CORRUPTION TEST: CROSS BAYOU POINT + M.P.C.+ MAYOR’S RACE
Monday, March 12, 2018 …2:51 P.M.
Given its exceptionally strong hold on Shreveport and Caddo Parish, few honest folks are surprised by new examples of public corruption.
Surprised or not, though, it is sickening to watch it take shape directly in front of us.
A developing example is the stark conflict of interest between our Metropolitan Planning Commission – “MPC” – and the principals in the proposed $1 billion Cross Bayou project.
And, only a mini-step away from that unholy alliance, is a mayoral campaign with a line of power-elites queueing up to bankroll it.
Analyzing this begins by acknowledging that no matter how cockamamie this here-we-go-again Cross Bayou scheme may seem, notable power here is aggressively boosting it.
An example is the extraordinary coverage of the project – “Cross Bayou Point,” officially – by our daily newspaper.
In only twenty-three days – February 14 / March 9 – The Times published …
… an expansive, two-day roll-out of Cross Bayou Point,
… two additional “news” stories,
… drone video footage of the site,
… separate project endorsements by Rev. Dr. Harry Blake and NAACP’s Lloyd Thompson, and
… a first in my years, a feature by the Times editor which borrowed (with attribution) from the Shreveport Sun.
The Sun / Times piece notably featured former Shreveport pol, now pastor, Theron Jackson.
Jackson is identified as one of three partners in the project’s attached Gateway Development Consortium. THAT triggers the conflict of interest / corruption alarm, because …
… Theron Jackson is also our MPC Chairman.
The MPC regulates such real estate developments, and if the project happens, the MPC will be up to its hairline in all manner of regulatory decisions necessary for its completion … with hundreds-of-millions taxpayer dollars on the line.
Jackson is not “just” MPC Chairman, either.
On the MPC, he controls both a voting majority (five votes) of members, thus protecting highly unpopular Executive Director Mark Sweeney.
On top of all of this, another MPC member, local attorney Curtis Joseph, Jr., is also a Cross Bayou Point “partner.”
The Times and others identify three project principals – Jackson, Joseph and Paul Pratt of Chesapeake Energy, so …
… two-of-three are appointed members of the MPC … which can be no accident.
Members are appointed by either the Caddo Parish Commission or City of Shreveport, and any appeals of MPC decisions will be made to the City Council.
All of this leads to the effect on the mayor’s race.
Theron Jackson is politically aligned with State Senator Greg Tarver, and has run for elective office three times. He succeeded only in his run for the City Council in 2002, losing campaigns for Shreveport mayor and state senator.
My research into those campaign finance reports finds that no contributor in the combination of his three campaigns gave Theron Jackson more money than Greg Tarver: $5,350. We might add to that another $2,500 Jackson received from Tarver’s brother-in-law, Floyd Kirksey.
This Tarver-Jackson relationship focuses direct attention on the one between Tarver and would-be mayoral candidate Adrian Perkins. Perkins is widely identified as Tarver’s son-in-law to be.
(Any who doubt that Senator Tarver would be, at a minimum, our city’s co-mayor with the 33-ish Perkins if he wins do not know the senator.)
I will not be surprised if the $1 Billion Cross Bayou Point development – and its rumored mega-bond issue right after the mayor is elected – molds, if not drives, our mayoral campaign.
If so, public demand for huge improvements in basic service delivery would take a back seat. Insiders would financially “get well” (as some of them laughingly refer to it) …
… but Shreveport would do the opposite.
© 2018 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED