After being denied access to the appraisal report, The Independent Weekly sued UL President Ray Authement's office June 30 for access to the document.
As requested by the board of supervisors, the state's Office of Facility Planning and Control contracted with Lane Godshall, a highly regarded and respected appraiser, earlier this year. Because of conflicting values on the horse farm, the board asked for "independent appraisals" of both the horse farm and the Davidson land, and the university agreed to pay for them. Godshall submitted quotes on both tracts but was told to move forward on the Davidson property first. The horse farm has not yet been reappraised.
In addition to the state and university's three-month-long attempt to keep the record from the public, Davidson himself threatened to sue appraiser Godshall if the value got out.
In a late August deposition, OFPC Administrative Director Denise Marrero testified that Davidson ' a member of the UL Foundation's Board of Trustees (its president from 1987-1990) and the university's longtime ski coach ' made threatening phone calls to Godshall. In his deposition last week, Godshall confirmed that Davidson threatened him in one conversation. After the appraisal was completed and delivered, Davidson told Godshall, "If this value gets out, I will sue your ass."
Godshall did not share any information on the figures in his report with Davidson, and it is unclear how the local attorney came to know the value in the new appraisal, which Dr. Wayne Denton picked up from the OFPC in Baton Rouge. Denton is the university official who introduced the idea of the horse farm land swap to Authement sometime in 2004.
The controversial land swap transaction was not formally called off until June of this year by Authement, after he received the appraisal and informed the respective parties ' Dan Menard and Jerry Brents of BRE-ARD LLC, and Davidson ' in a meeting at his office. BRE-ARD was to buy Davidson's 4.13 acres for $3.25 million and swap them for 36 acres of the Johnston Street horse farm, also valued at $3.25 million. Because the university was seeking to rezone the horse farm for BRE-ARD's proposed retail development, an updated valuation of the tract as commercial property was ordered, hiking the value to $5.37 million. That $2 million-plus discrepancy led the board of supervisors to request "independent appraisals" in December of last year.
In a press release Authement prepared about the findings of the Godshall appraisal before the OFPC invoked its longstanding policy of not releasing such appraisals, Authement laid out his case for ordering yet another valuation of Davidson's property. A draft of that release was obtained by The Independent during the discovery process of the public records lawsuit. And while the value was obscured, it is clear from Authement's tone in the press release that Godshall's valuation was much lower than that of George Parker, a now-retired appraiser who conducted the initial Davidson appraisal.
In his Aug. 31 deposition, Authement said he learned of Davidson's threat to Godshall only a few days earlier; however, the behavior of the local attorney and longtime friend of the university is not deterring the 77-year-old university president from acquiring the land, which he says UL needs for expansion. Despite a year of controversy and expenses related to the botched land swap, Authement still wants the Davidson property.
Rubin's decision does not take effect immediately, as the university has until Friday, Sept. 15, to decide if it will appeal the ruling.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.
The endorsements keep coming for District 9 LPSB candidate Jeremy Hidalgo, who picked up his fifth vow of support Thursday, this time from the Chamber’s political action committee.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be out knocking on doors this weekend with anti-abortion activists encouraging people to vote against his colleague, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sued Abbeville's mayor and police chief over a policy barring police from any social media use showing the city in a bad light.