- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
June 30, 2016
(* Readers interested in my earliest articles on this subject need only follow the directions in the footnote, below.)
From the first of my reports, in January 2015, about Caddo Parish Commission corruption – most notably in illegal “CPERS,” Caddo Parish Employees Retirement System, pay – I have noted the very low likelihood that offenders would be held to account, and taxpayer money thereby returned to public coffers.One of the three attorneys being paid with public money to work against our interests, Tom Arceneaux, has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment which may confirm that result. The filing asks Judge Ramone Lafitte to snuff-out my lawsuit and declare all Commission corruption cured.In Mr. Arceneaux’s 89-page tome, there is not a single mention of guilty commissioners giving back their illegal / corrupt self-pay.In combined CPERS pay and attorney charges, taxpayers are out $400,000 or more. That does not include hundreds of thousands more in other commissioner self-pay back to the early 1990s.
For the record, my work and that of my attorney partner Whitney Pesnell is purely in the public interest.
Also for the record, I believe the opposite should be happening with all of this. Rather than rewarding the subject official malfeasance, I believe the officials who designed the various self-pay devices should be criminally charged and tried. After more than two years of research, I know it is a stone-cold fact that these commissioners acted with the worst of intentions, with careful planning and skillful execution. Many thus involved have never been publicly identified.
While no one, we should hope, can say in advance what a judge will do, we would be as dumb as proverbial rocks to ignore the fact that virtually every argument by Commission attorneys has been so adjudged. In fact, Mr. Pesnell and I have even been denied legal discovery in this lawsuit, something I would not have believed was, well, legal.
Then there is the matter of our appeal of many such trial court issues to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal. Where does that fit in this? Why is this kill-shot being taken now, regardless? Because the Commission’s timeline says Caddoans must vote this fall on Home Rule Charter amendments which will legalize their self-pay. Thus, killing my lawsuit must happen now … right now … to hell with our appeal or anything else.
Stripped to fact and truth, Arceneaux’s Motion argues that all the bad at the Commission is now good … fixed.
Such is ridiculous, and proof of that fact is in fresh Commission pudding.
AFTER the supposed overhaul of travel self-pay, the Commission voted 8-4 last week to give thousands of taxpayer dollars to Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne for a personal sojourn to South Africa. South Africa! How’s that for fixed?
Credit for the supposed “fixing” goes – by edict – to a very few, very wealthy, very (locally) powerful players – more on them later – who have picked and deployed a committee of usual suspects to supposedly legitimize self-pay. Included among those running this op is Commission President Matthew Linn, a noted CPERS beneficiary and self-pay offender. Enough said.
These controlling outsiders are totally beyond public accountability, operating in total secrecy. If, as more and more people worry, they are hiding their actual motives, how would the public ever know? What are they doing running government?
That brings us back to Mr. Arceneaux. As if to mock honest taxpayers, he winds-down his legal posturing this way:
“The Commission has gone through the solemn process of amending its Ordinances so that they conform to the Charter and the Louisiana Constitution, to the extent they may not have conformed before. There is no reason to believe the Parish will ‘revert to its old ways’ by later amending the ordinances to re-enact the challenged ordinances.”
Solemn process?! What? ‘Lord, Tom, give us a break! Offenders still seethe at being caught, and never publicly admitted they did anything wrong. To punctuate their contempt for taxpayers, they take another hundred grand-plus of our money to pay lawyers to preserve the felonious haul.
Even given such facts, Aceneaux posits that offenders would not “revert to their old ways?” Really?! Since they get off scot-free, money bags in hand, why would they not “revert to their old ways?” Where’s the downside, Tom?
There’s no spiffing this up. ‘Just more evidence of systemic corruption.
* Since March 2014, I have written and online-published 49 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.