Apparently our story about the furtive amendment that boosted State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s retirement by a whopping $30,000 a year (note: that’s a $30,000 increase; most state retirees don’t even make $30,000) got the attention of the Louisiana State Police Retirement System (LSPRS).
Our friend over in Hammond, C.B. Forgotston, the “King of the Subversive Bloggers,” according to Baton Rouge Advocate columnist James Gill (a pretty fair political observer and writer in his own right), sent us a memorandum that went out to LSPRS staff members by Assistant Director Kimberly Gann.
Forgotston also forwarded information listing additional perks enjoyed by Edmonson as well as calculations of what his retirement income will be, thanks to the amendment tacked onto SB 294 on the last day of the recent legislative session.
Forgotston (don’t let the name fool you; he rarely forgets anything), an attorney who previously worked for the Legislature, also said the amendment by the Legislative Conference Committee to the bill that became Act 859 when it was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal “violates at least five provisions of the State Constitution.”
“We were notified yesterday than an article was written about a piece of retirement legislation that passed the legislature,” Gann said in her e-mail. “Irwin (LSPRS Executive Director Irwin L. Felps, Jr.) wanted you to know about the article and have an opportunity read it. Please let us know if you have any questions. We will discuss this at the meeting on Wednesday (July 16).”
While the copy of Gann’s e-mail provided by Forgotston did not contain the names of the addressees, the message is presumed to have been sent to retirement system staff members. They include Retirement Benefits Analyst Tausha E. Facundus, Administrative Assistant Shelley S. CPA Stephen M. Griffin, accountant Kristin Leto.
Edmonson, upon his appointment, sold his home and he and his family moved into the “Colonel’s Home” on the Department of Public Safety campus which is also equipped to be the governor’s “Safe House” and command center for disaster relief.
That means he is residing in a four-bedroom, four-bath home completely furnished by the state. And because he has worked more than 30 years at retirement calculated at 3.3 percent per year based on his highest three years of earnings, he would already be eligible for retirement income of 100 percent of his salary. By adding the additional years above 30 (he has worked 34 years) and the three Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) years, he will not only receive the full $134,000 (100 per cent of his salary), but an additional $30,000 per year when he retires.
The amendment allowed Edmonson to revoke an otherwise irrevocable decision to enter DROP, which allows his retirement to be calculated on his higher salary and to add years of service and longevity pay.
Forgotston, in listing the constitutional violations of the bill amendment giving Edmonson the $30,000 retirement increase, cited each section of the State Constitution he said the amendment violated. They are:
- It was not introduced 45 days prior to the opening day of the 2014 Regular Session. (La. Const. Article III, Section 2, Paragraph (2)(c));
- It was not advertised prior to being introduced. (La. Const. Article X, Section 29C);
- It does not contain a recitation that it was advertised. (La. Const. Article X, Section 29C);
- As amended contains two objects. (La. Const. Article III, Section 15, Paragraph A);
- Language to provide the extra benefits is not germane to bill as introduced. (La. Const. Article III, Section 15, Paragraph C).
“The legislative process is often compared to watching sausage being made,” Forgotston said. “That is meant to convey the idea that the process is ugly, but the end product is worth it. In this case, even the end product is horrible. This is the type of legislation that is referred to by insiders as ‘snakes’ that crawl out in the last days of a session. For most, snake is much less appetizing than sausage.”
Forgotston said there “are only two ways to prevent these unconstitutional benefits from being paid and (to restore) integrity to the legislative process:
“The head of the State Police (Edmonson) can refuse the benefits or by someone filing a lawsuit,” he said, adding that the six members of the Conference Committee should initiate such litigation.
Forgotston can be quite cantankerous—and clever—when he wants to be, which is most of the time, and this action is no different.
He suggests that if readers who know an active or retired member of the Louisiana State Police, “Please pass this (information) onto them.”
He also listed the names and e-mail addresses of the six members of the Legislative Conference Committee who approved the action which has been denied to many others making similar requests in recent years:
Rep. Bryan Adams: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jeff Arnold: email@example.com
Rep. Walt Leger: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. J.P. Morrell: email@example.com
Sen. Neil Riser: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Mike Walsworth: email@example.com