3132apedia by Elliott Stonecipher

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My Readers' Two Priority Issues

October 04, 2015

This kind of public interest research and writing is my only job anymore, and has been for several years. The very best part of it is meeting so many friendly and supportive people, including by phone, email, and social media messages. Without their support, I would not - will not - keep at it.

This steady flow of messages is also the way I learn and begin to understand what subjects to research and address. Most recently, the messages from supporters are very clear in identifying two items as their priorities.

The Caddo Parish Commission

A complete overhaul of the Commission is number one on the list. A decent number of new Commissioners will be elected this month or in next month's run-offs, a very good first step in this urgently necessary reform.

Of great interest - and frustration - is my lawsuit in Caddo Parish District Court which would force Commissioners to kill the list of illegal and/or unconstitutional benefits they have voted themselves since March 2000. These include retirement pay, the size and process of salary increases, health and life insurance benefits, and so-called "education travel."

Each one of these is expressly prohibited by either our state constitution or our Caddo Parish Home Rule Charter.

The Commission and its attorneys have steadfastly refused to act to return these ill-gotten gains to taxpayers. So, along with the also pro bono work of attorney Whitney Pesnell, I filed suit last March.

Some of my opponents, including some Commissioners, say the lawsuit isn't "real," and is just a device to harm their re-election chances. Their "evidence" is that the Court has not, in all these months, ruled on my lawsuit.

Neither Whitney Pesnell nor I can in any way speed along the judicial process. We have nothing to do with that. If, as some assert, other people do have such influence, we have no knowledge of that ... not one dot or tittle. If the Court is thus charged and criticized, it will not be by Whitney Pesnell or me.

In truth, and as I have many times written in detail, the violations of law at and by the Caddo Parish Commission extend far beyond civil remedies. Elected and other officials there, the public record shows, have knowingly and systematically taken taxpayer money for themselves, all prohibitions of law be damned.

That is supposed to matter, including here in Caddo Parish.

The Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier

As of next spring, I will have been working on this issue for five years. It seems we have saved the Extension, but no one is celebrating. Put simply, people in responsible official positions never wanted this last piece of the highway built, and have at least once - along with some Shreveport city officials - openly acted to kill it. I believe they are still trying.

The interminable "feasibility study" continues, but we are learning that the only logical Extension route option - Route A - likely has been killed. That it is by any other reckoning the simplest, most logical and direct route to the Port makes no difference.

The bosses of the "planning" process, the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments - "NLCOG" - saw fit to stick a completely unnecessary, super expensive "trumpet interchange" at the end of Route A where it connects with LA Hwy. 1. Now, with straight faces, they have deduced that the obviously foolish-from-the-jump interchange makes the route prohibitively expensive.

As we have learned, there are many, many ways our "planners" kill the roadways our community simply must have.

We suspect that either of two versions of Route B will be recommended via this "study." They are much longer and more expensive, stretching from Flournoy-Lucas down to proposed Interstate 69 in a couple of different ways and places. Route B is the likely recommendation of the study, but many of us would bet serious money that it will never be built.

Now, however, we know another route exists, should Route A be killed: a segment of I-69 in North DeSoto and South Caddo Parishes. This nine-or-ten mile segment from I-49 to the Port has already been approved for construction, even if I-69 itself is never built. This highway will keep the 18-wheelers and other such traffic out of the city. Nothing would better safeguard the public safety, and it is cheaper than either of the Route B options. Perhaps most importantly, land purchase and construction are already approved.

One way or the other - Route A or the I-69 segment - we have to get the trucks off Flournoy-Lucas, and give the Port everything it needs.

Elliott Stonecipher

(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party, and has long been a registered "Other," or Independent. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing - unedited only, please - of his work is appreciated.)

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May 27, 2014
Elliott Stonecipher, spokesperson for the Finish 3132 Coalition, offers an update on the project.
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