Part IV: Fix Was In for Larkin at June Council Meeting

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by Elliott Stonecipher
[This is the fourth article in this series.  Previous articles were published July 28, 2014 which may be read here;  July 30, 2014, here; and, August 6, 2014 here.]

Filing-DeadlineThe legal deadline for response is days past, and a new Public Records Request by the Finish 3132 Coalition has provided additional detail about the run-up to the Shreveport City Council subject vote on June 10th.  Among other notable facts, this new Request confirms yet another meeting of front-line players just days before the Council met and the votes were cast.

The Council voted 5-2 to allow Bossier City Councilman and real estate developer Tim Larkin to build houses in the path of the proposed LA Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier.

Shreveport sunshine_DEMAND(sm)The original Public Records Request by the Coalition in this matter was made of city government, broadly, while this most recent one was made directly to the five Council members who cast votes for Larkin on June 10th.

Increasingly, some public officials act to circumvent Public Records laws by using physical addresses, email addresses, text message accounts, etc., established, used and maintained in their names even though they are used for the conduct of public business.

We know that some Shreveport City Council members are included among these officials.

Responses – or Lack Thereof – to Our Request

Paperwork_extensionThe Council members from whom such records and documents were sought, and their response, or not, to the Request are:

…  Michael Corbin, the District D Council member who led the pro-Larkin action on June 10th, responded within the time limit set by the Louisiana Public Records law –  La. R. S. 44:1 et seq. – but, provably, did not turn over all the requested documents in his possession.  Included in those he did produce was notable new information.

…  District B Councilman Jeff Everson responded timely, and provided notably more information than any other of the Larkin supporters.

…  the District G member, Sam Jenkins, responded most quickly, but reported that he had no Requested documents.

…  District A Council member Rose McCulloch waited until two days past the legal deadline to respond, then produced two documents which have been in the public record since June 10th.

…  After notifying the Coalition that he would be delayed, Oliver Jenkins, the District C member of the Council, responded one day beyond the legal deadline.  He also reported that there were no Requested documents or records in his personal possession.

The Coalition now has direct knowledge that some Requested emails and other documents were not produced.  We also, now, have documents produced by one or more officials which identify Requested documents not produced by other officials.  In short, it is now a fact in evidence that some Requested public documents are being withheld.  We have no idea how many, much less their precise content, relevance or importance.

The Meeting(s) Which Weren’t … Until They Were.  The 2nd Pre-Meeting

A Title Card Screen for the movie: The Small Back Room (1949)With great certitude, the leader of the pro-Larkin effort at the June 10th meeting, Councilman Corbin, said after the obviously stacked-deck outcome that there was no “pre-meeting” at which the deck had been stacked.  The then-context was a reported meeting of unnamed city officials in the late-morning hours of that Council meeting day.  (The Council meeting began at 3:00 PM.)

As I detailed in my last article (linked above), there was, in fact, a pre-meeting that morning.  Included in the mix of involved public officials were City Attorney Terri Scott, Assistant City Attorney Julie Glass, Clerk of the Council Art Thompson, and Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) top staffer Stephen Jean.  Also participating via a series of emails, and possibly telephone, was Larkin attorney Tom Arceneaux.

Another fact earlier revealed in this work is the origin of the “Motion to Modify” on which the 5-2 Council vote was cast, the Motion which specifically allowed Larkin to build in the path of the Extension.  As seen in the public documents thus far obtained, the original version of the Motion was submitted to the Council by Larkin attorney Tom Arceneaux a few days before the Council action.  As yet unclear is whether Arceneaux wrote the Motion, or it was written by MPC staff at the request of the Larkin team or other officials.

Back room issues?
Back room issues?

From our most recent Request, we now know another “pre-meeting” took place four days prior to the Council meeting.  At 9:00 AM on June 6th, meeting in his office and for this purpose, were Council members Corbin and Jeff Everson, along with Tim Larkin and Tom Arceneaux.  We cannot yet prove what, if any, other officials participated by telephone, email, text, or otherwise.  For the record, Councilman Oliver Jenkins has told us that he did not attend or participate by any other means.

Next.

Although our work in this matter is slowly uncovering what really happened in that bizarre – in more ways than one – Council vote on June 10th, there is obviously much more to the story.

More to the ultimate point, the Coalition has received credible reports of possible inducements offered to some Council members, incentives which may explain how those members would cast such an irresponsible vote, a vote so obviously against the interests of Shreveport and Caddo residents.

The MPC decision on May 7th very simply and directly explained how Larkin’s application – and resulting construction of houses in the Extension route – endangers completion of the 3132 Extension to the Port.  Larkin will now “set aside” certain tracts within his subdivision to supposedly allow the Extension to be built.  The indisputable truth, however, is that the route is not even known, and will not be until at least the end of the Stage 1 Feasibility Study just now beginning.  Furthermore, Larkin’s development is gutted by any Extension route anywhere near his development.  His only goal is, as it has been since at least 2010, is to kill the Extension.

We know much more than we did before this work commenced, but there is much more to know.

Involved and culpable public officials obviously believe their legal responsibilities in this context are not worth the state law paper on which they are written.

Elliott Stonecipher
Finish 3132 Coalition

Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted.  Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is requested and appreciated.

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