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Lemon Grove councilman sued for free-speech stifling

Jerry Jones accused of "thinly-veiled racist tendencies"

A government subcontractor says Lemon Grove city councilmember Jerry Jones retaliated against him for posting negative comments about Jones's politics on his Facebook page.

Marcus Bush, a former consultant for Rick Engineering, has filed a lawsuit against Jones and Lemon Grove city manager Lydia Romero in federal court.

According to the complaint, on July 31 of this year, while using his personal Facebook account, Bush responded to an announcement that James Elia was running for El Cajon City Council. Bush wrote, “Time to usher in a new era of progressives and leave behind the ugly, thinly-veiled racist tendencies of men like Jerry Jones [“JJ”] and Bill Wells. So excited for James’ campaign!”

An hour and a half later, councilmember Jones was busy typing his own message, this one to Lemon Grove city manager Romero, to make her aware that a city subcontractor was speaking out against him.

“I understand that Marcus Bush either worked for or works for Rick Engineering and Mooney," Jones wrote in the email, which was quoted in the lawsuit. "On a post made by Council Member Arambula endorsing James Elia he made some pretty inflammatory remarks concerning myself and Mayor Wells…. If this person is still working in the area I hope he doesn’t not [sic] see any time in Lemon Grove. We need objective professionals that will serve the needs of the people of Lemon Grove. We do not need this kind of poison in our little city.”

Romero soon began contacting managers at Rick Engineering. She first contacted Tim Gabrielson, who worked for Rick Engineering but was based at city hall. According to the lawsuit, Romero told Gabrielson that Bush needed to stop criticizing Jones publicly.

In the following days, word got around. Brian Mooney, a supervisor at Rick Engineering, sent Bush the following text message: “Marcus there is a rumor out there [that] you placed a negative comment about a Lemon Grove councilman on Facebook, do you know anything about it?"

Bush responded: "Yea it was about Jerry Jones and his criticizing my Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher with thinly-veiled racist remarks. I called those remarks exactly that."

Added Bush, "And this is my personal Facebook page [by the way] that has no connection to Rick Engineering. I don't even state that i work on my page."

To which Mooney responded, “Marcus you identify yourself on your LinkedIn as a Rick employee and the councilman is our client so anything you post directly effects this company. I have been notified and all the management by the City Manager. We will discuss this internally and get back with you but I personally believe you went far beyond any civil, meaningful or constructive comments.”

Bush is suing Jones and Romero for retaliating against him for expressing his First Amendment rights.

“I did what I think is right by calling out politicians who reinforce institutional and systemic racism,” said Bush in a statement. "Instead of reaching out to me and asking about my concerns, as any responsible adult would have done, Mr. Jones and Mrs. Romero used their political influence to attack me personally by trying to cut off my ability to provide for my kids and going after my job.”

Jerry Jones said he was not aware of any lawsuit.

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Comments
18

Two comments here:

  1. Just because you have first amendment rights doesn’t mean you should exercise them without using good judgment and common sense. I own a car that can easily go 120MPH, but driving that fast will risk not only my life but will put others in jeopardy too. Sure it’s not the same as free speech, but the point is there. Free speech is not absolute.

  2. You work for an employer who does extensive engineering work for local, state and federal contracts. Do you really think your employer owes you a duty to protect you, when you undermine the confidence in the company? You know there are a lot of engineering firms in SD County who would love those contracts. The rule here is one I’ve expressed to my kids, don’t put things on the Internet that would embarrass yourself or others. Once you do they are there forever.

Maybe you should think before you speak, type or press the enter key. I’ve found it helpful in the past, especiallly when dealing with passionate issues.

Oct. 5, 2017

I see Dorian says “former consultant”. Acts have consequences. But sadly many of your generation prefer to avoid responsibility and blame others for their problems. I hope you or your Attorney can produce substantial, not allegorical, proof of the “thinly veiled tendencies” or other evidence you claimed in your statement. Otherwise you may be paying court cost and attorney’s fees, and then where will your family be?

Oct. 5, 2017

Perhaps this will help enlighten Councilperson Jones:

None

Oct. 5, 2017

Interesting - Cory Briggs is plaintiff’s Attorney.

Oct. 5, 2017

When will people learn not to use email, which never goes away, to communicate things that can come back and bite them? Jones' approach should have been to talk to the city manager, and quietly get Rick Engineering eliminated from those fat, juicy contracts. The firm would never have known what hit it, unless it inquired. And then the word would have been passed along verbally.

Too bad that Bush had to see racism and use it to attack. "Thinly veiled" to one person is just everyday talk for others. He needed more than he had to justify his posting. But in a larger sense, getting political when your job is involved is just dumb.

Oct. 5, 2017

Just Wondering if Briggs will use this as a teaching moment, rather than just attempting to extract a settlement from another government entity?

Oct. 5, 2017

He probably thinks there is enough there to win a settlement.

Oct. 5, 2017

Why so hard on Mr. Bush? He' s far more educated than that knucklehead Jerry Jones. Why not look into the history of Jones for a change. Looks to me like a free speech matter not race card waiving. If you have an open Facebook account, expect to be criticized, especially if you are a public figure. If you want to be in public office you can't get all butt-hurt when someone disagrees with you or calls you out for something... even if it is just an "opinion.".

Oct. 5, 2017

Book smart does not equate to common sense. If Bush is correct then he’ll be successful with his litigation. If he’s just offering a biased opinion then he won’t. Nevertheless, public figures such as Jones are not afforded the same protections as private persons. And, I agree, Jones needs thicker skin. The voters will decide his fate.

The story isn’t clear about why Bush is a “former consultant”. If Rick Engineering ended his employment over his comments, which reflected negatively on his employer, then Bush may not be the sharpest pencil in the pocket protector. Only time will tell...

Oct. 5, 2017

LOL. When you pass the bar, get back to me. This is serious stuff and if you dismiss it as you seem to be doing I am assuming you don't believe in due process unless it is a process you agree with.

Oct. 15, 2017

Sadly, this isn't "serious stuff" this is about the egos of two men and the lack of civil discourse and common sense. It's all very petty and a waste of the courts time and limited taxpayer dollars to resolve the tantrums of two self centered persons. There are serious issues in San Diego but certainly not these two nitwits.

Oct. 16, 2017

Thank you for your reply. I am glad you elaborated and think you have a point about the egos and pettiness. But sometimes the hubris of a person can drive another to respond in surprising ways. The test will be what the judge thinks in the first few motions.

Oct. 16, 2017

I've watched Jones make many thoughtful decisions in council meetings. I don't know him well but doubt racism. Would someone with Facebook access like to share with us these "thinly-veiled racist remarks"?

Oct. 6, 2017

Here is the link to Jones’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JerryJonesLemonGrove/

I’ve read through some of it and cannot find any “thinly veiled racist remarks”. Maybe Mr. Bush or his Attorney, Corey Briggs, would enlighten us.

Oct. 6, 2017

Comments and posts can be deleted on Facebook.

Oct. 6, 2017

True, but there is always an archival record - somewhere.

Oct. 6, 2017

Until proven otherwise I'll consider Jerry a nice guy.

Oct. 6, 2017

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Jerry Jones and Marcus Bush
Jerry Jones and Marcus Bush

A government subcontractor says Lemon Grove city councilmember Jerry Jones retaliated against him for posting negative comments about Jones's politics on his Facebook page.

Marcus Bush, a former consultant for Rick Engineering, has filed a lawsuit against Jones and Lemon Grove city manager Lydia Romero in federal court.

According to the complaint, on July 31 of this year, while using his personal Facebook account, Bush responded to an announcement that James Elia was running for El Cajon City Council. Bush wrote, “Time to usher in a new era of progressives and leave behind the ugly, thinly-veiled racist tendencies of men like Jerry Jones [“JJ”] and Bill Wells. So excited for James’ campaign!”

An hour and a half later, councilmember Jones was busy typing his own message, this one to Lemon Grove city manager Romero, to make her aware that a city subcontractor was speaking out against him.

“I understand that Marcus Bush either worked for or works for Rick Engineering and Mooney," Jones wrote in the email, which was quoted in the lawsuit. "On a post made by Council Member Arambula endorsing James Elia he made some pretty inflammatory remarks concerning myself and Mayor Wells…. If this person is still working in the area I hope he doesn’t not [sic] see any time in Lemon Grove. We need objective professionals that will serve the needs of the people of Lemon Grove. We do not need this kind of poison in our little city.”

Romero soon began contacting managers at Rick Engineering. She first contacted Tim Gabrielson, who worked for Rick Engineering but was based at city hall. According to the lawsuit, Romero told Gabrielson that Bush needed to stop criticizing Jones publicly.

In the following days, word got around. Brian Mooney, a supervisor at Rick Engineering, sent Bush the following text message: “Marcus there is a rumor out there [that] you placed a negative comment about a Lemon Grove councilman on Facebook, do you know anything about it?"

Bush responded: "Yea it was about Jerry Jones and his criticizing my Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher with thinly-veiled racist remarks. I called those remarks exactly that."

Added Bush, "And this is my personal Facebook page [by the way] that has no connection to Rick Engineering. I don't even state that i work on my page."

To which Mooney responded, “Marcus you identify yourself on your LinkedIn as a Rick employee and the councilman is our client so anything you post directly effects this company. I have been notified and all the management by the City Manager. We will discuss this internally and get back with you but I personally believe you went far beyond any civil, meaningful or constructive comments.”

Bush is suing Jones and Romero for retaliating against him for expressing his First Amendment rights.

“I did what I think is right by calling out politicians who reinforce institutional and systemic racism,” said Bush in a statement. "Instead of reaching out to me and asking about my concerns, as any responsible adult would have done, Mr. Jones and Mrs. Romero used their political influence to attack me personally by trying to cut off my ability to provide for my kids and going after my job.”

Jerry Jones said he was not aware of any lawsuit.

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Comments
18

Two comments here:

  1. Just because you have first amendment rights doesn’t mean you should exercise them without using good judgment and common sense. I own a car that can easily go 120MPH, but driving that fast will risk not only my life but will put others in jeopardy too. Sure it’s not the same as free speech, but the point is there. Free speech is not absolute.

  2. You work for an employer who does extensive engineering work for local, state and federal contracts. Do you really think your employer owes you a duty to protect you, when you undermine the confidence in the company? You know there are a lot of engineering firms in SD County who would love those contracts. The rule here is one I’ve expressed to my kids, don’t put things on the Internet that would embarrass yourself or others. Once you do they are there forever.

Maybe you should think before you speak, type or press the enter key. I’ve found it helpful in the past, especiallly when dealing with passionate issues.

Oct. 5, 2017

I see Dorian says “former consultant”. Acts have consequences. But sadly many of your generation prefer to avoid responsibility and blame others for their problems. I hope you or your Attorney can produce substantial, not allegorical, proof of the “thinly veiled tendencies” or other evidence you claimed in your statement. Otherwise you may be paying court cost and attorney’s fees, and then where will your family be?

Oct. 5, 2017

Perhaps this will help enlighten Councilperson Jones:

None

Oct. 5, 2017

Interesting - Cory Briggs is plaintiff’s Attorney.

Oct. 5, 2017

When will people learn not to use email, which never goes away, to communicate things that can come back and bite them? Jones' approach should have been to talk to the city manager, and quietly get Rick Engineering eliminated from those fat, juicy contracts. The firm would never have known what hit it, unless it inquired. And then the word would have been passed along verbally.

Too bad that Bush had to see racism and use it to attack. "Thinly veiled" to one person is just everyday talk for others. He needed more than he had to justify his posting. But in a larger sense, getting political when your job is involved is just dumb.

Oct. 5, 2017

Just Wondering if Briggs will use this as a teaching moment, rather than just attempting to extract a settlement from another government entity?

Oct. 5, 2017

He probably thinks there is enough there to win a settlement.

Oct. 5, 2017

Why so hard on Mr. Bush? He' s far more educated than that knucklehead Jerry Jones. Why not look into the history of Jones for a change. Looks to me like a free speech matter not race card waiving. If you have an open Facebook account, expect to be criticized, especially if you are a public figure. If you want to be in public office you can't get all butt-hurt when someone disagrees with you or calls you out for something... even if it is just an "opinion.".

Oct. 5, 2017

Book smart does not equate to common sense. If Bush is correct then he’ll be successful with his litigation. If he’s just offering a biased opinion then he won’t. Nevertheless, public figures such as Jones are not afforded the same protections as private persons. And, I agree, Jones needs thicker skin. The voters will decide his fate.

The story isn’t clear about why Bush is a “former consultant”. If Rick Engineering ended his employment over his comments, which reflected negatively on his employer, then Bush may not be the sharpest pencil in the pocket protector. Only time will tell...

Oct. 5, 2017

LOL. When you pass the bar, get back to me. This is serious stuff and if you dismiss it as you seem to be doing I am assuming you don't believe in due process unless it is a process you agree with.

Oct. 15, 2017

Sadly, this isn't "serious stuff" this is about the egos of two men and the lack of civil discourse and common sense. It's all very petty and a waste of the courts time and limited taxpayer dollars to resolve the tantrums of two self centered persons. There are serious issues in San Diego but certainly not these two nitwits.

Oct. 16, 2017

Thank you for your reply. I am glad you elaborated and think you have a point about the egos and pettiness. But sometimes the hubris of a person can drive another to respond in surprising ways. The test will be what the judge thinks in the first few motions.

Oct. 16, 2017

I've watched Jones make many thoughtful decisions in council meetings. I don't know him well but doubt racism. Would someone with Facebook access like to share with us these "thinly-veiled racist remarks"?

Oct. 6, 2017

Here is the link to Jones’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JerryJonesLemonGrove/

I’ve read through some of it and cannot find any “thinly veiled racist remarks”. Maybe Mr. Bush or his Attorney, Corey Briggs, would enlighten us.

Oct. 6, 2017

Comments and posts can be deleted on Facebook.

Oct. 6, 2017

True, but there is always an archival record - somewhere.

Oct. 6, 2017

Until proven otherwise I'll consider Jerry a nice guy.

Oct. 6, 2017

Sign in to comment

Sign in

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