- Elliott Stonecipher
November 11, 2016
This all began as a tale of embarrassing and expensive-to-taxpayers incompetence at Shreveport City Hall, then quickly worsened as underlying public corruption surfaced.
Now, almost unimaginably, the full-blown scandal features a city administration which has somehow managed to hand-over to its very own City Hall enemies some of the most sensitive official communications of and by the City.
We are now aware of …
… a ghastly dump of thousands of the City’s most sensitive documents and legal strategies to a participant in the water under-billing mess,
… the just-exposed plan of Tyler and lead Councilmen Willie Bradford and James Flurry to punish residents who dare opt out of its garbage tax scam, and
… an open, deliberate plan, now racing to conclusion, to make damned sure further scrutiny of any and all of this is virtually impossible.
Already at issue in this scandal are water and sewer service under-billing, a proclamation by Mayor Ollie Tyler that outside agents in the under-billing scandal are guilty of extortion, the foundational Tyler plan to hammer citizens with new garbage collection taxes by calling them “fees” and thereby preventing a public vote on the matter.
The stated reason for this op by Tyler / Willie Bradford / James Flurry – $8,000,000 a year for employee pay raises, is no longer credible.
Some credible sources who well know such ops fear that behind all of this are one or more private vendors quietly awaiting this new and separate garbage collection department. When in place, some such vendor will likely snag a highly profitable contract to privatize – take over – those services.
Once all related “expenses” to certain public officials are paid, these sources fear, the $12.00 monthly garbage collection tax will quickly double or triple.
(READERS, BRACE YOUSELF FOR THIS) … City Hall Dumps Maximally Sensitive, Unrelated City Documents to Its Enemy
According to provisions of the Louisiana Public Records Law, Mayor Tyler is Shreveport’s official Custodian of Records. Failures in that role and process have created the most serious new developments.
Now, one of the players in the water under-billing scandal – publicly identified by Tyler, rightly or wrongly, as guilty of extortion – has publicly described in a court filing the details of a stunning breach of security and public trust by and in City Hall.
Two days ago, local attorney Jerald “Jerry” Harper filed on behalf of his client Michael Wainwright, a Writ of Mandamus to force Mayor Tyler to immediately produce public documents which, by law, are now more than two months overdue. (Caddo District Court, Suit # 596668-B)
This is the second suit in the matter Wainwright, with the first filed almost a month ago in the name of Sand Beach Properties, LLC. His partner in that company is Scott Pernici, also a well-known Shreveport politico.
The two demanded payment for services from the City for erroneous water under-billing they say they “discovered.” Tyler has opted not to recover the estimated $1,000,000 lost to that under-billing.
Harper’s lawsuit on behalf of Wainwright seeks not only the immediate production of the public documents withheld by Mayor Tyler, but also lists examples of documents inexplicably and erroneously, we hope, released by City Hall to Wainwright.
Included in this flabbergasting production of highly sensitive documents are, and I quote from the lawsuit …
… “emails (one flash drive has emails to & from 146 different people in City Hall, and on any and all subjects);
… private-message emails from individuals;
… Police Dept. Communications (about certain local crimes and issues);
… Travel and meeting plans.”
To boldly underscore the sensitivity of the records involved, here is a mention of a politically powerful local church, ministered by Dr. E. Edward Jones until his death some three months ago:
“The documents in the category of ‘not responsive to Plaintiff’s PRR, but within the definition of Public Records’ include … email exchanges in April, 2016 to and from (CAO) Brian Crawford, (Water & Sewer Director) Barbara Featherston and (City Attorney) William Bradford relating to the adjustment of the Galilee Baptist Church’s water and sewer charges from $23,152.50 to $6,819.16 and the possibility of abatement of the remaining balance.”
Even worse, the new lawsuit includes the stupendously awful revelation that city officials handed Harper and Wainwright …
” … confidential attorney-client communications on numerous pending litigations … (and) status reports, confidential case evaluations and strategies for all pending litigation against the City of Shreveport. … These are the most sensitive legal documents in the possession of the City and bear no relation to Plaintiff’s (Wainwright’s) request for documents.”
For the record, the Wainwright / Harper lawsuit openly sets-out and discusses their awareness of pertinent strictures in their Code of Professional (Attorney) Responsibility which set forth their responsibilities at this point.
City Hall Will SEVERELY Punish Anyone Opting-Out of Garbage Tax by Hauling Their Own Garbage
A list of abusive official actions and features well explain why Tyler & Friends have rigged all of this for speed and absence of transparency. Included among these are …
… not only has Tyler grossly manipulated – possibly illegally – the definitions of “fee” and “tax” to prevent a citizen vote on her new garbage tax, she is also planning to prevent any household or business from saving the tax / fee by disposing of their own garbage. By specific ordinance (yet unnumbered) language, anyone who attempts to thus prevent the charge will be punished by having their home water service “discontinued.”
Too, Tyler, et al, have acted to reduce to six business days the time before the City Council votes on this entire official bucket of slop. This past Monday, the scheduled Council vote of December 13th was moved up to November 22nd.
Councilmen Bradford, Jeff Everson, Jerry Bowman, and (Republicans) James Flurry and Oliver Jenkins voted in favor of the rush, a memorable fact. Councilman Michael Corbin was the lone “no” vote, and Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch was a no-show … as is now her norm.
… to be continued …
© 2016 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED