Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It’s that time again and LouisianaVoice is requesting your help in this our second fund drive of the year.

In its six-plus years of existence, LouisianaVoice has broken many stories and has also been there to explain and expand other stories so that you, the reader, may have a better grasp of the hows and whys of state politics. By examining the inter-relationship between policy and politics, I feel LouisianaVoice has shone a light on official misconduct that has revealed:

  • The strong connections between campaign contributions and political appointments and contracts;
  • How an official “investigation” can be quietly thwarted simply by the selection of the person charged with conducting the investigation;
  • How campaign contributions to the right people by certain interests pay huge dividends;
  • How elected officials make generous use of campaign funds for non-campaign purposes;

https://louisianavoice.com/category/lsu/page/2/;

  • How elected officials parlay their positions into lucrative private sector gains;
  • How those who take oaths to protect the interest of Louisiana citizens don’t always remain true to those oaths.

LouisianaVoice peels off the outer layers of state and local government to reveal the sordid underbelly of political wheeling and dealing the mainstream media seldom, if ever, reports.

LouisianaVoice was there first with numerous major stories:

  • There was the story of how State Sen. Neil Riser (currently a candidate for State Treasurer) slipped an amendment onto an otherwise benign bill in the waning minutes of the 2014 legislative session that would have given State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson an addition $100,000 per year in retirement benefits. The bill would have allowed Edmonson to revoke his so-called “irrevocable” action of locking in his retirement several years earlier. It would not have given that same opportunity to thousands of other state employees who had also signed up for the unique Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP). Because of our story (the result of an anonymous tip), the courts ruled Edmonson was not eligible for the special treatment.

Numerous other stories about Edmonson’s loosely-run Louisiana State Police (LSP) appeared on this site and this site only, including stories of troopers who had been fined for sneaking an underaged woman into a Mississippi casino and subsequently promoted; a trooper who was hooked on prescription drugs and using them while on duty and was subsequently promoted; a trooper who engaged in sexual activity in his patrol car and received only token punishment, and of a trooper who repeatedly was asleep in his bed when he was supposed to be on patrol.

Those stories were capped with the infamous San Diego trip by 17 state troopers to see Edmonson win a national award. Four of those troopers went by car and took a side trip to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and to Las Vegas. Only after that story broke did Gov. Edwards finally step in to force Edmonson’s retirement.

  • LouisianaVoice broke the story of how Troy Hebert used his position as head of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) to coerce a restaurant manager in New Orleans to have sex with him in exchange for his granting her restaurant a liquor license.
  • LouisianaVoice broke the story that revealed that Superintendent of Education John White had entered into a surreptitious agreement with Rupert Murdoch to provide personal student information to Murdoch’s company, News Corp., the parent company of Fox News.

https://louisianavoice.com/2013/02/20/doe-emails-reveal-secretive-programs-ties-to-gates-rupert-murdoch-and-fox-news-network-agency-in-general-disarray/

  • We also broke stories that illustrated how State Sen. Conrad Appel profited by investing in a Microsoft program just as his committee approved the program for use in Louisiana schools and we showed how State Rep. Chris Broadwater who previously oversaw the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) went to work for SAS, a consulting firm within weeks of his office’s awarding a $4.2 million contract to the firm.

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/01/08/legislator-former-owc-director-took-job-with-firm-within-weeks-after-his-office-awarded-company-4-million-contract/

  • We wrote about how former Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, skating perilously close to violation of the state’s ethics laws, took a job with Ochsner Health System after the Division of Administration under her watch signed a contract that contained, among other things, including 50 blank pages, provisions for Ochsner to assist Southern Regional Medical Corp., whose only member is Terrebonne General Medical Center, in the operation of Leonard Chabert Medical Center.

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/09/17/more-on-kristys-new-job-it-seems-ochsner-gets-17-6-million-for-running-chabert-hospital/

  • Only LouisianaVoice published a complete list of oil and gas contributions to each legislator that showed precisely why legislators were reluctant to pursue litigation against oil companies for destroying our marshes and coastal waterways.
  • And of course, LouisianaVoice wrote extensively about how Bobby Jindal attempted to railroad former ATC Director Murphy Painter because Painter refused to circumvent state requirements in order to issue a liquor permit for Tom Benson’s Champion Square. Jindal not only fired Painter, but even went so far as to trump up criminal charges against Painter, who was acquitted after a federal trial.

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/10/24/another-embarrassment-for-jindal-ex-atc-commissioner-murphy-painter-wins-defamation-suit-against-his-accuser/

  • LouisianaVoice was the first—and only—outlet to suggest that Painter was being framed by Jindal.

https://louisianavoice.com/2013/02/06/emerging-claims-lawsuits-could-transform-murphy-painter-from-predator-to-all-too-familiar-victim-of-jindal-reprisals/

LouisianaVoice does not accept advertising for obvious reasons (though I have noticed that WordPress has of late begun slipping ads in at the bottom of my stories—against my wishes and certainly not to my financial gain).

Our only alternative is to charge a monthly or yearly subscription fee, which I am holding off doing as long as possible because I want LouisianaVoice stories to be available to anyone who wishes to read them.

Only through your generous support can I continue to do what I do. What started initially as a blog devoted solely to news about state agencies, has mushroomed into requests to investigate local government, including courts, judges, school boards, sheriffs’ offices and even cold case murders.

I sincerely attempt to look into all requests (except matters involving family disputes; I leave that to the family courts). This takes time and money. I am encountering more and more resistance to my requests for public records which in turn, is going to require legal action. That costs money.

Out of town trips are not free and gasoline is not cheap.

Your financial support is the only thing that keeps LouisianaVoice churning out stories about official wrongdoing.

Our goal is $20,000.

You can give by credit card by clicking on the yellow “Donate” button at the right or you can mail your contribution to:

LouisianaVoice

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, LA. 70727

If you value freedom of the press and if you appreciate what we do, please help keep the stories coming.

And please forward this post on Facebook.

Thank you.

Tom Aswell, publisher

Advertisements

The Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) and its legal counsel, Floyd Falcon, went to great lengths last year to inform the general public and the media that LSTA was not a public entity and had no official affiliation with Louisiana State Police (LSP).

The issue of separation was invoked on several occasions not only by LSTA and Falcon but by Natchitoches attorney Taylor Townsend, retained by the Louisiana State Police Commission LSPC to investigate illegal campaign contributions by LSTA.

That position was taken in an effort to thwart an investigation by Townsend of the contributions. It worked. Townsend, in his report back to LSPC recommended that “no action be taken.”

LSTA, LSPC, Falcon and Townsend repeatedly said LSPC had no jurisdiction to investigate LSTA, a private, non-profit organization, because it was not affiliated with LSP and that there was no connection between state police and the association other than association members were active and retired State Troopers.

But when four retired troopers appeared before LSPC (the state police equivalent of the State Civil Service Board) to complain about the political contributions (including $10,000 each to Bobby Jindal and John Bel Edwards in their respective campaigns for governor), they were promptly drummed out of the association on the recommendation of the Troop A (Baton Rouge headquarters) affiliate chapter of LSTA.

But wait.

At least two of the retirees (Leon “Bucky” Millet of Lake Arthur, one of the original four retirees to complain of the contributions and another retiree we shall call Lawrence because he prefers that his name not be revealed because he is still an LSTA member, last week received an invitation to attend a “Retiree BBQ” on Oct. 12 at the LSTA offices at 8120 Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge.

The invitation asked that invitees “Please RSVP to Karen Schexnayder.” Schexnayder is an administrative Assistant for the Office of Motor Vehicles which like LSP, is part of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

But here’s the real kicker:

Included at the bottom of the invitation so as to make it easier to RSVP was a state email address for Schexnayder.

Here is the LSTA invitation, forwarded to LouisianaVoice by Lawrence:

(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

So if LSTA, LSPC, LSP, Floyd Falcon, and Taylor Townsend all insist that LSTA is a separate entity from LSP (LSTA officers receive a stipend from LSTA for their service on the board), how is it that Schexnayder, clearly a Department of Public Safety (DPS) employee, is performing clerical work for a private organization that insists there is no connection between it and LSP?

The same question occurred to our friend Lawrence a couple of years ago when he requested the email addresses of LSTA board members. That email list was provided to Lawrence on Nov. 15, 2015, by LSTA employee Hillary Moses via the following email:

From: Hillary H. Moses

Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2015 10:35 PM

To:

Subject: Re:

Hello Mr.:

Below, I have listed the information you requested. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Exec. Director David.T.Young@la.gov

President Stephen.Lafargue@la.gov

HQ Rodney.Hyatt@la.gov

A Derek.Sentino@la.gov

B Chris.P.Brown@la.gov 

C Larry.Badeaux@la.gov

D Chance.Thomas@la.gov

E Christopher.Wright@la.gov

F Edwin.Knowles@la.gov (Kirk)

G Hackley.Willis@la.gov

I Dale.Latham@la.gov

L James.O’Quinn@la.gov 

Retiree Doussan.Rando@la.gov

Young, the LSTA Executive Director, is not a state employee nor is he a retired state trooper, so it’s puzzling why he would have a state email address. (But then, all those campaign contributions were laundered through Young’s personal checking account and he simply submitted expense receipts for reimbursement, so with so much chicanery taking place at LSTA, why the hell not give him a state email account?)

Lawrence, upon receiving his retiree barbecue invitation, decided to see if LSTA board members were still listing their state email addresses as their contact emails—a practice that is against state ethics laws. So, at 12:46 p.m. on Monday (Sept. 18) he sent the following email below to Moses:

From:
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2017 12:46 PM
To: Hillary H. Moses
Subject:

“Hillary, thanks for your email. I have this email from you from 2015 which lists all the board of directors then.  If you notice, all the email addresses are government email address.   Are you telling me now that you and the LSTA are now in charge of government email address?  Has this information been a policy change?  

It didn’t take long for a response. Nine minutes later, at 12:55 p.m., Moses assured Lawrence that state email addresses are no longer used for LSTA correspondence:

From: Hillary Moses

Sent: Monday, September 18, 2017 12:55 PM

To:

Subject:

The Association no longer uses state government e-mail addresses for the purpose of LSTA correspondence.

Hillary H. Moses

Louisiana State Troopers Association

(225)928-2000

www.LATroopers.org

At 2:14 p.m., Lawrence emailed LouisianaVoice his take on Moses’s response:

From:
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2017 2:14 PM
To: Tom Aswell
Subject:

I beg to differ as spelled out on the retiree invitation.

Millet was not content with merely voicing his disgust to LouisianaVoice. He responded directly to the Troop A Affiliate President who just happens to be the one who made the motion to revoke the memberships of the four retirees:

From: Bucky Millet <teammoonlite@yahoo.com>
Date: September 14, 2017 at 5:00:01 PM CDT
To:karen.schexnayder@la.gov” <karen.schexnayder@la.gov>
Cc: Kevin Reeves <kevin.reeves@la.gov>
Subject: Retiree BBQ

Troop A Affiliate President Derek Sentino: 

I would like to respectfully decline your invitation to the retiree BBQ. As documented in the LSTA minutes, you apparently, on behalf of the Troop A affiliate, made the original motion to remove me and three other members, two of whom were Lifetime vested (47 years), and two others who were long-term members. 

All four were in good standing until they were so bold as to shed light on unethical and illegal actions taken by the LSTA.  As you are quite aware the LSTA has signed a consent agreement admitting to some of the violations and a fine was required.  

The four members honorably served their country—three in Vietnam and one in Iraq in addition to serving the people of the State of Louisiana. 

I would wonder if the money to be spent for the BBQ could be used to better serve the 20-plus retired members who were flooded. Apparently the LSTA found money to provide $1,000 to the active members who flooded. 

They also find money for gifts and entertainment for the legislators and Governor.

The remaining retired members need to realize that they are apparently considered as has-beens.

Apparently to be part of “THE BLUE BROTHERHOOD,” 

1.You must be an active member.

2.You must be able to violate the oath that you have taken and overlook unethical and illegal behavior.

Leon “Bucky” Millet

So, the bottom line is this: Someone must address the question in clear and convincing terms of whether or not LSTA is actually an independent organization as it claims or does it have the tacit approval to co-mingle its activities and correspondence through LSP by calling on the services of state employees and state email?

From where we sit, the lines are hopelessly blurred.

 

“As those items become obsolete at the military level and if they become available, why not get ’em?”

—Fort Valley State University associate professor of criminal justice Michael Qualls, on Program 1033, whereby university police may obtain military weaponry, including armored trucks, M-16s, and other assault weapons. (By that logic, universities might wish to look into obtaining decommissioned battleships, submarines and even a few dozen “obsolete” nuclear bombs, along with a couple of mothballed B-52 bombers to deliver them.)

I don’t often delve off into national politics because, quite frankly, it’s way above my pay grade. Some would argue that a local zoning board would be above my pay grade, but for now, we’ll leave that argument for later discussion.

But I fear there is a disturbing trend out in the real world, folks, and the early signs are it’s only going to get worse. So, within my limited capabilities, I will attempt to address a development that, having grandchildren in college, I find especially troubling.

Aside from that despicable display at Charlottesville a few weeks back, there have been no civic uprisings of a scale to require extra hair spray for David Muir’s ABC evening newscasts.

While certainly, there have been several inexplicably senseless shootings of individuals by law enforcement officers, there has been nothing as tragic and senseless as the Kent State University shootings 0n May  4, 1970, or at Jackson State University 11 days later.

My wife and I celebrated our 49th anniversary last month and at the time of the slaughter of these students, we were still two months shy of our second anniversary. We were only a couple of years older than they when they were cut down.

And today, sadly, the seeds are being planted for future occurrences far more catastrophic than those of more than 46 years ago.

Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Program 1033, first enacted by Congress in 1996 during the administration of President Bill Clinton but suspended two years ago by President Barack Obama, was being resumed.

Program 1033 (Click HERE) is a program whereby America has been furtively arming police departments across the country with military armaments designed to put down insurrections, riots, or even peaceful protests.

Sessions noted that the program was originally implemented “for use in drug enforcement by federal and state law enforcement.

But here’s the real kicker: The program is now being expanded to colleges and universities which feel the need to possess military hardware. Already, 117 institutions of higher education, including two Louisiana universities, now have sufficient weaponry to tilt the balance in their favor should a horde of angry college students set out to overthrow the government of these 50 sovereign states. (Click HERE).

Apparently, it’s not enough that any governor can call up the National Guard to protect the status quo as was done at Kent and Jackson State. Now the campus police, P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards and Training) certified though they may now be but still, for the most part, seriously lacking in proper policing skills other than handing out campus parking tickets, are going to be armed to the teeth.

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, discounting the obvious potential of horrific meltdowns in tense situations such as occur on a typical game day, the bean counters on university campuses are looking at the bottom line as if it is, in itself, justification for placing a powder keg next to the barbecue grill at a Saturday afternoon tailgate party: “For me, this is a cost savings for taxpayers,” says University of Florida Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.

What??!!

A COST SAVINGS??!!? These are our children and grandchildren you’re placing in harm’s way, you idiot! Are you out of your rabbit-assed mind, you booger-eating moron??!!

Oh, sorry. I forgot. Students are only secondary to big-time sports and the almighty bottom line.

An equally asinine quote by Fort Valley State University associate professor of criminal justice Michael Qualls that, coming as it does from a member of academia, has to make one ask what “WTF?”:

“…as those items become obsolete at the military level and if they become available, why not get ’em?”

By that logic, universities might wish to look into obtaining decommissioned battleships, submarines and even a few dozen “obsolete” nuclear bombs, along with a couple of mothballed B-52 bombers to deliver them.

Yeah, right.

Comic Ron White nailed it when he said you can’t fix stupid.

Just let any otherwise insignificant event occur on a college campus and some trigger-happy, itchy-finger campus commando cop with an M-16 come on the scene and we have another massacre on our hands. Only this time, it’ll be far worse than Kent State and Jackson State combined.

With exceptions that are completely in line with the general population, our colleges and universities have done just fine, thank you, without the ominous presence of G.I. Joe ready to put down any simmering restlessness on the part of college students who might be angry over any number of things—cuts to funding, say, or increased tuition, suppression of freedom of speech (the latest on-campus fad), the every-widening wage disparity, climate change, or another in a string of senseless wars designed only to make military suppliers and speculators wealthy.

I mean, after all, we just can’t have free expression, the free exchange of ideas, on our college campuses. That would be subversive and….well, dangerous. We don’t want these kids thinking for themselves, becoming active in any type of student resistance, or even engaging in dialogue outside the campus community.

Besides the 12 M-16s issued to both NSU and ULM, some schools are getting armored pickup trucks (University of Florida) and “Mine Resistant Vehicles,” or MRAPS as they are affectionately known in such tourist meccas as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Purdue, being an especially dangerous hangout for subversives of all sorts, is getting 25 M-16s but that’s nothing. The University of Maryland is reaping 50 of those, two M-14s, and 16 riot shotguns (12-gauge). They must really be expecting trouble from those rowdy quantum physics majors.

Hinds Community College and the University of Central Florida received grenade launchers and Texas Southern University got a mine-resistant vehicle.

Seriously, they really did.

Next will come the name changes: Hinds Community Military Installation, Fort Central Florida. Texas Southern University (TSU) will become Tactical Systems University. ULM won’t mean University of Louisiana Monroe; it’ll be University of Light Munitions. NSU will be Neutralizing Systems University.

But for the record, neither Kent State nor Jackson State were among the 117 institutions receiving surplus military supplies.

Could it be that they more readily see the lessons to be learned from the insanity of nearly half-a-century ago?

What was it again that President Eisenhower said upon leaving office in 1960 about the military-industrial complex?

In an effort to determine the consistency of enforcement of traffic laws, here are just a few stories LouisianaVoice pulled off the internet at random:

SYNOPSIS: Ponchatoula police arrested David Brunet, 33, of Folsom, on charges of negligent homicide after he struck and killed 29-year-old Justin Settoon of Ponchatoula on Aug. 29.

Police said Settoon had a green light and attempted to cross an intersection when he was struck by Brunet who they said ran a red light.

SYNOPSIS: State Police booked Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, 37, a Honduran immigrant, on three counts of negligent homicide and 41 counts of negligent injuring, reckless driving and driving without a license when a bus he was driving struck a parked fire truck in St. John the Baptist Parish.

He was transporting 31 passengers looking for work on flood recovery following the August 2016 floods that struck South Louisiana. State Police said he was in the country illegally.

SYNOPSIS: State Police booked Joshua Cole Stinson, 35, on charges of negligent homicide on July 12 after police said he ran a stop sign, striking and killing 81-year-old Curtis Simmons of Tylertown, Mississippi. Stinson was also booked for failure to stop at a stop sign and driving with an expired driver’s license.

SYNOPSIS: State Police booked Elmer Menendez, 32, of Utah on one count of negligent homicide, for not having a child restrained properly and for not wearing a seat belt after his 9-year-old son was killed in a collision with a second vehicle. Police said when Menendez lost control of his pickup truck, it spun along the road and crossed into oncoming traffic where it was struck by an SUV driven by Ron Adams, 46, of Baton Rouge.

SYNOPSIS: Ascension Parish authorities booked John D. Sanchez, 27, of St. Amant, for negligent homicide after his vehicle drifted into an adjacent lane on Interstate 10, striking a vehicle driven by Floyd Cox of Baton Rouge, killing him.

SYNOPSIS: Louisiana State Police arrested 19-year-old Christopher M. Lymous of St. Rose for negligent homicide in connection with a single car accident in which his 20-year-old passenger, Charles Green, Jr., also of St. Rose, was killed when he was ejected from the vehicle. State Police said Lymous was traveling 90 mph in a 55 mph speed zone prior to the January 2015 accident.

Police said Lymous swerved into the northbound lane of LA. 626 and lost control of his vehicle when he attempted to re-enter the southbound lane. The vehicle veered from the road, dropped into a ditch, hit multiple trees and flipped several times. Lymous voluntarily submitted to blood and breath tests for the purposes of determining impairment, both of which tested negative.

SYNOPSIS: Caddo Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Carbin Logan, 42, of Deberry, Texas, when his SUV struck a horse and was in turn hit by an oncoming motorcycle, killing the cyclist, Vera Martin, 51, of Bethany, and critically injuring her husband, Gene Martin, 52.

Though authorities said Logan was driving drunk, he was not arrested for DUI but for vehicular negligent homicide and vehicular negligent injury.

SYNOPSIS: State Police in July of this year arrested both drivers involved in a fatal accident in St. John the Baptist Parish in December 2016 following a seven-month investigation. Arrested were Christian Moses, 18, of Gonzales, negligent homicide, and Tylas Bailey, 24, of Vacherie, vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

The difference in negligent homicide and negligent vehicular homicide is negligent homicide means impairment was not a factor, police said.

Police said Moses made a left turn while traveling north on Airline Highway in Reserve into the path of Baily who was traveling south. Bailey’s vehicle struck Moses, killing Bailey’s passenger, Danielle Georgel of LaPlace.

SYNOPSIS: On orders of then-Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, head and neck surgeon Dr. Anna Pou, 50, and three of her nurses were arrested on four counts of second-degree murder after patients under Dr. Pou’s care died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sanity prevailed, however, and Foti’s hysterical overreach was discounted as a grand jury refused to indict Dr. Pou and her nurses.

SYNOPSIS: St. Charles Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Dallas Veillon, 57, of Luling, was convicted of negligent homicide when a St. Charles deputy sheriff was killed after the deputy struck Veillon’s vehicle in August 2013.

The deputy, Jeff Watson, was killed when Veillon pulled into Watson’s path. State Police, studying surveillance camera footage from a nearby store, determined that Watson, who was traveling an estimated 90 mph in a 35 mph zone, did not activate his lights and siren until .88 seconds prior to the crash.

Typically, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry was quick to offer an opinion, albeit it inaccurate and uninformed, on the conviction of Veillon. “According to expert witnesses, Dallas Veillon had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit at the time of the crash…”

Veillon’s BAC was .10 percent, which is in excess of the .08 percent legal limit, but hardly twice the legal limit.

All of which brings us to our main point:

SYNOPSIS: Louisiana State Trooper Christopher Kelley of Troop E in Alexandria, driving to New Orleans Mardi Gras detail, was not on duty nor was he in an emergency situation. Accordingly, he did not have his lights or siren engaged.

Yet he was traveling on U.S. 190 in Pointe Coupee Parish at 111 mph—more than twice the posted speed limit—only seconds before striking Henry Baise, 64, killing him. Police said Baise pulled into Kelley’s path and that Kelley attempted to avoid the crash, slamming on his brakes which slowed his vehicle down to 79 mph at the point of impact—still 24 mph over the speed limit—speeds for which John Q. Public gets a speeding ticket, collision or no.

Prosecutor Tony Clayton said a grand jury reviewed a “brutally honest” State Police investigation before refusing to indict Kelley.

Anyone who knows anything about our system of justice knows that a prosecutor can manipulate and steer a grand jury in any direction he please. A skilled prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich or to, say, just as an example, not indict a law enforcement officer for driving 111 mph and striking and killing an innocent driver who, unable to judge such high speed, pulls into his path—precisely the scenario that occurred in Kelley’s case.

All of which raises the obvious question is what did that “brutally honest” State Police investigation produce in the way of  disciplinary action against Kelley for driving at such an excessive speed?

The answer is a whopping suspension without pay for 14 weeks.

Fourteen weeks without pay for killing a man while driving like a maniac.

Nice.

It seems to us that Trooper Kelley would have a helluva lot of nerve to ever write another speeding citation the rest of his career in law enforcement.

It’s little wonder that there is growing disrespect for and suspicion of law enforcement in this country.

State Police stock