Posts filed under ‘Caddo Parish Commission’
by Elliott Stonecipher
[Caddo Parish voters go to the polls on May 3rd to cast ballots - a second time - on a 1.75-mill property tax for the Caddo Commission. Voters defeated the identical tax proposition last October. This series of articles is written in that context. Early voting on the tax proposition continues through Saturday, April 26th.]
The idea for this article came from a meeting two months ago with Caddo Commission officials, both elected and staff. Soon after, this research began, focusing on a question of growing interest and importance:
how has the Caddo Commission, in a parish with almost no population growth since 1990, gathered in so much revenue – over 15-times population growth – and supercharged its spending – more than 13-times population growth?
This is an initial report on progress in finding answers.
The attached data table provides details. Fund categories therein are the Commission’s, taken directly from its website, “Summary of 2013 Budget,” Page C-1. Baseline data from 1990 has been provided by Commission staff in response to public information requests. Staff has also responded to follow-up requests over these weeks. Other sources of data include the U. S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Louisiana Tax Commission, and Caddo Parish Tax Assessor Charles Henington.
All 1990 data are shown before and after adjustment for inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that the cumulative rate of inflation since 1990 to be +80.8%.
Broadly, these findings are most notable:
… The Commission’s Haynesville Shale windfall is not even in the discussion. Flush with money, a tiny bit under $50,000,000 in discretionary (more…)
Add comment April 21, 2014 11:17 am
Thanks to Alexandria Burris, Michele Marcotte, John Prime and the Shreveport Times for follow up on one issue addressed at March 31 Shreve Memorial Library board meeting. I addressed this after the board meeting in “An Institution Gone Amuck” and feel the public must demand details of the churning work that never really fixes the inherent problem.
Louisiana citizenship requirement #1: understand we live in a very HUMID environment; mold and mildew are inherent issues, more so DANGERS to specific assets. Groups accepting a building to house books should KNOW if the building has a vapor barrier and is capable of housing paper-based products. Quotes, even thoughts that appear quite difficult to comprehend from a library board member:
“He said it is suspected the building may not have a vapor barrier in the walls to prevent moisture from seeping through.“
“There are underlying issues in the building itself,” he said. “Until we hire a professional to come and take a good assessment of it, we won’t really know.”
$10,000 expense to taxpayers to be told details of this problem seems more than a day late and $10,000 too much. Mold and construction experts KNEW this (more…)
Add comment April 13, 2014 10:07 am
by Murray Lloyd
The “A Point In Every Direction” Master Plan Marshals On
See, this is what happens when you try to hold elected officials accountable in the City of Shreveport – they just start making stuff up.
Never mind the Master Plan says not to, they think it is good “strategery” to continue to sprawl with no plan.
The argument is that, since we have made so many mistakes in the past, the way to fix this is to keep making them until we have filled in the gaps of all the mistakes we haven’t made yet.
And, if you noticed, neither the Mayor nor the Councilman mentioned the Master Plan.
Why? Because the Master Plan we really work from is “I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it wherever I want to.”
In religion, this is called “sin”; in biology this is called “cancer”; in economic (more…)
Add comment April 11, 2014 4:33 pm
by Elliott Stonecipher
Recently, in the first of this series of articles concerning the Caddo Parish Commission, I detailed the parish government’s overflowing cash coffers, as well as remarkably high salaries and other benefits Commissioners have voted themselves. The research focuses on the Commission’s upcoming second attempt at voter approval of a 1.75-mill property tax, a proposition rejected by voters less than six months ago. The May 3rd re-vote will cost taxpayers another $145,000.
Also rejected in last fall’s vote was a term-limits plan by Commissioners, a bizarre confection which would have all but removed limits: 20 years – five consecutive four-year terms – assuming, as history suggests is fair, the Commissioner’s re-election to each term.
For now, negative reactions by some Commissioners to this research have altered its focus. More current and urgent is marked hostility toward (more…)
Add comment March 31, 2014 1:09 pm
By John Settle
It’s never fun to read about one’s home town in the national media in a negative way. If you are a reader of USA Today, the Tuesday (March 25) edition is a paper to toss; a column listed the top 10 cities for “overall well-being”, and there was Shreveport-Bossier listed at 182.
The 2013 Gallup-Healthways ratings are based on more than 500,000 interviews in which people were asked about their emotional and physical health, job satisfaction, community safety, and access to food, shelter and health care. This is the sixth year of the survey, and for the second time the Provo Utah area was first; others in the top five included Boulder Colorado, Fort Collins Colorado, Honolulu Hawaii, and San Jose California. The five worst cities were Huntington/Ashland West Virginia/Ohio, Charleston West Virginia, Redding California, Spartanburg South Carolina, and Hickory North Carolina.
Add comment March 27, 2014 4:00 pm
by Elliott Stonecipher
Monday opened this seven-day march with the no-surprise announcement by Edwin Edwards that he is back in the political wars, an old solider who, contrary to General MacArthur’s belief, just won’t fade away. Then, by yesterday’s mid-week, a handful of Shreveport and Caddo Parish politicos outdid Mr. Edwards in the remember, things can always get worse competition by – get this, now – gathering in secrecy to kill a public forum celebrating Sunshine Week, which is to say, government transparency.
No. I did not make that up. Our government really did do precisely the opposite of what Sunshine Week exists to celebrate. Two Caddo Parish Commissioners joined with our Shreve Memorial Library administrator and Board in scotching a Sunshine Week public panel discussion, long set to happen the next day. The forum had been organized to promote citizen use of the Louisiana Records Act to enhance government transparency and accountability. (We thank Vickie Welborn of The Times and Elsa Gillis at KTBS Television for their coverage.)
Included in the story is the bullying of Shreve Memorial Library employees doing the right things, along with the excoriation of some of the event’s volunteers in at least one (more…)
Add comment March 20, 2014 2:38 pm
by Marion Marks
Thanks to each participant, both panelists and interactive audience members, of the “REAL” Shreveport Sunshine Forum Wednesday night for not permitting those who attempted to bully the forum to cease and silence any voice of dissent. Had they succeeded the flickering hope I had that Shreveport might yet succeed would have been extinguished. The apparent evil or criminal element we seem to have inherited would have won. We would have allowed evil forces, people and what they represent, to put us into their box.
The Times story unfortunately stated specifics contrary to the facts we know to be true. The 90th anniversary committee of the Shreve Memorial Library had been organizing special events for the library since last year planned and reserved the original venue.
Second, while it is alleged that the makeup of the panel was not known until the 11th hour, those same records indicate that an all-users email was sent a week before the scheduled event, and that the Facebook event had also been available for a full week prior. Information on some speakers was available to the organizing committee and others even earlier than that. The bullies had yet to realize they may be targeted. [FREE ACCESS to email records here]
Finally, although this was not included in the records I acquired, based on (more…)
Add comment March 20, 2014 10:09 am
Louisiana’s Public Records Act sets forth simple guidelines that allow for transparency by governmental bodies. A written request (letter, fax, or email) to a public body requesting public records is to be complied within three business days. The public agency can make available the requested records for review, or as is more often the case, provide copies of the documents at a reasonable charge. Some public bodies readily comply with public records requests (PRRs) and some unfortunately do not, – as experienced from sending over one hundred (100) PRRs in the last two (2) years.
The City of Shreveport is always very slow in responding to PRRs. (One notable exception was a recent request regarding pension plans that was promptly answered by CAO Dale Sibley). Seemingly the standard operating procedure of Mayor Glover’s office (and City Attorney Terri Scott) is to wait until one or two follow-up requests have been sent before document production.
Initially the City would provide the documents at no charge by email or fax; now it is often necessary to go to the City Attorney’s office to pick up the requested documents and pay a copy fee. Additionally, the City adopted a policy of redacting substantial portions of invoices for legal services on the dog park litigation, claiming attorney client (more…)
Add comment March 18, 2014 6:00 am
by Elliott Stonecipher
The Caddo Parish Commission will soon and finally set a May 3rd election for voters to decide on a 1.75-mill Debt Service property tax renewal. This particular Commission bucket of cash – there are nineteen (19) such – would thus stay filled to its $23,000,000-plus brim. There is no contention by the Commission that the related capital projects will not be otherwise funded if the renewal fails.
If this proposition seems familiar it’s because Caddo voters rejected it in a vote taken last October, just before Halloween. Also on that ballot, mind-numbingly tricky and with no accompanying treat, was a “term limits” proposal for Caddo Commissioners of … if I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’ … two decades: five terms, four years per. Caddo voters came up with their own treat by voting “no.”
More to the specific point, public documents make it clear just how much taxpayer money the Commission already has and holds.
How Much Cash?
As recounted by various Government Plaza insiders, almost the entire Commission – only Commissioner Mike Thibodeaux voted against (more…)
Add comment March 16, 2014 2:57 pm
by Marion Marks
Shreve Memorial Library is sponsoring at Cohab, in downtown Shreveport a discussion panel dealing with transparency in government, experiences dealing with public records, and the reality of open government in Louisiana. The program is scheduled from 7:00-8:30 followed by question-and-answer with the audience. Panelists scheduled to appear are Elliott Stoneciper (Evets Management Services, Inc.), Tom Arceneaux (attorney with Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts), Alison Bath (The Shreveport Times), Danny Lawler (The Inquisitor) and Jeff Everson (City of Shreveport-City Council).
Current public records requests with the City Council, Mayor and Parish Commission will certainly be part of the topic of discussion. In light of the struggle to control the leadership of the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) and documents that have been sent to us, a PRR (Public Records Request) was submitted to determine what other improper or potentially illegal email will be forthcoming from the two bodies and the mayor.
I am NOT an attorney, but the attorneys who we have engaged to assist with this utilizing the Public Records Act of Louisiana (R.S. 44:1 et seq.), told us to respectfully request the following information. And our request was as specific and narrow as possible so as to not give a chance to come back with a “too broad” response from the city or parish attorneys.
The specific information requested is “Bulls eye”clear. We asked for: documents, emails, texts, faxes, appointment calendars & logs containing reference (more…)
Add comment March 13, 2014 3:43 pm