Winner in Dog Park Suit– Contracted City Attorneys

Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

The much ballyhooed lawsuit by the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance (“Alliance”) against Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and the City of Shreveport is, for all practical aspects, an exercise in futility. There is little doubt that the only real “winner” in this litigation will be one of Glover’s’s favorite minority law firms, Ron Lattier (and his associate Curtis Joseph). This firm was paid almost $300,000 in legal fees by the City of Shreveport in 2012, which has been pretty much the “norm” under Glover’s administration.

The Alliance is to be commended for it’s citizen involvement and persistence in attempting to make Big G sign a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Red River Waterway District for the development of a dog park at the Marie and Claude Hamel Memorial Park, utilizing $280,130 dollars of waterway funds. Unfortunately, the Alliance’s zeal has not been tempered with a cogent analysis of the key issues – both from the prospective of the legal concepts as well as the practical realities of the requested judgment.

JusticeScalesCorruption_$$$$Most legal scholars agree that the Mayor’s legal position is correct – – that the execution of the cooperative endeavor agreement is totally within the discretionary power of the office of the Mayor. Additionally, they opine that the council’s resolution to require Huge G to sign the agreement may have great political P.R., but lacks any sound legal basis. Bottomline, few educated onlookers believe the Alliance is on firm ground in its litigation.

Another issue the Alliance has obviously ignored is how to make Big G implement the Agreement if he is required to sign the same. In other words, how can the Alliance require the Mayor to order his City staff to develop the necessary plans for the park, build the required accommodations for the same and even put out bids. Anyone calling City Hall for a street repair is aware of the slow moving, often nonresponsive nature of the Glover administration to act on duties clearly enunciated in the City Charter which are not contested by Glover.

And to add insult to injury, the City has what the Alliance sorely lacks – – a deep pocketbook to play the “lawyer game”. Not only is the Alliance outgunned by the experience and track record of its legal counsel, but also the City’s ability to protract the litigation both at the trial and appellant courts. There’s no doubt that Heavy G will appeal any decision by Judge Emanuel that is not to his liking. Glover has no restraints on spending taxpayer dollars in a case that he undoubtedly will take to the Louisiana Supreme Court if needed.

Justice in QuestionUnfortunately the Alliance’s zeal is likely to be all for naught in this battle with a head strong Mayor who has exploited previously unrealized weaknesses in Shreveport’s mayor – council form of government. These are demonstrated by this case and like Glover’s negotiations with the EPA, sans participation of the City Counsel, on a consent decree concerning Shreveport non-compliance with EPA standards for water/sewage. As evidenced by the major bucks the Glover administration has expended on outside legal counsel during his six plus years in office (the most egregious being the 3132 litigation), Glover has no problem lining the pockets of minority attorneys with public funds for litigation expenses to further his political agenda.

Judge Leon Emanuel’s ruling on Thursday, May 16 may make for great media fanfare, but it will not resolve this impasse. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Fannin Street will be the next destination for Glover’s legal minions if Judge Emanuel’s ruling is not to his liking, and after that, the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans if needed. A “successful” effort by the Alliance will still be a loss for Shreveport taxpayers – attorney fees paid to City attorneys, increase in construction costs, and delay in satisfaction by dog park users. Unfortunately, this dog will just not hunt.