Posts filed under ‘Caddo Parish Commission’

Whose Responsibility Is Correcting SWAG Issues

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Caddo Commission Funding & Guilt

by Marion Marks

Orphan Michael Williams“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.

ALARM!!!

ALARM!!!

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 (more…)

Add comment April 17, 2015 10:54 am

Demand Record Compliance for the Public’s Business

FloodgatesPandorasboxCanofworms-eMail Recordsby Marion Marks

I believe the “Can of Worms” the Hillary Clinton email server revelation exposed regarding use of non-official email accounts for State Department business emails must be addressed by the local media as it affects our local entities and business correspondence failures. Locally, in my opinion, we have done a very poor job of addressing what the law requires public officials to do.

We have a great starting point, and I believe we must have formal discussion of this topic. Here is a great article for awareness of issues, for those who may not understand the implications of public records.

emails going laptopMost government and board emails I receive from local public officials or entities regarding government business will have one or more parties who private email address is used. In recent public records requests [PRR], and over the last year on too many occasions, I was a party to PRR filings where the board members, government agency representatives (more…)

March 24, 2015 10:34 am

Lawsuit: No CPERS, Other Caddo Commission Benefits

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

A lawsuit filed today in Louisiana First Judicial District Court in Shreveport asks a judge to “recognize and declare” that elected Caddo Parish Commissioners are prohibited from participation in “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employee Retirement System.  The suit also seeks a judicial order for the return of all public funds, including cumulative legal interest, Commissioners have received over the years from participation in the retirement plan.

The lawsuit (here) pleads for a like declaration from the Court that no compensation to Caddo Parish Commissioners other than “their salary proper” is legal.  The Commission has acted to award itself salary increases, life and health insurance benefits, and lucrative travel allowances in direct contradiction to provisions of the Home Rule Charter of Caddo Parish, the related legal research has determined.
White king wins chess game
The suit, a
Petition for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, was prepared by Whitney Pesnell of the Pesnell Law Firm.  I am Plaintiff, and named defendants are the Parish of Caddo, the Caddo Parish Commission, each of the twelve elected Commissioners, administrator Dr. Woody Wilson, and (more…)

March 16, 2015 4:08 pm

Challengers to Incumbent Caddo Commissioners Have Great Opportunities

Opinion by John SettleIn most elections incumbent candidates have a clear advantage over challengers–but this will may NOT be the case in this fall’s Caddo Commission elections. All 12 seats are up for re-election and only David Cox is termed limited after 3 four year terms. It is presumed that the remaining 11 will seek re-election; Ken Epperson has already announced his campaign at a recent fundraiser.

Caddo Commissioner Epperson

Caddo Commissioner Epperson

In the past, Commission seats were safe bets for unopposed re-election if for no other reason that the Commission members generally dodged controversial votes. The demographics of the Commission, unlike the Shreveport City Council, lends itself to more harmonious actions–6 Republican whites and 6 Democrat blacks. Additionally the Commission has enjoyed a very stable (more…)

February 27, 2015 12:00 pm

Commissioners in CPERS: La. Legislative Auditor Says “… Appears Unconstitutional”

Elliott_StonecipherAt the same time Caddo Parish Commissioners yesterday sued taxpayers to somehow keep their Caddo Parish Retirement System (CPERS) haul, Louisiana State Auditor Daryl Purpera notified the Commission of his determination that such … appears to be unconstitutional.”

In the course of researching and reporting on the issue (SEE articles, here, here, and here), I appealed to Mr. Purpera, along with many other investigative and prosecutorial officials.

In his letter to Parish Administrator Woody Wilson (read the letter here), Purpera in no way asserts that the CPERS plan is illegal or unconstitutional, but explains why Commissioners cannot legally participate. Even though the state auditor cannot legally sue to block the Commission (the Attorney General’s office can, and should), Purpera’s letter directly states what he can legally do:

JusticeAtStake“Therefore, based upon the Constitutional Amendments cited above and the AG Opinions cited above, it appears to us that for Caddo Parish to continue to contribute public monies on behalf of Commissioners … is improperI urge you to reconsider your position and to determine whether (Commission) Ordinances 3762 and 4343 should be repealed.

Given that under Louisiana Law, the constitution provision is presumed constitutional until finally adjudicated otherwise by the Louisiana Supreme Court, I will be assigning auditors who will review this matter (more…)

February 13, 2015 3:02 pm

Caddo Commission Looks to Court to Save CPERS Take

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

Caddo Parish Commissioners unanimously voted in their Thursday meeting to seek “a permanent judicial resolution” to questions concerning the constitutionality of their participation in “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employees Retirement System.

Rather than depend on in-house, salaried parish attorneys to handle the task, outside counsel was hired.

It is this series of articles which publicly raised the questions courts will now – yet again – attempt to answer.  In researching the matter, staff specialists for the Louisiana legislature, and others outside local government, asserted the unconstitutionality of participation in CPERS by our part-time, elected Commissioners.  

Unanimous Vote of Caddo Commission(sm)Documents requested through the Louisiana Public Records Act unexpectedly also discovered that taxpayer contributions to CPERS retirement accounts had reached astonishing, incomparable levels.  In 2013 and 2014, taxpayers contributed 16.75% to accounts of top-rate Commissioners and unidentified other CPERS members, (more…)

February 7, 2015 2:55 pm

Shreveport MPC/Staff Choke on Challenge

by Marion MarksLittle Free Library

Following the Little Free Library issue in Shreveport has been a folly for social media gurus as the chain of bumbles by the MPC staff has only been heightened when a non-threat appeared from copy-cat Anonymous spoofs along with law-enforcement tracking of the culprits.

LFL Demo Units

Sample LFL Units

The Little Free Library (LFL) concept* is a well-established institution nationwide base on the concept that libraries, book-sharing and reading are a basis for educating the public, providing cheap recreational materials and challenging the system of who controls public access and public areas. Little Free Libraries can be found generally through social media, but Google searches also take searchers to potential local venues, where available.

The Shreveport LFL first appeared in social media in February, 2013, however the origins may predate the FaceBook group page. The founders appear to be based around librarians and bibliophiles who appreciate reading, sharing books (more…)

February 5, 2015 5:14 pm

Pt. II: Commissioners’ Retirement Explicitly Unconstitutional

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

Last week I posted the first in a series of articles about Caddo Parish Commissioners’ unconstitutional participation in “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employees Retirement System.  To understate the case, the article struck a nerve with Caddo taxpayers and other interests in Louisiana and elsewhere.

Time Stopped...

Time Stopped…

Before the article went out, the Caddo Parish Commissions’ production of related public documents via the Louisiana Public Records Act had ceased, many weeks into this work.  Some withheld documents have since been released to us, revealing startling additional detail about the Commission’s design and conduct of CPERS. 

C.B. Forgotston, government watchdog and advisor in this work, has notified all state legislators of the matter, as well as Louisiana’s Inspector General, key staff in (more…)

February 2, 2015 12:04 pm

Commissioners’ Retirement Is Explicitly Unconstitutional

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

By 1996, Governor Mike Foster was done with part-time elected officials hitting Louisiana taxpayers for their retirement.  Among those officials were legislators, but Foster brought them aboard by grandfathering-in the ones then in office.  The resulting legislation bulls-eye targeted offenders and banned the giveaway not only for future legislators, but also school board, levee board, and “police jury or parish council” members.Bullseye=we see you

The legislation became Act. 99 of the 1st Special (Legislative) Session of 1996, and to make sure this goodie door was nailed shut, Foster and the legislature went the last mile.  On November 5, 1996, with a high presidential election turnout as an exclamation point, voters put the prohibition in the Louisiana Constitution.  The vote for Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. l was strong and then some:

statewide, 70.2% voted to nix these handouts to parish commissioners and the others, and

… in Caddo Parish, 68.9% did so.

Straight from the good government textbook, the ban was a screaming win (more…)

January 27, 2015 9:49 am

Part III. Commission Hits Us Again … Hard

Elliott_Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

[Previous articles in this series can be read here and here.]

The formula for good government is simple and direct:  the governed commit to battle as necessary for transparency in all elected officials do in the public interest.  Holding officials accountable for their actions is otherwise impossible.  The assumption, therefore, is that a participating public actually knows what elected officials are doing. Assumption

In Caddo and Bossier Parishes, the dramatic de-emphasis of hard news reporting about local government has become wind in the sails of self-serving elected officials.  As that condition persists over extended periods of time – as it has here – accountability disappears.  

More directly put, official malfeasance becomes systemic when there is no downside risk in it.  Then, officials so inclined deliberately, (more…)

January 7, 2015 3:14 pm

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