Following last week’s story, “Ex-supervisor asks for $10K donation back; FFA complies,” further information provided to the Gazette includes an email sent from former supervisor, Merlin Jones. In it he details his immediate reason for pulling his donation is due to Supervisor Wayne Forsythe of District Four not supporting him for the Mariposa County Planning Commission.
Jones reported last week to the Gazette the immediate reason for requesting his donation from the Mariposa County FFA program be returned on Jan. 6 was due to the program not hosting the booster dinner in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Further discussion led Jones to say he was disappointed in a county supervisor for not supporting him for planning commissioner “… when he gave me his word that he would support me …,” Jones said last week.
“Let me make it clear that I have not communicated to any county supervisor, past or present, on how I would vote on any agenda item,” Forsythe said to the Gazette.
Per the email Jones had written and sent to Forsythe, it’s clear he was outraged at the supervisor as Forsythe made a comment at the Jan. 5 board meeting, saying he wanted to see younger people fill in the different commission boards.
“I will be withdrawing all my support from the FFA, because with your credibility, and (I will be) bringing at least five major donors with me,” the former supervisor wrote to Forsythe.
“I know that any shortfall in donations or funding to the FFA program will be offset by the good people of Mariposa County,” Forsythe said.
Explaining his intent behind the email and his overall frustration in an interview with the Gazette, Jones said, “The one thing that Mariposa has a problem with right now, there is a small minority group that is running some of the board members and I think there’s a way to fix that. I think everybody needs to listen to the constituents but … the mob rules by a small minority in the county and there are certain board members who are afraid of them.”
“I always voted by constituents and I always will,” the former supervisor continued. “But there are some who have to have a job … so they will listen to the small minority group.”
Jones did not disclose who the other five major donors he was referring to are, only saying that the five also think the board “screwed up.”
Further detailing his frustrations in his Jan. 6 email, Jones goes on to list the “downfall of the county” being Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dallin Kimble, and additionally calling Supervisor Miles Menetrey of District Five, a “liar” and that he could prove it.
In reference to Kimble, Jones said he has made “a lot of financial decisions” that he disagrees with and was moving around money that “I know the auditor is uncomfortable with the way some of these things are moved around.”
Adding that he did in fact vote for the CAO, Jones claims that he understood Kimble had no experience in the role beforehand.
Kimble said he was aware of the email, adding, “(That’s) getting into the politics side and I’m an administrator so I’m not going to comment.”
Menetrey reported he was unaware of the email and had not read it prior to the Gazette inquiry.
“If he’s got proof, prove it,” Menetrey said, about Jones calling him a liar. “Let’s see it.”
“In my 31 years in this county, I will put my reputation out there against anybody.”
Jones gave no further comment about his reference to Menetrey, only saying what he stated was “very, very, very honest.”
Jones continued to mention another supervisor in his email: his successor, Supervisor Tom Sweeney, in which Sweeney said he had no knowledge about.
Referring back to Jones running for the planning commission, Sweeney said, “In the process, the vacancy was posted and ex-supervisor Jones was the only one who applied.”
Sweeney reports having minimal contact with Jones since, only reaching out to him for a few questions he had, and that there was no prior promise between himself, Jones and Forsythe to appoint the ex-supervisor to the planning commission.
Giving further insight of his statement, “not one bit of proof in any of those letters,” Jones was referring to the letters sent into the board of supervisors before their Jan. 5 meeting voicing concerns if he was appointed to the planning commission (see related story).
Jones wrapped up his email by stating he has been in discussions with different department heads in the county, and they no longer have any “faith” in Forsythe. He did not disclose the department heads he mentioned in his email, explaining he had one major rule as a supervisor: to keep any conversation he had with a department head “completely confidential.”
“Because what happens is if you keep it that way, they will be open-minded and be sure they will tell you what they like or don’t like,” Jones said.
The following information was provided from each department:
• CAO: Kimble did not provide any further comment.
• Public works department: Director Mike Healy said he had heard
of the email, but was not aware what exactly was written. He has
not been in contact with Jones other than wishing him and his
wife well on a trip they took.
• Planning department: Director Sarah Williams said, “not sitting
here as the planning director.”
• Sheriff’s office: Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese was unaware of the email and has not spoken to Jones since he was appointed as sheriff on Dec. 15, 2020.
• Auditor: County Auditor Luis Mercado said he has not been in
contact with Jones since his term expired, saying he did not know
of the email either.
• Building department: Director Mike Kinslow reported having no
knowledge of the email and has not been in contact with Jones.
• Assessor recorder: Vincent Kehoe said he had no knowledge of
the email and last had contact with Jones a month before he left
office in December 2020.
• District Attorney: Walter Wall said he has not been in contact
with Jones since he was on the board, and was unaware of the
• County Counsel: Steve Dahlem said he has not been in contact
with Jones since the last board meeting of 2020.
• Fire department: Division Chief of Operations Steve Ward was
unaware of the email and has not been in contact with Jones.
• Health and Human Services Agency: Director Shannon Gadd
reported having no knowledge of the email and has not been in
contact with Jones since his term expired.
• Tax collector: Keith Williams did not respond by publication
• Mariposa County Library: Head Librarian, Janet Chase-Williams, reported to be unaware of the email and has not been in
contact with Jones since his term expired.
• Clerk of the board: Rene LaRoche said she has not been in contact with Jones, and was not aware of the email.
Reinforcing what he said in his email, Jones stands by his statement that the board should not be “chickens,” as he claims there is more going on behind the scenes.
Email sent by Jones
Editor’s note: This is the email sent by former Mariposa County Supervisor Merlin Jones. It was written on Jan. 6, one day after Jones was no longer on the board of supervisors. We are reprinting it verbatim.
Wayne I have always been honest and upfront with you on everything. The way you treated Tom And me yesterday was disgraceful. You wanting youth in government is good, but you will find the youth in Dallin is going to be the downfall of the county. If you want youth, then you need to step down. Your judgment in the past was not the best and it really showed up yesterday. You don’t know this Dist, and for Tom to find someone is almost impossible, he made that clear. And you want to dictate that it be a young person in someone else’s Dist is stupid!!! I will be withdrawing all my support from the FFA, because with your credibility, and bring at least 5 major donors with me. You showed extremely poor judgement, because there was not one bit of proof in any of those letters. YOU were just a chicken to be a man and do the right thing. You will find Miles is a liar and I can prove it. I have talked to some department heads last night and this morning and they have know faith in you now. What you did has never before happened in Mariposa, are you proud of that? I lost all respect for YOU!!!!!
Supervisor, District 2
Office Phone 209-966-3222