The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, July 22, 6:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.
Here is the agenda and information packet.
The Interstate 20 Service Road between Sparks Nissan and Milhaven Road won’t be complete for another nine months, engineer Ron Haisty last week told a Thursday afternoon meeting of the Interstate 20 Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors.
Said Haisty, “I was told by one of the engineers at DOTD Tuesday that it was supposed to advertise (for construction) yesterday on Wednesday.” Asked how long construction would be, he added, “With all the railroad and everything, I would say nine months.
There is about thirty feet of roadway left to build, but it involves turn lanes at Millhaven Road and signal installation.
The board also voted to declare the remainder of the road “substantially complete.” There was considerable discussion about the issue of cracking of the concrete curbs, but it was noted that the construction was done in accordance with the plans and specifications, and that the plans had been approved by the city engineer.
The board deferred action on a request for $600 thousand from Delta Community College. Delta wants the money as a match to go with state capital outlay funds to be used for construction.
One of the requirements of the matching funds is that the money be raised from private sources, so it is unclear how I-20 would qualify, as the source of those funds is sales taxes.
See here the enabling legislation, ACT 360.
Each project set forth below shall require a no less than twelve percent private match. No project shall be financed until all private funds are available for that project.
The average selling prices for homes on the north side of Monroe and adjacent communities have declined about $6 thousand over the past year, Northeast Louisiana Association of Realtors President Deanne Norman told a crowd of about 50 interested citizens and public officials this morning in Monroe. Over the same time period, home prices in the West Monroe area increased by about the same amount, she said. The perception that crime is a serious problem on the east side of the Ouachita River is a contributing factor, she said.
Said Norman, “The perception is ‘where is it safe?'” when clients ask about purchasing a home in the area. Norman said even on Louisville Avenue while shopping in the daytime, one must be on guard against potential threats. “We keep our doors locked (in our office) after a certain time,” she said. “Perception is reality,” she added.
The event was organized by Monroe City Council Chair Ray Armstrong (District 1) in an effort to combat what many see as a property crime wave in Monroe.
Echoing Norman was Rev. Roosevelt Wright, Jr. a prominent South Monroe Pastor and newspaper publisher.
Wright noted that while the Northside was plagued with property crimes, on the Southside the problem was shootings.
Said Wright, “We have to live where somebody’s getting shot. Every week since January, nearly every week there’s been a murder, a shooting, that’s going on on the Southside of Monroe. We’re not talking about somebody breaking into somebody’s house, we’re talking about somebody getting shot, somebody getting killed.”
Wright said he thought a lot of the violent mentality among youths was a result of popular video games that appeal to that age group.
Also, a dearth of youth activities in South Monroe resulted in people turning to gangs as a perverse form of recreation.
Armstrong said he would be pursuing grant money to establish a permanent group to study the issue and make recommendations.
Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell also spoke and reported on the issue. Russell said about 85% of the crime in the area was drug related.
Armstrong was the only council member at the event.
The Interstate 20 Economic Development Corporation Board will meet Thursday, July 17, 4:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway, Mayor’s conference room, second floor.
Here is the agenda.
A three-judge panel of Louisiana’s Court of Appeal, Second Circuit has upheld a trial court’s finding that KTVE-TV10 reporter Daisy O’Donnell DID NOT defame Monroe businessman Nouri “Eddie” Hakim in an August 2011 news broadcast. The court released the opinion earlier today.
For the reasons stated above, the ruling of the trial court, granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants, Daisy O’Donnell and Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., d/b/a KTVE NBC 10, and dismissing the claims of the plaintiff, N. Edward Hakim, is affirmed. Costs in this court are assessed to the plaintiff.
Hakim had claimed in his suit that that O’Donnell’s question to one the defendants (former Monroe City Councilman Robert “Red” Stevens) in that 2011 news broadcast was defamatory. Asked O’Donnell:
Eddie Hakim gave testimony to make his IRS investigation go away. Is it enough to acquit you?
Hakim was chief prosecution witness against Stevens and another council member, Arthur Gilmore. Both were on trial for public bribery. Their defense team presented what they claimed was evidence that Hakim was receiving favorable tax treatment in exchange for his testimony.
Stevens and Gilmore’s convictions were reversed and then reinstated. The prosecution consented to a new trial, where they were ultimately convicted.
Even though the federal trial court later reversed its ruling, its initial ruling shows that, even with an intense, thorough, and lengthy review of all the factors in this case, that court concluded that the plaintiff received a benefit from the termination of the IRS investigation of him. This conclusion was very similar to that drawn by O’Donnell, a lay person, immediately after the hearing. In this context, it is clear that the conclusion drawn by O’Donnell may have been a misunderstanding of the stipulation she heard in court, but her conclusion certainly was reasonable and
understandable. Her statement was a fair abridgment of the occurrence reported and was a comment on a judicial proceeding made in the reasonable belief of its truth.
The plaintiff had the burden of proving his probable success on his defamation claim against the defendants. Against the backdrop of the undisputed facts of this case, it is clear that a conditional privilege applied, raising the standard of liability to be proved by the plaintiff to that of actual malice.
See here the document.
A three-person committee of the Interstate 20 Economic Development District Board of Directors was tasked at last night’s meeting to negotiate with landowners the purchase of right-of-way. The land purchase is the first step to allow completion of frontage road construction along Interstate 20 eastward from Monroe.
The south frontage road has a gap between Nutland Avenue near the old State Farm Building eastward to Lowe’s Home Improvement. The north frontage road will be extended from Garrett Road at Pecanland Mall eastward to Russell Sage Road near the old GM Guide Plant.
The committee will consist of Board Chair Otis Chisley, Secretary Charles Pritchard, and member Johnny Bryant.
There was considerable discussion of what constituted a “quorum,” since a committee with a number above that level would trigger the state’s Open Meetings Law. The board is authorized seven members, but only five have been appointed.
If it is assumed that the “total membership” is seven, then it would take four for a quorum. Conversely, if the five sitting members represents the “total membership,” then three would represent a quorum.
Asked Pritchard, “Are we dealing with four out of seven, or three out of five?”
LA RS 42:13 (A)4 says:
“Quorum” means a simple majority of the total membership of a public body.
Attorney Louis Scott said he would research the matter.
Ron Hasty of RCH Company, Inc., reported on a issue with the just completed frontage road near Sparks Nissan.
Interim City Engineer Kim Golden had expressed concerns regarding some cracking in the concrete curbs on the roadway. However, Hasty said that in his professional judgement, the cracking was minor and within Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development specifications.
Said Hasty, “The amount of cracking was acceptable and within tolerance at this point.” He added, “Concrete does crack – that’s part of its behavior. Control joints, we’ve put them every 20 feet, and expansion joints ever 60 feet.”
Golden would have the final say on approval, Hasty said.
There was no report, at least publicly, of a trip to Las Vegas by Chair Otis Chisly that had been approved at last month’s meeting. The purpose of the trip was to attend the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention.
The Interstate 20 Economic Development Corporation Board will meet Thursday, June 19, 5:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway, Mayor’s conference room, second floor.
Here is the agenda.
In a related development, The Ouachita Citizen’s Johnny Gunter is reporting today that board attorney Louis Scott is representing board President Otis Chisley in a civil matter. Last month, Chisley suggested Scott’s hourly fee be increased to $200.
I-20 board attorney wants more money (subscription required)
In 2009, Chisley was cited by the city for violating city codes. That case is apparently still pending.
By Lacey Sharp
(KNOE 8 News) – The Monroe Free Press will remain the city’s official journal. In a split vote, the Monroe City Council voted to keep the weekly journal even with vocal opposition by Monroe’s administration.
One council member spoke in favor of keeping the Free Press as the official journal and one spoke out against it. The rest stayed silent. And during the vote, Councilman Ray Armstrong even abstained.
Even so, the Monroe Free Press will remain the official journal of the city of Monroe.
“I think they’ve done an outstanding job. There’s been a little glitches in it at first, but from there forward, they’ve done an outstanding job,” Councilman Kenneth Wilson said.
Councilwoman Gretchen Ezernak moved to have The News Star take the Free Press’ place on the resolution. She said The News Star reaches more people. No one would second that request and the motion failed.