- Lyndon B Johnson (to propose I-49 Connector debate)
- Will Broyles
First, some good news on local accountability in government. We originally exposed in October 2015 that the Biomedical Research Foundation (BRF) tax payer funded plot to create the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) so that some of the wealthiest Shreveporters could “invest” in local startup businesses. This “Angel Fund” seemed to be somewhat indistinguishable from the EAP, as the EAP staff works on due diligence, business development and research for the Angel Fund investors. Close to $2m of taxpayer money was spent on the EAP in 2014 & 2015, while the Angel Fund investment total in the local area would max out at around $2.5m. It now appears that because scrutiny was given to this program, the Shreveport City Council and the Caddo Commission have reduced their plans to fund the EAP by about $420,000 from 2014 contribution levels. The Caddo Commission does not necessarily appear to have the votes to do any of its $500,000 normal annual funding for the EAP. It may not be enough, but helping save almost half a million dollars from being wasted unnecessarily seems like a very good result and a step in the right direction.
While our local media continues to choose to NOT cover local corruption and wasted tax dollar spending, a new distraction to keep citizens from being informed on more important matters is up for Thursday’s Caddo Commission meeting.
Two weeks ago, when this writer submitted a written letter explaining to Caddo Commissioners that their new ordinance proposals in their self-pay scandal would not “fix” the problem, but further their illegal actions, they chose to move ahead with voting on the newly proposed illegal actions anyway.
What is clear is that the new Caddo Commission, because of this notice and because of Elliott Stonecipher’s lawsuit being under appeal, could not use Thursday’s ordinances to claim that they had reformed the Commission and try to bury the problem. Wednesday, we learned that the Caddo Commission will take up a discussion of whether or not to voice support for the I-49 Inner City Connector.
This provides the perfect distraction. The Commissioners can continue to pretend to be “reforming” the Commission by voting on ordinances that would only restrict their retirement benefits, cost of living salary increases and travel reimbursements moving forward (not returning money already illegally received in previous years to Caddo Parish). The media will likely give normal light coverage to the Caddo Commission, and is certain to focus on the I-49 debate which amounts to nothing more than a declaration from the Commission.
In spite of an attempt to ignore that light is coming onto the subjects of corruption within the Caddo Commission, peoples’ displeasures are beginning to become louder with Commissioners. The Caddo Parish Commission will even take up a discussion to repeal their illegally self-given health insurance benefits.
While the ground is shifting and some good may be occurring due to a more informed public, it is imperative that these self-pay issues be exposed in local media in order to get all taxpayers the full amount of money owed back to them from Commissioners who illegally conspired to obtain personal financial gain. We will not stop exposing the issue until ALL tax money taken is returned… nothing less.