David is the son of Humana co-founder of the same name. When I came onto the scene in 2012, Junior was seen as the philanthropic, quirky, nice white liberal who served because he had good ideas (even if they were a bit elitist), knew how to raise capital and run a business, and well, because he could.
His wife, who evidently kept her last name when she and Jones married, is Mary Gwen Wheeler. MGW, as she is known around town, is another prominent and powerful name in education circles, and who has had seats at many important education tables, including, ultimately, the Kentucky Board of Education with the likes of Bevin appointees Milton Seymore and Hal Heiner. “Power couple” MGW and David were featured in this fluff piece by former Courier Journal education reporter, Allison Ross, early on in her arrival to Louisville.
What do the Joneses and Mitch McConnell have in common? I go into a great deal more detail here. And then of course, there’s the entire SCALA scandal. But for those who are ready for me to make my point, keep reading.
As far as ties to McConnell, consider this tweet from New Yorker columnist, Jane Mayer.
There have been requests to share the letters between the Jones family and Mitch McConnell, who called Dave Jones Sr. his most influential mentor and friend, as referenced in the @Nyer so here they are: pic.twitter.com/AxDFV9MUKX— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) April 20, 2020
This is just one example. Never mind that Jones’ father was making some pretty generous donations to conservative campaigns across the state at the same time, contributing to the shift in the political makeup of the Kentucky House of Representatives from barely blue to bloody red. But just how much of a role did his money play?
I recently ran into a prominent and respected Black Kentucky higher education leader at the Easter Parade in Jefferson County on April 16, 2022, and he said to me,
“So, when I look at what happened with the charter school bill, [and] the bill revamping JCPS in terms of superintendent power,
“The single biggest contributor to the shift in the Kentucky House of Representatives, from Democrat to Republican, was David Jones, Sr.“
Now, Junior comes along and they want to be progressive? Well, Jones is responsible for that charter school bill that just passed. No doubt about it.”PROMINENT BLACK KY EDUCATION LEADER, April 16, 2022
Jones’ Agenda Has Been Years In the Making
Our friend is not the only one who thinks Jones Jr. was behind the onslaught of Anti-JCPS, Anti-CRT, Anti-SBDM, racist legislation that finally crossed the finish line this past April. In 2019, we heard from several sources that he was behind numerous terrible sections in Senator Julie Raque Adams’ Senate Bill 250, which was the light version of this session’s SB1, which devolved over the final days of session to become a Frankenstein Monster Bill to include everything terrible that they couldn’t get passed legitimately, including the entirety of SB138 and a limit to how often specifically the JCPS Board can meet. We also know that Greater Louisville Inc, Louisville’s Chamber, helped draft and/or promote SB250, because their website boasted a press statement that mirrored Raque Adams’ speech to committee members almost word for word.
When I had a chance to speak with Democratic Senate Leader, Morgan McGarvey about Jones being behind the bill, he did not deny it. In fact, his response was affirmative, along with “you should have seen the bill before I worked on it” as if we owe him gratitude for the excrement sandwich we were forced to eat. I reminded him that Jefferson County voters soundly removed Jones for his efforts to privatize our public schools and he should leave the bill in its Jonesified glory for all to see and let the world know who was behind it. That never happened. Meanwhile entrenched white JCTA leaders gave cover, and SB250 passed, despite the bill sponsor having to shop committees and receiving severe blowback from JCPS stakeholders who had been paying attention, including another sickout day.
Here’s a speech I gave at the March 12, 2019 JCPS School Board Meeting, where I declared SB250 had Jones and Cosby written all over it. I let the board know how disappointed we were in those who supported it.
SB250 was 2019’s Precursor to This Year’s SB1
In the video below, Sen. Julie Raque Adams, sponsor of SB250, presents her GLI script to the committee she shopped around to find who would bring out this bill. About an hour in, I get a chance to address the committee and explain how neutering SBDMs are not the solution, because if it was, Shawnee’s problems would be solved already. I showed them how our busing plan for the past decade has resulted in a pipeline to prison, as the visual aid THE DISTRICT CREATED in order to sell the merger of two alternative schools down into one. Instead of state takeovers and bills we don’t need, fixing student assignment is the solution we need. Rep. Jerry Miller tried to blame me for the sickouts and said I was undermining what JCTA was trying to accomplish. Since when does he care what our teachers’ union is trying to accomplish? Unless there’s a back room plan in the works. We livestreamed here.
This isn’t the only time Junior has exhibited characteristics of a privatizer. On numerous occasions during board meetings and presentations, he’s made reference to hiring outside managers, and expressed a desire to run the district more like a business. And in this article, he said one of the secrets to success for JCPS was a state takeover, something which our community was adamantly opposed.
In February of 2016, the Courier Journal published an article about two other JCPS board members expressing concern over Jones fast-tracking controversial policies limiting discussion at meetings. From the article,
“The changes, written and supported by school board chairman David Jones Jr., will limit discussion among board members of management and operational issues during meetings and discourage board members from requesting reports from district staff during meetings and having board members sign a pledge, among other changes.
One of the new policies says that Jones, as the board chairman, can quash discussion of any issues raised by other board members if he “feels a request or comment made by a board member during a meeting goes outside of the established procedures and practices.”
Board member Chris Brady expressed concern that “this is blocking the sunshine. I am not inclined to vote for this at all.” Duncan said she feels the policies restrict her ability to ask questions about things that concern her.Courier Journal article
Speaking of ALEC-style maneuvers, there was another time in 2015 where Jones pushed through the renewal of Dr. Donna Hargens’ contract, after the community had repeatedly shown up to voice our displeasure, including holding a rally for her to step down.
Below is a 17-minute clip from that Feb. 23, 2015 JCPS Board meeting where David Jones, Jr. tricks other board members into voting “yes” in a rush vote to endure four more years of Hargens’ denial and sweeping problems under the rug. He does so adding pressure by threatening that we could lose her due to the “competitive market” and delivers a scolding and condescending message to Duncan and Brady for wanting to wait. He manages to get enough votes to fail Brady’s motion to postpone the vote until the next meeting, including earning the reluctant deciding vote from new and trusting board member Lisa Willner.
Brady, Duncan and Horne were the three who voted to delay the vote for two weeks to allow time for public input.
SIDENOTE: This was back in 2015 when the board met every two weeks. SB1, the Monster Bill attempted to prevent the board from meeting more than every 8 weeks. The frequency of meetings was another peeve of Jones and evidence he was involved in SB1. Due to the blatant nature of this last-minute addition to the bill, a “compromise” of every 4 weeks was settled on before final passage.) This bill is included among the onslaught of anti-JCPS bills that passed this session. Also from the 2018 Courier Journal article, more evidence of Jones’ affinity for the privatizer agenda, and ties charters would have to Mayor Fischer’s office.
“Jones, a charter school proponent, has been critical of the school district, and under a law passed last year by the GOP-controlled state legislature, Fischer’s office would be allowed to authorize charter schools in Louisville.
Fischer spokeswoman Jean Porter told Courier Journal that campaign contributions “have never and will never influence a decision” made by the mayor.
Fischer publicly voiced support for charter schools last March, drawing howls from JCPS board members that he had not talked with them first.”COURIER JOURNAL ARTICLE, Feb. 19, 2018
This wasn’t the only story involving the Fischers benefitting from the privatizer agenda. Like we said, it’s a family affair.
And of course, from this 2018 article by Phillip Bailey, before he went to USA Today, more ties to SCALA and Fischer abound.
Members of a newly revealed group of Louisville CEOs have given big money toward the Republican takeover of the Kentucky House and the election of JCPS board members who aren’t favored by the teachers’ union.
But a Courier Journal analysis of the political contributions of the almost 70 members of the Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda shows that Mayor Greg Fischer has far and away received the most contributions from the group.The Courier Journal, Money shows that Mayor Greg Fischer is this elite CEO group’s favorite candidate, Feb. 19, 2018
Later in 2015, Hargens was met with harsh criticism for her continued “willful incompetence” that many critics attributed to the work of privatizers. This resulted in a large number of concerned stakeholders submitting open letters to our organization, which were presented in binders at the Dec. 14, 2015 board meeting. This prompted her to inform the board and public that “we are not in crisis” when in fact, we were. We recognized the crisis for what it was: broken on purpose by those who stand ready to reap the benefits of the chaos.
One of the organizations that helped us put together the open letter campaign was AFSCME. Sandy Mayes was the union’s elected leader. Many of her members shared the same concerns as we did, and they participated in efforts to call for Hargens’ resignation. I believe this is what led to Ms. Mayes being targeted to be replaced by the union’s next president, Sue Foster. A nasty campaign that was very unfairly critical of Sandy ensued. Looking back on this, I believe it was because we were disrupting their agenda, and I believe Sue was recruited to maintain status quo. I have other examples of these patterns of behaviors, which I will go into greater detail in a future post.
Removing Hargens was going to take a sea change in board makeup. Several board members had expressed their frustrations with her leadership and the 2016 elections presented an opportunity to not only protect Chris Brady’s seat from a well-funded privatizer threat, but protect an open seat in a notoriously conservative part of town, and replace board chair David Jones, Jr. We held a candidate interest forum, which Chris Kolb attended, bringing along with him, the man in the red sweater, Tom Moffett. Or perhaps it was Tom who brought Chris. Nonetheless, Kolb was a longshot taking on a popular and powerful social liberal in the Highlands and Crescent Hill areas. And, while JCTA stood out of this election, our members endorsed and campaigned for Chris. All three of the candidates we supported agreed that Hargens needed to go and they would support asking for her resignation. They won.
By now, five of the seven board members had expressed support for our calls for her resignation. After consulting with each of them prior to the Feb. 21, 2017 board meeting, we organized a rally on the steps of Van Hoose Education Center and called not for the firing of Hargens, but for her to step down, since her contract had recently been renewed.
She did! She announced her resignation that April and was gone by July.
Speaking of this incident, I had a couple of run-ins with one of Hargens’ loyalists, Jonathan Lowe, who was hired after some controversy to be the district’s Chief Strategy Officer. That controversy was due to Jones having violated district board policy by having undue influence on the hiring of a district employee other than the superintendent and board attorney. That’s not the only time he’s done that. Tom Hudson, who was tapped to fill a newly created Chief Business Officer position was also attributed as a Jones pick. Jonathan is another democrat who is up for an open House seat during this May’s primary. He had an opportunity to sound the alarm about efforts to bring in charter school vultures, but instead he “did his job” and facilitated the meetings. He still works as a district bureaucrat making $134,000 per year, so why should we expect him to suddenly start pushing back on the oppressive system now. More links to the role he played in setting Maupin Elementary and Shawnee High School up for easy charter school conversion coming soon.
Lisa Willner’s trusting acceptance of support from David Jones, Jr. early on in her political career did not bode well with union members nor the public. When she decided to move from school board to the state House, she was thrown to the wolves by her “allied” opponent, Richard Becker, and his mob of attack dogs for accepting a donation and support from Jones during her campaign for the House District seat left vacant by one of the best men Kentucky’s ever known, Rep. Jim Wayne.
One of those attackers, if memory serves, was his best bro and current JCPS school board member Chris Kolb, who also served as Becker’s campaign manager. Or was that the other way around when Kolb was running? Maybe it was both. I just remember we endorsed Kolb even when JCTA’s PAC stayed out of the race, and Jefferson County voters paid enough attention to who the bad guy was, we were able to accomplish a surprise upset against wealthy, popular and powerful David Jones, Jr.
Once he won, JCTA’s PAC endorsed him in his bid for reelection. We didn’t because he dismissed concerns from Black and Black-allied organizational leaders during the campaign for the tax increase. Speaking of the tax increase, this happens to be another example of astroturf group Yes 4 JCPS coopting authentic work after AROS threw several of us under the bus for a hundredth time. (More on that later.)
But what many people didn’t know is that Lisa Willner was the one who went to local media with a tip that broke open a big story about Jones and SCALA at the same time she was under scrutiny from the union bullies for being a Jones supporter. She still managed to win the seat, thankfully, despite how horribly she was treated. She and the handful of progressive femmes in Frankfort remain outsized forces against the corruption around us.
I know she sees it. She told me so. She doesn’t know what to do. Frankly, neither do I. But since I recently had an epiphany that involved Jones and his ties to several candidates running for the primary, I decided to draw a picture for others to see, as well. I will continue to update this site with supporting documentation to support the claims that are being made, until the May 17 election date, at which time, it could be too late to stop Kentucky from falling to the confederates, if you know what I mean. And when Kentucky falls to right wing radicals (most of us would argue it already has, and this is our last chance to stop and reverse it), expect other states to join them.
Then there’s Frankfort. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but on several occasions, we have been made aware of back room deals involving people we trust to be representing us. Such as the time the wife of KY House Rep Jason Nemes, who has been endorsed by the teachers union over rank and file members’ very vocal objections, accepted a choice teaching position in an East End school before she was even qualified for it, and given preference over at least six other existing JCPS teachers, including one with 8 years experience teaching ESL in Middle School (Ms. Nemes had none of either).
From wealthy elites such as Brown-Forman founders and other SCALA members, to astroturf organizations they create to step all over authentic groups representing actual impacted stakeholders on little to no resources, are actually proposing solutions and doing the work. These taxpayer-money laundering groups include Evolve 502, Yes 4 JCPS, AROS, and others contrived by JCPS administrators, JCTA directors and Frankfort lawmakers to avoid getting caught or delayed by the inconveniences of democratic or due process. Jones’ money, power and influence appears to further the efforts to privatize JCPS in particular, while ALEC and the conservatives seem to be more focused on seizing control at the state level.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think there were competing organized crime rings that had staked out their turfs and each looked the other way when one was successful in winning another battle on the war on public schools and on Jefferson County in particular, since “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
That prominent Black education leader’s advice?
My reply, “I agree with you. Let’s expose it.”
So that’s what we’re trying to do. Thank you for reading and visiting our site. Keep reading, because we will not only show you those who are working behind the scenes to undermine our public schools and profit from our tax dollars, we will show you who they are working with and what voters and onlookers can do about it.
When an insurrection takes place, groups who might otherwise be enemies might join together to take the flag away from the current leader, so it’s not inconceivable that the left hand and the right hand are assisting each other. However they are playing the game, they are using our students as pawns.
In a future post, I will examine:
Why is Mitch McConnell inserting himself in justice for Quintez, justice for Breonna and JCPS school board politics? I think the answer is clear, but I will give our readers some time to think about it. Send any thoughts you have about this or other information I’ve shared to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not sure what to make of this just yet: