The Business Report sums up the issue saying:
“Woody Jenkins says he’ll appeal a ruling Monday by a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal that upholds dismissal of his lawsuit challenging the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana by the city of Baton Rouge. The former legislator and conservative activist says he’ll either ask for a rehearing before the appeals court or appeal directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Monday’s ruling upheld a lower court ruling that Jenkins does not have legal standing to sue the city-parish because he lives in the city of Baton Rouge and is unaffected by the annexation.”
However, Mr. Jenkins replied saying:
“Under the Plan of Government, no one outside the City of Baton Rouge has standing to file sue. No one residing in the area proposed for annexation. So only residents of the City have standing to file suit. By saying I do not have ‘standing’ to file this suit, Mr. Holden, Mr. Delgado, and Ms. Piersen are saying that no one in the City of Baton Rouge has the right to challenge this illegal annexation. It’s not about me but about the right of any citizen to make the Metro Council live by the laws that they themselves pass.”
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015
Former State Rep. Woody Jenkins said today he will appeal a ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeal that he lacks standing to challenge the legality of the purported annexation of portions of the Mall of Louisiana by the Metro Council, in the case of Woody Jenkins v. City of Baton Rouge.
Jenkins said, “Last May, the Metro Council voted to annex portions of the parking lots and smaller stores in the Mall of Louisiana, while failing to annex the four anchor stores — Penney’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Dillards — along with the Sears Auto Store and an Entergy facility, all of which refused to sign the annexation petition. This action was clearly illegal, because the East Baton Rouge Parish Plan of Government requires that all annexations must be ‘a compact body of land adjoining the City of Baton Rouge.’ The annexation is not contiguous, because the Kansas City Railroad refused to sign the annexation. It is not ‘a compact body of land’ because it has large, gaping holes in the area to be annexed. Annexations cannot skirt around and encircle property owners who refuse to sign.”
“The annexation also violated state law, which requires that all annexations must meet the standard of ‘reasonableness.’ This annexation does not meet that standard because it creates a hodge-podge of issues for law enforcement. As a shopper walks down the hall of the Mall of Louisiana, he is under the jurisdiction of the Baton Rouge City Police, but when he leaves the hall and enters Macy’s, he is under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction. When he goes to the bathroom, he reenters the City but when he goes in Penney’s, he is back under the Sheriff. This creates a nightmare for law enforcement. This well illustrates the importance of all annexations being ‘compact.'”
“In addition, the annexation failed to meet the requirements for the proper number and percentage of signatures by property owners, proper advertisement in the official journal, or the vote by the Metro Council required for passage of an ordinance. In fact, the Metro Council even purported to pass two separate ordinances with a single record vote.”
“Mayor-President Kip Holden, Councilman John Delgado, and attorney Mary Olive Pierson all know the annexation is illegal and cannot be defended in court. So, instead of arguing for its legality, they take the approach of challenging my right to file suit in this case, saying I lack ‘standing’ to sue. That should be a non-issue, because the Plan of Government clearly says in Section 1.09 that ‘any citizen of the city or of the area to be annexed may file and appeal therefrom in the District Court’ to challenge an illegal annexation. Under the Plan of Government, no one outside the City of Baton Rouge has standing to file sue. No one resides in the area proposed for annexation. So only residents of the City have standing to file suit. By saying I do not have ‘standing’ to file this suit, Mr. Holden, Mr. Delgado, and Ms. Piersen are saying that no one in the City of Baton Rouge has the right to challenge this illegal annexation. It’s not about me but about the right of any citizen to make the Metro Council live by the laws that they themselves pass.”
“In its decision, the Court of Appeal erred in two ways. First, it ignored the clear language of the Plan of Government Section 1.09, which gives any citizen of the City of Baton Rouge the right to challenge an illegal annexation. Second, the court made a mistake of fact. It said that while the City of Baton Rouge might be taking on more expenses by attempting to police a Mall with 15 million visitors a year, the annexation would provide additional revenue to the City of Baton Rouge. However, that is decidedly not the case. Before the annexation, the City-Parish government received 100 percent of the revenue produced in the Mall. Annexing the Mall does not generate one additional cent for the City-Parish. If this were in Livingston Parish and Denham Springs annexed a mall in the rural area adjacent to the city, Denham Springs would gain more revenue, but because of our unique City-Parish form of government, the City-Parish already receives all the revenue from the Mall.”
“For all of these reasons, the decision by the Court of Appeal is incorrect, and we will either ask for a re-hearing before the Court of Appeal or appeal directly to the state Supreme Court. We are simply looking for our day in court, which we have not had, to show that the purported annexation is in fact illegal and should not be allowed to go into effect.”
Woody Jenkins, who represented the City of Baton Rouge in the Louisiana House for 28 years, is editor of the Capital City News newspaper and chairman of the East Baton Rouge Republican Party.
For further information, contact Woody Jenkins at 225-921-1433