Shreveport City Council James Flurry has openly questioned the need for the City of Shreveport to continue to keep the Architectural/Engineering (A/E) Committee in existence. The A/E Committee reviews responses to Requests for Proposals (RFP) for city contracts in excess of $10,000 and refers three to the mayor for her selection.
The Committee has nine members. These include the directors of public works, water and sewerage, airport director, city engineer, and the MPC executive director along with the council chairman and the city council clerk.
The two members appointed by the Mayor are David Aubrey with AT&T and Linda Biernacki, the owner of Fire Tech Systems. Both of these appointments have been questioned by good government observers.
Aubrey is the chairman of the committee. It has long been rumored that Aubrey actually lives in Baton Rouge, which he has always denied. Public records show that Aubrey does own a house on Tibbs Street in Shreveport.
Public records also show that Aubrey owns a residence in St. Gabriel, which is a bedroom community of Baton Rouge. The Iberville Parish Assessor records show that Aubrey has a homestead exemption on this house.
Louisiana law provides that “the bona fide homestead consists of a residence occupied by the owner.” A homestead is generally considered to be the permanent residence of the owner. Seemingly, Aubrey should not be claiming to be a Caddo resident since he has filed a homestead in Iberville Parish.
Biernacki was one of the first big supporters of Ollie Tyler when she began her mayoral campaign in 2013. Biernacki made major contributions to the Tyler campaign in the 2013 primary and the runoff. Recently Biernacki has been a leader of Tyler’s re-election campaign fund-raising.
Since January of 2013, the City of Shreveport has paid almost $225 grand to Fire Tech for services to the Fire Department, the City Jail, and Shreve Memorial Library. Many of the services, including the fire stations, were to inspect fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems.
A fundamental premise of good government is the avoidance of conflicts of interest—and even the appearance of the same. Its difficult to identify any reasonable justification for the A/E Committee—which is the only such committee in the state. Even more troublesome are the two appointments by the Mayor.
Hopefully, Flurry will be successful in this effort to abolish the A/E Committee.
Feel free to share this column with others and to post to Facebook. No requirement to list my name.