WHAT’S KENT ROGERS AND NLCOG HIDING?by Elliott Stonecipher
The Finish 3132 Coalition thanks the Shreveport Times (SEE Adam Duvernay’s article here) and KTBS (SEE Nick Caloway’s report here) for their coverage of last night’s NLCOG / LA Dept. of Transportation & Development gathering of the public at LSU-S. (KSLA and KTAL were present also, but their reports seemingly did not run.)
While NLCOG boss man Kent Rogers arranged things in ways which no doubt held attendance down – date changes, venue change, format change, no directional signs to help the public find the changed venue, as examples – a packed-out group of hearty and involved citizens made it anyway. I suspect the heavy rain just before commencement was a particular joy to the NLCOG / DOTD bunch, but a quickly disappearing one: as it poured, the public steadily filled the place.
Among the Facts NLCOG / DOTD, et al, Do Not Want Known and Discussed
NLCOG’s anti-public behavior and rigging last night is no accident. Though the Coalition has now had to file a Mandamus action in district court to get the documents we requested back on December 15th, the pittance from that list which we do have establishes a very disturbing – and urgently meaningful – chronology of 3132 extension-related events:
— 1969 and 1973: The first printed document from a study into the “Inner Loop Extension Corridor” is dated 1973, and refers to a previous extension study we have not been given from September 1969. The work was done by DOTD when it was called the Louisiana Department of Highways, by one of NLCOG’s predecessors called the Caddo-Bossier Council of Local Governments, and by consultants HNTB.
— September 1991 through March 1992: The “Inner Loop Extension Corridor Study” was extensive, to say the least. It is a virtual duplicate of the present “study,” then sponsored by the City of Shreveport, our current NLCOG, and consultants NTB, Inc. Public hearings just like last night’s were held. They were also held at LSU-S. Key witnesses included Charles Kirkland (now MPC Director) and Ron Norwood (now City Engineer for Shreveport). The route options numbered 11 at one point, and the route was selected, running from Flournoy-Lucas to Hwy. 1 / the Port. The route ran through the old Webb Plantation. All of that notwithstanding, Twelve Oaks was built precisely where the route was determined to go.
— 1996 and 1999: Voters passed a $3.5 million bond issue in 1996 for the Extension, and the City of Shreveport used $511,267 to buy the first land for the right-of-way in 1999, the now infamous 16-acre tract which secured and meant nothing.
— July 2003: After all the work from 1991 and 1992 was blown-up by the inexplicable building of Twelve Oaks, NLCOG, DOTD and consultants Parsons Brinckeroff “studied” the Extension’s route again. This time, the route went from our 16-acre tract at Flournoy-Lucas across Bayou Pierre on the Railsback Road side, and down to its intersection with Hwy. 1 for Port proximity.
This route is, for all intents and purposes, the same one the Coalition paid engineers to determine, and which last night’s citizenry in attendance very directly said they preferred and want.
— October 2003 through January 2005: Twelve Oaks developer Tony Janca expands further into the route area with rezoning for more building of Twelve Oaks homes. His feet were held to the fire – why weren’t they in 1991-1992? – by MPC. MPC requires Kent Rogers / NLCOG approval, and it holds that approval until Janca promises in writing to legally preserve the Extension route, a promise that proved a couple of years later to have meant nothing.
— 2007: In spite of all the planning, all the work in 2003-2005, and the availability of federal funds to “protectively buy” land to prevent such, Tony Janca sells to Tim Larkin the 36.99-acre tract surrounding the City’s 16 acres. Larkin ignores the public’s Extension route in order to build his Esplanade.
— 2008 and 2009: Larkin builds his $1.2 million bridge over Bayou Pierre, the land for which was obtained in the 2007 purchase from Janca.
— April 7, 2011: In a meeting of a few folks in a small room in Shreveport’s American Tower – with NLCOG’s typical shunning of public involvement – Mayor Cedric Glover and those who “enlisted his help,” takes the lead in killing the 3132 extension, this time formally, officially, and – they thought and intended – for good.
Between the January 2005 MPC final approval of Janca’s expansion of Twelve Oaks, right up to April 7, 2011, NLCOG and Kent Rogers are AWOL. Since NLCOG is, in fact, an operating arm of DOTD, DOTD’s now-known direction by various local politicians and the governor’s Chief of Staff is very important to note. Last night’s consulting firm, Buchart Horn, we are informed, was already working for DOTD and its political handlers before we stirred this hornet’s nest; the firm was not selected by any bid process for this project.
To put it simply, all of this “study” is cover, a kind of pat-the-public-on-the-head-because-we-love-their-money-but-they-are-dummies ruse. None of this ever gets the extension built, not in over 42 years of work paid for by taxpayers. NLCOG and various and sundry special interests and politicians can “officially” say anything they like and rig any process they want, but their record is clear: the are using our taxpayer money to fund a process dedicated to covering what they are really doing, and who they are really working for.
These folks are all paid by us, but they clearly do not give a tinker’s damn about what the public wants. Last night, in spite of all impediments natural and man-made, that public showed up, and wanted to speak and ask questions. The people who prevented that have good reason to continue stomping on the democratic process, and the integrity implicit in remembering who pays them. If we want the Extension, we simply must accept these facts as foundational, no matter how unseemly and distasteful.
No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work.
Evets Management Services, Inc.
6658 Youree Drive
Suite 180, #367
Shreveport, LA 71105