Without a doubt, Greg Aymond and Von Jennings didn’t see this coming.
(Scroll to the 29 minute mark)
Alexandria City Councilman Jerry Jones has only been in office for two months, and already, he is the target of an absurd and scurrilous ethics complaint, a complaint that bears the imprimatur of local attorney and blogger, Greg Aymond.
From almost the moment Mr. Jones was sworn in, Mr. Aymond has publicly criticized and ridiculed him, labeling him an “Uncle Tom,” doctoring photographs of him to make it appear as if he is a slave and, bizarrely, a rabbi (this was meant as an insult), and publishing a series of patently untrue and hateful allegations about him.
As we learned recently, Mr. Aymond’s latest tactic against Councilman Jones: Filing an ethics complaint, alleging, among other things, that he had a charge account at Council President Harry Silver’s men’s clothing store and implying that Jones exchanged his vote for Councilman Silver’s Presidency, neither of which is true. At the heart of the complaint is the allegation that Councilman Jones was not an actual Councilman until his paperwork was processed by the Louisiana Secretary of State, an allegation that is laughable on its face. Jerry Jones, like every other elected or appointed public official in Louisiana, became a duly-recognized official the moment he was sworn in by a judge. At that moment, he became invested with the rights, responsibilities, and powers inherent to his office. Greg Aymond’s complaint, which was filed on behalf of perennial Council meeting gadflies Gayle Underwood and Jules Green, is nothing more than a political farce.
It’s relatively easy to connect the dots here. Jerry Jones was appointed over the objections of three Councilpersons, who had supported Von Jennings for the position. Ms. Jennings, who launched a spectacularly unsuccessful campaign for Alexandria Mayor in 2010 and who, before that, was fired from the City Administration, immediately made clear her intention to challenge Mr. Jones in the November elections. As I can personally attest, Ms. Jennings, as a candidate for Mayor, deployed an almost comically divisive and hate-mongering campaign-by-proxy, and it backfired. The Town Talk fills in the rest of the blanks (bold mine):
Jules Green, a District 4 resident, and Gayle Underwood, who lives in District 5, filed the complaint, Jones said. The duo is represented by Alexandria attorney and blogger Greg Aymond, who has been a vocal supporter of Von Jennings, a candidate against Jones in the upcoming District 3 election.
Aymond has referred to Jones as an “Uncle Tom” on his blog.
Jones was appointed that day to replace Jonathan Goins, who resigned on Dec. 2. Mayor Jacques Roy cast the deciding vote after the council was split with three votes in favor of Jones and three votes supporting Jennings, who had the endorsement of many members of the district’s three neighborhood groups.
I take exception with only one thing, the use of the word “endorsement.” Ms. Jennings claimed that she had the “endorsement” of “members” of “neighborhood groups,” but without question, the same could be said about Mr. Jones, who had just as many people speak in favor of his candidacy and just as many votes as Ms. Jennings had. But setting that aside, it should be abundantly clear what is going on. Mr. Jones did not do anything illegal, unethical, or improper, but no doubt, that is not the point; this is about Mr. Jones’s political opponents attempting to foster the implication of impropriety, the hushed rumors of him being “accused” of ethics violations.
But there’s only one problem with this strategy: These people do not know Jerry Jones.
As he forcefully demonstrated today, Councilman Jones may be new to the City Council, but he fully appreciates the ways in which a small group of people have, over the years, colluded with one another in an attempt to consolidate power and personally destroy anyone who poses a threat. And although he may be young and still catching his bearings, Councilman Jones did something today that was bold and refreshing: He exposed the collusion between Greg Aymond– the former member of the Ku Klux Klan and racial provocateur, the man who referred to him as an “Uncle Tom,” the man who considers the noose as a symbol of the “freedom of expression” and, for a long while, brandished it on his website, the man who published a missive about African-American leaders in Alexandria titled “N**** Street Thugs,” the man who said “blacks” are “lacking in ethics”– and a small but vocal group of African-Americans who seek positions of leadership and power.
It’s the nasty underbelly of local politics, an unholy alliance, and as Councilman Jones deftly pointed out, it’s being undertaken by people who will, at one moment, extol the virtues of Martin Luther King, Jr. and denounce the terrible legacy of racism, and yet, at the next moment, seek the service, opinion, and confidence of a man who has spent the last thirty years of his life trafficking in the politics of racial divisiveness. This is not ironic; that is too nice of a word. This is cynical. This is about fueling those flames, re-litigating those battles, re-drawing those lines.
And it won’t work. Jerry Jones represents both the present and the future of Alexandria when he says (bold mine), “There is no big race issue that’s about to happen in the middle of MacArthur Drive with folks attacking each other. This is not the 1960s. This is 2012. We go to school together. This man (Aymond) may have not wanted us to go to school together, but thank God, someone had the sense to let us go to school together.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Councilman Jones said. And thank God for that.