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Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

Legislators continue to whistle past the fiscal graveyard as the state’s highways and bridges are crumbling, public education is starving, state workers are looking at yet another year without a raise, the unfunded liabilities of the state’s retirement systems continue to grow and colleges and universities are looking at the hopeless abyss of $1.7 billion in deferred maintenance of physical plant. (A school-by-school breakdown of that deferred maintenance at the state’s higher education institutions can be found HERE in the latest post of ulyankee.)

Like a spoiled child who refuses to listen to parents who are equally reluctant to discipline him, the Legislature continues to play the artful dodger in meeting its fiduciary responsibilities. As pitiful a governor as Bobby Jindal was, he only did what the House and Senate allowed him to do. And while all those corporate tax breaks looked great to LABI, ALEC, lobbyists, and the generous corporate campaign contributors, they did little to prop up the economic structure of the state or to meet the responsibilities for education, roads, services for the mentally ill, children’s services, state employees, teachers, the sick and the state’s low-income citizens.

And now, with a real opportunity to do something about the myriad of problems, it appears legislators will again punt by categorically rejecting any progressive legislation while rolling over for their corporate donors.

It would be one thing to resist the administration’s less than confidence-inspiring proposals if an alternative, workable plan were offered up. But when is the last time anyone has seen that coming from either chamber? (Hint: Never.)

When a baseball or football team performs as miserably, it’s always the coach who’s fired—because it’s impractical to fire the entire team. When the legislature fails to do its job, it’s the governor who’s thrown under the bus for the failure to accomplish anything toward solving the problems.

But that’s not to say the legislature has been standing idly by. For from it. The 2017 legislative session has thus far turned in a bona fide commend performance for Louisiana’s senators and representatives who apparently never saw someone or something to commend they didn’t like or, lacking that, to seize the opportunity to designate some special day.

Here’s a partial example of what your elected representatives and senators have accomplished 17 days into the 60-day session:

  • SB 29 (ALARIO): Recognizes April 19, 2017, as University of Louisiana System Day at the Louisiana Legislature.
  • SB 23 (ALARIO): Designates the new bridge across Goose Bayou on LA 45 in Jefferson Parish as the “Jules Nunez Bridge”
  • HCR 44 (AMADEE): Commends the Louisiana State University at Alexandria men’s basketball team for its outstanding achievements in its first three seasons
  • HR 32 (BARRAS): Designates Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as LSU Day at the state capitol
  • HR 48 (BARRAS): Recognizes Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as University of Louisiana System day at the state capitol (Sorry, dude, Alario beat you to it.)
  • HR 60 (BARRAS):  Designates Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as Liquefied Natural Gas Day at the state capitol (We already have too much hot air at the Capitol, why do we need gas, too?)
  • SCR 6 (BARROW): Designates Tuesday, April 11, 2017, as AKA Day at the capitol.
  • SR 11 (BARROW): Commends Tiffany Dickerson on her reign as Mrs. Baton Rouge 2016.
  • SR 12 (BARROW): Commends Tanya Crowe on her reign as Miss Baton Rouge USA 2016
  • SR 13 (BARROW): Commends Kimberly Maria Ducote on her reign as Miss Teen Baton Rouge USA 2016.
  • SR 14 (BARROW): Commends Brittany Arbor Shipp on winning the 2016 Mrs. Louisiana America Pageant.
  • SR 16 (BARROW): Commends Stacey Richard on her accomplishments and contributions as executive director of the Mrs. Louisiana Pageant, the Miss Baton Rouge Pageant, and the Miss Capital City Pageant.
  • HCR 39 (BERTHELOT): Designates Wednesday, May 3, 2017, as LMA Municipal Day at the state capitol
  • SR 47 (WESLEY BISHIP):  Commends XS Martial Arts Dojo and Save One Now for presenting the 10th Annual Crescent City Kumite being held on May 20, 2017. (Whatever.)
  • SCRs 21-24 (BOUDREAUX): Commends Marion Overton White, Clifton Lemelle Sr., Gloria Nye, PhD, and Patrick Fontenot for their induction into the St. Landry Parish Democratic Party Hall of Fame.
  • HR 22 (BROADWATER): Commends the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Association and designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as LATA Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 50 (CARMODY): Recognizes May 2017 as Building Safety Month
  • HR 29, 30 (CARPENTER): Recognizes Tuesday, April 18, 2017, asPhi Beta Sigma & Zeta Phi Beta Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 41 (GARY CARTER): Commends several Tulane University students upon winning NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge competition (is that the way the commendation reads: “several Tulane students”?)
  • HB 297 (ROBBY CARTER):  Provides relative to membership on the Sweet Potato Advertising and Development Commission (More proof we have too damn many board and commissions.)
  • SR 26 (TROY CARTER): Recognizes April 23, 2017, as International Children’s Day.
  • SR 59 (CHABERT): Recognizes April 27, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors Day at the Louisiana State Capitol.
  • SR 9 (CLAITOR): Designates April 17, 2017, as Kappa Beta Delta Day.
  • SCR 44 (COLOMB): Commends the Public Administration Institute Student Association (PAISA) at Louisiana State University and recognizes April 13, 2017, as the 19th annual PAISA Day at the Louisiana Legislature.
  • HCR 22 (COUSSAN): Commends the St. Thomas More Catholic High School football team on winning the 2016 Division II state championship
  • HR 37 (COX): Commends William Hymes on his significant accomplishments
  • HR 33 (DAVIS): Commends LSU Physicist Gabriela Gonzalez for her work in a groundbreaking scientific discovery (again: does the commendation say simply for “a groundbreaking scientific discovery”?)
  • HR 31 (DEVILLIER): Commends Louisiana State University Eunice for its efforts to offer more educational opportunities for the state’s residents (Isn’t that why it exists? So we commend institutions for doing their job now?)
  • HCR 23 (DWIGHT): Commends the South Beauregard girls’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class 3A state championship
  • HCR 5 (EMERSON): Amends and repeals administrative licensing requirements relative to alternative hair and alternative hair design (Your guess is as good as ours).
  • HR 27 (FOIL): Designates Monday, April 17, 2017, as DASH Diet Day at the state capitol (If this will help rid the capitol of all those fat cats down there, I’m all for it.)
  • HR 34 (FRANKLIN): Commends Shelton Dunaway for his musical achievements and recognizes him as a southwest La. cultural treasure (For those who might not know, he was a member of Cookie and the Cupcakes that had the wonder song Matilda.)
  • HB 612 (GLOVER): Provides for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment (This from a man who, while mayor of Shreveport, told a person that once an officer pulls him over, he has no rights.)
  • HB 191 (GUINN): Changes the name of the “Quail Unlimited” prestige license plate to the “Quail Forever” prestige license plate (Sigh.)
  • HB 243 (HALL): Changes “school bus driver” to “school bus operator” in Title 17 (Please tell us this is a joke.)
  • HCR 40 (HALL): Commends Peabody Magnet High School boys’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class 3A state championship
  • HCR 20 (HENSGENS): Commends the Gueydan High School girls’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class A state championship
  • SCR 17 (HEWITT): Commends the Slidell Republican Women’s Club on its 50th anniversary.
  • SCR 20 (HEWITT): Designates the first week of December as Shop Local Artists Week in Louisiana.
  • SR 37 (HEWITT): Recognizes the Junior Auxiliary of Slidell and designates April 2-8, 2017, as “Junior Auxiliary Week” at the Louisiana Senate.
  • HR 4 (HOFFMAN): Recognizes April 11, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Anesthesiologists Day at the state capitol
  • HB 214 (HORTON):  Prohibits the roadside sale of domestic rabbits (Seriously?)
  • HR 56 (HUNTER): Recognizes Wednesday, May 3, 2017, as Omega Psi Phi Day at the state capitol
  • HR 21 (HUVAL): Recognizes Monday, May 15, 2017, as I-49 South Day at the state capitol
  • HR 67 (HUVAL): Commends the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and designates Thursday, April 27, 2017, as Crawfish Festival Day at the state capitol
  • HR 9 (JAMES): Commends Kimberly Maria Ducote of Mansura on being named Miss Teen Baton Rouge USA
  • HR 10 (JAMES): Commends Tanya Crowe of Amite on being named Miss Baton Rouge USA
  • HR 11 (JAMES):  Commends Tiffany Dickerson on being named Mrs. Baton Rouge
  • HR 12 (JAMES): Commends Brittany Arbor Shipp on being named Mrs. Louisiana America of Baton Rouge
  • HR 13 (JAMES): Commends Stacey Richard, executive director for the Miss Baton Rouge and the Mrs. Louisiana America pageant organizations
  • HR 44 (JEFFERSON): Commends Coach Eric Dooley of Grambling State University for being named the American Football Coaches Association Football Championship Subdivision Assistant Coach of the Year
  • HR 52 (JEFFERSON): Commends Grambling State University for winning the 2016 Southwestern Athletic Conference Football Championship and the 2016 Historically Black College and University National Football Championship
  • HCR 33 (JENKINS): Commends Dr. G. E. Ghali for his leadership as chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport
  • SCR 10 (JOHNS): Recognizes May 3, 2017, as Purple and Teal Day in the state of Louisiana.
  • SR 44 (JOHNS): Recognizes Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as the fifth annual Liquefied Natural Gas Day at the state capitol
  • HR 28 (JORDAN): Commends ExxonMobil and recognizes April 17, 2017, as ExxonMobil Day at the Louisiana State Capitol
  • SR 42 (LAFLEUR): Designates Monday, April 24, 2017, as Tourism Day at the state capitol.
  • HCR 42 (TERRY LANDRY): Commends Mt. Calvary Baptist Church of New Iberia on its one hundred forty-second anniversary
  • HR 36 (LEBAS): Commends the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association and designates Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as Louisiana Physical Therapy Association Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 25 (LEGER): Recognizes Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as Louisiana A+ Schools Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 29 (LEGER): Designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as New Orleans Day at the legislature
  • HR 17 (LEOPOLD): Designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as Plaquemines Parish Day at the state capitol
  • HR 50 (LEOPOLD): Commends the organizers and volunteers of the 2017 Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival, Orange Queen, and Teen Orange Queen
  • HR 51 (LEOPOLD): Commends the organizers and volunteers of the 2017 Plaquemines Parish Heritage and Seafood Festival and its Seafood Queen (Oranges and seafood; what a combination!)
  • HR 61 (MAGEE): Designates Thursday, April 27, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 43 (DUSTIN MILLER): Recognizes the week of May 6 through 12, 2017, as National Nurses Week in Louisiana
  • SR 4 (MILLS): Recognizes April 11, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Anesthesiologists Day at the state capitol. (Didn’t Hoffman already that, too? You guys really should communicate more.)
  • SR 25 (MILLS):  Commends the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association for its outstanding achievements and recognizes Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as Louisiana Physical Therapy Association Day.
  • SCR 23 (MIZELL): Declares May 26, 2017, as John Wayne Day at the Legislature. (Well, pilgrim…..I’m mighty obliged to ya.)
  • SR 19 (MIZELL): Commends the Loranger High School cheerleading team on winning the National Championship.
  • HR 58 (MORENO): Designates Monday, April 24, 2017, as Tourism Day at the state capitol
  • HR 71 (JIM MORRIS): Commends Vivian United Methodist Church upon the celebration of its one hundred thirteenth anniversary (and next year, we’ll commend it on its 114th.)
  • SR 10 (MORRISH): Designates November 2017 as School Psychologist Awareness Month.
  • SCR 7 (PEACOCK): Commends Fairfield Elementary Magnet School of Shreveport on receipt of the 2016-2018 National Parent Teacher Association School of Excellence Award.
  • SCR 33 (PEACOCK): Designates May 17, 2017, as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day. (If ANYONE knows what DIPG is….don’t tell us. We’ll wait until May 17.)
  • HR 66 (PRICE): Commends the White Castle High School boys’ basketball team upon winning the Class 1A State Championship
  • HR 20 (PUGH):  Designates Tuesday, May 23, 2017, as Elmer’s Candy Day
  • HR 8 (SCHEXNAYDER): Commends the athletes and coaches of the Lutcher High School girls’ powerlifting team upon winning the 2017 Division III state championship
  • HR 42 (SCHEXNAYDER): Commends the Riverside Academy football team upon winning the 2016 Division III state championship
  • HR 49 (SCHEXNAYDER):  Commends the Lutcher High School Bulldogs football team upon winning the 2016 Class 3A state championship
  • SCR 28 (GARY SMITH): Commends Cara Ursin on winning the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award for Girls’ Basketball three times.
  • SCR 29 (GARY SMITH): Commends the Destrehan High School Lady Cats on winning the LHSAA Class 5A state girls’ basketball championship.
  • HR 2 (PATRICIA SMITH HAYNES): Designates Tuesday, April 11, 2017, as AKA day at the state capitol
  • SR 18 (THOMPSON): Designates April 27, 2017, as FFA Day at the Louisiana State Capitol and commends the state officers of the Louisiana FFA Association.
  • SR 6 (WALSWORTH):  Designates April 12, 2017, as Y Day in Louisiana. (Why Y?)

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Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal’s travails (largely of his own making) continue with the filing of yet another in a series of legal actions, this one a federal LAWSUIT filed by a former female deputy.

As is usually the case, no matter how the trial (or settlement, which is more likely) eventually turns out, the real winners will be the attorneys who will have managed to drag out legal proceedings for a minimum of 18 months, barring any further delays in the trial tentatively set for June 4, 2018.

If the case follows the all-too-common trend, however, there is almost certain to be unforeseen delays and continuances that will push that date back even further as attorneys (and there is a gaggle of those) continue to rack up billable hours.

Candace Rayburn, a deputy sheriff for more than five years, claims she was unceremoniously and summarily terminated after she spoke up in the defense of a female co-worker filed an EEOC sexual harassment charge against a male deputy.

Rayburn’s is another in a string of lawsuits filed against Ackal, who was recently acquitted in Shreveport federal court of criminal charges of abusing black prisoners of his jail. Those charges included beatings of prisoners and turning a police dog on a helpless prisoner, a gruesome scene that was captured on video and posted by LouisianaVoice earlier.

Ackal is also being sued for wrongful termination by another former deputy and by the family of a prisoner who died of a gunshot wound while handcuffed and in the custody of Iberia Parish Sheriff’s deputies. The official coroner’s ruling was that the prisoner, Victor White, died of a self-inflicted wound.

The sheriff is also indirectly involved in the manslaughter arrest of a man instrumental in starting a recall of Ackal over the White shooting. https://louisianavoice.com/2017/03/21/man-indicted-for-manslaughter-after-he-is-rear-ended-by-man-later-killed-in-separate-accident-his-sin-was-recall-of-sheriff/

Rayburn initially named both Ackal and the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office as defendants but recently amended her petition to include Ackal as the only defendant.

Ackal, who paid premium fees in his criminal defense, in a classic case of fiscal overkill, has opened up the parish bank in hiring not one, not two, not three, not four, but five defense attorneys, all from the same law firm.

That’s right. Because he’s being sued in his official capacity as sheriff, Iberia Parish taxpayers will pick up the tab for his legal bills—all of them.

Rayburn, who was employed as a Sheriff’s Deputy for IPSO from July 21, 2008 to November

15, 2013, says she received “overwhelmingly positive reviews from her Supervisors” and was even named “Employee of the Year” in 2012.

But when Deputy Laura Segura filed a sexual harassment complaint against Chief Deputy Bert Berry, she voiced her support of Segura. Within two weeks, she says, she was brought before the department’s disciplinary board which recommended a one-year probationary period and that she be offered remedial training. Instead, she claims in her suit, Ackal fired her for “multiple (uncited) policy violations,” actions she claims were committed “with malice.”

Rayburn is claiming loss of pay, loss of benefits, loss of earning capacity, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

She is seeking reinstatement, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

To say Ackal has lawyered up would be an understatement. He has retained half the Lafayette law firm of Borne, Wilkes & Rabalais: Allison McDade Ackal, Homer Edward Barousse, III, Kyle Nicholas Choate, Joy C Rabalais, and Taylor Reppond Stover.

Rayburn is represented by Justin Roy Mueller, also of Lafayette.

The calendar, rules, and SCHEDULE set forth by the court are simply mind-boggling and serve to illustrate why our courts are so backed up—and why justice is only for those who can afford it.

The court, invoking something called Rule 30(a)(2)(A), placed a limit of 10 on the number of depositions that may be taken in the case, limiting each to one seven-hour day—absent written stipulation of parties to the suit or of a court order.

Should the parties participate in the maximum 10 depositions with each one running the full seven hours allowed, that’s 70 hours of legal fees for which the parish must stand good.

Applying an arbitrary rate of $200 per hour (which most likely is considerably less than the hourly rate the parish paid his attorney in his criminal trial), that comes to $14,000—and that doesn’t count the costs of court reporters, expert fees, filing fees and countless other hours the five attorneys will be billing the parish for, or the Segura settlement which reportedly cost the parish in the ballpark of $400,000.

All in all, with all the legal expenses incurred by Ackal and his deputies in all the lawsuits and criminal charges, the folks in Iberia Parish must be asking themselves about now if they can really afford to keep such a financial liability in office.

Some might even call him high maintenance.

Others might call him a genuine physical threat.

By anyone’s definition, though, he is a loose cannon.

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The Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) must really be hurting financially.

First, there was the flak about the illegal campaign contributions LSTA’s board decided to launder through the private bank account of its Executive Director David Young that brought unwanted attention to the association.

Then there was the persistent objections to that decision by several retired state troopers who are members of the association but, like the rest of the LSTA membership, were never consulted on the decision to involve the group in partisan politics.

Their objections became such an annoyance that four of the retirees, men who dedicated their entire working life to protecting the public and trying to make our highways safer, were voted out of the association. Just booted out. No thank-you, no going away party. Nothing except a letter saying they were no longer welcome as members of the brotherhood.

Eventually, the State Ethics Commission investigated the illegal contributions—illegal because state classified employees are forbidden from participating in partisan politics or for contributing to political campaigns—and levied a $5,000 fine against the association.

On the heels of that action the FBI served subpoenas on 18 members of the association, directing them to appear before a federal grand jury investigating association activities. That grand jury convenes on April 13.

As all this was going on, many State Troopers were victims of the floods that plagued Louisiana during 2016 and the LSTA generously pledged $1,000 to members who were adversely affected by the floods.

Included on its WEB PAGE is the following statement:

“We are committed to improved pay and benefits; to assure a better working environment; to provide support when needed; and to increase the quality of life for our members. We also strive to improve the public services provided by our members to our community.”

Somehow, though, the retiree members, those who likely needed help the most, were overlooked when those $1,000 checks went out. Several retirees have contacted LouisianaVoice to say they never received any help from the association.

Obviously, LSTA is short of funds. Why else would it, instead of helping out those retirees who were flooded (among them excommunicated member Leon “Bucky” Millet), reach out to them instead for contributions?

That’s right. Millet, a retiree who was booted out for protesting too much and who had his home flooded, recently received a solicitation letter from LSTA.

The letter which went out over LSTA President James O’Quinn’s signature, noted that the association uses contributions “to persuade government (apparently through campaign contributions) to provide better and safer conditions for our troopers. We use it to support community oriented programs that serve to enhance positive relationships between troopers and the communities they serve.”

The letter contained no mention of how contributions are also used for elaborate parties and to pay for travel all over the country for members to attend such work-related events as the Washington Mardi Gras.

“Because we’re grateful to those who are grateful for us, we like to recognize our donors with gifts. For our spring fundraising campaign, we have our much-requested official LSTA Field Cap. We also have our new 2017 window stickers, our wonderful spring vacation drawing and special recognition for our high-end donors.”

We’re pretty sure that a long-standing member who was expelled for asking legitimate questions would love to affix that sticker to his windshield and cruise on down the road wearing his official LSTA Field Cap.

Ending its solicitation on a personal note, the letter said, “Please consider a donation, Mr. Millet. We could use it.”

Yes. No doubt, the association may even use some of those contributions for legal fees.

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While much has been written lately here and by other news outlets about overtime abuse by Louisiana State Police (LSP), particularly on that infamous trip to San Diego back in October, there is a program whereby State Troopers may legitimately accrue overtime through an agreement with local district attorneys

The Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) detail is a program established pursuant to an agreement between LSP and the district attorneys whereby fines collected by the local criminal court fund may be used to pay State Troopers overtime pay for additional highway patrols for traffic enforcement.

Prior to implementing a LACE program, the local law enforcement, judges and district attorneys must agree to implement the program, and the criminal court fund authorized by Louisiana R.S. 15:571.11(L) may be used to fund the overtime pay off-duty police officers to provide law enforcement services.

In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, Louisiana State Police issued 120,437 speeding citations on LACE and 68,932 on regular duty, according to the 2012 annual report of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. With these combined resources, Louisiana experienced a 10.46 percent decrease in speed-related fatalities in 2011.

The program has not been without controversy as LouisianaVoice has found troopers, particularly in Troop D in Lake Charles, who were allowed to work LACE while suspended from regular duty for disciplinary reasons.

But what happens when a local district attorney signs on to the program and then doesn’t pay State Police for the overtime?

Well, since the troopers performed the work, they must be paid so the money comes from the LSP budget instead of from fines collected by the local jurisdiction as was the original intent.

That’s exactly what has happened in St. Landry Parish where the parish is in arrears by more than $290,000 for 11 months, from March 2016 through January of this year.

Because of the district attorney’s failure to pay, LSP has suspended LACE activity for St. Landry Parish.

The monthly amounts owed LSP by St. Landry District Attorney Earl Taylor range from $17,870 for August 2016 to $39,392 for January of this year, according to a month-by-month accounting provided by LSP pursuant to a LouisianaVoice public records request.

Charles Cravins, formerly the regional director for the Fourth Congressional District, serves as Taylor’s Chief Administrative Officer, lending credence to the idea that he would be the one to see that the bills are paid. The District Attorney’s Web page boasts, that Cravins’ “extensive administrative experience” and his background in public service “makes him well equipped to handle the day-to-day operations of the D.A.’s office.”

So how did St. Landry manage to get 11 months in arrears (not counting February or March of this year)?

“I have no idea,” said LSP public information officer Maj. Doug Cain.

Could it be because so many cases are nolle prossed?

“No way,” says a retired State Trooper. “With the income they generate from tickets, they have plenty of money to pay LSP.”

He’s probably right, considering I-49 runs through St. Landry which provides a ready-made money machine for traffic courts from Lafayette to Shreveport.

Perhaps a better question is why did LSP allow Taylor to ignore his obligations for long while continuing to assign troopers to LACE duty in St. Landry?

Perhaps Taylor is about to make efforts to finally bring his account current.

In a two-page letter to Taylor dated March 22—two days before State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s retirement took effect—LSP Assistant Secretary and General Counsel Gene Cicardo referenced a payment schedule the district apparently has agreed to. Cicardo asked that Taylor sign and return a copy of the letter “to memorialize our agreement” so that LSP may be paid for its work and so that it may reinstate the LACE program for St. Landry.

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A couple of reports, unconfirmed to this point, have been swirling about concerning the ongoing investigation into that San Diego trip taken by State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson and 16 or so subordinates, including the four who went by state vehicle via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Altogether, the jaunt cost Louisiana taxpayers more than $73,000.

But there also are confirmed developments that might have raised some concern on the part of those who want to see an unbiased investigation that will lead to appropriate action on the part of Gov. John Bel Edwards. It seems, however, that initial concern has been defused.

First, the unsubstantiated reports that, while lacking official confirmation, come from those close to the investigation who are considered reliable.

  • Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office is said to have begun an investigation on its own, separate and apart from that of the governor’s office. A spokesperson for the AG said that could be neither confirmed nor denied. “Our office has a policy of not commenting on such matters so as not to compromise any investigation it may be conducting,” she said.
  • Another well-placed source said the FBI is also conducting an investigation of Edmonson and LSP, though Edmonson earlier denied any such investigation. Our source of that story said he initially provided information to the FBI but now that the agency’s investigation is underway, he has not been involved in further dialog with agents.

Conspicuously absent is any report that the Office of Inspector General, that fiercely independent investigative agency, has undertaken any effort to look into possible criminal wrongdoing at LSP. That could, of course, be because OIG isn’t as independent of the governor’s office as it likes to claim.

It likewise would be reassuring if East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore initiated a grand jury investigation or at least weighed in if for no other reason than to say he was taking a wait and see approach to the governor’s investigation. After all, any crime committed in the East Baton Rouge Parish falls under his jurisdiction.

The two unconfirmed reports aside, LouisianaVoice has learned that Mark Falcon, an attorney for the Division of Administration (DOA), is assisting DOA auditors in their investigation of LSP. Richard Carbo, communications director for the governor’s office, said, “He is not the lead investigator; he is assisting the auditors in their work.”

Mark Falcon did, however, assauge concerns when he offered full disclosure in informing Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne that he is the brother of Floyd Falcon, legal counsel for the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), the lobbying arm of LSP.

It was LouisianaVoice’s story about the LSTA’s practice of laundering illegal campaign contributions through the personal bank account of its executive director David Young more than a year ago that prompted Floyd Falcon to refer to me as “a chronic complainer,” a characterization that has likely only intensified in his mind, given the manner in which the LSP saga has played out thus far.

But Mark Falcon’s voluntary disclosure of his relationship with Floyd Falcon and the manner in which he presented it is encouraging and provides optimism that the DOA investigation will be complete and above-board.

That is particularly important because two of those who took that trip to San Diego had their travel and lodging expenses on the trip picked up by the LSTA. Only the meals for Trooper Alexandr Nezgodinsky, a native of San Diego, and Lt. Stephen Lafargue were paid for by the state. Several others who made the trip are also LSTA members but had their expenses paid by the state.

In another development, LouisianaVoice received a rather dubious response to a public records requests regarding other trips Edmonson took to receive various awards.

Here is a copy of our request:

From: Tom Aswell
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 3:55 PM
To: ‘Michele Giroir’; ‘Doug Cain’
Subject: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

Pursuant to LA. R.S. 44.1 (et seq.), I hereby submit my formal request for the opportunity to review all travel records, including airfare, other travel, lodging, meals, registration fees and any and all other expenses incurred by all personnel (by name) who attended the presentation of any and all of the below awards bestowed upon Col. Mike Edmonson:

  • FBI Washington DC, Top 25 Police Administrators Award, 2009;
  • Sheriff Buford Pusser National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, 2013;
  • Human Trafficking, Faces of Hope Award, 2013
  • Inner City Entrepreneur (ICE) Institute—Top Cop Award, 2013
  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators Martha Irwin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety, 2014
  • New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, Captain Katz Lifetime Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Safety, 2015.

 Also, please provide me with the opportunity to review:

  • all travel records, including airfare, other travel, lodging, meals, registration fees and any and all other expenses incurred by all personnel (by name) who attended the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association annual conventions/conferences in Destin/Sandestin, Florida for the years 2008 through 2016;
  • all travel records, including airfare, other travel, lodging, meals, registration fees and any and all other expenses incurred by all personnel (by name) who attended the Washington (D.C.) Mardi Gras festivities for the years 2008 through 2017;
  • all travel records, including airfare, other travel, lodging, meals, registration fees and any and all other expenses incurred by all personnel (by name) who attended the New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities for the years 2008 through 2016 (exclusive of security details assigned to the event).

Here is the response I received yesterday (Monday, March 6):

From: Michele Giroir
Sent: Monday, March 6, 2017 8:12 AM
To: Tom Aswell
Cc: Doug Cain; JB Slaton; Faye Morrison
Subject: RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

Mr. Aswell, in partial response to your below public records request, I have been advised that LSP does not maintain any records relating to travel expenses, etc., for attendance at the presentation of the following awards bestowed upon Col. Mike Edmonson:

  • FBI Washington DC, Top 25 Police Administrators Award, 2009;
  • Sheriff Buford Pusser National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, 2013;
  • Human Trafficking, Faces of Hope Award, 2013
  • Inner City Entrepreneur (ICE) Institute –Top Cop Award, 2013
  • New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, Captain Katz Lifetime Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Safety, 2015

 The remaining requests are still being handling and further responses will be forthcoming.

Any questions that you may have should be addressed to Major Doug Cain.

With kindest professional regards, I am,

Sincerely,

Michele M. Giroir

Attorney Supervisor

 Not complete sold on that explanation, I emailed Cain:

“Doug, I find it inconceivable that LSP has no record of expenses for these trips. Is it the position that LSP keeps no such records or are you saying no expenses were incurred?”

His response? “No expenses.”

“Not even for those who went with him?” I wrote back (because we know by now he rarely travels alone).

“No sir,” he responded.

So the bottom line is we are being asked to believe that Edmonson, who packed 15 of his people off to San Diego, all of whom combined to run up expenses of more than $73,000, including salaries and travel, lodging and meal expenses, either took no one with him on the other trips and he didn’t consume any meals on his trips or perhaps he took traveling companions, none of whom spent a dime of state funds.

Either scenario requires a leap of faith to believe.

(To be incredulously continued.)

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