Archive for the ‘Legislature, Legislators’ Category


Louisiana Troop A State Police Lieutenant John Cannon remains on his $115,690 per year job despite having been reprimanded for numerous offenses including theft of satellite television signals, failure to file required Daily Activity Reports (DARs), unauthorized voiding of traffic tickets, failure to investigate a fleet crash, failure to deliver fatality packets to the families of traffic fatality victims, and twice having sex with a woman while on duty—with one of those times being in the rear seat of his patrol unit.

Legislators approved two double digit state police pay increases six months apart earlier this year even as more than 35,000 state civil service employees were learning that they again would not receive 4 percent pay increases. http://louisianavoice.com/2015/09/29/state-general-fund-has-yet-to-see-any-of-the-11-million-in-delinquent-fine-collections-to-pay-for-state-police-pay-raise/


Troop A includes the eight parishes of East and West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, East and West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, Ascension and part of St. James. Cannon, a shift supervisor, has been a state trooper since 1990. He was promoted to sergeant in July of 2000 and to lieutenant in August of 2010.

LouisianaVoice obtained the 38-page state police internal affairs investigative file on Cannon through a public records request. That file indicates Cannon was never demoted for his actions. His most severe punishment included a 36-hour suspension without pay and a $904.96 per pay period reduction in pay for nine two-week pay periods (the equivalent of a 240-hour suspension)—from Oct. 27, 2014 through June 21, 2015, that was handed down by letter of Sept. 10, 2014 from Lt. Col. Charles Dupuy.

The internal affairs investigation of claims that Cannon had sex with a woman on two occasions while on duty was launched on May 15, 2014, after West Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputies reported they had a woman in custody for possession of Lortab and marijuana. The woman, whose name was redacted throughout the report, told deputies that she twice had exchanged sex for money with Cannon.

She repeated her story to state police detectives but failed a polygraph test on the question of her being paid for sex, the report said. Cannon subsequently admitted to detectives that he had sexual intercourse with the woman but denied he paid her for sex although he did admit that he twice gave her money. He said the money was given immediately before or after each sexual encounter but that on the first occasion the money was to pay her call phone and the second time was to pay her rent and that he was only trying to help her and to establish a friendship.

While the woman was twice subjected to polygraph tests and failed on the key point of payment for sex, the state police report never indicated that a similar test was administered to Cannon even though that was the only aspect of the entire affair that would have actually been criminal in nature.

The two first met on Feb. 16, 2014 in, New Roads in Pointe Coupee Parish where Cannon was working a seat belt grant. The woman told investigators that the two had multiple conversations by phone before meeting behind the parish library in New Roads on Feb. 21 “sometime between 9 and 11 p.m.,” but that they did not engage in sex on that occasion. She said they subsequently “negotiated sex on the phone.”

Cannon later called her at her father’s home in St. Francisville where she was living and told her he “needed her,” she said. The woman told authorities that she told Cannon she was out of money and that he later picked her up in his marked state police unit near her father’s residence and “immediately gave her $120, which she claimed was for sex,” according to the report. Cannon later said the amount was closer to $60 and was not for sex but for her cell phone bill. The report by internal affairs put the date as March 4, 2014.

She told investigators that their first sexual encounter took place in a wooded area south of St. Francisville just off U.S. 61 and lasted “approximately two minutes.” Afterward, she said, Cannon realized his patrol car was stuck and that she smoked a marijuana joint while he checked to see how badly the car was stuck. Apparently realizing how it might look if he were caught with her in such a secluded area, especially given the fact that he was dating an employee of the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office at the time, he ordered her to walk to the main highway and catch a ride while he called for someone to pull him out.

She did catch a ride to her father’s house while Cannon called the sheriff’s department for help in removing his vehicle.

Almost two months later, on April 29, Cannon picked her up—in his state police unit while on duty and in full uniform—from an apartment in Baker where she was living with her boyfriend. Cannon drove to a home she told authorities she believed to be in Baton Rouge but which Cannon later admitted was a friend’s home in Prairieville in Ascension Parish. They again had sexual intercourse in a bedroom of the home, that time for a duration of about three minutes, she said. She told investigators she requested $150 afterward but Cannon gave her only $100. He admitted that he stopped at a Regions Bank ATM on Highland Road in Baton Rouge in order to withdraw some cash. He said the amount he gave her was closer to $60 to $80 but when advised that she claimed it was $100, he told investigators it “was possible he could have given her that amount,” the report said.

The report reiterated Cannon’s claim that while he gave her money, it was to pay her phone bill and to pay her rent but was never given in exchange for sex

While en route from Baker to Prairieville, she activated Cannon’s patrol unit’s siren which resulted in other motorists moving out of the way and that she videoed the interior of his unit with her cell phone. She said she also took a photo of the house to show her boyfriend. She said Cannon was aware of her videoing the inside of his patrol car but that he did not know about her taking a picture of the house.

His 36-hour suspension ran from Oct. 10, 2014 through Oct. 13, 2014, and he was allowed to return to work from Oct. 15 through Oct. 26.

That 224-hour time frame actually covers 18 pay periods because, according to the specified dates of his suspension, he was suspended only on every other pay period, thus allowing him to work during alternate pay periods.

The suspension also contained no prohibition to Cannon’s being able to work overtime in order to make up for the $904.96 reduction in pay for each pay period for which he was suspended. LouisianaVoice has submitted a follow-up public records request for documents related to all overtime worked by him from Oct. 27, 2014, and June 21, 2015.

Cannon has had a checkered record in his 25 years as a state trooper.

  • On April 12, 1995, he received a letter of reprimand for his involvement in a traffic accident in his state police car, a not uncommon occurrence for state police.
  • On Jan. 25, 2001, he was suspended for 80 hours after being found in possession of an illegal satellite access card for Direct TV.
  • On June 6, 2003, he received an eight-hour suspension for failure to submit his Daily Activity Reports (DARs).
  • On April 27, 2006, he received a reduction in pay equivalent to a 24-hour suspension for failure to investigate a fleet crash.

And even after Dupuy’s letter of Sept. 10, 2014, which imposed the 240-hour suspension for his sexual misconduct while on duty, he received a reprimand but no suspension on March 18 of this year for his failure to act upon six traffic citation void slips and for failure to follow state police procedure with nine other citations.

Additionally, a review revealed that Cannon had seven fatality reports that are provided by state police as a courtesy to families of the deceased which he had not delivered. The fatalities had occurred between the dates of March 24, 2014, and Oct. 1, 2014, but still had not been delivered to families of the deceased as of Dec. 4, 2014.

And while technically, Cannon claims he was not paying for sex, a case could be made that because he was on duty at the time of his trysts, he was being paid for sex.

All of which raises the obvious questions: Was he being protected from above and if so, who was protecting him?

Here is Lt. Col. Dupuy’s letter of Sept. 10, 2014, to Cannon (Click on image to enlarge):


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None of the $11 million earmarked to pay for state police pay raises through enhanced debt collection efforts by the Office of Motor Vehicles has been submitted to the state general fund, according to a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile, a confidential report prepared for legislators has been obtained by LouisianaVoice which indicates that despite State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s claim last January that the pay raise would not affect “upper echelon” personnel, 145 lieutenants, captains, and majors got pay raises totaling $5.3 million per year. Additionally, four deputy superintendents received raises averaging $26,170 (23 percent) each.

Seven pilots ($29,769, or 39 percent), 24 emergency services personnel ($31,247, or 45 percent), two polygraphists ($33,995, or 49 percent), and six support personnel ($25,309, or 31 percent) also received pay hikes.

The breakdown shows that 13 majors and 106 lieutenants received 46 percent pay hikes and 26 captains got bumps of 53 percent. The average salaries ranged from $108,571 for lieutenants to $136,333 for captains, the report indicates.

The largest individual salary increase was $57,252 and the largest single percentage increase was 74 percent, the report says.

State classified employees, when they receive merit increases, generally receive only 4 percent increases but those salaries have been frozen for nearly six years because of budgetary constraints.

Moreover, a separate national study released on Tuesday (Sept. 29) listed police departments from three Louisiana cities as among the worst paying in the nation, including one rated as the lowest.

Altogether, 945 state troopers, ranging from cadets to majors, accounted for more than $20 million in pay increases, thanks to two measures passed by legislators six months apart in 2015.

Unsaid in the report was the effect the pay raises will inevitably have on the unfunded accrued liability (UAL) of the Louisiana State Police Retirement system.

State senators, with minimal discussion, approved the $11 million pay increase during the waning days of the 2015 legislative session only six months after troopers received their first sizable increase. Together, the two raises boosted state trooper pay by 30 percent, according to calculations by the Legislative Fiscal Office.

The first state police pay adjustment was approved in June of 2014 but the money did not become available until the Jan. 19 increase took effect.

In the case of the second pay raise, however, the funds were committed before they were received and none of the anticipated $11 million from old tickets has been received by the state general fund, a situation that could leave the state another $11 million short if the money is not forthcoming by the end of the current fiscal year which closes next June 30.

Lines 42-47 on page 65 of House Bill 1, the Appropriations Bill, appropriates the $11 million “Payable out of state general fund by Statutory Dedications out of the Debt Recovery Fund to the Office of State Police for additional salary support for state troopers, in the event that House Bill No. 638 of the 2015 Regular Session of the Legislature is enacted into law.”

HB 638, by State Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge), which was enacted into law and signed by Bobby Jindal as Act 414, provides that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) collect certain fees “associated with the suspension of an operator’s license” which are related to auto liability insurance requirements. The fees become delinquent after 60 days and are referred to the Office of Debt Recovery.

The bill earmarks $25 million from the Debt Recovery Fund for use by the Office of State Police. Here is the legislative digest of HB 638 (ACT 414)

But with none of that money having been yet gone to the general fund, legislators are beginning to worry.

Additionally, the state police pay increases have not yet produced additional sergeants’ positions. The report said, “State Police leadership claimed in two meetings that the agency was experiencing difficulty attracting Master Troopers who were interested in applying for Sergeant Positions.” The number of Sergeants, however, has only increased by four, from 193 to 197, it said.

Moreover, there have been only 123 promotions within state police ranks and 44, or more than a third, were from cadet to trooper.

There has been one promotion from captain to major, five from lieutenant to captain and 11 from sergeant to lieutenant, the report indicates.


Coincidentally, even as the two pay increases combined to make state police the highest-paid law enforcement agency in the state, a national survey Tuesday (Sept. 29) listed three Louisiana cities as among the 30 with the lowest pay for police officers.

Alexandria had the lowest pay in the nation among major cities with an average salary of $31,370 per year for officers. Monroe, with an average salary of $34,000 was eighth lowest, while Lake Charles was 21st lowest in the state with an average salary of $35,320.

The State Police Retirement System (STPOL) had the smallest UAL of four state retirement systems which combined for an UAL balance of $18.588 million in 2013. The breakdown for the individual systems shows that the Teachers Retirement System (TRSL) had the largest UAL of $11.13 million, followed by the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS) at $6.25 million, the Louisiana School Employees Retirement System (LSERS) at $863.7 million and STPOL at $305.4 million (up from the $166.5 UAL of 2006).

STPOL receives revenues from the state and from taxes on insurance premiums but the funding levels from the state have decreased steadily since the high of 73.1 percent of 2007 to 59.1 percent of 2013.


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When LouisianaVoice attempted through a public records request to obtain an unredacted version of the disciplinary records of a trooper in State Police Troop D, our request was denied. Louisiana State Police Attorney Supervisor Michele Giroir explained that the individual’s rights to privacy outweighed the public’s right to know.

Specifically, her letter of Aug. 18 said:

  • The Department has reviewed your request. It remains the Department’s position that you are not entitled to review the redacted information. The individuals’ rights to privacy established by Article 1, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, as amended, outweigh the public’s right to know the personal information in this matter….The substance of the matter is personal in nature and not related to (the trooper’s) duties as a state trooper. The information that you reviewed in the letter (in the redacted document we were provided) contains the substance of the conduct for which (the trooper) was disciplined as it related to his duties as state trooper. Providing further information would violate the involved parties’ rights to privacy.

Her decision left us disappointed but at the same time, we understand there are certain rights to privacy that must be upheld.

Apparently Troy Hebert did not get the memo. And now he is being sued for making just such private information public.

Moreover, it appears he may have violated an order from a Civil Service hearing referee not to discuss the matter with anyone, “including the media.”

Actually, his actions only provided cause for the filing of an amendment to a lawsuit already filed in Federal District Court in Baton Rouge over Hebert’s retaliation against former ATC agent Brette Tingle.

One day after Giroir’s letter, on Aug. 19, Hebert, Director of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC), issued a news release that was disseminated widely over television and print media in which Hebert leaked the contents of private cell phone text messages and emails.

Though Tingle’s communications on his state-issued cell phone contained sexually and racially-charged messages, the messages were to friends and family members, some of them African-American. Such messages are considered private under the Louisiana Constitution, as Giroir said in her letter. Moreover, LouisianaVoice learned in interviewing two African-American agents that some of the racial remarks were made to them but were said in jest. “I say some of the same things he said,” said one African-American agent, a female. “We joke back and forth with each other that way.”

Another African-American who worked with Tingle, Larry Hingle, said he understood the context in which Tingle’s messages were made and that he had no problem with him.

Tingle, in fact, contends that Hebert’s vendetta against him stems from his (Tingle’s) testimony on behalf of Charles Gilmore, one of three African-American ATC agents who filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints against Hebert. The three, Gilmore, Hingle, and Daimian T. McDowell subsequently filed suit against Hebert in Baton Rouge Federal District Court. http://louisianavoice.com/2014/07/14/forcing-grown-men-to-write-lines-overnight-transfers-other-bizarre-actions-by-troy-hebert-culminate-in-federal-lawsuit/

In his amended lawsuit, Tingle cites the same Article 1, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution which says, “Every person shall be secure in his person, property, communications, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches, seizures, or invasions of privacy.” That pretty much tracks the Fourth Amendment which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

The search and seizure of the text messages in this case was (sic) unreasonable because, at the search’s inception, there was (sic) no reasonable grounds to believe that the search would reveal any employee misconduct and because Troy Hebert provoked this search in bad faith, in an arbitrary and maximally intrusive manner, and in retaliation for Brette Tingle’s exercise of protected activity,” Tingle says in his amended petition.

“The plaintiff (Tingle) never consented to Troy Hebert or anybody else searching his private text messages with his friends and family in an intrusive fishing expedition to search for any evidence that Troy Hebert could try to use to avoid the consequences of his overt race discrimination against African-American employees by discrediting Brette Tingle as a witness,” it said.

Moreover, the petition says, Hebert laid out false allegations of payroll fraud against Tingle in his news releases “even though an extensive investigation by the Louisiana Office of Inspector General (OIG) had found no probable cause for the payroll fraud accusation…”

(Both Hebert and the OIG’s Inspector General are appointed by the governor.)

Even more egregious, Tingle says, Hebert read Tingle’s communications aloud to 12 female ATC employees on Aug. 21.

“The extracts of these conversation, which were widely publicized by Troy Hebert, constitute defamation by innuendo and the embarrassing disclosure of personal and private facts,” the petition says. “This is particularly so since these alleged conversations have nothing whatsoever to do with Brette Tingle’s job performance and thus, Troy Hebert had no legitimate interest in publicly broadcasting these alleged private conversations.”

Hebert even hinted that Tingle may have been guilty of setting fire to Hebert’s state vehicle, Tingle said. “In an interview with a New Orleans news outlet, WVUE-TV, on Aug. 19, Troy Hebert…stated that if a person was (sic) to ‘connect the dots,’ it would be clear who vandalized the vehicle.

“While it is apparently true that Troy’s vehicle had been set on fire, Troy Hebert had no evidence that the plaintiff had committed this crime,” Tingle said. “Troy Hebert did know, or certainly should have known, that the temporal proximity of his statements and the termination of the plaintiff carried false and defamatory implications.”

The petition said the communications from his cellphone were “taken out of context and do not accurately reflect Brette Tingle’s attitudes toward persons of color.” He said he is “well-respected” by persons of color for his “fair-minded attitudes and conduct. Indeed, it is only because Brette Tingle took a firm and courageous stand against Troy Hebert’s race discrimination and retaliation against former fellow employees that Troy Hebert has gone to great lengths to destroy his (Tingle’s) career and reputation,” it said.

We at LouisianaVoice have followed Troy Hebert’s ham-handed manner of running his agency since he was named to replace Murphy Painter who was fired on bogus charges by the Jindal administration.

If there is anything that can be said of Hebert, it’s that he appears to be as inept and clueless as his boss. He has managed to run a once-fine investigative agency into the ground with his petty insistence on requiring agents rise and greet him with an enthusiastic “Good morning, Commissioner” upon his entering a room. We were dismayed to learn that he has forced agents, fully grown adults, to literally write lines. We were incredulous when he ordered Gilmore transferred from Baton Rouge to Shreveport literally overnight with no opportunity for him to make plans for such a move. And we were shocked to the point of disbelief upon learning that he had ordered a female agent to return to a New Orleans bar in full uniform—after she had purchased drugs while working as a plainclothes undercover agent in that same bar only days before.

We were puzzled when Jindal snatched him from the Legislature to serve as the top enforcement agent for ATC with no qualifications other than the fact that his wife is the Jindals’ children’s pediatrician.

But now, somehow we are unable to be shocked at anything this man does. Apparently no underhanded tactic is beneath him—even when it comes to violating the same State Constitution that the chief legal counsel for the Louisiana State Police was sufficiently cognizant to uphold in denying our access to personal records.

Hebert apparently has no problem violating a direct order from a Civil Service hearing referee who presided over an appeal of Tingle’s firing in July. The referee was quite specific in admonishing witnesses not to discuss the Tingle matter “with each other or anyone else, including the media.” That order was issued when Tingle’s hearing was continued by the referee who said a violation of her dictum “could result in disciplinary action, including dismissal” from their jobs. http://louisianavoice.com/2015/07/10/civil-service-hearing-for-fired-atc-agent-continued-to-sept-after-settlement-talks-break-down-troy-didnt-want-us-there/

In an otherwise competent, transparent and ethical administration, we would have expected Hebert to have been fired months ago. Under the Jindal administration, we harbor no such hope. In fact, Jindal did quite the opposite in naming Hebert his office’s legislative liaison.

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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:


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For political junkies and political reporters out there, this is just the ticket and it’s coming out party is tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 8, just in time for Louisiana’s fall elections.

Freagle, a free political social network designed to connect voters and candidates to engage the way our founders intended, will debut in Louisiana on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

LouisianaVoice anticipates it will make regular use of the site in order to keep its readers updated on political candidates.

Freagle.com will provide a personalized political platform on which voters can customize their issue and election preferences in order to cut through the noise and spin of our current political dialogue to learn who is on their ballot and where those candidates stand on the particular issues they care about.

“Freagle is designed to connect voters to the candidates on their ballot and provide a simple mechanism for learning about where they stand and what they will do if elected,” Freagle founder and CEO Niki Papazoglakis said. “It also allows candidates to easily engage with voters on the topics they care about individually without expensive micro-targeting and polling.”

Freagle is currently operating at: http://www.freagle.com/ . The full site will be live on Tuesday.

Citizens who use Freagle can easily determine who is on their ballot, in their specific precincts. The site will use the voter’s address to automatically connect them to the races on their ballots, but voters also have the ability to manually follow races in other districts. Voters are verified so there are no trolls or political operatives.

“I hope that by making it easy and convenient for voters to be informed and engaged on elections and amendments, more people will turn out to the polls this fall and feel confident that the votes they cast are for the people and topics that best reflect their personal views,” Papazoglakis said. “Ultimately, I hope that Freagle is a catalyst to re-engage voters in this representative democracy and get us back to a citizen-led government.”

Freagle’s other features will include:

  • Simple means of comparing candidates. Election forums will allow voters to conduct side-by-side comparisons of the candidates in each race on their ballot and on individual issues.
  • On-Demand candidates’ debates. Voters can pose questions to all candidates in a race who subscribe to Freagle from the Election Forum wall rather than individually through other venues like websites, Facebook or Twitter and without having to be selected or have timed responses in live forums.
  • My Ballot tool. Voters can research and make voting decisions throughout the election cycle and print their choices before going to the polls.
  • Verification. Voters are verified so there are no trolls or political operatives.

Papazoglakis said Freagle would also be a valuable tool for the news media. “The media will have a simple place to track all of the elections from a single location including who has qualified in each race, where the candidates stand on the issues, and how they are engaging with voters, “ she said. “In addition, comprehensive campaign finance reports are easily accessed from each candidate’s profile.”

Freagle will feature a custom report from the state Ethics Commission that will have significantly more information than the standard download from the Ethics website, Papazoglakis said, adding that the site will also include all campaign contributions for each candidate.

News media outlets wanting more information about Freagle should contact Papazoglakis at (225) 615-4570 or niki@freagle.com.

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