If there was any doubt that Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones is a legend in his own mind, that doubt was erased at last night’s County Commission meeting.
Jones has essentially been on a part-time schedule since announcing that he has an undisclosed illness for which he has begun intensive treatment. From his attitude last night, you could tell Jones thought yesterday’s meeting was Welcome Back, King Harry! Day at the Government Center. He thanked people who had called him, sent him cards and wrote emails. In a normal business setting, that would have been the extent of the thank-you’s, and the commissioners could have gotten on with their jobs. Instead, everyone had to listen to King Harry’s Words of Wisdom, as he recounted how, although he is seriously ill, he’s “been accessible every day.” It was unclear whether this was supposed to make Jones a martyr, a hero, or both.
Jones continued, sounding gratingly smug, to tell the assembled multitude — at an official government meeting — that his current medical ordeal has allowed him to experience "significant growth personally and significant spiritual growth." That spiritual growth could be in some doubt, as it normally implies a lessening of ego, rather than assuming the mantle of Wise Man. Nonetheless, Jones took it upon himself to advise the commissioners that they needed to get along better and work for the county rather than indulge their personal feuds.
That’s good advice, of course, and much deserved, as the Harold Cogdell-Vilma Leake pissing contest shows no signs of abating. Whether, however, that kind of advice is appropriate coming from the person whose job is to put the advisees’ policies into action (spiritual growth notwithstanding) was not discussed at last night’s meeting. And it no doubt never will be, as this group of commissioners has long made it clear that King Harry gets to do whatever he wants.