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Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones’ Use of Blackmail Against County CEO May Backfire

District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones.

UPDATE: A 4-1 vote of approval of county CEO Matt Pontes was reached during the Shasta County Board of Supervisors’ closed-session evaluation of Pontes Tuesday evening. The dissenting vote was cast by District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones.  Here’s an excerpt of a statement released by the Board Wednesday:

“After a thorough discussion, the Board returned with the following report out of Closed Session: By a 4-1 vote (Supervisor Jones in dissent), the Board of Supervisors states its support for County Executive Officer Matt Pontes and has authorized the Chair to issue a written statement of support.”

Read the story below to see what triggered the evaluation.

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Blackmail. Extortion. Threats. Bullying. Intimidation. Lies. Dirty recalls. Coercion.

Those are among the tools used by Shasta County District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones and his demented cohorts on their quest to gut Shasta County government as part of the militant, ultra-conservative outliers’ take-over.

District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones’ 2020 campaign poster. Millionaire Reverge Anselmo’s $100,000 campaign donation to Jones’ election campaign was the largest single election donation in Shasta County history.

Shasta County’s CEO Matt Pontes is the deranged gang’s latest target.

Matt Pontes, Shasta County Executive Officer

Pontes joins the beleaguered ranks of other respected, stellar leaders whose jobs were forced onto the chopping block for no rational reason other than being the antithesis of everything this rabid-right North State group stands for.

Consequently, in the so-called patriots’ Shasta-County shooting gallery, the power-hungry snipers have set their sights on some of the county’s most exemplary leaders for removal from office. Once targeted, they’re deliberately picked off, one by one.

Jones and his comrades won’t stop until Shasta County government is a ghost town run by ruthless, lawless bottom-feeders funded by a son-of-a-billionaire who’s nursing a grudge against Shasta County.

Lawless or not, the twisted terrorists’ techniques are effective. In the last few months three top-notch county leaders have already been victimized by this group:

District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty’s longstanding respected career was murdered in a wicked, unjustified recall.

Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency Director Donnell Ewert jumped into early retirement rather than suffer the indignity of being pushed into humiliating, unjust unemployment by the relentless gang.

Plus, if the mob has its way, the job of the county’s chief medical officer Karen Ramstrom is as good as dead, as it hangs in employment purgatory.

Likewise, the menacing mob has expressed interest in dumping Shasta County’s Counsel Rubin E. Cruse, too.

Jumpin’ Judas Jones

Yesterday, Jones, the group’s lead hitman, ran to “Action News Now” with Pontes’ head on a platter lined with what Jones was sure would be explosive information that characterized Pontes as someone convicted of several crimes, including embezzlement, back in the ’90s.

The TV station published Jones’ suddenly pressing “news” just one day before the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting that will include a closed-session discussion/evaluation – again – of Pontes, and perhaps others.

The station’s story also featured Pontes’ statements that told his side about the event in question: a petty-theft situation that took place in Pontes’ youth.

Pontes described what happened in 1994 as a “massive mistake made as a young man” – something about which he accepted immediate responsibility. Going forward, Pontes was accountable and apologetic. He worked through the legal process until his wrongdoing was expunged and his record was completely cleared.

With an expunged, cleared record, Pontes proceeded forward with that mistake in his rearview mirror. It was a sobering learning experience that he’s never forgotten; a regrettable, unforgettable event carried with him forever.

Since then, Pontes has been honest and transparent about his past. He has subsequently been scrutinized, interviewed, vetted and hired by high-caliber employers well aware of Pontes’ past. Despite his indiscretion from nearly three decades ago, with each new rung on Pontes’ career ladder he has been judged positively upon his proven track record of success. The result is a career path paved with well-earned professional accolades and accomplishments.

The “information” Jones brought to media is not news. It’s Jones’ politically nasty stink bomb intended to smoke out Pontes and cause him to resign in a cloud of shame. The so-called “news” is a part of Pontes’ distant past that’s been legally addressed and expunged, and therefore wasn’t required to disclose to his employers. In fact, the incident was common knowledge among many executive staff members, including administration and fellow supervisors.

By the way, the previously fully-enlightened supervisors – even Jones’ sidekick, District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh — voted unanimously to hire Pontes shortly before Jones was elected as the District 4 supervisor.

Lies and lawlessness

Jones told “Action News Now” that he just learned of this information on April 8. That’s false. Jones has had this information for much longer. But Jones has held onto it until recently, when he could leverage it for its maximum destruction.

By leverage, we’re talking blackmail. Jones told Pontes to resign, or he’d make public closed records from Pontes’ past.

Blackmail is defined as, “the action — treated as a criminal offense — of demanding payment or another benefit from someone in return for not revealing compromising or damaging information about them.”

How else can one describe the scenario last week in which Jones told Pontes to resign or the information would become public?

Pontes refused to resign. Behold, in short order, Jones – like a mafia executioner –  did as he’d threatened. He went to a media company and made Pontes’ expunged information public.

What’s notable is that this disclosure comes just four months after the supervisors conducted Pontes’ regular performance evaluation – not this new brand of weaponized evaluations – in which he received exceptional comments and feedback. Jones was present for that evaluation.

This week, Pontes reacted to Jones’ widely dissemination of Pontes’ expunged record. In a statement released by Pontes to the media, he described the toxic, stressful working conditions he and other fellow county employees have endured, and continue to face every day, because of Jones and Baugh’s words, actions and threats.

Here is Pontes full statement:

“Recently my personal history as a very young man has been brought forward by Supervisor Jones – in another attack and attempt to destroy my professional career and disrupt & destroy county leadership. In the last few months, I have been threatened, blackmailed, subject to their hostile efforts – now Jones is actively attempting to compromise my career and County senior leadership.

Supervisor Jones, as you know, has had this documentation for some time, asked for my resignation last week as an alternative to this information becoming public. I was vetted not only by Shasta, but other local and state agencies over the past 28 years. This incident from 1994 was fully expunged and my record is completely cleared.

This “news” today is politically driven by Jones- he is trying to further divide and destroy our community and County – we come to work every day to serve 200,000 residents. I made a massive mistake made as a young man and I have worked extremely hard over the last three decades and garnered a proven track record to overcome. First and foremost, I took responsibility for my actions. I have always disclosed this incident to my prior employers, and informed them that I have been cleared of all charges/allegations.

100% of my background was presented  to the Board of Supervisors as part of the hiring process; I was very honest, and fully disclosed the facts of this incident that occurred almost 30 years ago – the Board was fully made aware and moved forward with an appointment.

28 years ago, before the age of 21, I committed a petty theft offense. There were other parties involved however, and I pled to a “felony embezzlement” charge for $420. I immediately accepted responsibility, was accountable and apologetic for my actions. Given the facts and history and working through the legal process, it was fully expunged, my record completely cleared, and has been so ever since.

As for my actual performance in my position, recently as last December, the Board conducted my annual performance evaluation, and I received exceptional comments and feedback. Patrick Jones was present in that evaluation.
My County employees are unsettled and stressed due to recent attacks on senior leadership positions. This is the most hostile work environment that I have ever experienced, and I refuse to be bullied, blackmailed and coerced.
I remain committed to the residents of Shasta County and will continue to work to bring the community together despite those still seeking to divide.

Jones cannot cast the first stone

Anyone who’s paid attention to Jones’ shenanigans since he first took his seat as a supervisor has come to expect underhanded stunts based upon lies and lawlessness.

Literally from Jones’ first day in office as a supervisor he broke laws as an elected leader. For example, on Jan. 5, 2021, he and Baugh breached the board chambers that were closed because of a COVID spike.

Supervisors Patrick Jones and Les Baugh share a computer screen in the board chambers they breached for an unsanctioned meeting.

The following day, which happened to be Jan. 6, 2021, the same day as the deadly insurrection in Washington, D.C., Jones breached the board chambers and held court again for a private/public meeting.

In his first week of office, District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones faces his admirers in the breached board chambers on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo source: Facebook.

When Jones and Baugh were subsequently censured by their fellow supervisors for breaking the very rules voted into place by a board majority, Jones and Baugh bragged that they’d wear the censures as a “badge of honor”.

On Jan. 6, 2021, for the second time in two days, Supervisor Patrick Jones helped himself to the board chambers, despite a board resolution the previous month that closed it to public meetings during a COVID spike.

Later, Jones used his key card to once again gain unauthorized entrance to the board chambers after business hours when he allowed a crew from a for-profit venture – Red, White and Blueprint – to videotape Jones as he dramatically unscrewed – in a showy act of faux defiance – the plexiglass panels installed as part of pandemic precautions.

Of course, Jones’ plexiglass antics, as well as his horse-back-sitting skills, were featured in RW&B episodes.

Patrick Jones, bad actor/lawless supervisor, sits upon a horse for a Red, White & Blueprint episode.  

Jones has been recognized by many as a serial fibber for false statements and outright lies about many things, most notably about things that he claimed happened while he was on the Redding City Council, including information from supposedly closed-session meetings with regard to then-fellow city council member Moty.

Never mind that it’s against the law for elected leaders and government staff to disclose the contents of closed-session personnel meetings. For Jones, breaking the rules come easily to him. Look, Ma, no consequences.

On Aug. 17, 2021, Jones opened the board chambers for a “healthcare freedom”/political rally that featured RW&B leader Carlos Zapata’s rant against this reporter, cheered on by his supporters.

Carlos Zapata ranted at ANC publisher Doni Chamberlain during an unauthorized meeting in the Shasta County Board chambers opened by Supervisor Patrick Jones. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

And in January Jones hosted his own private party on the County Administration Center plaza outside locked supervisor chambers; closed because of a combination of high COVID numbers, as well as death threats to supervisors Moty and Mary Rickert of District 3.

At the peak of the morning, approximately 80 people gathered outside the Shasta County Administrative Center for Supervisor Patrick Jones’ pop-up meeting. Photos by Alan Ernesto Phillips.

Jones’ set-up included a huge-screen TV and a professional sound system. There were donuts in the morning and pizza in the afternoon. The only thing missing was a little monkey and a tin cup for the organ grinder in chief.

A lawyerly look at the situation

I’m no lawyer, but Lisa Jensen of Redding is. She posted an extemporaneous comment on Thought You Should Know Shasta County‘s Facebook page after learning that Jones had publicized Pontes’ incident.

Redding attorney Lisa Jensen.

Among Jensen’s points:

• First off–1994 is 28 years ago. The man was probably what, 18 years old back then? It appears to have been a theft case and in order to get the matter expunged as it shows online he would have had to meet all terms of probation including repaying any money that was claimed stolen AND any collateral costs associated with the loss, fines and fees to the court, attorney costs, serving any time the court ordered, and he would have had to stay on the straight and narrow for the probation period, which looks like it was 5 years long.

• Second off–as a local attorney, I see who goes in and out of the legal system. I see doctors and police officers who get charged with crimes. People from all walks of life get DUI’s. MANY MANY MANY people, your friends and people you’d never believe, get charged with crimes. There are people out on the street that get looked down on but have practically no criminal record — meanwhile you have no idea the person serving you at a high end restaurant is actually a felon on active probation. And so, so, so many people have a record from way back in the day that they just don’t talk about because it’s in the past. Even Patrick Jones’ ex-girlfriend has been stomping around in court lately trying to clean up her criminal record via the pardon process.

• Third off–when you have your record expunged per Penal Code section 1203.4, by law you do not need to disclose to certain employers. Shasta County specifically does not require expunged records to be disclosed for most county positions, and they do a fingerprint background check upon initial conditional offer of employment, so I’m sure the county was fully aware that Mr. Pontes had something in his background and it’s not like he hid it from Patrick Jones.

• Finally–my heart goes out to Mr. Pontes being publicly dragged like this. People make mistakes and he’s obviously since paid his debt to society. Patrick Jones couldn’t wait to go to the news to create negative press about this in order to stir the pot. It’s just one more public employee with experience who is just trying to do a job that now has a target on his back because Reverge Anselmo is paying to make this county eat itself from the inside out. Which, I’m not a civil lawyer, but with this shockingly inappropriate handling of what I would consider a private personnel matter, the county budget is basically going to turn into a lawsuit fund to deal with these political antics and we’re not going to have anything left for things that desperately need to be funded.

Speaking of lawsuits

Jones has gotten away with a lot of things for a long time without any negative repercussions. Like a feral kid who keeps pushing the envelope each time he’s never held accountable for his bad behavior, Jones has had quite a run of things for some time.

Remember that old cartoon skit where the barrel of a gun intended to shoot someone is twisted back toward the shooter who’s blasted in the face? That’s how I see Jones, because it’s likely that finally, one of his awful schemes may backfire so badly that all the Anselmo bucks in the world cannot help him.

If there’s any justice left in Shasta County, it’s possible that Jones may have pushed things too far this time. Patrick Henry Jones, meet California Penal Code 524:

Every person who attempts, by means of any threat, such as is specified in Section 519 of this code, to extort property or other consideration from another is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not longer than one year or in the state prison or by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Jones deserves both.

Let’s review. Jones told Pontes to resign. And if Pontes didn’t resign, then Jones threatened to make public Pontes’ expunged record.

So there you have it: blackmail or extortion. The lawyers will figure out those distinctions. Either way, Jones could end up in jail over his blackmail of Shasta County’s CEO. I guess that would mean he’d lose his District 4 supervisor seat, and residence in Anselmo’s back pocket.

The thing is, Jones isn’t the only supervisor guilty of blackmail. Stay tuned, and pass the popcorn.

What’s that saying about people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? Or maybe I’m getting it mixed up with let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Either way.

It’s been noted that Jones, for example, seems inexplicably allergic to being fingerprinted, which is required when serving on some board positions, so sometimes other supervisors must take his place.

Wonder what that’s all about.

Then there’s Jones’ buddy Baugh, the duplicitous supervisor who has the super creepy knack of being able to give a Chuckles’ grin while gas-lighting and verbally tormenting the board’s lone female, Supervisor Mary Rickert. Gosh, if we’re to believe multiple credible sources, Baugh has a closet stuffed so full of skeletons that you’d think the guy would bend over backward to give the appearance of walking – as Jensen put it – the straight and narrow.

Time may tell, because, as Jensen also said, people make mistakes.

In the meantime, this morning the Shasta County Board of Supervisors will meet. It’s anyone’s guess what insanity will unfold during this latest Shasta County shitnado. More pressing still comes later in the day, behind closed-session doors, where fates and futures hang in the balance between good and evil.

For the last two years, meetings have felt like a combo circus/horror movie. Things immediately worsened after Moty was recalled and Tim “me-too-also” Garman took District 2. They became worse yet when Baugh became chair and Jones became vice chair last month, which feels like many years ago.

All hell’s broken loose with the destructive 3-2 majority that seems determined to slash, burn and destroy Shasta County. Left unchecked, this unhinged group will continue its systematic scorched-earth removal of all sane and stable county employees in leadership positions. Soon, all the stable adults will be gone, and the only ones in charge will be a bunch of crazy, uncouth kids, Lord-of-the-Flies style, cubed.

At what point does some higher power step in and take the reins away from the clowns with the 3-2 majority, before they run this circus wagon into a ditch?

All that’s left for good, valuable county leaders like Pontes, Rickert, Cruse, Ramstrom and others to do is hang on for dear life, until help arrives.

Surely, help is on its way. Surely.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: The supervisors went into closed session about two items, including a discussion about Shasta County CEO Matt Pontes. Board Chair Les Baugh anticipated that the meeting could take many hours. He said that he didn’t expect to have any actionable information to report at the meeting’s conclusion.

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If you appreciate journalist Doni Chamberlain’s reporting and commentary, please consider a contribution to A News Cafe. Thank you.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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