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Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category

More details from the Jeff Mercer case against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) keep surfacing and each new revelation casts a long shadow over DOTD and the state judiciary, particularly in the second Circuit Court of Appeal.

And if that isn’t enough to shake your faith in the judicial system, the reputation of the 18th Judicial District across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge ain’t looking too good, either.

LouisianaVoice has obtained a document addressing Mangham subcontractor Jeff Mercer’s claim that clear shows that DOTD and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) were in agreement on the AMOUNT DOTD ADMITTED OWING MERCER. In an email dated June 6, 2016, DOTD Executive Counsel Cheryl Duvieilh wrote to FHWA official Joshua Cunningham that Mercer was entitled to payment of $363,075, plus judicial interest of $42,358.91 for a total of $405,433.91.

That money, a fraction of the $10 million Mercer said he was owed but which was being withheld after he refused demands from DOTD supervisors to kick back money and equipment to him in exchange for approval of his work, still has not been paid.

Instead, DOTD told Mercer and his attorney the money would held “hostage” until everything was settled, knowing that even a partial settlement would be an admission that all of Mercer’s claims were valid.

A separate document obtained by LouisianaVoice also shows that prime contractor AUSTIN BRIDGE, through whom Mercer’s company was contracted as a subcontractor, was owed $9,081,695.30 to resolve its contract claims in a pending mediation session.

That document, from John M. Dubreuil and Ryan M. Bourgeois and addressed to Richard Savoie, was dated Oct. 2, 2013, said, “Accept this memorandum as a final request to participate in the scheduled mediation with a maximum settlement authority of $9.1 million. It was signed off on by Savoie and three FHWA officials.

While other documents were requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the state’s Public Records statutes, as well as through official discovery in part of the civil process of litigation over the payments, those were the only two documents DOTD provided. Agency attorneys refused to release all other documents relative to claims by Mercer or Austin Bridge.

Because settlement negotiations are not admitted into testimony, the jury hearing Mercer’s lawsuit against DOTD was never apprised of DOTD’s in-house admission that it owed the money to Mercer. Despite not hearing this information, the 12-person jury unanimously awarded Mercer $20 million after hearing the sordid details of attempts of extortion, bribery and strong-arming.

DOTD appealed and Second Circuit Chief Judge Henry N. Brown, whose father was a DOTD civil engineer for 44 years, assigned the case to himself and wrote the opinion overturning the jury’s award.

It would be one thing if this was an isolated incident. Sadly, though, it is not. While the vast majority of judges carry on their duties quietly and without fanfare in their genuine efforts to dispense justice equitably, there are always those who will attempt to exploit their positions. They will either attempt financial gain or exercise power and to gain prestige from the bench—or all three.

  • New Orleans Federal Judge G. Thomas Porteous was removed from the bench in 2010 by the U.S. Senate after being IMPEACHED.
  • Judges in the 4th Judicial District (Ouachita and Morehouse parishes) filed SUIT against Ouachita Citizen Publisher Sam Hanna, Jr., two years ago in an effort to thwart efforts by the newspaper to obtain public records.
  • Judges Ronald Bodenheimer and Alan Green went to jail and a third judge, Joan Benge, was kicked out of office by the Louisiana Supreme Court. All three were caught up in the FBI’s nine-year investigation dubbed OPERATION WRINKLED ROBE.
  • Judge Wayne Cresap, 34th JDC Judge for St. Bernard Parish, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2010 for accepting $70,000 in bribes.

The latest is one Robin Free, formerly of the 18th JDC, which includes the parishes of Iberville, West Baton Rouge, and Pointe Coupee.

Slated to return to the bench after a one-year suspension by the State Supreme Court, Free suddenly RESIGNED on Friday (June 23) following reports he had been HARASSING West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies over their issuing speeding tickets on U.S. 190.

He was near the end of his year’s suspension for failing to maintain the integrity of his position and for exhibiting behavior described as “injudicious, lacking judicial temperament and giving an appearance of impropriety.”

One of the reasons for his suspension was his acceptance of a FREE TRIP from an attorney who had won a big judgment in Free’s court.

Click HERE for the full text of the June 29, 2016, Louisiana Supreme Court’s Judiciary Commission report.

Even during his suspension (without pay), he still managed to stay on the public payroll when Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso HIRED him as supervisor of Iberville Parish’s Department of General Services (whatever that is) at $75,000 per year. Ourso said Free was hired to update the parish’s personnel manual and to assist in drafting the parish’s 2017 fiscal year budget.

Free has clearly demonstrated that he is unfit to be entrusted with handing decisions that impact the lives of others. Perhaps he is qualified to work in an administrative position, but we doubt it. He exhibits far too much narcissism to be placed in any position of trust.

He is merely a symptom of the bigger problem of the public’s becoming increasingly wary and distrustful of the judicial system. The Billy Broussard and Jeff Mercer cases only serve to underscore the validity of that distrust.

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Were political considerations behind separate decisions by a state district judge to prohibit a contractor from seeking public records or a Second Circuit Court of Appeal judge to overturn a $20 million judgment against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)?

While definitive answers are difficult, there does seem to be sufficient reason to suspect that the lines between the judicial and administrative branches of government may have been blurred by the Second Circuit Chief Judge’s decision to negate the award to a contractor who a 12-person jury unanimously decided had been put out of business because he refused to acquiesce to attempts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

Judge Henry N. Brown, by assigning the case to himself and then writing the decision despite the fact his father had been a DOTD civil engineer for more than 40 years, may have placed federal funding for Louisiana highway projects in jeopardy.

And the RULING by 14th Judicial District Court Judge David A. Ritchie prohibiting Breaux Bridge contractor Billy Broussard from making legitimate public records requests of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury or of the Calcasieu Parish Gravity Drainage District 8 would appear to be patently unconstitutional based solely on the state statute that gives any citizen of Louisiana the unfettered right to make public records requests of any public agency.

In Broussard’s case, he was contracted by Gravity Drainage District 8 to clean debris from Indian Bayou following Hurricane Rita in 2005. Work done by his company was to be paid by FEMA. Gravity Drainage District 8 instructed Broussard to also remove pre-storm debris from the bottom of the bayou, telling him that FEMA would pay for all his work.

FEMA, however, refused to pay for the pre-storm cleanup and Gravity Drainage District 8 subsequently refused to pony up. Broussard, represented then by attorney Jeff Landry, since elected Attorney General, filed a lien against the drainage district.

When Broussard lost his case before Judge Ritchie, he continued to pursue his claim and submitted this PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST to the drainage district and to the police jury. Those efforts resulted in a heavy-handed LETTER from attorney Russell J. Stutes, Jr., which threatened Broussard with “jail time” if he persisted in his “harassment” of Calcasieu public officials.

And the injunction barring Broussard from future records requests, instead of being filed as a separate court document, was sought under the original lawsuit by Broussard, which presumably, if Stutes’s own letter is to be believed, was a final and thus, closed case. That tactic assured that Broussard would be brought before the original judge, i.e. Ritchie, who was already predisposed to rule against Broussard, no matter how valid a claim he had.

That was such a blatant maneuver that it left no lingering doubts that the cards were stacked against Broussard from the get-go. Everything was tied up in a neat little package, with a pretty bow attached. And Broussard was left holding a $2 million bag—and assessed court costs of $60,000 to boot.

In Jeff Mercer’s case, federal STATUTE U.S. Title 49 specifically prohibits discrimination against Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). It further requires that all states receiving federal funding for transportation projects must have a DBE program.

Mercer, a Mangham contractor, sued DOTD after claiming that DOTD withheld more than $11 million owed him after he rebuffed shakedown efforts from a DOTD inspector who demanded that Mercer “put some green” in his hand and that he could “make things difficult” for him.

Mercer suffers from epilepsy, which qualified him for protection from discrimination under Title 49.

His attorney, David Doughty of Rayville, feels that Brown should never have assigned the case to himself, nor should he have been the one to write the opinion. Needless to say, Doughty does not agree with the decision. He has filed an APPLICATION FOR REHEARING in the hope of having Brown removed from the case.

LouisianaVoice conducted a search this LIST OF CASES REVERSED BY 2ND CIRCUIT and the Mercer case was the only one of 57 reversals decided by a jury.

So it all boils down to a simple equation: how much justice can you afford?

When an average citizen like Broussard or Mercer goes up against the system, things can be overwhelming and they can get that way in a hurry.

Because the government, be it DOTD, represented by the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, or a local gravity drainage district, represented by the district attorney, has a decided advantage in terms of manpower and financial resources, giving the individual little realistic chance of prevailing.

In Broussard’s case, he did not. Mercer, at least, won at the trial court level, but the process can wear anyone down and that’s just what the state relied upon when it appealed.

With virtually unlimited resources (I worked for the Office of Risk Management for 20 years and I saw how an original $10,000 defense contract can balloon to $100,000 or more with few questions asked), the government can simply hunker down for the long haul while starving out the plaintiff with delays, interrogatories, requests for production, expert costs, court reporter costs, filing fees and attorney fees. Keeping the meter running on costs is the most effective defense going.

The same applies, of course, to attempts to fight large corporations in court. Huge legal staffs with virtually unlimited budgets and campaign contributions to judges at the right levels all too often make the pursuit of justice a futile chase.

And when you move from the civil to the criminal courts where low income defendants are represented by underfunded indigent defender boards, the contrast is even more profound—and tragic, hence a big reason for Louisiana’s high incarceration rate.

The idea of equal treatment in the eyes of the law is a myth and for those seeking remedies to wrongdoing before an impartial court, it is often a cruel joke.

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“LSU police chief retiring next month; national search on tap,” said the HEADLINE in the June 9 Baton Rouge Advocate.

But don’t look for that “national search” to extend far beyond the corporate limits of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And don’t be surprised if an old familiar name is quietly named the new chief.

We don’t want to announce his name just yet, but his initials are Mike Edmonson.

That same day, a Baton Rouge TV STATION announced that current LSU Police Chief Lawrence Rabalais was being forced out after it was learned that his department racked up $1.2 million in overtime pay last year for his 80-person staff.

In case you don’t have a calculator handy, that comes to about $15,000 per person in overtime pay but don’t carve that in stone because some apparently were not getting their share. Records obtained by New Orleans television investigative reporter Lee Zurik, working in conjunction with Baton Rouge station WAFB-TV, showed that two LSU police captains made more than Rabalais in both 2015 and 2016 from logging hundreds of hours of overtime. In 2016, one of those captains made $64,800 in overtime while the other pulled down $61,800 in overtime pay. In another case, an LSU officer made $56,200 in overtime pay, which was nearly $5,000 more than his base pay of $51,300.

Rabalais will be stepping down from his $127,800-a-year job, effective July 5, the school announced. LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard, III said Maj. Bart Thompson would serve as interim chief until a permanent successor is named. “We will begin a national search for his permanent successor and put together plans for a transition plan in the near future,” Ballard added.

When asked if the retirement was voluntary, he said, “Our policy is to not comment on personnel matters, but there have been no terminations at the police department.”

Well, no, when you can pressure someone into resigning or retiring, firing becomes a moot point and administrators can walk away without having to invoke the ugly F-word.

“We will begin a national search for his permanent successor and put together plans for a transition plan in the near future,” Ballard added.

The timing of the Rabalais announcement is more than a little suspect, to say the least.

Something just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Don’t take that as a defense of Rabalais. He certainly had sufficient baggage with the Helen Haire matter to warrant a change. It’s just that the university had the perfect opportunity to cut its losses when her sex discrimination suit wound up costing LSU big bucks after he was named chief over her. Instead, the school waited for an obscure issue like overtime to make its move.

One might then asked why, then, did LSU suddenly take action?

LouisianaVoice has learned that Edmonson, for nine years Superintendent of State Police until his lax managerial practices finally caught up with him in San Diego last October, is near the top of a very short list of candidates for the job.

Don’t be too surprised if he does indeed get the job. In Louisiana politics, the Peter Principle—the theory that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in his or her current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role—is in full effect.

Edmonson’s position prior to being named by Bobby Jindal to head Louisiana State Police was that of public information officer for LSP and as bodyguard for LSU football coaches—and he was very good at those because his duties primarily involved schmoozing those in a position to help his career along.

Unfortunately for Louisiana, that did not translate to effective leadership of the entire agency. In a state where administrators are chosen not for their ability but for their political connections, it is not only the norm but the expectation that mediocre people will occupy the positions of greatest power and influence. The more power and influence to wield, the greater the demand for mediocrity.

And nowhere in state government—and the emphasis is on nowhere—are political influence and inflated egos more prevalent than on the campus of Louisiana State University, aka the Ole War Skule.

It’s almost enough to make one wonder if, when the chance to bring Edmonson into that tight little clique that is LSU presented itself, LSU officials decided to jump at the opportunity and to belatedly “address” the Rabalais problem.

Oh, surely not.

LouisianaVoice was first with the STORY on March 10 that Edmonson was gone from the State Police and the official CONFIRMATION came five days later, on March 15. We also were consistently first on dozens of accounts of Edmonson’s controversial tenure as Louisiana’s top cop for more than four years until other media were finally forced, albeit reluctantly, to begin following the story, and then stepping in to politely accept the credit for his ouster.

Some of the events at which officers have worked overtime were understandable. Besides more than 130 LSU athletic events and Bayou Country Superfest, a three-day music festival held in Tiger Stadium for the past several years, there was the 2016 flood event in Baton Rouge last August and the police shootings of 2016. In the latter case, all police patrols went from one- to two-person patrols, thereby doubling the need for officers on all shifts. There also was the 2014 ice storm, and other crisis or emergency situations; fundraisers on campus;  events held by student organizations; work at other LSU facilities, and others.

Certainly it was a mere coincidence that Rabalais was told to clean out his desk at LSU so soon after Edmonson was told the same over at LSP.

 

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Do you happen to remember the LouisianaVoice STORY of April 2014 in which Jeff Mercer, owner of a defunct Mangham construction company, claimed in a lawsuit that the state owed him more than $11 million that was withheld after he resisted shakedown efforts from a Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) inspector who demanded that Mercer “put some green” in his hand and that he could “make things difficult for Mercer?”

Or do you happen to remember the follow up LouisianaVoice STORY of December 2015 in which the inspector, Willis Jenkins, admitted during the trial that he did indeed say he “wanted green,” but that he was only joking. Or that because money Mercer said he was entitled to was withheld, he eventually had to shutter his construction company?

Apparently Mercer possessed sufficient proof that a 12-person jury, after a grueling, 30-day trial, unanimously awarded him $20 million. Not only did the jury hold DOTD liable for damages, but it also held four individual DOTD employees—Willis Jenkins, Michael Murphy, Barry Lacy, and John Eason—personally liable.

Employed by the jury in arriving at its verdict was such benign nomenclature as “collusion,” “bribery,” “extortion,” “conspiracy,” and “corruption.”

But that wasn’t good enough for the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, a judge with a spotty legal record of his own—and a judge with ties sufficiently close to DOTD that he probably should never have touched this case in the first place—not even with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

Mercer’s award was not just reduced, but obliterated, when it was overturned in its entirety, showing again how subtle nuances of the legal system allow for gross injustice to be perpetrated against those lacking the right connections or campaign cash.

There was a similar case in Calcasieu Parish involving contractor Billy Broussard, a gravity drainage district, and a contract to clean hurricane debris out of a local bayou. Broussard was instructed to clean out pre-storm debris, to be paid by FEMA. FEMA refused to pay for the unauthorized cleanup, and the gravity drainage district has refused to honor its obligations, costing Broussard millions of dollars.

And the legal system has been irresponsible in protecting the rights of first Broussard and now Mercer, leaving one to wonder with some justification: “What happens when I need the protection of the courts?”

It’s interesting that in our society, we tend to put a lot of faith in robes. But a black robe and a gavel do not endow a person with wisdom, or even knowledge. They are merely symbolic. Yet, when we walk into a courtroom, we are expected—required—to be reverent, attentive, and respectful and to never, under any circumstances, question the authority of the man or woman on the raised bench clad in that black robe and holding that gavel.

Of course there must be decorum in an environment of dispute resolution. Otherwise, events quickly descend into chaos. But that certainly does not mean that the presiding officer of the court is infallible. Far from it.

And that seems to be the one fact that some judges tend to forget—all too often.

Judge Henry N. Brown, as Chief Judge of the Second Circuit, has the responsibility of assigning cases. In Mercer’s case, he somewhat incredibly chose to assign it to himself—and wrote the decision.

The problem with that? Oh, not much…except that Brown’s father was a civil engineer for DOTD for 44 years, thus creating what could be perceived as an instant conflict of interest. Nor, apparently, did he ever once see the need to inform Mercer or his attorney—or anyone else, for that matter—of this inconvenient little fact.

Mercer’s attorney, David Doughty of Rayville, is understandably upset. “Mercer has a constitutional right to a fair trial before an impartial judge,” he says in his MEMORANDUM in Support of Application for Rehearing and his Motion to Recuse and Vacate the Panel’s Opinion.

“Only after the June 7 decision (by the Second Circuit) did plaintiff (Mercer)/appellee learn that Chief Judge Henry Brown, Jr. failed to disclose the critical fact that his father, Henry N. Brown, Sr., had been a civil engineer for the State of Louisiana in the Shreveport area for 44 years,” the memorandum says.

Doughty cited a case in which a West Virginia judge refused to recuse himself and the state Supreme Court subsequently found “that the risk of perceived bias was so great that due process requires recusal.”

“Judge Brown’s failure to recuse himself from the case or even disclose this huge potential bias undermines the very fabric of our people’s faith in the judicial integrity of the Second Circuit Court of Appeal,” the memorandum says. “This failure erodes public confidence in the integrity or capacity of this judiciary.”

Doughty wrote that the Second Circuit’s decision should be vacated “especially in the wake of a unanimous 12-person jury verdict finding that the plaintiff had proven governmental corruption and conspiracy.”

Brown won a close race for reelection as district attorney in 1984 over then State Rep. Bruce Bolin of Minden. In that campaign, Bolin accused Brown of having dropped charges against 230 suspects. Some of those charges, Bolin said, included rape, narcotics violations and DWI. Bolin, in what must be considered campaign rhetoric, also said Brown had not adequately prosecuted murder cases.

But Brown was known for his dogged prosecution of murder cases as a district attorney. Sending five defendants to the electric chair, he was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes and the Fox Channel’s The Reporters. He was called “The Deadliest Prosecutor” by one publication.

At least one of Brown’s high-profile prosecutions, however, was overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

In 1986, he was the district attorney in the prosecution of James M. Monds of Keithville in Caddo Parish. Monds, at the time a surgical technician at Barksdale AFB, was convicted of the murder of a woman who was raped, assaulted, and mutilate in a high school parking lot. Despite his denial that he had ever met the victim and that he had no knowledge of her death, he was convicted. In 1994, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that insufficient evidence, most of it of a circumstantial nature, existed to continue to incarcerate Monds. He was subsequently released after serving nearly nine years in prison.

Doughty said it is a “matter of common sense that someone whose family is so deeply connected to the DOTD should not hear the case out of fundamental fairness” and that the decision to do so constituted violations of CANONS 2 and 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

So, bottom line: There is often little correlation between law and justice.

And people like Jeff Mercer and Billy Broussard end up nailed to the wall by a perverted legal system that is grotesquely unfair, to say the least.

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I found my old buddy Harley Purvis sitting in his usual spot: in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark at John Wayne’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que House and Used Light Bulb Emporium in Watson, Louisiana.

But something was decidedly different. The President of the Greater Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist, Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (GLPAARMCSBCSLC) was looking at his cell phone and….smiling.

Harley never smiles.

I slid into the booth opposite him, saying nothing. Without looking up, he pushed his phone across the table at me. “You gotta see this,” he said. “You know how the folks in Baton Rouge used to call us ignorant rednecks out here in Livingston Parish? Well they can’t do that anymore ‘cause so many of ‘em have moved out here for our far superior schools. But if you want to see real country,” he said with a chuckle, “take a gander at this.”

I picked up his phone and saw he was logged onto a story about a couple in Kentucky who had run off the road and hit a utility pole, stirring up an angry hive of bees. For the young lady, clad only in a bikini, it was not a fun experience. But Harley wasn’t amused at their plight. The story had an INTERVIEW with a local resident who was interrupted from feeding and watering his chickens by the impact.

I told Harley it reminded me of the time when I attended my father’s funeral in Nashville. As we sat in the small funeral parlor, one of his step-grandsons began talking to me.

“Ah got to git mah waf’ sumpin’ fer our anneyversary an’ Ah don’ know whut to git ‘er,” he said in an almost incomprehensible Tennessee drawl. I noticed his chin was moving from side to side and in and out in an apparent effort to wrap his mouth around his words as he slurred them out. It was like some kind of caricature from the movie Deliverance.

“Why don’t you get her what I got my wife?” I asked, already feeling guilty for what I was doing.

“Whut’d yew git yer waf’?” I thought for a brief moment he’d dislocated his jaw.

“I got her a solar powered clothes dryer.”

“SO-ler pawered? Ah ain’t never hurd o’ Thet.”

“Well, we just call it a clothes line.”

“Snork, snork, ungh, snork. Thet’s a good ‘un. Snork, ungh, snork.” He was slinging snot all over the room in something akin to a laugh that I had never heard emanate from a human before—all as my father lay in an open casket only a few feet away.

“That’s funny,” said Harley, “but without a video, you can’t really compare it to the bee in the bikini description this guy gives us.”

He had a point, so I decided to change the subject.

“So, what’s your take on the legislature this week?” I knew the answer before I asked and he didn’t let me down.

His face instantly turned into a dark scowl. “Those idiots just took the Louisiana taxpayers for a cool $68,688 in the first three days of the special session and they didn’t do a cotton-pickin’ thing,” he said.

“How so?” I asked.

“Do the danged math. They get $159 per day. There’s 144 legislatures, which is why I refer to ‘em as gross ignorance. And they took a three-day recess as soon as John Bel called the special session. That’s 144 times $159 times three days, which is a $68,688 cost to the taxpayers and they never lifted a finger to address the budget.”

“But he wasn’t through with the lawmakers. “You can talk about deadheads on the state payroll but no one compares to the legislature,” he said. “They are paid a base salary of $16,800 per year, the $159 per diem and each members gets a $1500 monthly office allowance ($18,000 per year) $6,000 in unvouchered expenses, a state phone, and a state computer.

“Altogether, that comes to a cool $7.8 million per year in even-numbered years for the 85-day session and $7.25 million in odd-numbered years for the 60-day session. That’s an average of between $50,340 and $54,315 per year for a part-time job, depending on odd or even year salaries.

“And don’t forget they also get that per diem any time they come to Baton Rouge for committee meetings or for attending legislative-related seminars and conferences—with travel, hotel and meals also paid for by taxpayers. And they take an awful lot of trips to these conferences and seminars.

“And what do we get for our dime? A bunch of lame brains who can’t even elect a capable House speaker to lead them and a Senate president who is a Democrat of Republican, depending solely on which label will get him elected. They just wasted 60 days without coming up with a budget and when the guv calls a special session, they call a three-day recess—all while collecting their damned $159 per day. Maybe weed killer-drinkin’ John Kennedy was right. We do have a spending problem, but it’s not the spending of money on needed programs and infrastructure that bothers me. It’s the spending problem we have with too many contracts going to too many cronies and the spending problem we have when we pay legislators to sit on their backsides and pass meaningless recognitions of constituents, stupid resolutions that don’t carry the weight of law and other silly nonsense like after-hours parties and eating at Baton Rouge’s best restaurants—compliments of lobbyists and special interests—while giving short shrift to what we send ‘em to Baton Rouge for in the first place.

“I don’t want to see any more taxes imposed on the middle class of this state any more than the next guy. But for the life of me, I don’t see why we can’t ask the corporations to pull their share of the load instead of getting more and more tax breaks from the state in exchange for low-paying jobs—if they create new jobs at all. I have a friend who says if we give corporations a tax break, they will make more money and give more jobs to the citizens of the state. That sounds good in theory but we’ve got plenty of evidence that this trickle-down economics just doesn’t work. They make more money to give higher salaries to their CEOs and to help their boards of directors see big increases in their stock options. That’s all the trickle down you get.

“But these clowns let LABI pull their strings like some kind of wizard puppet master, which is exactly what that organization is—a giant puppet master pulling the strings of a bunch of brainless marionettes.”

He paused for a minute to catch his breath. “And I don’t give the governor a free pass, either. I told him right after he got elected that he oughta appoint retired executives to his cabinet posts at salaries of $1 per year. We have plenty of qualified people with the expertise to run a tight ship and I know there are those who would gladly do it on a voluntary basis. We have retired corporate CEOs, retired college presidents, and even retired rank and file people who have good, God-given common sense. But what did John Bel do? He told me. ‘I’ll think about it,’ and then promptly put people in place paying them more than Bobby Jindal was paying his people.

“And that ain’t all,” he said. “I have some figures on some other agencies and programs that I’ll be sharing with you in due time and I guarantee it’ll grill your cheese when you see the numbers.”

I’d gotten an earful so I excused myself and came home to write this while it was fresh on my mind.

Ol’ Harley’s always good for a quote or two.

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