Contemporary media accounts and other documents from the years 2004-05 confirm that the Fort Worth City Council demanded and received Jackson’s resignation in August, 2004, but that he remained in Fort Worth as an independent consultant to that city until June of 2005, when a local management consultant firm recruited him to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Jackson’s predecessor, Jim Westbrook.
The news of Jackson’s forced resignation in Fort Worth is the second revelation of a senior city official’s spotty work history in the past six months. Former Asheville Police Chief William Anderson took early retirement last fall, ending a tenure that had been plagued by scandals and allegations, and following the disclosure that he had been forced to resign from a similar position in Deland, Florida. Anderson came to Asheville from Greenville, NC, at the height of an ongoing feud with that city’s governing body.
Although Jackson was hired during the administration of former mayor Charles Worley and Anderson during the tenure of Terry Bellamy, both men were located and recruited by management search consultants, and available evidence suggests that the city used the same firm in both cases: Developmental Associates of Chapel Hill.
Both Jackson and Anderson are listed on Developmental Associates’ website under “Clients and References.” The word “client” as used on the website indicates individuals who have obtained employment through the company. This would mean that the city used Developmental Associates to find Jackson, and that in turn Jackson, when tasked with finding a replacement for former chief Bill Hogan (who retired when his own administration was also marred by charges of corruption and coverup) turned to the same company and was presented with Anderson.
Dr. Stephen Straus, founder and CEO of Developmental Associates, who was identified by sources as the city’s main contact at the firm, could not be reached by telephone Monday.
Jackson’s back story was referenced last week on the Buncombe Politics Facebook page when a member posted an excerpt from the website of WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth, dated August 18, 2004. That post, headlined “Fort Worth City Manager being asked to resign,” stated that Jackson was “under fire for a variety of reasons, including the difficulty in implementing a new, citywide trash collection plan.
“There are also reports that several of Jackson’s staff members have gone to city council members in recent weeks,” the report continues.
The item concludes, “If accepted, Jackson’s resignation would be effective immediately Although it’s not official, there is a plan to allow Jackson to stay on as a consultant to the city for a limited time, during which he will look for another job.”
On August 24, 2004, the web edition of My Plainview, a suburban Ft. Worth publication, confirmed that Jackson had resigned, but would remain in place as a consultant, in which capacity he would be paid a retainer of $8,100 every two weeks, the equivalent of $210,000 per year. The web story goes on to say that Jackson’s salary as city manager was in excess of $186,000 a year – meaning that his consultant retainer was nearly 13% higher than his salary as a city employee.
“I have no regrets,” the article quotes Jackson as saying. “It was a great opportunity and there were great employees to work with. The city is ahead of where it was 3 1/2 years ago. … I hope that progress continues.”
“Tension has grown in recent months between Jackson and some city leaders who perceived a lack of leadership, vision and trust. Jackson has also borne the brunt of citywide frustration over trash collection,” the report says, adding:
“During Jackson’s tenure, however, the city landed deals that officials say are crucial to continued downtown revitalization, including riverfront headquarters for RadioShack and Pier 1 Imports and the renovation of the tornado-ravaged former Bank One building into high-rise residences.”
Jackson’s apparent friction with Ft. Worth city leaders notwithstanding, he has enjoyed smooth sailing at the governmental level in Asheville. Mayor Esther Manheimer has often expressed support for Jackson and his way of running the city on a day-to-day basis.
“We work really well with management, with Gary and his team. They’re not on pins and needles. They’re able to have the freedom to really do they’re job effectively and recommend good policy direction,” Manheimer said in an interview with the Asheville Blade this past January.
“That’s kind of the newer way of doing business. That’s what newer, more effective cities are doing. They’re transparent, they’re run professionally,” she added.
The mayor and Jackson presented a united front during the recent analysis of problems within the Asheville Police Department, both criticizing the city’s civil service board for, in effect, complicating – if not actually interfering with – the investigation process.
Jackson also teamed up with Vice Mayor Marc Hunt last year to leverage the Pack Place Arts, Education and Cultural center out from under its board of directors and place it directly under city control.
Jackson assumed his Asheville duties on June 27, 2005. Prior to his Fort Worth position he served as city manager of nearby Carrollton, TX, and before that as city administrator in Liberty, Missouri. He was briefly the city manager of Coon Rapids, Minnesota and prior to that served as an assistant city manager and assistant budget director in Dallas, TX. He is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and received a master’s degree in planning and administration from the University of Kansas.
“Fort Worth is a great city with wonderful people. It was an awesome experience to serve them at a time when the community was recognized nationally as one of America’s most livable cities,” Jackson told the Tribune Tuesday.