Caddo Commission Votes NO to Transparency

by Marion Marks

Resolution No. 82 of 2016 by The Caddo Parish Commission was discussed and voted down in regular session by a 6-5 margin, effectively not asking that the Caddo IDB get any more than minimal annual reporting that they may also have to request from SBP regarding the most valuable commercial asset the IDB has on the books, the former General Motors Plant.

Currently the former GM Plant remains a money-making tool for Stuart Lichter/SBP, who controls the purse strings of Elio Motors and collects far more rent based on liquidating the assets on the former GM premises, moveables being owned by Elio Motors and possibly some non-movables owned by the IDB “see story”. If syphoning off the government grants tied to luring new high-dollar jobs and manufacturing into the premises those jobs other than three, have yet to be created. Elio and SBP have tied up the facility for three years and refused offers of existing manufacturing corporations to buy, lease or otherwise locate to the site. RACER Trust hasso far failed our community by not living up to their “mission statement,” We can only hope that RACER Trust will leverage their strength to persuade SBP to be more diligent and aggressive in filling the plant with jobs as promised in 2013.[Original vote to authorize administration to negotiate and sign contract with Lichter.]

Coming? When??
Coming? When??

Resolution No. 82 of 2016 by The Caddo Parish Commission summary reads: Resolution urging the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board (IDB) to request quarterly financial reports from Shreveport Business Park(SBP) and to provide them to the Caddo Parish Commission and to otherwise provide with respect thereto.

Sadly, the vote to not demand transparency, reports and clarifications on a quarterly basis only further erodes trust and communications between the non-resident controllers of the facility and Caddo citizens. The vote by the six who were against requiring reports (Jim Smith, Mike Middleton, Lyndon Johnson, Ken Epperson, Lynn Cawthorne & Jerald Bowman) and transparency should require explanations to citizens, because the resolution would have only reinforced citizen confidence in actions being taken with public resources.

Who holds the future in doubt?
Who holds the future in doubt?

As stated in the resolution: “The original agreement as stated in the contract between the Caddo Parish Industrial Board and Industrial Realty Group provides that quarterly financial reporting will be provided by Shreveport Business Park to the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board when requested; and the Caddo Parish Commission urges the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board to request from Industrial Realty Group every quarter a financial report; and the Caddo parish Commission urges that the report provided to the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board be also provided to the Caddo Parish Commission.”

Really the resolution was a clarification and a desire to give citizens confidence that no inappropriate activities would easily go without some attempt at oversight. So, what we have is a move, for unspecified reasons, to keep more activities that use public resources sheltered from public eyes or potential oversight. And, the desire for transparency is once again denied.

NOTE: It was Caddo Parish Legal staff’s position that the reports were unnecessary because there was no tenant at the facility, but the other income and expense items regarding specifically the sale of “scrap materials” being salvaged and the rents paid are significant amounts for Caddo taxpayers and citizens who are the rightful funders of this facility.

However, the IDB may express a desire of their own accord to receive quarterly reports from the Shreveport Business Park and to send them and communicate more openly with the Caddo Commission. If this occurs, the intent of the Resolution 82 will have been accomplished.

Video is The 2013 vote to authorize the Caddo Commission administration to negotiate and commit the parish to terms of the current GM facility contract.