PUBLIC RECORDS REVEALED!by Elliott Stonecipher
On December 15, 2012, the Finish 3132 Coalition made a public record request of the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) for various letters, e-mails, etc., related to the LA Hwy. 3132 controversy. E-mails obtained in a partial release from NLCOG reveal and detail much broader involvement of officials at the highest levels of state government than was previously known.
The e-mails -(Links ONE, TWO THREE) – detail the manner in which various public officials worked to coordinate actions and responses after the April 7, 2011 attempt by Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and others to terminate the final leg of the Hwy. 3132 extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. The project has been in various stages of planning and construction for over 40 years, and has been strongly supported throughout that history by Shreveport residents and former city officials.
Involved public officials identified in these e-mails include Larkin, Glover, former State Representative Jane Smith who is now a Deputy Secretary in the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation, Secretary of Louisiana DOTD Sherri LeBas, and LeBas’ Chief-of-Staff Shawn Wilson. References are made as well to the involvement of Timmy Teepell, then-Chief-of-Staff to Governor Bobby Jindal, and the governor’s then-Asst. Chief-of-Staff Stephen Waguespack.
The 3132 Extension project is located within Louisiana Senate District #37, a seat to which Senator Barrow Peacock was elected last year in a very expensive campaign against then-Representative Jane Smith. Many believe Peacock’s win is attributable to Smith’s exposure as a key actor in the demise of the 3132 Extension. It is notable that while Smith – a close and long-time friend and political ally of Larkin’s – has consistently maintained that she only arranged a meeting between Larkin and LeBas as she would have for anyone – she had a much greater role, according to these e-mails:
— In the third attached document, LeBas’ assistant is e-mailing Glover to include him by phone in an April 14, 2011 meeting underway in LeBas’ DOTD office including Tim Larkin and Jane Smith.
— In the first document, bottom of the page, the first e-mail in the chain is dated April 9, 2011 – two days after the NLCOG meeting of April 7 – is from Larkin to Smith. Smith then e-mails LeBas’ chief-of-staff and notes that she “is going to try to set meeting with Timmy and Steven (sic).” (This confirms Larkin’s “yes” response to me, last year, in answer to my direct question as to whether or not he had met with Timmy Teepell on the issue.) “Steven” is Stephen Waguespack, then Jindal’s and Teepell’s top assistant, now gubernatorial Chief-of-Staff.
The revelation of substantive political direction of local governmental action on the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier is remarkable. The Coalition’s research into the four-decade-plus history of planning and building Shreveport’s Inner Loop / Hwy. 3132 finds that NLCOG and the 4th District office of Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development’s (LA DOTD) in Bossier City have run the project without such political influence.
Background of the Issue
In an April 7, 2011 meeting of NLCOG, Larkin, speaking as developer of Esplanade, made a detailed presentation in favor of terminating the final leg of the Hwy. 3132 Extension, a road which would remove from Flournoy-Lucas Road the exceptionally heavy 18-wheeler truck traffic bound to and from the Port. Flournoy-Lucas Road road is the lone non-local traffic artery for many residential developments and retirement centers. At the close of Larkin’s presentation, Mayor Glover – a recipient along with many others of significant campaign donations from Larkin – made a surprise proposal that NLCOG officially terminate final construction of Hwy. 3132. With no news media or public present, Glover’s proposal passed with only one dissenting vote.
When the action was later publicly reported, a storm of public protest resulted, and has continued unabated. Such public opposition to the NLCOG action notwithstanding, LA DOTD continues to press for construction of a $2,000,000-plus entrance and exit for Larkin’s development, with public funds. Any such construction virtually certainly – permanently – kills the 3132 Extension. An $800,000 NLCOG / DOTD “feasibility study” hurried into action in the wake of the howl of public protest is viewed by the Coalition and others as political cover for obvious political favoritism to Larkin.
Reading the Attached E-Mails
The reader will note that the attached e-mails are chronologically read from bottom-to-top. The first attachment includes e-mails from April 9 through April 11, 2011, and the second and third are a set of e-mails on April 14, 2011. Kent Rogers is the Director of NLCOG, John Sanders and Eric Kalivoda are with DOTD, and other individuals are staff members of various involved agencies.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work. (Links ONE, TWO THREE of emails)
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