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Archive for the ‘Fraud’ Category

An updated variation of the infamous Mike Edmonson Amendment has made its way into the 2017 legislative session in an effort to help yet another public official scratch out a little more money from the public fisc.*

*fisc (fisk) noun: The public treasury of Rome.

It’s really amazing how these legislators can work so diligently on behalf of certain connected individuals while ignoring much larger problems facing the state.

As much as LouisianaVoice criticized Bobby Jindal during his eight years of misrule, it was the legislature that allowed him to do what he did. It was the legislature that brought about the state’s fiscal problems by refusing to stand up to his ill-advised “reforms,” and it’s the legislature that has steadfastly refused to address those problems with anything approaching realistic solutions.

But when there’s a chance to help one of their own: stand back, there’s work to be done.

Rep. Gary Carter (D-New Orleans) has introduced House Bill 207 aimed specifically at benefiting U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy.

Louisiana, it seems, has this pesky little dual office holding/dual employment law that might otherwise prove a hindrance to Cassidy’s ability to moonlight by teaching at the LSU Health Science Center while serving in the U.S. Senate.

Carter wants to remedy and if you don’t think this bill was written specifically for Cassidy, here’s the particulars of the bill:

“To enact R.S. 42:66(E), relative to dual officeholding and dual employment; to allow a healthcare provider who is a member of the faculty or staff of a public higher education institution to also hold elective office in the government of the United States…”

The bill would provide an exception to the current law which prohibits “certain specific combinations of public office and employment, including a prohibition against a person holding at the same time an elective or appointive office or employment in state government and an elective office, appointive office, or employment in the U.S. government.”

We could be wrong, but it just seems to us that serving in the U.S. Senate is a full-time job that demands the full attention of whomever happens to be representing Louisiana in that august body.

It was just such an amendment in 2014 that helped prove the eventual undoing of Edmonson’s career and his political aspirations. The word was that Edmonson planned to seek the state’s second-highest office in 2015—and was considered a fairly viable candidate.

LouisianaVoice broke the story of State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) and his tacking an amendment onto an otherwise benign bill that would have given Edmonson between $50,000 and $100,000 per year in additional retirement income. Because of the resulting furor over that amendment, State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) successfully sued to block the increase in Baton Rouge district court.

A veteran political observer recently told us, “If you hadn’t broken that story, Mike Edmonson would be lieutenant governor today.” (We don’t know about that but at least he’d be better than what we now have in that office.)

Remember in the 2014 senatorial race between then-incumbent Mary Landrieu and challenger U.S. Rep. Cassidy when Landrieu claimed Cassidy was paid for time lecturing classes not supported by his time sheets?

Jason Berry, publisher of The American Zombie Web blog said that on no fewer than 21 occasions over a 30-month span, U.S. Rep. Cassidy billed LSU Health Science Center for work supposedly performed on the same days that Congress was in session and voting on major legislation and holding crucial committee hearings on energy and the Affordable Care Act.

“On at least 17 different occasions,” Berry wrote, “he (Cassidy) spent multiple hours in LSU-HSC’s clinics on the same days in which he also participated in committee hearings and roll call votes.”

Landrieu said at the time of the revelations that Cassidy, while claiming to serve the poor, was in fact, “serving himself an extra paycheck. That’s not right. It could be illegal and it looks very much like payroll fraud.”

The arrangement apparently also troubled then-Earl K. Long Hospital Business Manager William Livings who said in an email to Internal Medicine Department Head George Karam, “We are going to really have to spell out exactly what it is he does for us for his remuneration from us. Believe me, this scenario will be a very auditable item and I feel they will really hone in on this situation to make sure we are meeting all federal and state regulations.”

In addition to Cassidy’s salary, Berry said, LSU also paid for his medical malpractice insurance, his continuing education and his licensing fees, “expenses that can easily total in the thousands.”

And now Carter wants to make it all nice and legal—but only for Cassidy. All other state employees who would like to do a little double-dipping to supplement their income can just fuggedaboutit.

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Allstate Insurance only wants its good hands on your wallet.

State Farm isn’t such a good neighbor, after all—especially in your time of greatest need.

Farmers has seen a thing or two and has learned a thing or two—about low-balling claims.

Nationwide isn’t on anyone’s side, no matter what Peyton Manning says.

And lest one think that political grandstanding by some members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation is a viable substitute for effective representation and an avenue to disaster recovery…think again.

U.S. Rep. Garrett Graves, apparently hoping to bolster his 2019 gubernatorial campaign, has issued a series misleading, mistaken and inappropriate claims about the disbursement of recovery funds.

His claim that his House colleagues are questioning what the state did with $438 million in recovery funds was absurd because, simply put, the money had never actually been received.

And he knows it. The claim was grandstanding in its purest form and made only in the interest of political capital to be gained. Flood victims in his district would be far better served by a more positive use of his office.

Sometimes you have to wonder why, when these guys are elected, they can’t just do their damned job.

Of course U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, also said to be casting a solicitous eye toward the governor’s mansion, couldn’t help offering, as is his custom, yet another of his trite homilies when he described the governor’s handling of the flood recovery contract as a “Three Stooges-like performance.” http://www.theadvocate.com/louisiana_flood_2016/article_a41326a0-1326-11e7-8805-574e2f9c803c.html

And the contract to administer the anticipated $1.6 billion in federal recovery funds was a major embarrassment because of the involvement of attorney Larry Bankston in trying to disqualify the low bidder when his son was employed by a firm affiliated with one of the losing bidders. http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_aae4b7aa-101f-11e7-924b-037340aec399.html

Edwards must feel as if he’s being pecked to death by a duck.

Greater good could be achieved for all by taking the higher ground to enlightenment (to borrow a phrase employed by The Cincinnati Enquirer in describing a debate between William Howard Taft and former Democratic Secretary of State Richard Olney in the 1904 presidential race between Theodore Roosevelt and Alton B. Parker) instead of acting like a bunch of kids in a schoolyard fight.

People have been suffering for eight months now and they want to get back into their homes. They don’t need cheap campaign rhetoric; they want real answers.

And to compound their frustration, they now know they cannot look to their insurers for relief, either, thanks to lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/03/thousands_to_receive_small_pay.html

Thanks to a tactic affectionately known as Delay, Deny, Defend, introduced to Allstate and State Farm by McKinsey and Co. just in time for Hurricane Katrina, policyholders learned that insurers would rather fight than pay up. For every claimant who stuck it out and won a big award from his insurer, hundreds did just what the companies anticipated: they caved in and took settlements of pennies on the dollar simply because they didn’t have the resources to fight back.

http://www.delaydenydefend.com/excerpt/

Less than a week following the devastation of Katrina, Nationwide, on September 4, 2005, instructed its claims adjusters that “if loss is caused by both flood and wind, there is no coverage,” according to Mississippi Gulf Coast U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor.

Nine days later, on September 13, Taylor said State Farm instructed its adjusters that “where wind acts concurrently with flooding to cause damage to the insured property, coverage for the loss exists only under flood coverage.”

On-site damage assessment by engineer Jerome Quintero of Rimkus Consulting Group, contracted by Allstate to handle claims, said there was “insufficient physical evidence to determine the proportion of wind versus storm surge that destroyed (a) structure.”

That was in June 2006. But on November 4, Quintero’s conclusion of “insufficient physical evidence” was altered to read “Storm surge and waves destroyed the residence” by Rimkus staff who never visited the site. Quintero’s name was signed to the revised report without his knowledge, Taylor said.

So, in just those three examples, we have Nationwide, State Farm and Allstate implicitly telling their adjusters to blame Hurricane Katrina’s damage on water alone, thereby passing an inflated $23 billion bill on to American taxpayers.

Did we say inflated? Well, yes. As if that were not enough, Allstate devised a clever way of enriching itself while passing the cost of those claims on to the taxpayer-funded National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Documents obtained by LouisianaVoice show that Allstate, which had an arrangement with NFIP under which it paid Allstate for handling flood claims, took full advantage of that position to protect its own financial interests.

If Allstate found itself on the hook for wind damages, it would use one formula for paying claimants but if it determined the damages were caused by flooding, a second, separate formula was employed. The difference was eye-opening, to say the least.

The formulae varied, depending upon location and on whether or not Allstate deemed damage to be from wind or flooding.

In one location for which LouisianaVoice was provided documentation, for example, if damage was from wind, Allstate paid 83 cents per foot for removal and replacement of drywall (sheetrock). If it was determined to be flood damage, that same dry wall removal and replacement—paid for by American taxpayers—was $1.53 per foot, a difference of 70 cents per foot. Painting that drywall cost Allstate 35 cents per foot if the damaged was caused by wind but cost NFIP (taxpayers) 58 cents per foot if it was determined to be flood damage.

For an average 2,000-square-foot home, that is an extra cost of $1,747 that’s passed on to taxpayers for the drywall and an additional $1,148 for painting—a total overcharge of $2,895.

Assuming Allstate handled 20 percent of total claims for Katrina and Rita in Louisiana and Wilma in Florida, the company would have handled some 48,000 claims, costing the federal government as much as $645 million in inflated claims costs, including overhead and profit, which are also calculated into each claim.

In Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the costs of removal and replacement of drywall was 50 cents per foot for wind damage and $1.12 per foot for flood damage. Painting was 26 cents per foot for wind and 83 cents for flood.

To remove and replace electrical outlets, the cost difference was even starker. For wind damage, the cost was $45.62 but if the damage was caused by flooding, Allstate reported a cost of $219.27 to NFIP.

Kermith Sonnier of Oberlin, Louisiana, is a public claims adjuster and provides the source of much of the information cited here. Company adjusters work for insurance companies and their work is generally geared toward saving the company every dime they can by low-balling claims or by denying them outright.

A public claims adjuster is independent who works only for claimants and Sonnier has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money doing just that.

Sonnier, with 38 years’ experience, was once a company adjuster for Farmers Insurance—until he learned a thing or two about the company.

He enjoyed an impeccable reputation in the claims adjustment industry, having worked the Exxon-Valdez claim in 1989, which until the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, was the worst oil spill in history.

In 1994, he was hired by Pilot which was under contract to Farmers to work claims stemming from the Northridge earthquake in California that year. But beginning in 1996, he said, Farmers began pressuring him to lower his loss estimates. He refused because he saw no grounds to do so and Farmers terminated him in 1997 despite a spotless work record. It gave as its reasons that it was reducing its work force even though it continued to hire other adjusters.

He sued for wrongful termination and won a stunning $10 million judgment against Farmers.

http://slabbed.org/2010/11/15/adjusters-special-employees-not-contractors-farmers-lost-10-4-million-wrongful-termination-case-filed-by-you-wont-believe-who/

He, along with other experts in the field of insurance claims, will be working closely with LouisianaVoice in the coming weeks as we explore how those goods hands people, those good neighbors and those who purport to know a thing or two and who claim to be on your side will, when the chips are down, will do everything legally possible—and sometimes things not legal—to minimize or even deny your claim altogether.

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Here’s a story no one saw coming:

There’s political chicanery afoot in Baton Rouge.

Who’d-a-thunk it?

Okay all that was said tongue-in-cheek.

Unfortunately.

The truth is, we’ve become so inured to political sleaze in Louisiana politics that it’s become difficult to be either surprised or outraged, leaving only indifference as our emotion of choice.

All the ingredients are in place for graft, corruption, and exploitation and there are plenty of those more than willing to take advantage of the opportunity:

  • A contract to manage Louisiana’s flood recovery program worth anywhere from 16 percent to 22 percent of $1.6 billion in federal funds;
  • A former state senator, Larry Bankston, convicted two decades ago on two counts of racketeering who now advises the State Contractor Licensing Board that has managed to insert itself into the debate over the proposed contract;
  • Claims of bid irregularities by a losing bidder;
  • Support of that claim by Bankston who neglected to mention that his son worked for one of the losing bidders;
  • Cancellation by the state of the $250,000 contract so that it may be re-advertised;
  • A potential 2019 gubernatorial candidate questioning the propriety of Bankston’s employment by that state board;
  • Up to 150,000 homes and nearly half-a-million residents affected by Louisiana floods in 2016, many of whom are still waiting for the political inertia called Restore Louisiana to start things moving so they can get back into their flooded homes.

Anytime there’s big money involved, especially federal money, the potential always exists for political and legal jockeying and manipulation. The temptation can be overwhelming.

Stephen Winham recently wrote a column for LouisianaVoice on this very subject: https://louisianavoice.com/2017/03/18/forget-blaming-fema-guest-columnist-area-reporters-correctly-place-fault-with-state-for-flood-recovery-failures/

The fact that the plight of the state’s flood victims has been obscured, seemingly forgotten, in the process of too-long delayed recovery only makes the state of affairs all the more shameful and disgusting. But when you have no voice, you are quickly forgotten in the scramble for big bucks.

And the bigger the bucks, the more greed manifests itself. And the more the greed, the less focus there is on the victims. That’s the way it’s always been and apparently that’s the way it will always be.

And hardly addressed is the issue of just what the deliverables on such a contract would be. Here we have companies crawling all over each other in order to obtain a contract which represents 20 percent of the total allocation for flood recovery.

And those companies won’t put up the first piece of drywall or sheetrock. They won’t perform any plumbing or electrical work. They won’t install any flooring or apply the first coat of paint, nor will they hammer the first nail. In short, they will do nothing meaningful toward flood recovery other than to approve payments to those who do the actual work.

But they will collect up to 20 percent of the recovery money—likely more if they can succeed at the usual practice of coming back for a contract amendment a few months down the road.

This story has received fairly significant play in the Baton Rouge area but if you’ve not kept up with The Advocate’s coverage, here’s essentially what has transpired:

A team led by IEM, a North Carolina company affiliated with several Baton Rouge engineering and consulting firms, easily had the best score—by at least 16 points—among the five teams submitting proposals and also quoted the lowest price—$250 million.

But PDRM, led by CSRS of Baton Rouge, whose bid was $65 million higher, filed an official complaint with the State Licensing Board for Contractors, pointing out that IEM did not possess a commercial contractor’s license at the time of its bid.

The Request for Proposals issued by the state, however, said only that bidding companies had to possess a license or be able to obtain one. IEM did, in fact, obtain a license prior to the time bids were opened. Ironically, PDRM, the company which blew the whistle on IEM, did not possess a contractor’s license at the time it submitted its bid either.

Bankston, legal counsel for the licensing board, opined that eligible bidders needed a contractor’s license at the time of bid submissions—and the licensing board agreed. The following day, March 17, the state decided to CANCEL IEM’s contract and re-bid the project.

By offering the opinion that he did, apparently disqualifying both IEM and PDRM in the process, the winning bid would have then gone to the third lowest bidder had not the administration decided to pull the plug on the whole thing and start over.

That third company whose bid was $350 million, $100 million higher than IEM, was Rebuild Louisiana Now and was led by a Texas firm called SLS. SLS also owns a company called DRC Emergency Services. Bankston’s son, Benjamin Bankston, works as regional manager for DRC. Larry Bankston said he was unaware his son’s firm had any relationship to any of the bidding companies when he wrote his opinion.

DRC had its own legal problems back in 2012 over payments and gratuities the company was accused of giving former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle after the firm received two CONTRACTS from the then-sheriff totaling more than $3 million.

In March 2002, the Louisiana Supreme Court REVOKED Bankston’s law license after his conviction on two counts of racketeering in 1997 in connection with then-State Sen. Bankston’s sham rental of his Gulf Shores condo to video poker operator Fred Goodson for $1,555 per week.

Bankston’s conviction was UPHELD by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in July 1999.

Contracting board Chairman Lee Mallett of Iowa, said he retains “full confidence” in Bankston.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry DISAGREES. But Landry’s desire to run for governor against John Bel Edwards in 2019 is the worst-kept secret in Baton Rouge, so he’s going to do and say anything he can to embarrass the governor.

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, also being mentioned as a potential opponent for Edwards in two years and who was instrumental in obtaining federal flood recover money for Louisiana, also takes issue with the decision to cancel the IEM contract and to start the bid process all over.

“This is very disappointing news,” Graves said, adding that the decision will only serve to further delay needed flood relief funds. “It is impossible to explain to flood victims why $1.6 billion in recovery dollars are stuck in the bureaucracy while homes remain gutted, molded and uninsulated.”

Graves said obtaining the federal money “wasn’t easy and now every time we talk to the Appropriations Committee and leadership folks, they cite the fact that we haven’t spent what we already received. It’s a concern absolutely.”

That politicians, lawyers and contractors would put their own interests ahead of those of people who have been forced out of their homes—some for a year now—only serves to drive home the point that while there has been a change of administrations in Louisiana, nothing really has changed.

Yep, there’s political chicanery afoot in Baton Rouge.

Who’d-a-thunk it?

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As I listened to testimony on Public Radio during Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearings on efforts by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, I was struck by a number of things, all of which precipitated thoughts that were something akin to, for lack of a better term, free-association.

I’m not into psychoanalysis or Freud, but it was borderline eerie how the testimony carried me back through this country’s darkest moments, culminating with the traumatic years of Watergate and Richard Nixon.

Three similarities struck me all at once, similarities that are not so much striking as chilling.

First, the indignant shock of having an adversary interfere with our elections is nothing more than what the old folks back in Ruston used to call the chickens coming home to roost.

This is in no way meant to apologize for Donald Trump because, quite frankly, he scares me to death. Nor am I justifying meddling in our electoral process by Vladimir Putin. If he did corrupt our democratic process—and all evidence certainly points to that—it is reprehensible on his part and treasonous on the part of any American, including Trump, who might have had a hand in that scheme.

But I would suggest it might be a bit disingenuous to beat our breasts about interference in free elections when one considers our own track record in that dark little chapter of American history that they don’t teach in schools.

Political scientist DOV LEVIN, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie-Mellon University, has conducted independent research that shows that the U.S. attempted to influence the elections of foreign countries at least 81 times between 1946 and 2000. Those efforts, often covert in their execution, included everything from CIA operatives running successful presidential campaigns in the Philippines during the 1950s to leaking damaging information on Marxist Sandinistas in order to sway Nicaraguan voters in 1990. Altogether, the U.S. likely targeted elections in 45 sovereign nations around the world during this period.

The second thing that struck me was the concern over leaks expressed by committee members during the questioning of FBI Director James B. Comey and National Security Administration Director Admiral Michael S. Rogers. Some seemed far more concerned with leaks of classified information about surveillance of American citizens than with the accuracy of what has been going on with the Trump administration and its close ties with Russia. U.S. Rep. Trey GOWDY (R-S.C.) used most of his time trying to establish that there was no exception for reporters who published classified material. He hinted that those reporters should be prosecuted for publishing classified information.

He’s a poor student of history—and of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of free speech and a free press via the First Amendment.

He also must have a short memory, or perhaps he’s just a lot younger than I.

In the dustup to Watergate, the Nixon administration in 1971 did its dead-level best to squelch the publication by The New York Times of a highly classified document that came to be known as THE PENTAGON PAPERS.

Officially entitled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, it was a U.S. Department of Defense history of the U.S. political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.

So dull was most of its narrative that it could have served as a cure for insomnia. But other parts literally crackled with insights into how Lyndon Johnson “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress,” wrote The Times. The papers also revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scale of the war by bombing nearby Cambodia and Laos and conducted coastal raids on North Vietnam, none of which were reported in the mainstream media.

The papers were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study.

And before there was a Watergate break-in of the Democratic Party headquarters on June 17, 1972, there was the September 1971 break-in of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist by Nixon’s White House Plumbers, so called because of their attempts to stop leaks.

Now, nearly half-a-century later, Trump advisor Stephen Bannon says the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and admonishes them to “keep its (sic) mouth shut and just listen for a while.” He is followed by Rep. Gowdy who suggested on Monday that reporters should be prosecuted for publishing classified information.

Well, looking back some 46 years, the publishing of the Pentagon Papers was probably the best thing that ever happened to this country because it revealed just how duplicitous our Vietnam policy was and just how badly—and often—our leaders lied to us. So I can’t help but wonder if the leaks of classified information today may be yet another informational breakthrough that will ultimately expose even more lies and deceit.

Which brings me to my third point.

So, perhaps Gowdy and his colleagues should not wax so indignant about leaks. Perhaps they should tone down their rhetoric a bit because there were some other stories, editorials and essays which appeared in The Nation magazine over a period of six decades as layer after layer was peeled off the rotting onion that was Watergate—and beyond—which turned out to be eerily prophetic in their characterization of Nixon and what might follow if we as a responsible electorate did not remain vigilant and informed.

Those essays, editorials and stories have been compiled into a fascinating book entitled Smoking Gun: The Nation on Watergate, 1952-2010. Following are excerpts from that book.

Robbins Burling, on Dec. 10, 1973, wrote an article headlined “Impeachment—or Else: The Future of the Presidency.” Here are a few highlights from that article:

  • “Our most serious danger is not the tyranny of the next few years. It is that if we fail to root out the tendencies toward tyranny shown by the present (Nixon) administration, we shall set precedents that will lead inexorably to more vicious tyrannies in the future. How do we prevent, not just in the years but in the decades to come, a repetition of the horrors that we have recently endured?”
  • “Would-be tyrants will always aspire to the Presidency, and an occasional rascal is certain to gain the office. What we need is to remake the Presidency so that such men cannot do irreparable damage.”
  • “If the President escapes punishment this time, every future President will know himself to be immune from punishment. It will not be long before another man with tyrannical inclinations turns his own band of henchmen loose upon the nation. The next time we may not have a Congress controlled by the opposition party. The next group of burglars may be less clumsy than the bunch that bungled the Watergate job. If future Presidents know they are safe from punishment, we can be certain that they will abuse their powers. They will subvert the system that put then into office.”

Nearly nine months later and only three weeks after Nixon’s Aug. 8, 1974, resignation, Mark Harris on Aug. 31 wrote a scathing article entitled “Nixon: A Type to Remember.” In it, he listed some of Nixon’s characteristic traits:

  • He asserts that poor people are dishonest (“welfare chiselers”) but he lines his own pockets.
  • He prefers capital punishment, prisons and other forms of punishment to rehabilitation and education.
  • He favors legislation assisting the rich, the powerful, the corporate and the military.
  • He is always discussing himself, even when he hopes you will think he is talking about, say, international relations.
  • He suddenly reverses himself.
  • He denies that he will reverse himself.
  • He presents himself as a “manly” man.
  • He commands young men to go to war, but he does not wish to pay his taxes.
  • He employs the media to publicize himself; he condemns the media when they displease him.
  • He calls for “unity” while dividing.
  • He advocates economy but he spends lavishly, especially for such products as military machinery.
  • He speaks often of bargaining from strength (but) when he traveled to Russia his situation was weaker than any President’s had ever been.

But it was Gene Marine, writing “What’s Wrong With Nixon?: Public Life of a Cardboard Hero” way back on the Aug. 18, 1956, when Nixon was still Eisenhower’s Vice President, who said it best:

  • “Among Nixon’s critics the idea is widespread that he is quite without convictions (and) that the cardboard figure he presents is in fact all there is to him: the face turned ever toward personal gain, the back turned always on scruple or principle—no more to him than that.”

And now, as the House Intelligence Committee plows through information on leaked documents—then and now—interference in democratic elections—then and now—and shadowy deals by a paranoid, self-absorbed, President—then and now—does any of this bring on a faint sense of déjà vu?

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Even as the so-called mainstream media (and we’re not really certain what qualifies as “mainstream” anymore) shifts into its sympathetic mode for Superintendent of State Police Mike Edmonson, there are lots of loose ends still lying around that LouisianaVoice will continue to report.

As we wrote in Wednesday’s post, the controversy swirling around Louisiana State Police (LSP) headquarters in Independence Boulevard was never just about a trip to San Diego.

It’s about the overall atmosphere permeating the agency and trooper morale which is said to be at an all-time low. That’s because in spite of generous pay raises bestowed upon troopers, the rank and file feel the administration has put its own interests ahead of those of the agency and its personnel.

The parties, inconsistent discipline dictated by whether or not a trooper is a member of the elite clique, distinguished troopers passed over for promotions in favor of lesser qualified candidates, trips, many trips, taken by LSP management and not all strictly for business; and we have received reports of free trips, which would be in violation of regulations set forth by the State Ethics Board.

GENERAL PROHIBITIONS (R.S. 42:1111 – 1121)

  1. 1115 – Elected officials and public employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting a gift from the following persons: persons who have or are seeking to obtain a contractual or other business or financial relationship with the public servant’s agency; or persons who are seeking, for compensation, to influence the passage or defeat of legislation by the public servant’s agency. Public employees, not elected officials, are also prohibited from soliciting or accepting a 4 gift from the following persons: persons who conduct operations or activities regulated by the public employee’s agency; or persons who have substantial economic interests which may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the public employee’s official duties.

There are events and conditions not yet reported but which will be. And they are scattered throughout the organization, from LSP to the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), and the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC). Especially LSPC, which is charged with overseeing State Police in the same manner as the Civil Service Commission oversees the rights of state civil service employees. That one commission, chaired by a State Trooper, has purged its membership if all but one member who is not easily identified as an Edmonson supporter and has morphed into something of a secretive club now rumored to be carrying on extra-curricular activities far outside the scope of its mission.

And one other facet of operations at LSP largely overlooked up to now is the issue of overtime hours. While troopers charged with carrying out investigations of criminal activity are finding it next to impossible to get overtime approved from their superiors and are forced to conduct investigations on their own time, others are finding it much easier to pad their paychecks.

Take Master Trooper Thurman D. Miller, for example.

Miller, who serves as President of the CENTRAL STATE TROOPERS COALITION, which is affiliated with the National Black State Troopers Coalition, is called the “One Man Overtime Machine” by his fellow troopers, though probably not to his face.

It’s a title well-earned.

From last June 20, 2016, through March 12 of this year, Miller has reported working 1,066 hours of overtime. Of that amount, he was paid time-and-a-half for 951 hours with the balance of 115 hours taken as compensatory, or K-time, meaning he gets paid leave for a like number of hours worked.

That works out to nearly 60 hours of combined overtime and K-time for every two-week pay period since last June—75 percent of a regular two-week, 80-hour pay period.

Miller, who makes $72,600 in regular salary, earned $50,400 in straight time during that period and nearly matched that amount in overtime earnings of another $45,900. Plus, he accumulated almost three weeks extra paid vacation.

So, not quite having worked 70 percent of a year since last June, he already has been paid 131 percent of his base yearly salary.

But the real kicker is found in his daily time sheets.

For example, during one stretch last August when his time sheet shows that he was assigned to disaster relief while working the South Louisiana floods, he logged 24-hour days for four consecutive days.

But that’s nothing. The month before, working extra security in the wake of the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge, iron-man Miller logged 24-hour shifts for nine consecutive days.

State Police Public Information Officer Maj. Doug Cain said there are provisions for allowing troopers to be called in on emergency duty and not allowed to go home. “They sleep 20 or 30 minutes and go back on duty,” he said.

And on that infamous drive to San Diego in October, Miller initially reported two consecutive 24-hour shifts on Oct. 11 and 12 followed by a 22-hour shift on the 13th, but was forced to trim 12 hours off each of the 24-hour claims of Oct. 11 and 12 and to eliminate altogether the 14-hours overtime claimed for Oct. 13 in a revised timesheet. It was not immediately known if he was paid for the excessive hours and required to repay the state or not.

Here are a few samples of Miller’s timesheets (Click on images to enlarge):

Cain said that during the flood, state offices were closed and Miller and other officers were compensated for hours state offices were closed and for hours actually worked.

The LSP Policy Manual specifically addresses the issue of excessive overtime:

Officers/Civilians shall not work more than a total of 16 cumulative hours without having a rest period of 8 consecutive hours off-duty. An 8 hour rest period shall be required following 16 cumulative work hours before returning to regular duty or an overtime assignment. Exceptions to the 16 hour rule require the approval of the Troop/Section Commander or designee. Cumulative hours are defined as any combination of regular work hours and/or overtime/details.

Commanders and supervisors are urged to exercise caution and sound judgment when considering whether to allow an officer/civilian to work more than 16 cumulative hours.

Troop/Section Commanders, Region Commanders and Unit Supervisors are responsible for effectively managing work schedules to minimize overtime.

 Reasonable justification shall mean that the work could not be performed by other on-duty personnel or that time constraints require that the work be immediately performed.

 If overtime is necessary, every effort to minimize the total accumulation shall be made by all supervisory personnel.

Miller, it should be pointed out, works in Operations and not Investigations. And while he’s racking up all that overtime, there are troopers spread across the state who need overtime to complete ongoing investigations but cannot get approval for it.

They do their investigations on their own time which somehow makes the whole picture seem a little out of kilter.

Yet another symptom of a much large problem that is plaguing LSP.

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