Much has happened in the three weeks since we at the Finish 3132 Coalition were in a position to report on new developments in the effort to resuscitate hope for the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. As the front line in this long effort shifts to the courts, some things are better left unsaid, but this report to you works around those necessary reservations.
The Larkin Bailout Program: Chapter Umpteen
The last report to you (here) was our Coalition’s specific “thank you” to the (volunteer) members of Shreveport’s MPC board. The day before, those members had – in an emphatic 9-0 vote – declared “no” to the Shreveport City Council’s latest directive that they find a way to give Esplanade developer Tim Larkin the green light to build a roadway in the most likely future path of the Extension.
As I noted that day in my presentation to MPC members, that directive from some City Council members was simply the latest in a non-stop attempt to resolve a for-profit developer’s self-inflicted woes at the expense of the public. Evidence of that fact provided the backdrop for many of the meeting’s public comments: the MPC had only a few months earlier voted – also unanimously – to give that same “no” answer to the developer’s request for approval of his roadway into Flournoy-Lucas Road.
What this is, we all now know, is a campaign by the developer and his friends in various government offices to forget that Shreveport taxpayers long ago decided this issue and put their money up for the completion 3132 Extension through land Larkin since purchased. This ugly public display of the non-stop Larkin bailout attempt now moves again to our City Council. On October 9th at Government Plaza, we will all be forced to plead the public’s case, and convince a majority of Council members to honor the people of the city rather than a developer and his relative handful of hyper-loyal, and somehow strongly motivated, political friends.
Our Coalition attorneys believe any such rehearing of the remand (?) – the second directly involving the City Council – is illegal, an argument they will of course make. Regardless, all of us also believe that any such repeated Council consideration is wrong, and a real affront to the people of Shreveport.
The rejection of the Larkin Bail-Out was accomplished as directed in our City Charter when the MPC cast their first unanimous vote. That should have been the end of any Extension-killing (again) roadway construction by the developer. Regardless, the matter was then appealed to the Council. The Council then sent it back to MPC. The MPC rejected it unanimously AGAIN. Now its headed back to the Council … AGAIN.
The Real, and Mostly Hidden, Winds in Mr. Larkin’s Sails
On this long road in defense of the Shreveport public, perhaps nothing has been as potentially consequential as the relatively recent evidence of who Tim Larkin has in his corner, in addition to our mayor, some of our Council members, many staff members of involved government agencies, and friends in the news media, to name but a few. Now we have proven the addition to that list of many Railsback and Ellerbe Road land- and homeowners, and Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, Governor Bobby Jindal’s #1 lawyer and go-to political insider.
As to the wealthy property owners in the area who are supporting Larkin, he has in fact stood for many years between them and any possibility of a highway running through their properties. Though they may have opposed Larkin’s Esplanade development in the past, he was building a residential development which preserved their land for future sale and like residential and commercial development. In street-level political terms, Larkin might have been to them a real blankety-blank for ruining the pastoral setting of their exclusive area of Shreveport, but he was their blankety-blank: he was their insurance policy against the someday construction of the Hwy. 3132 Extension.
As to Faircloth, he has signed-up as the attorney for lawsuit defendant Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LA DOTD), regardless of the fact that taxpayers already have on salary many staff attorneys in the agency. Faircloth is Jindal’s former Executive Counsel, believed by many insiders to still hold that position in Jindal’s heart and mind. He is now positioned in private practice, outside the reach of government constraints and accountability to the public. While we urge readers to use their favorite internet search engine to find and judge more detailed information, he is linked in our nation’s capitol to the Jack Abramoff scandal, and in Louisiana with his key role in the governor’s gutting of ethics enforcement via his “ethics gold standard” claptrap.
State capital insiders agree that Mr. Faircloth and his firm show up in lawsuits of greatest important to our governor. If Jindal is going to turn the growing ever stronger rumors into fact, and make certain the Hwy. 3132 Extension is not routed through the land holdings of certain of his strongest political friends, staff attorneys from LA DOTD do not provide his best chance for what he and his friends would deem “success”.
For those of us who voted in 1996 to put our money up for the building of the Extension in the route first designated in the 1991-1992 Extension corridor study, all of this creates an awful sense of deja vu … all over again.
Here we were thinking “all” we were fighting was City Hall.
FINISH 3132 COALITION, LLC
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited or accepted for this work. This work is protected, and no other use of it is permitted without the written consent of Mr. Stonecipher.