by Elliott Stonecipher
I don’t want to do the thinking required. I want to forget it all, or wake up and realize it was – is – just a nightmare. Everyone reading this knows when such is the case as bad things happen.
We know, too, that we never forget such things. They are a turning point upon which we finally form a bottom and bounce off it, never again to collapse this far and deep, or, God forbid, learn that too few of us care enough to stop our fading away – our hometown’s fading away.
In a literal lifetime here, deeply invested in politics and/or government since 16, I know of very few events so costly to Shreveport. Our city government made it official: to hell with the Rule of Law, the public interest, etc., etc., saying through its jackass grin, “We exist to serve the very few at the expense of the other 200,000.” Hell, we will even serve a Bossier City Council member / developer before we care for our own.
The subject is the Shreveport City Council meeting today. The Council, by a vote of 5-2, overrode its Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) and served-up the future of the Hwy. 3132 Extension to a profiteering real estate developer and a cabal of said developers “friends,” i.e., likely hirelings. Those friends stretch from the low-bar city government in today’s Shreveport to the no-higher-bar state highway department in Baton Rouge, with a couple of trans-city lawyers thrown in.
Councilman Michael Corbin is the lead story, and all who were present saw and heard that. But, they could not know what a half-dozen of us do.
One week ago tomorrow, a group of us met with the Council District D representative – where developer Tim Larkin’s hijack is centered – to question an earlier pro-Larkin vote he cast, and to find out his intentions for today’s crucial tally. Without us asking – an important fact in Politics 101 – Corbin volunteered that he intended to back the MPC action of May 7th. More directly, Corbin volunteered that he would NOT do that which he very precisely did. Thus, he lied. Today he led the demonstration: Shreveport government in the Glover Era is merrily digging away in its bottom of an already very deep hole.
We – the Finish 3132 Coalition – have worked feverishly for 3+ years to save the highway to the Port of Caddo-Bossier, a highway first officially envisioned in the Master Plans of Shreveport and Bossier City when I was 5 … in 1956. (The history of the project and the battle to save the highway is recorded in great detail on our website, Finish3132.com, particularly in “3132apedia.”)
Three times in the past two years, Larkin – joined at the hip with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover – has gone to the MPC to find a way to build his subdivision in the route of the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. Three times the MPC voted him down, including the most recent such outcome on May 7th. Larkin, each time, returned to the Shreveport City Council, heavily influenced by Glover, inarguably the worst mayor in the city’s history. Larkin is never deterred. A Bossier City pol of the most seasoned sort, Bossier friends note there is a thus a reason Larkin came to Glover – uh, Shreveport – to ply his trade.
Today, things were different. For the first time in this three-year battle, all the community organizations of decades-old consequence turned out to stop the insanity by backing-up the MPC Board of volunteer citizens working overtime to do something good and decent for a city headed decidedly south; “south” as in how deep might our community’s hole can be dug:
Shreveport-Caddo MPC Chairwoman Lea Desmarteau
Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce
Committee of 100
Port of Caddo-Bossier
Richard Descoteaux, Ternium USA at the Port of Caddo-Bossier
North Louisiana Economic Partnership
Finish 3132 Coalition and Willis-Knighton Health System
Port of Caddo-Bossier
Community activists Vernon Hastings, Willie Bradford, and Gil Pittard
The Council chamber was packed, and ask anyone who was there: the consensus was solid, and a thing of would-be pride. A coming together to finally get the highway finished. Council Chair Joe Shyne at one point asked for supporters to stand, and no one could see any who might have been sitting … except for Larkin and his several attorneys and attached Glover soldiers.
None spoke for Larkin, but many spoke for completion of the 3132 Extension as they represented, too, dozens more who did not speak. Calculated and reported from the other side, Larkinite Councilman Oliver Jenkins, after the stunned-to-silence vote, spoke up to somehow justify his stiffing of the Shreveport citizenry … as the crowd in the city hall chamber stalked out on him in protest.
Those voting in the public interest – rather than Glover / Larkin’s – were Councilmen Joe Shyne and Ron Webb. They could not have offered more. It is notable that they are term-limited, and thus longest-tenured and most experienced. That means they are least likely to fall for whatever their juniors on the Council fell for from Glover / Larkin, Inc., today.
Newsbreak. Earlier today, a totally reliable source called to tell me that this nastiness was afoot, engineered by Glover. A nearly secret meeting was underway about mid-day, ginned-up by Glover, run by his (not our) city attorney, and including an MPC staff member who should not have been there. Notably, too, some Council staff and members. The purpose of the meeting was said to be precisely the motion offered-up hours later by Corbin. Importantly, one Councilman who ran those traps for me reported that the Council’s Clerk denied – with 100% certitude – that any such commode-filling ever occurred. He lied … #2.
I can’t prove it (yet), but this thing today had more than a mere whiff of something much lousier than most of us care to wonder about.
One thing we do know: in the Glover years, no one should ever refuse to wonder such things aloud. What we ever more desperately await is a responsible investigator / prosecutor with the, uh, stuff, to catch ’em at it. After all, such malefactors – at least around here anymore – have found no need to hide.
We now turn our attention to the Coalition’s lawsuit in the U. S. District Court in Shreveport.
Oh, and a few other things.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is requested and appreciated.