At long last, King Harry has been dethroned



After leading the charge to deep-six County Manager Harry Jones, County Commission Chairwoman Pat Cotham got a few choice words from former commission Chairman Parks Helms.

The longtime Charlotte politician accused Cotham of taking orders from Commissioner Vilma Leake, a pairing he called "an unholy alliance." Hmm, I guess Helms, who spent a lot of his career in county government, didn't like it when Cotham rejected his recent advice about how to best proceed with Jones.

"I don't believe the county will be able to find a better manager at this point in time," Helms said, apparently anticipating the assassinations or suicides of nearly every other county manager in the nation.


The fact is, the list of people who wanted Harry Jones canned as Mecklenburg County manager just kept getting longer and longer. Finally Tuesday night, as the county's humongous screw-up of its property revaluations continued to dog the county commission, Jones' bosses decided the list had gotten way too long and, on a 6-2 vote, fired him. Whoever coined the banal phrase "Better late than never" seems like a genius today.

During the 13 years the county was treated to King Harry's mismanagement and bluster, Jones tended to tick off one small group of taxpayers at a time: Department of Social Services supporters who wanted the department to actually work the way it's supposed to, rather than continue its traditional role of scandal-factory; library supporters who bristled and bitched when Jones blindsided the library with cuts that forced our national award-winning system to reduce services; environmentalists who seethed at his refusal to acknowledge problems with massive sewage spills; and school supporters who saw Jones double down on his last-minute library funds trick by giving CMS the same treatment, which sent the school system into a frantic, costly 11th-hour scramble to make cuts.

Then there were citizens who expect a reasonable degree of transparency in government operations. They were routinely shocked (it at least seemed routine) by revelations of behind-the-scenes financial finagling, nepotism, secret spending, and attempts to have critics fired from their jobs.

Oh, and don't forget the county employees themselves, many of whom fumed in 2010 when Jones took at a $38,000 bonus after cutting county jobs and denying raises for everyone else who works there.

I could go on a while longer, but to get to the point, the king's final mistake was to anger a multitude of county taxpayers by opposing a review of 2011's massive, botched property revaluations; it didn't help, either, that Jones continued to defend the revals even after it became obvious that a slew of taxpayers had been royally screwed.

Jones' supporters are also criticizing Cotham for not allowing the former king a final say during last night's commission meeting. Their objections would be laughable if not for Jones' own reputation for arrogance. Did someone say something about things coming around?

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