City Council affirms Jones’s volunteer service
West Memphis officials discuss ‘second chance’ hiring plan
Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and like a scene from a family Thanksgiving table, members of the West Memphis City Council took turns affirming Steve Jones and his agreement to stay on and work with Mayor Marco McClendon in a volunteer capacity. The move comes after the former state representative and DHS deputy director was found to be ineligible for hire as the city’s first community and business relations director because of a felony bribery conviction.
McClendon told aldermen he had to rescind his job offer to Jones after learning of an Arkansas law blocking the appointment.
The mayor took a fallback position and announced has Jones agreed to serve in a volunteer capacity.
Ward representatives then went around the conference table expressing platitudes toward the mayor’s new advisor. Council members heard the updated status before taking the floor for last Thursday’s city council meeting.
Aldermen applauded the news that Jones would endeavor to serve the mayor. Both Jones and the McClendon said they did not know of the law preventing convicted felons from employment as public servants prior to the job offer. They claimed it was obscure and unknown to either the city attorney or the legal resources at the Arkansas Municipal League prior to media reports following the press conference announcing Jones’s appointment to the director’s position. Jones said he had received no compensation from the city and that he stepped aside after examining the law.
“The law is clear, and I am convinced that I cannot work for any city as an employee,” said Jones.
“It’s my hope they’d change the law, because it
“Those who know Steve know he brings a wealth of knowledge. He has helped out West Memphis numerous times. He is capable and can help us out on things as an advisor.” — West Memphis City Councilman James Pulliaum on Steve Jones’s volunteer role for the Marco McClendon Administration COUNCIL
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will impact many people that are already working.
I wasn’t aware of the law or I wouldn’t have applied.
The mayor wasn’t aware of the law. Members of our delegation weren’t aware of the law. Nobody was doing anything underhanded. There was a press conference. The mayor brought it before you. I’m saying all this because I’ve known you all most of my public life, and it matters to me about how you all feel about me personally and the positive direction the mayor is taking the city.”
Councilman James Pulliaum expressed how he felt about Jones, and other alderman joined the chorus with sincere expressions of gratitude and hope.
“If you didn’t know (about the prohibition) you didn’t know,” said Pulliaum. “Those who know Steve know he brings a wealth of knowledge. He has helped out West Memphis numerous times. He is capable and can help us out on things as an advisor.”
“I felt the same way,” said Councilman James Holt to Jones. “I am behind you and for anything we can do for you.”
“I know Steve and his family because they have resided next to my sonin- law and daughter,” said Councilman Wayne Croom. “But the law is the law and I do appreciate the fact that it was noticed prior to the continuance of what we were going to do.
If there is a possibility of finding room and finding the true trail to what we are doing, we need to look at a second chance plan. I think the public will accept it if it’s stated properly.”
“There are few people in the world that you meet and deserve an opportunity, and you are one of them,” said Councilman Tracy Catt. “You have given this city your all and I’ll never be able to thank you enough. I respect the ground you walk on. I hope the opportunity to work alongside you comes along soon.”
“Thank you for your service in the past and I hope you will continue,” said Councilman Willis Mondy. “Our community needs you. I appreciate all that you have done. I hope that you can help us get a second chance program going for the city.”
Jones said McClendon was already looking at changing the city’s ability to hire former felons with a second chance job re-entry program for city workers.
“When the mayor talked to me about some of the things, he wanted me to do in the community he said emphatically that he wanted to do a second chance program in the city,” said Jones. “That was before all this happened. That was one of the things I was most excited about. We need that. I know others (second chance programs) around the state. The more you can expand the job pool the more it is needed.
Whatever people have had to do with the justice system to right their wrongs, they should have a chance to put their life back on