Update… Update… Update: A Bit of the Inside Story on Shreveport City Hall’s Latest Blow-off of Taxpayers and Law
Thursday, November 3, 2016 … 9:12 AM …
On Tuesday evening, November 1st, at 6:16 PM, Kaley Green, reporter for RealShreveport.com, wrote / published an article entitled, “City Still Refusing to Turn Over Public Documents.”
The documents at issue are those pertinent to the City of Shreveport’s emerging water under-billing scandal.
I urge readers to go to the RealShreveport.com site and read Ms. Green’s related, early articles for a proper timeline and understanding of the subject Public Records Request made of Shreveport City Attorney William Bradford.
Put simply, City Hall withheld the documents contrary to law, likely because they in ways raise questions about the competency of the current administration.
Three-and-a-half hours later, at 11:32 PM, November 1st, the subject documents WERE THEN FORWARDED to Kaley Green by Ms. Lafargue.
I thank Kaley Green for sticking with her pursuit of the records thus far obtained. Doing so here is typically a slow-walk through a political hell, a mind-numbing fact given the simplicity and directness of Louisiana’s excellent Public Records Law.
Such battles are direct evidence of our community leadership’s dramatic dependency on secrecy in almost all they do (to us).
Our review of said documents is underway.
Already, we are staggered by both the City’s failure on several fronts, and the bold and in many ways inexplicable ability of outsiders to “arrange” themselves as they have in the matter. (In fact, these “outsiders” have long been “inside” in notable ways, and through various proxies.)
I say again, our mayor and city council’s current intentions are shockingly wrong, if not illegal. They, by December 15th, intend to (a) charge Shreveporters a $12-per-month garbage tax, and (b) thus take yet another $9,000,000 of our money, SAID to be for City Hall pay raises.
I yesterday confirmed that City Hall has done NO LEGAL RESEARCH into the scheme, i.e., the notion that a General Fund need – salary increases – can be addressed as a “fee” rather than what it clearly is, a “tax increase.”
Only if that hokum is accepted can our right to vote on a tax increase be (illegally) wiped-out and the December 15th Council vote proceed.
It is City Hall’s cry that insufficient revenue exists to maintain Shreveport’s current governmental footprint. (Oh, really?! Is not the footprint WAY TOO LARGE?!!)
They feign surprise at this even given how many Shreveporters our high taxes and very poor schools have chased away for decades, and how our leadership’s “government-grows-government” religion does not work here or anywhere else in the world.
To re-stress key facts:
The garbage tax and related scheme relate to the water under-billing events, and likely the principals who have sued the City to be lucratively paid for “discovering” that error.
(Based on that precedent, should it succeed, I have prepared a bill to Shreveport and Caddo Parish for, oh, $20,000,000 – yes, I just decided that as I wrote it, but hell, why not? – for all my pro bono work for our community.)
However, sources truly outside Shreveport city government, but with deep understanding from other municipalities, share with me the concern that the under-billing was no accident … and is tied to intended – likewise lucrative to someone – City of Shreveport public policy changes soon to surface about garbage collection services.
Two actors in the water under-billing controversy, Scott Pernici and Michael Wainwright, have history with the City in which they and others – particularly in a 1990 waste landfill contract – acted in much the same manner.
(As I professionally headed the transition to office of former Mayor Hazel Beard after her election in 1990, competitors of waste contractor BFI, Inc., delivered to City Hall what they asserted was evidence of criminal fraud in and with the then-new contract for landfill services.
It was my job to deliver those files to the FBI and then-U.S. Attorney Joe Cage, though I would have done so regardless. Those authorities finally brought no charges against any participants in the matter, noting that BFI was at the time the subject of nearly two-dozen such investigations around the country, the most legally formidable of which was in another nearby state.
Given the prominence of some locals caught-up in that web, I was summarily moved to the top of the local “hang ’em high” list – I mean that figuratively – maintained by the very same social and money boss-folks here who still – a quarter century later – oppose both my waking and sleeping.)
Now also notably involved in these matters is Manchac Consulting, a company which earlier in the year took over water / sewer operations in Bossier City. Relationships between that company and Pernici and Wainwright are now the subject of increasing interest among many.
Mayor Tyler has said she referred the water under-billing matter to federal authorities, specifically, “the U. S. Justice Department.” Such has not been verified, however.
I specifically note that the original reporting on the water under-billing scandal was done by Lex Talamo of the Shreveport Times.
… continuing …
© 2016 ELLIOTT STONECIPHER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED