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NLCOG Executive Committee Meeting Notes

October 18, 2012

The start of the Oct. 18 meeting of the Executive Committee of the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) was delayed approximately 15 minutes until a quorum was reached. Committee members in attendance included Chairman Lorenz “Lo” Walker, William “Bill” Altimus and Charles Hennington. Also in attendance were NLCOG Executive Director Kent Rogers and the organization’s legal counsel Jerry Jones.

After the roll call, Walker called for a rearrangement of the agenda items which was approved. The biggest item on the agenda was to be the discussion of the lawsuit Willis-Knighton Health System, et al v. Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments, et al., No. 562,367 C, First Judicial Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana.

During public comments on agenda items, Finish 3132 Coalition spokesman Elliott Stonecipher addressed the committee and made a series of requests:

  1. The Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) met on April 7, 2011, and took the offending actions in that meeting. Today's (October 18, 2012) meeting is of the Executive Committee, not the MPO TPC. Please make available to the Finish 3132 Coalition in writing the legal authority – specific rules, by-laws, regulations, statutes, etc., - by which the Executive Committee undertakes any official action on today's agenda items.
  2. In the Coalition’s lawsuit, we carefully and fairly name 12 defendant persons or entities, three of which are individuals: Mr. Kent Rogers, Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and Shreveport City Engineer Ron Norwood. Those three are named individually based on documentary evidence which shows they took action in this matter which, in the opinion of our attorneys, exceeded their legal authority.

    We strongly object to the use of any public funds for any legal representation these officials might choose to engage. There is a constitutional prohibition against private use of public funds. Please make available to us in writing the legal authority – the specific rules, by-laws, regulations, statutes, etc., - according to which the Executive Committee undertakes any official action which would lead to the use of any public funds for expenses Mr. Rogers might choose to incur. We ask that NLCOG request an Attorney General's opinion on this matter before it takes any such action.
  3. We hereby formally request that NLCOG – regardless of which of its officers, committees or other agents may be involved – disclose to the Coalition and others in the public, a continuing record, to be updated in all meetings of its MPO TPC or Executive Committee, of all public monies expended in the matter of the Hwy. 3132 Extension. We further formally request that the specific source of all funds so expended be identified, unambiguously identified.

    In this regard, we today point out that many members of the NLCOG MPO TPC and Executive Committee are in jurisdictions outside any possible route of the Hwy. 3132 Extension. Given this fact, we ask if these members – with Mayor Walker and Mr. Altimus as examples – are already expending public funds of their jurisdictions in this matter, legal expenditures included.

    Stonecipher then asked Walker and Altimus if they would like to address this question. Mayor Walker said he wasn’t prepared to respond; Mr. Altimus declined to comment, as well.
  4. The Coalition strongly objects to the efforts of NLCOG and its attorneys or affiliated public officials to move any of our lawsuits to jurisdictions outside of Shreveport. Should that effort by NLCOG and other defendants succeed, that outcome will only spawn additional litigation.

The Coalition has learned that taxpayer money will be used to pay legal fees for the three elected officials (Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, NLCOG Executive Director Kent Rogers and Shreveport city engineer Ron Norwood) who have been individually named in its lawsuit.

Near the end of the Executive Committee meeting, Rogers and the committee discussed entering to an agreement with attorney Cody Mayo to represent Rogers in the lawsuit. The committee voted three to zero to accept this motion.

The committee voted three to zero to go into Executive Session to discuss the pending litigation. After approximately 20 minutes in session the committee returned to the chambers, entered back into regular session, then adjourned.

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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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