by Marion Marks
Defeating City Marshal Charlie Caldwell Saturday Shreveporters will make a change to improve Shreveport’s image both inside and outside of our community. Shreveport City Court and processes of the legal system of the Marshal’s office require transparency, clear policies & procedures in an open marshal’s office to serve citizens and businesses alike. Too privileged “deals” exist with the Marshal Caldwell that violate good government. Recent Caldwell FuelMan revelations are only one example of abuse that skirts the law.
FuelMan, a system designed to save taxpayer money and avoid abuses has been drastically shorted by the manner the Marshal allows cards to be abuse. The policies are actually very clear in the rationale for FuelMan.
However, Caldwell seemingly is unfazed by revelations regarding himself and his deputies related to Fuelman credit cards. And, Caldwell continues to roll out campaign material almost as expected, including Sunday’s insert in the Shreveport Times that failed to account for the source of funding.
Recent public records requests [PRR1 & PRR2]to the marshal’s office were been returned incomplete or partially filled, at best, followed by formal complaints filed by an independent counsel. Travel documents turned over to law enforcement, prosecutors and the media indicate that the marshal, with members of his staff, traveled frequently at taxpayer expense great distances on personal or unofficial business that in no way benefited the mission of the marshal’s office or the public. In fact, the marshal used public resources regularly for personal recreation, yet when questioned regarding his travel indicated that he kept no calendar on these travel dates.
Once again, the failure of transparency has become a cloud over the office entrusted with security and many records related to Shreveport City Court. The open sore is one more cost taxpayers bear, as public resources are treated as a personal wallet by an elected official.
The use of much of the total revenue derived in Shreveport City Court including fines and fees have become subject to discretionary whims of one official. Only in 2014 did the marshal cancel the first class $30,000+ beach folly for himself and up to six deputies, their families and his personal entourage because “it was an election year.” Yet trips across the country are included for many members of his staff, and regular Houston and deep-sea-fishing trips were recorded in records that were turned over.
Deep within the City Marshal’s audit, Caldwell has more troubling financial issues. In 2010 the charges for “services from fines and bond forfeitures” increased from approximately $360,000 to over $753,000 and in the most recent audit this figure has exceeded $703,000.
Hidden within the wording carefully is the fact that “Total expenses excluding depreciation were $2,134,625, an increase of $102;099 as a result of lawsuits and associated legal fees.” Caldwell has settled several wrongful termination cases with deputies who were terminated “for cause”, yet the cause failed to legally comply with state law. These cases settled prior to the court dates.