When a political observer hopes the nadir of bad legislation has been reached, he generally is surprised, -in a bad way. Such is the case with an ordinance introduced by Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams that will be the Commission’s agenda for a vote on Thursday, May 17th. Commissioner Williams is perhaps best known for his ridiculous attempt to regulate pajamas in public places, –a misguided effort that unfortunately made national news.
Now Williams wants the Caddo Commission to fund $50,000.00 to clean up property that is not only in the Shreveport City limits, but also partially in Bossier Parish. The proposed ordinance is to spend $50,000.00 to clean up the banks of an oxbow lake that abutts property in the Cherokee Park subdivision. Most of the “clean up” will be on private property.
The identified area is heavily littered, and is overgrown with weeds, poison ivy, and is a haven for snails, frogs, etc. –the typical shoreline of a marshy area. The City of Shreveport did undertake a massive cleanup along the oxbow lake shoreline about ten years ago, –but has refused to do so again.
The parish funds would be forwarded to Shreveport Green, –an organization devoted to beautification projects. Donna Curtis, Executive Director for Shreveport Green, advises that this proposed cleaning is generally outside of the general scope of the services of Shreveport Green.
The ordinance, as drafted by Parish Attorney Charles Grubb, authorizes him to submit any cooperative endeavor agreement between the Commission and Shreveport Green for this funding proposed to the Louisiana Attorney General for approval. Altogether tight lipped, it is apparent that Grubb has serious questions about the validity of this expenditure.
A public records request to Grubb for two emails he sent to Commissioner Williams was denied, –Grubb claims that they were privileged communications. According to other sources, Grubb’s emails seriously questioned the validity of the expenditure of Parish funds for this clean up effort.
Hopefully common sense will prevail among the Commissioners and this ordinance will be soundly defeated. Grubbs’ reticence to approve this expenditure is noteworthy, –he is considered to be one of the best (if not, the best) municipal attorney in Louisiana.
One can expect litigation to block this pork barrel project if the commission approves the same. In addition, the Commission can also expect a barrage of requests from neighborhood associations throughout Shreveport (whether in Caddo or Bossier Parish) to help cut yards, clip bushes, and pick up dog poop.
(Editor’s note: Michael Williams is well-remembered as the author of the “No Pajama’s in Public Bill!” & the fact that his car was seized while he was “on the job”)