Should an individual with an outstanding judgment to the State Board of Ethics for campaign fines be appointed to a local commission? Or an outstanding judgment to the credit bureau? How about a conviction for simple battery that involved an alleged sexual encounter with a young lady who he had hired? And should Commissioners advise the board if the suggested appointment is a fellow church member? How about a person before the commission, should they be asked if any embarrassing revelation will be revealed should they be chosen? The nature of these should not only be embarrassing to Caddo citizens, but it is embarrassing to have to even discuss them for a candidate to serve on a public board.
Unfortunately these issues were not addressed at the recent Caddo Commission meeting on March 17 when the Commission chose a candidate to fill an open seat on the MPC. Theron Jackson was voted over other qualified candidates to the Caddo Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission to fill that open position.
Jackson has an outstanding civil penalty of $4,000 to the Louisiana Ethics Board for failure to file campaign finance reports; this is now a 2011 judgment filed in Caddo records that would be easy for any citizen to research. Jackson also has a 2010 judgment for $2,540 filed in Caddo records along with a subdivision homeowner’s association lien from 2011. A state tax lien in the amount of $16,974 was paid last year and the lien was cancelled in December. This information was not disclosed to Commissioners before their vote; these records are easily accessible on a computer search of Caddo records, and as the candidate names were known well before Thursday’s meeting, this should be part of standard procedures.
Additionally, Jackson was arrested in September 2011 for simple battery The affidavit for the arrest warrant states Jackson held the victim “against her will and he was kissing her.” She was finally able to get away from Pastor Jackson and he told her if she tells anyone, he, Pastor Jackson, would kill her. She went to her cellphone and showed several text messages from Pastor Jackson to her. One of the text messages, Pastor Jackson “asks he what will it cost him to lick her …” Another one of the text messages is where he was asking her to meet him at Nicky’s for some drinks.” The detailed Shreveport Police Departure Narrative, the Arrest Warrant affidavit and other documents are public records that can be copied at the Caddo courthouse.
The court minutes of Jackson’s case reflect that he plead not guilty in November 2011. On March 1, 2012 he withdrew this plea of not guilty and pled nolo contendere (no contest); he was fined $300 plus court costs and placed on supervised probation for 3 months. Jackson later filed a motion to invoke Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894 on this conviction which was granted on October 15, 2012. The 894 order erases the conviction for civil purposes but does not expunge the conviction for later consideration on any subsequent criminal convictions. This information is also available online from Caddo records; it was not made available to Commissioners.
Jackson is the minister of Morning Star Baptist Church. Reportedly Commissioners Lyndon Johnson and Stormy Gage-Watts are members of that church and Jerald Bowman had a prior association with Jackson and his church. Lyndon Johnson nominated Jackson; none of these 3 Commissioners disclosed these relationships with Jackson. Unlike the above, this information is not a public record that is accessible for review.
Whether or not Jackson was the “best” candidate for this open MPC seat is a question that can not be answered at this time. And how much of Jackson’s record, as set forth above, was known to all of the Commissioners is another open question; several have acknowledged (confidentially) that all or almost all of this was news to them—after the vote. The real question for Commissioners and citizens alike is how much should be known, discovered and disclosed about individuals who seek to be appointed to boards, commissions and authorities? Surely this information would be relevant if Jackson was a declared candidate for a public office—and probably those that cast votes on the MPC replacement should have been able to review this along with Jackson’s civic accomplishments when deciding the best person for this MPC position. After all, Jackson agreed to his nomination and thus should have been receptive to a review of all his background as part of the selection process.