Monday, November 28, 2011

KTAL Story on ABS Trail-Making Project

Thanks to KTAL's Morgan Thomas for a great story on our trail-making yesterday. (Though my role was overstated; here's to Jon, Maurice, and Jordan!) It was especially nice that she mentioned that ABS now has an advocacy project every month.

We should try to publicize our projects more in advance and hope some folks join us for some work!

Speaking of which, we meet tonight to do advocacy work on various projects on laptops. So yesterday we were earthy, today we're digital. We'll be at the Wright Math Building on Centenary's campus on Woodlawn (2 blocks north of the new laundromat on Kings) from 6 to 7. Come one, come all!

City of Shreveport 2012 Capital and Operating Budgets

Dear Citizens,

Please pick an item of interest to you by clicking the budget links below, and seek out information on what the cost includes.  See if your item of interest ties in with the Master Plan.  It's your duty as a citizen to help our Mayor and City Council make the best decision with how we spend our money.  This is your money, Shreveport!

2012 Operating Budget
2012 Capital Improvements Budget

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another review of Shreveports latest and greatest attraction: Coates Bluff Nature Trail

"Great trail. Party of 10, plus 5 dogs, loved it," reported Chris Brown on Friday as he introduced his family to the Coates Bluff Nature Trail.

When you're ready to walk the half-mile path, you can park at Caddo Magnet High / Valencia Park or at Montessori School for Shreveport.

The path runs parallel to the mostly-dry Bayou Pierre river bed.

Sycamores, hackberry trees, native pecan, rattan and switch cane are typical of the growth on the trail. There are 2 tree trunks to crawl over and one fallen tree to crawl under. There's a beaver lodge on the watery section.

Find photos and maps here.

Advocacy Events Sunday and Monday

Sunday, Nov. 27, 1 - 4 pm, volunteers are encouraged to come and help complete work on the access trail for the Stoner Hill Elementary School to the Coates Bluff trail. Bring work gloves. Should be fun and fulfilling time in the woods. We'll meet at Montessori School teachers parking lot on Sevier St. If you arrive late, just head down the trail and you'll find us!

Monday, Nov. 28, 6 - 7 pm, ABS members will be drafting letters and crafting web pages on various projects (and any project YOU have in mind!). We'll meet at the Wright Math Building on Woodlawn, two blocks north of the new laundromat and right across from the Centenary library.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Architect-artist Mike McSwain on KSCL, Mon, Nov 21, 5 pm

Architect and artist Mike McSwain will discuss architecture (Robinson Film Center, the Cyber Innovation Center and BPCC campus are among his works), his travel sketches - based on recent visits to China - and SciPort, where McSwain is board chief.

Stream the on-air chat at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trail Access for Stoner Hill Elementary This Month's Advocacy Event

In attendance: Ken Hawkins, John Gililand, Joel Hooper, Jon Soul, Maurice Loridans, Kathryn Brandl, Loren Demerath, Elizabeth Roselli, Cynthia Keith

Being the second Monday of the month, this was the month's themed meeting. This month's focus: nature trails.

Saturday was the official opening of the Coates Bluff trail for the season. The trail had been freshly cleared of the summer's growth, signs were posted along the trail about various features and trail development notes, and promotional fliers led to a good turnout throughout the morning.

The group discussed how it could host trail tour day in the future with an eye towards a bigger crowd; we could issue press releases in advance, which we didn't do this time. It could be part of a “Best Walks in Shreveport” series.

Jon noted that he was shown the practice of roving interpretation by Rachel from the Caddo Parrish park system.

One of the goal's of the meeting was to decide the advocacy event that would follow in two weeks.

The group talked about possibly making a trail along the “Red River Link” drawn on google maps; it’s a utility easement for (Enterprise Products) EPCO; it was mentioned they may see it as a public relations positive to help make a trail along it. It was noted we could have a conversation with about that possibility. Susan happens to have their contact information having had to deal with them on an issue in the past. (And Loren happily noted that's the kind of resource sharing that makes groups like ABS productive! Here's to connectivity!)

The feature of the trail that would be a most welcome addition involves access to the Stoner Hill Lab Elementary School. The group decided that in two weeks, on Sunday afternoon at 1:00, we will meet at the Montessori School back parking lot and then work to create a trail loop from Stoner Hill Elementary's back gate. It will involve some cleanup and clearing, and all are welcome of any ability.

A secondary task that we might take up if there are enough people is to clear a path on the east side of the bayou to become a bike path heading north. Once that section reaches the “Red River Link” at the level of the back gate to Valencia Park, the trail would turn east towards the river and run along the property line between Riverscape and Coleman's property. It was noted that the easement would mean that the path could likely remain on a meridian even if a road were eventually built along the property line; though it was also hoped one wouldn't be, since it would hurt the natural forest and wildlife habitat which the area currently features.

Jon, Maurice, and Lorne agreed to go out on Friday afternoon and scout the route for the bike path. (Which they did--the forest was beautiful and the terrain for the trail looks promising.)

Next Monday, being the 3rd of the month, will be the monthly ABS board meeting, though non-board members are more than welcome to attend with ideas for ABS, as always!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Louisiana Highway Department Will Not Give Crash Data To College Student for Service Learning Project

Centenary College Student, Trevor Stine, is using U.S. Census Bureau's On the Map to tell Shreveport's story of how Caddo Parish, Louisiana residents are relocating their homes in the City's core for bigger sprawled out homes on the outskirts of town due to perceived crime, and low quality education in Shreveport. In addition, the state highway department has helped fuel the exodus out of Shreveport's core thanks to good arterials to get them to work in under 20 minutes.

Trevor is working with the citizen advocacy group,, as part of Centenary College's service learning program required by all students.'s mission is to improve the quality of life in Shreveport using proven best management practices in transportation, economic development, education, permaculture, and urban planning in general. Each student gets to select the nonprofit organization of their choice, and Trevor wanted to work with to help them get maps of the City and Parish's demographics and economic stats on maps for citizens to learn about our stark situation regarding quality of life. No other entity (public or private) in Shreveport has maps of the area's demographics online as of 2011.

Under the direction of Strategic Director, Stephanie Pedro, Trevor requested crash data from the Louisiana Highway Department, LA-DOTD, and he received this response:

Good Morning Mr. Stine,

I have spoken to our local traffic engineer and the crash report data that you requested is protected by 23 USC 409 and is not given out to the public. 23 USC 409 is the designation of a legal statute established by federal law. I apologize that I cannot assist you further with you questions but please feel free to contact me with any other questions or concerns you may have. Thank you for contacting the DOTD.

Have a great day,

Susan Stafford
Public Information Officer
Department of Transportation and Development
318-549-8402 Office
318-230-8985 Cell

If no other entity, including our own DOTD, is mapping out important data that could lead to better decision-making, then why is this information not being shared with college students who are offering to dissect this data for free?  Hopefully Streetsblog and Secretary LaHood will pick this article up and share with us how other communities are dealing with 23 USC 409.

In addition, it appears that LA-DOTD is already having problems with their code: 
From Louisiana Injury Lawyer Blog:  In Quinn v. State of Louisiana, DOTD, 2009-0085 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/23/09), writ denied, 2010-358 (La.4/23/10), the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, in an opinion not designated for publication, held that once the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) chooses to exercise the privilege set forth in 23 U.S.C. §409, that protects from discovery any reports, surveys, schedules, lists or data compiled or collected for the purpose of identifying, evaluating or planning the safety enhancement of potential accident sites and hazardous roadway conditions, and which prevents the plaintiff from discovering any evidence of prior accidents at a location involving an alleged highway defect, that it follows that DOTD is then precluded from offering any evidence establishing an absence of other accidents at the same location at trial. In other words, "DOTD cannot have its cake and eat it too. If plaintiffs cannot discover and use the evidence of prior accidents, then DOTD should not be able to use evidence of the lack of prior accidents to prove no defect, all the while preventing plaintiffs from verifying the accuracy of DOTD's representation that no accidents occurred."

Monday, November 14, 2011

ABetterShreveport Meeting Monday, November 14, 2011 @ Wright Math Building, 6-7pm

Tonight, ABetterShreveport will hold our themed meeting: City Nature Trails. Perhaps we can review the MOU for Coates Bluff, and review the grants that Michael Renfrow told us about at a previous meeting, and review the grant that Angie informed us of over the weekend.

We are always open to new ideas that go along with tonight's theme.

6pm-7pm, Wright Math Building, which is down the street from Centenary Square at the corner of E. Columbia.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How to find and build the next Coates Bluff Nature Trail, Shreveport

Creating a follow-up nature path in Shreveport to the beautiful Coates Bluff Trail is an important quest for many members of ABS.

And there's help available: Angie White sent us a flag on a grant possibility via the National Trails Fund.

The meeting Mon, Nov 14, 6 pm, is dedicated to explorations of those possibilities. We'll meet at our new meeting place Centenary's Wright Math Building, which is down the street from Centenary Square at the corner of E. Columbia, and right across from Magale Library.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Re-opening of the Coates Bluff Nature Trail, Shreveport

Jon Soul drew together people from Montessori School for Shreveport, Caddo Magnet High, Stoner neighborhood and A Better Shreveport to celebrate a new season of hiking on the Coates Bluff Nature and Historic Trail.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lydia Jackson v Greg Tarver? Population decline? Glover and a city audit? : political and demographic analyst Elliott Stonecipher chats at 5 pm Mon, Nov 14, KSCL

Elliott Stonecipher is a native and resident of Shreveport, Louisiana, says his bio. He received his B. A. Degree from Louisiana Tech University and his Master's Degree from LSU. He is President and owner of Evets Management Services, Inc.

Mr. Stonecipher began his career in public education, and began work in the Department of Education at age 25. Three years later he left government to begin work in public opinion polling and campaign consulting. His firm later shifted to a concentration of work in various forms of geo-demographic analyses for clients in the financial services industry, as featured in such publications as The American Banker.

For over 20 years, Mr. Stonecipher and his company have also provided opinion research in change-of-venue studies in criminal court cases, particularly those involving capital murder charges.

In 2002, Elliott Stonecipher was a consultant for, and co-authored the final report of, a post- 9/11 U. S. Government study into possible bio-terrorism attacks in the U. S., under the sponsorship of the U. S. military and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The study results were published in the CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases magazine.

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Elliott Stonecipher has committed to pro bono work on a range of local, state and national issues, including reform of governmental and political ethics, and reform of national policies governing the U. S. Census Bureau.

Mr. Stonecipher frequently serves as guest lecturer in colleges and other public venues, and has taught Demographics on the part-time faculty at Centenary College. His work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, and he has appeared on CNN and Fox News Channel.

Stream the Time for A Better Shreveport interview at Remarks: 869 5297. - Robert Trudeau

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nature Trails to be Focus of Monday's Meeting; Opening of Coates Bluff Trail Saturday

This Monday night from 6:00 to 7:00, ABS will have a themed meeting on nature trails in Shreveport. On the heels of Saturday's opening of the Coates Bluff trail (8:30-11:30), the group will discuss the possibility of additional trails, both in that area, and others around the city.

This past Monday ABS hosted a discussion of the powerpoint and "teach-in" by on the Occupy Wall St. movement and the "99%". In attendance were Loren Demerath, Steph Pedro, Cynthia Keith, Susan Keith, Adrienne Critcher, Brain Salvatore, Keith Hardwick, Kimberly Powell, David Young, Maurice Loridans, Alan Dyson, Carolyn Manning, Katherine Brandl, Robert Trudeau, and Elizabeth Roselli. The meeting was not a typical one for ABS; the group watched the powerpoint slide show, listened to Loren and Steph reading the narration for it, with discussion interspersed throughout. It was a stimulating meeting!

Because that was the first Monday of the month, that meeting was to be our monthly social meeting, to take place at some alternative forum. It has since been agreed that this month's social meeting will now take Monday the 21st, 6 to 7, at the Lake Street Dance Hall at the corner of Marshall and Lake St., downtown.

The fourth Monday of every month is to be an advocacy event. This month, depending on what the group decides at the next meeting, that event might occur on Sunday instead, if the event happens to be an outdoor project, such as trail making.

To summarize:
Monday the 14th: themed meeting on city nature trails
Monday the 21st: social meeting at Lake St. Dance Hall
Sunday or Monday the 27th or 28th: advocacy event

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Poll watchers: $125 for a long day on Nov 19, says Melissa Flournoy

Guerin Tai Chi Shreveport by trudeau
Guerin Tai Chi Shreveport, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

Says Louisiana Progress director Melissa Flournoy, "I need help identifying some college students or others that might want to be poll watchers on Nov. 19th from 10 to 8 pm. They will be paid $125 for the day.

I need to track down some poll watchers by tomorrow morning."

Apply to

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coates Bluff Nature Trail re-opening get-together Sat, Nov 12, 8:30 -11:30 am, Montessori School for Shreveport

Sat, Nov. 12, is the official trail opening.

8:30 - 11:30AM -- parking, bathrooms, and info tables available at Montessori School for Shreveport (MSS).

Meet trail-loving people from
- Stoner Hill Elementary
- Valencia Rec Center
- Stoner Hill Neighborhood Association
- Caddo Magnet High
- Centenary College
- A Better Shreveport
- Walter B. Jacobs Nature Park


Maintenance has been completed on the Coates Bluff Nature Trail, says Jon Soul.

Cyclist Fatality in West Shreveport

Last Friday, 11/4/11, a cyclist was killed by a pick up truck driver on Wesport Av. West of Pines Road in Shreveport. The victim was Eastbound and was struck by an Eastbound Pick up estimated to be traveling at 50 MPH.

The accident happened in pre-dawn dark and the rider was wearing dark clothing and had been traveling on the wrong (Westbound) side of the road. According to the driver of the pick up, the cyclist swerved into the Eastbound lane just prior to the collision and he tried, unsuccessfully to swerve to avoid the rider.

The rider was on his way to work at a Waffle House Restaurant and his wife was following on another bike but was lagging a half mile back due to leg pain. She arrived at the tragic scene and lay beside the decedent begging him not to leave her.

The police were able to corroborate the driver's account that the cyclist made a practice of traveling in the wrong lane and moving right when oncoming traffic approached by the wife's statement. Another witness backed the driver's story that he swerved to avoid something and then saw the cyclist "flying off the bike."

As a bicycling advocate and safety guy, I was concerned that the driver could have just made up the "suicide swerve" account which has been widely used to clear drivers nationwide who may really have just hit a legally riding cyclist from behind due to being inattentive. Here, however, I am satisfied that the very poor and illegal practices of the cyclist in traveling in the wrong lane, failing to check over his shoulder before merging right, and not having required lighting were the main reason for this tragic accident.

Unfortunately, I believe riders in this victim's situation are just trying to get to work to make a living and do not have the time or interest or resources to learn how to be safe with bicycle transportation. I wish they would at least learn that the rules are essentially the same as for drivers of cars. My heart goes out to those he leaves behind. He was a veteran and was well regarded by those who served in his unit.

My information is based on news accounts and the accident report.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How the 1% Crashed the Economy Teach-in

Wright Math Building, Centenary College, Rm 103
07 Nov , 06:00 PM

Our teach-in will tell the story of how the 1% changed the rules, crashed the economy and what we can do to take the country back. It gives everyone a chance to share their own experiences, talk about problems and solutions together, and learn from one other.

Sign Up Here!

On-air chat with Michael Butterman and new Shreveport Symphony Orchestra manager Lois Robinson on KSCL Mon, 5 pm

With the Cirque de la Symphonie concert being performed on Sat, Nov 12, 7:30 pm, and Sun, Nov 13, 2:30 pm, an interview with the directors of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra is apropos.

On-air chat from 5 to 5:30 pm on KSCL, fm 91.3.

Stream at Questions and remarks, 869 5297. will then meet at 6 pm at the Wright Math Building, across from Magale Library on Woodlawn Ave., room 103.