CAN 3132 EXTENSION LOSE TWO WAYS?
CITY COUNCIL NEXT TUESDAY
Developer Tim Larkin returns to Government Plaza next week, this time for a City Council meeting at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, May 22nd. Larkin, no doubt with help again from Mayor Cedric Glover, will be asking for a City Council override of the recent Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) decision against his attempt to develop his Esplanade in the possible 3132 Extension corridor route.
What goes on in the meeting, though, may be kabuki theater: with all the staging and masks and costumes, what really matters could be lost in the show.
The “Glover Effect” for Tim Larkin
As we have documented for months, Tim Larkin’s number one friend and supporter in All-Things-Esplanade-At-The-Expense-of-3132 is also the mayor of (supposedly) all the people of Shreveport. That Mayor Glover rules the roost in City Hall chambers is a fact long since in evidence, so all manner of unseen advantages by manipulation of process may again accrue to Larkin’s benefit. That alone is enough to give any lover of democracy and fairness an awful case of the willies.
That Larkin will be at the City Council to appeal his 7-0 drubbing on May 2, 2012 at the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) is – we are told by all sources – downright foolhardy. (SEE Shreveport Times article of May 2nd meeting here.) Within that fact should rest our anxiety: since almost every City Council member now asserts that Larkin has no chance to succeed in an override of the MPC, why will he try?
A Colorable Claim For What’s Really Going On
If I were a FOG – Friend of Glover – and am in Tim Larkin’s straights, I would go to the City Council against such odds for only one reason: the stop is necessary on the way somewhere else. “Somewhere else” just about has to be state district court. Perhaps Larkin needs, procedurally, to be told “No” by the City Council after being told “No” by the MPC in order to gain hoped-for political help from state district court. (May we stipulate that state district court should not be available to provide political help.)
Then There Are All of Glover’s (Not Our!) Attorneys
It is important to remember this: when Tim Larkin sues “the City” – i.e., the MPC and/or City Council – he will claim those bodies wronged him by preventing his development of Esplanade, albeit it in the possible 3132 corridor route. In such case, it is the city attorney who will “defend” the MPC and the City Council in any resulting litigation. ‘Problem is, Shreveport’s city attorney, by her own acknowledgement, is mainly Cedric Glover’s personal attorney, not the “city” attorney. In other words, Glover’s friends are her friends.
Obviously, those of us who are in favor of the 3132 Extension’s completion to the Port can seemingly lose if the City Council votes to override the MPC, thus granting Larkin’s request to further develop his subdivision in what may be the route of the Extension. To boot, 3132 Extension supporters may seemingly lose if the City Council upholds the MPC decision, and Larkin then takes that ticket directly to state district court. Again, in any such litigation, the attorneys we will be paying to convince the court to uphold the Council and MPC rulings against Larkin will be Glover’s attorneys, not ours.
As e-mails obtained by the 3132 Coalition through Public Records Requests prove, there is a team of “Glover” lawyers – some in City Hall positions, some under contract for the city, some paid to handle “things” for Glover which are not official – who work for Larkin, too, at times. At least one is a sometimes Larkin lawyer, sometimes Glover lawyer, sometimes Glover political advisor, and current Glover appointee to an involved government commission.
In another political hit engineered and executed by our mayor a couple of years ago, our city attorney was (in)famously quoted in comments to an opposing attorney, “I’m just a messenger.” The context was her role as a sort of mayoral aide, not true “city attorney.” The comment was clearly stated and understood: if “our” city attorney acts any way other than in agreement with orders from Glover, she loses her job. Effectively, then, the people who support the 3132 Extension will be without direct representation in any such Larkin suit in state district court.
One step at a time. Supporters of the 3132 Extension are needed at the City Council meeting next Tuesday. The first order of business is for the Council to resoundingly say “NO” to Larkin / Glover’s appeal of the MPC ruling. If and when Larkin takes the issue to state district court, tons of sunshine will be necessary on everything Glover, the city attorney and other hired attorneys are doing on Larkin’s behalf, for example, Public Records Requests to determine precisely which attorneys and law firms are being paid in this and related matters, how much they are being paid, and precisely for what.
I am told by those far better qualified than I am that state district court judges are very hesitant to rule against the orderly decisions of governmental bodies. In this case, a judge would be required to rule against the legally proscribed actions of both the Sheveport City Council and our city and parish Metropolitan Planning Commission. Even for Larkin & Glover, Inc., that’s a lot to expect from any judge. If they succeed, they will then be required to convince the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. If they succeed there, then they have to convince the Louisiana Supreme Court. By then, the “feasibility study” will be over, and Larkin’s “approval” may be a result of that latest million-dollar exercise in bureaucratic c.y.a.
In any case, the City Council should and must resolve all such risks for the people they serve. That’s what “separation of powers” means: if the mayor is using public money to pay opponents of the public interest, the City Council has direct responsibility to rein in such misfeasance, and can fairly expect to be formally asked to do so.
FINISH 3132 COALITION
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.