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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

LouisianaVoice has expressed concerns about the industrial tax incentives, aka giveaway programs, for years. It has been our contention that while welfare cheats are an easy target for criticism, the money lost to fraudulent welfare and Medicaid recipients is eclipsed by the billions of dollars stolen from taxpayers in the form of industrial tax exemptions, incentives, and credits.

Of course, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry would never concede that fact. Instead, they use the stage magician’s tactic of misdirection by claiming runaway lawsuits, organized labor, higher wages (they are especially terrified of an increase in the $7.25 minimum wage) and poor public education performance are to blame for Louisiana’s economic and social ills.

Never (not once) will one hear LABI point to poverty as a cause of the state’s low ranking in everything good and high ranking in everything bad. Never (not once) will one hear LABI, the local chambers of commerce, or the Louisiana Office of Economic Development call attention to the billions of dollars in relief given businesses and industry—from Wal Mart to Exxon—in the form of corporate welfare—leaving it to working Louisianans to pick up the check.

And all you have to do to understand how this has occurred is to follow the money in the form of campaign contributions to legislators and governors and visit the State Capitol during a legislative session and try—just try—to count the lobbyists. Better yet, you may do better by counting lobbyists and legislators following adjournment each night as they gather for steaks, lobster and adult beverages at Sullivan’s or Ruth’s Chris—compliments of lobbyists’ expense accounts.

And while LouisianaVoice has attempted to call attention to this piracy, an outfit called Together Louisiana has put together a 15-minute video presentation that brings the picture into sharp, stark focus. The contrast between two separate economies living side by side is stunning.

Stephen Winham, retired director of Louisiana’s Executive Budget Office called the video “a super good presentation of facts our decision-makers choose to ignore as they have for many, many decades.”

Winham went a step further in saying, “Our leaders seem to think we are all too dumb to understand this—and that’s a positive assessment. A more jaundiced view would be that they don’t want us to understand it.

“All we can do is keep on keeping on with our individual attempts to communicate this and let our elected officials know that we do understand and that we hold them responsible and accountable. Unfortunately, when I attempt to talk about this with individuals and groups, their eyes glaze over within minutes. I’m not going to stop trying, though, and neither should anybody else.

“I am happy to have this information in such a tight presentation,” Winham said.

So, with that, here is that video:

 

And if that’s not enough to convince you, THIS STORY was posted late Friday.

 

 

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We’re number one.

For 28 straight years.

Nick Saban can’t make that claim about Alabama.

Even more alarming: for an incredible 28 straight years, Louisiana leads the country in STATEWIDE murder rates.

Twenty. Eight. Straight. Years.

Thanks in large part to the state’s three largest cities: New Orleans, Baton Rouge and SHREVEPORT.

Because of the somewhat dated data, this might seem to be a non-story.

On the other hand, unless the trend has reversed itself dramatically, the findings remain dishearteningly and disturbingly relevant.

And so far, there seems to be no indication of any such reversal.

For the years 2015-2016, New Orleans had the highest per capita firearm homicide rate in the nation—four times the national rate and twice those of Chicago and Detroit, the so-called murder capitals of America.

Figures published by 24/7 Wall St., an independent research company that publishes some 30 reports daily, shows that New Orleans had 404 firearm homicides, a rate of 16.6 per 100,000 population. The national rate was 4.4 per 100,000 while Detroit and Chicago had firearm homicide rates of 8.2 and 8.1 per 100,000 population, respectively.

You can see the entire report HERE.

Even more disturbing, however, and not addressed by 24/7 Wall St. because of its smaller size, were the figures for BATON ROUGE, which had 62 firearm homicides in 2016, a rate of 32 per 100,000. But in 2017, that figure skyrocketed to 106 firearm killings for a rate of 46 per 100,000 population.

And already in 2018, there have been 73 firearm-related homicides in Baton Rouge and authorities seem powerless to stem the tide of firearm violence.

There are periodic Take Back the Neighborhood and Take Back the Night rallies and elected officials and law enforcement personnel make their token appearances, but those displays do little to bring peace to the neighborhoods jarred by what must seem like nightly outbursts of violence.

Rallies, political posturing and lip service just doesn’t seem to be cutting it.

They work about as well as the canned condolences uttered by all those elected officials who take time out of their busy campaign fund-raising schedules to offer TAPs (thoughts and prayers).

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If it’s an adverse court judgment, it must be Iberia Parish.

Right.

And if it’s Iberia Parish, it must be the office of Sheriff Louis Ackal.

Right again.

Ackal, who has already been hit with enough judgments to paper the entire Iberia Parish Courthouse, has just been tagged again.

Ackal’s office alone is responsible for judgments averaging more than $25,000 per month for every month of his 10 years in office. The total has now zoomed past $3 million, surpassing much larger parishes like Orleans, Jefferson, Caddo, and East Baton Rouge.

The latest judgment, signed by 16th Judicial District Court Judge Lori Landry on September 21, awarded $122,500 to Brian Riley who was bounced around his jail cell like a ping pong ball in a whirlwind and doused with an entire can of pepper spray—all while handcuffed and conveniently out of sight of jailhouse surveillance cameras.

The judgment stems from an incident on Feb. 24, 2015, when Riley was being fingerprinted by a female deputy, Lt. Rachita Rhine, who accused him of touching her in an inappropriate manner and proceeded to scream expletives at Riley. That attracted the attention of Deputy Camisha Jackson. whose response was described in the judgment as “very deliberate.” She retrieved a can of pepper spray and proceeded to a holding cell where Riley had been secured, alone and handcuffed. Jackson promptly emptied the entire can of pepper spray in Riley’s face.

No sooner than that task was completed then Lt. Rhine’s assistant warden husband, Capt. Jackie Rhine who did his impersonation of Muhammad Ali on Riley’s face in what the judgment described as an “unsolicited and senseless beating. Capt. Rhine, in administering the beating of Riley, ignored the advice of bystanders to let other officers handle the prisoner. As officers were removing Riley from the holding cell, Rhine took the opportunity to strike the prisoner in the face in what the judgment called a “sucker punch.”

Rhine said the last punch was in response to a comment from Riley, though he was unable to say at trial what the comment was. Moreover, a witness to the entire sequence of events, Sgt. Joshua Chipman, denied ever hearing Riley make a comment.

“It is noteworthy,” Judge Landry said, “that the last incident occurred outside the holding cell but in an area that was not covered by cameras and none of the abuse inside the cell was captured on tape because the view was obscured” by deputies (again, conveniently) positioned “so as to shield the activity occurring in the cell.

Initial allegations by Jackson and Capt. Rhine of a combative prisoner “were never supported by the internal investigation or their later admissions,” the judge said, adding that video of the fingerprinting of Riley “could not support the allegation of an improper or intentional touching…”

Since Ackal took office in 2008, more than 30 lawsuits have been filed against his office in federal state courts. At least five inmates have died in the custody of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under his watch.

Ackal’s predecessor, Sit Hebert, a retired state trooper, was instrumental in disbanding the New Iberia Police Department, only recently reinstated after crime got completely out of control under Ackal, a retired state trooper.

One announced candidate for the 2019 election, Tommy Romero, is a retired state trooper whose daughter is an assistant district attorney for the 16th JDC. It is also rumored that another current state trooper, Murphy Meyers, who is expected to retire, may qualify to run.

Perhaps the time has come for voters in Iberia Parish to consider a candidate other than a retired state trooper for sheriff.

It’s not like troopers retire on a pauper’s pension, so it can’t—or shouldn’t be—that they actually need the additional salary, which for sheriffs in Louisiana averages more than $150,000 in annual salary and something approaching $200,000 after other perks are factored in.

 

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That ugly scene in which a Sterlington High School coach goaded a 16-year-old student into drinking vodka straight from a bottle and then physically attacked the youth, hitting him with his fists in the chest and face seems to have involved about half the officialdom of Ouachita Parish and maybe even a few folks from a neighboring parish.

Before taking this narrative any further, it’s important to remain focused on the primary issue because there are a lot of peripheral issues that come into play in its telling and each, in its own way, is an integral part of the whole.

In a nutshell, here is what happened:

Jack Goode, a coach, a teacher, an adult responsible for educating and molding the lives of young people, allowed teenagers who came to him for more beer after their supply ran out to handle an AR-10 assault rifle and then forced a 16-year-old, Chandler Jones, to drink vodka against his wishes, called him a p***y when he got sick from the booze and threw up, threatened to beat the youth like his (Goode’s) own father never had, then did so, striking him in the chest and face, and threatened to kill him, according to testimony given at an LSPC hearing.

Goode subsequently attacked Chandler Jones, throwing him down in a ditch while threatening to kill the youth and later appeared on a motorcycle at the home where the teenagers were partying and cut do-nuts in the lawn.

Goode was arrested on cruelty to a juvenile and for contributing to the delinquency of a minor but Geary Aycock, the district attorney’s chief felony prosecutor, inexplicably reduced the charges to simple battery and Goode was sentenced to pay a $300 fine, a sentence that was subsequently suspended, and he was placed on unsupervised probation. A condition of his probation was that he would not be able to seek employment at Sterlington High School nor Sterlington Junior High School. That wording is noteworthy because is said nothing about his working at other schools in Ouachita Parish.

Chandler’s mother, Haley Jones, a deputy sheriff, was subsequently accused of causing damage to her patrol car, demoted to radio duty and pushed to the point of resigning her job when she wasn’t even at the scene the night of the April 2017 incident. The pressure, she said, was because her father-in-law, a retired state trooper, posted comments about the incident on Facebook and Sheriff Jay Russell found his comments objectionable.

Her immediate supervisor was demoted from captain to lieutenant in the wake of the brawl triggered by an intoxicated high school coach when he remained with Mrs. Jones after she learned that her son had been attacked by Goode because he felt she was too distraught to be alone.

The deputy who conducted the investigation of the attack on Chandler Jones by Goode received a verbal reprimand.

Chandler’s dad, a Louisiana state trooper was initially recommended for a 40-hour suspension for interfering with the sheriff’s department’s investigation but had that reduced to 12 hours by LSP Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves, which was in turn upheld by the LSPC. The trooper, Joseph Jones (Chandler’s father), was off-duty, not in uniform nor was he in a state police vehicle when he arrived at Goode’s home, though he did admit he had drunk “eight to 10 beers” prior to hearing of the incident with his son. He also admitted to using profanity and offered to drop criminal charges against Goode if the coach would take the matter into a nearby field to handle the matter like men.

You can go HERE and HERE to READ REPORTER Zach Parker’s entire story of the incident and the LSPC hearing in the Ouachita Citizen.

All of which brings us to these two very obvious questions which must remain the center of the discussion after all else is said and done and which must be answered by the proper authorities:

How is it that Jack Goode is now back in a classroom just down the road from Sterlington at West Monroe High School (in Ouachita Parish) teaching children?

For the answer, LouisianaVoice did a little investigation of our own and what we found was certainly interesting, if not conclusive.

It seems that Jack Goode is a native of Richland Parish.

His mother, Linda Goode, is Assistant Administrator at Richland Parish Hospital in Delhi.

She is a MEMBER of the hospital’s Advisory Committee and Community Partners for the Richland Parish School-Based Health Center for the Delhi senior and high schools.

State Sen. Francis Thompson also is a MEMBER of that same committee.

Linda Goode made five CONTRIBUTIONS of $200 each to Thompson’s political campaigns between 2010 and 2017 and son Jack Goode chipped in another $200 in 2014.

As we said, those facts, while intriguing, are not conclusive, so LouisianaVoice sent the following email to Thompson Thursday at 4:14 p.m.:

Senator, did you intervene or otherwise have any input, influence, or involvement in the decision by the Ouachita Parish School Board to hire Jack Goode to a teaching position at West Monroe High School after he agreed to resign from his teaching/coaching position at Sterlington High School as a result his providing alcohol for and fighting with a 16-year-old student in April 2017?

Did you discuss the status of Jack Goode with anyone either:

  • In the office of the Ouachita Parish District Attorney,
  • At the Ouachita Parish School Board office, including but not limited to School Board President Jerry Hicks,
  • Any official of West Monroe High School, or
  • Any individual associated with the Louisiana State Police?

Did anyone, including Jack or Emily Goode or Linda Goode, ever contact you on behalf of Jack Goode as a result of the altercation between juvenile Chandler Jones and Jack Goode?

On Friday at 9:46 a.m., we received this one-word response from Thompson through his Delhi Senate office:

From: Thompson, Sen. Francis (District Office) <thompsof@legis.la.gov>
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2018 9:46 AM
To: ‘Tom Aswell’ 
Subject: RE: JACK GOODE

No.

Perhaps this is an issue the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education might wish to take up.

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It’s no secret that LouisianaVoice has often been in disagreement with actions of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) and LSTA legal counsel Floyd Falcoln. So, to say it took the perfect storm to bring us all into accord is something of an understatement.

The Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) has inserted itself into a roiling controversy surrounding actions by a former Sterlington High School football coach and in the process, crossed swords with the Ouachita Parish School Board.

And while at first blush, it would seem inappropriate for a state agency like LSPC to engage itself in local matters, especially in the discipline of a high school coach, Robert Burns of the blog Sound Off Louisiana provides key insight into how double standards are applied at the sacred altar of high school football.

Thanks to Burns and his POST of today (Sept. 11) which was re-posted by Walter Abbott’s LINCOLN PARISH NEWS ONLINE, we have a pretty clear picture of why the LSPC, the equivalent of the state police civil service commission, got itself involved in a local matter—and we concur fully in the LSPC action.

In April 2017, when a student party ran short of beer, Sterlington football coach JACK GOODE voluntarily provided partiers with more booze, including vodka. When 16-year-old Chandler Jones resisted the hard stuff, Goode forced him to drink it until he got sick. Goode then struck the teen several times in the chest and face.

A responsible adult, upon being told by a bunch of teenagers that their party had run out of beer, would have shut the party down immediately. But Goode, by all accounts, was anything but a responsible adult on the night in question. In fact, Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies described him as “highly intoxicated.”

That was bad enough but it turned out that the Jones teenager was the son of state trooper Joseph Jones who, though off-duty, arrived on the scene simultaneous to the arrival of Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies. Jones had been contacted by a deputy who was the parent of another student at the party.

Goode was arrested and charged with battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. District Attorney Steve Tew, however, reduced charges against Goode to misdemeanor battery. Goode walked away from the incident after paying a $300 fine and stepping down as a teacher and coach at Sterlington High School.

The LSPC became indirectly involved when it upheld disciplinary action against the elder Jones for involving himself in a sheriff’s office investigation while off-duty. By a 4-2 vote, Jones was handed a 12-hour suspension while Goode was quickly hired by the Ouachita Parish School Board as a teacher at West Monroe High School.

LSPC, incensed at Goode’s being allowed to remain in the school system after such egregious behavior while Jones received a suspension for doing what any reasonable parent would do under similar circumstances, fired off a LETTER highly critical of the board’s irresponsible actions.

The letter, signed by all seven LSPC members, said that even though Trooper Jones “acted with greater restraint than many parents would have under the circumstances,” the commission nevertheless meted out what it deemed to be appropriate discipline for Jones having intervened in a sheriff’s department investigation, discipline the letter said “was in order for a violation of State Police policies.”

“Yet, despite the horrendous conduct of Mr. Goode, we understand that he is still employed by the School Board and still has access to and authority over minors in your school system.

“This Commission is appalled that this School Board continues to employ Jack Goode in such a capacity after the events that occurred in April 2017, and (that) it continues to allow Mr. Goode to work as a teacher of minor children at West Monroe High School.”

Well, someone has to be the adult in the room and it’s obvious that neither Goode nor the Ouachita Parish School Board are prepared to stake out their claims to such lofty ideals.

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