by Elliott Stonecipher
(A shortened version of this article, without links to other materials, was published in the Shreveport Times today, Sunday, June 22, 2014. These are written in response to a guest editorial in the Times by Shreveport City Councilman Michael Corbin.)
At the subject June 10th Shreveport City Council meeting, Councilman Corbin led an attack against the chances of completing the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. The Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) had earlier, on May 7, 2014, rejected developer Tim Larkin’s application to build houses in a likely corridor of the Extension. The Councilman was the only member to speak in favor of overruling the MPC, and also sponsored the subject Council Motion.
The Coalition strongly opposes the Councilman’s actions.
The Councilman opined in his Times commentary that his actions were somehow based in how “complicated” this issue is. To the Coalition, all of this is very straightforward for all Council members, and consists of two very simple parts:
1. Council members swear a public Oath to serve the interests of the people of the City of Shreveport. It was not Councilman Corbin’s duty to serve a real estate developer, from here or elsewhere.
2. In 1996, Shreveporters voted to put their personal money into bonds necessary to complete the 3132 Extension, “… to the Port (of Caddo-Bossier),” and the proposition passed 64% to 36%. It was Councilman Corbin’s duty to keep faith with, and cast his Council vote for, the people of Shreveport, and the completion of their Extension all the way to the Port.
Councilman Corbin and the four other members he led have since parroted certain talking points in an attempt to explain the inexplicable. At the core, their confection is centered on a lawsuit the Bossier City developer yet again threatened to file against Shreveport if he did not get his way at the City Council meeting. These talking points contend that the amount our city would lose due to the developer’s ire is $10-$12,000,000.
Such is pure political cover. It is the currency of pols everywhere when one finds need to turn winks and nods into spoken or written excuses. Our City struggles to keep an available count of how many such lawsuits are filed against it, yet we are to believe this threat du jour turned to jelly the knees of a slew of quivering Council members? How ridiculous.
A $12,000,000 loss to the city, if the threat became fact, is little more than a jot or tittle compared to the billions of dollars in lost economic development benefit over time if the developer and his friends kill the 3132 Extension. Where do those billions of dollars fit in the math of routinely threatened lawsuits?
Councilman Corbin also brands as “accusations” the work of our Coalition. In fact, our three years of labor to find, secure and study many thousands of documents, including key and revealing emails from involved government officials, has yielded a website full of evidence, not accusations.
That Mr. Corbin hates the exposure of such facts is nothing new; it is where he began in this matter. In a May 2011 gathering of hundreds of 3132 Extension supporters at LSU-S, he specifically ordered – as if he had such right – that there be no mention of the project’s history, or any “placing of blame.” Blame? For what? What did he know that the rest of us didn’t? After all, the NLCOG meeting in which developer Larkin and Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover overtly acted to kill the Extension was fewer than sixty days earlier. Why so quickly and openly attempt to dictate a cover-up? (SEE earliest Shreveport Times reporting here, here, and here.)
Our research finds that the developer’s plan has been based in a gross dependence on promises made to him by his effective partner, Mayor Cedric Glover, and on the precedent of the Twelve Oaks subdivision having been built, beginning in 2000, in the original preferred corridor route determined in 1992. While the Coalition finds no joy in Mr. Larkin’s possible financial losses, we believe they are his, not that of Shreveporters. It seems Councilman Corbin sides with the developer in that matter, too.
At the Council meeting, our Coalition put an offer on the table to end related litigation. It was simple and straightforward, dependent only upon protections of the public related to openness, full disclosure of facts, and transparency of process. If the Councilman supports the Extension, he will take the lead in securing this settlement. Such is not likely, of course, because the settlement terms might well lead to a degree of public disclosure Mr. Corbin has fought for over three years.
Just days before Councilman Corbin’s vote, Coalition representatives met with him to confirm that he had no issues with us which might prompt a vote which endangered the Extension. He volunteered, to our admitted pleasure, that he had no problem at all voting to uphold the MPC’s decision.
The Councilman’s pledge was not true. Such has been the history of this matter since 2000. The votes of Councilman Corbin and the other four members he led continue that history.
Such comes at extraordinary expense to the people of Shreveport.
Finish 3132 Coalition