Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Higher Education’ Category

Corporations need tax breaks

so they can earn more money

to pour into campaigns and PACs

to lobby for bigger tax cuts

Spoiler alert: All you frothing fanatics who still think Donald Trump is the savior of the free world may want to stop reading at this point because the rest of what I’m about to say will not be very pleasant to those of you who to this point have refused to think for yourselves and this will only serve to stoke your anger.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t read it; you should. You should read the words of what any rational observer of the body politic might write about this blusterous buffoon we know as POTUS. To refuse to read or hear or to ignore the facts would cast you into that 35 percent core group of Trump supporters that I refer to as a cult. You continue to experience mind-altering donalgasms with each new tweet.

Okay, you’re already composing your response for this post’s comments section. You will say:

  • That I am a flaming liberal (I’m not. In fact, I only left the Republican Party after more than 30 years of an uninterrupted record of voting Republican because of the likes of Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump);
  • That my candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election (she was not my candidate; I really dislike her intensely, just not with the same intensity as that with which I loathe Donald Trump. And Hillary didn’t lose, the American people lost);
  • That I can’t get past losing (what I can’t get past is having a POTUS who is a laughingstock to the rest of the world, who would accept the word of Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence agencies, who thinks it is more important to have a child molester in the U.S. Senate than a Democrat, and who finds it impossible to distinguish documented facts from his sorry version of the truth).

Since becoming president, Trump has been caught telling no fewer than 500 lies that are easily substantiated as such. Yes, all politicians lie. Former Gov. Edwin Edwards once said as much. But this idiot has taken it to a new level, lying through his teeth even as he had to know his every utterance and tweet is fact-checked and more often than not, debunked before the echo of his words has faded. A few examples:

  • During the campaign, he promised to release his income tax reports. He lied.
  • He claimed the crowd for his inauguration was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” He lied.
  • During his speech at CIA headquarters, he repeated his claim that he opposed the war with Iraq. But he told Howard Stern in 2002 that he supported the war. He lied.
  • Trump has repeatedly, without any evidence to back his claim, said he only lost the national popular vote because of widespread voter fraud. He lied.
  • Speaking to business leaders at the White House, Trump said, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.” He has never received any environmental awards. He lied.
  • Trump claimed that immigration and Customs Enforcement and border agents “unanimously endorsed me for president.” He lied.
  • He said the national homicide rate was “horribly increasing.” In fact, it is down significantly (except perhaps in Baton Rouge). He lied.
  • He claimed two people were fatally shot in Chicago during President Obama’s last speech as president. Didn’t happen. He lied.
  • He claimed he had “one of the best memories of all time” but later could not remember a meeting with George Papadopoulos, who confessed to lying to the FBI about meeting with Soviet agents. Here is a photo of that meeting.

He Lied.

  • His “alternative facts” spokesperson Kellyanne Conway alluded to the “Bowling Green massacre” in defending Trump’s travel ban. There was no “Bowling Green massacre.” She lied for him.
  • Trump claimed The New York Times was “forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win.” Never happened. He lied.
  • Trump promised tax reform that would lower taxes for working Americans. The biggest cruelest LIE of them all.

And these are only a handful of the buckets of lies that have poured out of his mouth.

Just as cruel, and approaching a new level of stupid, is the position taken on the tax bill by Louisiana’s two senators, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. Cassidy’s support is baffling because he worked as a physician at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge where he had to know the desperation of Louisiana’s poor, uninsured citizens.

Kennedy is more understandable. In addition to drinking week killer, he once ran a TV ad during his first campaign for state treasurer in which he said, “During my time as secretary of Revenue, I reduced paperwork for small businesses by 150 percent.”

How anything can be reduced more than 100 percent is one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. The real irony, however, is that the claim came from a man who was asking us to put him in charge of the state’s financial investments. Talk about voodoo economics….

Kennedy has said he would vote against the tax bill if it contained the so-called “TRIGGER” provision, which would automatically abort the bill and revert to the present tax rates if the new bill did not perform as projected by the Republicans in Congress who keep promising they are from the government and that they are here to help us. And they’ll still respect us in the morning.

ILLUSTRATION OF PROJECTED EFFECTS OF TAX BILL

Those of you who have stayed with me to this point need to consider one other feature of the so-called “tax reform” package.

If you have children in college, who are headed for college in a couple of years, or if you have children who recently graduated from college, it might interest you to know that the interest rates on student LOANS will no longer be deductible under the new tax bill. Moreover, students on TOPS or who receive other tuition EXEMPTIONS will find that those exemptions will now count as income on which taxes will be due.

Of course, Trump and his congressional lap dogs—Cassidy, Kennedy, Garrett Graves and the rest of Louisiana’s Repugnantcan delegation included—will continue to lie, distort, twist and skew the facts to make you believe their tax REFORM is the best thing for you since Barry Goldwater and you will continue to drink the Kool Aid—because you want to believe them.

Never mind that you continue to vote against your own economic interests because the Repugnantcans continue to feed you the red meat of islamophobia, illegal immigrants, welfare cheats (who in fact take only a tiny fraction of what corporate America and Wall Street steal from taxpayers every day), Obamacare and gun rights. They do this in the knowledge that you will continue to elect a 70-year-old child predator as long as he waves a pistol in the air and displays the Ten Commandments.

You are being taken for fools, to be perfectly honest. The Republicans are holding a Bible in one hand, wrapping themselves in the flag and picking your pocket, all in one swift motion.

And you love them for it.

I don’t suppose any of you have ever wondered what became of the so-called Fiscal Hawks now that the Republicans have full control over everything in Washington. It’s kinda funny how you don’t hear anything about deficit reduction these days.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

When I was a student at Louisiana Tech, I worked part time as a disc jockey at KRUS radio station in Ruston. Occasionally, I would have a “Golden Oldies Show,” during which I played only old rock & roll records.

I saw a story in the Washington Post recently that conjured up memories of old news stories and at the same time made me wonder if the Republicans in Congress were paying attention all those years.

The story, headlined, “GOP abandons any pretense of fiscal responsibility,” noted that the Republican Party has essentially abandoned its platform of fiscal restraint, “pivoting sharply in a way that could add trillions of dollars in federal debt over the next decade.”

https://politicalwire.com/2017/10/07/gop-abandons-pretense-fiscal-responsibility/

So, doing the minimum research, it was almost too easy to find stories that reveal that the tax cuts proposed by Trump would further widen the gap between wealthy and low-income Americans. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/42177-trump-s-proposed-tax-cuts-would-further-widen-the-gap-between-rich-and-poor

The Trump-led (and that’s a very loose term) Republican tax reform would cut taxes for the very rich and place the burden on the rest of us.

In 1970, the bottom 50 percent of U.S. wage earners averaged $16,000 a year in today’s dollars. In 2014, that figure had skyrocketed to $16,200.

The top 1 percent, meanwhile, saw their average income increase from an average of $400,000 a year to $1.3 million during the same time period, hardly enough to keep the lawn watered in the Hamptons.

Some might dismiss these sources as typical liberal media, but the conservative U.S. News & World Report seems to agree with their assessments.

More than two years ago, on May 20, 2015, the magazine ran a story headed simply as THE PARTY of RED INK.

That story did cite the $1.2 billion budget deficit that Democratic Gov. Martin O’Mally left for his Republican successor, but for the rest of its story, USN&WR hammered one Republican state governor after another. Those included our own wunderkind Bobby Jindal (a $1.6 billon deficit), Chris Christie (a staggering $7.35 billion structural budget deficit), Scott Walker of Wisconsin ($2.2 billion deficit), and Sam Brownback of Kansas ($1 billion shortfall).

Their collective answer to these budgetary nightmares? Cut taxes.

But along with tax cuts go cuts to services.

Back when I was a student at Tech—and given, that’s been a long time; Terry Bradshaw was emerging as a top draft pick back then—my tuition was $99. Today, my grandson, a computer engineering student at Tech, is forking over $9,000 per quarter to stay enrolled.

In Louisiana, cuts to higher education, public education, referral services to the mentally ill, services to children with disabilities, foster child services, and other cuts have had devastating results. Yet, the Republicans go merrily along with their vision of fiscal reform.

Jindal’s obsession with tax cutting, service cutting, and privatization was such a dismal failure that Newsweek on June 1, 3015, published a story headlined HOW BOBBY JINDAL BROKE the LOUISIANA ECONOMY.

But a March 26, 2015, story was even more revealing. That story, admittedly by a partisan Democrat writer, nevertheless cited a report by an outfit called WalletHub, a commercial personal financial web site that rated all 50 states on their dependence on federal dollars to prop up their respective economies.

The REPORT basically said that red states, America’s stalwarts of fiscal responsibility, suck more money out of the federal treasury than any others and that some of the poorest states, of which Louisiana is certainly one, depend on federal funding for 30 to 42 percent of their total revenue.

Louisiana depends on federal dollars for 42.2 percent of its budget That just happens to be the highest percentage in the nation. Mississippi is right behind, drawing 42.1 percent of its budget from the feds, according to a report released in May of this year. http://www.governing.com/topics/finance/gov-state-budgets-federal-funding-2015-2018-trump.html

Yet, who screams the loudest to get the federal government out of our lives? Well, that would be the Republicans, who control both Louisiana and Mississippi.

And yet, there they go again, to paraphrase Mr. Reagan. The Republicans in Congress are pushing that same agenda of tax cuts for the rich, cuts to services, increased military spending, heavier tax burdens on the middle class, and economic stagnation for what now, something like the 35th straight year?

And yes, I am keenly aware that some of those years included the administrations of Clinton and Obama and that some of those years Democrats controlled Congress. But that only goes to prove my oft-repeated point that there is little difference in the two parties when Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the NRA, and defense contractors exert such a heavy influence on the national agenda.

But with the Republicans, it’s not so much a political philosophy as it is an obsession, a mindset.

They adhere to the Laffer Curve at all costs. That’s the theory advanced by one Arthur Laffer, who says that tax cuts pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth.

Anyone seen any economic growth around these parts in the last couple of decades or so? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

The Laffer Curve might be appropriately named were it not such a cruel joke.

 

Read Full Post »

No sooner had I posted a story earlier today lamenting the depth of political corruption and chicanery in Louisiana than up pops yet another story about which every single one of the state’s 4.5 million citizens should be irate.

While this is not a call for the pitchforks and torches, the citizenry should be up in arms over a letter to State Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) from a New Orleans teacher named Gwendolyn V. Adams.

It’s a letter that should go viral because it hammers home once again the question of one of the best examples of political corruption in the state.

Legislator’s Tulane scholarships.

Tulane is one of the biggest tax scams going. Act 43 of the 1884 legislature obligated Tulane to give scholarship waivers to state legislators and to the mayor of New Orleans and they in turn select the recipients of the scholarships.

Altogether the 145 scholarships cost Tulane something on the order of $7 million per year, based on current tuition costs. https://admission.tulane.edu/sites/g/files/rdw771/f/LegislativeScholarshipFAQ.pdf

So, what did Tulane get in exchange for such a legislative requirement?

Tax exemptions. Specifically, property tax exemptions totaling about $25 million per year. https://louisianavoice.com/2013/10/22/deja-vu-all-over-again-house-clerk-butch-speer-denies-public-access-to-tulane-legislative-scholarship-records/

The scholarships are supposed to go to deserving students in legislators’ respective districts who otherwise might not be able to afford a college education. Instead, they quickly became a form of political patronage whereby family members, judges and political cronies shoved deserving students aside, taking the scholarships for their kids. http://www.tulanelink.com/tulanelink/scholarships_00a.htm

I first wrote about the issue way back in 1982 and it has been written about by numerous publications and reporters since but the abuse persists as legislators continue with their “in-your-face practices of doling out scholarships to family, friends and political hacks.

The story I wrote was about then-State Sen. Dan Richie awarding his scholarship to the relative of Rep. Bruce Lynn of Shreveport who gave his scholarship to Richie’s brother.

The practice has continued unabated ever since with scholarships going to recipients like family members of former Crowley Judge Edmund Reggie, who received some 34 years’ worth of Tulane scholarships valued at about $750,000, based on 1999 tuition rates. The son of former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed received a scholarship valued at about $172,000 over four years. http://www.tulanelink.com/tulanelink/scholarships_13a.htm

The latest to come to light is Rep. Moreno who, although she represents a district in Orleans Parish, awarded her scholarship to the son of her Jefferson Parish political consultant Greg Buisson, whose company, Buisson Creative, was paid nearly $14,000 by Moreno in 2010.

She is currently a candidate for New Orleans City Council at-large.

Here is Adams’s letter to Moreno:

Dear Rep. Morano (sic):  

I write to you as an educator for 27 years as a classroom teacher, 4.5 years as a professional development educator for teachers, and private tutor/LEAP tutor at  a local charter school, and express my profound disappointment in your decision to award $150,000 to the son of a Metairie-based political consultant on your payroll.  

For the years 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15, you gave your Tulane University Legislative scholarship – worth over $150,000 in free tuition – to the son of your paid political consultant, Greg Buisson. Greg Buisson, a resident of Metairie, is a long time controversial fixture in Jefferson Parish politics.

According to the New Orleans Advocate (October 24, 2013), “State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, has awarded her scholarship for the last two years to Collin Buisson, son of Greg Buisson, a veteran political consultant who has been handling Moreno’s campaigns and communications since she quit television journalism and went into politics in 2008.”

Greg Buisson has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from his Jefferson Parish political connections and Buisson could certainly afford to pay his son’s Tulane tuition. For a number of years, Buisson has been on Moreno’s political payroll, earning thousands of dollars as her political consultant. In fact, I understand he ran your unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2008. 

Rep. Moreno, are you now the Queen of Cronyism in regional politics? 

Further, the following article discusses your dismal record that includes awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to students outside of New Orleans.

Rep. Moreno, you do not deserve promotion to New Orleans City Council At-large. You’ve proven yourself to be disloyal to the thousands of hardworking families and deserving students in your own Legislative District 93 – qualified students from McDonough 35, Joseph S. Clark, St. Augustine and other schools in the district you are supposed to represent. You’ve passed over these students to award much more than $150,000 to your privileged political consultant – a Metairie, Jefferson Parish resident! It’s just beyond insulting!  

What is your excuse? Were these scholarship monies awarded to the family of your political consultant in lieu of payment for services that should have been recorded in the State of Louisiana Board of Ethics Campaign Finance Disclosure Forms? Is the only way to get your attention: pay for play?  

We don’t need this corruption in New Orleans city government.  

I cannot imagine you serving as New Orleans City Council President. Maybe the Jefferson Parish School Board? Do not reward political cronyism. 

Sincerely,

Gwendolyn V. Adams

 

Read Full Post »

I don’t often delve off into national politics because, quite frankly, it’s way above my pay grade. Some would argue that a local zoning board would be above my pay grade, but for now, we’ll leave that argument for later discussion.

But I fear there is a disturbing trend out in the real world, folks, and the early signs are it’s only going to get worse. So, within my limited capabilities, I will attempt to address a development that, having grandchildren in college, I find especially troubling.

Aside from that despicable display at Charlottesville a few weeks back, there have been no civic uprisings of a scale to require extra hair spray for David Muir’s ABC evening newscasts.

While certainly, there have been several inexplicably senseless shootings of individuals by law enforcement officers, there has been nothing as tragic and senseless as the Kent State University shootings 0n May  4, 1970, or at Jackson State University 11 days later.

My wife and I celebrated our 49th anniversary last month and at the time of the slaughter of these students, we were still two months shy of our second anniversary. We were only a couple of years older than they when they were cut down.

And today, sadly, the seeds are being planted for future occurrences far more catastrophic than those of more than 46 years ago.

Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Program 1033, first enacted by Congress in 1996 during the administration of President Bill Clinton but suspended two years ago by President Barack Obama, was being resumed.

Program 1033 (Click HERE) is a program whereby America has been furtively arming police departments across the country with military armaments designed to put down insurrections, riots, or even peaceful protests.

Sessions noted that the program was originally implemented “for use in drug enforcement by federal and state law enforcement.

But here’s the real kicker: The program is now being expanded to colleges and universities which feel the need to possess military hardware. Already, 117 institutions of higher education, including two Louisiana universities, now have sufficient weaponry to tilt the balance in their favor should a horde of angry college students set out to overthrow the government of these 50 sovereign states. (Click HERE).

Apparently, it’s not enough that any governor can call up the National Guard to protect the status quo as was done at Kent and Jackson State. Now the campus police, P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards and Training) certified though they may now be but still, for the most part, seriously lacking in proper policing skills other than handing out campus parking tickets, are going to be armed to the teeth.

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, discounting the obvious potential of horrific meltdowns in tense situations such as occur on a typical game day, the bean counters on university campuses are looking at the bottom line as if it is, in itself, justification for placing a powder keg next to the barbecue grill at a Saturday afternoon tailgate party: “For me, this is a cost savings for taxpayers,” says University of Florida Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.

What??!!

A COST SAVINGS??!!? These are our children and grandchildren you’re placing in harm’s way, you idiot! Are you out of your rabbit-assed mind, you booger-eating moron??!!

Oh, sorry. I forgot. Students are only secondary to big-time sports and the almighty bottom line.

An equally asinine quote by Fort Valley State University associate professor of criminal justice Michael Qualls that, coming as it does from a member of academia, has to make one ask what “WTF?”:

“…as those items become obsolete at the military level and if they become available, why not get ’em?”

By that logic, universities might wish to look into obtaining decommissioned battleships, submarines and even a few dozen “obsolete” nuclear bombs, along with a couple of mothballed B-52 bombers to deliver them.

Yeah, right.

Comic Ron White nailed it when he said you can’t fix stupid.

Just let any otherwise insignificant event occur on a college campus and some trigger-happy, itchy-finger campus commando cop with an M-16 come on the scene and we have another massacre on our hands. Only this time, it’ll be far worse than Kent State and Jackson State combined.

With exceptions that are completely in line with the general population, our colleges and universities have done just fine, thank you, without the ominous presence of G.I. Joe ready to put down any simmering restlessness on the part of college students who might be angry over any number of things—cuts to funding, say, or increased tuition, suppression of freedom of speech (the latest on-campus fad), the every-widening wage disparity, climate change, or another in a string of senseless wars designed only to make military suppliers and speculators wealthy.

I mean, after all, we just can’t have free expression, the free exchange of ideas, on our college campuses. That would be subversive and….well, dangerous. We don’t want these kids thinking for themselves, becoming active in any type of student resistance, or even engaging in dialogue outside the campus community.

Besides the 12 M-16s issued to both NSU and ULM, some schools are getting armored pickup trucks (University of Florida) and “Mine Resistant Vehicles,” or MRAPS as they are affectionately known in such tourist meccas as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Purdue, being an especially dangerous hangout for subversives of all sorts, is getting 25 M-16s but that’s nothing. The University of Maryland is reaping 50 of those, two M-14s, and 16 riot shotguns (12-gauge). They must really be expecting trouble from those rowdy quantum physics majors.

Hinds Community College and the University of Central Florida received grenade launchers and Texas Southern University got a mine-resistant vehicle.

Seriously, they really did.

Next will come the name changes: Hinds Community Military Installation, Fort Central Florida. Texas Southern University (TSU) will become Tactical Systems University. ULM won’t mean University of Louisiana Monroe; it’ll be University of Light Munitions. NSU will be Neutralizing Systems University.

But for the record, neither Kent State nor Jackson State were among the 117 institutions receiving surplus military supplies.

Could it be that they more readily see the lessons to be learned from the insanity of nearly half-a-century ago?

What was it again that President Eisenhower said upon leaving office in 1960 about the military-industrial complex?

Read Full Post »

The most recent audit (August 2017) of the Foster Care Program of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) found that:

  • DCFS did not conduct proper criminal background checks on non-certified foster care providers;
  • DCFS allowed nine certified providers with prior cases of abuse or neglect to care for foster children during fiscal years 2012-2016 without obtaining required waivers.
  • DCFS does not have a formal process to ensure that caseworkers actually assessed the safety of children placed with 68 non-certified providers.
  • DCFS did not always ensure that children in foster care received services to address physical and behavioral health needs.
  • State regulations require DCFS to expunge certain cases of abuse or neglect from the State Central Registry, which means those records are not available for caseworkers to consider prior to placing children with providers.

(See the DCFS audit summary HERE.)

So, the question now is this: What steps will the state take to protect these children now that the Legislative Auditor has pointed out these serious deficiencies?

If the results of a 2012 audit of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development’s Enterprise Zone Program is any indication, then the answer is nothing.

Under state statute, Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone (EZ) program is designed to award incentives to businesses and industries that locate in areas of high unemployment as a means of encouraging job growth. (The summary of that audit can be viewed HERE.)

That audit found that:

  • Approximately 68 percent of the 930 businesses that received EZ program incentives from the state were located outside of a designated enterprise zone. These businesses received nearly $124 million (61 percent) of the $203 million in total EZ program incentives during calendar years 2008 through 2010.
  • Approximately $3.9 billion (60 percent) of the $6.5 billion in capital investment by businesses receiving EZ incentives was located outside a designated enterprise zone.
  • Approximately 12,570 (75 percent) of the 16,760 net new jobs created by businesses granted EZ incentives were located outside an enterprise zone.
  • Four other states with which Louisiana was compared exclude retail businesses from EZ incentives. Louisiana does not, allowing such businesses as Walmart to take advantage of the incentives.
  • None of the four neighboring states allows businesses to count part-time employees among the new jobs created. Louisiana does.
  • Louisiana state law prohibits disclosure of the amount of incentives received by businesses.

Little, if anything, has been done to rectify these deficiencies in the oversight of the EZ program.

There has been precious little reaction from this year’s audit of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries which found that thousands of dollars in equipment had been stolen, a story LouisianaVoice called attention to last year. Go HERE for a summary of that audit report or HERE for our story.

Some remedial steps have been made in addressing a multitude of problems exposed in a 2016 audit of the Department of Veterans Affairs (See audit summary HERE).

Yet, we can’t help but wonder where the oversight was before a critical audit necessitated changes. Among those findings:

  • Payment of $44,000 to a company for improperly documented work without the required contract.
  • The use of $27,500 in federal funds specifically earmarked for the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Slidell for the purchase of a Ford Expedition for the exclusive use of headquarters staff.
  • The failure to disclose information of potential crimes involving veteran residents at several War Veteran homes.
  • The possible falsifying of former Secretary David Alan LaCerte’s military service as posted on the LDVA website.
  • LaCerte’s engaging in questionable organizational, hiring, and pay practices that led in turn to a lack of accountability.

Likewise, some positive steps have been taken in shaping up the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) trusty oversight programs but that resulted as much from a thorough investigative report by Baton Rouge Advocate reporters as a 2016 audit (see HERE) that found:

Because the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola’s trusty policy, 1,547 (an astounding 91 percent) trusties at Angola were not eligible for the program and even after the policy was revised, 400 (24 percent) of 1705 trusties were ineligible. All 400 were considered by DOC to be eligible as a result of having an undocumented, implicit waiver for a sex offense or time served less than 10 years.

Equally troubling, the audit found that 14 of 151 (9 percent) of trusties assigned to work in state buildings in Baton Rouge were not eligible because of crimes of violence, including aggravated battery, manslaughter, and aggravated assault with a firearm. The report further found that if those 151 were required to comply with the requirements in place for Level 1 trusties, 49 (32 percent) would be ineligible.

Indicative of the monumental waste brought about by the proliferation of boards and commissions in state government, a 2017 audit (see HERE) of “Boards, Commissions, and Like Entities) noted that the number of boards and commissions had been reduced from the 492 in 2012 to “only” 458 in 2016. Texas, by comparison, has 173, Mississippi about 200. The appointment of members of those boards and commissions take up a lot of time as the governor’s office supposedly vets each new member.

Four boards did not respond to the auditor’s request for data in 2017 and 2016.

There were 11 inactive boards which were not fulfilling established functions, five of which were also inactive the previous year.

Some of these boards, as illustrated on numerous occasions by LouisianaVoice, often go rogue and there seems to be no one to rein them in. These include the Louisiana State Police Commission, The Louisiana Board of Dentistry, the Auctioneer Licensing Board, the State Board of Cosmetology, and the State Board of Medical Examiners, to name but a few.

Take, for example, the 2016 audit of the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission (see HERE):

  • The commission did not have adequate controls over financial reporting to ensure accuracy.
  • The commission did not comply with state procurement laws requiring contracts for personal, professional and consulting services, failing to obtain approval for contracts for two vendors totaling $80,000.

The point of this exercise is to call attention to the one office in state government which, with little fanfare and even less credit, goes about its job each day in attempting to maintain some semblance of order in the manner in which the myriad of state agencies protects the public fisc.

The Legislative Auditor’s Office, headed by Daryl Purpera, performs a Herculean, but thankless job of poring over receipts, contracts, bids, and everything related to expenditures to ensure that the agencies are toeing the line and are in accordance with established requirements and laws regarding the expenditure of public funds.

Thousands of audits have been performed. We pulled up only a few random examples: there are others, like the Recovery School District, the Department of Education, Grambling State University (only because it has so many audits with repeated findings), levee districts and local school boards and parish governments. Untold numbers of irregularities have been uncovered—only to be largely ignored by those in positions to take action against agency heads, who, because of political ambitions, allow attention to be diverted from their responsibilities of running a tight ship.

In cases of egregious findings, the media will jump on the story, only to allow it to fade away and things soon return to normal with no disciplinary action taken against those responsible.

If all elected officials and members of the governor’s cabinet were held accountable for their sloppy work or the outright dishonesty of their agency heads, it would send a message throughout state government and this state might well save hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted expenditures and theft.

It calls to mind the lyrics of a 1958 Johnny Cash song, Big River, recorded when he was still with Sun Records:

“She raised a few eyebrows

And then she went on down alone”

Through it all, Purpera and his staff trudge ever-onward, raising a few eyebrows and then continuing (alone) to do their jobs even as those above them do not.

They—and the taxpayers of Louisiana—deserve better.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »