TRANSCRIPT: MEMBER RESPONDS TO MY CRITICISM OF CITY COUNCIL
Thus far, two members of the Shreveport City Council have directly responded to my article two days ago in which I criticized the body’s silence about three lawsuits alleging years of business and residential overbilling for City water and sewer services. (SEE article link below.)
Mayor Adrian Perkins, I am reliably told, is publicly dismissing any concern about the lawsuits, if not outright denying their existence. Such dishonesty serves his plan to fund the Cross Bayou scheme and/or a $100-$150 million catch-all bond issue packed with such political goodies.
Now, given the response to my Sunday article by one Council member, it seems Perkins is deliberately withholding related information from at least some members, functionally silencing any public discussion of the matter … and any resulting fall-out.
On June 14th, I reached out to one usually go-to Council member about this deafening City Hall silence. To my surprise, I received no response … until my Sunday article. Agreeing to answer my questions anonymously, here is the verbatim record – written questions and answers – of our exchange:
June 14th: Stonecipher (“ES”) to Council Member (“CM”):
ES: Confidentially and off-the-record, would you please share your take on the water / sewer tax and other over-charges? Now that Judge Pitman has ruled in the lesser of them, what is your expectation going forward? Too, is there any discussion among Council members about what is to be expected, AND what Perkins is likely to do? As always, thank you.
CM: We know what’s happening. We just can’t speak much. It goes much deeper. I’m for sure not in the Mayor’s pocket.
ES: I certainly never said or suggested you were in the Mayor’s pocket. I am totally opposed to your unwillingness to tell us what in the hell is going on.
CM: We don’t know!!! We have ask for a meeting with the City attorney’s Office to find out the particulars. It’s like pulling teeth. We ask for the current (specified document description withheld at CM’s request). They want even give us that. It’s horrible. I feel everyone’s frustration. This guy is so out there. I can’t KEEP UP!
ES: Has anyone in any official or legal representative position – i.e., City Attorney or other attorneys paid by taxpayers – asked or directed you and other Council members NOT to discuss the subject lawsuits?
CM: They won’t Elliot. It’s so frustrating. (CM and two other named CMs) are in constant communications. We are trying.
ES: Please call a news conference to tell what you know and are seeing / being told … no matter what the subject, OR tell me why no Council member is commenting at all on the developments in the subject lawsuits, e.g., decisions by Judge Pitman. You must understand that we have an absolute right to know whatever you do … as soon as you know it.
CM: I agree… We are trying…
ES: I don’t understand, although I am trying to. What is it we the people cannot be told … how can that be … and how can the City Council be unanimous in such a matter?
CM: Okay. I appreciate that. We have not been briefed not once on this. The water billing. Not once. I’m terrified to speak about it because I know no more than you do. Ms. Creal (City Attorney) DOES NOT feel she works for the City. Only the Mayor. It’s a major problem. I’ve been so busy fighting the (specified document name withheld) and all the other stuff (BS) this guy throws at us on a daily basis. I’m not sure that’s not by design.
ES: Since you have not been briefed at all, why not tell the public what concerns you have, if any, about what Judge Pitman has already decided, and what it means if he also rules the City is liable in the remaining two lawsuits. Is there exposure for the City? How much? How can the City take another step in spending on any other extraordinary project / issue until the costs of these suits are fully debated … publicly?
CM: I believe that you are correct. The Citizens deserve answers.
July 1 (cont):
ES: Let me ask it this way: has anyone else, including any other Council member, urged all of you not to address matters pertaining to these three lawsuits?
CM: In general yes. Any pending litigation. We have been told not to discuss due to hurting the cases. Not these three in particular however. We have NO legal representation… None. They got rid of Karen Strand because she was giving us true legal aid and advice that was contrary to the Mayors agenda. But on this one we have not been briefed at all.
ES: I believe – and would prefer – that I share the nullification of the Council with any who care to read about it. With your name withheld, I would like to do that … constructively, of course. Do you agree with that course? I simply do not believe a sidelined legislative branch of government is anything but negative, especially at this point.
CM: I have not problem with that Elliott. The Mayor and his administration has tied our hands in every way possible. He has no desire To work with us. He has no desire for our City to be better. I agree. I would not say we are sidelined. I just feel that every time we try to take the field for a touchdown the Mayor comes and hits us in the knee with a bat.
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In closing, I urge everyone to particularly note the reference to Ms. Strand and her removal. I believe the way she was treated by our mayor – not to mention his reasons for doing so – are a permanent stain on his administration, at a minimum.
… more later …
© 2019 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Elliott Stonecipher, Sunday, June 30, 2019: