An official complaint over the appointment of Louisiana State Police (LSP) Maj. Jason Starnes as Interim Undersecretary of Management and Finance has produced another LSP major: a major CYA maneuver at State Police headquarters to backtrack and act as though the “promotion” never occurred.
At the same time, the Louisiana State Police Commission has rescinded last November’s action by the commission to approve a last-minute longevity pay increase plan for state police who last year received two separate pay increases totaling about 30 percent.
The longevity pay plan would have locked troopers into automatic pay raises based on years of service and was part of Bobby Jindal’s exit strategy as he headed out the door of the governor’s office near the end of his term.
But on June 1, Cathy Derbonne, LSPC Executive Director, published TRANSMITTAL SHEET NO. 58 on the LSPC Web page that pointed out that Article X, Section 48(C) of the Louisiana Constitution mandates that “any rule determination affecting wages or hours shall have the effect of law and become effective only after approval by the governor and subject to appropriation of sufficient funds by the Legislature (emphasis Derbonne’s).
“As of June 1, 2016, an approval by the Governor has not been received and there is currently insufficient funding to implement the revisions,” she wrote.
“The Revision of State Police Commission Rule Chapter 6 Uniform Pay and Classification Plan is hereby rescinded in its entirety,” she wrote (emphasis Derbonne’s). The pay plan approved by the LSPC last November is contained in GENERAL CIRCULAR 180
Starnes, a classified member of LSP, was recently transferred by State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson to an unclassified non-state police service position as Interim Undersecretary, Custodian of Records of the Office of Management and Finance within the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS).
That move, the complaint says, was in violation of Rule 14.3(G), which says:
- No classified member of the State Police shall be appointed, promoted, transferred or any way employed in or to any position that is not within the State Police Service.
In addition to the points cited in the official complaint, LouisianaVoice pointed out last month that the promotion of Starnes placed him in direct supervision of his estranged wife, Tammy, Audit Manager for LSP. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/05/16/mike-edmonsons-appointment-not-official-yet-senate-committee-set-to-consider-his-confirmation-on-tuesday/
LouisianaVoice also revealed that since his separation from his wife, Starnes had been residing in the LSP Training Academy’s VIP quarters. The VIP quarters at the academy is also known as the “Charlie Dupuy Suite,” so named because Edmonson’s Chief of Staff Charlie Dupuy also resided there during his own divorce from his first wife.
Starnes has since denied he is staying at the LSP Training Academy and more significantly, he has said he is not acting in the capacity of Undersecretary of Management and Finance despite this February memorandum from Edmonson announcing his appointment:
(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)
Starnes’ name has since been quietly removed from the DPS Management and Finance Web page and replaced by that of Edmonson who is listed as Deputy Secretary and Custodian of Records. http://mfn.dps.louisiana.gov/
The Office of Management and Finance page contains a link to the undersecretary but when readers click on the link, a “Message from Undersecretary” heading pops up. Beneath that are only the words “Coming Soon.”
That has to be one of the more obvious moves by Edmonson to obscure a major departmental administrative blunder on his part.
The effort to promote someone in his inner circle illegally, Taken with his clumsy but almost successful effort to steer a bill amendment through the Legislature in the waning hours of the 2014 session that would have given him a retirement pay hike of some $30,000 and the documented cases of inconsistent and inadequate investigations and punishment (or outright ignoring) of wrongdoing within his agency, should give pause to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee which is scheduled to vote on his confirmation today (Monday, June 6).