Board of Trustees made the right decision

Paul Jones was the mayor of Ravenna from January 1976 to January 1982. He was also the mayor of Ravenna from January 1996 to December 2005.

Jones was also the namesake of the Child Development Center – that building on Rhodes Road with the plastic slides and metal swingsets just across from First Year Experience?

Not anymore.

Last month, Jones was found guilty of felony charges, and the Kent State Board of Trustees ruled at its meeting last Thursday that his conviction was a legitimate reason to remove his name from a building that was a daily home to toddlers.

Good choice.

In December 2006, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal bill of information against the former Ohio mayor, who currently lives in Bradenton, Fla. That information charged Jones with five counts of mail fraud and three counts of filing false tax returns.

A little more than a month later, 56-year-old Jones plead guilty to all counts. The university began discussion as to whether it should remove his name from the building after he admitted to the felonies.

Jones had played a major role in securing funds for the center and was a state representative in 1991 when the building assumed his name. The Board of Trustees ruled to remove Jones’ name from the building’s title altogether and call it the Kent State University Child Development Center.

Sandra Harbrecht, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the board felt naming a building after a person is an honor. True. She added that having a building named after Jones would not be a “clear, articulate vision” of the university. Also true.

When Jones resigned as mayor in December 2005, it was revealed he had not reported earnings he had received from a lawn mowing business run by his son. He did not follow state ethic forms in that his involvement with his son’s business created a conflict of interest, as reported in the Daily Kent Stater.

The university could have jumped on changing the building’s name a year ago, but it didn’t. Once again, good choice. Innocent until proven guilty, right?

Well, this is where Jones looks like the jerk.

The argument could be made that mail and tax fraud are small crimes compared to what he could have done. This editorial board sees that point, but not only did Jones embarrass himself, he embarrassed the university. Being in higher positions of power deems higher responsibility to the community you serve. Jones’ name was on a building that local children call home. Sure those tots probably won’t end up committing fraud and other various felonies because his name was on a sign they probably won’t even remember, but he represented Kent State, and the university owes it to those patrons to provide a good role model.

A former mayor who committed tax fraud is not that.

The Board of Trustees made the right decision last Thursday to rename the building. Kent State took the safe way out in renaming the Child Development Center after the entire university. Perhaps the board should also look into creating stricter rules when deciding who to name university buildings after.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.