The Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) has called a board of directors meeting for 9 a.m. Monday, LouisianaVoice has learned and the issue of the LSTA’s lobbying Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards to reappoint State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson “may be on the table.”
At the same time, LouisianaVoice has learned that some LSTA members are requesting withdrawal of their membership in the organization in protest to LSTA’s involving itself in first endorsing Edwards prior to his runoff election victory over U.S. Sen. David Vitter and more recently by the proposed lobbying of Edwards for Edmonson’s re-appointment.
Several members made it clear that the issue was not with Edwards, but over the LSTA’s involving itself in politics—particularly in doing so without polling LSTA’s 950 active members. The organization had never endorsed a political candidate at any level prior to its endorsement of Edwards. They said they likewise objected to the proposal to send a letter requesting that Edwards appoint Edmonson to another four-year term as State Police Superintendent.
Because there was no agenda posted for the Monday meeting, at least one retired LSTA member feels the lack of an agenda and the timing of the meeting (on the Monday following a holiday) may be an “extortion trick to get active board members who under their (LSTA’s) thumb to vote without putting an agenda out to the retirees.”
LouisianaVoice last week obtained a copy of an email poll sent mostly to members of Louisiana State Police (LSP) Troop L. The poll contained only a single question: “Do you want the LSTA to write a letter to the governor asking that we retain our current colonel?” http://louisianavoice.com/2015/11/25/lsta-proposes-asking-edwards-to-reappoint-edmonson-troop-i-members-demand-lsta-presidents-resignation/
That email was sent by incoming LSTA President Jay O’Quinn who is presently the Troop L LSTA Affiliate President. He will succeed Frank Besson in January. Besson was recently promoted to captain’s rank—without any other members of the LSP eligibility list having even being given an opportunity to apply for the position. No state trooper with a rank higher than lieutenant may serve as president of LSTA.
LSTA is a fraternal organization representing men and women of LSP and its membership is comprised of approximately 97 percent of the commissioned officers as well as a substantial percentage of state police retirees.
There currently are 950 active members and 550 retired members. Membership dues for active members are $30 per month and $15 per month for retirees (no dues for those ages 65 or over), giving the organization an annual budget of at least $400,000 just from membership dues.
Among the benefits enjoyed by members and retirees are life insurance coverage, dental and vision plans and eligibility for the Honor Fund and Benefit Fund for additional dues. LSTA also enjoys “legislative support” as an alternative to a state police union.
But growing discontent over LSTA’s first-ever endorsement of a political candidate and now efforts to lobby on Edmonson’s behalf have resulted in some members cancelling their membership. In addition, LouisianaVoice has been told there has been increased discussion of state troopers leaving LSTA en masse and forming a state police affiliate of the Fraternal Order of Police.
One source has indicated the endorsement of Edwards came down the chain of command from Edmonson, though Edmonson, in a telephone call to LouisianaVoice last week, denied that he had anything to do with it.
Edmonson was said to be vacationing in Italy this week and was unavailable for comment.
LouisianaVoice reported last week that some members of Troop I in Lafayette had reportedly demanded the resignation of both LSTA President O’Quinn and Executive Director David Young over the Edwards endorsement.
Young, however, was said to have been opposed to and to have advised against both the Edwards endorsement and the email poll promoting the sending of a letter to Edwards asking him to re-appoint Edmonson.
A copy of the minutes of the Nov. 17 LSTA Troop I Affiliate meeting reveals the simmering resentment among rank and file officers over the endorsement and subsequent proposal for the letter. Two major questions, which to date have gone unanswered, were posed to board members:
- Can a vote be taken over the phone with there being no minutes?
- If the endorsement was so important that the board members were called on the phone for an immediate vote, why wasn’t it on the agenda or brought up at the board meeting?
The minutes also reflect that members requested a copy of the letter asking Edwards to re-appoint Edmonson as well as a copy of the minutes of the previous board meeting, supposedly to learn if a vote was taken on the board’s actions.
Here is a copy of the LSTA BOARD MINUTES FOR NOV. 17, 2015