Airport commissioners’ attorneys send letter to Shreveport city leaders with cease and desist requests

Legal counsel for three Shreveport Airport Authority commissioners who were attempted to be removed from their positions has sent a letter to Shreveport leadership with cease and desist demands.

Following the Louisiana Attorney General ruling in favor of Waynette Ballengee, Mary Jackson, and Margaret Shehee Thursday after Mayor Adrian Perkins’ alleged efforts to remove them from their positions and hire a new Director of Airports for the City of Shreveport, lawyers from the commissioners sent Perkins, the City Attorney, and the City Council a letter indicating that Ballengee, Jackson, and Shehee “intend to fulfill their service as Commissioners through the expiration of their respective terms.”

The letter also asks Mayor Perkins and the Shreveport City Council to cease and desist from taking any action to remove them from their positions and approve the appointment of any other member nominated as commissioner to the authority. Additionally, the legal counsel “demands that no further action be taken regarding appointment of a new director until the authority has made a nomination after an appropriate search.”

Failure to comply will “leave their clients with no choice but to respond with immediate legal action.”

Ballengee, Jackson, and Shehee have retained Allison A. Jones, attorney at the law firm of Downer, Jones, Marino & Wilhite and Glenn L. Langley, attorney at the law firm of Langley, Parks & Maxwell LLC.

In early March, 2019, Mayor Adrian Perkins reportedly sent letters to Ballengee, Jackson, and Shehee, notifying them he intended to replace their positions on the commission.

A press release from one of the three’s law firm — Downer, Jones, Marino & Wilhite — says that public record requests show Mayor Perkins conducted interviews and solicited resumes for the position of Director of Airports for the City of Shreveport “despite the fact that the Authority has made no nomination for this position.”

“Ms. Ballengee, Ms. Jackson and Ms. Shehee were all appointed for fixed terms and believe that the actions of Mayor Perkins violate the Charter of the City of Shreveport and other applicable laws. Each further believes that absent a nomination from the Authority for the position of director, no appointment can be made by either the mayor or the council for this position,” the release stated.

The three commissioners sought an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Louisiana, which was issued April 17, 2019. It says: “The Mayor of City of Shreveport may not remove at will a commissioner of the Shreveport Airport Authority whose term has not expired. The Mayor of the City of Shreveport does not have authority to appoint, and the Shreveport City Council does not have the authority to confirm a new director of airports for the City of Shreveport in the absence of a nomination of the Shreveport Airport Authority.”

“Hopefully, this will put an end to this controversy and we can get on with the business of the Airport Authority serving the needs of the public and the local aviation community” said Ballengee, Jackson, and Shehee via the press release. “We are gratified by this opinion and feel vindicated by the confirmation of what we knew to be the law. Terms for members of boards and commissions are there for this very reason, to ensure the independence of the board. This mayor’s attempted illegal acts are a disservice to this community. We’ serve without compensation, wanting only to improve the community in which we all live. We are grateful to be able to continue to serve out our terms and exercise our independent judgment concerning Airport development and operation of this most vital link to our community. We thank our supporters.”

Ms. Jones and Mr. Langley, as counsel for the commissioners, stated via the email release, “This dispute is not about politics. This is about elected leaders following the law as they have sworn to do when they took their oath of office. The mark of great leaders is that they follow the law and they correct their course when they are shown that their actions are illegal. We sincerely hope that the Mayor corrects his course and moves forward working amicably with our clients and the entirety of the Shreveport Airport Authority to work towards the betterment of the City of Shreveport.”