Monday, February 14, 2005

Son of Let's Review

I had said in comments to another post that the Tom Jones / Coletta and Company hook-up hadn't been reported in the media. I was wrong. Stephanie Scurlock (whom I've met a couple of times in real life; very nice and a cutie) covered it back in January, with detail.

So let's review:

* Tom Jones, senior administrative assistant of long standing, convicted of misusing County credit cards for personal gain, a felon, and later embroiled in a sweetheart retirement pension enhancement deal, is now working for a company that has numerous business ties with both the City and County in advocacy roles. In other words, a man who abused his office out of an unrepentant sense of entitlement is now helping to shape policies and directions in a for-profit way connected to that same governemnt.

* Susan Adler Thorp, communications director for Shelby County's Mayor, found to have behaved improperly in that same pension deal and forced to resign, is now a "consultant" for WMC/5. Her job is amorphous, but apparently she facilitates introductions and connections between WMC news reporters and various government or political figures. In other words, she will be guiding a news organisation charged with watchdogging the government she abused for personal reasons.

* Bobby Lanier, another long-time administrative assistant forced to resign in the Jones pension deal, has been hired by the man who turned him out. Lanier is now the campaign finance officer of the AC Wharton campaign. In other words, he's not honest enough to work for the Mayor of Shelby County, AC Wharton, but he's honest enough to trust with the money of AC Wharton's political campaign and the murky world of campaign donations.

* The Shelby County Retirement Board, reviewing the Jones pension case, which the Mayor and his official investigation found improper, and which resulted in the surprise resignation of two top, well-regarded, assistants, unanimously decided to ignore the provenance of Jones' pension increase and to treat it as a fait accompli. In other words, Jones gets a pass from his former coworkers yet again, and he basically gets away with it.

Jones did a mere five months in prison. He's presently in a half-way house, which in his case is unnecessary. He now has a cushy, well-connected job working with all the same folks he worked with before. He got his retirement pension bonanza: a doubled pension and excellent medical benefits at public expense. He, in essence, got away with it.

And what the local news and print "journalists" want to focus on is who has how many babies with who. Is there no sense of scale and importance operating here? No outrage on the public behalf for fair, honest and open government? At least Marc Perrusquia of the Commercial Appeal is tracking down the tangled public/private finances of John Ford. That has gotten the attention of the State Senate, though I'll be surprised if they ever act against Ford.

Helping to assure clean government operating for the benefit of the public that pays for it used to be a core mission of news reporting. Not tabloid sleaze. Herenton and Ford get cameras jammed in their faces. Where's Jones' camera ambush?

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