For those obsessed with the Alphonso Jackson embroglio, in which the Housing and Urban Development secretary admitted to killing government contracts with Bush bashers during an April 28 speech in Dallas, let us not forget his behavior 13 years ago. What simpler times those were: He was the head of the Dallas Housing Authority, Paul Fielding was on the Dallas City Council, and Laura Miller was just an Observer columnist when she wrote about this skirmish between Fielding and Jackson:
"Then there was the Thrilla on Marilla--the lightweight bout between Fielding and Alphonso Jackson which kept us occupied for a few weeks in the winter of 1993. The councilman and the Dallas Housing Authority chief, you may recall, got uniquely physical during a tense meeting in Mayor Bartlett's office. When it was over, no one was at all surprised that someone would want to stomp grapes on Paul Fielding's face--his major in college was, no doubt, the art of bringing out the worst in people. What surprised everyone is that Jackson actually did it.
A diminutive, soft-spoken, horn-rimmed-glasses type, Jackson simply gathered himself into an absolute fury and, like a bull at Pamplona, rammed Fielding face first into the unyielding metal frame of a partially opened door. Blackening eyes. Mangling facial nerves. Sending ears to ringing.
Jackson blew his opportunity to become a sympathetic figure in the eyes of Fielding detractors when he panicked, dissolving into a choke mode--not only denying that he'd beaten Fielding up, but frantically concocting off-the-wall scenarios about what happened. In one, the mayor, who actually witnessed Jackson's handiwork along with half the mayor's staff, was blamed for the bludgeoning."
And then there was this Observer story from six years ago, in which Tom Korosec wrote about James Fantroy's desire to take over Al Lipscomb's council seat. Seems Alphonso Jackson, during his stint as head of the DHA, signed a lucrative contract with Fantroy's security company despite the objections of (heh) HUD officials. To nobody's surprise, except Jackson's, it didn't work out so well.
"The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development initially objected to the contract, but DHA officials defended their choice because Fantroy's company had local armed-guard experience. Then-DHA head Alphonso Jackson signed the contract with Fantroy's company. Jackson...said he could not recall anything about the bidding or how Fantroy's company received the contract.
The choice of Fantroy's firm turned out to be a headache for the public housing agency. After receiving complaints of abusive guards who displayed shotguns and automatic weapons, chased off guests, and were either verbally abusive or flirtatious, DHA pulled J.L. guards from a third of its properties and cut the two-year contract back to 18 months. It later sued Fantroy's company when it failed to defend DHA against an abuse-related suit brought by one of the residents. Jackson says he vaguely recalls the residents' complaints and remembers that the contract was cut short. 'They weren't performing, but I can't remember the specifics,' he says."
By the way, if you wanna see what Dustee Tucker--the HUD spokeswoman who tried to spin Jackson's comments by claiming he was only kidding--looks like, check out Wonkette. Looks like someone has a crush. --Robert Wilonsky
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