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Remember back on June 12, 2011, when Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the renewal of a 4-cent cigarette tax that would have cost the state $48 million per year had the legislature, and subsequently the voters, not passed a constitutional amendment to continue the tax?

Remember how Jindal justified the veto by saying he was opposed to any new taxes even though the bill was for the continuation of an existing tax?

Remember how Jindal consistently expressed his opposition to new taxes but had no problem with colleges and universities raising tuition to partially offset drastic budgetary cuts because the increase was a “fee,” not a tax?

Remember how Jindal has continued to voice his opposition to new taxes while at the same time insisting that the privatization of everything but bathroom breaks and performance reviews for state employees would save the state money? (And don’t count those out just yet.)

Well, how about the privatization (okay, the partial privatization) of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that allows drivers to renew their licenses at one of 108 offices which contract with the state to perform some DMV functions—at an additional charge of $18 over and above the regular $21.50 cost? Employing Jindal’s logic, the $18 is not a new tax, but a surcharge for convenience.

Not much of a savings there, at least from the perspective of those among the 2.9 million motorists in Louisiana who would be popped with the additional fee if they chose a private agent to renew their license.

A Baton Rouge Advocate story on Tuesday (Feb. 18) said the experimental plan has been operational in Metairie and Slidell and is expected in Baton Rouge soon. A Baton Rouge acquaintance, however, says he already encountered the $18 additional fee—a total of $39.50 months ago at one of the privatized kiosks—in Baton Rouge—and opted not to pay in favor of going the traditional route at a state DMV office for the $21.50.

And get this: not a single DMV employee has been laid off. Nor are there any plans to do so, according to State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, who calls the private agents “a convenience.”

So where’s the savings in all of this?

A report by the legislative auditor says the program has “saved” the state a minimum of $3.3 million per year but to us it only appears that the new tax…er, fee, has generated an additional $3.3 million for the state. There is a huge difference between generating new revenue and saving money.

If, for example, I purchased a snow blower for the recent Louisiana blizzard of ’14 at a cost of $500 and while it was still in the box, unused because our snowdrifts didn’t justify hauling it out and assembling it, decided to sell it to some poor sucker for $750, have I saved $250 or generated an additional $250 to pay on my maxed-out Visa card?

Well, if you’re like our friend who refused to play the game, there is that $18 savings he realized by staying with the state-run DMV office.

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Earlier this week we sat down with best selling author John Barry, former vice president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, to discuss the authority’s litigation against 97 oil and gas companies. Because of the importance of the pending litigation and the opposition of the Jindal administration to efforts to hold the oil companies responsible for the damage done to the Louisiana coastline, this story is being posted simultaneously by CenLamar, Something Like the Truth, LouisianaVoice and Forward-Now.

He glances down at the cellphone lying on the tabletop in the State Capitol restaurant and says almost apologetically, “I never had one of these until two years ago.” He laughs at his own reluctance to accept modern technology. “When I got it, somebody sent me a message welcoming me to the 20th century. Not the 21st, but the 20th.”

That is the first impression one gets of John M. Barry, the soft-spoken point man in the ongoing lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SELFPAE) against 97 oil and gas companies over the destruction of the state’s coastal wetlands.

He speaks in a voice so low that we were forced to move to another table, away from the television that had been directly above us and which kept churning out obnoxious lawyer ads, an irony not lost on the restaurant’s only two customers.

Barry, a gifted researcher and writer is author of several bestselling books, among them 2005’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, which was named the year’s outstanding book on science or medicine, and his stark 1998 chronicle Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America. Rising Tide won the Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians for the year’s best book of American history. It was also named as one of nine pieces of literature essential to understanding America by GQ.

He owns a home in Washington, D.C. and when asked if he is originally from that area, he confides that he was born in Rhode Island but also owns a home in New Orleans. Then he dropped a small biographical bombshell: one of his first jobs was as an assistant football coach at Tulane University. “I was on the coaching staff of the 1973 team that beat LSU (14-0) for the first time in 25 years,” he said with a trace of understandable pride. The first money he ever earned from writing, in fact, was from a story he sold to a coaching magazine about ways to change blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage. Sports Illustrated in 2006 chose one of his stories about football for an anthology of the best football writing of all time.

Four decades removed from that historic game, Barry is on another history-making quest: that of convincing an oil-friendly state legislature to help make big oil repair the damage done to Louisiana’s fast-eroding coastline and marshlands.

Lest one think he was originally chosen to serve on SELFPAE because of his celebrity status, it should be known that following Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana congressional delegation asked him to chair a bipartisan working group on flood protection and he sits on advisory boards at MIT’s Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals as well as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and on the board of the Society of American Historians and American Heritage Rivers. He has been a keynote speaker at a White House Conference on the Mississippi Delta and is co-founder of the $100 million Riversphere in New Orleans, the first facility in the world dedicated to comprehensive river research.

“I don’t get paid for what I’m doing now,” he said. “I spend most of my time on the road talking to newspaper editors and legislators, making my case for the lawsuit. I’m living off my savings. I still get royalties from the books, but it isn’t enough to live on.” He chuckles at a suggested comparison to Don Quixote and then continues. “I’m meeting with every individual legislator who will listen.” He is attempting to convince lawmakers not to intervene and terminate the litigation.

Those meetings pit him against Gov. Bobby Jindal and Jindal’s hand-picked front man Garret Graves—at least until Feb. 17 when Graves will step down as Chairman of the Coastal Restoration Authority, to be succeeded by Jerome Zeringue, former Terrebonne Parish levee authority director. There is some speculation that Graves will seek the 6th District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. William Cassidy, who is running against incumbent Mary Landrieu for the U.S. Senate.

Despite Jindal’s opposition to the lawsuit and his decision not to reappoint him to the authority, Barry refuses to disparage the governor “I’ve known him since before he ever ran for office. I don’t agree with him on the issue of the litigation but on balance, he’s been a good governor,” he said. “He could be a great governor if he would get the oil companies to take responsibility for the damage they’ve done to our coastline. The lawsuit isn’t the problem. The problem is the loss of our coast land.

“It’s not my suit anymore,” he is quick to add, pointing out that he no longer serves on the authority. But that is not to say he doesn’t have a keen interest in the litigation. Because of his ongoing interest, he has formed an organization called Restore Louisiana to fight attempts by the oil industry to either get the lawsuit declared groundless, illegal or unconstitutional or to resist any movement by the legislature to intervene to stop the lawsuit.

Barry said a 2006 study by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) revealed that 76 percent of the land loss was caused by the oil industry. “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Louisiana has the lowest enforcement rate in the nation,” he said, adding that DNR has looked the other way too many times when big oil’s interests conflicted with that of Louisiana’s citizens.

Barry said the difference between his fight and that of fictional character Don Quixote is that “everyone knows we are right. Our polls show that 70 percent of the people feel that the oil companies are the problem because they have not lived up to their promises to clean up their messes,” he said. “Garrett (Graves) said the authority’s job is to protect the levees. He said he has $18 billion for coastal restoration but $14 billion of that has been spent on the levees so there is no $18 billion going forward.

“Gambit magazine of New Orleans said I had a lot of courage but what I’m doing doesn’t require courage,” he said. What can they do to me?” At the same time, however, he acknowledged that there has been considerable political pressure on authority members who support the litigation. “Steve Estopinal, an engineer, has had his job threatened and Paul Kemp had to change jobs.

“I’m on the road a lot and that’s not been easy. I don’t like being away from my family but my motivation is simple: I want the Louisiana coast to survive. That’s why I’m on the road 10 hours per day.”

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The death of anti-war activist singer Pete Seeger at age 94 on Monday stirred a lot of memories among people of my generation. We bridged the gap between liking Ike and agonizing over a war in a little Asian country called Vietnam that few could locate on a map but which nonetheless drained this country of its innocence, its financial resources and worst of all, some 58,000 of her young men.

If the loss of 58,000 lives in the jungles of that country was tragic, the damage done to the psyche of the survivors who returned to an ungrateful country was worse by far. Veterans were spat upon, accused of killing babies, and even worse, denied medical and disability benefits by the Veterans Administration, a despicable act of neglect that forced thousands of our veterans into homelessness. Some thanks.

For one of the best histories of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, please read Bob Mann’s superb book A Grand Delusion: America’s Descent into Vietnam. It is without question the most definitive history of our most foolish, wasteful and unjust war ever written, beginning with the Truman administration and bringing us forward through Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

One thing that horrible war did give us, though, was some of the finest anti-war songs ever recorded, songs that our political leaders should take the time to listen to again and again whenever they consider sacrificing the lives of our young people by involving us in yet another senseless war for the benefit of the military-industrial complex about which President Eisenhower warned us as he left office more than half-a-century ago.

Seeger’s group, The Weavers, had a monster hit of Goodnight Irene, written by Shreveport’s Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly. Like him or loathe him, Seeger was at the forefront of war protest music with three of his biggest songs that became hits for other artists: Peter, Paul and Mary’s If I had a Hammer (Trini Lopez’s version doesn’t even register), the Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! The third, Where Have All the Flowers Gone? was recorded by many artists, including the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Rivers and Joan Baez, among others. His We Shall Overcome was not a song made famous by any one artist or group but instead was the anthem of the civil rights movement.

It was only appropriate that a host of up and coming performers would follow in Seeger’s activist footsteps in waging their campaigns against war and injustice with their music, whether classified as folk, protest or rock. Even blues singer John Lee Hooker got in on the movement with I Don’t Want to Go to Vietnam.

Bob Dylan is probably the elder statesman of the protest movement now that Seeger is gone. His songs Blowin’ in the Wind (also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary) and The Times, they Are A-Changing define the protest songs of the 60s and 70s.

Arlo Guthrie, son of folk icon Woody Guthrie recorded Alice’s Restaurant in 1967 as an instruction manual on how to avoid the military draft and in the process, an expense paid trip to Vietnam (the secret was to get an arrest record, even for such a trifling offense as littering).

For pure, hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll protest songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival has to be considered the cream of the crop with Fortunate Son, Running through the Jungle and Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

The angriest war protest song of the entire Vietnam era was probably Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction and the most poignant had to be One Tin Soldier by The Original Caste. The lines “Go ahead and hate your neighbor/Go ahead and cheat a friend/Do it in the name of heaven/You can justify it in the end” speak as clearly to the greed and power grab mentality indicative of today’s society as it did in the 1970 movie Billy Jack.

When Bernie Taupin wrote the song Daniel, the song originally included a verse dealing with the Vietnam War but for whatever reason, the verse was removed prior to its being recorded by Elton John.

Not all songs about the Vietnam War were protest songs, of course. We will be forever stuck with super patriotic The Ballad of the Green Berets by Barry Sadler and of course there’s that butt-kicking favorite by Merle Haggard, Fightin’ Side of Me.

Johnny Cash got in on the war protest act, but he went all the way back to World War II with The Ballad of Ira Hayes, a chronicle of the exploitation of Native American Ira Hayes, one of the marines who helped raise the American flag over Iwo Jima.

My personal favorite post-Vietnam song is one called Old Hippie by the Bellamy Brothers which shares the mental anguish and disorientation suffered by Vietnam vets years after returning from the war.

Here are a few other classics and not-so-classics from America’s most unpopular war (so far). See how many you can remember:

War by Edwin Starr;

Universal Soldier by Donovan;

Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen;

For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield;

Guns, Guns, Guns by The Guess Who;

I’m Your Captain by Grand Funk Railroad;

Kent State Massacre by Jack Warshaw;

Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) by Melanie;

Requiem for the Masses by The Association;

Sky Pilot by The Animals;

We Gotta Get Out of this Place by The Animals;

Bungle in the Jungle by Jethro Tull;

Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon;

Imagine by John Lennon;

Revolution by The Beatles;

Saigon by John Prine;

Shape of Things by The Yardbirds;

Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones;

Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks;

Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

There are others, of course, many others. The list is much longer and you can probably think of some that are not on this list.

But one thing is certain: Pete Seeger led the way. He was an original. All others only aspired to his ability to communicate and to channel his outrage in a song.

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“Today, we take the first step towards building a better Louisiana where our ethics laws are the gold standard.”

—Gov. Bobby Jindal on Feb. 10, 2008, as he signed into law Senate Bill 1 which revamped the Louisiana Ethics Board’s procedures for handling ethics complaints.

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© 2013

You’d think that John White would’ve learned from others’ mistakes.

He is, after all, the Louisiana Superintendent of Education and one of the definitions of education is the act or process of educating or being educated, according to our handy dandy Free Online Dictionary which also defines education as the knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.

Education.com further defines education as “the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.”

It was only four years ago that the news broke that Paul Vallas, White’s predecessor at the Recovery School District had taken 30 personal trips to his hometown of Chicago between 2007 and 2009 in a state-owned Dodge Durango in violation of state regulations governing use of state-owned vehicles.

He even took one of those trips to appear on a Chicago TV station to announce his intent to run for governor and while he did make the announcement, he never ran for that office. He currently is a candidate for lieutenant governor in next year’s election.

The use of the Durango for personal trips did not become public knowledge until the vehicle was involved in an accident in Chicago and the Louisiana Office of Risk Management received a claim for damages from the Department of Education (DOE). Vallas was en route to a press conference to discuss a constitutional convention for Illinois at the time of that accident.

Then-State Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek, Vallas’s superior, said he was unaware that it was against regulations for Vallas to use the state vehicle for such trips, an incredulous claim at best.

Vallas subsequently moved on to Hartford, Conn., (where he would ultimately be deemed by a state judge to be unqualified and directed out of office) and was replaced by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s choice, John White. When Pastorek was booted, White was then promoted to State Superintendent.

So, the precedent was clearly there for White to see and to learn from. Certainly he was perceptive enough to avoid that particular pitfall. Pastorek, after all, had to pony up about $4,000 (an amount that also covered $946 in fuel costs) in reimbursement to the state on Vallas’s behalf though it was never made clear why Vallas himself was not held accountable for the costs.

So White would never repeat that mistake, would he? Of course not. We’re not going to catch DOE employees running all over creation in state-owned vehicles, no siree.

That’s what Enterprise Car Rental is for.

John White’s expenditures on Enterprise rental cars make Vallas look like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Remember that Vallas accounted for an estimated $4,000 in documented personal travel in a state vehicle over a period covering nearly three years, including fuel costs.

Seven current DOE unclassified employees with combined annual salaries totaling north of $1 million have tallied more than $63,700 in car rental fees in just over a year—and that does not even include fuel.

And while state regulations stipulate that only compact or intermediate vehicles may be rented by state employees at monthly fees not to exceed $680, some employees have been cruising around town in vehicles like Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Compass, GMC Terrain, Nissan Murano, Chevrolet Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade at monthly rentals as high as $1,450.

And with the exception of a couple of skipped months, the vehicle rentals, while charged on a monthly basis, would appear to be on a permanent basis for the employees, each of whom has been on the job for less than two years.

The records could be incomplete because LouisianaVoice initially requested the records on Oct. 18 only for the months of July 1, 2012 through Oct. 18, 2013. The records were only made available on Wednesday, Dec. 11, nearly two months after they were first requested.

State law requires that public records be produced on demand unless they are unavailable. In such case, the state must respond immediately as to when the records will be available within three working days of the request.

LouisianaVoice has made a supplemental request for Enterprise car rental records for each of the seven employees for their entire tenure at DOE as well as a complete record of fuel costs for the rental vehicles.

Neither White nor his Chief of Staff Kunjan Narechania responded to an email request from LouisianaVoice asking them to justify the issuance of permanent rental cars to state employees in light of the state’s ongoing budgetary problems.

Of course no story of DOE chicanery would be complete without the participation of our old friend David “Lefty” Lefkowith.

He is, as might be expected, one of the Enterprise Seven.

You will remember the ubiquitous Lefty as the motivational speaker who worked with pre-collapse Enron and Jeb Bush’s administration in an ambitious but unsuccessful effort to corner the market on drinking water in the state of Florida.

He next showed up first as a contract worker for DOE and then as the head of the Office of Portfolio for the department at $146,000 per year. He currently works with the department’s course choice program which has had its own image problems.

Despite Jindal’s oft-proclaimed goal of keeping the best and brightest Louisiana citizens in Louisiana, the administration seems hell bent on going outside the state for its talent and Lefty is no exception. He has maintained his residence in Los Angeles and actually commutes from that city to his day job at DOE. He apparently works only four days a week and heads west on Fridays and returns Sunday night or Monday morning.

Of course when he is in town he needs a vehicle to get around Baton Rouge and to take him to and from New Orleans International Airport each weekend. Records show he rents his Enterprise vehicles on a weekly basis, usually for four days at a pop (Monday through Friday) with sometimes a couple of hours extra thrown in.

Incomplete records show that he has spent about $6,000 on car rental fees (not counting fuel, of course) since Oct. 14, 2012. LouisianaVoice has requested complete records dating back to his date of employment with the department and including the cost of fuel for his vehicles.

To his credit, it should be pointed out that Lefkowith generally stuck to the compact car requisite rate of $32 per day for his rentals. On those occasions when he did upgrade, it was only to $36 per day—unlike some of his co-workers who did not appear to even attempt to stay within the state-approved rate mandates.

Following is an itemized list of the remaining six employees, number of months they have driven an Enterprise rental car, the type cars and the total cost (In some cases, the make of vehicle was not provided):

  • Kerry Laster, Executive Officer ($135,000)—nine months, from Nov. 2, 2012 through Aug. 20, 2013 (no record for Feb. 9 to Mar. 4, 2013): GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Cadillac Escalade (four months), Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer (two months)—$11,205;
  • Melissa Stilley, Liaison Officer ($135,000)—12 months, from Aug. 13, 2012 to Sept. 5, 2013: Malibu, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Compass, Dodge Journey (three months), Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Edge (four months)—$13,550;
  • Warren Drake, Liaison Officer ($160,000)—12 months, from Sept. 10, 2012 to Sept. 5, 2013: Honda Accord, Kia Sorento, Ford Flex, Grand Cherokee (nine months)—$8,160;
  • Gayle Sloan, Liaison Officer ($160,000)—12 months, from Sept. 4, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013 (no record for December of 2012); Chevrolet Impala (three months), Toyota Camry, Jeep Liberty (seven months), Jeep Patriot—$9,060;
  • Francis Touchet, Liaison Officer ($130,000)—15 months, from July 11, 2012, to Sept. 16, 2013; Nissan Altima (two months), Nissan Murano (seven months)—$11,800;
  • Gary Jones, Executive Officer ($145,000)—12 months, from Sept. 17, 2012 to Sept. 13, 2013; Nissan Sentra (nine months), Ford Fusion (three months)—$7,980.

The free use of a rental car on a year-round basis could pose another problem besides the obvious criticism that might come from the Legislative Auditor.

These Enterprise rentals are not the occasional rentals for quick one- or two-day trips on departmental business; they are perks by every definition of the word—used year-round, nights and weekends, for personal use as well as the occasional business-related trip.

And perks are taxable in-kind income.

Or at least they should be…unless DOE neglected to report the in-kind payments and the employees neglected to report them on their tax returns.

If that is the case, then DOE and the seven employees could have some explaining to do to the IRS and the Louisiana Department of Revenue, that is if Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield should be inclined to pursue the matter.

But don’t count on that.

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The decades-long controversy surrounding New Bethany Home for Girls in Bienville Parish was renewed last Friday, Dec. 6 when seven former residents of the home returned to Arcadia so that two of the women could file formal charges of sexual assault against the now-defunct home’s owner, Rev. Mack Ford.

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A seventh arrived on Saturday to file her complaint.

Although only two of the six who flew in from North Carolina, Nevada, Florida and Texas, claimed to been sexually abused while living at the home, the others said they were there to lend moral support to the two, one of whom is said to be terminally ill with an inoperable brain tumor.

Sheriff John Ballance, who had his own experience with the home during his career as a state trooper some 30 years ago, met with the women, took the statements of the two claiming sexual abuse, and promised to do everything possible to resolve the matter.

An earlier statement of one of the alleged victims was turned over to state police in Bossier City in October, Ballance said.

In September, Ballance told LouisianaVoice he had picked up a runaway from the home decades ago when he was a state trooper. Instructed by the sheriff’s department to return her to the facility, he said he refused to force her to go back because of her claims of abuse.

Allegations about beatings, handcuffing and other forms of punishment of girls at the home first came to light when the Baton Rouge Advocate began an investigation of the home in 1974. Editors, however, quickly killed the investigation before any stories could be written and the issue lay dormant until the late 1980s when the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources began looking into abuse allegations. In 1988, the state raided the unlicensed home located south of Arcadia on LA. 9 and removed 29 girls from the facility.

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Simultaneous to that raid, the Bethel Home for Wayward Children in Lucedale, Mississippi, was closed down by officials in that state. Six months after the New Bethany raid, however, it remained open and was not closed down until 1992.

There were claims of girls at New Bethany having to clean toilets with their bare hands, being locked in isolation with only a bucket for a toilet, girls being handcuffed to their beds and being made to stand all day with no restroom breaks, beatings with wooden dowels, PVC pipe, paddles, belts and limbs.

A state game warden, interviewed by the Advocate in 1974, said he would take confiscated deer that had been killed illegally by hunters to the home. “On one occasion,” he said, “Ford asked if he could have my handcuffs.”

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New Bethany Baptist Church (foreground); girls’ windowless dormitory (background).

The public face of New Bethany, however, was quite different. Girls’ quartets would be clad in long dresses and paraded before church congregations to sing, figuratively and literally, the praises of New Bethany in efforts to generate “love offerings” from church members.

A father who pulled his daughter out of the home said, “He (Ford) would have those little girls sing hymns and give testimony to churches and the church members would hit the floor with their knees while reaching for their wallets” to give Ford money for his home.

The claims of physical abuse and rape are not new to the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Church with which New Bethany and Ford are affiliated.

The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, received a great deal of notoriety over the sexual trysts two of its ministers had with female church members over a period of several years. Their misconduct was subsequently repeated at other churches where they ministered.

And when their behavior was revealed, it was the women victims who were required to stand before the congregation and apologize and ask forgiveness for tempting the men, who invariably went unpunished and indeed, continued to receive near idol status from the congregation.

Likewise, group homes where abuse has been documented tend to receive devout support from area churches. Instead of asking those who run the homes to explain their behavior, their accusers are routinely treated as pariahs while the accused are welcomed as heroes at church rallies on their behalf.

Adherents to IFB dogma, for example, discourage intermarriage or even any contact with those of other religious beliefs, distrust government, favor home schooling, and believe that spankings should commence as early as 15 months of age.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Alexandra Zayas last year was allowed to do what the Advocate refused to do. She wrote a lengthy investigative series on claims of physical abuse at several group homes in Florida. http://www.tampabay.com/faccca/

Just as she found in Florida and as had been found earlier in Texas, Louisiana homes are unlicensed and unregulated by the state, thus allowing the operators free rein in the areas of discipline and education—so long as it is done in the name of religion.

The group homes employ the same textbooks that rely heavily on the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) and BJU (Bob Jones University) Press curricula—the same resources used by many of Louisiana’s voucher and charter schools being approved by the Louisiana Department of Education. The textbooks eschew traditional science and history courses, choosing instead to apply Old Testament interpretations in their teachings.

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Encaged walkway over public road discourages thoughts of escape while walking from one area of New Bethany to another.

Following their meeting with Sheriff Ballance, the women drove to New Bethany and attempted to confront Ford, who instead, refused to talk to them and walked away.

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Sign displaying times of services remains outside church 21 years after New Bethany’s closure.

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Clear message that visitors are no longer welcome at New Bethany Home for Girls or at New Bethany Baptist Church.

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And just in case one misses the sign…

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“(Redacted) then told Hoffman in front of the other three owners that if he ever disclosed the misconduct at the company, they would have him killed.”

—FBI interview notes from interview with former CNSI Vice President and Corporate Counsel Matthew Hoffman. Hoffman said the threat by CNSI owners occurred in early March of 2009.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal has this cool web page on which he is conscientious about posting the latest updates about all the wonderful things going on in Louisiana, thanks in large part to his diligent work on behalf of the state.

The web page, of course, has the requisite “donate” button on which to click to make contributions—ostensibly for his long-anticipated presidential campaign since his last run for governor was more than two years ago and he’s term limited from running again.

The web page is paid for by Friends of Bobby Jindal, Inc., AKA the Committee to Re-Elect Bobby Jindal, Inc. Records filed with the Secretary of State indicate the agent for the organization is David Woolridge of the law firm Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blanche, Balhoff, and McCollister. Officers include Alexandra “Allee” Bautsch, finance director (also Jindal’s campaign finance director), deputy finance director Erin Riecke, and Melvin Kendal.

Strangely enough, even though Friends of Bobby Jindal solicits contributions through the web page, there apparently have been no campaign finance reports filed with the Louisiana Ethics Commissions. All contributions and expenditures are listed in Jindal’s name individually and not in Friends of Bobby Jindal or the Committee to Re-Elect Bobby Jindal.

You can check out his page right here  http://www.bobbyjindal.com/ to see glowing reports on the following projects:

  • The South African energy company Sasol’s integrated gas-to-liquids and chemicals project n Louisiana was named Foreign Direct Investment Deal of the Year (no mention of how many jobs that would actually produce for the state).
  • Industrial Valve Production Co. Cortec will build a new distribution facility in Louisiana which will create a whopping 70 jobs.
  • A New York Post editorial has praised Jindal for his efforts to crack down on abuse in the state’s food stamp program (abuse, by the way, which pales in comparisons to the costs of that CNSI contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals, corporate tax breaks and legislators recently exposed for using campaign funds to pay for private vehicles, auto insurance, and LSU football tickets).

And while we certainly appreciate his dedication to keeping us informed, we can’t help but notice that he missed a couple of recent developments. And because we’re here to help, we are more than happy to fill in the blanks so that you, the reader, may remain informed about our state.

  • Speaking of CNSI, writer Michael Volpe penned an interesting story on Friday, Nov. 22 when he wrote that CNSI, one of the subcontractors working on the Obamacare website, is currently under investigation by the FBI in Louisiana and is currently embroiled in legal disputes over services provided to the states of South Dakota, Illinois and Michigan. Jindal’s former DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein was formerly employed by CNSI and it has been revealed that he was in constant contact with company officials in the days leading up to its selection for the $800 million contract. http://dailycaller.com/2013/11/22/subcontractor-working-on-obamacare-site-under-fbi-investigation/
  • While Mississippi was chosen as assembly sites for Airbus Aircraft and Nissan and Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai have built assembly plants in Alabama, the five facilities employing thousands (compared to 70 for Industrial Valve Production Co. Cortec), GM closed its Shreveport truck assembly plant.
  • For anyone who has ever wondered what the job of the Louisiana Attorney General is, consider this: the Evangeline Parish Police Jury, obviously with little to do about road maintenance in Evangeline, has asked the AG’s office for a legal opinion as to whether or not a rooster is a chicken (brings to mind the story about the child asking his mother if chickens are born. “No, chickens are hatched from an egg,” his mother said. “Was I hatched from an egg?” “No, you were born.” “Are eggs born?” “No, eggs are laid.” “Are people laid?” “Some are; others are chicken.”). State law, it seems, prohibits staging fights between “any bird which is of the species Gallus gallus. Proponents of cockfighting maintain their birds are of a species other than Gallus gallus and the AG has been asked to weigh in on the matter. (Sigh.).
  • That sink hole in Assumption Parish continues to expand with no indication from the fourth floor of the State Capitol that there is any concern on the part of the governor for the plight of all those displaced residents.
  • Our friend Don Whittinghill, who provided us the information on the auto assembly plants in Mississippi and Alabama, also provided another interest tidbit missing from Jindal’s web page: Last year, 91,215 people moved to Louisiana while 95,958 left for greener pastures—a net loss of 4,741 people. This could be related to Louisiana’s construction job growth of 8.3 percent compared to a 19.1 percent gain by Mississippi.
  • Louisiana is ranked as the seventh-worst governed state in the nation, according to the financial news site 24/7 Wall Street. The survey’s results are based on financial data, services provided by the state and residents’ standard of living. The state’s budget deficit of 25.1 percent was the fourth largest in the nation, ranking behind (in order) New Jersey (37.5 percent), Nevada (37 percent), and California (27.8 percent). The national average budget gap was 15.5 percent. The percentage of citizens living below the poverty line (19.9 percent) was third highest, surpassed only by Mississippi (24.2 percent) and New Mexico (20.8 percent), and the state’s median household income of $42,944 was eighth lowest in the nation. Moreover, nearly 500 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012 made Louisiana one of the most dangerous states in which to live.

So, Governor, we know you are a busy man, flitting all over the country to appear on CNN and Faux News, writing all those provocative op-eds in the Washington Post about how all the other Republicans (except you, of course) are a bunch of children whose hand you feel compelled to hold while leading them out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land.

We know you have all you can do in your efforts to climb from the bottom of the pile of potential GOP presidential contenders and that your sending Timmy Teepell to help get Neil Riser elected to Congress kind of blew up in your face—like that governor’s race in Virginia.

So, we want you to know, we’ve got your back.

We promise to keep a dutiful watch on your web blog and when we discover an omission in your superb coverage of all that’s good and wonderful in this state, we’ll be sure and jump in and fill the gap.

That’s the least we can do.

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“By filing this suit against nearly 100 companies, the SLFPA-E (Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East) has effectively taken on the role of the governor, the attorney general, the Department of Natural Resources and the CPRA (Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority) in determining the state’s policy on coastal issues.”

—Gov Bobby Jindal, in a news release issued the same day that SLFPA-E filed its lawsuit against 97 oil companies for damages to the state’s coastal area.

“What we’re doing is simple: We want to save Louisiana, at least part of it.”

—John Barry, former SLFPA-E Chairman, before being fired by Jindal.

“Dave Treen, a Republican, is the only Louisiana politician to take on Big Oil with his attempt to pass CWEL (Coastal Wetland Environmental Levy) and he was beaten on that.”

—Louisiana Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell (D-Elm Grove).

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“I think it’s fundamentally wrong. And I think that’s exactly the kind of behavior that undermines confidence of government in general and the Legislature in particular. That (a 1994 lawsuit) was something that was confected to add accountability and transparency to this legislative process after the scandals of the mid-1990s. And what we’re finding is that they had their fingers crossed.”

—Attorney Rafael Goyeneche, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, commenting on House Clerk Butch Speer’s refusal to release student applications for Tulane legislative scholarships.

 

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