Posts filed under ‘Caddo Parish Commission’

Challengers to Incumbent Caddo Commissioners Have Great Opportunities

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Opinion by John SettleIn most elections incumbent candidates have a clear advantage over challengers–but this will may NOT be the case in this fall’s Caddo Commission elections. All 12 seats are up for re-election and only David Cox is termed limited after 3 four year terms. It is presumed that the remaining 11 will seek re-election; Ken Epperson has already announced his campaign at a recent fundraiser.

Caddo Commissioner Epperson

Caddo Commissioner Epperson

In the past, Commission seats were safe bets for unopposed re-election if for no other reason that the Commission members generally dodged controversial votes. The demographics of the Commission, unlike the Shreveport City Council, lends itself to more harmonious actions–6 Republican whites and 6 Democrat blacks. Additionally the Commission has enjoyed a very stable (more…)

Add comment February 27, 2015 12:00 pm

Commissioners in CPERS: La. Legislative Auditor Says “… Appears Unconstitutional”

Elliott_StonecipherAt the same time Caddo Parish Commissioners yesterday sued taxpayers to somehow keep their Caddo Parish Retirement System (CPERS) haul, Louisiana State Auditor Daryl Purpera notified the Commission of his determination that such … appears to be unconstitutional.”

In the course of researching and reporting on the issue (SEE articles, here, here, and here), I appealed to Mr. Purpera, along with many other investigative and prosecutorial officials.

In his letter to Parish Administrator Woody Wilson (read the letter here), Purpera in no way asserts that the CPERS plan is illegal or unconstitutional, but explains why Commissioners cannot legally participate. Even though the state auditor cannot legally sue to block the Commission (the Attorney General’s office can, and should), Purpera’s letter directly states what he can legally do:

JusticeAtStake“Therefore, based upon the Constitutional Amendments cited above and the AG Opinions cited above, it appears to us that for Caddo Parish to continue to contribute public monies on behalf of Commissioners … is improperI urge you to reconsider your position and to determine whether (Commission) Ordinances 3762 and 4343 should be repealed.

Given that under Louisiana Law, the constitution provision is presumed constitutional until finally adjudicated otherwise by the Louisiana Supreme Court, I will be assigning auditors who will review this matter (more…)

February 13, 2015 3:02 pm

Caddo Commission Looks to Court to Save CPERS Take

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

Caddo Parish Commissioners unanimously voted in their Thursday meeting to seek “a permanent judicial resolution” to questions concerning the constitutionality of their participation in “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employees Retirement System.

Rather than depend on in-house, salaried parish attorneys to handle the task, outside counsel was hired.

It is this series of articles which publicly raised the questions courts will now – yet again – attempt to answer.  In researching the matter, staff specialists for the Louisiana legislature, and others outside local government, asserted the unconstitutionality of participation in CPERS by our part-time, elected Commissioners.  

Unanimous Vote of Caddo Commission(sm)Documents requested through the Louisiana Public Records Act unexpectedly also discovered that taxpayer contributions to CPERS retirement accounts had reached astonishing, incomparable levels.  In 2013 and 2014, taxpayers contributed 16.75% to accounts of top-rate Commissioners and unidentified other CPERS members, (more…)

February 7, 2015 2:55 pm

Shreveport MPC/Staff Choke on Challenge

by Marion MarksLittle Free Library

Following the Little Free Library issue in Shreveport has been a folly for social media gurus as the chain of bumbles by the MPC staff has only been heightened when a non-threat appeared from copy-cat Anonymous spoofs along with law-enforcement tracking of the culprits.

LFL Demo Units

Sample LFL Units

The Little Free Library (LFL) concept* is a well-established institution nationwide base on the concept that libraries, book-sharing and reading are a basis for educating the public, providing cheap recreational materials and challenging the system of who controls public access and public areas. Little Free Libraries can be found generally through social media, but Google searches also take searchers to potential local venues, where available.

The Shreveport LFL first appeared in social media in February, 2013, however the origins may predate the FaceBook group page. The founders appear to be based around librarians and bibliophiles who appreciate reading, sharing books (more…)

February 5, 2015 5:14 pm

Pt. II: Commissioners’ Retirement Explicitly Unconstitutional

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

Last week I posted the first in a series of articles about Caddo Parish Commissioners’ unconstitutional participation in “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employees Retirement System.  To understate the case, the article struck a nerve with Caddo taxpayers and other interests in Louisiana and elsewhere.

Time Stopped...

Time Stopped…

Before the article went out, the Caddo Parish Commissions’ production of related public documents via the Louisiana Public Records Act had ceased, many weeks into this work.  Some withheld documents have since been released to us, revealing startling additional detail about the Commission’s design and conduct of CPERS. 

C.B. Forgotston, government watchdog and advisor in this work, has notified all state legislators of the matter, as well as Louisiana’s Inspector General, key staff in (more…)

February 2, 2015 12:04 pm

Commissioners’ Retirement Is Explicitly Unconstitutional

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

By 1996, Governor Mike Foster was done with part-time elected officials hitting Louisiana taxpayers for their retirement.  Among those officials were legislators, but Foster brought them aboard by grandfathering-in the ones then in office.  The resulting legislation bulls-eye targeted offenders and banned the giveaway not only for future legislators, but also school board, levee board, and “police jury or parish council” members.Bullseye=we see you

The legislation became Act. 99 of the 1st Special (Legislative) Session of 1996, and to make sure this goodie door was nailed shut, Foster and the legislature went the last mile.  On November 5, 1996, with a high presidential election turnout as an exclamation point, voters put the prohibition in the Louisiana Constitution.  The vote for Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. l was strong and then some:

statewide, 70.2% voted to nix these handouts to parish commissioners and the others, and

… in Caddo Parish, 68.9% did so.

Straight from the good government textbook, the ban was a screaming win (more…)

January 27, 2015 9:49 am

Part III. Commission Hits Us Again … Hard

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

[Previous articles in this series can be read here and here.]

The formula for good government is simple and direct:  the governed commit to battle as necessary for transparency in all elected officials do in the public interest.  Holding officials accountable for their actions is otherwise impossible.  The assumption, therefore, is that a participating public actually knows what elected officials are doing. Assumption

In Caddo and Bossier Parishes, the dramatic de-emphasis of hard news reporting about local government has become wind in the sails of self-serving elected officials.  As that condition persists over extended periods of time – as it has here – accountability disappears.  

More directly put, official malfeasance becomes systemic when there is no downside risk in it.  Then, officials so inclined deliberately, (more…)

January 7, 2015 3:14 pm

Pt. II, Caddo Commission Hits Us Again, and Hard

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

The last time Caddo Parish Commissioners took a specific, publicly recorded vote to give themselves a pay raise, Bill Clinton had been President for less than a year … December 8, 1993.

If that strikes you as a bit – or a lot – counter-intuitive, it should.  Too many Caddo Commissioners are now recognizable for their commitment to self-service rather than public service.  The matter of precisely how Commission members pay themselves with our money is just the latest example.

The fact of the matter is that the careful (more…)

December 31, 2014 3:00 pm

Caddo Commissioners Hit Us Again, and Hard

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

 

Last spring, I learned and wrote about the Caddo Parish Commission’s new “education & training” policy, and what a perk, to say it politely, it might prove to be for Commissioners. As I promised then, this is the initial report on that policy.

abuse of discretion

abuse of discretion

What you are about to read is more than merely upsetting, even here and now. Described is an abuse of official discretion, if not worse, which is well beyond the norm. I urge readers to remember that the broader issue here is a public body of (more…)

December 22, 2014 11:38 am

New Faces Needed on Caddo Commission

Shreveport Attorney John Settle

Opinion by John Settle

The 2014 elections have placed many new faces in key leadership positions for the City of Shreveport and Caddo Parish – – a new mayor, four new councilmen and six new school board members. In the process one incumbent council representative was defeated and four incumbent school board members were sent home. And for the first time a local PAC (Political Action Committee) was organized to contribute to election efforts.

Balance.. Balance... OOOps!

Balance.. Balance… OOOps!

The school board and council elections reflect significant citizen dissatisfaction with the current operation of these government entities. Newbies on the Council represent a majority of the present body and the newcomers on the school board represent half its members – enough (more…)

December 12, 2014 4:00 pm

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