by Elliott Stonecipher
Public documents obtained by the Finish 3132 Coalition confirm what those in attendance witnessed for themselves at the subject June 10th Shreveport City Council meeting: the fix was in for real estate developer Tim Larkin and his bid to build houses in the area of any corridor for the Hwy. 3132 Extension. Later that evening, I wrote about the sickening display.
In the meeting, five City Council members – Michael Corbin, Sam Jenkins, Jeff Everson, Rose McCulloch and Oliver Jenkins – voted to overrule the May 7th Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) rejection of Larkin’s application. Councilman Ron Webb and Council Chairman Joe Shyne voted “no.”
In truth, the outcome of the meeting was set much earlier.
The Anatomy of a Fix
The Larkin appeal of the MPC decision to the Council was his option, and many in City Hall were highly interested. Just after that meeting, a phone call to report the action was made by the MPC’s Stephen Jean to Mayor Cedric Glover’s right-hand, City Attorney Terri Scott. At 7:05 PM, Scott emailed the somehow urgent news to all Council members. Larkin did not appeal until May 12th.
Documents thus far produced reveal that any “deliberative process” by city officials in handling Larkin’s appeal to the Council occurred outside the view of the public and news media. What took place was an attempt by Larkin, his attorneys, and his friends at City Hall to defeat protections of the public interest as set forth in the Louisiana Open Meetings law.
In like deceit, Larkin’s application to the MPC was made not in his name, but the name of his project engineer. Such was effective. Eight days before the MPC meeting, its chairperson still could not confirm that any such application existed. Rather, she was told by MPC staff that “there is no application from Larkin.”
The June 10th Council appeal “hearing” was Kabuki theater. The presentations made by the long list of civic groups and individuals in support of the 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier fell on deaf ears of bad actors. The good faith of those presenters, and dozens of attendees who stayed throughout, was egregiously violated by Larkin, his attorneys, the city administration, and the five City Council members in on their deal.
The official emails and other documents thus far given up by City Attorney Terri Scott reveal key facts and conclusions, as follows.
1. The City Hall team working to serve developer Larkin and his wealthy, politically powerful backers included Mayor Cedric Glover – mainly via Terri Scott – Council Clerk Art Thompson, Assistant City Attorney Julie Glass, the MPC’s Stephen Jean and the five council members.
2. Corbin has been previously recognized as the only Council member who spoke in support of Larkin during the meeting, and the one who offered the Motion which gave Larkin what he had rigged out of public view. We now know that Corbin’s role was even more significant.
3. The appeal process gave no consideration to the reason the MPC turned down the developer’s application, never mind that the reason was purely logical and wildly obvious: since no Extension route has yet been determined, Larkin’s plan to carve-out an area for the highway was laughable. After all, the $1.2 million Stage 1 Feasibility Study – for the single purpose of determining that corridor – will not be completed for eighteen months.
4. The first overt attempt by Larkinites to move all related City Council deliberation behind closed doors and away from the news media and public, failed. That plan was to move the proceedings into an “Executive Session” which would have included only city officials and Larkin attorneys. Council Chairman Shyne refused, as was solely his prerogative.
The Larkin / Arceneaux “Motion to Modify”
The author of the required “Motion to Modify” (the MPC ruling) was Larkin attorney Tom Arceneaux. Arceneaux submitted the Motion by slipping it in as the ninth page of a twelve-page legal brief on June 4th. The brief was hand-delivered to City Council members. No mention of the brief or its contents was ever seen in local news media accounts.
The Motion from and by Arceneaux was refined in a series of emails between 10:59 AM and 1:41 PM on Council meeting day, June 10th. Arceneaux, Michael Corbin, Julie Glass, Art Thompson, Stephen Jean, Terri Scott, Tim Larkin and attorney / brother-in-law Scott Sinclair, were involved.
(Arceneaux’s role is highlighted by an email to him from Julie Glass at 11:57 AM on meeting day. Glass requests Arceneaux’s approval of a minor change to his / Larkin’s Motion, and Arceneaux responds at 12:11 PM saying, “I’m at Rotary. Will touch base after lunch.” In what some might lightly call a Freudian slip by Arceneaux, he signs his email, “Tim.”)
Also notable, in context, is a report to me from Council Chairman Joe Shyne just before the meeting began at 3:00 PM. I had been tipped by a City Hall source who has asked not to be identified that the “Motion to Modify” work had been underway earlier in the day. When Shyne asked Council Clerk Art Thompson to explain, the Clerk assured Shyne that there was no such Motion, and that no such work had been done.
That Larkin’s own attorney was permitted to write the Motion which directly served his client, at the expense of the public, is not new in this history. When, on April 7, 2011, Glover and Larkin commandeered the NLCOG meeting to kill the Extension – which NLCOG had absolutely no legal authority to do – then city engineer Ron Norwood and attorney Sam Gregorio crafted the Motion used to do the deed. Gregorio had done legal work for Larkin, was a key Glover fund-raiser, and was, two months earlier, appointed by Glover to the Port board.
... to be continued…
Finish 3132 Coalition