Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2021

How twisted are our priorities that a college football coach, surrounded on Saturdays by 85 behemoth-like scholarship football players we affectionately refer to as student-athletes, must still have the protective services of a Louisiana State Trooper when vulnerable female students must live unprotected and in fear of those very coaches, players, and other sexual predators?

How warped have our sensibilities become that coaches who ignore – or worse, condone or even participate in – sexual harassment/assault are paid huge settlement packages when – and if – they finally leave while those who attempt to protect the university’s integrity are unceremoniously shown the door?

How discouraging is it for faculty members to devote themselves to the task of encouraging and challenging students and to conduct meaningful research when hiring and firing is done on a whim and on the basis not of merit but of political expediency?

How embarrassing is it that in 2019, the LSU Athletic Department showcased its brand-spanking-new facilities for its pampered (and from all indications, shielded) players that included a players’ lounge and a locker room that includes, of all things, sleeping pods for each individual player (remember: they’re 85 scholarship players) all for the bargain price of $28 million – while at the same time, the rest of the campus has a $510 million backlog in maintenance and renovation?

How disgraceful is it that the LSU Board of Supervisors, the university’s governing board, is comprised for the most part of appointed political hacks who owe their positions of power to their fealty to the state’s sitting governor and not necessarily to the more noble calling of academic excellence – and acts accordingly?

Let’s concentrate on that last question because anything concerning LSU, be it academics, physical plant, athletics or administration, begins and ends with the Board of Supervisors. It’s comprised of an appointed group of individuals who, for the most part, are contributors to the governor’s campaign. “For the most part” must be said because some members are holdovers from the previous governor and are not necessarily campaign contributors to the current governor.

But the board is about as political as the word political can be defined. Members receive coveted perks and privileges over and above the status that goes with sitting on the governing board, micromanaging every aspect of one of the nation’s leading universities. In Louisiana, the only board that even comes close is the so-called Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, which presides over the John A. Alario Sr. Event Center, the Smoothie King Center, the New Orleans Saints Training Facility and of course, the Superdome.

To say that the LSU Board has been a colossal failure in the responsibility of carrying out its duties is to belabor the obvious. It has allowed a culture of toxicity to exist to the extent that female students ARE NOT SAFE anywhere on campus, whether it’s the ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, the FRENCH DEPARTMENT, or the once prestigious MED SCHOOL.

It took an independent 250-page REPORT, for which the school paid about $100,000, to tell the board what it should have known all along: that it’s handling of its Title IX obligations was ham-handed and smacked of a clumsy attempt at a coverup. The school’s handling of sexual harassment, and sexual abuse cases was apparently so mishandled that the board belatedly saw fit to FIRE its long-time legal firm and replace it with LEGAL COUNSEL who couldn’t even defend crosstown Southern University in a public records case.

Somehow, everyone missed – or ignored – the EMBEZZLEMENT of half-a-million dollars from a Baton Rouge children’s medical foundation, $180,000 of which somehow found its way into the hands of the father of LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander

Even reports of incompetence and nepotism of the HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER in New Orleans were inexcusably ignored.

And of course, the totally predictable action was to PUNISH  the whistleblower (as long as it wasn’t a coach blowing a whistle at practice) or FIRE  anyone who might in any way be considered an EMBARRASSMENT to the university, who might point out a LEGAL LIABILITY, or who might pose a THREAT to grant funding from say, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

When that $100,000 report on Title IX violations came out, though, the university administration apparently felt it was obligated to take some form of proactive measures. Accordingly, two “high-ranking” athletic department officials were SUSPENDED  – for 30 and 21 days – for their failure to act when informed of sexual misconduct.  Several legislators, predictably, said that punishment was sufficient.

The events in the LSU athletic department, besides leading to the dismissal of LES MILES, has had a ripple effect beyond the Baton Rouge campus. At the University of Kansas, where Miles landed, he was forced out there as well, along with the athletic director who hired him and former LSU President F. King Alexander was likewise shown the door at Oregon State.

The focus then returned to LSU (if, indeed, it ever left). Momentarily distracted by the glitter of an undefeated season, the national championship and a box of awards, including the school’s second Heisman Trophy winner, people pushed the investigation to the back burner. But two mediocre seasons that followed 2019 has reignited interest in who knew what and when they knew it and has resulted in a $17 million buyout of Coach Ed Orgeron’s contract.

Writer GLENN GUILBEAU wrote an intriguing story that has to be taken seriously considering all that has occurred. Basically, he asks if that generous buyout might be purchasing Coach O’s silence in lieu of firing him for cause, which would cost LSU and boosters nothing but at the risk of much more dirty laundry being aired that LSU would just as soon remain under the proverbial rug.

If indeed that is the case, those responsible at LSU should be summarily fired and any board members who are complicit should immediately resign. Nothing short of a total cleansing is acceptable. A truth enema, as it were, is unequivocally essential.

And not to kick a man when he’s down, but there are the reports of past transgressions by Orgeron that should have been a red flag. In 1982, when he a defensive line coach with the Miami Hurricanes, Orgeron got in a fight in a Baton Rouge bar and was subsequently granted a “voluntary” LEAVE OF ABSENCE by the team for “personal reasons.” Nine years later, in 1991, apparently back in good graces with the team, a Miami-Dade County woman filed a RESTRAINING ORDER against Orgeron, accusing him of repeated violence against her.

It is no longer possible to ignore the fact that there are serious problems throughout Louisiana’s flagship university system and that those problems run deep and have become so entrenched that a sleazy culture of protectionism has been allowed to flourish for a select few at the expense of allowing those of lesser influence and fewer connections to become scapegoats.

And everything about that is wrong.

Everything.

Advertisement

Read Full Post »

The Washington Post had an interesting STORY on Saturday. It seems a fat cat Trump donor who helped finance the Jan. 6 insurrection (have you noticed the Repugnantcans are demanding that we cease calling it an insurrection?) also gave $150,000 to the nonprofit arm of the Repugnantcan Attorneys General Association (RAGA).

Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of the Publix grocery story chain founder, gave the funds to the organization’s Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) on Dec. 29, 2020.

So what, you say? Well, that was just eight days before the Jan. 6 insurgency (is that a better word for it?). Turns out the money was used to pay for a robocall urging a march on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to “call on Congress to stop the steal.”

Records obtained by The Post show that Fancelli also gave $300,000 to Women for America First, the “Stop the Steal” organization that actually obtained the permit for the Jan. 6 riot stoked by Donald Trump shortly before the event.

Both of Fancelli’s contributions were facilitated by Caroline Wren, a Repugnantcan fundraiser who served as the “event planner.” Right wing-nut/talk show host/conspiracy promoter Alex Jones has said the Jan. 6 “rally” (well, they’ve really cleaned it up, haven’t they?) cost in the neighborhood of half-a-million dollars and that “a donor” paid for 80 percent of the cost.

Nearly two months earlier (On Nov. 9, to be exact, the week after the presidential election), RAGA asked the U.S. Supreme Court to INVALIDATE the Pennsylvania ballots. Guess who was the sitting chair of RAGA at the time?

One JEFFREY MARTIN LANDRY, extinguished attorney general for the gret stet of Looziana. And of course, that effort, like the 62 attempts that followed in courtrooms all across the U.S. FELL FLAT as the Repugnantcans, led by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell were simply failed to prove a single instance of widespread voter fraud.

Landry remains among the RAGA LEADERSHIP even though his term as chairman has expired and naturally, he was just OUTRAGED as all get-out at the violence that erupted during the peaceful demonstration by all those tourists, violence instigated, no doubt, by all those nasty infiltrating Antifa types.

On Jan. 9, just three days after that Capitol “tour,” LouisianaVoice published a story which revealed that Landry’s fingerprints were “all over” those robocalls inviting all those patriotic Americans to the U.S. Capitol to support their wronged leader. To review that story, click HERE

Keep in mind, if you will, that this man has aspirations to become Louisiana’s governor. If you want to elect Jindal 2.0, he’s your man. In baseball parlance, he consistently takes his eye off the ball and that’s the reason he has struck out so often.

He doesn’t even know the DIFFERENCE between Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

While lamenting the existence of so-called sanctuary cities, he busied himself in a side-business of providing IMPORTED WORKERS with the assistance of a convicted felon and somehow saw the logic in putting a well-heeled campaign contributor on the attorney general’s office PAYROLL.

He punted on the investigation into malfeasance in the 4th Judicial District Court in Monroe and likewise bailed on the investigation of the rapes inside the Union Parish jail.

He has stood by and done nothing about the taxi scam being condoned by ICE whereby detainees are forced to hire taxis to take them to bus stations and airports when ICE’s own regulation stipulate that they are to be provided transportation if they’re not within walking distance.

He has likewise done nothing about the repeated violations of basic human rights by private prisons in Louisiana.

He has remained silent as State Police run roughshod over basic citizen rights – even to the point of killing one unarmed motorist who had no drugs or alcohol in his system or in his vehicle.

He has been AWOL in any case of police overreach while keeping a high profile in his never-ending battles with Gov. John Bel Edwards. Inexplicably, he has defied the governor in attempts to protect Louisiana citizens with a mask mandate during the coronavirus pandemic – a mandate that actually had the state at the top of the list of states with favorable trends in the pandemic’s infection rate.

But he had not the slightest hesitation in interjecting himself into a foolish, futile effort to upset the election of the president of the United States when 63 separate courts subsequently ruled there was no basis to the claims of fraud.

Louisiana does not need someone who ignores the rule of law as our next governor. We also don’t need him to continue in the office of attorney general. He sadly conjures up images that classic Earl Long dig at Gremillion.

Read Full Post »

In retrospect, LSU got a bargain when it fired basketball coach Johnny Jones.

He only got $750,000 in severance pay.

Les Miles got twice that – $1.5 million – to go away and he got that much even after his departure under the cloud of the Title IX scandal that enveloped the LSU athletic program, even to the point of his being accused of sexual impropriety.

And that awful hire of Bo Pelini who was supposed to resurrect the Tigers’ four-man defensive front. But Pelini came with baggage and he and head coach Ed Orgeron were the personification of oil and water – they just didn’t mix – and LSU’s defense averaged surrendering 429 yards per game, fourth-worst among FBS teams.

The answer, of course, was to write another check. In this case Pelini got $4 million to make an early departure. Between Pelini, offensive coordinator Matt Canada and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan, who also were asked to exit, LSU cut checks totaling $7 million.

Now comes word that LSU, less than two years removed from a national championship from one of the best teams ever assembled and after giving Orgeron a nice raise and a contract extension, will now pay “Coach O” $16.949 million (oh, hell, just say $17 mil and be done with it) to vacate the premises at the end of the 2021 season.

The signs were there all the time that Orgeron was a problem just waiting to erupt. There was that restraining order from a woman in Miami during his time with the Hurricanes, his altercation at a bar in Baton Rouge as a visiting coach, his reported hell-raising drinking problems early in his career, and the unconfirmed story of his habit of cutting across a neighbor’s lawn in his pickup truck when he was head coach at the University of Mississippi. One entrenched at LSU, there was his divorce and later, that photo of him and a girlfriend in bed, all capped off by his mishandling of reports of sexual assaults by his players.

But then, there was that miracle of 2019 that managed to gloss over all those personal and professional warts only to be followed by failures that resulted in the blunt reminder of those shortcomings. Does anyone else see a parallel with a guy named Trump here?

So, now, in addition to forking out $17 million to bid adieu to the gravely-voiced Orgeron, the school will have to come up with another huge multi-year cash outlay to entice some other coach to Baton Rouge and Canes Chicken is going to have to shell out a few thousand to change all its billboards that currently tout “Coach O” in favor of the newcomer.

You’d never know things were tight economically around Baton Rouge what with the payout to Orgeron, that eight-year, $23.6 million contract for Kim Mulkey and the paltry $6.5 million, five-year contract for incoming baseball coach Jay Johnson.

Well, you wouldn’t know things were tight unless you visited other parts of the LSU campus, beginning with the school’s library where employees with offices in the basement know to wear rain boots during heavy rainfall because the water drips through the ceiling lights and pools around their feet and shelves on the lower floor are covered in plastic sheeting to protect microfilm and ancient government texts from the drips and floor tiles have been replaced with sheets of plywood.

It was estimated in 2016 that LSU had a $510 million BACKLOG  of renovation and improvement projects on its Baton Rouge campus. By 2019, that figure had swollen to $720 MILLION.

That same year, LSU opened an all-new, ultra-modern $28 million football OPERATIONS BUILDING  – complete with sleeping pods for those poor jocks. And yes, I’m aware it was financed with private funding, which says a lot about just what all those LSU supporters support.

Across all of Louisiana’s four- and two-year public schools, the total backlog on deferred maintenance ranges from $1.5 billion to $2 billion. The projects waiting for funding include roof replacements, air conditioning and heating unit repairs, upgrades to make buildings accessible to the disabled and other improvements associated with the wear and tear of decades-old facilities.

Public higher education institutions saw their state aid slashed by 55 percent during former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tenure. And although tuition and fee increases can be used to plug operating budgets at many schools like LSU, campuses are struggling to deal with their growing lists of renovation and infrastructure needs as historic buildings continue to age without funds to maintain them.

Over the past five years, the Board of Regents reports that only $4.5 million has been allocated for deferred maintenance work at higher education facilities.

But there’s no shortage of money to hire coaches and pay them top-tier money and then shell out mega-bucks to make them go away when they don’t meet expectations.

And for good measure, there’s also sufficient funds available to build the Taj Mahal of facilities to ensure that the athletes will continue to be pampered, no matter who occupies the head coach’s office.

Read Full Post »

Bloggers generally are written off by the so-called mainstream media and to tell the truth, it’s somewhat understandable that we are not always taken seriously. We often sprinkle personal opinions throughout our posts, a practice that is strictly taboo for the purists in the honorable field of journalism.

I’m keenly aware of the difference. I hold a degree in journalism and I’ve worked as a reporter and editor for several distinguished newspapers in Louisiana over my 40-plus years in the profession. But I’m not retired and do no answer to editors whose job it would be to keep me on the straight and narrow path of objectivity.

And now that I no longer draw a paycheck from any newspaper, I feel free to reveal (if, indeed, there is actually a need to break the news to anyone) that true objectivity is a pipe dream. Every reporter I’ve ever known has opinions. The good ones did – and do – manager to keep those personal feelings concealed from their readers.

My admiration for journalists knows no boundaries. It’s a thankless job and no one goes into journalism as a career for the purpose of getting rich. Joe Namath, in a moment of petulance, once characterized sports writers as “$125-a-week jerks.” He was pretty close to accurate on the $125-a-week jab. Well, Broadway Joe, if your intent is to heap criticism on writers, get in line; we’re used to it. People love to blame the messenger.

My question to an irate reader (and I’ve had to deal with many over the years) who takes issue with something I’d written about some politician is “So, just what did you learn about Mr./Ms. Politician that you’d rather not have known?” (Strangely enough, while it once stopped a Nixon supporter in his tracks, that tactic has never dissuaded a Trump supporter.)

But now that I’m looked upon as a blogger instead of a reporter – probably my writing style has a lot to do with that – sometimes it’s difficult getting people to take what I write seriously. One consistent detractor has taken to even stalking me and posting negative reviews of my books on Amazon when it’s obvious he’s never taken the trouble to actually read them. But that’s okay. I just try to consider the source and dismiss this troll out of hand.

There are those times, however, when my posts get the intended – and deserved, I felt – attention. The attempt to sneak a healthy retirement increase for State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson is a case in point. That story, posted in July 2014, after raising the fuss it warranted, prompted me to take a closer look at Louisiana State Police and I found disturbing trends throughout the Edmonson administration. Unfortunately, the mismanagement has continued long after he left LSP in 2016. It took a while, but eventually The Baton Rouge Advocate jumped on board and, to its credit, broke the story about the San Diego trip by several troopers in a state vehicle. That story was the final blow that forced Edmonson into retirement.

One LSP story the MSM keeps missing is the bogus claim that radio silence imposed during a manhunt was the reason slain Trooper ADAM GAUBERT was not discovered for 15 hours. My story about that elicited the observation from a knowledgeable reader who noted that at the end of the chase for Mathew Mire, the searchers were using a different talk group than they normally do.

There are at least 11 separate talk groups assigned to Troop A in the system used by LSP.

 One of those is designated as “car to car.”

“I believe if state police had leadership and its brass were not caught up in the chase, they would have made a simple broadcast for officers to switch to car-to-car briefly to allow a designated person to go down the roster to check for status,” the reader said.

“If someone didn’t answer, a call to cellphones and home phones should have occurred.

“The radio silence B.S. is just that. Did Troop A work any wrecks that day? How did they communicate that info?

“They didn’t have a plan in place to account for chaos at shift,” he said flatly.

I checked with “Joe,” my original source for my Oct. 12 post and his response was, “There are many, many frequencies to use. Dispatch 1 dispatch 2 car to car. And countless others. There is no reason that a voice option was not used but there are still the non-voice options. There is also the text system in the MDT (mobile data terminal – a laptop computer), which is a common way to send in crash information to the desk/ supervisor.”

Another important story the MSM tried its best to miss was the one I posted on Aug. 4 about the TAXI SCAM being imposed upon ICE detainees. But two-and-a-months later, The Advocate finally “discovered” the injustices detainees are forced to endure in obtaining transportation to airports or bus stations after their release from ICE facilities.

The point of this diatribe is to say that not all bloggers are to be dismissed as malcontents sitting in their underwear in their mothers’ basements (to paraphrase Donald Trump).

Easily the best one in Louisiana is Lamar White’s BAYOU BRIEF. Lamar and writer Sue Lincoln do the best job I’ve seen (and that includes the excellent Advocate writers) of covering the murky world of Louisiana politics. Lamar has sources I can only dream of having and his stories are thorough and riveting.

Any newspaper in the country would be honored to have someone of Lamar and Sue’s ability on their staff. Louisiana is fortunate indeed to have them. Yes, they’re bloggers but they’re damned good.

In the words of Kris Kristofferson:

I think that what they’ve done Is well worth doing

And they’re doing it the best way that they can

You’re the only one that you are fooling

When You put down what you don’t understand

–If You Don’t Like Hank Williams

Read Full Post »

A retired Louisiana State Trooper isn’t buying the radio silence reason for the body of Master Trooper Adam Gaubert’s body going undiscovered for 15 hours after being ambushed as he sat in his patrol unit doing paperwork.

Gaubert, a 19-year-veteran, was gunned down along with four other individuals, one of whom also died, in a shooting spree that covered three parishes. She was identified as Pamela Adair, 37, of Ascension Parish and was the half-sister of the suspected gunman, 31-year-old Matthew Mire. The other two, who received less severe wounds, were in Livingston Parish.

Surveillance video shows Mire drive up to Gauder’s vehicle around 2:30 a.m. Saturday as he sat behind a bank in Prairieville completing paperwork on an accident he had worked earlier. His body was not discovered until 5 p.m. by a fellow trooper who went looking for him.

State Police Superintendent Lamar Davis called the delay in finding Gaubert “ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE.” That much seems accurate, the retired trooper said.

Davis said the frantic search for Mire and the imposed radio silence created a “perfect storm” that allowed Gaubert’s murder to go unnoticed until Saturday evening. “There are some inconsistences, information we’re trying to gather,” Davis said He PROMISED LSP would make immediate changes to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

But why weren’t those changes made years ago? It’s not like LSP supervisors haven’t failed in the past to keep up with the whereabouts of troopers in a timely manner.

In 2016, State Trooper RONNIE PICOU was finally terminated after LouisianaVoice revealed that he would often leave work after only a couple of hours on shift to either go home and sleep or to work at the construction company he owned.

In 2015, we wrote that Picou “habitually works the first two or three hours of his 12-hour night shift (or four-to-six hours of his 12-hour day shift) and then goes on radio silence for the remainder of his shift.”

Then, in 2018, it was REVEALED  that Trooper Jimmy Rogers and three other troopers in Troop D (the same troop as Picou) were being paid for working Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) patrol that they in fact did not work. In fact, we wrote in 2016 the Rogers was falsifying records in connection with his LACE patrol. LACE is a cooperative program whereby local district attorneys pay state police for beefed-up patrol to catch traffic offenders.

So, how did Picou and Rogers get away with not working the hours they were supposed to work? A retired longtime state trooper explained it in a single word: laziness.

“LSP has a hard and fast regulation that when a trooper’s shift ends, he goes ’10-7.’ That means, ‘My shift’s over and I’m headed home.’ If that doesn’t happen, you better know the reason why. There’s also an unwritten policy that supervisors are supposed to check on the whereabouts of the troopers under their command every single hour,” said the retired trooper, whom I’ll call Joe. “There are plenty ways to check on troopers without resorting to radio,” he added.

“With Rogers and Picou, you had payroll fraud, which was bad enough,” he said. “In this case, you have a trooper who was murdered and no one knew where he was for 15 hours.”

Asked about Davis’s claim that Gaubert was not found for 15 hours partly because LSP was on radio silence during the manhunt for Mire, Joe was adamant, even angry, in his dismissal of that excuse.

“Bull F*****g S**t!” he practically shouted. That’s the most cowardly excuse I’ve ever heard! Every trooper has a cell phone, every trooper has a mobile data terminal (MDT) in his vehicle. That’s a laptop that every car is equipped with. His supervisors could have used those methods to try and communicate with him.

“Louisiana State Police has been doing this for years,” Joe said. “It’s pure laziness. Every single shift has at least two sergeants and one lieutenant whose job it is to keep up with the whereabouts and the well-being of troopers under their command.

“Police departments are paramilitary in their makeup. They even say they are paramilitary. They have the same rankings, the same chain of command and the same responsibilities to know where their people are at all times, to know they are safe, and to know what they need to do their jobs.

“Saturday night, you had three supervisors – at least – making more than $100,000 each who went home and went to bed without knowing where one of their men was,” said Joe. “Who knows? If they’d done their jobs, Adam Gaubert might still be alive. We’ll never know, will we?

“But I repeat, using radio silence as justification for not finding him for 15 hours is b***s**t.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: