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Archive for the ‘Cartoons’ Category

Trying to write about Troy Hebert, former director of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC), without getting mired down in controversy is a little like trying to run in knee-deep mud.

Likewise, attempts to make sense of it all is akin to trying to interpret a paint factory explosion as an expression of avant garde art.

avant-garde-art

It’s long past time to move on. Hebert is no longer conducting his misrule at ATC and he’s going about as far in his bid for U.S. Senator as Bobby Jindal did in his equally comical quest for the Republican presidential nomination. But flies have experienced less difficulty escaping from spider webs than we have in moving past the saga of Hebert et al.

It’s no longer a matter of LouisianaVoice writing about Troy Hebert; now it’s sub-factions sending messages back and forth, accusing each other of lying, threatening lawsuits, and still more anonymous sources coming forward with new information. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/09/20/fbi-agent-says-hebert-cleared-of-corruption-n-o-publication-way-off-in-identifying-our-story-source/

We no sooner pose our story about New Orleans attorney and former State Sen. Julie Quinn’s three-page letter to New Orleans CityBusiness demanding a retraction of its story about Quinn’s alleged representation of clients before ATC in applications for liquor licenses than we received copies of documents appearing to refute all of Quinn’s refutations.

This time, rather than offer denials of Facebook postings or legal representation, this unknown person, using the synonym “Sherlock Holmes” (not too terribly original), sent a screenshot of a Facebook post Quinn said she did not send. Also included were documents indicating that Quinn may have indeed represented clients in liquor license application matters.

Here is the complete text of that email:

From: Sherlock Holmes [mailto:] Sent: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 3:28 PM To: azspeak@cox.net Subject: Julie Quinn is LYING to you

Tom,

In your September 20, 2016 article you reported that LA attorney and former state senator, Julie Quinn told Louisiana Voice that she had never represented a client before ATC and quoted her as stating “I don’t do liquor licenses and I have NEVER in my career represented a single client in a liquor permit matter” (emphasis added).

Interestingly, in the letter to City Business from Quinn’s law partner, Mr. Alsterberg, (that you have attached to your October 4, 2016 article) he states: “…in fact, throughout her entire career, Ms. Quinn has only assisted a single client in this type of matter [alcohol licensing], which occurred four years ago on behalf of a restaurant located in the warehouse district, not a bar located in the French Quarter.”

Based on these two contradictory statements, it is clear that Ms. Quinn LIED  to you. 

Also, the attached emails, articles and Facebook post provide irrefutable evidence that Ms. Quinn, and now her law partner, continue to lie about her business dealings involving the ATC and also about her Facebook activity. I WONDER WHAT SHE IS TRYING TO HIDE????

Julie Quinn has represented (or held herself out to state governmental officials and the media as representing) at least 6 clients in ATC related matters between Jan 2013 and March 2016 including: a business in Grand Isle that was operating under a previous owner’s permit; a French Quarter business that had its permit revoked and had a bad reputation in the area for being a location frequented by prostitutes, panderers, johns, and were multiple arrest for drugs and weapons were made; and 3 French Quarter strip clubs.   

The attached documents also show that Quinn did in fact do more than “post links to two articles” on her Facebook page and that she did in fact make a Facebook post insinuating that “she just killed a politician.”  As you will see, the Facebook post provided were made in near proximity to your article about the FBI investigating Troy Hebert.

In addition to his email message, “Sherlock” also included DOCUMENTS that included copies of the Facebook screen shot, emails that alluded to representation of clients applying for liquor licenses, and news stories citing Quinn as the source of a Facebook post of a cartoon about confessing to killing “a politician.”

With stories in the queue about a significant court ruling on public records, flood recovery efforts and potential a judicial conflict of interests on the part of a Baton Rouge judge, this should be the final word in the sordid saga of Troy Hebert.

But it probably won’t be.

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How much does a legislator cost in Louisiana?

Certainly, that’s a loaded question, an ambush question, if you will.

Some go pretty cheap. Others not so much.

For the record, State Rep. Terry Brown (I-Colfax) says he is not for sale.

Brown, testifying before the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee last Wednesday in favor of House Bill 11, did what few legislators will ever do: he related payoff overtures he said were made by representatives of the target of the bill, Clean Harbors and its efforts to burn some two million pounds of explosives from Camp Minden in Webster Parish.

A massive explosion occurred at Camp Minden in October 2012, creating a mushroom cloud that loomed 7,000 feet over the town. That led to decision to burn 15 million pounds of explosives on open “burn trays” at the site.

That decision set off a firestorm of protests that involved citizens and officials from Baton Rouge to Washington and the plan was eventually scrapped in favor of moving the burn to the Clean Harbors location in Grant Parish where (surprise) the plan was met with an equally hostile reception.

Clean Harbors, Inc. was founded in Brockton, Massachusetts, in 1980 and has expanded to 400 locations, including more than 50 hazardous waste management facilities, in North America. Revenues for the company in 2016 totaled $3.28 billion, according to the Clean Harbors Web site. http://ir.cleanharbors.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=96527&p=irol-news&nyo=0

Clean Harbors in February withdrew its permit request to quadruple the amount it can burn at its facility located about five miles northwest of Colfax, although the company continued its open burning of explosives at the site. http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/local/2016/02/19/hb-11-next-battleground-colfax-open-burning/80565032/

HB 11, by Reps. Brown and Gene Reynolds (D-Minden), would prohibit open burning statewide as a method of disposal of explosive materials, such as those burned at Clean Harbors’ Colfax facility.

“…I was asked as a state representative by a person representing Clean Harbors, ‘What would it take for me to pull this bill?’” Brown testified. “They (Clean Harbors) started out by saying they would pay for our sewer system in South Grant Parish, that they would give my schools playground equipment, my Little League ball teams uniforms—and they would make me a part of it.

“Ladies and gentlemen of this panel, I am not for sale,” Brown said.

Here is the link to his testimony: http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Video/VideoArchivePlayer.aspx?v=house/2016/apr/0427_16_NR

It was a long committee meeting, lasting just more than five hours. To get to Brown’s testimony, move the cursor below the video to 3:04:30.

The bill barely made it through the committee by a 9-8 vote and will be debated on the House floor on Wednesday.

Representatives voting against the bill in its amended form were Committee Chairman Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette), James Armes (D-Leesville), Jean-Paul Coussan (R-Lafayette), Phillip DeVillier (R-Eunice), John Guinn (R-Jennings), Christopher Leopold (R-Belle Chasse), Jack McFarland (R-Jonesboro), and Blake Miquez (R-Erath).

Amendments to the bill http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=998279 included a self-defeating provision allowing the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to authorize open burning of munitions or waste explosives by the military or by state police and one that would make the effective date of the bill January 1, 2018, which would allow continued burning for an additional 18 months.

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CONSEQUENCES OF VOTING

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

Melvin L. “Kip” Holden (DEM)             Defeated         506640            45%

“Billy” Nungesser (REP)                     Elected            628876            55%

Turnout: 40.2% 

We’re not yet halfway through the 2016 legislative session in which lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards are struggling to close a $2 billion budget gap for the coming fiscal year but attention has been diverted from that knotty problem by one of the most bizarre political behavior since Earl Long’s mental crash of 1959, accompanied by a whirlwind tour of the Southwest and his fling with stripper Blaze Starr.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser fell for a phishing scam that’s been around at least three years and in doing so, proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that Louisiana’s electoral legacy of a revolving door for scalawags, con men, thieves and clowns is securely intact. And while we’re at it, let’s not leave out outright idiots and demagogues.

You’d think we had at least partially rid ourselves of that ilk with the exit of Bobby Jindal, but you’d be oh, so wrong. There apparently is no shortage of egos or stupidity to go around and sadly, we keep electing them. The legislature is riddled with those who have set themselves apart from reality.

Thanks to the diligence of Baton Rouge Advocate reporters Rebekah Allen and Richard Thompson, we are now assured that Billy Nungesser is heir-apparent to the title of Chief Clown in residence—a worthy successor to Jindal, we might add.

The two reporters on Sunday (April 10) broke an astonishing story that Nungesser, abetted by state Republican Chairman Roger Villere, not only fell for a huge scam involving a supposed agreement between a Delaware-based corporation, a Lake Charles refinery, and the Iraqi government, but he did it without the knowledge or consent of Gov. John Bel Edwards on whose behalf he claimed he was acting. http://theadvocate.com/news/politics/15398751-125/lt-gov-billy-nungesser-gop-chairman-roger-villere-work-to-recruit-unlikely-iraq-to-louisiana-busin

For sheer audacity, it even surpassed Huey Long’s classic “Round Robin” pledge by 15 senators to block his impeachment back in 1929. Huey, after all, was battling for his political life while Nungesser was only feeding his inflated ego like a ravenous wolf devouring a fresh deer carcass. And he fed it with a story that had no basis in fact. And he did it for all the world to see. And then he apologized. Sort of.

While Baton Rouge was metaphorically wiping its eyes and laughing at this buffoon, we did a quick Internet search and found that a former East Baton Rouge parish councilman and failed mayoral candidate fell for a variation of the same scheme involving the same Delaware corporation three years ago. More about that later.

First, here is what has transpired thus far:

  • Villere, the state GOP brain bust…er, trust, apparently approached Nungesser for a new billion-dollar deal that involved a plan by Alexandros, Inc. http://alexandrosinc.com/index.html to partner with Pelican Refinery of Lake Charles http://www.pelican-refinery.com/index.html in signing a 25-year agreement to become the exclusive shipping company for the Iraqi government’s oil marketing arm, interchangeably called the State Organization for Marketing Oil and the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO). The plan called for the transporting of up to 150 million barrels of Iraqi oil each month. http://www.alexandrosinc.com/shipping.html
  • Alexandros, headed by CEO Markos Fuson of California, proposed reopening the former Avondale Shipyard on the Mississippi River near New Orleans. The facility shut down in 2014.
  • Alexandros also proposed building more than 40 new ships, “super-tankers,” capable of hauling 200 million barrels of oil per month.
  • Fuson supposedly committed to investing 100 percent of his profits from the venture in Louisiana’s motion picture industry and to then invest his share of film profits into an as-yet-to-be-created charitable foundation that would provide education, health care and housing assistance to Louisiana’s minorities.
  • Pelican Refining’s role in the scenario was unclear, given the fact the Lake Charles facility only produces asphalt and road oil. It has not processed sweet or heavier crude oil in more than a decade, The Advocate quoted the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources as saying.

If all that sounds implausible enough, consider this: Nungesser, salivating over the prospects of establishing himself as the state’s economic emancipator, then took matters into his own hands. In quick succession, he:

  • Issued a press release in March saying that Iraqi’s export agency had signed off on Alexandros’s request to partner with Pelican Refining to purchase light and heavy crude oil from SOMO.
  • Inexplicably sent the press release only to the Washington Post which, recognizing a con when it saw one, chose not to publish the release.
  • Represented himself in the news release as well as in letters to representatives of the Department of State and to Iraqi officials as Louisiana’s economic development recruiter (he’s not; that duty falls to the Secretary of Economic Development, in this case, Donald Pierson). “The honorable governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, has given me a directive to expedite economic stimulus for the state of Louisiana,” Nungesser lied in his letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, adding, “This request for Your Excellency’s advocacy is part of my office’s effort to fulfill that directive.”
  • Wrote similar letters to Stuart Jones, ambassador to Iraq, and to Secretary of State John Kerry in which he again passed himself off as the state’s key economic development leader. “It is with sincere gratitude that I, Billy Nungesser, as the lieutenant governor of the state of Louisiana, respectfully request the Department of State’s additional advocacy to the Republic of Iraq on behalf of the state of Louisiana,” he wrote to Kerry and Stuart.
  • Said in his letters that he copied Edwards with all correspondence. Not so, said a spokesman for the governor’s office, who said Edwards never received a copy.
  • With egg all over his face, denied reading, let alone writing the letters that he signed. Instead, he officially kicked off the blame game, saying first that Villere, an old friend and political ally, had told him he wanted a letter expressing the state’s interest.
  • In the lowest of lows, blamed his staff, saying the letters should never have made their way to his desk. “We’re changing the way some things flow in my office to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he was quoted as saying by The Advocate.
  • Apologized to Edwards. “I would have never used the governor’s name without his permission,” he added.

Falah Alamri, SOMO director general, said the entire deal was a scam, “a hundred percent not real,” The Advocate story says.

But wait. Jeff DeRosia, operations manager for Grand Isle Shipyard in Galliano, says otherwise. “I know they’re real. One hundred percent,” he said. DeRosia, it should be noted also is executive vice president of domestic sales for Alexandros, according to Alexandros documents.

So just where does Villere figure in this entire sordid mess? Who knows? He did, however write his own letter back in February to the Iraqi prime minister and the minister of Oil, Adil Abd al-Mahdi in which he laid out the “urgent next steps that the state of Louisiana and the United States insist upon.” Some of those steps included SOMO’s granting legal authority and the issuing of contracts to Pelican Refining.

It’s still unclear how Villere considered himself in a position to insist on anything on behalf of the United States or Louisiana governments.

The three—Nungesser, Villere and DeRosia—would have been wise to do even the slightest bit of investigation before going off the reservation the way they did.

Our own quick search found a Web site called Ripoff Report in which a Baton Rouge writer in February 2013 warned of a similar scheme by Alexandros. http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Alexandros-Inc/Highland-California-92346/Alexandros-Inc-Attempt-to-Defraud-with-Fake-Documents-Highland-California-1053139

In that report, Terry Easley produced a letter purportedly from the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization attesting to a professional relationship between Alexandros, Inc., Fuson, and the Iraqi government. The letter was signed, supposedly by Sarmad H. Abd, SOMO general manager of contracts, and John Percy de Jongh, Jr., governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Easley pointed out discrepancies in the letterhead of that sham letter, comparing it to one he received on April 29, 2013, from SOMO Director General Alamri. The Alamri letter, he said, was on the correct letterhead, complete with correct logos, addresses and contact information in both English and Arabic. Here are the contents of that letter:

TO: Mr. Terry L. Easley

Email: [REDACTED]

Subj./Fraud Document

Reference to you letter dated 26th April 2013.

Please note the following:

1-The Document attached to your above letter is fraud and has never been issued by SOMO.

2-SOMO has no business relationship whatsoever neither with a company named “Alexandros, Inc.” nor with a person called “Sarmad H. Abd”.

3-Our policy is to deal directly and exclusively with End Users (refining system owners) and not through traders or middlemen.

Best Regards,

Dr. Falah J. Alamri

Director General

/04/2013

Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) Fax: + 964 1 7726 574 / + 964 1 7742 979

PO Box 5118 Email: info@somooil. Gov. Iq

Baghdad – Iraq Web: www.somooil. Gov. Iq

The fake letter that precipitated the above response from Alamri, Easley said, was also copied to one Darrell Glasper of Baton Rouge. Glasper, for those outside the Baton Rouge area, was a member of the Baton Rouge Metro Council and ran for mayor-president against incumbent Kip Holden in 2008. He later admitted to paying for a campaign flier during that election which included doctored photos depicting Holden after being severely beaten by the husband because of an affair between the two.

Ironically, seven years later Nungesser would defeat Holden in an election for the lieutenant governor’s office.

The Baton Rouge media and a prominent blogger lost no time jumping all over the hapless and apparently clueless Nungesser.

Reporter Stephanie Grace, saying on Tuesday (April 12) that Nungesser had gone rogue, pointed out that in a 2011 forum between lieutenant governor candidates, Jay Dardenne pounded Nungesser on the duties of the office while Nungesser countered by saying he was one who followed his gut and “thinks outside the box.” http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/15457076-133/stephanie-grace-nungesser-goes-rogue-on-whacky-economic-deal

Grace said in his first big move after taking office in January, he “proved he’s thinking much further outside the box than anyone could have imagined.”

Saying that Nungesser “has no authority over economic development, no right to speak for the governor, and no place contacting the U.S. government, a national news organization, or a foreign head of state” on behalf of Edwards, she did give him a backhanded compliment in noting that he “basically fessed up to have had no idea what he was doing.”

She suggested that Nungesser make a call to Dardenne, who now serves as Commissioner of Administration. “I’m guessing he’d (Dardenne) would be perfectly happy to, once again, school Nungesser on what the day job entails—and what it doesn’t.”

Political blogger Lamar White wasn’t quite as kind.

In his post today (April 12), White suggested that far from being funny, Nungesser’s actions are impeachable. https://cenlamar.com/2016/04/12/lt-gov-nungessers-scam-deal-isnt-funny-its-impeachable/

I disagree. I think to save himself further humiliation, he should take it upon himself to resign.

Even more biting, however, was White’s quote from Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project, another political blog: “I always used to wonder what kind of person fell for those Nigerian prince email scams. This says a lot.”

White called Nungesser’s actions “an enormous embarrassment to Louisiana, a blatant usurpation of the statutory power of the Lt. Governor’s office.” He said it also “demonstrates both an enormous disrespect to Gov. John Bel Edwards, for whom Nungesser deliberately misrepresented as working under his authority and blessing, and a fundamental and damaging misunderstanding of the duties of his office.”

He referred to Nungesser’s claim of never having read the letters he signed and his blaming of his staff as “pathetic.”

Not overlooking the role of the state GOP chairman in the fiasco, White said Villere’s “intimate involvement, at the very least, warrants an investigation into criminal conspiracy.”

But then he observed, perhaps correctly that Nungesser need not fear the consequences. “Louisiana is too busy laughing at him to worry about actually holding him accountable.”

There is a lot of stupid to go around in Baton Rouge but with this stunt, Nungesser may have laid claim to franchise rights.

And that is particularly pathetic.

CLOWN IN CHIEF

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http://transparentpiyjay.com/

(CLICK ON LINK TO ENLARGE)

Folks, apparently our mystery cartoonist feels his work is done. To borrow a term from the late C.B. Forgotston, as long as we have narrow-minded, ambitious “leges” with their own agendas, there will be a need for someone like our mystery cartoonist to poke pins in their overblown egos.

Please join me in encouraging him to remain on his unpaid job. It’s important. You may add your thoughts simply by commenting below.

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MIKE'S DREAMS

THE ANONYMOUS CARTOONIST STRIKES AGAIN!

(Click on image to enlarge)

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