by Marion Marks
Everyone, including the Caddo Commissioners, has been re-examining the transactions regarding the General Motors plant and how & why we don’t have any manufacturing jobs at the plant. There is a clear chain that all should understand. Here is the Cliff Note version of how the transactions transpired in the 2013 give-away of the facility. But it all started at the 2013 meeting and the clear facts start at 1:49:00 of this video. You have to start at this point to see the key discussion of the GM give-away.
- Racer sold to Shreveport Business Park[IRG Subsidiary 100% owned by Stuart Lichter] who in turn sold it to IDB. However, before doing so they granted Elio the right to mtg. the fixtures, equipment, etc. and the right to have access and remove the equipment.
- The IDB executed the landlord waiver and access agreement after they purchased the property.
- All of the following documents were recorded on Dec. 27,2013.
- Quit Claim Deed from Racer to Shreveport Business Park LLC bk. 4713 page 469 at 3:41 pm
- Landlord Waiver and Access Agreement to Elio at 3:51 p.m.
- Quit Claim Deed from Shreveport Business Park to IDB bk.4713 page 594 @ 3:54 pm
- Landlord Waiver and Access Agreement which the IDB executed at 4:03 pm (instrument number 2486687). [Here is a link to all Sales documents]
The 2013 act, ORDINANCE NO. 5330 OF 2013, creating the industrial Development Board of the Parish of Caddo(IDB), was slowed on two votes by Commissioners Stephanie Lynch, Matthew Linn and Lyndon Johnson, but finally approved, with the same dissenting votes.[Video at 1:49:00][The ordinance-supplements & explanation]
Never has so much authority regarding Caddo Parish industrial development been put in the hands of a single non-elected official. Even though the elected commissioners were asked to approve many of Wilson’s actions, at no time were the commissioners ever offered access to all documents without demands or someone in the administrator’s office leaking information. Documents at their finger tips would have assisted commissioners when critical decisions were necessary and where the public needed elected officials to vote on available options.
At all times, it appears that facts regarding the sale, transfer and disposal of assets related to the facility have been cloudy and under a shroud of public suspicion, at best, but certainly most of the actions have been obscured from the public as well as elected officials. The thirty (30) supporting contracts regarding the establishment of the Industrial Development Board of Caddo (IDB), the details of the transfer of the assets of the GM plant and Stuart Lichter’s corporation were only available to commissioners and really clarified only after litigation between the IDB and Stuart Lichter’s group(IRG 100% owned by Lichter) were in court.
Coming to light are more clear facts regarding past commissioners who have generated business for themselves and companies they are close to or for whom they or family members work, and this should trouble all citizens. But the legality of issues regarding the manner in which the GM facility has been handled created smells that should anger and perhaps enrage citizens. The fact that public employees, working with at best partial transparency, would take actions that they stated were designed to help citizens, while they selectively concealed information, should not be an established rule of operation of parish business. The investment of the public’s money in the systematic scavenging of the GM plant should anger every citizen and embarrass those related to or being former elected officials who were party to these deals.
Especially when the chief officer of Caddo Parish is not a property owner or technically a resident of the parish, citizens should not accept without question the work of Parish Administrator Woody Wilson. Wilson’s pattern of work and the record of negotiations has demonstrated facts that are against the best interests of the parish and violates the basic belief citizens had regarding the contract for transfer of the GM facility. Citizens believed that Resolution 39 of 2013 would empower Wilson to negotiate to obtain a new tenant for the facility and generate manufacturing jobs.
“WHEREAS, LA R.S. 33:9029.2 authorizes the State and its political subdivisions to enter into cooperative endeavor agreements with each other or with a public or private association, corporation, or individual to achieve a public purpose, including but not limited to the enhancing or maintaining the economic wellbeing of the State and its political subdivisions, upon a showing of reasonable expectations that such obligations of the State and its political subdivisions will result in economic development or will achieve other economic goals that will equal or exceed the value of the obligations that the State and its political subdivisions acquire thereby; and
WHEREAS, the economic benefit to the Parish of Caddo resulting from IRG’s development, operation and management of the Plant will exceed the value of the obligations of Caddo Parish undertaken herein, and the cooperative endeavor agreement contemplated herein has a public purpose and is in the public interest of Caddo Parish and its citizens.” [explanation]
All issues seem to have become litigious and convoluted because facts have been easily available for the public to easily understand. It therefore would benefit all commissioners and the public for there to be an independent audit of the transactions involving the GM facility and the parties who have control of it at this time.
Documents related to the sale of the facility and the creation of the Caddo Industrial Development Board need to be made public and contained in a complete audit, otherwise the vote to approve any settlement will forever be tainted and questioned as some “back-room deal.” Public confidence cannot be bought for a mere $100,000 settlement, and the cost of any audit needs to be seen as an attempt to reassure the public that elected officials and the administration of the parish are “NOT FOR SALE!”
The GM facility was to have been marketed in the best interests of the parish, but it has been raided in the best interests of a few and against the interests of the rightful citizens of Caddo. Demand that the offer of $100,000 not be accepted until a complete audit of all transactions and finances be completed.
Thanks to the attorneys, realtors and concerned public citizens who assisted in clarifying these issues. It appears that Caddo citizens just are not as smart at negotiating deals as we believe we are. And, as has been explained many times, “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight!” And now, for an explanation of what led to this chain of events and how the Caddo administration led us astray.