by Marion Marks
Caddo Parish government must be transparent, and the facts prove that transparency in Caddo is a far more elusive issue than the reality of the May 3 Bond Election. Caddo Parish government is an entity that must follow the law, ALL Laws. The litigation regarding Haynesville natural gas leases and the Caddo Parish decision to “take bonus checks & royalties they are not entitled under Louisiana law” reveals citizens must deny new taxes in the May 3 bond election.
Admit that government programs ALWAYS need more money. All government programs, by the nature of supporting government workers, rely on taxes to maintain public services. However, when was the last time Caddo Parish determined that a program could actually be cut or “sunset” because specific services were neither effective or tax payers were not getting fair value for money being spent? I bet it would be difficult to really justify “Yes, I’ve heard of such cuts.”
The bottom line is Caddo Parish, flush with (perhaps ill-gotten) Haynesville Shale bonus money, is finding more NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) that require funding to “make our parish a better place to live.” I’m also betting that the truth is that too much of this money is windfall sharing the wealth to benefit some official’s friend or even family pet project. Since 1990 the growth of some parish programs has outpaced the national economic growth rate at unparalleled rates as described in a recent article (Soaring Revenue & Expenses). [chart of growth]
Too often we see approved NGO support as a blank check that keeps on giving, without the good audit scrutiny taxpayers should expect to determine the value or return on public investment. Jimmy Couvillion used Public Record Request (PRR) to obtain from the Parish Commission a record of 2013 and 2014 NGO “gifts.” We believe greater scrutiny and evaluation shows that our tax money should be more closely monitored and the May 3 referendum should be met with strong opposition. Many of these are worthy organizations that support nobel causes, but some border on criminal extortion of public monies by elected officials who :scratch the back” of others to support pet projects that do not rise to the proper level to deserve public monies.