Category: Caddo Parish

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM CONVICTION OF FORMER CADDO COMMISSIONER MICHAEL WILLIAMS

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015It came as no surprise to courthouse observers that former Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams was recently found guilty of all 11 charges of wire fraud by a federal court jury in Shreveport. The only real surprise, other than the fact that Williams did not accept a plea deal, was how fast the verdicts were returned—in less than 90 minutes. Basically that meant the jurors took a restroom break, got a drink of water, voted SEPARATELY on each charge with practically no discussion, and then returned to the courtroom. In legal parlance, that’s called a slam dunk by the prosecution. Williams will be sentenced on June 13; the maximum sentence is 20 years and it is anticipated his sentence will be at least 5 years.monopoly-go2jail

So what can be learned by this unfortunate chapter in the history of public officials who got greedy—and were caught? Several things! Initially, remember that the U.S. Attorney’s office does not mess around once it files charges; locally they rarely, as in very rarely, lose criminal prosecutions.

Secondly—plea offers should be seriously considered; Williams could have plead to one charge of wire fraud with a probated sentence, i.e. no jail time. He should have Read more

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QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED FOR VOTERS BEFORE PORT TAX RENEWAL VOTE ON 9 APRIL

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015Here is a list of questions that the officials of the Port of Caddo Bossier should answer for voters before the upcoming tax renewals. The Port spends big bucks with a local ad agency for public relations, but Executive Director Eric England is tightlipped when asked “hard questions” about the internal operations of the Port, much less the upcoming tax renewal. This list was sent to England with a request that he answer the same; he has failed to respond to this email.

Executive Director Eric England
Director Eric England
  1. The 2.5 mil tax has generated over $80 million dollars in 21 years. How has this money been spent and why does the tax need to be renewed?
  2. The initial tax was approved in 1993 to 25 years—it expires in 2018. Why are you seeking a renewal now?
  3. There was a presidential primary on Saturday—March 5—for Read more
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HIGH MARKS FOR CADDO COMMISSION DESPITE ANTICS OF PRESIDENT MATTHEW LINN

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015It’s always good to follow a political body when there has been a changing of the guard—and such is the case with the Caddo Commission. To date, there have been 5 meetings of the Commission this year; other than the ceremonial first meeting for swearing in the new term, both work sessions and both regular meetings have been entertaining, to say the least! In this short interval major progress has been made for good government; unfortunately the actions of Commission President Matthew Linn have also provided major distractions.

Initially, high praise is due for substantial progress on issues that have stuck in the craw of the majority of informed Caddo citizens: the retirement plan participation by Commissioners (CPERS), the pay raises for Commissioners along with rank and file Commission workers (COLA), and subsidized health insurance for Commissioners and their families. Stuck in crawAt the first regular meeting of the Commission, CPERS and COLA were suspended for 2016 and forward. At the second meeting the Commission voted to require Commissioners to pay full premiums for the Commission health insurance—which due to the size of the group is a bargain compared to individual policy rates.

The last battle to be fought—and undoubtedly it will—deals with the travel/education expenses for Commissioners. Commissioners Matthew Linn, Ken Epperson and Lyndon Read more

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$2 Bills, Simple Truths, a Legal Residence & Voter Registration

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US-$2-billby Marion Marks

I have a friend who always tries to settle daily accounts with $2 bills, and some merchants laugh at his idiosyncrasy while marking him up as just an “odd duck.” This friend’s pattern certainly goes against public sentiment regarding legal tender, but it breaks no law and often gives those at the cash register a smile or a chuckle. Additionally, we can laugh today and carry on none the worse for knowing him.

However, Caddo Parish administrator, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, even as he has effectively guided Caddo through many potential disasters, faces questions regarding his legal residence and the laws of legally casting a ballot, that are not so lightly written off as just personal eccentricities.

Wilson has admitted he is in violation of state voter law. And, in admitting that he takes Read more

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Leadership, Not Drama & Flipping People Off, Even in Caddo Parish

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by Marion Marks

Eisenhower-Time CoverThe National Stage

You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Republican Presidential Primary “leaders” appear to have missed the lesson Commander in Chief Eisenhower and most former presidents expressed through actions. Yes, it was a different time, however the rationale of leadership has not moved so far to the dictatorial right as we have been led to to believe, and entertainment on the small screen still does not translate to world-stage statesmanship.

Trump gives em HellThe crude and irreverent manner, lack of common manners, demonstrated by leading candidate Donald Trump demonstrates and translates to the clear disgust many voters have for those who have failed the test after election to public office. The translation of failure, fatigue and frustration of citizens gives the Trump strategy that has worked in the reality TV world a demonstrated presence with a large sector of the Republican primary constituents.

However, common decency we might expect from the next president, potentially from the Republican primary, lowers the bar for those who Read more

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SHONDA STONE BEST CANDIDATE FOR SECOND CIRCUIT SEAT

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015Its rare that 2 sitting judges square off against each other for another judicial seat—but that is the case in the March 5 special election to fill the unexpired term of former Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James E. Stewart who resigned for his successful run for Caddo District Attorney. Caddo Juvenile Judge Shonda Stone, Shreveport City Court Judge Sheva Sims and Shreveport attorney Trina Chu are vying for this seat that has 9 years remaining in the term.

Judge Shonda Stone
Judge Shonda Stone

This judicial district is a minority sub district in Shreveport that encompasses most black neighborhoods with the exception of Stoner Hill. The district also includes a few white voter precincts located in southeast Shreveport around Betty Virginia Park. Stone and Sims are the obvious favorites as sitting judges and as black candidates; Chu is white.

Judicial campaigns are strictly regulated by the Judicial Canons of Ethics which basically only allow candidates to talk about credentials. In other words they can not point out distinctions Read more

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The Trump-Sanders Rage Has Roots With Caddo Commission –– Commissioner Linn Questioned

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believeby Marion Marks

You have to believe in something, everybody does, and even atheists have a belief in their unbelief. Yet rage and anger has a new voice in both national political parties against those who have abused the system and citizens. Too many incumbents and players who believe the political process is a personal playground or piggybank draw enough fire to quench the anger of voters who feel tarring and feathering would be a good start.

money-manners-morals-integrityVoters have such a frail moral vision that when an elected official follows a righteous path that benefits the public, corrects wrongs and bases decisions on a belief that justice can be accomplished, the official generally ends up being ridiculed and required to prove himself guiltless. It’s almost as if voters expect officials to sell out to porn vendors, massage parlors and gambling interests.

When a commissioner, namely the current Caddo Commission President, Matthew Linn, questions past actions that have sold out citizen interests, the first question is to demand that his Read more

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GET READY FOR PR BLITZ BY PORT FOR APRIL 9 TAX RENEWAL

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015Yep, its that time again—for Caddo (and for a change Bossier) voters to have another special election’ for a tax renewal. Not that there are not enough special elections in what is almost a home grown Louisiana sport— tax elections on dates that do not coincide with regular elections. This time the vote is to renew a 2.5 millage for the Caddo Bossier Port on April 9th.

On April 3, 1993, the voters of Caddo and Bossier Parishes approved a special tax of 2.5 mills to be levied on the property subject to taxation in the Port Area, consisting of Caddo and bossier Parishes for a period of twenty -five (25) years, commencing with the year 1993. The purpose of the tax was for site acquisition and for constructing, acquiring, improving and equipping docks and wharves, transfer and storage facilities, commercial and industrial facilities and other port, transportation and infrastructure facilities and improvements with the Port. The revenue from this tax has increased from $2 million in 1995 to over $6 million in 2014. In 21 years over $80 million has been generated by this assessment.

port of shreveport bossier
port of shreveport bossier

The Port has approximately 700 acres of it’s 2300 hundred acres owned left for development; only 145 of these are contiguous which limits Read more

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Has Matthew Linn Cut Off His Limb?

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sawing_limbby Marion Marks

Matthew Linn has raised more issues in his first month as President of the Caddo Commission than any commissioner in modern memory. One of three possible results will probably be the end product of issues raised.
#1 – An embarrassed Linn will reverse course, perhaps even step down, because his actions were based on erroneous interpretations of the law.
#2 – The Caddo Commission will have to reverse course because illegal actions have been “business as usual,” because they have broken or they ignored the law and have illegally conducted business in this manner for years. Or,
#3 – NLCOG, as well as other bodies, have ignored or failed to recognize the law as Linn and other attorneys are now interpreting it, and their prior actions will be under the microscope for years to come. Failure Counts

Linn has taken the position that commissioners have delegated the parish’s obligation far too much to the parish administrator, Dr. Woody Wilson, and that Read more

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CADDO COMMISSION PRESIDENT LINN STARTS OFF WITH POWER GRAB FOR NLCOG SEAT

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015In less than 2 weeks as the new president of the Caddo Commission, Matthew Linn has caused quite a stir—as well as a wave of embarrassment for the Commission—by his actions, both as a Commissioner and as the president of the Commission. The first was an attempt to use his office as a Commissioner to unduly influence (and apparently successfully so) to have Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator have an investigator chase down the writer of a Facebook post that Linn did not like. Now Linn, and perhaps the Commission as well as the Sheriff, face a possible civil rights suit by a local attorney claiming that the email and subsequent actions of a Sheriff’s deputy violated her rights to free speech, unlawfully threatened her employment by a public agency and racially slandered her clientele.

Commissioner Matthew LinnLinn’s latest antic is to replace Parish Administrator Dr. Woody Wilson on the NLCOG (North Louisiana Council of Governments)—who is serving as chairman this year. Linn first sent a letter to Read more

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