Former Mobile City councilman Scott Jones is leaving the city of Mobile after resigning from the council Tuesday morning.
While he said during the public meeting he was leaving because the City supported AltaPointe Health, despite numerous complaints of abuse, Jones told 1819 News there is more to the story. In fact, he said, "I am not going to live in a snake pit and a dirty diaper."
Other issues include "old white money and the black caucus" not working together, his inability to get things done in District 6 and his perception of the relationship between the mayor and council.
Mayor and Council
"This has been building for a while, actually," Jones said. "AltaPointe is big a part of it, but there's other major issues. When I was elected a year and a half ago, I was really excited that we had four new council reps, and I thought this could be a fresh start for the city because what I knew before that is there was just a lot of issues between the city council and the mayor. There were a lot of strained relationships. There wasn't a lot of collaboration going on, and it was creating a lot of issues."
Jones said he was hopeful when he started his term on the council, but it wasn't long before he recognized a break between Mayor Sandy Stimpson and the mayor's staff to work with the city council.
"What I've seen over the last year and a half is an absolute inability of the mayor and his executive staff to work with the city council and the desire to do so," he added. "… Instead of working together, we work against each other, and the people that suffer are the constituents."
The council commissioned an annexation study to be transparent and assure citizens they could trust the numbers and figures the mayor's administration put out. Citizens coming forward wanted to know the city would remain in a black majority and that all districts would be taken care of. The $30,000 study was released just before Jones resigned. He said the mayor's reaction exemplified how he didn't communicate with the council.
"The study comes out, and this is a study commissioned by the city council," Jones said. "And the mayor stands up to deliver the great news of how awesome this validation study came back from Mobile, which was true. It was absolutely a home run. However, the mayor was out of line. He should've never put any statement out regarding that study. It wasn't his right, and it wasn't his place. The person who should've been standing in front of the microphone was CJ Small, and the mayor should've been standing at his left or his right in the background. If there were any commenting to be done or accolades to be given or statistics or statements, it should've been done by the president of the body that chartered and commissioned the study."
After several personal discussions with Stimpson and his staff, Jones said he doesn't believe the mayor consulted with Small before the press conference. He thinks if the two had presented the report together, the optics would have been much better and would have moved the city forward by allowing the public to see leaders working together.
Another example of frustration Jones gave was contract letting concerning public works projects that included drainage, sidewalk repairs and stump removals. The council approved the work, but Jones said the mayor's office made a list of properties to be addressed without speaking to council members.
"We know what outstanding issues are," he said. "They made their own list through 311 calls. 311 is an indicator, but it isn't the indicator. The indicator is the city council members who are getting the phone calls … There was no consulting with the city council. The list was out, the contract was made, and when I went back personally to public works, they were like, 'Too bad, so sad, you will have to wait until the next contracts next year. Well, these people have already been waiting two to three years."
During meetings with the mayor, Jones said he was promised the mayor would work with the council. However, he said that never happened.
"There is an absolute arrogance that is given from that entire 10th floor," he continued. "And it's like, 'we're in charge, we don't care what you say, and we're going to do things the way that we want to do it and the way we see fit and come hell or high water, that's how it's going to be."
Jones said along with some council members being able to work together, the community as a whole had a deep-rooted history that prevented forward movement.
"This city has been held hostage by old white money and the black caucus," said Jones. "Those two entities are oil and water, and the city cannot escape. Those two have two completely separate agendas, and this city is being held hostage for decades because of those people don't want to see change. They just want to stir up strife and division, to keep their narratives and to keep pulling in money. They don't want to see unity. The old white money wants to see their pockets get fat, and that is one thing I was hoping to see change with, with the new black council members, but that didn't happen."
A key factor in tension between Jones and other leaders stemmed from the abuse allegations at AltaPoint and a $7 million verdict in a civil case where a juvenile patient was raped by another patient.
When Jones began hearing about issues with AltaPointe, he proposed moving funding from the health system to Veterans Recovery Resources (VRR). Again, he said he was shut down despite communicating those concerns to city leaders, and the city continued to support AltaPointe.
He told 1819 News about one specific example of an instance that was the beginning of the end for him.
"The very beginning of this, what really got me thinking, was when an alleged victim came to a committee meeting, and she stood in front of the committee, and by the way, I invited the entire County Commission, and not one of them showed up," he remembered. "I had the Department of Mental Health there. I had the AltaPointe Board there and members of our city council. She wanted to speak to the mayor, and he told me to go speak to the committee meeting. So, I let her come to the podium. The second she came down to the podium, Joel Daves said, 'I do not want her to speak.' At that point and time, I started having doubts.
"… If we can't come out against abuses, sexual abuses, rape against mentally ill patients at AltaPointe, what can we stand on? And that's where we are in this city. If I am sitting on a body – and she had tears coming down her cheek – We had somebody that was hurting so bad and you want to shut her up? You want to shut her down? And you want to marginalize her voice because you don't want anything negative to be said about AltaPointe? That day, I questioned where I was sitting and looked at what's happened since that day. So, if you want to know why Scott Jones is leaving the city of Mobile, that is why Scott Jones is leaving the city of Mobile."
Jones said his fight against AltaPointe was not over.
Jones said he is moving out of Mobile. After a report stating that he had a contract on his home before he resigned, he told 1819 News that instead of looking into his personal life, people needed to look into more serious issues the city is facing, including the abuse of AltaPointe and its lack of transparency.
The first time Jones felt he was in the wrong position was in November. Although he said he wasn't considering moving then, he put his home on the market in February. He said two to three weeks before resigning. He knew he would remove himself from the council.
"Selling the house had nothing to do with where I was going," he said. "Heck, I didn't even know if the house would sell. But I will tell you that the way things have panned out this last couple of months since I've had that house for sale, yeah, it got me looking really quick. I've realized I'm not going to stay in Mobile."
"I'm at absolute peace," he said about the decision. "I've got no second thoughts. I am extremely supported by so many, and everything I did was for the right reasons. When you get to this point, somebody better be asking, 'Why?'… I have been speaking up for months, and I have been tuned out, I have been shut out, and I have been blocked out. So, why would I want to continue?"
Jones said these issues, coupled with the fact that he feels like a failure because he cannot get anything done in his district, make him feel like he is doing his constituents a favor by stepping down.
What about his constituents?
Some have questioned Jones' decision to leave the council after his constituents believed in his voice and his ability to lead.
"People have said my decision is like a clown show," he said. "Well, the reason I'm leaving is because I'm part of the clown show, and I am not going to stay in a dysfunctional organization … I told people coming into this that I am not a politician. I told everybody that in my district. I am going to say what needs to be said, I am going to go by principles."
Those principles, he said, are what he was standing on.
"I have a very strong moral and ethical belief and value system that I was brought up with," said Jones. "I am definitely not perfect, and I don't want to come off as holier than thou because I'm not. I've made mistakes. But I cannot stand by and watch the amount of corruption and honestly, disgust. It's disgusting. If I can't get anything done, and I will tell you, the guy that ran against me said 'perpetual potential' and talked about how he would bring Mobile to its potential, but I am here to tell you after 18 months, you cannot do that. You cannot bring Mobile to its potential. It will always have perpetual potential that it will never achieve because there is no ability and no buy-in for everyone to work together."
Jones said by being associated with the city council, he was associated with the negative aspects of decision-making in the city that he believes are to the people's detriment. He said even having his photo with other city leaders who do not step up and make decisions based on what's best for the people is putting him in a group he does not align with.
Jones ended by pointing out that Mayor Stimpson had done many positive things for the city, which was why it was in positive financial standing.
1819 News has reached out to Stimpson, AltaPointe and councilman Joel Daves for a response.
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