by Marion Marks
January should be a hopeful month, yet early Mardi Gras celebrations and the MLK memorial activities seem to temper the new year, particularly with losses of those we have buried long before we felt their time had expired. Our frenetic pace and electronic networks make it difficult to just sit back and absorb life. It is appropriate to take personal stock, without too much commentary, even when it hurts to see others’ mistakes, because we just can’t fix everything all by ourselves.
The boisterous social media and blogging stories about Caddo-Shreveport failing to recognize needs of interstate commerce, I-49 corridor routing and inner-city growth neglects a history of the city that has been stagnant far too many years according to a clear record of demographers and analysts who use real evidence, even if often bent to support paid or personal bias. In spite of the Hayneville Shale windfall, excellent financial stewardship and support of voters in the recent elections, the Caddo Parish Commission is under attack for motions not voted or plans finalized that appear to be moving toward transparency, legal compliance and to properly address concerns that admit errors current commissioners, with perhaps one exception, were not responsible for making. It seems greed and poor legal counsel at the establishment of CPERS inclusion for commissioners, as well as astute investigation by Elliott Stonecipher blew the top off a plan that was simply too good to be true for the administration and past commissioners. Now it is up to current leaders to fix historic screw ups we must admit should have been uncovered and fixed long ago.
From CPERS, improper pay raises, and horrendous legal advise of the past, current officials appear to be moving toward responsible parish management and addressing serious issues affecting our citizens. Given the opportunity, I want to believe commissioners and the administration will do an outstanding job. It is still necessary to monitor the Commissioners and administration progress and effectiveness in righting these past wrongs. Beyond this, moving forward should be our priority. We could be on a very constructive path beginning 2016 for Caddo Parish, while pivot to the GM plant issues.
On the GM Plant, citizens and the media need to go back and review material that exists as early as January, 2012 regarding the actions the Caddo Commission took in dealing with the current GM “holder of record” Stuart Lichter.
The secretive negotiations, we now know, made money for people who had close ties to the commissioners and have cost the parish dearly. Details of these I have only limited email records to support, but more documentation should be demanded, particularly those commissioners who had ties of any kind to jobs, material or resources located at the GM facility.
As far as that goes, too much smoke clouds records from the Port as well as contracts that the parish and similar entities negotiate. Where so much money of the taxpayers is spent, a public website, showing all transactions, recipients and beneficiaries should readily available. Issues like these are what generate support for candidates who harness public anger.