Caddo Commission Funding & Guilt
by Marion Marks
“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”
So goes a rough translation of an ancient adage. The SWAG Nation involvement is services for the juvenile justice program, on the surface, would appear to be a worthy mentoring effort if viewed by a trusting and naïve citizen. However, the harsh reality of managing government funded programs should cause alarm for all. Gerry May and KTBS zeroed in on the apparent abuse, but the system now must address citizen and legal concerns internal to the Caddo Commission.
The very entity “SWAG Nation” caused alarm bells to go off the first time I did a search through the Secretary of State records of corporate entities working in Louisiana. Initially the Caddo Commission was led to believe that this entity was a “Non-Profit” service organization started to mentor young men who needed assistance, as directed through the juvenile justice system. Now, Williams admits to Gerry May on camera that SWAG was a “for-profit company.”
Certainly, the mission, as originally outlined was not the problem, but the record of apparent abuse by the leadership of SWAG Nation appears to be a pattern of poor judgment and shoddy paper trail. Records indicate that initial payments were made directly to Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams through hand-delivered checks that lacked so much as an address for the organization other than Williams home address.
Only when Commissioners and some officials in the Commission office created a confrontation with Dr. Woody Wilson, who is the chief executive in the office did Commissioner Williams get a P.O. Box and provide additional information about the SWAG Nation organization.
I was told, but have not been able to verify, that there have been three unique set of board officers for SWAG Nation, and that each of the first two groups resigned or were fired under questionable circumstances. Some of the issues of concern for board members related to the manner of compensating Commissioner Williams for his work with the organization. The issue was always that a commissioner could NOT be paid either directly or indirectly for any service by any organization that the commissioner votes for and supplies funding the organization.
Simply put, Commissioner Williams was appropriating, approving and accepting commission money for services. This should have appeared as a violation for any and all who viewed the a=potential for this abuse. And the records of payment by the commission appear to make all in the commission office who were aware of these records more than a little ill-at-ease. ALL INVOICES HERE
Additionally it is significant that at this time there is no formal record of the commission demanding records from those who were paid directly by the commission for services to SWAG Nation. It is certainly the correct thing to demand today that these organizations provide documentation of the services provided for the commission checks. The provided information should include, names of providers within the organization, dates and hours when the services were provided, payments the organization made to every individual it dispensed funds, receipts for materials and any other services the organization paid out of the Caddo funds and finally any metrics used to determine the success of the program by the provider. Contracts with providers are subject to audit and review!. Essentially, all services should have guidelines for determining the value of the service, and it is now my contention that most of these services deserve greater scrutiny. [Additional note: The three entities below were paid directly as “subcontractors” of SWAG Nation. They should be subject to providing records related to services provided.]
Lake Bethlehem Family Life Center
700 Pierre Avenue
Shreveport, La 71101
1707 Line Avenue
Shreveport, La 71107
Southern University /Shreveport Health and P. E Center
3050 Martin Luther King, jr
Shreveport, La 71101