Monday, June 30, 2008

Reservoir indictments raise concerns

The Daily News - -
Published/Last Modified on Monday, June 30, 2008 2:17 PM CDT

Our View

There were three indictments handed down last week by a federal grand jury in Shreveport and two of them should cause more than eyebrows to rise among members of the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission.

Terry Denmon, engineer for the district, and Mike Thompson, consultant for the district, were charged along with Fifth District Attorney Billy Coenen with conspiring to personally enrich themselves through the concealed purchase of property associated with Poverty Point Reservoir in north Louisiana. They also are each charged with eight counts of mail fraud.

Thompson was indicted in Lafayette a year ago alleging he illegally obtained Poverty Point funds to which he was not entitled.

Following that indictment, members of the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission voted to continue its relationship with Thompson.

We believe the time has come to cut bait on Thompson and Denmon. While there is always the presumption of innocence, the Washington Parish project is controversial enough without any additional lightning rods being attached - and Messrs. Thompson and Denmon are lightning rods.

This is not about the pros and cons of the proposed reservoir, but rather a call to provide the opportunity for the pros and cons to be debated and discussed without the inclusion of whether or not someone connected to the project broke the law.

Even with the presumption of innocence, the continued connection of individuals indicted for alleged illegal activities on a similar project raises unnecessary concerns regarding the Washington Parish Reservoir.

Only when the reservoir project can be debated on its own merits will we be able to truly investigate its need and viability and we think that can only happen sans Messrs. Thompson and Denmon.


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