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.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?