FINALLY! OLLIE TYLER’S WATER-SEWER AUDIT LIE LAID BARE
Saturday, September 7, 2019 … 2:41 P.M.
No matter anything else about her mayoralty, a low point for Ollie Tyler was her loud campaign lie last year about a City Hall audit into the long and possibly illegal overcharging of Shreveport Water & Sewerage Department customers.
Given continuing revelations from various lawsuits, details of overcharging and other customer abuse by “the water department” now seem primed to tumble out.
We already know much more than we did when Tyler loosed her whopper over a year ago.
For those who may not know or remember, the candidate forum in which Tyler boldly lied was at Southwood High School on August 6, 2018.
In answer to the specific question, Tyler insisted that she would order a “third party audit” into the water department only if re-elected and only “if something has been done wrong.” (SEE Link #1, my September 14, 2018 article, below.)
But, some five weeks later, Tyler directed then-City Attorney William Bradford, Jr., to issue a statement admitting that the audit she said did not exist had, in fact, been “undertaken” seven months earlier. (SEE Link #2, my September 19, 2018 article.)
Then, in late 2018, the City further admitted that a subject contract had been signed with Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC – the City’s external auditor – in March 2018 for “an amount not to exceed $183,150.”
In fact, Carr, Riggs & Ingram said, in September 2018, a month after Tyler’s denial, that it was “pretty far along” with the audit, and that a draft report was expected by the middle of the next month. That was a year ago.
By May 2019, according to a Court brief by local attorneys Anne Wilkes and Jerry Harper, the audit firm had by then been paid $159,000.
Harper and Wilkes are attorneys for Scott Pernici, Michael Jones and Mark DeFatta in a lawsuit filed in March 2017 on behalf of all customers of the City’s water and sewer deparment.
In her March 25, 2019, deposition, Barbara Featherston, that department’s Director, told Wilkes and Harper that a draft of the long sought-after audit had for some time been “sitting on her desk.”
It is a sickening fact that while the audit sat there, a stream of public records requests and other legal procedures to get it were purely ignored by City attorneys who instead communicated a collected concoction of lawyerly lies to block its release.
The specific mechanism at issue in the audit is the City’s apparent billing practice … months of highest customer usage are the basis of calculating charges for months of lowest usage.
The subject lawsuit asserts that this billing scheme violates the subject City ordinance.
The City’s over-the-top refusal to produce the audit screams validation of plaintiffs’ claims.
Plaintiffs believe customers may have thus been overcharged by $10,000,000 to $20,000,000.
Now, as of this week, disclosure of the long-identified audit seems near.
In a hearing this past Tuesday, First District Judge Mike Pitman ruled that all customers of the City’s water department, perhaps as far back as 2007, can be “certified” / included in the lawsuit alleging overbilling. (SEE link #3, Tuesday report, Nancy Cook, ArkLaTex Home Page.com)
And … drum roll please … Judge Pitman ordered the City to produce the audit within 30 days.
© 2019 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1. Elliott Stonecipher, RealShreveport.com, September 14, 2018:
2. Elliott Stonecipher, RealShreveport.com, September 19, 2018:
3. Nancy Cook, ArkLaTexhomepage,com, September 3, 2019: