Jones declines job over policy

The Baltimore Sun

Former county commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr. had to turn down a job as liaison for the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association to the county government because of the county's ethics policy.

Jones had been unanimously approved by the association's membership at its monthly meeting Monday night. But after the question was raised of a possible conflict with the county's ethics policy, he talked to Richard Simmons, the county's ethics administrator, and county attorney Kim Millender, to clarify the rules.

"The ethics rules are that you have to be out of the job for two years," Jones said. "Because you worked with the budget, you could have the possibility of influencing decisions. So I cannot work for any agency within Carroll County that has received any county funds for two years."

Jones was a county commissioner from 2002 until December. He lost the November election to Michael Zimmer.

The liaison job is a paid position under the association's administrative budget, which is partially funded by the county commissioners. The one-year contractual job is currently for 30 hours a week, paying $18 an hour, with no benefits, said Richard Green Sr., association president.

The chief function of the liaison is to represent CCVESA at meetings and functions the officers can't attend and to be the voice of CCVESA with the county government, said Mark Bilger, association first vice president.

"The officers and members of CCVESA are very disappointed in hearing that Perry Jones will not be able to accept the liaison position," Bilger said.

"We felt he was the best candidate and looked forward to having him represent us in the Carroll County government, but we fully understand why he was unable to accept the position," Bilger said.

CCVESA will now re-advertise the liaison position, and Bilger urges any interested parties to apply through the organization.

Jones was to have replaced Leon Fleming, who is retiring June 29 after 10 years.

"I was shocked," Fleming said Friday afternoon upon hearing that Jones would not be his replacement. "I thought he would be the one, according to what I was told."

Jones, too, was disappointed after Friday morning's meetings with Simmons and Millender.

"I feel bad about it because I was looking forward to it," Jones said. "If I'd have any inkling there was going to be a problem, I'd have looked into it before I put the association through this."

He also said he was glad the question came up before he took the job and before someone else could bring it up and "embarrass the association and everybody else."

With Jones' background in both a fire company and government, he was the best candidate for the job, Green said Monday night.

Jones has been a member of the Union Bridge Fire Company since late 1972, although not as active during his time in town and county government from 1980 until last December.

He said he re-activated his membership with the fire company in January after losing the race for county commissioner.

During his active years in the fire company, Jones was among the top responders in fire and Emergency Medical Services calls.

Jones said he wants to return to the classroom to get his certification in firefighting and EMS, time permitting.

As a former county commissioner, town councilman and mayor, Jones is familiar with government meetings.

"My dad was on the Town Council and had a massive heart attack and died at an early age," Jones said. "I went in in 1980 just to fill his 11-month spot, and those 11 months turned out to be almost half my life."

Jones served on the Union Bridge Town Council for 11 years before being elected mayor, a position he held for 11 and a half years. He was elected as a county commissioner in 2002.

Bilger said CCVESA has revamped the liaison job to focus more on the government relationship with the county.

Over the years, Fleming had taken on other duties as they came up, such as scheduling training classes, but now those things are being given to others, he said.

"We've rewritten the job description so it's more going to the county and making sure we have a voice in the county government," Bilger said.

Fire and EMS training classes will now be handled by Bill Luebberman, ground manager at the fire training center, Bilger said.

"We're the fire service, and we need somebody who knows the government, and Perry knows the government, and that's what we need to form a more solid partnership with the county," Green said Monday.

Green was unavailable for comment Friday on the county's decision.

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