Tuesday Night at BNA: Linn, CPERS, Corruption and More
May 12, 2016
Throughout my career, Shreveport’s Broadmoor Neighborhood Association – the “BNA” – has served a purpose extending far beyond its geographical corner of our parish. During those decades, the organization’s meetings, held at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church, have done very real good for our community.
I have attended many BNA meetings, have been the group’s speaker many times, and have praised BNA in articles I have written. With my heart thus in precisely the right place, it is clear that the BNA must guard against being used for the objectives of a few public officials.
(Though I could not attend Tuesday night’s meeting, I later watched the recording of it by Will Broyles, local civic activist and entrepreneur. And, for the record, claims that I was “invited” to the meeting to “ask questions” are 100% false.)
Tuesday evening’s meeting was about our community’s public corruption threat, but not in the way you may expect. BNA top guy Rob Broussard, along with Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn, wanted the meeting to push-back against any notion of corruption here. In fact, Broussard now refers to that scourge as “alleged corruption.”
Linn is a recipient of infamous Caddo Parish Employee Retirement System – “CPERS” – payola, and leads the pack of Commissioners hellbent on keeping their CPERS take. At Tuesday evening’s meeting, Linn used the BNA as his political stage, juiced by other alliances he now has with Broussard. He told the crowd he was duped into taking his CPERS pay.
Broussard has worked in public education in the past, and now sells firearms. He recently sought and surprisingly scored a $70,000 “grant” of our taxpayer money from the Caddo Parish Commission … for tutoring Broadmoor area school kids, the obvious job of the Caddo Parish School Board. It is a first-ever such payment to the BNA for any like program, I believe, and I know of no previous Commission funding of such a neighborhood public education function.
Mr. Broussard was, until recently, a loud anti-corruption voice, flipping positions while securing the Commission grant.
Linn is now President of the Commission, and is rewriting the Caddo Parish Home Rule Charter language for commissioner pay. In addition to the $70,000 of our money for student tutoring, Broussard has also been appointed to Linn’s “citizen task force” which is aiding and abetting that rewrite. (Changes in the Home Rule Charter must be approved by voters.)
More than a little of the tension in Tuesday evening’s meeting was and is between Sheriff Steve Prator and local civic activist and entrepreneur Will Broyles. Mr. Broyles mistreatment at the meeting was its main – and wholly inappropriate – feature.
There was no limit on how many questions any person might ask, and Broyles had several for the sheriff. The sheriff was clearly irritated by them, but they were directly on point, and appropriately posed. Sitting next to the sheriff throughout, Broussard decided to cut Broyles off, and directed another BNA member to do so. That man, too, ordered Will to sit down.
The public meeting was held, of course, for citizens to ask the very questions Will Broyles posed. No other questioners were awaiting the microphone, and many in the audience attended to see and hear Broyles’ questions, and the sheriff’s answers.
As was and is clear, the sheriff very much dislikes being criticized about the paucity of corruption investigations and prosecutions. He also very much – and correctly – dislikes the fact that District Attorneys here refuse to prosecute cases he brings them. He is, though, a victim of his own success. He investigated ex-Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams for official malfeasance – the theft of $2,400 in taxpayer money – a case successfully prosecuted by the U. S. Attorney’s office. Sheriff Prator did not need the Caddo District Attorney. Williams awaits sentencing.
For the record, Mr. Broussard aggressively denies that either his recent $70,000 “grant” from the Commission, or his work for Linn’s pet effort to increase commissioner compensation, pose any conflict of interest for him as BNA head.
Sheriff Prator mentioned Tuesday night that something is being done about CPERS, noting in context that he has spoken with Caddo District Attorney James Stewart. I hope whatever is going to be done about CPERS is not a whitewash that means Commissioners will keep their ill-gotten gains.
That is, however, what I know to prepare for. It is, after all, exactly what Linn, Inc., is arranging on every front … and back … and underneath.
(Elliott Stonecipher does this work pro bono … no compensation of any kind is solicited or accepted. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, of course – is expected. The use of his work without such credit to him is unethical and will not be quietly accepted.)