Elliott Stonecipher stands up!
Some of you may be under the impression that the Attorney General of Louisiana enforces the state constitution. That’s how it should be, but the AG is a statewide elected official, i.e. politician.
Louisiana remains a government of men, not laws. In the “good ol’ boy” system it has always been and still is about who you know, not what you know. Yeah, I know that Bobby Jindal said it would no longer be “who you know.” But like all his promises, that never happened.
My friend, Shreveport demographer Elliott Stonecipher has taken it upon himself as a private citizen to stop the Caddo Parish Commission (Governing authority of the parish.) from violating the state constitution, the parish charter and numerous state statutes. The following are excerpts from an announcement sent out Monday afternoon by Stonecipher:
“A lawsuit filed today in Louisiana First Judicial District Court in Shreveport asks a judge to “recognize and declare” that elected Caddo Parish Commissioners are prohibited from participation in “CPERS,” the Caddo Parish Employee Retirement System. The suit also seeks a judicial order for the return of all public funds, including cumulative legal interest, Commissioners have received over the years from participation in the retirement plan.
The lawsuit ( here) pleads for a like declaration from the Court that no compensation to Caddo Parish Commissioners other than “their salary proper” is legal. The Commission has acted to award itself salary increases, life and health insurance benefits, and lucrative travel allowances in direct contradiction to provisions of the Home Rule Charter of Caddo Parish, the related legal research has determined.
The suit, a Petition for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, was prepared by Whitney Pesnell of the Pesnell Law Firm. I am Plaintiff, and named defendants are the Parish of Caddo, the Caddo Parish Commission, each of the twelve elected Commissioners, administrator Dr. Woody Wilson, and Finance Director Erica Bryant. Commissioner John Escude was serving as President of the Commission when, in March 2000, participation in CPERS by elected members was voted in.
My services, and those of the Pesnell Law Firm, are provided without any compensation of any kind, strictly in the public interest.”
If we want the state constitution enforced in Louisiana it’s up to us. Otherwise, it is nothing to our elected officials. The Louisiana leges treat it is like a mere “speed bump” in the lege lawmaking process. They and Bobby Jindal dare us to sue them as they ignore not only the spirit, but the letter of the law. They know that most of us don’t have the resources to litigate. Others are simply apathetic.
If you agree with Stonecipher that the constitution ought to mean something, it’s time to take action. There will be an election for Attorney General this fall. If you know or talk to anyone running, please demand that they publicly commit to enforcing the constitution a top priority.
It’s likely a waste of time dealing with incumbent Buddy Caldwell because he has already violated his Oath of Office for failing “to support the constitution…of this state….”
Additionally, I urge you to demand the same from the gubernatorial and legislative candidates.
Elliott and Mr. Persnell are to be commended for their efforts to do the job that those elected to do will not.
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