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Nearly two years ago, LouisianaVoice broke a story about a Mangham contractor’s claims that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) had bankrupted his company when it denied payments for his work. http://louisianavoice.com/2014/04/09/contractor-claims-in-lawsuit-that-dotd-official-attempted-shake-down-for-cash-equipment-during-monroe-work/

The reasons payment were denied? Because, contractor Jeff Mercer said, he resisted shake-down efforts by a DOTD inspector who demanded cash and equipment from him.

On Friday, after eight years of legal battles, Mercer won a unanimous $20 million judgment from a 12-person jury in 4th Judicial District Court in Monroe.

Work for which Mercer says he was not paid included:

  • Two projects on I-49 in Caddo Parish ($1.6 million);
  • A Morehouse Parish bridge project ($7.1 million);
  • Louisville Avenue in Monroe ($79,463);
  • Well Road in West Monroe ($50,568);
  • Airline Drive in Bossier City ($57,818);
  • Brasher Road in LaSalle Parish ($70,139).

While the Monroe News-Star gave substantial coverage to the court decision, LouisianaVoice was the first media outlet to give Mercer the time of day back in April of 2014 when we first learned of his troubles with DOTD. Monroe television station KTVE did a brief interview with Mercer following our initial story, but that was it—until yesterday’s decision. http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2015/12/04/contractor-wins-20m-suit-against-dotd/76813444/

In our 2014 story, Mercer said that three of his employees filed sworn affidavits with the court in which all four say DOTD inspector Willis Jenkins demanded that Mercer either “put some green” in his hand or that Mercer place a new electric generator “under his carport” the following day.

One employee, John Sanderson, said he was approached by Jenkins who informed him that he “could make things difficult” on Mercer. “He indicated that this burden would not necessarily be on the Louisville Avenue project but on future jobs awarded to Jeff Mercer, LLC,” Sanderson said. “I replied, ‘You didn’t mean to say that,’” whereupon, Sanderson said, Jenkins repeated his threat. “During that conversation, I heard Willis tell Jeff that he ‘wanted green,’” Sanderson said.

Incredibly, Jenkins admitted making the comment but said it was a joke. Despite getting complaints about the shakedown attempt, DOTD never investigated the allegations. (Note to Jenkins: don’t joke like that in airports.)

Another Mercer employee, Bennett Trip, said in a signed statement that he heard Jenkins tell Mercer he “wanted some green.” He said he also heard Jenkins tell another Mercer employee that Jenkins, pointing to a generator in Tripp’s truck, said he “wanted one of those under his carport.”

Following complaints by Mercer, Jenkins was subsequently removed from the Louisville Avenue project by DOTD Engineer Marshall Hill who said it was not the first time he’d heard such claims about Jenkins. But Tripp said the shakedown continued when another state official told Mercer employees, “Y’all had my buddy removed and we’re going to make the rest of the job a living hell.”

Mercer claimed in his lawsuit there was collusion among DOTD officials to “make the jobs as costly and difficult as possible” for him. He told LouisianaVoice in April of 2014 that after receiving verbal instructions on the way in which one project was to be done, it was subsequently approved but later, DOTD officials, including defendant John Eason, advised that the work was not acceptable.

He said that DOTD officials provided false information to federal investigators; that he was forced to perform extra work outside the contract specifications; that a prime contractor, T.J. Lambrecht was told if he continued to do business with Mercer, closer inspections of his jobs would result, and that job specifications were routinely changed which in turn made his work more difficult.

Doughty said DOTD officials in Baton Rouge threatened his client with federal prosecution when he asked for payments for work he’d done. An FBI investigation initiated by DOTD was subsequently dropped.

Mercer eventually was forced to shutter the doors on his construction firm which had employed 20 to 40 people.

DOTD interoffice emails obtained by LouisianaVoice seem to support Mercer’s claim that he was targeted by DOTD personnel and denied payment on the basis that the agency was within its rights to “just say no.”

One email from DOTD official Barry Lacy which was copied to three other DOTD officials and which stemmed from a dispute over what amount had been paid for a job, made a veiled threat to turn Mercer’s request for payment “to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.”

Still another suggested that payment should be made on a project “but never paid to Mercer.”

“I did everything they told me to do,” Mercer told LouisianaVoice. “But because I refused to allow one DOTD employee to shake me down, they put me out of business. They took reprisals and they ostracized me and broke me but now I’m fighting back.”

Both Mercer and his Rayville attorney David Doughty indicated they had reported the events to the governor’s office but no one in the Jindal administration, which has spent eight years touting its ethics record, offered to intervene or even investigate his allegations.

Not only did the jury hold DOTD liable for damages, but it also held four individual DOTD employees—Willis Jenkins, Michael Murphy, Eason and Barry Lacy—personally liable.

That, of course raises the obvious question of will there now—finally—be a criminal investigation of the four individuals? After all, the jury’s verdict centered on Mercer’s claims of extortion, bribery and plain old shakedowns in the purest sense of old-time Louisiana politics.

Granted, civil and criminal trials are vastly different. In a civil trial, a verdict can be reached on the lower standard of a “preponderance of the evidence” while criminal charges must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In a civil suit, the plaintiff must only prove that there was a greater than 50 percent chance, based on all reasonable evidence, that the defendant committed the action that caused damages. In criminal matters, however, there is a higher standard. The prosecutor must prove that the accused committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

But even with required higher standard of proof, the fact that a civil jury was unanimous in its decision should be sufficient to prompt at least a criminal investigation by the Ouachita Parish District Attorney’s office. Because federal funds were involved in the construction projects, and because Mercer was a contractor under the federal Disability Business Enterprise (DBE), a federal grand jury probe should ensue. “Who protects the DBE from the DOTD?” Doughty asked. “The people who are supposed to guard DBE companies are within DOTD itself (and) he didn’t get any help from them.”

Additionally, offenses committed under the funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 carry even stiffer penalties. ARRA funds were used on the I-49 projects.

The civil award puts the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office in an awkward position. The AG’s office defended the state’s interests in Mercer’s lawsuit and now that the jury has cited public corruption in its award, the office now finds itself in the unenviable position of being required to investigate public corruption in a case it had just defended in civil court. http://www.ag.state.la.us/Article.aspx?articleID=6&catID=8

“It’s been a long fight,” Mercer told the News-Star. To LouisianaVoice, he exulted, “We waxed their butts.”

He still has two more suits for more than $10 million in contractual losses pending in Baton Rouge district court.

Doughty told the News-Star that people “are tired of corruption and tired of reading about this type of thing” and that the jury “was sending a message.”

DOTD is expected to appeal the jury verdict to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal and if the state court decision is upheld, most likely the state will apply for writs with the Louisiana Supreme Court. If the decision is upheld in the higher courts, the State Legislature would then have to appropriate the payment.

All that means it could be years before Mercer sees a dime but judicial interest continues to run from the date the lawsuit was filed and the state ultimately could be forced to pay as much as an additional 50 percent.

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Folks, if you don’t read anything else today, please read Bob Mann’s post. It should strike a chord with every person in Louisiana who struggles to make his or life a little better. It will break the hearts of teachers who see the effects that abject poverty has on children’s ability to learn. It will resonate with those who are unable to afford health care. It should infuriate those forced to pay higher tuition at our colleges and universities because the politicians can’t seem to find the funds to support higher education.

But it will clang with an empty thud with those who want to absolve themselves of any responsibility, who fail to see society’s problems as their own and who, instead of striving to find solutions, choose only to blame the federal bureaucracy in a sweeping dismissal of the ills that afflict us all—economically, physically, emotionally, and morally.

A survey released on Thursday (Sept. 17) shows that Louisiana is the 8th poorest state in the nation. With the abundance of natural resources that we have in this state, that should never be. It should an extreme embarrassment to our leaders, especially one so oblivious as to believe he is presidential timber. Here is the link to that survey: http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/09/17/richest-and-poorest-states/?utm_source=247WallStDailyNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=SEP172015A&utm_campaign=DailyNewsletter

Bob Mann has said the things that I have wished a thousand times for the skill and the proficiency to articulate. Go here to read today’s post:

http://bobmannblog.com/2015/09/18/the-real-immorality-in-the-governors-race-is-not-david-vitters-prostitution-scandal/

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While others may become bored reading about my grandfather, I never tire of writing about him. He drove from Ruston to Galveston, Texas, back in 1945 to retrieve an abandoned and malnourished infant from a hospital there, brought him home and he and his wife set about giving the baby a home filled with love and not much else.

My grandparents were unlearned in terms of formal education but my grandfather tried to teach me dignity, honesty and respect—respect, most of all. Some of those lessons stuck. Once he bought me a candy bar and as we were riding in his pickup moments later, I tossed the wrapper out the window. Suddenly a resounding POW! exploded in my ears as the palm of his hand found the back of my head and I saw Jesus at the end of a long tunnel waving me to the light. My grandfather never said a word. He didn’t have to and to this day, I refuse to throw anything out my truck window and defy any of my passengers to do so.

But there was another lesson he taught me, one that a man named Winston Churchill also espoused. He drilled into my psyche the importance of defending myself and defending the rights others with equal determination. “If you don’t stand up for yourself, it’s for damned sure nobody else will,” he told me at least a thousand times during my childhood and adolescence. Churchill more eloquently said much the same thing on Oct. 29, 1941, in a speech at Harrow School: “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVEiskNv1hs

That’s why I call Bobby Jindal out on every occasion that I catch him lying through his teeth. Like, for instance his claim that he has reduced the state work force by 30,000 employees during his administration when the Office of Civil Service, in its latest report, puts that actual number far lower—like 13,604 positions abolished but only 8,420 people laid off since Fiscal Year 2008 which actually started six months before he took office. But don’t take my word for it; see for yourself: MAY 2015 LAYOFF REPORT

The words of both my grandfather and Churchill are lessons we can apply in our efforts to confront the efforts of Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature in their efforts to weaken state employees and teachers.

Remember a few years ago when bills were introduced to abolish civil service? Those bills actually provided the impetus to start LouisianaVoice. Already making preparations to retire from my own civil service job with the Office of Risk Management, I could not stand idly by and watch my fellow employees stripped of their job protection, such as it was. (Of course, when LouisianaVoice was born, it hastened my retirement as Jindal did not—and does not—take kindly to criticism of any form or from anyone.)

I could understand and accept the prohibition against civil service employees’ participation in political campaigns. That ban extended to campaigning, contributing to campaigns and even to signs and bumper stickers. But it was okay. Civil Service was established by Gov. Jimmie Davis for the specific purpose of protecting employees from political patronage and their firing for no cause other than supporting the wrong candidate.

But to place that restriction while at the same time abolishing their job protection? Not for one nano-second, not as long as I owned a computer and a keyboard. Even though it ultimately precipitated my retirement a year or so sooner than I had anticipated, my grandfather’s admonitions to stand up for myself and others was stronger than my concerns for job security.

The efforts to do away with civil service failed but now Jindal and his lackeys in the House and Senate are doing their dead level best to follow the example of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker http://thinkprogress.org/election/2015/05/04/3654397/scott-walker-says-crush-whats-left-american-unions-elected-president/ and to meekly obey the demands of Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in his letter to legislators: https://www.atr.org/louisiana-labor-committee-passes-paycheck-protection-bill

That letter calls on legislators to support House Bill 418 by Rep. Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette) and Senate Bill 204 by Sen. Dan Martiny (R-Metairie), both of which call for the cessation of the withholding of union dues for teachers by the state.

Both bills are blatant attempts to weaken teachers unions, namely the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators. The smokescreen thrown up by proponents of the bills is that it is burdensome for the state to process the dues withholding.

That’s simply a lie and a disingenuous one at that. The transactions are done by computer and once set up, never need human input. It’s certainly no more difficult than withholding state employee premiums paid to the Office of Group Benefits or to any one of dozens of premiums withheld for life, dental and disability insurance companies. You’d think these guys would at least give the appearance of trying to be a little more believable.

A story by Education Week explains the predicament faced by teachers in a single headline: “Education is political; can teachers afford not to be?” http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2015/05/01/education-is-political-can-teachers-afford-not.html

The story points out that teachers often refrain from viewing themselves as political even though curriculum, standards, testing and funding are all political.

“If teachers and parents don’t get more political, our public schools will continue to be assaulted by the privatizers, profiteers, pseudo-reformers, voucherizers and other enemies of public education,” one reader wrote in a comment about the story.

Don’t believe that? Let’s review. It was in March of 2012 when teachers demonstrated at the State Capitol over Bobby Jindal’s so-called “education reforms” and when one teacher attempted to testify before the House Education Committee, then-Rep. Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette) attempted to push through a requirement that in addition to the customary practice of witnesses providing their names, where they were from and whom they represent, they also be required to say if they were appearing before the committee in a “professional capacity or if they were on annual or sick leave.”

A furious John Bel Edwards (D-Amite) said he had never in his House tenure seen such a rule imposed on witnesses. “This house (the Capitol) belongs to the people,” added Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge), “and now we’re going to put them in a compromising position? This is an atrocity!” http://louisianavoice.com/2012/03/page/5/

If teachers still are not convinced that they should unite as one and flex a little muscle, perhaps they should remember Jindal’s infamous speech before the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry in January of 2012 at which he introduced his education reform package. During that speech, he alluded to paying teachers simply by virtue of their ability to breathe. http://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?tmp=detail&md=newsroom&articleID=3197

Subsequent to that endearing line, several teachers stopped breathing when they sacrificed their lives defending school children from berserk gunmen but Jindal never once acknowledged those acts of heroism. Not once, though he did pose with his family for his Christmas card last year—with everyone, including children, dressed in camouflage. Touching.

If additional proof is needed of the severity of the situation for educators, in North Carolina, teachers have begun demonstrating their commitment to public schools by wearing red clothing as a symbol of support for their vocation.

So, what’s wrong with that, you ask? Didn’t we in recent years start a tradition of wearing red on Fridays as a salute to our armed forces?

Yes, but with teachers apparently it’s different and offensive enough that Senate Bill 480 was introduced in the Tar Heel State legislature that would make such a brazen act a Class 1 misdemeanor because supporting public education is considered a political view, subjecting teachers participating in such anarchy to dismissal.

http://crooksandliars.com/2015/05/north-carolina-teachers-no-free-speech-you?utm_source=Crooks+and+Liars+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=82e35765a1-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4904be7bc-82e35765a1-330138269

Never mind that the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said that the “threat of dismissal is nonetheless a potent means of inhibiting speech” and a violation of First Amendment rights.

So, bottom line, corporations, with their billions in political dark money, are classified as individuals and free to purchase elections and politicians at will but teachers, with an average salary of $40,065, are political activists to be feared and controlled—muzzled, as it were.

But to all teachers who read this: you vote, your family votes, your friends vote and you would be wise to watch to see how your legislators vote on issues that affect you. The election is this October. We will be choosing a governor and 144 legislators.

I harken back to my grandfather’s sage advice: “If you don’t stand up for yourself, it’s for damned sure nobody else will.”

 

 

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prevaricator

[pri-var-i-key-ter] /prɪˈvær ɪˌkeɪ tər/

noun

  1. a person who speaks falsely; liar.
  2. a person who speaks so as to avoid the precise truth; quibbler; equivocator.

Bobby Jindal loves to throw around the “L-word.”

So much so that we at LouisianaVoice are beginning to let it creep into our vocabulary when writing about Bobby.

Of course, his “L-word” and our “L-word” have completely different meanings.

For him, it’s invoked when reacting to the “Liberal” media’s calling him out on his claims of being the savior for Louisiana’s health care, education, economy, ethics and general well-being.

For us, the “L-word” denotes Liar, as pathological Liar.

A pathological liar is defined as an abnormally habitual liar, or a person who lies to the point that it is considered a disease or condition. That would be Bobby Jindal, the man who took ideas from medical experts when he headed up the Department of Health and Hospitals, implemented those ideas and called them his own.

Before you get the wrong idea, we don’t reside in a dream world where the sun is always shining and the grass is always green. We know politicians lie. Former Gov. Edwin Edwards once said it went with his job.

We understand that just as we can predict that in the upcoming gubernatorial election, one of the candidates is certain to stretch the truth a bit by claiming that then-State Rep. David Vitter’s vote against tabling House Bill 1013 way back in 1993 was because he supported gay rights. http://louisianavoice.com/

Anyone who knows Vitter knows better than that (maybe hooker rights, but that’s another story for another day). His voting not to table the bill that would have made it illegal for employers or insurers to discriminate based on sexual orientation was merely an effort to keep the bill alive for full floor debate where it was certain to have been defeated.

But Bobby Jindal elevates lying to an art form At least he tries to, but his prevarications are so disingenuous as to appear laughable—except the joke is on us.

Take that letter that Jindal recently wrote to the New York Times http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/bobby_jindal_defends_his_recor.html#incart_river  in response to the paper’s editorial about governors being unable to hide from their records http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/opinion/sunday/governors-can-run-but-they-cant-hide.html?_r=0 and the column about the Jindal implosion http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/opinion/charles-blow-gov-jindals-implosion.html by  Times writer Charles Blow who just happens to be from the north Louisiana town of Gibsland and who was a Grambling State University honor graduate.

In that letter, Jindal repeated the claim that he had cut the state payroll by “30,000 workers.”

Liar.

The Louisiana Office of Civil Services issues monthly layoff reports and contained in that monthly report is a year-by-year accounting of the number of civil service positions eliminated and the number of employees laid off. February 2015 Layoff Report

Since Fiscal Year 2008, which began six months prior to Jindal’s taking office in January of 2008, through the end February 2015, there have been a grand total of 13,577 positions eliminated and 8,396 employees laid off. The difference is apparently 5,181 eliminated positions were already vacant and simply not filled. Taking either number, you have far fewer than half the 30,000 claimed by Jindal.

“This fiscal responsibility resulted in eight straight upgrades by the major credit agencies,” he said in his letter, while neglecting to mention that two major rating agencies, Moody’s and Stand & Poor’s recently moved the state’s credit outlook from stable to negative while threatening the more severe action of a downgrade. http://louisianavoice.com/2015/02/14/two-major-investment-rating-firms-downgrade-louisiana-to-negative-state-is-now-officially-at-the-financial-end-game/

“And what did lower taxes do for our economy? They spurred growth,” he said. “Louisiana now has higher incomes…”

Liar.

The state’s per capita income while increasing 1.1 percent from 2012 to 2013, has actually decreased overall since 2008 and continues to lag nearly $3,500 behind the national average while the median family income decreased by more than $2,500 and trailed the national median family income by more than $8,000. http://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/louisiana/

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/09/louisiana_ranks_poorly_on_late.html

Were it not for Mississippi and the District of Columbia, Louisiana’s poverty rate (by household income) of 18.3 percent would be the highest in the nation. (Mississippi’s poverty rate is 20.1 percent and D.C. has a poverty rate of 20.7 percent.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_poverty_rate

Moreover, our already stratospheric poverty rate is continuing to rise. http://www.labudget.org/lbp/2013/09/poverty-on-the-rise-in-louisiana/

“…more jobs…”

Liar.

The February unemployment rate for Louisiana (the latest figures available) was 6.7 percent, compared to 5.5 percent for the rest of the country. The rate was 4 percent when Jindal took office but three years into his first term, the rate had risen to 8 percent before dropping below 6 percent in 2014 and spiking again this year. http://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/louisiana/

“…and more people than we’ve ever had in the history of our state.”

Perhaps, but when those who were evacuated to other states in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita return, that does not signify population growth. That’s just folks coming home after a hiatus of a few years.

But no matter. Jindal long ago staked out his position on immigration reform. http://www.ontheissues.org/Governor/Bobby_Jindal_Immigration.htm

But while he is claiming “more people than we’ve ever had in the history of our state,” he may wish to take a closer look at what the numbers mean.

Yes, it’s true that the state’s population grew by 64,396 (an increase of 1.44 percent from 2000 to 2010). But the state actually lost 20,426 (-.47 percent) in the number of residents “not Hispanic or Latino origin” while registering a gain of 84,822 (78.7 percent increase) in the number of people of “Hispanic or Latino origin.” http://censusviewer.com/state/LA

How’re you gonna square those numbers with your stand on immigration reform, Bobby? You can’t very well boast of population growth and decry the influx of Hispanics in the face of those facts.

“A larger gross domestic product…”

Shoot, on this we don’t even beat Mississippi. Of the 12 states in the Southeast Region, our GDP ranks eighth and barely nudges out Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/2014/gspSE_glance.htm

Back in February, Jindal told a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor that Louisiana’s higher education budget “is actually a little bit, just slightly, higher than when I took office.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/02/11/jindals-claim-that-louisianas-higher-education-budget-is-slightly-higher/

“Wait. Wha…?

LIAR!

No, Bobby, that’s a DAMN LIE!

Anyone who can make that claim with a straight face has some serious mental issues of either being unable to separate face from fantasy or of just being unable to tell the truth—even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Even the Washington Post, for whom he often pens his op-ed pieces when not stumping for the Republican presidential nomination, called him out on that one. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/02/11/jindals-claim-that-louisianas-higher-education-budget-is-slightly-higher/

Remember when Jindal promised that premiums for the Office of Group Benefits would not increase and benefits would not decrease under his privatization plan?

Liar.

And remember how he told us that health care for the state’s poor population would actually improve and the state would save millions by jettisoning those burdensome state hospitals?

Liar.

Team Jindal moves toward developing a medical corridor along Bluebonnet Boulevard and Essen Lane in South Baton Rouge while creating a medical wasteland north of Government Street (thereby protecting medical care for the affluent population but not so much for the poorer, largely black population of North Baton Rouge). Baton Rouge General Mid City (north of Government by a couple of blocks), as part of that plan, is being forced into closing its emergency room facilities next week and there’s good reason to expect similar crises at private hospitals in Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe. In fact, the problems are already starting in Shreveport. http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268748/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=6CI2I0hA

And, of course, there was Jindal’s claim of the infamous “no-go” zones in England in the face of all those apologies by Fox News for initiating the story.

Liar.

It appears Bobby made that claim purely for the sake of political expediency, the worst reason of all. http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/19/politics/jindal-no-go-zones-london/

Jindal, of course, did that major flip-flop on Common Core and is somehow managing to link the Common Core to the radical teaching of American history at the cost of something called “American exceptionalism.”

Liar.

So you’ve changed your position on Common Core. But you overlooked (deliberately, we strongly suspect) one minor detail: Common Core deals only in math and English, not history. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/02/06/bobby-jindal-what-happens-when-we-stop-teaching-american-exceptionalism-to-our-students/

Finally, there is the biggest Lie of all:

“I have the job I want.”

LIAR!

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Troy Hebert is nothing if not:

  1. inconsistent
  2. obfuscating
  3. controversial
  4. all the above

Hebert, Bobby Jindal’s brilliant (sarcasm, folks, sarcasm!) choice to succeed former Director of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) Murphy Painter after Team Jindal set Painter up on bogus criminal charges, has stumbled into one administrative fiasco after another.

In fact, the manner in which Hebert has run his office might even be considered a microcosm of the Jindal administration, so frighteningly reminiscent is it to the way he seems to emulate his boss.

Just as Jindal attempted (unsuccessfully) to flex his muscles (figuratively, of course; it be absurd to suggest otherwise) after Painter refused to knuckle under to demands from former Chief of Staff Steve Waguespack that a permit be issued to Budweiser to erect a tent at major Jindal campaign donor Tom Benson’s Champion’s even though Budweiser had not met the legal permit requirements, so has Hebert attempted to destroy the careers of agents serving under him for reasons that consistently failed to rise above the level of political pettiness.

Jindal, who accused Painter of abusing his office, apparently overlooked the fact that Hebert, while serving in the Louisiana Legislature, nevertheless saw nothing wrong with working under a state contract for debris cleanup after Hurricane Katrina.

Not only was Painter acquitted in his federal criminal trial, but he then sued his accuser in civil court—and won.

Likewise, Hebert has been sued by former agents for racial discrimination and has been forced to settle at least one such claim. Other complaints are pending as this is being written. Part of the basis for those complaints was Hebert’s confiding in Tingle that he was “going to f**k with” two black agents and that he intended to break up the “black trio” in north Louisiana—in reference to agents Charles Gilmore, Daimian McDowell and Bennie Walters.

And in the case of Brette Tingle, Hebert went to the extreme of attempting to get three different agencies to say there was a criminal payroll fraud case against Tingle—and in each case he failed to get his needed approval. Tingle’s sin? He was listed as a witness for the three black agents who have lodged EEOC complaints against Hebert. That left Hebert with only one logical course of action (logical in Hebert’s mind, that is). He fired Tingle while Tingle was recuperating from a heart attack.

ATC employees Terri Cook and Sean Magee tracked GPS locations of agents and emailed agents and their supervisors on a daily basis so that any issues, discrepancies or inconsistencies raised by the GPS reports could be addressed in a timely manner.

Yet, despite Hebert’s claims that Tingle was not working when he said he was or that he made an unauthorized trip into Mississippi, the issues were never raised by Cook or Magee, according to Tingle’s attorney J. Arthur Smith.

In fact, Smith pointed out that Tingle traveled to Kiln, MS. On May 2, 2012—at Hebert’s express approval—“to obtain surplus gun cleaning kits from his (Tingle’s) Coast Guard unit which were then issued to agents in your (Hebert’s) presence at a meeting at the Baton Rouge ATC headquarters with all enforcement agents as well as business division employees present.”

Smith also said that Tingle “was assigned FDA compliance checks (for tobacco sales to minors) while out on sick leave.” Upon his return to work, Mr. Tingle informed (Hebert) that he could not complete the assigned compliance checks because of other collateral duties which Hebert had assigned him. “These collateral duties included meeting with Trendsic Corp. and newly hired IT employee Keith McCoy to discuss several ideas that Mr. Tingle brought to you and that you wanted implemented before Mr. Tingle left on military leave.

“In this conversation,” Smith continued in his March 10 letter to Hebert, “you instructed Mr. Tingle to ‘get someone else to do those checks.’ Mr. Tingle also served a hearing officer and Internal Affairs Investigator for the ATC. These collateral duties, as well as your special assignments to him, were not part of Mr. Tingle’s regular job duties. You never at any time excused Mr. Tingle from performing these additional responsibilities,” he said.

Moreover, Smith noted, Tingle, Hebert initiated reprisals against Tingle because of statements provided by Tingle in a federal EEOC racial discrimination action filed against the ATC and Hebert even though Tingle “received the highest marks on his annual performance evaluation of all ATC enforcement agents. You signed this evaluation in July 2012,” Smith said.

That same month Hebert contacted Tingle, who was on vacation, by telephone in July of 2012, Smith said, to inquire into specifics concerning programs and initiatives that were part of an ATC pilot program for the New Orleans area initiated by Tingle. Upon learning of Tingle’s participation as a witness in the discrimination matter, however, Hebert claimed on Oct. 4, 2012, that Tingle had committed payroll fraud and further told OIG investigators that no such pilot program existed, according to Smith’s letter to Hebert.

The pilot program, Tingle said, involved programs not being done in other parts of the state. For example, a plan promoted by the AARP to improve blighted areas. ATC, he said, worked with AARP to provide alternative business plans to bar owners who have had their licenses suspended or revoked.

Hebert and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu held a joint press conference in July of 2012 to announce the program that Tingle initiated. http://www.nola.gov/mayor/press-releases/2012/20120717-mayor-landrieu-and-atc-commissioner-troy/

It was during this press conference that Hebert called a vacationing Tingle for information on the pilot program.

Tingle said Hebert has never followed through on any of the facets of the program.

In mid-January of 2013, Hebert launched an investigation into Tingle’s wife, Traci Tingle, who had recently retired from ATC, claiming that she had falsified state documents and that she had released personnel records to someone outside ATC.

The nature of the personnel records Hebert accused Traci Tingle of releasing was not made clear because Hebert never explained what they were. The state documents referred to, however, were inventory reports in which Traci Tingle had affirmed that the ATC had office equipment in an office in Vidalia, across the Mississippi River from Natchez. Hebert claimed “there was no Vidalia office,” Smith said, but when an ATC employee contacted the Vidalia Police Department about the matter, the Vidalia Police Department confirmed there was an ATC office in that town and that the office still contained ATC equipment.

It was unclear why Hebert would assert that ATC had no office in Vidalia unless the claim was made as a means of attempting to incriminate Traci Tingle.

What is clear, however, that Hebert is molding the agency into his personal fiefdom. He claims he has never fired a black agent but the evidence says otherwise. He also doesn’t say much about intimidating blacks—or transferring one from Shreveport to New Orleans without so much as day’s notice—to the point that they leave of their own accord.

The thing to keep uppermost in mind is that he is Jindal’s hand-picket director, specifically plucked from the legislature to succeed the man whom Jindal railroaded out of office with bogus criminal charges that were subsequently laughed out of court—all because that man, Murphy Painter, insisted that applicants (even those connected to big campaign donors like Tom Benson) conform to the rules when submitting applications for permits.

LouisianaVoice saw a railroad job then and we called it just that—when no other members of the media would come to the defense of Painter. We’re again seeing a railroad job and again, we’re calling it just that.

Jindal, of course, does not preside over the ATC Office but his policies, like a certain substance, flow downhill.

And right now, they’re stinking up the ATC Office.

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