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Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Commissioner angry about recusal request

December 15, 2005

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Douglas County Commissioner Charles Jones is calling for Commissioner Jere McElhaney to avoid conducting county business with law enforcement and court offices.

Jones, the commission chairman, said McElhaney should recuse himself from dealing with offices of the Douglas County sheriff, district attorney and the courts while a domestic battery allegation against him is pending, except as appropriate in an emergency. Jones issued a written statement at the end of Wednesday night's commission meeting.

Jones said after the meeting that his intentions with the statement were relayed to McElhaney through County Administrator Craig Weinaug.

McElhaney, who wasn't at the meeting because of a last-minute family matter, was obviously angered by the statement when it was read to him over the phone by a Journal-World reporter. He said he did not know about the statement, which he described as politically motivated, and felt blindsided by it. He said he had no intention of recusing himself from any county business.

McElhaney and his wife were arrested during the weekend by Douglas County Sheriff's deputies who were called to investigate a domestic disturbance at their residence. Jere McElhaney himself made the call. Both were released from jail several hours later, and no charges have been filed. But the allegations are being reviewed by the Jefferson County Attorney's Office. Jefferson County will handle the matter because it involves a Douglas County official.

Jones' statement also says that the commission has an obligation to operate at the highest ethical and legal standards. He said he had asked the county counselor and administrator to make sure the county was handling the McElhaney matter in accordance with such standards.

McElhaney said Jones was out for political blood.

"Charles Jones knows I've been a fair and good commissioner," McElhaney said.

He also said he had received hundreds of messages and phone calls from people showing support for him and his family. He called the incident with his wife regrettable and said they were working through it. He said he expects to be held to a "10 times" higher level of accountability because he's a public official.

"I've attended the university of life and he's attended the University of Harvard, and there's a big, big difference," McElhaney said, referring to Jones.

After Wednesday night's meeting, Commissioner Bob Johnson called the McElhaney matter unfortunate, adding that he hoped it would be resolved satisfactorily for McElhaney and his family.

Jones said he had a "sense of sadness" over the incident.

Comments

Pilgrim 8 years, 4 months ago

Richard: "The LJW editor should have held the story until at least Friday. Nothing wrong with doing the story as it has been reported just printed a bit too soon. The editor should have given County Administrator Craig Weinaug ample time to deliver the message."

There you go. Blame the messenger. Don't address the fact that Jones didn't have the balls to approach McElhaney personally and privately. And if Jones didn't want the LJW to report on the story before Friday, maybe he shouldn't have made a copy of his statement available to them.

No, Richard, Jones is the idiot in this case, and there's nothing you can say to change that.

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

The LJW editor should have held the story until at least Friday. Nothing wrong with doing the story as it has been reported just printed a bit too soon. The editor should have given County Administrator Craig Weinaug ample time to deliver the message.

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TJ_in_Lawrence 8 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. Mr. Jones has been on opposite sides with Mr. McElhaney many many times. This was just a low class way to stab him in the back and try and gain political ground. Mr. Jones you should recuse yourself from all further actions of the County Commission because you are guilty of pretending to be a compassionate human being.

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blue73harley 8 years, 4 months ago

I certainly don't agree with many of McElhaney's decisions (including banning of circuses and giving us mailbox post specifications!). And I ain't saying that he shouldn't recuse himself. I am saying that what Jones did was cowardly and chickensh!t.

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leftwingfarmboy 8 years, 4 months ago

It is beyond me how anybody can defend Jere. He is pro development of every last green space in our county. I hope his family resolves its problems, but in the end the ONLY ethical thing he could do is recuse himself...

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offtotheright 8 years, 4 months ago

Jefferson County is handling this? Nothing will become of it....I'd bet on it!

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monkeywrench1969 8 years, 4 months ago

Additionally, the dropping of charges does not mean they won't be refiled. I would say since their was a conflict they had to make such a move because of the conflict of interest.

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monkeywrench1969 8 years, 4 months ago

Bozo and I rarely agree but you are right on. It is logical for a person who was arrested by and soon to be processed through agencies he has power and control over (including budgets, finance and policy) to recuse themselves until the situation is resolved.

Jones was using class by making a public comment which was needed for the record. A private phone call cannot be part of an official record. What you are missing is the notification was on the phone from the record. To me that means if you read the statement as it was recorded officially there is no question of what was said or misstatement by the third party who could screw it up.

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Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

He's a county commissioner, supposedly non-partisan. So, tell me, just what are his political stances that I supposedly don't like?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

Sounds to me like Jere is the one making political hay over having his feelings hurt by being asked to do the right thing. And I suspect all those attacking Jones are doing so primarily because they don't like his political stances.

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dviper 8 years, 4 months ago

Commissioner Charles Jones, will you please demonstrate some class, like your fellow commissioner Mr. Bob Johnson. If you felt the need to say something publicly, you could have simply stated something similar to Mr. Johnson's comments.

By the way, you just lost my vote.

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badger 8 years, 4 months ago

Just_another_bozo said:

"Or how about a written communication passed through the county employee whose job it is to facilitate such things?"

Is that actually what he did?

"Jones issued a written statement at the end of Wednesday night's commission meeting.

Jones said after the meeting that his intentions with the statement were relayed to McElhaney through County Administrator Craig Weinaug."

That doesn't sound like relaying a written communication through appropriate channels.

Following:

"McElhaney, who wasn't at the meeting because of a last-minute family matter, was obviously angered by the statement when it was read to him over the phone by a Journal-World reporter. He said he did not know about the statement, which he described as politically motivated, and felt blindsided by it."

So, yeah, honestly, I'd feel a lot better if he had conveyed his concerns in a written statement to the employee whose job it is to facilitate such matters. As it is, even had McElhaney been at the meeting, simply dropping a politically charged statement like that on him without warning is unprofessional and speaks of a poor understanding of how to resolve a delicate situation without causing further uproar.

If Jones' intent was simply to get McElhaney to recuse himself, the ideal thing would have been a direct communication (if a meeting or phone call would have violated the open meetings rule, then there's that option of using the 'county employee whose job it is to facilitate such things') to that effect. If his intent was to stir the pot and cause political issues with McElhaney, then an announcement at the end of a meeting and a public statement to the papers would be the ideal.

I don't know that Jones can force him to recuse himself, so the public demand concept really smacks of political mudslinging instead of actually working to make sure the people of the county are best served.

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quantum 8 years, 4 months ago

Doesn't the open meeting law prohibit county commissioners from meeting in private to discuss county matters?

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Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

Common courtesy and professionalism would have been expected of Jones as a commissioner. He should have called McElheney and told him of his concerns, much like the courtesy that a certain professor's collegeagues showed him recently.

I voted for Jones. The way he handled this situation demonstrates that he is more petty politician than good citizen. Now he has permanently lost my support.

Shame on you, Commissioner Jones.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

What was unprofessional about asking a sitting commissioner to avoid a potential conflict of interest?

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blue73harley 8 years, 4 months ago

If you consider unprofessional back-stabbing petty, I guess you are right.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

Or how about a written communication passed through the county employee whose job it is to facilitate such things?

Petty complaints about nothing.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

You're right. After Jere skipped the meeting, he should have driven out to Jere's house to discuss the matter with him.

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badger 8 years, 4 months ago

"McElhaney and his wife were arrested during the weekend by Douglas County Sheriff's deputies who were called to investigate a domestic disturbance at their residence. Jere McElhaney himself made the call. Both were released from jail several hours later, and no charges have been filed. But the allegations are being reviewed by the Jefferson County Attorney's Office. "

You know, there's still nothing here that specified that it's him they're reviewing allegations regarding. He's called 'the incident' with his wife 'regrettable'. He made the call to the police. Again, no specifics.

Domestic cases don't only go one way, and it's interesting to watch the assumptions fly that it's obviously a case of him beating his wife. I'm not saying he did or didn't abuse anyone. I'm just saying that both of them were arrested, and no charges have been filed almost a week later. There is more to this than 'man hits wife and is a jerk for doing it.'

I don't so much favor people being smeared by one's professional associates in the press for the investigations of the allegations of personal impropriety, without charges filed, an admission of wrongdoing, or even an accusation of it from someone actually connected to the situation.

And I do agree that Jones lacks a certain degree of what we like to call 'testicular fortitude' for pulling it off like he did.

Bleah.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

Jones didn't ask for Jere's resignation-- he just asked that he recuse himself from dealings with the county officials that he also needs to deal with on this domestic matter, and only till it is resolved. Seems entirely logical to me. But logic has never been Jere's strong suit.

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GBridges 8 years, 4 months ago

Some of you need to read the article a little more carefully. Who made the call to the police? Jere did. What man who is abusing his wife is going to call the police? Hello people! Jones needs to attend the University of Life and get one. Doesn't he have "county" things that need his attention? Say a prayer for all involved, kids and officials.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

Do you suppose that Jere's skipping the meeting had anything to do with the way Jones passed the communication to Jere? Or do you suppose the Jones just didn't want to be subjected to Jere's tantrum when he heard about Jones's fairly reasonable request?

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blue73harley 8 years, 4 months ago

neo - I'm with you...that move by Jones...no balls.

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Jere's political career should be less important than family. He could always come back to politics but losing a family is far more painful I would think.

If they were in fact being very physical toward each other it is time to put politics aside and devote more time to home. Their very sweet and lovely children must be very unhappy.

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neopolss 8 years, 4 months ago

"Jones said after the meeting that his intentions with the statement were relayed to McElhaney through County Administrator Craig Weinaug."

pussy.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

It does make you wonder what valuable lesson(s) Jere learned that Jones failed to learn, especially given the domestic problems that Jere has, and Jones apparently doesn't. Or is this just a continuing ed homework assignment for Jere called Domestic Disturbance 101?

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kitkat 8 years, 4 months ago

Jones is correct here. Jere should step aside for a bit. It is questionable if he is fit to hold office due to the present circumstances. Jere's inability to see this shows that perhaps he see's his position on the County Commission as more of a status than a duty.

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Steve Jacob 8 years, 4 months ago

"I've attended the university of life and he's attended the University of Harvard, and there's a big, big difference," McElhaney said, referring to Jones.

Never is a million years did I think an elected offical would say that :)

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