SUIT TO FORCE PRODUCTION BY CITY ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT OF WITHHELD DOCUMENTSby Elliott Stonecipher
Three weeks ago – on February 14th, to be precise – the 3132 Coalition issued public records requests (PRRs) to Mayor Cedric Glover and the City of Shreveport Engineering Department. The requests were for e-mails and other documents relating to the LA Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. Since no documents were produced as the law requires, the Coalition attorney, John Settle, filed a lawsuit this morning to force production of the documents from City Engineering.
The Louisiana Public Records Act gives a public official or agency five days to respond. In practice, that means the likely process of production needs to begin within about one work-week after the PRR is issued. In this case, City Attorney Terri Scott – meaning Cedric Glover – treated the two requests as if they were one, which they inarguably are not, but has produced nothing. Instead, she responded at the end of last week by claiming a specific “count” of requested documents had been accomplished, with something over 34,000 being that “count.” Even after that (bogus, we would bet) “count,” there was no mention by Terri Scott / Mayor Glover of any consideration of producing any documents.
The backdrop for the Coalition in this most recent PRR is the circus put on by NLCOG with the PRR made of it on December 15, 2011. NLCOG first “responded” with a document dump on a CD, many key files on which could not be opened without a password, which was not provided. Even after a long struggle to get a second CD, when it came, the files still could not be opened. Finally, about a week ago, one year of those e-mails were printed-out and delivered to the Coalition. The request, however, included documents back to 2007 … virtually none of those other documents have been produced.
As it turned out, there are a great many important documents in the NLCOG response, even given that documents between 2007 and 2010 (at least) have not yet been provided. As I reported yesterday, documents provided prove beyond doubt that the killing of the 3132 Extension was done with some yet unknown degree of overt coordination between NLCOG, Glover, developer Tim Larkin, some DOTD officials, former State Representative Jane Smith and others. Put simply, documents are always withheld from the public for a reason.
Here is the Petition filed this morning in Caddo District Court. A reading of that Petition will fill in the blanks as to the kind of information the Coalition is requesting from Mayor Glover – the separate request for documents from him and his office covers a like time period and document subjects – and the City Engineering Department.
More PRRs by the Coalition are likely. The production of key documents almost always identifies new information which bears directly on the subject at issue, leading to more PRRs, and more court action.
The question remains: just how did the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port, planned and worked on for over 40 years, manage to be killed at this stage in its history, by the manipulations of a couple of dozen individuals with special interests … and their “friends” in local and state government?
The public has questions, and our public officials have answers … no matter how hard they try to hide them.
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.
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