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.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
NJ lady beats Donald Trump; Israel calls up more troops; border hearings accelerated and more national and international news for Thursday, July 31, 2014.
State Rep. Lenar Whitney — one of a handful of Republican candidates vying for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional district — has been described by Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman as one of the most “frightening or fact-averse candidate[s]” he’s ever met following her reaction to an interview last week.
Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools.
An investigation into the last-minute passage of a pension hike for the state police superintendent continues, despite Col. Mike Edmonson's decision not to accept the increase.
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
The investigation and potential prosecution of the man charged in the recent hit-and-run death of a Youngsville cyclist won’t happen overnight, according to local law enforcement officials.
Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
It wouldn’t be a first, however, as the Chamber has thrown money behind Landrieu before.
The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
The world is a politically tense place these days with hot spots ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. In Louisiana and Mississippi, where the political chessboard tends to be a lot less threatening and at times entertaining, this election season is living up to expectations.
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.