- Elliot Stonecipher
- Elliot Stonecipher
(My thanks to local government-watcher Linda Talbert for her attendance at yesterday’s Caddo Parish Commission “work” session. I very much appreciate her willingness to report to us on such meetings.)
Most who are reading this will never be surprised by any bad thing our Caddo Parish Commission does. This report is no exception.
After years of research, aided by reports of our Louisiana Legislative Auditor, I have learned the Commission is a corrupt enterprise masquerading as “parish government.”
Now, as if any honest and decent person needs a reminder, these public officials are about to blow our money on a junket to South Africa by newly elected Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne.
Cawthorne is, of course, following the lead of Commission President Matthew Linn. Before the ink was dry on a 2014 change in the Commission’s “travel policy,” Linn hit Caddo taxpayers for just barely under the then-$15,000 yearly max for a three-week vacation in Boston.
Linn professed to have taken a course at Harvard College, as many will remember. But, even given that he is and has always been in the Commission’s legislative branch, the only course which matched his preferred vacation dates was for officials in the executive branch of government. His assertion, under fire, that he was studying-up to replace Commission Administrator Woody Wilson proved that no whopper is too whopping for Mr. Linn.
Forever digging at the bottom of his awful job performance hole, Linn recently scored money for a San Antonio sojourn, taking Commissioner Mario Chavez with him. (As an aside, supporters of Mr. Chavez would do well to warn him that he has no real friends among those assuring him he will be Shreveport’s next mayor.)
Mr. Cawthorne’s Linn-like hustle is that he must – must! by lordy!! – accompany a group of New Orleans officials to South Africa as they stake an “economic development” claim for the Crescent City. How in the big ol’ wide world such can in any way mean anything for Caddo Parish is unclear to the point of invisibility.
Calling any such public money-blowing “official travel” is, of course, pure horse defecation. Junkets are, and will forevermore be, junkets. There is simply no telling what such will cost taxpayers, but, hey, who cares, right?
Oh, By the Way, Commissioners …
None of the above matters in any place influenced by the Rule of Law. The Commission does not exist in that world, as it demonstrates with studied regularity. Breaking laws, we now know, is its routine.
As most readers are aware, I have a lawsuit on appeal in our 2nd Circuit Court which specifically sues the Commission over its “travel” corruption, along with its salary corruption, its retirement corruption, its intended health care corruption, and so on and so forth. In law-abiding places, such would, at a minimum, put such a junket on hold.
Here in Caddo Parish, litigation like my lawsuit is merely an opportunity to direct more of our money to favored lawyers. Our Commission has paid attorneys Tom Arceneaux, Jerry Edwards and Michael Lowe somewhere near $100,000 to “fight” my lawsuit, which is to say, to preserve the Commission’s self-pay larceny. What we pay the two Commission staff attorneys is on top of that.
As the Commission corruption deepens on several fronts, we would be wise to remember the golden rule of systemic public corruption: “Things can always get worse.”
Running on a parallel track with the rest of this awfulness is the Charter Review Committee, apparently set on becoming a part of our problem. That body, led by Commissioner Linn and his prominent downtown sponsors and handlers, is working feverishly to craft ordinances for a vote this fall which, if passed, will bless – codify, in fact – much Commission corruption.
* Since March 2014, I have written and online-published 48 articles about corruption within the Caddo Parish Commission. The articles written since January 2015 may be read on RealShreveport.com. Click first on “CPERS Timeline,” then begin reading the first article at the bottom of Page 2. Articles are chronologically arranged from there, forward.