06 July 2009

the latest hot wells scam in the news

on sunday 05 july 2009 the gannett/town talk's robert morgan posted two interesting stories about the hot wells mineral springs located near boyce, louisiana.

mr. morgan's first article: "hot wells sale reserved: investor has no-bid deal on rapides spa site" [link] [download two page .pdf] focuses on act 264 of the 2007 legislative session.

mr. morgan writes that act 264 of 2007, authored by senator joe mcpherson and co-authored by then state rep. israel "bo" curtis of alexandria, authorized the department of health and hospitals to transfer without public bid about 63 acres of state land in rapides parish that once was hot wells rehabilitation center to boyce businessman monroe thompson, through his cypress bend investments llc.

after reading the article, the first thing we did was navigate to legis.state.la.us >> then under bill search >> select a session >> selected the 2007 regular session from the drop down box. then at view a specific instrument choose act in the drop down box and typed in 264 and click view.

thats where we learned that act 264 was originally called senate bill no. 180. the first thing we wanted to see was the history on SB 180.

the history told us that SB 180 was assigned to the senate committee on natural resources and was heard by that committee which reported it with amendments on 17 may 2007.

we wanted to view the video of this committee meeting to see if mr. thompson testified or if it was said just exactly what he plans to do with hot wells -- unfortunately the senate archived video only covers 2009 and 2008. so there is no senate committee or chamber video.

the house archived video does go back farther than 2008 and SB 180 was heard by the house committee on natural resources on 12 june 2007 -- but wouldnt you know it -- the archived video for that meeting only contains the last two minutes and nineteen seconds of the meeting! [vid 2 on the playlist below]

so all that left was the house floor debate to see what we could learn about SB 180.

the house heard SB 180 on 22 june 2007. rep. rick farrar handled it for sen. mcpherson.

the house floor debate video wasnt any help either as you can see SB 180 was "debated" and passed in two minutes time.

so we decided that we better read the act and see what it says.

click here to download eight page .pdf [46 kb]

SB 180 is an eight page bill. hot wells (section 2) is just a fraction of what the bill is about:

sec 1 department of health and hospitals - forty-three and thirty-five hundredths acres to the diocese of alexandria

sec 2 department of health and hospitals - to cypress bend investments, llc:
a. a certain tract of land, including all improvements, in section 118, township 4 north, range 3 west, louisiana meridian, rapides parish, louisiana, situated on the right bank of bayou cotile;

b. a certain piece, parcel or tract of land, including all improvements, located at hot wells, in section 115, township 4 north, range 3 west, rapides parish, louisiana.
sec 3 department of wild life and fisheries 10 acres near indian creek to billy joe and elsie b smith adjacent landowners;

sec 4 military department transfer to department of wildlife and fisheries a tract of land, including all improvements, being a portion of the louisiana army ammunition plant, fronting on highway 80, located in sections 4 and 5, township 18 north, range 10 west, webster parish, louisiana;

sec 5 wildlife and fisheries transfers to the military department a three acre tract and a twenty-five acre tract in webster parish;

sec 6 the red river, atchafalaya and bayou boeuf levee district to louisiana special education center in alexandria - 9.019 acres located in part of sections 27 and 28, township 4 north, range 1 west, alexandria, rapides parish, louisiana.

sec 7 wildlife and fisheries 0.90 acres in catahoula parish to george tosspon, an adjacent land owner.

we loved how representative farrar wasnt exactly forthcoming about what all the bill was about. all he offered for an explanation was a one sentence statement: "senate bill one eighty does just that, it transfers some properties between state agencies and i'll ask for your final approval." rep. farrar's amendment applied to section 3 the billy joe and elsie b. smith transfer.

equally egregious was the rest of the house disinterest in the bill. - other than billy montgomery who asked some bizarre question not pertaining to the bill, apparently attempting to make a point about something else.

so there doesnt appear to be any way for a citizen to get any first hand information about this bill. mr. morgan wrote that the hot wells land by act 264 was "essentially locked in for sale to cypress bend investments" and that "thompson apparently has made no effort to acquire the site."

mr. thompson isnt talking either, he told mr. morgan - "i know what you're calling for, but i've made it a policy not to discuss my business practices in public....i'll just stay with my policy and not get into personal dealings."

it is apparent that none of the geniuses in either chamber of the legislature had the good sense to insert a sale deadline either. this is how well they look after the state's property - you think they give a damn about yours?