by Marion Marks
City Marshal Charlie Caldwell Saturday must have great faith in magic or brute power of those backers who signed on to endorse him if he expects voters to ignore his failures in the marshal’s office. Voters will be required to completely ignore abuses by Caldwell and deputies in spending taxpayer money extravagantly and wastefully as shown in public records over the last four years. Privileged “deals” that some businessmen have with the marshal violate good business practices and skirt government regulations, yet Caldwell manages to fly just enough below the radar to evade capture, at this time. Recent FuelMan revelations may have been too little too late, or too close to the election for investigators to pick up the gauntlet.
Caldwell seems to have scoffed at the revelations regarding his travel and that of his deputies, at this time, related to FuelMan credit cards. But Caldwell still has outstanding record requests that he must answer in the final weeks, we hope of his time sitting in the marshal’s office.
Public records requests to the marshal’s office were at all turns incomplete and the formal complaints have yet to be answered. Travel documents along with corresponding social media posts of members of the marshal’s office clearly indicate that office funds have paid for personal travel and entertainment. Yet the records that will prove conclusively the exact dollar amounts and abuses remain in the marshal’s hands and not in the public realm.(more below)
The failure of transparency continues to cast a cloud over the office that city officials at all levels should demand become a symbol of openness and trust. Only when the Shreveport City Court, and marshal’s office have openness can the public trust be restored. Taxpayers, particularly private citizens who are required to deal with the city court, bear the cost of these abuses. Public resources continue to be treated as a personal wallet by one elected official and some members of his staff.
Fines and fees should not be treated as a “discretionary fund” for the marshal. With a change in this one official, those who are in city court may find less hassle and fair treatment as opposed to the will of an often tyrannical marshal. Select deputies, their families and and the marshal’s personal entourage seem to feel they are entitled, and we must hope these days are numbered. Trips across the country should be limited to office training and city marshal business, not the parties the Caldwell crew have taken at taxpayer expense.
Marshal Caldwell should enjoy the next twenty-four hours, as we hope he will soon be on the street – required to do real work, or try to stay out of jail if/when the records that exist demonstrate facts we believe to be accurate concerning abuses in his office.
If you are eligible to vote in Shreveport, please study the facts and vote for Jim Taliaferro for City Marshal. Pain for the good people who try to make the Shreveport City Marshal’s office work and serve citizens cannot end soon enough. They deserve better leadership!