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Archive for September, 2020

In one of his recent TV ads, Louisiana’s senior U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy pitches “more options” for medical care for America’s veterans and active military personnel.

Too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about the rest of America’s citizens.

Of course, going to bat for the military has that patriotic feel that gives us all a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. I mean, who wouldn’t want the best for Americans in uniform (well, other than someone with chronic bone spurs who would call them losers and suckers)?

But while Cassidy, who is up for reelection on Nov. 3, is touting “more options” for medical care for our military, he’s in a back room somewhere with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to gut the Affordable Care Act which would STRIP HEALTH CARE from tens of millions of Americans, including half-a-million in Louisiana.

Nationally, it would strip more than 22 million Americans of their health care coverage, including those who survived COVID-19 who would suddenly find themselves classified as having preexisting conditions.

In Louisiana, more than 160,000 COVID-19 survivors would be considered as having preexisting conditions.

It is ironic that the bill being put forward by Cassidy-Graham would punish Louisiana citizens in other ways, as well.

For example, their proposed bill would take money from states like Louisiana that EXPANDED Medicaid and obtained coverage for more than 500,000 Louisiana citizens after his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, stubbornly refused to make coverage available and give it to states that FAILED to expand coverage.

What’s more, states would not be required to use that extra money to obtain coverage for its citizens or to help subsidize low- and middle-income citizens as Obamacare does.

Edwin Park, a policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the bill is “more disruptive” than any other Republican-sponsored bill to repeal Obamacare.

But hey, Cassidy is right there to fight for expanded medical options for veterans and active military personnel.

But will he go public with an ad campaign promoting his plan to jerk medical care from more than half-a-million Louisianans?

I think you can check that box No.

 

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“Shedding all semblance of decency, let alone public civility, a desperate Trump turned Tuesday’s presidential debate not only into a brawl, but also a national embarrassment. Behaving like a petulant teenager, Trump rolled his eyes, constantly interrupted, hectored, tried to pick fights, and generally made a fool of himself as more than 80 million Americans tuned in, most of whom were likely thinking, ‘What have we become as a nation?’ That’s why it’s time to call off the next two debates. Tuesday’s car wreck was a complete waste of time. “

—Analysis of Tuesday night’s “debate” by Press Run, an online news service.

 

“Are you willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities?”

—Debate moderator Chris Wallace.

 

“Proud Boys — stand back and stand by. Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

—Donald Trump, responding to Wallace. [A dog whistle to his supporters perhaps?]

 

“Standing by sir.”

—Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, responding to Trump on social media platform Parler. [Woof, woof.]

 

“I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

—Ronald Reagan, responding to a question if he had any doubts about whether he had the strength for the job of president at his then-age of 73, during the 1984 debate with Walter Mondale—a time when civility and decorum still carried the day in presidential debates. [With Trump, of course, you can kiss any idea of decency and respect for the rules goodbye.]

 

“Tom, this debate will go down in HISTORY. I showed the American People that I will ALWAYS fight to put America First no matter what and that I will NEVER stop working to Make America Great Again.

“I know the Fake News media will only report LIES about this event and how STRONG our movement is, which is why I was really disappointed to see that you chose not to step up and help make TODAY our BEST fundraising day EVER.

“You’ve always been one of my strongest supporters – I can’t win in November without you, so I’m giving you ONE MORE CHANCE to get on the donor list I see.

“My team is handing me a printed list of every donor who stepped up at this critical moment. Will I see your name, Tom? It’s currently MISSING.”

—Heartfelt “personal” email from Donald Trump at 11:05 p.m. Tuesday that is reminiscent of those Bobby Jindal emails I kept getting during his Quixotic pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination back in 2015 which consistently boasted of the groundswell support for his campaign which never broke past 1 percent. [Trump’s heavy reliance on capital letters aside, he’s certainly correct about the “historic” nature of the debate.]

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Always on the cutting edge of all things snarky, LouisianaVoice has yet another unique offer that you’re not going to want to pass up.

With just five weeks left before the Nov. 3 election and on the heels of that blockbuster New York Times story about Donald Trump’s long sought-after tax returns that show that he is the consummate tax dodger (which, it should be noted, is the perfect compliment to his tax-dodger status), LouisianaVoice is making this exclusive offer.

For the price of $5 each ($8 for two or three for $10), you can be the proud owner of this understated 3 X 7-inch white vinyl bumper sticker that invites other drivers during your daily commute to and from work to “HONK IF YOU PAID MORE TAXES THAN TRUMP” in bold, black lettering.

It’s a great way to meet new people, make new friends and learn once and for all what all those middle fingers are for. Here’s what the bumper stickers, already on order, say: HONK IF YOU PAID MORE TAXES THAN TRUMP

You can order by clicking on that yellow Donate Button with Credit Cards button in the column to the right of this post to pay by credit card, or you can order by mail by sending checks to:

LouisianaVoice

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, Louisiana 70727

All orders are tax deductible since LouisianaVoice is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity.

Be sure to provide your mailing address with your order.

Those prices again, including shipping:

Single bumper sticker: $5

Two bumper stickers: $8

Three bumper stickers: $10

Four or more: $2 each

Supplies limited. Operators are standing by!

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Editor’s note: In August 2016, widespread flooding in south Louisiana was particularly devastating to Livingston Parish. Many residents simply abandoned flooded homes and never returned after losing all their possessions and receiving little in the way of recovery efforts from FEMA.

Melissa Thies of St. Tammany, who describes herself as a “taxpayer in the know,” has made a series of public records requests from the St. Tammany Parish School Board which, coincidentally, rather than devote its efforts to reopening schools on schedule following the coronavirus outbreak, did take the time to revise its public records policy by doubling the cost of records from the statewide standard of 25 cents per page to 50 cents.

A number of interesting discoveries was made through her efforts, all of which are supported by official school board records. Today’s story, written by her and posted previously on Facebook, is reprinted here:

By Melissa Thies

Let’s revisit that devastating fall day in 2016……

Livingston Parish was one of the hardest hit areas of a flood.  Thirteen people lost their lives, and property damage was never really able to be solidly calculated, but estimates of $10 – 15 billion have been thrown around.  Hard times for our neighbors down Highway 12, right?  Or an opportunity to grow a school board general fund by several thousand bucks and win an award in the process?

St Tammany Parish School Administration went into full-on fundraising mode, raising over $330,000 in money, gift cards and school supplies for victims.  The media claimed this to be the “most successful fundraiser ever held by the St Tammany Parish Public School System.”  The then-superintendent even “earns” Superintendent of the Year touting this as a major accomplishment.  But wait, isn’t this type of activity by a political subdivision against the Louisiana State Constitution?  There seems to be some confusion within the Louisiana Legislative Auditor agency regarding the constitutionality of this, but it is a valid question.  Does it even make sense for this to be legal to use taxpayer resources (such as the accounting staff of the local school board) to manage such an activity?  Our state laws must protect us somehow against the risk of misappropriation of funds from this type of activity, right?

Review of the school board general ledger indicates that by September 13, 2016, a total of almost $113,000 was deposited into a liability account and deposits were marked “DONATIONS FLOODING STPCARES”.  For those non-accountants, this means the money was put into the bank account and general fund, but was marked as being owed to someone else.  Shortly after, the money starts to be disbursed, with funds going to the “St Helena Parish SB”, “Tangipahoa Parish SB”, “Livingston Parish SB” and many checks directly to individuals.  There were no other disbursements of the cash after October 14, 2016 – that is until January 19, 2017.

Several things happened on January 19, 2017.  Since October 14, 2016, the general ledger had indicated a credit balance in the liability account of $7,753.76.  This means that not all of the donations that had been collected were disbursed, leaving $7,753.76 in the general fund and in cash available in the bank.  (Remember that number; it will be significant a little later.)  Review of the visitor log on January 19, 2017, just might confirm that on this day investigators with Louisiana Legislative Auditor arrived at 321 N. Theard early that morning.

Also, on this date, there is a journal entry numbered 1267 that indicates the amount of $7,753,76 was transferred out of the liability account and the transaction was described as “Correction Move to Donations”.  This left a $0 balance in the liability account – as if to show all of the money collected had been given out.  Then, later in the day as indicated by journal entry number 3981, a transfer back into the liability account for the same amount was made.  Within a short period of time after January 19, 2017, the remaining $7,753.76 was then disbursed to “Livingston Parish SB” and “St Helena Parish SB”.  I will let you draw your own conclusions about what possibly transpired throughout the day on January 19, 2017, to encourage the administration to disburse the remainder of the funds that had been collected.

What would have happened to the funds if Legislative Auditor had not shown up?  If the overage would have remained in the general fund, what would the overage have been used to cover?  I have been told to stay in my lane and not ask any questions, but you should be asking these questions and more at this point, especially if you occupied a seat on the St Tammany Parish School Board during this time period.  Taxpayers, especially those who gave so generously to this activity certainly deserve answers.

You might be asking what is significant about the figure, $7,753.76, that remained in the general fund until the day Legislative Auditor showed up.  Well, let me not keep you in suspense…..

Just FACTS – Let’s visit the proposed general fund budgets from fiscal years 2016 and 2017.  There is a line item in these budgets with an account number “2321-511100 Salary – Superintendent”.  The budget for FY 2016 indicates an amount of $202,732 for this line item, while the budget for FY 2017 indicates a proposed amount of $210,385.  These amounts were the base salary the Superintendent received for FY 2016 and what was being proposed at the time for FY 2017.  The difference between these two would seemingly indicate the “raise” that the superintendent would be getting, $7,653.

In addition, in a recent response to a public record request, I received this copy of the check that the then-Superintendent donated to the flood fundraiser personally.

I am not sure that you need to be an accountant, auditor, investigator, investigative reporter, Inspector General, Legislative Auditor, or Attorney General to know what is coming next.  The increase in the base salary ($7,653) plus the personal DONATION to the fundraiser ($100) is…..

Did you guess it correctly?  $7,753!

Voila!  And that is how we roll at the St Tammany Parish School Board, but taxpayers can’t have an Inspector General in the parish, much less one internal auditor that doesn’t report to or is directed by the people they are auditing.  It really is a shame, or a sham, not sure which.  Lots more to come on this same topic and many, many other issues.  Ms. Rester’s history lessons are much more interesting than mine.  I invite you to contact her (email above) or any school board member for her lessons.

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Only two days remain in LouisianaVoice’s September fundraiser. I you have not invested in solid investigative journalism, please do so in the remaining hours of our drive.

Recently we have been examining the abuses and neglect of prisoners and the falsification of records by LaSalle Corrections of Ruston. We still have several stories to go on that series.

Meanwhile, there are other events that require our attention. One is the curious efforts by Republicans in the Louisiana Legislature to call a special session with the intent of combating Gov. John Bel Edwards and his efforts to control the coronavirus in this state.

What’s curious about that? Well, for one, Louisiana is one of the few states where the incidents of infection have actually decreased. Yet, Republican legislators want to reverse the precautionary measures taken by the governor. Perhaps they should take a look at Florida where that governor has opened up the state and as a result, the state has the highest infection rate in the nation.

We’re also beginning to examine financial transactions at the St. Tammany Parish School Board and water quality in north Louisiana.

So, as you can see, we’re busy and we need your support. LouisianaVoice is a 501(C)(3) non-profit entity so you can make a tax-deductible contribution by credit card by clicking on the yellow DONATE button in the column to the right of this post. It looks like this: Donate Button with Credit Cards

Or you may mail a check to:

LouisianaVoice

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, Louisiana 70727

Those contributing $100 or more will receive a signed copy of my latest book, Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs: A Culture of Corruption. Be sure to provide your mailing address.

As always, thank you for your continued support of LouisianaVoice.

 

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