- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
January 5, 2017
As some few of us know very well, our Shreveport / Caddo Parish community has its very own appointment with destiny next week.
That statement is not overly dramatic.
On Wednesday, January 11th, a three-judge panel of our 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport will hear oral arguments in my near two-year-old lawsuit over public corruption at and by the Caddo Parish Commission.
Local attorney Whitney Pesnell and I filed the lawsuit on March 16, 2015. A decision by those judges will come on some unknown, later date.
I began the necessary research into our Commission’s expansive self-pay scandal in 2013, and have written and published many articles detailing those facts, now available for reading on Will Broyles’ RealShreveport.com website. (Click on “News,” then “Caddo Commission Scandal.”)
Here is a pertinent article from two years ago.
In late 2014, after my research and conclusions were verified by experts in state government, and by government watchdog C. B. Forgotston, now deceased, I presented the facts to certain then-Commissioners.
The broader Commission response was immediate: stonewall … and utter not one word about any part of the emerging scandal.
Immediately, Shreveport lawyer Tom Arceneaux was hired to police and enforce the Commission’s choice to do the wrong thing, and deny Caddo citizens their rights … and hard-earned money.
Arceneaux would soon be joined by another lawyer in his firm, Jerry Edwards, as well as local lawyer Michael Lowe.
The three would work along with the Commission’s in-house lawyers, Parish Attorney Donna Frazier and Assistant Parish Attorney Henry Bernstein.
Two former Parish Attorneys, Charles Grubb and Dannye Malone, also played important roles in various parts of the long-standing self-pay illegality by Commissioners.
The strong force of lawyers joined Parish Administrator Woody Wilson, and ex-Commissioner, now Shreveport City Councilwoman, Stephanie Lynch, in directing this broad legal-political op.
Their lone purpose is the protection and preservation of all ill-gotten gains by Commissioners, stretching back at least 23 years.
To date, the three outside attorneys have taken some $140,000 in taxpayer money in this revealing and awful chapter of Caddo Parish history. That amount, still climbing, must be added to near-$300,000 in illegal CPERS self-pay, and yet untold hundreds-of-thousands in illegal salary increases back to 1993.
Working on our own dime in opposition to this sizable cabal of ill-doers are myself and Mr. Pesnell. We have very real costs, of course, the most revolting of which is our portion of the millions Caddo taxpayers have lost to guilty Commissioners and those who provide cover for them.
Initially, emphasis in this effort was on the illegal and unconstitutional retirement benefit Commissioners had voted themselves in March 2000 called “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employment Retirement System.
Later, in March 2005, most Commissioners stunningly – and criminally, we believe – supercharged that illegal pay via a new ordinance.
Mr. Pesnell’s work soon confirmed a much broader incidence of legally prohibited Commissioner self-pay. His work emphasized how the Caddo Parish Home Rule Charter of 1984 explicitly barred any pay other than a minimal salary.
On February 12, 2015, as the scandal initially came into public focus, our Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Daryl Purpera, wrote the Commission to sanction its unconstitutional CPERS benefit.
The LLA would later, on November 25, 2015, release a full audit concerning CPERS self-pay which was detailed and, in context, scorching.
That work, however, in no way bothered or deterred the Commission or its army of aiders, abettors, sponsors and water-carriers. It was ex-Commissioner David Cox, a notable self-pay offender, who publicly sneered at and dismissed the LLA’s work as “just another opinion.”
As we later learned, LLA procedures meant the Commission and its lawyers knew in advance of the February 12, 2015, letter. Thus, Arceneaux rushed to Caddo District Court that same day to file a suit which was his initial self-pay preservation gambit.
His lawsuit attempted to sue the State of Louisiana into the self-pay scandal, and was quickly tossed by Caddo District Judge Mike Pitman.
Having thereby attended our first Caddo Commission class – Stonewall & Cover-Up 101 – Mr. Pesnell and I, on March 16, 2015, filed our lawsuit to stop all offending Caddo Commission self-pay, and recover for taxpayers ALL money stolen from us.
Local veterans that the two of us are, our take-away at this two-year point is this: although rampant public corruption here cannot be fairly said to always be protected by our courts, it is certainly the case that it is powerfully, openly protected by money and politics.
Before long, we will know which rules and governs our place … law, or corrupt public money and the power it buys.
… Pt. II soon to follow …
© 2016 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED