rather than hatred for the man, you could see just what I have objectively pointed out here. Why then am I so upset about this issue?  You could say I am upset with it because of how it looks in Wylie.

The Wylie News is not exactly a bastion of hard hitting or investigative reporting, yet they endeavor to report on this private matter. The Wylie News would rather publish stories on WASA’s Elvis Impersonator Fundraising Show which was a total bust. Rather they would like to write stories on the cutesy little girl that came up with pins or some such made out of coke bottle caps. Wylie news refused to publish an article about former white looking Hispanic Mayor John Mondy and the plea he wrote on City of Wylie official letterhead asking for leniency in the sentencing phase of a convicted child sex-offender, thus opening up the City of Wylie for some serious litigation should the guy kiddie twiddle again.  The Wylie News barely covered the story on white WISD employee Merrill Young buying his degree from a degree mill and passing himself off as a teacher.  In fact, they barely covered the story on the white Officer fired for the sex photos found by someone hacking his computer, where his gun and badge were used as a little foreplay accoutrement.

Indeed, the same Wylie news that absolutely refused to write a story about little, chubby, cutesy-tootsy, white-boy Councilman Nathan Scott and his evictions, and wife beating days.  Yes indeedy the Wylie News refused to publish an article on how Nathan Scott beat his wife and was arrested for it and had to serve probation and take anger management classes because it was a ‘personal matter’.  Our glib mayor is hoping to keep his cushy job in Wylie so he has to be salivating over a controversy of the very person who is rumored to run against him next year.  And the Wylie News is happy to report on it, because we all know they serve at the behest of Mayor Eric Hogue.  Evidently the personal matter of Bennie Jones and his employer doesn’t get the same luxury or sweeping that the wife beating of Nathan Scott did. Oh no, big, black dude, Bennie Jones gets an article published about him. Could it be; dare I say it? Could it be because he is BLACK!?!?  And people the city over wonder where the phrase White Wylie came from.

More than my friend’s lack of good judgment which was punished with a demotion and huge pay cut, I am downright curmudgeony that the Wylie News dares publish this story because it makes their article appear to be about the color of Jones’ skin. Appearances are everything sometimes and it appears we are no better than those black folk rioting over the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman hearing. Shame on us.

My take on this whole thing? I’m annoyed that my friend didn’t feel he could talk to me about it all.  I am more annoyed that he was stupid enough to recommend his son’s business, because if anyone should know better about the Code of Conduct it would be him.  For the last two years I have been hitting him over the head along with other Wylie City Council members to get one passed here in Wylie.  Yet despite all that, what has me seeing red more than anything else is the fact that the Wylie News publishes an article on this yet they refused to write about an arrested wife beater. You know you’re in Wylie when…