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.
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.