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There are, unfortunately, times when we believe we have the full story….and don’t. When that occurs, incomplete information often becomes an incomplete—and unfair—story. Such is the case of our July 6 story (since removed) about a land dispute in Rapides Parish. Subsequent to the posting of that story, we have received considerable updated court filings that we were not given for our original story. The most significant of these, in our opinion, is an apparent court agreement between the disputing parties granting the Harrell family complete access to their property with the provision that the Harrells retain a surveyor to provide an accurate legal description of the access road to their property. For reasons known only to the Harrells, the surveyor was never employed.

A second factor concerned the scheduling of the trial “without notification” of the Harrells or their attorney. In fact, we later learned that their Baton Rouge attorney, who has subsequently been suspended by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s disciplinary board for refusing to return another client’s fee, was notified well in advance of the trial date but simply did not show up in court.

The other party to that dispute, Pineville attorney Wilbert Saucier, Jr., wrote the following response which we provide here in full. The references Mr. Saucier makes to the KKK were not ours, but were posted as comments to the original story. As requested by Mr. Saucier, the original story has been removed from our archives. We do not dodge our responsibility to our readers and a large part of that responsibility is a willingness to admit our errors.

Tom Aswell, Editor

Here is Mr. Saucier’s response:

Typically, I would ignore such a preposterous article as is the one you have written about me; however, given Mr. Robert Washington’s statement that he wants to hear my “opinion” on this matter, accompanied by the fact that I have been contacted by dozens of people wondering what in the world I had done, I felt it time to set the record straight. It is amazing to me that you and Mr. Washington would so maliciously misrepresent literally EVERY fact and finding involved in the two cases you referenced.

Dealing with the first case, that in which it was established conclusively that the Harrells were engaged in a pattern of disbursing trash in a manner to pollute my property, I would offer the following: the lawsuit, “Erris-Omega Plantation, Inc. vs. Henry Harrell, et al”, Civil Suit Number 99-404, Pineville City Court, Parish of Rapides, State of Louisiana, contains pleadings, evidence and documentation which fully supports my version of events, and destroys the fiction created by Mr. Washington. The truth, something with which you and Mr. Washington are clearly unfamiliar, or just too malicious to acknowledge, is that those Harrells whom were sued were found by overwhelming evidence to have caused damage to my property. The following explains.

In 1994, I acquired the Erris-Omega Plantation, a substantial piece of property which surrounds approximately 61 acres owned by the Harrell Family. Please note: at the time of my acquisition, my property AND the Harrell’s property were already gated and substantially fenced. Various gates were then relocated on my property, with a series of locks installed. Further, my gates were not the only ones through which the Harrells had to pass in order to access their property. The owners of the Harrell property were furnished keys to every gate allowing them complete and unfettered access to their property at no charge, with instructions to simply keep the gates closed and locked upon their ingress and egress. Mr. Washington and you fail to mention those factors.

The 61 acre Harrell property is bordered on Caney Bayou which flows through the Erris-Omega property for several miles. It became noticeable after every rain when the water in Caney Bayou rose, a new deposit of garbage and trash came onto the Erris-Omega property, coming directly from the Harrell property, where a garbage dump was maintained on the bank of Caney Bayou. I retained the services of attorneys Howard Gist, III and George Gaiennie to represent me in this matter. We brought suit against the heirs of Simon and Clara Harrell (19 heirs were named in the suit). This suit was first filed by my attorney in the 9th Judicial District Court, but when it was assigned to Judge Johnson’s division, my attorneys consulted with me about the then existing backlog in his docket and the amount of time it would have taken to adjudicate the issues. Based on their recommendation, the suit was dismissed from district court and re-filed in the Pineville City Court, a court of limited jurisdiction, i.e., a maximum of $15,000, at that time. I knew that I could have received more damages in district court, including from Judge Johnson, but I needed injunctive relief quickly to stop the Harrells from continuing to damage my property. A city court has a much quicker trial docket, and since the property was in Pineville, I was required to use Pineville City Court, in lieu of the Alexandria City Court.

After numerous depositions taken by the attorney for the Harrell family, this matter was scheduled for trial and was tried for 2 days, May 4, 2000, and June 7, 2000. During this trial, my attorney put on testimony from eleven (11) witnesses, seven (7) of which were eyewitnesses to the garbage/trash dump being maintained on the Harrrell property by the Harrell’s. Let me repeat that, seven (7) EYEWITNESSES to the dump! There was eyewitness testimony that Oscar K. Harrell, one of the owners, was conducting a garbage dump on the Harrell property and was seen hauling garbage in on an almost daily basis. There was eyewitness testimony from independent witnesses, a local farmer, and also a timber consultant/contractor who was on the property for a timber survey and harvesting of the Harrells timber. The timber consultant/contractor testified that, from February 1999 to April 1999, there was a significant build-up of garbage on the Harrell property, part of which was SEEN BY THEM and the other eyewitnesses to be transported onto the Erris-Omega property after each and every rain, by way of Caney Bayou. Notably, there was testimony from Mr. Henry Harrell, one of the owners, who ADMITTED to engaging in a clean up operation of the garbage dump on the Harrell property after the lawsuit was filed, with the help and assistance of other family members and friends. Please realize, THIS IS THE GARBAGE DUMP THAT MR. WASHINGTON SAYS NEVER EXISTED.

After the conclusion of the trial and submission of all of the evidence, including photographs, the proof was overwhelming and judgment was rendered in favor of Erris-Omega Plantation for damages in the amount of $15,000, plus costs of court, which included the costs of an expert witness. Importantly, this Judgment also included an injunction against the Harrell heirs: prohibiting them from trespassing on the Erris-Omega property (it had been a problem); enjoining them from depositing trash onto the Erris-Omega property, or onto their 61.67 acres in such a manner that it would migrate onto the Erris-Omega property; and enjoining them from harvesting deer or other wildlife from the Erris-Omega property, including along the levee and roadways located on and owned by Erris-Omega (again, it had been a problem). This Judgment specifically reserved the issue of access to the Harrell property, did not adjudicate same, and reserved all rights of the parties involved as it pertained to access issues. This Judgment can be found in the original suit record, and the detailed testimony of the witnesses is of record.

ANY judge, including Judge Donald Johnson, hearing the evidence of this case would have ruled the same as Judge Phillip Terrell ruled. Notably, any judge who, faced with the overwhelming evidence presented in this case, might have ruled differently, would have been summarily reversed by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal! It is important to note that, despite the complaints of Mr. Washington of the injustice and impropriety of the judgment, the Harrells decided to pay the damages rather than appeal the case to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal. If it was such a travesty, surely they would have had it reversed on appeal, right? Of course not! They were doing wrong, they got caught, they knew it, and they paid the judgment, rather than take what they and their lawyer knew would be a losing appeal. Then, in typical “we’re above the law” fashion that they seem to exhibit, the Harrells attempted to have the ENTIRETY of the Judgment dismissed by paying just the money portion. Remember, the judgment had an injunction against the Harrells to stop the bad acts, so the whole judgment should not have been cancelled. They filed a suit in district court (Civil Suit No. 202628) which was, as Mr. Washington noted, assigned to Judge Johnson. Please feel free to look at the judgment in that suit, because Judge Johnson ruled, as he should have, in MY FAVOR, holding that the cancellation of the judgment was to be a PARTIAL cancellation, only of the money portion, as opposed to the total cancellation which the Harrells sought. That ruling by Judge Johnson was inherently correct, and Mr. Washington’s assertion that Judge Johnson thought there was something untoward about the judgment is, as most of his outrageous assertions, incorrect, preposterous, and malicious. You may be interested to know that the judgment, with its injunctive relief, remains in full force, even today. The cancellation is related only to the money portion. (See: 9th Judicial District Court, Clerk of Court’s Mortgage records, document number 1144725, Mortgage Book 1660, page 0032).

The next case is civil suit number 222,091 filed with the 9th Judicial District Court entitled “Succession of Simon Harrell and Succession of Clara Harrell versus Erris-Omega Plantation, Inc. and Wilbert J. Saucier, Jr. filed in 2005.” IN THIS CASE, THE HARRELL FAMILY FILED SUIT AGAINST ME (just opposite of what you reported). Once again, the records will show that, for years prior to Erris-Omega purchasing the surrounding property, the Harrell’s had to pass through locked gates to get to their property. When I purchased the property in 1994, the locations of the gates were changed and the Harrell’s were given keys to all gates I installed at no charge, they were simply instructed to close and lock my gates on ingress and egress. ALL FENCE AND GATES CONSTRUCTED BY ME WERE BUILT ON THE ERRIS-OMEGA PROPERTY AND NOT ON THE HARRELL PROPERTY. AT NO TIME WERE THE HARRELL’S EVER LOCKED OUT OR FENCED OUT OF THEIR PROPERTY AND AT NO TIME HAD THE HARRELL’S EVER OBTAINED A RIGHT OF WAY ACROSS MY PROPERTY, or any of the other private property they crossed. On September 15, 2005, the Harrell’s chose to file this civil suit against me claiming that they had a right of way and saying that they also wanted injunctions which would make me keep my gates open and essentially asking that the fences on my property which belong to me be taken down. After the suit was answered, the matter proceeded on to trial and in Pre-Trial discussion it was made clear to the Harrell’s and to their attorney, Mr. Gerard Torry, that the Harrell’s had absolutely no right to request that my gates and fence be taken down or left open, leaving essentially the only issue of whether or not the Harrell’s should be granted a right of way across my property. The court record will reflect that I willingly entered into a Stipulation where I agreed to voluntarily grant a right of way to the Harrell’s in the form of a perpetual servitude across my property to theirs, once same was identified by survey as to the exact boundaries that it would cover. The Harrell’s stipulated that they would contract for and pay for the survey. The amount they were to pay for the right of way (which they did not have before and which is done in virtually all servitudes) was to be determined by the court at a later time. (ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPLICABLE LOUISIANA LAW). The Harrell’s through their attorney, Gerard Torry of Baton Rouge, entered into this Stipulation in open court, agreeing to be bound by the agreement. This Stipulation would have ended the matter at that time and would have granted to the Harrell’s perpetual access to their property, with only the court determination of the compensation remaining.

The Harrell’s, when presented with the written documents establishing the right of way agreement, changed their minds and refused to follow through with their agreement which had been stipulated to in open court. At this point, the matter proceeded on to trial. (REMEMBER IT WAS THE HARRELL’S WHO FILED THIS SUIT AND THE HARRELL’S WHO REFUSED TO HONOR THE AGREEMENT WHICH WAS STIPULATED TO IN THE RECORD!) A trial date was selected by the court and on the eve of the trial, Mr. Gerard Torry filed an Ex Parte Motion for Continuance. (THERE IS NO PROVISION IN LOUISIANA LAW WHICH ALLOWS AN ATTORNEY TO FILE AND JUST ASSUME THAT HIS EX PARTE CONTINUANCE WILL BE GRANTED. MOTIONS FOR CONTINUANCES HAVE TO BE TRIED CONTRADICTORILY WITH BOTH SIDES BEING HEARD, THEN THE COURT DECIDES WHETHER A CONTINUANCE IS GRANTED OR DENIED.) Mr. Torry then failed and refused to appear in court either for the continuance argument or for trial. Not only did Mr. Torry refuse to appear, but the entire Harrell family refused to appear. This matter proceeded to trial as scheduled and the action brought by the Harrell’s was dismissed, with prejudice (for all time). The court records show that not only was Attorney Torry notified of the trial date, but he moved to continue the trial and it was by his own actions of not following up and arguing his position for continuance that caused the dismissal. This matter has been appealed by the Harrell’s to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal and to the Louisiana Supreme Court, both of which ruled in accord with law that the Harrell’s were wrong, and the Judgment is now final. To suggest that I am in cahoots with either the District Court Judge, the Court of Appeal, or the Supreme Court, is utterly ridiculous, but seems to be your thought process and that of Mr. Robert Washington. Your article talks about a “Federal Land and Conveyance Law Reform Act”, which you say went into effect December 1, 2009 and you provide a link to the law which, unlike most of your readers, I accessed. You suggested that this law implicated Judge Randow and me as conspiring on the timing of the judgment. The law you refer to regarding servitudes is a law established in the country of IRELAND! Do you honestly think that Ireland’s law is applicable in Rapides Parish? Further, do you think that I’m in collusion with Judges all the way to the Supreme Court based on Irish law. You sir, apparently have not checked any of the facts. I would at this time request that you disclose the source of your information upon which you relied in printing this libelous blog which you have served to spread all over the state. To write that the Harrell’s enjoyed an unrestricted right of way for some 80 years is preposterous. There were always gates and fences, JUST AS THE HARRELL’S HAVE ON THEIR PROPERTY!

Since the rendition of the previous judgment and the denial of supervisory writs by the Louisiana Supreme court which makes the judgment final, Robert Washington, the man you identified as being the spokesman for the Harrell family, personally filed a claim in April of this year saying that by virtue of Article 742 he and his family were entitled to a servitude of right of way. This claim has been summarily dismissed as it has already been fully litigated between the parties. I might add, it was litigated after being raised by the Harrell’s themselves, who refused to accept the stipulated right of way and then refused to appear in court on the trial of their own suit. The Harrell’s have no quarrel here with the legal system. If they feel that they have been misrepresented in any fashion, they need to look elsewhere than the judges and me. The Harrells through their own arrogance have defiantly and proverbially “cut off their noses to spite their faces” and instead of living up to their agreement in the stipulation, they chose to ignore the facts and the law, resulting in a loss of their rights. The Harrell family still owns its 61.67 acres, and neither I nor Erris-Omega Plantation have obtained any rights to this property. TO REFER TO THIS MATTER AS A “LAND GRAB” AS YOU HAVE IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE. I have never set foot on the Harrell property. The Harrell’s still have all of the rights that pertain to any landowner as it concerns their 61.67 acres; however, by their own actions, they have precluded themselves from entering onto Erris-Omega property (MY PROPERTY). Further, for Mr. Washington now to make scandalous allegations comparing me and the attorneys who represented me and the Judges involved in both of these cases as “The KKK” is not only slanderous but now libelous and carries with it consequences. By printing Mr. Robert Washington’s assertions that Judge Phillip Terrell or Judge Harry Randow or I did anything wrong or illegal or that any of us are associated with the KKK (I ASSUME HE MEANS THE KU KLUX KLAN) simply illustrates this man’s own bigotry and racism. You, Mr. Robert Washington, and all that have continued to further this ridiculous lying version of these two cases, owe Judge Randow and Judge Phillip Terrell an apology. You, Mr. Aswell, also owe all of us not only an apology, but the obligation of publishing this response and sending it to every link that picked up your “Land Grab” article. Additionally, once we have been given equal internet/air time, you should immediately take the entirety of the matter off of your blog site.

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Someone (and we are not pointing fingers at anyone—yet) has attempted to plant a computer virus on the LouisianaVoice web page which, once you log onto our site, first gives you a virus message, locks you out of the site and then gives you a message that the site cannot be found whenever you attempt to log back on.

We first got the warning from one of our readers earlier today and when we tried to log on a couple of hours later, we got a virus warning. Once we closed the page, we found that we were unable to log back on and we received the “site not found” message.

We solved the problem by re-booting (logging off our computer and then logging back on) and found that the problem was solved.

Should you experience the same problem, simply re-boot your computer and you should be able to access LouisianaVoice without any further problems.

As we said, we are not pointing fingers at anyone, but we will say this much:

Last year, when we were writing a series of stories about the shenanigans of Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Director Troy Hebert, we were told by one of his agents that Hebert had boasted that it would be a simple matter for him to have his IT people to hack into our computer.

We made a direct email inquiry of Hebert as to the veracity of that report. More than a year later, we are still awaiting his response.

Again, we’re not point fingers. We’re just saying….

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“Hopefully the board can—or someone will—challenge the constitutionality of the rogue amendment.”

—State Rep. Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell), chairman of the House Retirement Committee, commenting on the amendment to SB 294 which added $30,000 per year to the retirement income of State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.

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The response to our first-ever fundraiser has been wonderful. The readers who have responded have done so generously and there is simply no way to adequately express my heart-felt appreciation.

As good as the response has been, however, I still need additional funding to accomplish all my goals. I constantly get tips and information on stories that need to be written and the stack is growing. Without additional writers, there simply is no way to get to everything that needs to be covered. And as you probably know, my goal when I launched LouisianaVoice was to keep my readers informed about the stories that don’t get reported.

I simply refuse to take a press release and run it without examining the story completely. I was taught by my grandfather to question authority. By that he did not mean to break laws or defy convention. He meant to never accept what people said without examining the motivations for their saying it. He also taught me not to listen to what politicians say but rather to what they do not say. That is the legacy by which I want LouisianaVoice to be known.

Please, if you have not already done so, help us to continue our coverage and to bring you even more revealing stories about your state government, the money that runs it and the lengths to which office holders will go to obtain financial rewards—be it campaign contributions from or jobs with special interests.

You may contribute by credit card by clicking on “Donate” at the right hand side of our page http://louisianavoice.com/ or you pay by check to:

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Only two more days remain in our first ever fundraiser. We have been working free of charge for more than three years to bring you the stories behind the stories of Louisiana political corruption, misappropriation of public funds, waste of taxpayer dollars, abuse by public officials and the undue influence of money on politics that no one else has provided.

Our work involves extensive requests for public information, researching thousands of pages of documents and frequent travel hundreds of miles to places like Shreveport, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Monroe and New Orleans in our endless pursuit of facts that are important to Louisiana’s citizens.

We deeply appreciate the generous contributions of those who have responded. For those who still have not, please consider what you can afford to do to help us—whether it’s $5, $50 or $500. We don’t accept advertising because we insist on being independent. Neither do we charge a subscription fee because we want LouisianaVoice to be available to everyone. Nor do we receive grants or any other type of funding. We depend solely on our readers’ generosity.

Just click on the “Donate” button at the right below. (Hint: you cannot access the “Donate” button via your email copy of this post. You must go to our web page at http://louisianavoice.com/ to do so.

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Whether or not you can afford to help, please know we deeply appreciate your loyal readership and your moral support.

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Another national ranking and yet another smack-down for Louisiana but this time there are underlying political reasons for the state’s poor showing.

A report by 24/7 Wall Street shows that Louisiana is the ninth-worst state in which to be unemployed despite the state’s 10th lowest unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. (Mississippi, as it does in virtually every such ranking, is the worst in the nation, lending credence to Louisiana’s unofficial state motto: At least we’re not Mississippi.)

http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/06/24/the-best-and-worst-states-to-be-unemployed/

Of the worst 10 states in which to receive unemployment benefits, seven are in the South. Besides Louisiana and Mississippi, the worst 10 include Tennessee (10th worst), Georgia (8th), Virginia (7th), Arizona (6th), Illinois (5th), Kentucky (4th), Michigan (3rd), and Alabama (2nd worst).

And for those who believe those drawing unemployment are just lazy deadbeats, as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and a lot of politicians would have us all believe, consider this: only 24.3 percent of weekly wages are covered by Louisiana unemployment benefits, second lowest percentage in the nation.

And just so you know, when Gov. Bobby Jindal traipses all over the country speaking at select venues and appearing on carefully chosen television talk news shows to boast about Louisiana’s soaring economic growth, it’s interesting to note that the state’s one-year job growth of .7 percent, 11th lowest in the nation, tends to cast doubt on the governor’s self-serving claims of prosperity, happiness and security among Louisiana’s workers.

Another key point Jindal conveniently overlooks, omits, or simply conceals from the public is the fact that only 20 percent of the state’s unemployed are even receiving benefits, tied for seventh-lowest in the U.S. To help Jindal overcome his apparent weakness at math, that leaves 80 percent of the state’s unemployed with no benefits.

And if you believe the state’s treatment of the unemployed is shabby, let’s consider how that policy dovetails with the consideration given injured workers who dare apply for worker’s compensation. The two programs are heavily stacked against workers who are laid off or hurt.

And why is that? Well, during the 2013 legislative session, House Bill 303 by Rep. Herbert Dixon (D-Alexandria, more appropriately, DINO-Alexandria) was approved 94-11 in the House and 38-0 in the Senate and subsequently signed into law by Jindal as Act 39.

That bill made it considerably more difficult for applicants to appeal denials of their applications for unemployment benefits by squeezing the time frame in favor of employers.

The previous law required that notices be sent by certified mail and the applicant was given 15 days from receipt of the notice to file an appeal.

HB 303 changed the notification method by deleting the certified mail requirement and started the 15-day clock on the day the notice was mailed or electronically transmitted. The bill further shortened the time for the appeal tribunal to mail a “notice to appear for a hearing” from 10 days to seven.

This year, HB 819 (which thankfully, failed to make it out of committee) was a particularly ominous bill from the standpoint of workers who are laid off.

That bill, by Rep. Joseph Lopinto (R-Metairie), would have presumed that if an employer “discharges and employee and then replaces the employee quickly, the employee was discharged with cause,” and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits.

That’s pretty heavy-handed even for the most ardent opponent of employee rights.

And while there are the periodic legislative attempts to weaken unions, dilute workers compensation laws and curtail unemployment benefits, most of the more subtle, under-the-radar efforts come in through the back door, seldom detected by those affected until it’s too late.

Take, for example, the March 5, 2013, order of Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) director and chief judge (at the request of OWC’s bill review company Qmedtrix of Portland, Oregon) which transferred 45 pending cases then split between two workers’ compensation judges in the Lake Charles District to Judge Shelly Dick.

Judge Dick was appointed ad hoc workers’ compensation judge in 2008 by then OWC Director Chris Broadwater (now a state representative and Vice Chairman of the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee) and whose name will crop up again and again.

On the face of the order, the order carried no special significance—until one began to peel back the layers that revealed:

  • Judge Dick had already been nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for a federal judgeship. In other words, the order would transfer the 45 cases to a judge that OWC knew full well would be leaving in short order.
  • OWC made it clear at the time that an ad hoc judge would hear the cases whenever Judge Dick moved to the federal bench and the only person mentioned at the time was attorney Amanda Clark, the former law partner of then-OWC Director Chris Broadwater.
  • The OWC order also transferred cases to the law firm of (ahem) Forrester & Dick (yes, the firm in which Shelly Dick was a partner), even though the law firm represented clients who were defendants in some of the 45 cases.
  • Neither of the two judges to whom the 45 cases were originally assigned issued or signed the transfer order.
  • Broadwater resigned as OWC director in 2010 and returned to the law firm of Forrester & Dick.
  • In 2011, Broadwater was elected to the Louisiana House and in 2012, resigned from Forrester & Dick whereupon he was retained by Qmedtrix to assist in the defense of its Louisiana cases involving Qmedtrix’s re-pricing of workers’ compensation outpatient bills based on “usual and customary” charge reductions.
  • By November of 2012, rumors began to surface that Qmedtrix and Broadwater were meeting with Broadwater’s successor, OWC Director Wes Hataway in an effort to get the cases stayed or funneled to a more favorable judge. Broadwater would admit (on his state ethics disclosure forms, no less) that the meetings did, in fact, occur: “Met with Director of OWC discussing process of resolving disputes over medical billing.” Altogether, Broadwater admitted to meeting with Hataway “three or four times” in person and speaking with him “10 or 15 times” on the phone—all while billing Qmedtrix $275 per hour.

Such meetings are known in the legal realm as “ex parte” meetings, a Latin term meaning done by, or on the application of one party alone.

And though Clark ultimately was never appointed to ad hoc judge, while she was still under consideration for that post, she attended a trial in Lafayette in January of 2013 presided over by Dick, her law partner. That case involved unpaid medical bills for physician-dispensed prescriptions and the defendant was LUBA Workers’ Comp.

In other words, LUBA’s case was tried by a judge whose law firm had been hired by LUBA but neither the court, Clark, nor LUBA disclosed Forrester& Dick’s representation at the trial.

“The Amanda Clark-LUBA connection is troubling,” said attorneys for plaintiff Christus Health Southwest Louisiana, because Christus Health’s legal counsel currently had pending more than 50 provider claims involving LUBA, and “LUBA, like Mr. Broadwater (who also represented LUBA) apparently believes it is entitled to engage in improper ex parte communications with the OWC director in relation to pending cases.”

Broadwater testified by deposition that Hataway, on Nov. 21, 2012, even sought his opinion as to whether the Hataway has the authority to stay the “usual and customary” cases and Broadwater advised him that he could. That meeting took place in Hataway’s office, according to court documents. Also present besides Broadwater, who attended on behalf of Qmedtrix, was Doug Cochran of the Stone Pigman law firm (Qmedtrix’s attorney), and representatives of Qmedtrix who attended by telephone.

Following that meeting, Cochran wrote Hataway a “Dear Wes” letter on Nov. 28 in which he outlined “the most efficient manner to proceed,” which included an order staying all claims procedures and having all the cases heard by a single judge. “Once these matters are stayed, we look forward to mediation,” Cochran said.

Mediation after claimants had all their cases stayed with no ability to more their claims forward would be of decided advantage to Qmedtrix.

Cochran’s letter continued: “Once the cases (past and future) have all be docketed with a single judge, the next step is to provide him/her the proper tools to resolve the cases at the mean of usual and customary.”

This meant that not only would the cases be transferred to a single judge as requested, but Qmedtrix also was suggesting that Hataway actually instruct the OWC hand-picked judge what evidence to consider and how to rule.

“We look forward to the stay being issued at the earliest opportunity so that the dockets of the OWC courts can be cleared of the UC (usual and customary) issue. Matters such as these UC cases are more adequately handled by experts rather than after contrary court opinions,” the Cochran letter said.

“Qmedtrix takes the position that medical provider claimants should have their underpayment claims decided by Wes Hataway and Qmedtrix rather than the court system,” Christus Health said.

Broadwater, in his deposition admitted that he was aware that his client Qmedtrix was involved in the usual and customary litigation before OWC at the time the ex parte discussions took place.

“A search of the entire Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act and the OWC Hearing Officer Rules reveals that there is no legal authority for the OWC director to either stay or transfer pending workers’ compensation claims,” Christus claims, adding that state statute, “which is the only statute addressing the transfer of OWC cases, makes it clear that the workers’ compensation judge (not the director) may transfer cases with the consent of the parties.”

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The first ever LouisianaVoice fundraiser has only three days to go and to those who have contributed either by PayPal or by personal check, we are deeply humbled by and grateful for the enthusiastic response. We have almost reached our goal and with your help, we can make it. Please help support us in our effort to give you the stories behind the stories.

We at LouisianaVoice attempt to illustrate how events and people are interconnected by money and power. You won’t find that in any other news reports on Louisiana politics. Most issues in state politics can be traced directly to campaign contributions or the influence that money buys—and that’s what we try to bring to you through our research and reporting.

Your contribution can go a long way in assisting us in our efforts to shine the glaring light of true transparency on the actions of our elected officials.

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In more than three years of reporting stories state politicians would rather not see reported, we are currently conducting our very first fundraising campaign to defray expenses and hopefully, pay for an additional reporter or two. If you like stories like the one below, don’t forget to click on the “Donate” button below, at right.

For those experiencing problems with the donate button, our address is:

107 North College West

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Checks should be made payable to Capital News Service/LouisianaVoice.

Thanks to each of you for your continued support.

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It has been nearly four years and more than one million words since the inception of LouisianaVoice and today we have readers in every state. We constantly receive information and tips from readers that often lead to groundbreaking stories about backroom deals in state government that affect our lives on a daily basis.

Along the way, the Washington Post named LouisianaVoice as one of only two Louisiana-based blogs among the top 100 state political blogs in the nation (Bob Mann’s Something Like the Truth was the other). We hope that our stories have helped keep some of our political leaders in check but if not, we hope just as fervently that we have shown a bright light on their activities.

Unfortunately, while the growing number of tips has expanded our coverage, it also has increased our operational costs substantially.

And because we don’t charge a subscription fee or accept cheesy advertising that offers secret cancer cures, methods in which to cut gasoline bills or high blood pressure breakthroughs, we have only one other source of revenue: your donations.

We have been reluctant to ask for donations from our readers, but we have reached a point that we need to add at least one, perhaps two additional reporters to keep up with the abundance of stories about what your elected and appointed officials do behind closed doors.

If you like the service we provide and would like to see our reporting on an expanded basis, please click on the “Donate” button on the right and contribute whatever amount you would like either by PayPal or credit card.

If you prefer, you may pay by check, of course. Please make checks payable to Capital News Service/LouisianaVoice. Our address is:

107 North College West

Denham Springs, LA. 70726

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When LouisianaVoice broke the story about the stealth agreement between the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. whereby DOE would provide News Corp. with personal information on Louisiana’s public school students for use by a company affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the resulting firestorm resulted in cancellation of the agreement.

Or did it?

Remember, too, that it was Murdoch who, in 2010, speaking of the enormous business opportunity in public education awaiting corporate America, said, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S.”

In June of 2012, Erin Bendily, assistant deputy superintendent for departmental support and former education policy adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal emailed Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White:

“I think we need to start with a very strong introduction and embed more CCSS (Common Core State Standards) alignment/integration throughout. This sounds harsh, but we should show that our current/old educator evaluation system is crap and the new system is stellar.”

Common Core, passed by the Legislature, was vetoed last Friday by Jindal who, like John Kerry and the $87 billion supplemental appropriation for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002, was for it before he was against it, but the controversy continues. Remember, it was our old friend Dave “Lefty” Lefkowith, that super commuter who flies back and forth between Baton Rouge and his Los Angeles home on a weekly basis, who first advised White to “forget” about communicating with the media or public about departmental plans to launch DOE’s Course Choice program in March 2013.

On Jan. 2, 2013, White emailed Lefkowith at 6:19 p.m., asking, “How we doing on communications? We have a huge launch in two months.”

“We just decided amongst ourselves: ‘Forget it,’” Lefkowith responded at 7:20 p.m. “Problem with that?”

“Fair,” White responded one minute later.

But at 6:53 p.m., 34 minutes after White’s email to Lefkowith and 27 minutes before Lefkowith’s response, White emailed Ken Bradford, assistant superintendent for the department’s Office of Content: “Okay. Time to start the blitz, as we roll up to launch.”

It was, however, the spate of emails scattered throughout the 119 pages of documents referencing the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), a project of the Gates Foundation that provided the link between the department and Murdoch and his News Corp. operation. Those emails confirmed the department’s intent to enter sensitive student and teacher information into a massive electronic data bank being built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corp.

“Over the next few months, the Gates Foundation plans to turn over all this personal data to another, as yet unnamed corporation, headed by Iwan Streichenberger, former marketing director of a(n) (Atlanta) company called Promethean that sells whiteboard,” according to a news release by Class Size Matters, http://www.classsizematters.org/ a non-profit organization that advocates for class size reduction of New York City’s public schools.

It was that revelation that should cause Louisiana citizens in general and parents of school children in particular the most cause for alarm.

Class Size Matters in January of 2013 released a copy of a 68-page contract between SLC and the New York State Educational Department which said in part that there would be no guarantee that data would not be susceptible to intrusion or hacking, though “reasonable and appropriate measures” would be taken to protect information.

Remember that “reasonable and appropriate measures” claim. It comes into play later.

The Gates contract also allows for the unrestricted subcontracting of duties and obligations covered under the agreement.

Remembers Gates as well; it, too, becomes important momentarily.

Fast forward to March of this year.

“The Louisiana Department of Education, in partnership with 15 other states, conducted the first phase of the PARCC Field Test March 24-April 11,” came the boast from DOE.

“More than 24,000 students in grades 3-8 successfully completed the Field Test: 24,415 students across 76 Local Education Agencies (LEA) participated in the Field Test, many of whom practiced for the Field Test’s look and feel by using the tutorial and sample test questions published by the Department,” DOE said. “All students who participated in the Field Test had the opportunity to experience the new technology features of the assessment, and many reported that the new features were engaging and easy to use, which enabled them to more easily complete the assessment.”

But a report in the Arizona Daily Independent on Monday by Brad McQueen, a former Common Core insider and currently a public school teacher in Tucson and author of The Cult of Common Core, offered some disturbing revelations about the field test.

http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/06/16/parcc-field-tests-had-major-data-security-flaws-and-of-course-they-knew-all-about-it/

McQueen said PARCC, the Common Core testing company, “knew it had major data security flaws in its computer-based field tests, administered by Pearson Testing this past spring…but they went ahead with the field test anyway.”

He cited an email from PARCC to all PARCC states on March 12 that said:

“The down time between when students are exited from the secure test mode in TestNav (the online test platform) and when the proctor resumes the testing leaves a gap that is a security risk.”

http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2Internet-Explorer-Accelerator-Issue-with-TestNav-8.pdf

There were also flaws external to the PARCC computerized test that posed additional threats to student data security when using certain versions of Internet Explorer with the Accelerator feature, he wrote:

Common applications like anti-virus updating, screensavers, pop-up blockers, or the computers accessing other programs had the capacity to exit the student from the test, thereby exposing them to data security risks until they were manually logged back onto the test by the test administrator.

“Sounds like there were loads of ways for your kids’ data security to be breached during the PARCC field test, huh?” he wrote. But PARCC, Pearson and state departments of education, instead of delaying or cancelling the field tests in order to correct the flaws, stayed on schedule, keeping the security flaws a secret.

In other words, choosing profits over security.

DOE currently has a $1.2 million contract with Pearson that calls for the company to “provide authorized testing center licensure for each public high school in (the) state of Louisiana that is part of the statewide Microsoft IT Academy.”

Now, let’s return to Gates and those “reasonable and appropriate measures.”

Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for London’s Guardian newspaper, has a new book entitled No Place to Hide. The book is about Edward Snowden and his leak to Greenwald about the National Security Agency’s widespread, almost universal, indiscriminate spying on Americans as well as foreigners whether or not they posed a threat to U.S. security.

CLICK ON IMAGE

Among those thousands upon thousands of pages of leaked documents were several emails that revealed Microsoft’s complicity in the NSA’s hacking into our telephone, email and other electronic communications.

In late 2011, Microsoft purchased Skype, the internet-based telephone and chat service, assuring us at the time that “Skype is committed to respecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal data, traffic, and communications content.”

The perception, however, was far different than the reality; NSA, it turned out, was given carte blanche access to Skype data as an NSA email proudly proclaimed on March 4, 2013:

“SSO (Special Source Operations, a division of the NSA) expects to receive buddy lists, credit card info, call data records, user account info, and other material.”

Another Snowden-leaked NSA email, dated Dec. 26, 2012, said, in part:

“MS (Microsoft), working with the FBI, developed a surveillance capability to deal with the new SSL (one of the most common Internet cryptographic protocols designed to protect hacking). These solutions were successfully tested and went live 12 Dec. 2012.”

Still another document, Greenwald wrote, “describes further collaboration between Microsoft and the FBI, as that agency also sought to ensure that new Outlook features did not interfere with its surveillance habits. ‘The FBI Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU—just the name sounds intimidating and ominous) team is working with Microsoft to understand an additional feature in Outlook.com which allows users to create email aliases, which may affect our tasking process…There are compartmented and other activities underway to mitigate these problems.’”

If that is not sufficiently chilling to cast extreme doubt on data sharing, PARCC, and any other such proposals being put forward by Microsoft, InBloom, former New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein, News Corp. and any other individual or entity that wishes to profiteer off public education, then you are part of the problem.

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