The News & Messenger had a puff piece this week on City Manager Mercury Payton resigning from his position at Manassas Park. The story, as the eagle-eyed reporters at the N&M present it, is that Payton left his six-figure job as the daily operations manager of the Manassas Park Crime Syndicate in order to take over the van shuttle business that his parents run out of their basement on River Forest Drive in Manassas. I’m all for filial piety stories, but in light of past events this one doesn’t pass the smell test.
As City Manager, Payton has been the go-to guy for the Frank Jones cabal. When they needed something done, they got Payton to do it. If they might have needed a message delivered that someone needed to toe the line, or they’d burn down their business, Mercury Payton would be a good messenger. If someone had to provide cover for illegal aliens selling stolen automatic weapons and cocaine out of a restaurant, Payton would be a great pick to talk to the right people. Young and capable yet eminently malleable, Mercury Payton was the perfect low-profile foot soldier for the crime gang that runs Manassas Park. He’s even a very likable guy. In terms of raw talent, a locality like this never deserved someone of this caliber.
Back in 2007, Payton was hailed as the city savior that figured out the right combination of shifting spending cuts to the schools and accounting gimmicks to save the Manassas Park budget. The next year’s budget, in the best example of channeling Nikita Kruschev by a Virginia locality, was hailed as “mak[ing] the proposed fiscal 2008 budget the most uniform and equitable for all Manassas Park residents.” Right before that budget went down the toilet that is, with record-setting tax hikes and the city laying off a huge swath of the public works department. Payton was the Park’s golden boy, and the Jones cabal couldn’t stop telling everyone just how wonderful a public servant he was. Well his brilliance was going to single-handedly rescue the Park from fiscal ruin!
Yeah, we know how that turned out. The property tax rate is $1.65 per hundred. The people were uniformly and equitably screwed.
Anyways, Payton’s assigned “special duties” seem to have got him the attention of federal authorities in October 2008. Luis Guzman, an illegal alien from El Salvador by the name was the business owner (???) of the El Vaquero Restaurant was arrested in a sting operation for selling coke and machine guns. A long-standing senior member of the “Spanish Mafia” in Manassas Park, Guzman wanted to drive some business competitors under, and made a “friendly request” to the City Council to put pressure on these rivals. The person who reportedly delivered the messages coming from Guzman happens to be a young man who has announced he will soon depart the employ of the City of Manassas. When law enforcement started dismantling the operations of the “Spanish Mafia” in the Park, you think they might have stumbled across these well-traveled anecdotes because this evidence would be a critical element in any criminal prosecution.
Of course they might have even bothered to prosecute Guzman, or perhaps even revoke the liquor license for El Vaquero. For the longest time, that didn’t come to pass. This is the Park, and strange things do happen.
Perhaps Payton decided that being the errand boy for Frank Jones was ultimately too risky no matter how much he was being paid off, and figured that a basement office isn’t that much of a step down from working in the Connor Center. I’d like to think so, anyways. Given that the Park isn’t indicting him on trumped up charges in order to run him out of town, which is what would happen if Payton was seen as a threat, my fear is Payton is being directed to go and lie low and keep his mouth shut, or else.
People who intimately deal with the criminal enterprise known as the Manassas Park Government end their tenures in a manner substantially similar to how gang members are retired. It doesn’t end with a handshake, that’s for sure.
Mercury Payton just got “jumped out.”
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