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Federal court: “Shocking evidence” of racial bias in DeKalb parks dept.


vernon jonesFormer DeKalb County parks director Becky Kelley presented “shocking evidence” of an overt pattern of racial bias by then-CEO Vernon Jones (right) and others, a federal appellate court ruled last week.

Four current and former parks employees thus will get their day in court, or increased leverage to settle their claims out of court. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday denied the county’s request to dismiss their reverse-discrimination lawsuit.

The employees contend they were demoted or forced out of their jobs as Jones, after taking office in 2001, put more African-Americans in key park and recreation management positions. The plaintiffs include Kelley; current supervisors John Drake and Michael Bryant; and Herbert Lowe, once a black manager in the department who said the county retaliated against him for refusing to help Jones execute a plan of racial discrimination.

DeKalb County argued that Jones and the other defendants were immune from prosecution. The appellate court granted immunity to Richard Stogner, Jones’ executive assistant, but rejected the others’ claims for protection.

Evidence in the case, the court’s ruling said, “established that Jones contrived a broad plan to eliminate white managers and replace them with black managers so as to create a ‘darker administration.’ As a means of implementing this scheme, Jones and his administration would ‘eliminate’ the white managers’ positions rather than simply firing the white managers.

“His discriminatory intent was further made plain by his open expressions of racial animus, calling Bryant a ‘white bastard’ and declaring that he wanted to terminate Kelley because he felt she let ‘whites’ control the parks.”

“Especially farcical,” the court said, was Jone’s contention that he had nothing to do with forcing Kelley out of her job, “considering that he issued the executive order that stripped her of her position as director of the Parks Department.”

Kelley, parks director since 1992, was reassigned to the county’s Greenspace program in  February 2002; her responsibilities were so diminished that she described her job as “coloring maps.” She resigned seven months later.

Remaining defendants in the case are Jones, who left office in December because of term limits; Marilyn Boyd Drew, Kelley’s replacement, whom new CEO Burrell Ellis fired last month; Morris Williams, now chief of staff for the DeKalb County Commission; and Human Resources Director Joe Stone.

Here’s the full text of the appellate court’s ruling is available here.





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5 Responses to “Federal court: “Shocking evidence” of racial bias in DeKalb parks dept.”

  1. SpaceyG says:

    Shocking indeed. The Vernon I know seems quite fond of white ladies… in more, er, social settings at least.

  2. JB says:

    and to think that somehow Vernon Jones thought that he could be elected to the United States Senate. He needs to put away the mushrooms and come back to reality. He got his one shot and he exposed exactly the kind of game he plays. So well in fact that he has tipped his hand for life.

    Running Dekalb County is a rigged game. You have a black majority of voting residents in Dekalb. Play to the majority audience and promise them anything and you will get elected in just about any district in America regardless of your race.

    Hopefully we have someone who is a little more sensitive to every constituent in Mr Ellis. Time will tell. In the meantime don’t expect Vernon Ellis to go away. He’s probably off doing something on the government payroll biding his time till he can run again for anything. He cant stay out of the limelight regardless how much most people wish he would. Personally I hope they find him guilty and bankrupt the bastard.

  3. […] The AJC has the story on the case here, Atlanta Unfiltered, here. […]

  4. lighteredknot says:

    Typical race hatred by the blacks in Dekalb. If you need proof reread the article and realize who elected this guy.

  5. apm says:

    i cant believe you guys live in thr same Dekalb as I. for the first time in my 28 years in dekalb there was 1 dekalb county…not north dekalb and south dekalb. during Vernons tenure the was more parks, sidewalks, libraries, and road repairs in Dekalb than ever before and it ws donr entirly thru an economic recession so if you all dont feel like me I dont know where you are living.