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Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Long before he took an oath of office to serve first in the Louisiana Legislature and later in the U.S. Senate, Bill Cassidy took the Hippocratic Oath.

But one would never know that from the abomination called the Cassidy-Graham Bill that, if passed would replace the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

This is not a defense of Obamacare. I know little about the ACA other than (a) it has provided health care for millions, including about 400,000 in Louisiana who otherwise would have no health care insurance, and (b) it’s far from perfect.

From what little I know about it, a single-pay plan seems to be the best alternative—if there must be an alternative plan for one that could probably be rescued with a little bipartisanship and a common-sense approach to correcting and improving existing problems. (I know, bipartisanship and cooperation in politics have gone the way of the telephone booth and Life magazine.)

That said, it’s pretty obvious that the Republicans in Congress are far less interested in the welfare of poor Americans, particularly those with pre-existing conditions, than they are in beating down anything with the Obama name attached to it.

And that’s the issue in a nutshell: Obama. They couldn’t get him on his citizenship or his religion, so they (with apologies to Fed-Ex) “absolutely, positively” have to erase all evidence that he ever existed. In a Congress hopelessly gridlocked on everything, it’s the one issue on which most Republicans are fixated: Get rid of Obamacare if we don’t do anything else—and we probably won’t (do anything else, that is).

Cassidy and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are just the latest to attach their names to that list of Republicans who would defeat Obamacare at all costs, no matter the consequences to millions of working poor Americans.

That said, their latest attempt at tearing down Obamacare would leave those with pre-existing conditions the most vulnerable. Both senators claim that no one would lose coverage under the latest plot against Obamacare disguised as an alternative, but in reality, their premiums would be unaffordable.

Scott Adams, creator of the popular Dilbert comic strip read daily in hundreds of newspapers, has his own take on Cassidy-Graham, which would transfer responsibility to the states.

“The responsible approach,” Adams says, “would be to test some healthcare ideas in a few states or counties and then work with what we learned. A wholesale change such as transferring responsibility to the states is reckless and, in my opinion, unethical. The unethical part is that moving funding to the states is little more than a political trick to protect Republicans in the 2018 elections. It has nothing to do with helping citizens.

“…I am forgiving of politicians who intentionally exaggerate and ignore facts, so long as their intentions appear to be directed at the greater good. But shifting money for healthcare to the states is for the benefit of Congress, not the greater good.

“My bottom line is that I can support a government plan that involves testing small before going big. But going big on an untested idea is not leadership. It is just bad management, or worse.”

Isn’t it interesting that a cartoonist would have such a firm grasp on the obvious when our elected officials can’t seem to come to grips with reality? But then it was a cartoonist (Thomas Nast) who helped bring down New York City’s William M. “Boss” Tweed.

The issue long ago ceased to be about health care: it’s all about Obama, plain and simple. Nothing else. And whether you like him or not, that should not be the focus—but sadly, it has become an obsession with Republicans, particularly those who identify with two of the most divisive Americans of the 20th century—Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh, with honorable mention to Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and a few others.

It has reached the point that Republicans in Congress are crawling over each other to be the one who can make the claim in his re-election campaign that he was the one who delivered us up from the evils of Obamacare.

And that’s a damn poor excuse to embark on a crusade of destruction.

Cassidy, in taking the HIPPOCRATIC OATH, swore, among other things, to the best of ability and judgment to:

  • Apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required;
  • Remember that…warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife of the chemist’s drug;
  • Not be ashamed to say, “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are need for a patient’s recovery;
  • Tread with care in matters of life and death;
  • Remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems;
  • Remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the inform.

There is another PRINCIPLE taught in health care providing classes that often is mistakenly thought to be part of the Hippocratic Oath but in fact, is not.

It is the Latin phrase primum non nocere.

Translated, it says, “First do no harm.”

The point of “first do no harm” is that, in certain situations, it may well be better to do nothing rather than intervening and potentially causing more harm than good.

Dr. Cassidy appears to have forgotten a lot that he learned.

Or perhaps he was just absent on those days as he was on those occasions when he billed LSU for teaching classes while in he was in Washington.

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When Department of Public Safety (DPS) Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux took that early incentive retirement buyout and then returned after a one-day “retirement,” and after having promoted herself to Undersecretary, she not only pocketed $59,000 to which she was not entitled, but knocked a New Orleans State Trooper out of tens of thousands of dollars by denying his retirement request.

LouisianaVoice first published the story in April 2014 of how Boudreaux gamed the system (Click HERE for that story) back in April 2010 but only recently learned of how in doing so, she deprived a 28-year veteran of the opportunity to take advantage of the special incentive buyout offered at the time by the Jindal administration.

Here is a copy of the email Boudreaux distributed to DPS employees: EARLY RETIREMENT INCENTIVE NOTICE

The email, dated April 21, spelled out the formula for calculating the buyout, based on salary and accrued leave time and offered the incentive plan to up to 20 applicants with participation being on a first come, first serve basis.

The problem for State Police Sgt. Troy McConnell was that he, unaware of the buyout plan, had submitted his retirement notice at 4 p.m. the previous day (April 20) in order to take a job as a member of newly-elected New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s security detail.

Some might say that the rules are the rules, but upon learning of the incentive the following day and knowing that it was virtually impossible for the state to process his retirement papers in one day’s time, he quickly contacted his superiors at Louisiana State Police (LSP) headquarters in Baton Rouge about rescinding and re-submitting his application with an April 21 date so that he would be eligible for the buyout.

His request was referred to LSP Human Resources (HR) and on up the chain to Boudreaux who indicated there were already about 20 letters of intent in HR at the time the memorandum was distributed and that most of those applicants had also called. She advised that once applications had been received by HR, they could not be withdrawn or cancelled.

Boudreaux’s position does not agree with that of a source with long time experience at LSP who said he was aware of more than one potential retiree withdrawing a request to retire. “The rule had generally been so long as the retirement board had not acted on the application, the potential retiree could select another date without prejudice,” he said.

“It was not unusual for a trooper to file a letter of intent to retire and then withdraw it for one reason or another and ask to set a new date” he said.

“But then none of those prior requests for changes would have negatively impacted Jill Boudreaux’s retirement and prompt return to service,” he added, “so this was an easy call for her to make.”

Nor did it correspond to information provided by the State Office of Civil Service.

While State Civil Services does not regulate retirement, here are the Civil Service Rules that deal with resignations:

12.11 Resignations

(a) An employee’s oral or written resignation becomes effective on the date and time specified by the employee. An oral resignation must be documented by the person receiving it.

(b) An employee may not withdraw or modify the resignation after the appointing authority accepts it, unless the appointing authority agrees (emphasis added).

The appointing authority in this case would have been LSP. Because less than 24 hours had elapsed when McConnell made his request to rescind his application, the State Police Retirement Board obviously had not had time to formally accept it. Accordingly, McConnell’s retirement application could easily have been withdrawn and re-submitted, Boudreaux’s claim to the contrary notwithstanding.

“That is consistent with what I’ve seen over the years,” the LSP source said.

And yes, the rules are the rules. No one, including McConnell questions that—except the rules did not prohibit his withdrawing his application for later submission as Boudreaux claimed. “It is what it is,” McConnell told LouisianaVoice by telephone today.

But that didn’t stop Boudreaux from grabbing one of the 20 incentives for herself, pocketing $59,000 and returning to work the very next day—with a promotion. You gotta love her chutzpah.

Boudreaux was subsequently directed by then-Commissioner of Administration Angelle Davis to return the money she had received but she never did. She retired for good six years later, on March 4, 2016, reportedly at the direction of Gov. John Bel Edwards. (See that story HERE).

Despite Boudreaux’s having elbowed her way to the front of the line—she reportedly was the very first to submit her application for the early retirement package—McConnell harbors no resentment today.

“Yeah, I was a little bitter at the time because I felt I should have been able to withdraw my application and re-submit,” he said. “But overall, I have been blessed to have been able to work for State Police all those years. I’m satisfied.”

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Yesterday, Sept. 19, was the 17-month anniversary of the rape of that 17-year-old female meth addict in the Union Parish Jail by a man already convicted of aggravated rape who was awaiting sentencing. (See LouisianaVoice’s initial story HERE.)

Seventeen months and still no resolution to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s “investigation.”

Because the Union Parish Detention Center is run by a consortium comprised of the mayors of Union Parish municipalities, the Union Parish Sheriff, the Union Parish Police Jury and the local district attorney, District Attorney John Belton correctly recused his office from the investigation and requested the assistance of Landry’s office.

Apparently, that’s where the “investigation” ended.

Landry, who harbors an apparent obsession with issuing news releases that promote Jeff Landry almost on a daily basis, is never shy in boasting about his intolerance for wrongdoing and how his office will not stand for (fill in the blank for whichever hot button topic a particular days’ news release is about).

A few samples:

  • In the aftermath of the devastating Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has issued a Public Service Announcement to protect consumers from purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle. 
  • Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is warning the public of online promotions that mislead consumers to believe they can receive money from a settlement reached between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and attorneys general from 46 states and territories.
  • “It is important for consumers to understand that if an advertisement sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said General Landry. “Louisiana consumers should be on guard that if a promotion is promising free money, it may not be legitimate.”
  • “Our award-winning Medicaid welfare fraud investigators work around the clock to fight waste, fraud, and abuse in this program so critical to our State’s most vulnerable,” said General Landry. “With the Governor’s expansion of Medicaid welfare, we recognize the need for even greater detection and prevention of taxpayer-funded Medicaid welfare fraud.”
  • “I have made it clear since entering office that the Louisiana Department of Justice will not stand for corrupt public officials,” said General Landry. “The people of our State deserve better and should expect more out of those who are appointed or elected to serve.”
  • Attorney General Jeff Landry today announced the arrest of a New Orleans woman for practicing dentistry without a license, providing services to illegal immigrants. “When there are unlicensed people posing as professionals, it violates the public’s trust,” said General Landry. “There are too many hard-working people in our State to let criminals affect their professions.”
  • “My Public Protection Division works tirelessly to ensure companies that deceive Louisiana consumers are held accountable for their actions,” said General Landry. “This resolution does just that and should serve as a reminder for those doing business in our State to follow manufacturing safety standards.”
  • In an effort led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, nine states are urging the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) to evaluate Obama-era consent decrees and ongoing civil rights cases with a goal of working collaboratively to end them.
  • “Our office fights daily to protect our State’s seniors and sick. Criminals preying on Louisiana’s most vulnerable will investigated, apprehended, and prosecuted,” said General Landry. “It is a disgusting travesty for the elderly, especially Holocaust survivors, to be scammed and robbed by those supposedly caring for them. I hope to get justice for our victims very soon.”
  • “My office will not rest in our pursuit of those who rob much needed services from our State’s most vulnerable,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry. “Our award-winning fraud detection and prevention unit remains committed to uncovering, investigating, and arresting those who attempt to defraud the system.”

You gotta give Jeff Landry credit: He certainly can self-promote.

Somehow, though, he can’t seem to complete an investigation of the rape of a 17-year-old girl even though he is in possession of the following relevant information:

  • He knows the date of the assault;
  • He knows the location of the assault;
  • He knows the identity of the rape victim;
  • He knows the identity of the rapist.

So, what more does he need? Why has his office’s “investigation” still not been completed after 17 months?

The answer is simple and it’s a sad indictment of the political culture and the political agenda of not only the state of Louisiana in particular but the entire nation in general.

It’s the same reason words like cooperation, bipartisanship, and compromise are relics of the past in Washington.

Just look around and you can see the answer everywhere, like so much low-hanging fruit:

In the words of one state official: It’s low priority because there’s no political capital to be gained.

Where, after all, are the votes in defending the rights of a 17-year-old girl who is a meth addict and who can’t vote?

She probably is oblivious to Landry’s gubernatorial aspirations.

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In an effort to determine the consistency of enforcement of traffic laws, here are just a few stories LouisianaVoice pulled off the internet at random:

SYNOPSIS: Ponchatoula police arrested David Brunet, 33, of Folsom, on charges of negligent homicide after he struck and killed 29-year-old Justin Settoon of Ponchatoula on Aug. 29.

Police said Settoon had a green light and attempted to cross an intersection when he was struck by Brunet who they said ran a red light.

SYNOPSIS: State Police booked Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, 37, a Honduran immigrant, on three counts of negligent homicide and 41 counts of negligent injuring, reckless driving and driving without a license when a bus he was driving struck a parked fire truck in St. John the Baptist Parish.

He was transporting 31 passengers looking for work on flood recovery following the August 2016 floods that struck South Louisiana. State Police said he was in the country illegally.

SYNOPSIS: State Police booked Joshua Cole Stinson, 35, on charges of negligent homicide on July 12 after police said he ran a stop sign, striking and killing 81-year-old Curtis Simmons of Tylertown, Mississippi. Stinson was also booked for failure to stop at a stop sign and driving with an expired driver’s license.

SYNOPSIS: State Police booked Elmer Menendez, 32, of Utah on one count of negligent homicide, for not having a child restrained properly and for not wearing a seat belt after his 9-year-old son was killed in a collision with a second vehicle. Police said when Menendez lost control of his pickup truck, it spun along the road and crossed into oncoming traffic where it was struck by an SUV driven by Ron Adams, 46, of Baton Rouge.

SYNOPSIS: Ascension Parish authorities booked John D. Sanchez, 27, of St. Amant, for negligent homicide after his vehicle drifted into an adjacent lane on Interstate 10, striking a vehicle driven by Floyd Cox of Baton Rouge, killing him.

SYNOPSIS: Louisiana State Police arrested 19-year-old Christopher M. Lymous of St. Rose for negligent homicide in connection with a single car accident in which his 20-year-old passenger, Charles Green, Jr., also of St. Rose, was killed when he was ejected from the vehicle. State Police said Lymous was traveling 90 mph in a 55 mph speed zone prior to the January 2015 accident.

Police said Lymous swerved into the northbound lane of LA. 626 and lost control of his vehicle when he attempted to re-enter the southbound lane. The vehicle veered from the road, dropped into a ditch, hit multiple trees and flipped several times. Lymous voluntarily submitted to blood and breath tests for the purposes of determining impairment, both of which tested negative.

SYNOPSIS: Caddo Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Carbin Logan, 42, of Deberry, Texas, when his SUV struck a horse and was in turn hit by an oncoming motorcycle, killing the cyclist, Vera Martin, 51, of Bethany, and critically injuring her husband, Gene Martin, 52.

Though authorities said Logan was driving drunk, he was not arrested for DUI but for vehicular negligent homicide and vehicular negligent injury.

SYNOPSIS: State Police in July of this year arrested both drivers involved in a fatal accident in St. John the Baptist Parish in December 2016 following a seven-month investigation. Arrested were Christian Moses, 18, of Gonzales, negligent homicide, and Tylas Bailey, 24, of Vacherie, vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

The difference in negligent homicide and negligent vehicular homicide is negligent homicide means impairment was not a factor, police said.

Police said Moses made a left turn while traveling north on Airline Highway in Reserve into the path of Baily who was traveling south. Bailey’s vehicle struck Moses, killing Bailey’s passenger, Danielle Georgel of LaPlace.

SYNOPSIS: On orders of then-Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, head and neck surgeon Dr. Anna Pou, 50, and three of her nurses were arrested on four counts of second-degree murder after patients under Dr. Pou’s care died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sanity prevailed, however, and Foti’s hysterical overreach was discounted as a grand jury refused to indict Dr. Pou and her nurses.

SYNOPSIS: St. Charles Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Dallas Veillon, 57, of Luling, was convicted of negligent homicide when a St. Charles deputy sheriff was killed after the deputy struck Veillon’s vehicle in August 2013.

The deputy, Jeff Watson, was killed when Veillon pulled into Watson’s path. State Police, studying surveillance camera footage from a nearby store, determined that Watson, who was traveling an estimated 90 mph in a 35 mph zone, did not activate his lights and siren until .88 seconds prior to the crash.

Typically, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry was quick to offer an opinion, albeit it inaccurate and uninformed, on the conviction of Veillon. “According to expert witnesses, Dallas Veillon had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit at the time of the crash…”

Veillon’s BAC was .10 percent, which is in excess of the .08 percent legal limit, but hardly twice the legal limit.

All of which brings us to our main point:

SYNOPSIS: Louisiana State Trooper Christopher Kelley of Troop E in Alexandria, driving to New Orleans Mardi Gras detail, was not on duty nor was he in an emergency situation. Accordingly, he did not have his lights or siren engaged.

Yet he was traveling on U.S. 190 in Pointe Coupee Parish at 111 mph—more than twice the posted speed limit—only seconds before striking Henry Baise, 64, killing him. Police said Baise pulled into Kelley’s path and that Kelley attempted to avoid the crash, slamming on his brakes which slowed his vehicle down to 79 mph at the point of impact—still 24 mph over the speed limit—speeds for which John Q. Public gets a speeding ticket, collision or no.

Prosecutor Tony Clayton said a grand jury reviewed a “brutally honest” State Police investigation before refusing to indict Kelley.

Anyone who knows anything about our system of justice knows that a prosecutor can manipulate and steer a grand jury in any direction he please. A skilled prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich or to, say, just as an example, not indict a law enforcement officer for driving 111 mph and striking and killing an innocent driver who, unable to judge such high speed, pulls into his path—precisely the scenario that occurred in Kelley’s case.

All of which raises the obvious question is what did that “brutally honest” State Police investigation produce in the way of  disciplinary action against Kelley for driving at such an excessive speed?

The answer is a whopping suspension without pay for 14 weeks.

Fourteen weeks without pay for killing a man while driving like a maniac.

Nice.

It seems to us that Trooper Kelley would have a helluva lot of nerve to ever write another speeding citation the rest of his career in law enforcement.

It’s little wonder that there is growing disrespect for and suspicion of law enforcement in this country.

State Police stock

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Normally, I discount any and all get-rich-quick schemes on the premise if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

But now I have to admit I’ve inadvertently stumbled across the perfect path to prosperity that is fraught with few pitfalls other than a harmless disciplinary letter (which can be appealed anyway) and perhaps the scorn of more ethical co-workers. But who cares about that anyway?

And it’s not a pyramid scheme, so go on and put that thought aside.

In fact, in addition to potentially untold riches, there are other benefits—like cross-country vacations, trips to beautiful, historic places, and parties in balmy climates for an entire weekend.

So, here’s my plan and the more readers who participate, the better for all of us:

Find a convention, a seminar or any other such event that can be chalked up to business, preferably halfway across the country, say San Diego, for example. Check out a company vehicle, load up a few co-workers and maybe even a wife if you’re so inclined, and strike out. (Note: it has to be a company vehicle; a personal car would defeat the whole purpose. It would be even better if it is a car normally assigned to a company supervisor.)

As you travel, make it a leisurely drive, complete with side trips to places like Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. It’s okay if you send texts to your bosses along the way but be sure to save them and for goodness sake, put all photos on Facebook. I’ll explain why this is important momentarily.

And here’s where the big money comes in. As you travel, remember: You’re on the clock, even when you sleep. This is crucial! You are never off the clock the entire trip, even when you’re posing for those photos at those lovely landmarks to text to your supervisors (who, by the way, are going to delete their text messages so as not to leave a digital trail). If you work it right, each of you can claim 88 or so straight hours—at the overtime rate of about $53 an hour.

Yes, it’s payroll fraud, but who cares? You company isn’t going to prosecute you for this because you did what you did with the full knowledge and approval of your supervisors—and they’re certainly not talking. It doesn’t matter whether or not you personally knew it was wrong; you’re just following orders.

If you’ve already done the math, you know by now that you’ve pocketed about $4,600 in pay you did not earn but again, you did it with the knowledge and blessings of those up the chain of command. As you make this assertion, you now are thankful you followed my advice and kept those those text messages to prove that you were keeping the brass informed of your every move along the way. That could come in handy later.

When the fecal matter hits the Westinghouse oscillating air manipulation device, everyone of course runs for cover. Your bosses, in a united show of righteous indignation, say you were never authorized to take the scenic route to San Diego and of course their text messages are mysteriously empty.

Wait. What? You didn’t save your text messages? You bonehead! That was your insurance policy, your ace in the hole! Oh, well, if all of you stick together, you can still make this work.

In a classic CYA move, the company honchos conduct an in-house “investigation,” issue a letter of reprimand and make you pay back $1,000 of your ill-gotten gains. And as you file the obligatory appeal, you break out in that Cheshire cat grin in the knowledge that you’re $3,500 to the good with no suspension.

And this is where I come into the picture.

In exchange for my giving you this blueprint to riches, you pay me a finder’s fee of $1,000 and you’re still $2,500 and a nice vacation ahead.

LouisianaVoice has something north of 3,000 subscribers so if I can get just a third of that number to pull off this scam, I’m a millionaire and there are a lot of happy, tanned vacationers out there who are eternally grateful to me for this brilliant plan.

http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/crime_police/article_da072764-8f47-11e7-a6e8-775b365af741.html

State Police stock

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