Sooo … when is a political “discussion” not a political “event”?
Well, it depends on whom you talk to.
Steven Jackson had a gathering at Proud Mary’s 360 Grill on June 21.
At the end of his speech about leadership opportunities, Jackson, a Caddo Parish commissioner, announced that he was running for Shreveport mayor.
This was not a surprise.
Emails had invited guests to Jackson’s mayoral announcement. The big type at the top of the announcement: "Steven Jackson, Mayor 2018. Official Campaign Announcement." The announcement gave the location as Proud Mary's.
A Facebook post touted the event as Jackson’s mayoral announcement.
Proud Mary’s is in the Red River District under the Texas Street Bridge. The City of Shreveport is the landlord of the businesses in that area, including Proud Mary's.
The Proud Mary’s lease, like all the leases in this area, prohibits political activities.
From the lease: “The Leased Premises shall not be used by Tenant at any time for any partisan political purpose or to further the election or defeat of any candidate for political office.”
Lea Hall Properties manages the Red River District for the city.
A week before Jackson’s confab, the Lea hall Properties property manager sent an email to all Red River District tenants:
“Red River District Tenants: We have been contacted about tenants holding political events in their spaces. Attached please find a copy of Article 50 of your lease that prevents political activity in your leased premises in the Red River District. Any partisan political activity is a violation of your lease and will be strictly enforced by the City of Shreveport.”
After the event, the three local TV stations touted Jackson’s announcement for mayor.
In a June 26 letter Lea Hall Properties advised Proud Mary’s that the hosting of Jackson’s event constituted a violation of its lease.
“The hosting of certain events related to the upcoming political campaigns is a clear breach of the (lease) agreement. We hereby request that you cease any activities in violation of the provision.
"This letter serves as first and final notice that continued violations of this lease will result in the termination of this agreement.”
Proud Mary’s 360 Grill is a registered trade name for Mabel’s Bistro LLC. The Louisiana Secretary of State lists Miles A. Lester as the agent and member of the limited liability company.
Michelle White, one of the owners of Proud Mary’s, advised that Jackson's gathering was a “discussion,” not a “political event.”
Seemingly, the Jackson campaign announcement at Proud Mary’s was a blatant violation of the restaurant's lease.
If Jackson pushes the limits on legal matters while a candidate, one can only wonder what actions he will take if elected mayor.