Attorney Richard Becker penned a letter March 14 to the state attorney general for an opinion on whether records for the partnership formed to develop Cypress Trails Apartments are a matter of public record, but the request never made its way to the AG. Becker wrote the letter on behalf of the LPTFA, which is spearheading the apartment development.
“The attorney general’s office did not receive the request,” says AG spokeswoman Sharon Kleinpeter.
Becker could not be reached for comment this morning on whether he will submit the request — or resubmit, if by chance it was lost in the mail or misplaced or overlooked by the AG's office.
In connection with this week’s cover story, “How Gachassin Games the System,” the attorney made a written request to the AG dated March 14 and provided The Independent with a copy of the letter. The letter was written in response to our request for access to records on the partnerships and individuals involved in the 72-unit apartment complex for the elderly under way at Moss and Sophie streets in north Lafayette. We also asked to see a copy of the consulting contract signed between the publicly funded development and Greg Gachassin, a former LPTFA board member. The $10 million project is being funded in large part with low-income housing tax credits awarded to the LPTFA by the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency.
To execute its first low-income housing development, LPTFA formed an affiliate non-profit entity that is the general partner in Cypress Trails Limited Partnership, which also includes a private entity representing a tax-credit investor as the limited partner. LPTFA’s affiliate owns .01 percent interest as the general partner, with the private group owning 99.99 percent as the limited partner. Initially, LPTFA’s project involved the Lafayette Housing Authority, but LPTFA recently asked to remove LHA from the deal because of its financial and management problems that are the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. With the LHA involved, the records for the partnership were exempt from the Louisiana Public Records Act, due to a special exemption for “affiliates” of housing authorities. The Independent now contends the partnership has forfeited that exemption.
LPTFA is a trust organized under the laws of the state that holds millions in assets for the benefit of city of Lafayette.
What the AG’s office did receive from Becker on March 15 was a request about whether the public trust can accept written votes from its board members without holding a public meeting. Becker indicated in the letter that LPTFA had recently formed an affiliate non-profit, presumably CTLP, to develop and own a low-income housing tax-credit project in Lafayette and has had difficulty coordinating the schedules of a quorum of its board of trustees for the numerous document approvals. The LPTFA board is already short one member, as the original documents creating it call for it to have a board of five.
The AG’s response to Becker’s request? No. The state’s Open Meetings Law requires a vote with a “live voice,” the AG informed him, and that person must be physically present.
“The request for an opinion concerning the application of La. R.S. 42:11 et seq, the Open Meetings Laws, to the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority was received in our office on March 15,” Kleinpeter says. “In response to that request, Opinion 11-0070 was released on Monday April 18. Our log in and paper work indicate that this was the only request from LPTFA.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.