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Racism claims at center of recently set ethics complaint hearing
The City of San Marcos Ethics Review Commission set a hearing for an ethics complaint filed against Parks and Recreation Board member Jordan Buckley by Park Ranger Loy Locke.
Locke alleges that Buckley violated Article 5 of the Ethics Code Section 2.424 by making a false statement of material fact at a public meeting, referencing the Sept. 17, 2020 Parks Advisory Board meeting in his Ethics Violation Complaint form.
“In the meeting Board member Jordan Buckley stated he filed for a public records request and found three complaints against me concerning racism,” Locke wrote in the complaint. “Board member Jordan Buckley then accused me of being a racist. Later in the meeting Board Member Jordan Buckley accused me of being a racist several more times.”
The Ethics Violation Complaint form also states that of the three complaints Buckley received via an open records request from the city, only one of them was about Locke.
Although Locke’s name has been censored in the video of the public meeting, Buckley read two complaints alleged against Locke in the Sept. 17 meeting, and spoke of two other residents coming to him with concerns about, “the racism of a park ranger.”
Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Jamie Lee Case said in the Sept. 17 meeting, “We did investigate every instance in which you read today. We actually reached out to the complainants themselves and offered opportunities to come in and meet with us. One didn't show up. What was found was that some of these were false.”
At the September meeting, Chief Park Ranger Jade Huffman objected to Buckley’s claim stating that none of what was alleged occurred.
“I will not tolerate any racism,” Huffman said. “I watched the body camera footage. I can tell you that 100% of that, of what you said, none of it existed. What was alleged was not there. It was sent up through channels to the highest level, they reviewed and saw it.”
City correspondence showed that investigations into two of the complaints were determined to be “unfounded.”
Huffman also said the complainants were offered the opportunity to review the body camera footage.
Following the September meeting, Huffman repeated an offer to meet with Buckley to discuss the concerns he raised.
"As I stated at the meeting, the specific incidents you mentioned were reviewed and did not support allegations of wrongdoing," Huffman said in an email exchange. "Any request for documentation or body camera footage has to go through the proper Open Records processes. However, if you would like to meet to discuss the documents that you already have or additional information, I am pleased to do so. I take complaints against my team very seriously. We are committed to serving our community with integrity and professionalism."
Buckley then filed an open records request to see the footage, but it was denied by the city.
The complaints against Locke were brought up in a discussion over a potential can-ban recommendation. Buckley was the sole no vote, stating that although he supported the concept, that a can-ban would be unevenly enforced. “Who is going to be punished for these can-bans if we have people that are enforcing with racial bias?” said Buckley.
“The three complaints are all explicitly talking about uneven enforcement based on race,” Buckley said. “I propose we postpone the discussion until we look into [Loy Locke] and perhaps other mentions of the park rangers.”
The commission found the complaint in proper form and that it alleges sufficient facts to constitute a prima facie violation of a state conflict of interest law following a review in executive session during Tuesday's meeting. The hearing for the complaint is set for Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m.
The video of the Sept. 17, 2020 Parks and Recreation Board meeting is publicly available at https://san-marcos-tx.granicus.com/player/clip/1582?view_id=19&redirect=... and is also embedded below.
This story has been updated since its first publication.