LOCAL “PUBLIC” MEETINGS HELD WITHOUT THE PUBLIC PRESENT – AGAIN AND STILL
You may be aware that there was an Metropolitan Planning Commission (M.P.C.) meeting held yesterday at Governmental Plaza. I attended, along with a full-house of other interested parties – including dozens of dear souls from area retirement centers. Given that the city’s official temperature reached 109-degrees, it was not a good day to suffer the Plaza’s broken (i.e., no) air conditioning.
THE M. P. C. MEETING
For details of what took place at yesterday’s M.P.C. meeting, please go to the Coalition website, http://www.finish3132.com, and/or read reports from this morning’s Shreveport Times (report here) and KTBS Television online (report here). At the heart of yesterday’s meeting are optional ways for Tim Larkin to access Flournoy-Lucas Road for his Esplanade development. You may view depictions of those options on The Times online report page, in the drop-down of such links on the left-hand side of the article. (The first two links are key.)
My take-aways from yesterday are these:
(1) Contrary to widely spread misinformation, a key agreement for shared Flournoy-Lucas access between Larkin and The Glen Retirement Center does not exist. In fact, meetings toward that end have not even taken place.
(2) In a secret – meaning without notification to, or attendance by, the general public – meeting held on July 27, 2011 at the offices of N.L.C.O.G., certain “agreements” were negotiated, and basically nailed-down. While the property of The Glen is key to these agreements, its representatives were not in attendance.
(3) While this new plan is said to protect the extension of 3132 to the Port, Larkin has, once again, staked out a very good deal for himself, possibly at the expense of The Glen and taxpayers. The outline of the agreement from the secret meeting on July 27 shows the state’s willingness to pay for a good part of the street from Larkin’s development to Flournoy-Lucas, and if The Glen doesn’t get on board with the negotiated agreement for the permanent access to Flournoy-Lucas – which it would therefore share with Larkin – its property may well be targeted for expropriation by the state.
(4) An M.P.C. decision is postponed until an unspecified date, and further public discussion is set for its September meeting.
THE MORE IMPORTANT, SECRET MEETING
For those of us who thought we had come a long way with this issue since it exploded out of a meeting on April 7th at which no members of the general public were in attendance, we could not have been more wrong. After everything the public has done since then to express its displeasure with government of, by and for the few, many public officials went right ahead with the secret meeting on July 27th.
While attempts to nail-down who attended this key meeting to get Larkin his Flournoy-Lucas access have been unsuccessful, we do know that if a quorum of N.L.C.O.G.’s Transportation Committee was present, the meeting was illegal absent prior public notification that it would occur. Even more offensive would be that the meeting was carefully crafted not to include a quorum of the Committee, guaranteeing the meeting’s secrecy. Confirmed attendees in addition to the N.L.C.O.G. sponsors were Mayor Cedric Glover and Brian Crawford, LA DOTD, the M.P.C. and Mr. Larkin.
Notable in Their Absence
Two of those who were not in attendance have contacted me (and others) to make certain their non-participation is known, Shreveport City Councilman Michael Corbin and Port Executive Director Eric England. (Councilman Corbin is emphatic in his opposition to approval of the Flournoy-Lucas access for Larkin without City Council approval, but my questions at the meeting yesterday raise the distinct possibility that Council approval may not be required.)
The entity responsible for public notification, whether required by the letter of law or not, is N.L.C.O.G., the sponsor of the get-together. Regardless of anything that has happened in this fight for public rights and governmental transparency, one thing has been made very clear to everyone involved who receives a public salary: a notable number of us are fed-up with secrecy in anything related to the Hwy. 3132 extension … or anything else involving public dollars. N.L.C.O.G. is clearly, now, a repeat offender.
The day after the secret meeting, an open public meeting of N.L.C.O.G. took place, at which time the 3132 Coalition presented its studied recommendation for the 3132 extension route to the Port. Of all the things that happened at that meeting, one struck me as most notable: on the two voice-votes cast to approve inclusion of the Coalition’s suggested route in the publicly funded corridor study, Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker voted “yes” both times, but Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover did not; he abstained. (Everyone else in attendance also voted “yes.”)
Little did we know that the day before, Mayor Glover and Brian Crawford had played key roles in the secret meeting to get Larkin his access to Flournoy-Lucas and, thus, to get his development irrevocably underway … before an open public process even had the chance to yield the same.
Ladies and gentlemen, government process in Shreveport / Caddo Parish is being provably subverted by special interests, with a strong assist from some of our public officials. Unfortunately, those we must look to for help are other public officials who are 100% silent on these proven violations of central tenets of our way of government.
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