A couple of State Senate votes Louisiana citizens should find interesting:

SB 7, aka the first step toward book censorship, a favorite ploy of a fascist government: https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1322126

SB 149, to increase the minimum wage, which has not been increased since 2008, while CEO pay has increased 1,460% since 1978 and while the CEO-to-worker pay ratio reached a new high of 399-to-1 in 2021 (372-to-1 before the pandemic), compared to the 20-to-1 ratio in 1965:


You get the government you deserve.


There’s a bill quietly making its way through the current legislative session that should be raising red flags with lawmakers and criminal justice advocates alike.

House Bill 357, by Rep. Mike Huval (R-Breaux Bridge) may well have the best of intentions in addressing the state’s myriad problems with its juvenile justice system but as written, the bill would seem to open the door to sweetheart deals with private prison operators in the nine-parish Acadiana region of the state.

And while the bill does create a governing board that would administer the proposed Acadiana Regional Juvenile Justice District, in reality it would allow potentially lucrative lease agreements with private individuals for property and facilities with little to no real oversight.

In fact, the bill specifically stipulates that the board may “purchase or otherwise acquire, construct, reconstruct, rehabilitate, improve, repair, operate, lease as lessor or lessee, manage, and administer or enter into contracts for the management, administration, and operation of a juvenile detention facility or facilities, shelter care facility or facilities, or such other juvenile justice facilities as are useful, necessary, expedient, or convenient…”

Nowhere in the bill would the board be required to take bids or to even issue a request for proposals (RFP) for any such lease agreement(s).

HB357 also provides “such facilities may include but are not limited to office facilities, parking facilities, diagnostic facilities, dormitories, residential units, administration and social service buildings, cafeteria buildings, gymnasium, educational and recreational buildings, and other similar facilities for delinquent, neglected, or abused children or children in need of care or supervision, as well as for employees, patrons, visitors, and relatives of children who may enter the juvenile justice system, or who are in need of care or supervision.”

And while the wording doesn’t make it exactly clear if “employees, patrons, visitors, and relatives of children” may be “in need of care or supervision,” that is probably not the intent of the bill, its wording notwithstanding.

Likewise, it is probably not the intent of the bill to imply that the proposed juvenile facilities may “otherwise acquire” troubled juveniles as “property,” since that practice was abolished in 1863, though the wording does leave that point unclear.

What it does clearly do, however, is give the board carte blanche to enter into leases, acquire and/or construct buildings without the pesky requirement of going through the bid process or even issuing an RFP.

That leaves the door open to all kinds of back-room deals with the relatives of judges, district attorneys, and/or sheriffs and other influential movers and shakers who might have a brother-in-law or a cousin with a tract of land he just happens to being nothing with and which would make a dandy juvenile jail, by the way.

The bill even allows financing of construction projects through the State Bond Commission upon authorization of the 11-member governing board., which is a pretty nice deal for a private entity such as a prison that wants cheap, low-interest financing via the issuance of general obligation bonds.

That board shall, according to the bill, consist of one member each from the parishes of Acadia, Allen, Evangeline, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion. Their appointments will be made by the chief judge and district for the respective judicial districts and the sheriff of each parish. Two at-large members will also be appointed – one by the parish presidents and presidents of the police juries of the nine parishes and the other by the city court judges in the member parishes.

Co-sponsors for Huval’s bill are Reps. Beryl Amedee (R-Houma), Beaullieu, Gerald Bourriaque (R-New Iberia), Marcus, Bryant (D-New Iberia), Rhonda Gaye Butler (R-Ville Platte), Dewith Carrier R-Oakdale), Kenny Cox (D-Coushatta), Paula Davis (R-Baton Rouge), Phillip Devillier (R-Eunice), Julie Emerson (R-Carencro), Adrian Fisher (D-Monroe), Bryan Fontenot (R-Thibodaux), Jonathan Goudeau (R-Lafayette), Kyle Green, Jr. (D-Marrero), Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans), Ed Larvadain, III (D-Alexandria), Rodney Lyons (D-Marrero), Troy Romero (R-Jennings), Vincent St. Blanc, III (R-Franklin), John Stefanski R-Crowley), Malinda White (R-Bogalusa), and Matthew Willard (D-New Orleans).

By Tom Aswell and Dayne Sherman

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has rarely passed up an opportunity to announce yet another fraud arrest in his never-ending quest to rid the state of white-collar crime. In fact, he seems to have made fraud investigations the cornerstone of his tenure as the state’s chief legal officer.

But now it appears that Landry, the current frontrunner to be Louisiana’s next governor and just formally endorsed by Donald Trump, may have himself been the willing victim of a scam that pulls on the heartstrings and which may have been perpetrated by a former NFL football player who already had a long laundry list of no fewer than eight failed companies with tax liens, litigation, out of court settlements, and claims of securities fraud.

None of the eight foregoing cases involved Landry, according to a STORY published by ProPublica, a non-profit Pulitzer-Prize-winning online investigative news organization, and its journalistic partner, Texas Tribune. His participation was saved for Kenny Hansmire’s latest scheme. Besides Landry, political heavy hitters Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ted Cruz, and Ken Paxton, among others, also enthusiastically endorsed Hansmire – at considerable costs to the public.

Still, it’s a sad tale of grift, financial misdeeds, and tax liabilities and Jeff Landry, the man who prides himself as an anti-fraud crusader, appears to have fallen in willingly

In Louisiana, the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, Ochsner Health, Our Lady of the Lake Health, and American Electric Power teamed with Landry to distribute kits containing fingerprints and DNA samples of children throughout the state through local sheriffs’ offices last fall. The kits were promoted as a method to keep children safe but critics have questioned their effectiveness.

Texas beat everyone to the draw when way back in 1998, then-Gov. George W. Bush solicited voluntary contributions from the private sector to finance the distribution of four million kits. Bush continued to push the program after becoming president by hooking up Hansmire’s program with the FBI that lasted until the resignation of FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Rick Perry, who succeeded Bush as Texas governor, infused the first public funding into Hansmire’s National Child Identification Program (NCIP) when he directed $3 million of taxpayer money into the program. In 2021, State Sen. Donna Campbell pushed through legislation that not only reestablished public funding by appropriating an additional $5.2 million for the kits but signed it into Texas state law by Gov. Abbott.

It has also enjoyed the backing of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

In 2010, US Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation that would have allowed the US Dept. of Justice to award grants to local law enforcement agencies so that they could purchase NCIP kits for distribution.

But it was Landry who, in a November 2021, wrote a LETTER in which he requested funding from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) after Hansmire learned of the existence of a NAAG slush fund held over from the 1998 multistate tobacco settlement. The NAAG had established a foundation which was sitting on $100 million from the settlement – $55 million of which was generating $9 million a year in interest.

Saying that the $9 million “would fund a child ID kit for every kindergarten kid in America,” Landry sought that amount, the largest ever requested to support an outside organization. In that Nov. 1 letter, Landry asked that the association’s executive committee set aside time at its next meeting to explore how “resources” could be used to support Hansmire’s company.

Landry, at a Dec. 6 meeting proposed a grant program to allow corporate sponsors to match the NAAG contributions. A draft of the NAAG Executive Committee’s MINUTES of that date indicate that NAAG Executive Director Chris Toth asked what the committee should know what the NCIP would be able to do for the attorneys general in return, to which Landry replied that there “has to be a quid pro quo.”

Landry later asked that the reference to a “quid pro quo” be expunged from the minutes, Toth later said, and the reference did not appear in the final version of the minutes.

Exactly what he meant by the term is unclear, though there was no indication that he intended to benefit personally from his going to bat for Hansmire but whatever he meant, the NAAG rejected Landry’s request. He next turned to the sheriffs’ association and the three private entities for support.

But lost in all the hoopla about funding are the disturbing critiques of the program and Hansmire’s unsettling history of failed enterprises, brushes with the law, and millions of dollars in tax liens that preceded NCIP.

Of the success of NCIP, the reviews are most definitely mixed at best and troubling at worst.

One of the 10 states besides Louisiana that have adopted Hansmire’s program is South Carolina. A staff member for that state’s attorney general, Alan Wilson, said his office could find no evidence of the kits’ effectiveness and that that state’s investing in them was not a wise use of dedicated funds for crime victims’ assistance.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also was critical of Hansmire’s claim that 800,000 children go missing each year. David Finkelhor, a child safety researcher, said the number is closer to 30,000 active cases of missing children, a number that includes runaways. He said that the number of children under the age of 18 who are abducted and hurt or killed or taken great distances by strangers is only about 100 per year.

But 800,000 sounds better when you’re trying to sell fear.

In speaking against Campbell’s bill to make the state appropriation a part of Texas law, State Rep. Gary Gates said no one had told him how many children had been saved by the kits. “This program has been in existence for 20 years,” he said. “If it really was an effective program, someone would have gotten up there and cited statistics.”

In something of a Gary Hart challenge, Hansmire suggested to reporters in 2022 that they contact various Texas law enforcement agencies and speak to “any policeman” about the effectiveness of his program. ProPublica did just that and of the 11 law enforcement agencies that responded, none could cite an example in which a kit had a role in finding a runaway or kidnapped child.

But the success or failure of the effectiveness of NCIP probably should not be the focus of the 11 states that have endorsed it. Perhaps they should be looking instead at the history of the various endeavors of Hansmire

In the decade prior to partnering with the states, Hansmire pleaded guilty to two felony charges — cattle theft in 1988 and theft by check in 1993 — and was convicted of drunk driving. He was fined and jailed and had his license suspended for the DWI. For the two felony charges, he received deferred adjudication, a process that lets people accused of certain crimes avoid a conviction if they successfully complete probation without any other violations. The terms of his probation included drug and alcohol programs and hundreds of hours of community service in addition to paying thousands of dollars in restitution.

Hansmire and his companies were sued at least four times in the 1990s for unpaid debts, court records show. He was ordered to pay in three of those cases and reached a settlement in the fourth. Meanwhile, he was starting to accumulate millions of dollars in federal tax liens, records show.

Hansmire pursued a series of business ventures that centered on college football all-star games in Hawaii and Texas. The companies, which faced several lawsuits and financial struggles, eventually failed.

In an effort to raise funds for his businesses, Hansmire linked up with a Connecticut securities broker named Dale Quesnel who received $166,000 for his efforts to persuade at least 10 individuals to invest $1.9 million to Hansmire’s companies. In one case, Hansmire pledged to pay back the money at an interest rate of 12 percent.

The Connecticut Department of Banking found that the men defrauded or misled investors in violation of the state’s securities law and that they had failed to register the promissory notes they sold to investors and to notify them of the risks associated with the loans. In June 2015, they were ordered to stop seeking investments and to pay an undisclosed amount in restitution. Quesnel failed to pay.

Hansmire’s settlement agreement admitted no fault but acknowledged the evidence against him. He agreed to pay restitution and not conduct certain types of finance-related business in Connecticut ever again. At the time, he said he didn’t have enough money to reimburse investors, but later paid two of them $63,000, according to the Connecticut Banking Department.

To learn more about Hansmire’s business and legal woes, dating back to the 1990s, click HERE for ProPublica’s detailed account.

It would be interesting to hear Landry explain what he meant by “quid pro quo,” and why he, as Louisiana Attorney General, chose to back a fraudster’s grift.

Just dropping in to point out that the legislature seems prepared to gut a proposed teacher pay raise but sees no real problem in raising legislators’ pay from $16,000 to $40,000 per year. What hasn’t been said is that with their $168 per diem for each day they are in Baton Rouge, plus mileage to and from Baton Rouge, office expenses and a staffer for their district offices, they’re already pulling in about $40,000 on average and now they’re trying to get another $24k — for a part-time job.

They justify this bump by pointing out that legislators’ pay hasn’t changed since 1980. Meanwhile, the $7.25 per hour minimum wage (about $15,000 per year, based on a full-time 40-hour week work schedule) hasn’t budged since 2009 and legislators have repeatedly fought back efforts to increase it.

I would suggest that legislators, instead of enriching themselves with a pay increase, try to survive on $7.25 an hour – just to see what the real world is like for so many people today.

(I am no longer active with LouisianaVoice but I am leaving it open to guest columnists who wish to use the platform for their posts. Following is one such guest post by Dayne Sherman, professor of Library Science at Southeastern Louisiana University.)

Tom Aswell

I am a finalist for the presidency of my alma mater Southeastern Louisiana University. The decision to move from 15 finalists to perhaps three finalists will take place on Tuesday, April 11 in Baton Rouge. Just being a finalist is one of the biggest honors in my professional life. I wish the best for my school.

My decision to apply for the position had everything to do with the campus cyberattack 6 ½ weeks ago that has harmed the campus and its students. I saw very little urgency by the campus administration, and I still see very little urgency to fix the problems. For example, we have not seen an update from the outgoing campus president since March 15. I suspect he is just “quiet quitting.” I called for Dr. John Crain’s immediate resignation weeks ago. Why should he wait until May to leave?

I applied for the position to fix problems and to provide leadership in a crisis. To the best of my knowledge, 6 ½ weeks into the crisis there is only one working student printer on campus and zero working wired computers. That’s unforgivable for a campus with 10,000 students.

Worse, it is a shame that the upper administration spends more time trying to find ways to fire me rather than to fix the tech meltdown. They forget about the First Amendment, Louisiana Whistleblower protections, the illegality of retaliation, and faculty rights under tenure and academic freedom.

Regardless, I have articulated a clear vison, something other candidates—as qualified as they are for the job—have not. My “15-Point Vision for Day One” was published here on Louisiana Voice (https://louisianavoice.com/2023/03/30/dayne-sherman-who-has-dedicated-his-entire-adult-life-to-slu-has-declared-his-candidacy-for-president-of-university/). Now I am offering my “100-Point Plan for the First 100 Days.”

Naturally, I do not speak for any of my employers. I only speak for myself, a Louisiana citizen. But I do want to hear feedback from you on my plan.

100-Point Plan for the First 100 Days

  1. I will focus on changing the campus culture from saying NO to every creative initiative to saying YES.
  2. I will go on a listening tour of the campus students, faculty, and staff.
  3. I will commission a survey of faculty and staff morale. The results will be made public.
  4. I will commission a study of student experiences and problems related to the tech meltdown.
  5. I will commit to making sure that no student’s grades were harmed related to the tech meltdown.
  6. I will meet with all campus department heads, deans, directors, and vice presidents, etc., and ask each person two questions: What did you do to stop the lack of urgency over the tech meltdown? How did you help students in the process?
  7. I will provide a public analysis related to “The Moodler Hack,” including a forensic audit of the last 25 years of Office of Technology leadership on campus, and provide a meaningful way to protect the campus in the future. We will have a real emergency plan.
  8. I will provide daily reports on the tech meltdown until everything is back to normal.
  9. I will immediately set up working printers in each computer lab.
  10. I will fix the terrible acoustics in the new iHub area.
  11. I will appoint a taskforce to establish ranks for instructor positions: Adjunct Instructor, Instructor, Senior Instructor, and Distinguished Instructor, etc. Proposals will include step raises with each level.
  12. I will establish a doctoral degree attainment raise for Instructors.
  13. I will plan for placing EV charging stations on multiple campus sites.
  14. I will review all parking policies and will seek feedback from campus groups on how to make parking better and more equitable.
  15. I will establish a “Certified Southeastern Recruitment Center” program for profit and non-profits across the region. This will assist in recruitment, retention, and establish new networks for alumni and giving.
  16. I will increase the budget for the Lion’s Roar student newspaper.
  17. I will create a close working relationship between the Southeastern Channel, Lion’s Roar, and KSLU.
  18. I will promote KSLU as the preeminent college radio station in the state.
  19. I will defend tenure publicly and in front of the Louisiana Legislature.
  20. I will provide the Faculty Senate President a 50% course release, provide a graduate assistant, and student assistant as staff.
  21. The Faculty Senate and its Council meetings will be livestreamed.
  22. I will start a Staff Senate to represent all staff members.
  23. I will make academic department heads “chairs” and establish a 5 to 6-year service window for the positions.
  24. I will attempt to receive a legislative variance so all retired professors can be paid to teach up to two courses as adjuncts per semester immediately after retirement in all disciplines.
  25. I will hire more counselors to focus on student mental health.
  26. I will champion the LION UP Recovery program.
  27. Every building will have at least three people provided Narcan and trained to use it.
  28. I will commission an analysis of Classified Staff pay to see if raises are warranted under Civil Service rules. I believe people have been left out unfairly.
  29. I will start an “Each One Teach One” tutoring program in the local public schools with our students, staff, professors, and retirees.
  30. I will restore full funding for databases and journals in the Library.
  31. I will find funds for new furniture in the Library.
  32. I will promote a modest student assessed fee to support the Library collection.
  33. I will commission a study to analyze the viability of making the first floor of the Library a 24-hour open area with UPD presence.
  34. I will place the campus budget online by October 1 of each year.
  35. I will propose to build a memorial clock tower in the union where the Katrina-Rita “dry fountain” is currently located.
  36. I will propose replacing the campus “Get There.” slogan.
  37. I will propose replacing the “Superman S” symbol.
  38. I will propose replacing the current Roomie Lion cartoon figure.
  39. I will propose naming every classroom and building, tree and shrub to raise money for the campus.
  40. I will promote selling naming rights for the University Center.
  41. I will require a tour of Turtle Cove for residential students during the freshman year.
  42. I will do everything in my power to save Friendship Oak, and I will provide regular reports to the campus and media.
  43. I will provide more free sporting event tickets to local school children.
  44. I will send weekly announcements about upcoming campus events (i.e., when the Governor is on campus, everyone will know it.)
  45. I will create a more pet friendly campus.
  46. I will appoint a taskforce to create a campus childcare center, a high-quality daycare.
  47. I will champion the Gospel choir.
  48. I will promote the campus NAACP chapter.
  49. I will meet with all campus religious organization leaders.
  50. I will meet with all fraternity and student leaders.
  51. I will meet with SGA.
  52. I will meet with all coaches and athletics staff.
  53. I will meet with community and business leaders.
  54. I will meet with Alumni leaders.
  55. I will meet with 100 campus leaders in the first 100 days.
  56. I will vigorously promote real transparency on campus for hiring. We will put the salary range on every job ad.
  57. I will establish a “Town and Gown” organization to build bridges between all communities and neighborhoods in the Hammond area.
  58. I will bring concerts to the University Center, from Chris Stapleton to Flau’jae, Margo Price to Phoebe Bridgers.
  59. I will give every commuter a Lions bumper sticker for their cars.
  60. I will hire the best Chief Information Officer in Louisiana higher education.
  61. I will champion major outreach to Dual Enrollment students, including free applications to apply.
  62. I will ensure that the Dual Enrollment program is not a hassle for students, parents, and schools.
  63. I will require each campus major to provide a plan to allow Dual Enrollment students with 24 hours to graduate in 3 years.
  64. I will provide a major outreach to Federal Trio Programs, including free applications to enroll. Trio is historically the University’s largest recurring grant.
  65. I will aggressively promote the new online MBA program.
  66. I will make every master’s degree certify a pathway to a 12-month graduation plan full time and a 24-monthgraduation plan for part-time.
  67. I will aggressively go after significant Louisiana-related archival collections and the funding to process the collections.
  68. I will establish a program to offer every high school student with 30 undergraduate hours prior to Freshman Fall enrollment a $2500 scholarship.
  69. I will expand free math and English tutoring on campus.
  70. I will establish a clear Southeastern regional recruitment zone and communicate it widely.
  71. I will promote LGBTQI+ inclusion in all programs and events at the University.
  72. I will personally recruit faculty at institutions with large numbers of African American Ph.D.s, such as Howard University.
  73. I will start a task force to study bringing college classes to Louisiana prisons where inmates can receive Pell Grants. The goal is to stop recidivism.
  74. All deans, associate VPs, VPs, etc., will teach one course per semester.
  75. I will start a financial literacy and entrepreneurship program leading to basic competency for all graduates.
  76. I will ensure that all scans of the Lion’s Roar newspapers issues back to 1937 are available to the public online.
  77. I will ensure that all scans of the Le Souvenir yearbooks are available to the public online.
  78. I will ensure that all copies of the University budget for the past 25 years are available online.
  79. I will ensure the campus will be the most transparent in Louisiana.
  80. I will commit additional funds for cybersecurity on campus.
  81. I will beef up security on campus through additional funds to the UPD.
  82. I will remove all speedbumps on campus. 
  83. I will commission a plan to double our abysmal 18% 4-year graduation rates to 36%. This goal will be set to make a massive increase within 4 years. (Source: Forbes.com and IPEDS.).
  84. I will commission a taskforce to double the number of nursing graduates in 4 years.
  85. I will have the brick wall fixed at Pottle Hall.
  86. I will require more security at high school graduations held in the University Center.
  87. I will require more comprehensive parking lot security across campus.
  88. I will increase the number of trips and hours for campus bus routes.
  89. I will make every staff and faculty member aware of the campus architectural masterplan.
  90. I will advocate for staff and faculty ORP members to buy into TRSL retirement.
  91. I will host a yearly presidential roast as a fundraiser.
  92. The campus will have a meaningful discussion of CRT and DEI.
  93. The Lab School admissions process will be transparent.
  94. Writers-in-Residence will only teach one course per semester.
  95. I will host International Students for events at the President’s House.
  96. I will host every sports team individually at the President’s House.
  97. I will seek advice and mentorship from the best university presidents in Louisiana and the nation.
  98. I will apply to the Harvard Management Development Program for Higher Ed.
  99. I will be the most active university president in Louisiana on all forms of social media.
  100. I will not yield to pressure to bring a live lion mascot to campus!
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