Carlton Jones is a Bully
The first time I met Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones it was February 23, 2014 at a meet and greet organized by Ruben Macareno, former chair of the Tulare County Democratic Central Committee. The event was to introduce the newly appointed Tulare County Superior Court Judge Michael Sheltzer and bring together the Democrats running for the 26th State Assembly District.
Mr. Jones was one of them.
I specifically went to the event to catch up with Mr. Jones because he was the only candidate who wouldn’t return Valley Voice’s phone calls, and we wanted an interview.
Mr. Jones was flanked by two elegant women, Abigail Solis, his campaign manager, and Cindi Lujano his girlfriend, but you couldn’t tell who was who. One of the women said that Mr. Jones hadn’t returned the Voice’s calls because we reported a negative story about him.
The story concerned Derek Thomas, also a candidate for the Assembly, who had filed charges against Mr. Jones because he physically assaulted him at College of the Sequoias.
Mr. Jones looked at me with a furrowed brow, and an expression of disbelief, because we printed something like that in the paper.
I was left pretty much speechless.
Why would Mr. Jones think that a Tulare City Council member and candidate for the assembly could physically assault someone and it wouldn’t get into the paper?
He didn’t get it and I remember thinking that night, where there is smoke there is fire.
The Valley Voice has always gotten intermittent complaints about Mr. Jones, but those complaints spiked when he became mayor, and especially after the Voice’s editor wrote about Mr. Jones’ threatening behavior towards Alex Gutierrez.
One recent caller, who did not want to leave his name, described a similar altercation Mr. Jones had with the manager of the Tulare Outlet Mall, Lee Brehm.
So I called Mr. Brehm.
Mr. Brehm said that Mr. Jones placed a trailer on a piece of commercial property next to the mall without permission. The trailer was for an event Mr. Jones was helping put on for one of his high school aged kids.
The Tulare Outlet Mall staff told Mr. Jones to remove the trailer but he said he had permission.
“Besides that, I am the mayor,” he said.
Mr. Brehm called Mr. Jones to ask why he lied to his staff. Mr. Jones then allegedly proceeded to yell at him with a string of obscenities to which Mr. Brehm was not accustomed.
“I have never been talked to with so much vulgar language by a business man in my life,” said Mr. Brehm.
Brehm says Mr. Jones finished their conversation by saying, “If you think you are so tough, then why don’t you come down here in person.”
Then Mr. Jones hung up.
Mr. Brehm didn’t appreciate the way the conversation ended so he called Mr. Jones back. He told Mr. Jones that he does not like the vulgar language nor being hung up on.
I asked, “What did he say?”
“He ignored it,” said Mr. Brehm.
Mr. Jones’ comment “besides, I am the mayor” made me think of David Frost’s interview with President Richard Nixon when he said, “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
I guess that applies to Mr. Jones also.
Mr. Jones’ anger issues, I thought, must have rolled over into the legal realm. So I toddled off to the Tulare County Court House to see if I could find any suits filed against him. Find suits I did – seven of them.
Four suits seemed to be to bill collectors, one was a traffic case, and two were intertwined; a divorce case and a criminal felony spousal abuse case.
Former Tulare County District Attorney Phil Cline pressed charges against Mr. Jones for felony spousal abuse in 2009. In Mr. Cline’s legal brief he refers to Mr. Jones’ wife as T.C. and his daughter as Ivory.
The brief stated, “the defendant (Mr. Jones) then kicked T.C. and pulled both T.C. and Ivory back into the bedroom. The defendant locked the door and grabbed T. C. by the neck. T. C. ends up on the bed and the defendant tries to strangle her.”
According to Mr. Jones’ daughter’s interview with the police, “Ivory cried and begged her father to stop. Ivory stated that she saw her father choke her mother, mount her and continue to strangle her, and kick her mother in the stomach.”
In the couple’s divorce papers the wife says, “then my daughter looked over at me and mouthed she was scared. I mouthed back for her to pray.”
The DA continued, “T. C. was unable to breathe and the Defendant was telling her, ‘This is it for you. Say bye-bye.’”
According to the court records Mr. Jones’ wife escaped and “ran east on her street as she feared for her life.” Mr. Jones’ daughter was also able to escape to a friend’s house and call 911. Mr. Jones was arrested and an emergency protection order granted to his wife.
Later that year Mr. Jones was acquitted of all charges.
Another suit that is less traumatic, but still intriguing, was a small claims case brought against Mr. Jones in 2012. According to court records, a respected business woman in Tulare loaned Mr. Jones almost $5,000 in 2010 to buy six plane tickets for his family.
A copy submitted of a check showed that Mr. Jones attempted to make a $500 payment towards the loan, but his check bounced. Then he allegedy stole her credit card number and paid his cell phone bill. According to the court records she got those charges on her card reversed.
Two years after the loan, the business woman filed a small claims case against him to collect her money. The judge ordered Mr. Jones to pay the plaintiff $4,896.80.
But Mr. Jones still refused to pay. The plaintiff had to go back to court and garnish his wages.
Mr. Jones ended up paying a total of $5,896.71 through monthly payments forcibly taken out of his pay check. The case did not close until April of 2014.
But the interesting part of this suit was the correspondence between the plaintiff and Mr. Jones submitted as proof she attempted to collect on the loan before she filed the small claims case.
In a polite email she says, “Any chance you can make some kind of cash or money order payment to me for the July loan?”
Mr. Jones responded the next day: “The bad about it is that you told me I was one of the few clients you would do. You have issues. LoveGod”
People who have called the Valley Voice over the years do not want to leave their names, many of his victims won’t file charges, and I did not want to publish the names involved in these suits even though it is public record.
Why? Because they all fear for their physical safety.
These good people don’t fear for their safety from some mystery man working behind the scenes. This is their mayor who has been behaving like this out in the open for over a decade.
Those who have been physically and verbally abused by Mr. Jones say it is a gross abuse of political power and his physical stature. In addition to that, my encounter with Mr. Jones revealed a complete disconnect with the truth. He chastises people who speak it, and won’t respond to publications who print it.
But I can’t say the same isn’t true for Tulare residents’ relationship with the truth.
These court cases and violent outbursts, save one, all happened years before he was re-elected to the Tulare City Council in 2014, and before the City Council appointed him mayor.
Imagine if you will, just for a minute, Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler choking his wife or telling a local business woman she “would do” him.”
It kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
At the end of the DA’s spousal abuse case it states, “The defendant explained to T.C. ‘the madness is over. I’m not going to hurt you.’”
Is it over?
Wes Side Story
I only had one date in my four years of high school.
Colleen, my best friend, wanted to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance and make it a double date. She already had someone to go with and we had to brainstorm over who I could ask. There was a boy in my Biology class who had kind of weird hair but he was tall. He also talked to me a few times which made him prospect #1.
I still remember the two of us standing in front of the door of our Biology class and my trying to get the words to leave my mouth. Even though I felt like I was going to faint, I finally mumbled something about Sadie Hawkins.
He said, “yes.”
Who was my date?
Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley.
Now while Mr. Hensley is obviously a complete loser because he never asked me on a second date, he did seem honest–like one of those bores who follow the rules and does everything by the book.
So when I heard that Tulare City Manager Joe Carlini put Mr. Hensley on administrative leave, I smelled a rat.
In a cryptically written press release by his lawyer, Michael Lampe, it was confirmed that Mr. Hensley’s alleged offense was not criminal.
That means Mr. Hensley didn’t beat his wife or mistress, drive drunk, embezzle funds or sell drugs. (I told you – boring.)
That only leaves an administration offense which could include being mean to an employee, incompetence, harassment, or disrespectful language, i.e. typical male behavior.
So the brain trust running Tulare decided to have Mr. Hensley sit at home at a cost of approximately $10,000 a month because he might have been mean to an employee?
Just exactly how many ways is it possible to screw the Tulare taxpayers? There is the hospital contract, the missing $85 million in bond money, the Tulare cemetery, and now this?
Didn’t Tulare just go through paying a huge sum of money for the former Tulare Police Chief, Jerry Breckinridge, to sit at home?
They paid him approximately $70,000 to sit on his kiester while the city also paid close to the same amount for his replacement.
Let’s take the worst case scenario and say Mr. Hensley is as guilty as a lying dog. So send him to bed without dessert, make him apologize, and put him back to work.
Mr. Lampe, who knows the details of why Mr. Hensley was put on leave, said in the same carefully worded press release that the reasons were “clearly politically motivated.”
That means that Mr. Carlini, was not the one calling the shots, but rather someone who had a political motive to put Mr. Hensley on paid administrative leave, such as a city council member.
We do not know yet who that city council member might be, but I don’t think the answer is going to surprise anyone.