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Archive for the ‘Legislature, Legislators’ Category

The regular meeting of the Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (LPAARMCSBCSLC) was over and physically exhausted members exited the back room of John Wayne Culpepper’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que House and Used Lightbulb Emporium after a mind-numbing near-record session of 11 minutes and headed home.

As they filtered out the front door, LPAARMCSBCSLC President Harley Purvis and I retired to his reserved booth in the back in the corner in the dark to discuss the day’s latest news.

Harley likes to keep track of the legislature and to make pointed observations about some of its actions and today was no exception.

“I see the governor signed HOUSE BILL 231 by Rep. Major Thibaut,” he said.

Thibaut, a New Roads Democrat, authored the bill which allows the immediate family member of a mayor or any other member of the governing authority of a municipality with a population of five thousand or less or a legal entity in which the family member has an interest to enter into a transaction with the municipality subject, of course, to “certain conditions.”

“One of those ‘conditions,’” Harley said, his disgust readily apparent, “is that permission be obtained from the State Board of Ethics.

“After what that idiot Bobby Jindal did to the Ethics Board and state ethics laws back in 2008, a governmental entity could probably bring back public floggings in the town square if they go about it the right way,” he said.

He looked away briefly before turning back to me. “I thought we had made progress when we started prohibiting elected officials’ family members from doing business with the agency they represent. Now we’re right back where we were 70 years ago.”

“And there’s HOUSE BILL 162 by Rep. Rob Shadoin.”

Shadoin is a Republican from my home town of Ruston. “What about it?” I asked.

“Oh, nothing. It just prohibits the filing of a false lien against state officers and state employees. Why ain’t that already against the law? But what I’d really like to know is what precipitated Shadoin’s filing of this bill in the first place that brought the need for such a law to his attention? I know almost every year there’s a bill filed against local speed traps and it’s only because some legislator got hisself a ticket. I betcha there’s a story behind Shadoin’s bill that we don’t know about.”

Just as suddenly, Harley turned his attention to national events.

“Mitch McConnell really is the face of the Repugnantcans. I mean, look at his health care bill.

“It’s one thing that he is so desperate to do away with Obamacare that he’s willing to throw anything up against the wall to see if it’ll stick. I’m not happy with Obamacare because it needs to be tweaked. But damn it, if it needs tweaking, tweak it, don’t just eradicate it. You don’t roll your car over a cliff because the air conditioning goes out; you repair the AC and move on. But the mentality of the Repugnantcans is ‘We gotta do away with Obamacare, even if we do rip health care away from 23 million people. We have to abolish Obamacare even if we do reduce Medicaid benefits. We must erase all vestiges of Obamacare even if premiums do go up, and it’s essential to repeal Obamacare especially even if it means nice tax breaks to the rich.’

“It’s pretty obvious that the mindset of McConnell and his Repugnantcan co-conspirators is not to do what’s best for the country, but to do whatever they can to undermine America’s middle class and low-income citizens to the benefit of the great 1 percent. And it’s pretty disgusting to think that’s who is representing the citizens of this country.”

Harley had a lot on his mind today, so he continued:

“And it’s a shame about the shooting of Rep. Scalise. I don’t agree to his politics but I sure don’t agree with some nutcase being able to obtain guns—especially high-powered semi-automatic weapons—and trying to make some kind of insane political statement.

“But what really burns my butt is attempts by Repugnantcans to tag Bernie Sanders with this just because the crazy guy was a Bernie supporter. Hell, I was a Bernie supporter but I would never even think of owning an automatic weapon, much less using against anyone.

“What’s worse, though, is you got some Repugnantcans like Rep. Chris Collins, and the ultra-conservative MEDIA trying to blame Democrats’ political RHETORIC for the shooting. That’s just about the stupidest thing I ever heard. There’re others, like Rep. RODNEY DAVIS and even DONALD TRUMP JR who somehow saw the attack as the fault of Democrats.

“And wasn’t The Donald himself, when he was running for president, who encouraged his supporters to physically ATTACK protesters? I seem to remember he even offered to pay their legal bills if they did so. They all apparently forgot that Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords was also shot by a deranged maniac in 2011 and she’s a Democrat. But weren’t the Repugnantcans strangely quiet about that shooting?

“If you want to blame rhetoric, then maybe the Repugnantcans should be asking if their support of open carry laws and their support of semi-automatic weapons—bought and paid for by the NRA—might be a contributing factor to insane acts like this one. Perhaps the Repugnantcans should be questioning whether their fanatical support of weapons designed to kill people—and that’s the only purpose for those weapons—might be the problem.”

He drained his mug of stale coffee before going on. “Every time there’s a mass shooting with these killing machines, it’s awfully coincidental how the NRA rushes to the microphones to defend their sale and the Repugnantcans in Congress kill any efforts at banning them.

“And after each shooting, those same Repugnantcans run and hide behind the NRA which in turn, keeps their campaign contribution pipeline flowing wide open.”

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By Stephen Winham

Guest Columnist

The 2017-18 budget was enacted in a ball of confusion that allowed an escalation of the blame game.  There was less back-slapping than usual when the latest unnecessary special legislative session ended, but perhaps more back-stabbing.

I heard Gov. Edwards on the radio blaming the legislature for not using recommendations of the latest blue-ribbon committee (Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy) to formulate a plan for resolving the “fiscal cliff” facing us in 2018-19?  I was surprised nobody asked him, “Well, governor, why didn’t you?”

Surely the governor does not believe we have already forgotten that the centerpiece of his tax reform proposal was the previously unheard of and dead on arrival Commercial Activity Tax?  While his proposal did incorporate some of the task force proposals, his brand-new Commercial Activity Tax constituted $832 million of his $1.3 billion proposal.

When Gov. Edwards first talked about the Commercial Activity Tax I thought, “Oh, no, here we go again with another sham like the one Jindal put up in his his one and only stab at tax reform in 2013.”  Then, when Gov. Edwards put his CAT proposal in writing and balanced it with things that made sense, I thought he was proposing something he seriously thought would work.  By the time the CAT was introduced, however, it had already been severely watered down and it was subsequently amended beyond worth before the whole package was withdrawn – In other words, just like Jindal’s ersatz proposal, it never got out of the starting gate – And I came full circle to my original take on it.

Then Representatives Cameron Henry and Lance Harris began the drumbeat we have heard now for many years – “We don’t have a revenue problem.  We have a spending problem.”  That premise was picked up by legislators representing constituencies that believe it to be true (in the absence of a credible contrary argument), and the focus shifted to cuts.  Or did it?

Most of the things everybody considered critical, like full TOPS funding, higher education, and critical needs at corrections seem to have been funded, based on press reports.  State employees were even given a modest pay increase.  Yet no taxes were raised.  Since the Governor proposed an Executive Budget that left $440 million in what he considered priority needs unfunded, how is this possible?  I am still trying to find the answer to that seemingly simple question.

As you already know, state law requires the governor to submit an Executive Budget proposal balanced to the official forecast of revenues.  The legislature is also required to pass a balanced budget.  Although the original appropriations bills are based on the governor’s proposal, the legislature is under no obligation to pass a budget that matches what the governor has proposed.  In fact, there are states where the legislature pretty much ignores the governor’s proposal and starts and ends with its own ideas.  We must never forget that the legislature holds the power to appropriate and enact the budget, not the governor.  Our governor has veto power, including the power to veto line-items, but he does not make the law.  He is responsible for administering the enacted budget in accordance with law.

So, who really is to blame for the abysmal mess in which we find ourselves: the governor, or the legislature?  That’s an easy one – both.

Although the process has become significantly perverted, there should be only one way to balance our state budget on a continuing basis – match projected recurring revenue with projected expenses.  It is possible to do this and to do it in a way that is clearly understood.  At the end of the budget process we deserve a budget we can understand and live with – I am unconvinced we have either.

Governor Edwards did present a balanced budget proposal.  But was it clear and honest in its portrayal of our needs?  The Executive Budget presentation showed a general fund (tax-funded) need of $9.910 billion versus and official revenue forecast of $9.470 billion, leaving a gap of $440 million in unfunded needs.  All constitutional requirements were fully funded.  Here’s how the Governor said he balanced the budget:

  • Carrying forward most of the cuts made in FY 2016-2007 ($120 million)
  • Cutting general fund to the Department of Health ($184 million)
  • Across-the-board cuts in general fund of 2% ($48 million)
  • No funding for inflation
  • Funding TOPS at 70%
  • No funding of deferred maintenance and other infrastructure

If we got additional revenue, the governor proposed restoration of the cuts in hospitals and the across-the-board cuts.  In addition, he recommended full funding of TOPS, pay raises for state employees, technology enhancements, additional funding for prison contracts, match funding for DOTD, a 2.75% increase in the MFP for elementary and secondary schools, and other enhancements.

Fast forward to the budget ultimately enacted last week.  No additional revenue was raised.  TOPS is fully funded.  State employee pay raises are there.  Nobody is publicly claiming devastating cuts have occurred and the governor says he is happy with the budget.  We mullets (as the late C. B. Forgotston called us) are left to scratch our heads over how this is possible.  How is it possible to go from needing $440 million in additional money for a minimally adequate budget to needing ZERO while making most people happy?  What got cut?  How will the cuts affect people and businesses?  Until somebody answers these questions, we mullet mushrooms are left in the dark – and that is apparently where our “leaders” would as soon we stay.

We deserve better – all of us.  None of the following are unrealistic demands.  We need to start making them of our elected officials:

  1. An Executive Budget proposal that the governor truly believes in and is willing to fully defend. If, for example, 100% funding TOPS is not a high enough priority to be included in his base recommendations, then he should stand behind continuing the FY2016-2017 level of 70%.
  2. An Executive Budget proposal and an enacted budget that avoid across-the-board cuts. Across-the-board cuts only make sense if all programs are of equal value.  That is certainly not the case.  Further, after successive years of across-the-board cuts, the result can only be greater mediocrity and ineffectiveness.
  3. An Executive Budget proposal and enacted budget that make clear, concrete cuts anybody can understand with clear explanations of exactly how services are going to be reduced or eliminated.
  4. A progressive tax system that matches recurring revenue with recurring needs after all cuts possible have been made.
  5. Elected officials willing to hold their appointees to the highest standards possible with zero tolerance for the waste and abuses reported almost daily.
  6. Elected officials willing to put partisan politics aside in furtherance of the greater good.

Governor Bobby Jindal portrayed himself on the national stage as a budget-cutter par excellence.  If he was, why did he rely on tricks to “balance” annual budgets and leave Governor Edwards (and us) with a huge budget hole?

Why has Gov. Edwards not yet offered up a balanced budget he is willing to stand behind?  Why has the legislature not enacted a budget that makes sense and is sustainable in the future?  Is it a lack of courage, or is it an unwillingness to face reality?  It must be both, plus the partisanship that has recently made a political game of everything.

The governor and the legislature have competent staffs who have clearly defined our problems for many years.  A series of blue-ribbon panels and well-paid private contractors have studied the problem and recommended solutions for decades.  It is difficult to find evidence either individuals or businesses are overtaxed in Louisiana.  It is very easy to find low rankings of our state on infrastructure and quality of life issues important to both individuals and businesses.

We are mere pawns in the blame game – but we don’t have to be.   Let’s let our elected officials know we will no longer accept being held hostage to an incompetent and unresponsive government.  We want solutions, not the cop-outs and excuses we have been getting for way too many years.

Stephen Winham spent 21 years in the Louisiana State Budget Office, the last 12 as Director. He lives in St. Francisville.

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I found my old buddy Harley Purvis sitting in his usual spot: in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark at John Wayne’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que House and Used Light Bulb Emporium in Watson, Louisiana.

But something was decidedly different. The President of the Greater Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist, Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (GLPAARMCSBCSLC) was looking at his cell phone and….smiling.

Harley never smiles.

I slid into the booth opposite him, saying nothing. Without looking up, he pushed his phone across the table at me. “You gotta see this,” he said. “You know how the folks in Baton Rouge used to call us ignorant rednecks out here in Livingston Parish? Well they can’t do that anymore ‘cause so many of ‘em have moved out here for our far superior schools. But if you want to see real country,” he said with a chuckle, “take a gander at this.”

I picked up his phone and saw he was logged onto a story about a couple in Kentucky who had run off the road and hit a utility pole, stirring up an angry hive of bees. For the young lady, clad only in a bikini, it was not a fun experience. But Harley wasn’t amused at their plight. The story had an INTERVIEW with a local resident who was interrupted from feeding and watering his chickens by the impact.

I told Harley it reminded me of the time when I attended my father’s funeral in Nashville. As we sat in the small funeral parlor, one of his step-grandsons began talking to me.

“Ah got to git mah waf’ sumpin’ fer our anneyversary an’ Ah don’ know whut to git ‘er,” he said in an almost incomprehensible Tennessee drawl. I noticed his chin was moving from side to side and in and out in an apparent effort to wrap his mouth around his words as he slurred them out. It was like some kind of caricature from the movie Deliverance.

“Why don’t you get her what I got my wife?” I asked, already feeling guilty for what I was doing.

“Whut’d yew git yer waf’?” I thought for a brief moment he’d dislocated his jaw.

“I got her a solar powered clothes dryer.”

“SO-ler pawered? Ah ain’t never hurd o’ Thet.”

“Well, we just call it a clothes line.”

“Snork, snork, ungh, snork. Thet’s a good ‘un. Snork, ungh, snork.” He was slinging snot all over the room in something akin to a laugh that I had never heard emanate from a human before—all as my father lay in an open casket only a few feet away.

“That’s funny,” said Harley, “but without a video, you can’t really compare it to the bee in the bikini description this guy gives us.”

He had a point, so I decided to change the subject.

“So, what’s your take on the legislature this week?” I knew the answer before I asked and he didn’t let me down.

His face instantly turned into a dark scowl. “Those idiots just took the Louisiana taxpayers for a cool $68,688 in the first three days of the special session and they didn’t do a cotton-pickin’ thing,” he said.

“How so?” I asked.

“Do the danged math. They get $159 per day. There’s 144 legislatures, which is why I refer to ‘em as gross ignorance. And they took a three-day recess as soon as John Bel called the special session. That’s 144 times $159 times three days, which is a $68,688 cost to the taxpayers and they never lifted a finger to address the budget.”

“But he wasn’t through with the lawmakers. “You can talk about deadheads on the state payroll but no one compares to the legislature,” he said. “They are paid a base salary of $16,800 per year, the $159 per diem and each members gets a $1500 monthly office allowance ($18,000 per year) $6,000 in unvouchered expenses, a state phone, and a state computer.

“Altogether, that comes to a cool $7.8 million per year in even-numbered years for the 85-day session and $7.25 million in odd-numbered years for the 60-day session. That’s an average of between $50,340 and $54,315 per year for a part-time job, depending on odd or even year salaries.

“And don’t forget they also get that per diem any time they come to Baton Rouge for committee meetings or for attending legislative-related seminars and conferences—with travel, hotel and meals also paid for by taxpayers. And they take an awful lot of trips to these conferences and seminars.

“And what do we get for our dime? A bunch of lame brains who can’t even elect a capable House speaker to lead them and a Senate president who is a Democrat of Republican, depending solely on which label will get him elected. They just wasted 60 days without coming up with a budget and when the guv calls a special session, they call a three-day recess—all while collecting their damned $159 per day. Maybe weed killer-drinkin’ John Kennedy was right. We do have a spending problem, but it’s not the spending of money on needed programs and infrastructure that bothers me. It’s the spending problem we have with too many contracts going to too many cronies and the spending problem we have when we pay legislators to sit on their backsides and pass meaningless recognitions of constituents, stupid resolutions that don’t carry the weight of law and other silly nonsense like after-hours parties and eating at Baton Rouge’s best restaurants—compliments of lobbyists and special interests—while giving short shrift to what we send ‘em to Baton Rouge for in the first place.

“I don’t want to see any more taxes imposed on the middle class of this state any more than the next guy. But for the life of me, I don’t see why we can’t ask the corporations to pull their share of the load instead of getting more and more tax breaks from the state in exchange for low-paying jobs—if they create new jobs at all. I have a friend who says if we give corporations a tax break, they will make more money and give more jobs to the citizens of the state. That sounds good in theory but we’ve got plenty of evidence that this trickle-down economics just doesn’t work. They make more money to give higher salaries to their CEOs and to help their boards of directors see big increases in their stock options. That’s all the trickle down you get.

“But these clowns let LABI pull their strings like some kind of wizard puppet master, which is exactly what that organization is—a giant puppet master pulling the strings of a bunch of brainless marionettes.”

He paused for a minute to catch his breath. “And I don’t give the governor a free pass, either. I told him right after he got elected that he oughta appoint retired executives to his cabinet posts at salaries of $1 per year. We have plenty of qualified people with the expertise to run a tight ship and I know there are those who would gladly do it on a voluntary basis. We have retired corporate CEOs, retired college presidents, and even retired rank and file people who have good, God-given common sense. But what did John Bel do? He told me. ‘I’ll think about it,’ and then promptly put people in place paying them more than Bobby Jindal was paying his people.

“And that ain’t all,” he said. “I have some figures on some other agencies and programs that I’ll be sharing with you in due time and I guarantee it’ll grill your cheese when you see the numbers.”

I’d gotten an earful so I excused myself and came home to write this while it was fresh on my mind.

Ol’ Harley’s always good for a quote or two.

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As a state and nation, we’ve lost our minds.

As weary as I get of writing one negative post after another (believe me, I’d love to write something really upbeat sometime), here I am once again wringing my hands and wondering how we ever arrived at this point in our history.

We have a president who’d rather tweet about how great he is than to actually act as a public servant.

We have a U.S. Senator (John Kennedy) who expressed a preference for weed killer over Obamacare.

We have a congressman (the Cajun Barney Fife, 3rd District Rep. Clay Higgins) who is $140,000 behind on his child support payments but who wants to kill all “radical Islamics,” even though he neglects to specify who—or what—defines “radical.”

And now we have a congressman (4th District Rep. Mike Johnson) who wants to throw teenagers in federal prison for a minimum of 15 years because he feels he is an instrument of God.

This is the same Mike Johnson, by the way, who, as a member of the Louisiana Legislature, tried to push through his “Marriage and Conscience Act.” That bill died in committee so Bobby Jindal promptly issued an executive order to enforce the act, which upheld discrimination against gays. Gov. John Bel Edwards rescinded that order last year.

Introduced by Johnson, the “Protection Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017,” would punish not only adults found guilty of sexting explicit photographs to minors, but also would subject minors found guilty of sexting to other minors to federal prison sentences of up to 15 years.

Johnson, like Higgins and Kennedy, is a Washington newcomer (all three took office in January of this year for the first time). In defending his bill, he says, “In Scripture, Romans 13 refers to the governing authorities as ‘God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.’ I, for one, believe we have a moral obligation as any just government, to defend the defenseless.”

If imprisoning teens for sexting is what he means by defending the defenseless, I shudder to think what his punishment might be, for example, for teens actually engaging in sex? And it’s not like that doesn’t occur.

So he wants to set himself as judge, jury and executioner. Well, I’m not at all comfortable with that. Who gave Mike Johnson franchise right on judging anyone’s moral code?

Okay, I know the answer to that because he’s already said so. He’s God’s servant.

Well, let’s go straight to the Good Book and review.

“But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22: 20-21)

Well, there you go, Mike. And yet…and yet…didn’t Jesus rescue a prostitute from being stoned to death? I’m confused, Mike.

“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” (Psalm 137:9)

I dunno, Mike. That seems a bit extreme to me. But, hey! It’s right there in the Bible.

“Master, Moses wrote unto us, ‘If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.’” (Mark 12:19)

Guys, you may want to talk that over with your wife first. Unless, of course, you also subscribe to this little ditty:

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection” Timothy 2:11, also translated as: “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.”

And, Mike, don’t expect your wife to defend you because she will be punished if she does. It says so, right here:

“When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

By the “secrets”? Now, there’s a visual for you.

Here’s my favorite, Mike:

“For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, Or a man that is broken-footed, or brokenhanded, Or crookbacked, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.” (Leviticus 21:18-21) 

So what it’s saying here, Mike, is that heaven isn’t for people like Helen Keller, Ray Charles, Franklin Roosevelt or anyone who wears glasses or contacts.

Paraphrasing, Here a few more, offered without comment:

  • Don’t have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)
  • Don’t wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19)
  • Don’t cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)
  • Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed. (Leviticus 20:9)
  • If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a result, he must be punished. But he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property (Exodus 21:20-21)
  • Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh (I Peter 2:18)
  • Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property (Leviticus 25:44-45)
  • When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment(Exodus 21:7-11)

So, Mike, exactly what is your position on slavery these days?

The last thing this country needs now is for some little holier-than-thou despot to assert himself as the moral police over our teenagers—or over anyone else, for that matter.

Sexting is a disgusting practice I wouldn’t want my grandkids participating in. And to be sure, it is against the law—and should be. Adults who sext minors should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We can all agree on that. But you don’t toss a 15-year-old in federal prison for that. Like it or not, teens are going to do what teens do. Back when I was in school, They did their experimentations in the back seats of ’57 Chevys. At least they can’t get pregnant using an iPhone.

Only a sanctimonious jerk would seriously advocate federal prison for that.

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You just gotta love Louisiana politics.

No, really. It’s probably the only institution where one can set up his own little fiefdom, reward those in positions to promote his career, get caught up in multiple scandals, be forced to resign and be commended, appreciated, and otherwise recognized for his years of “dedicated and distinguished” service.

Take, for instance, Senate Concurrent Resolution 122, hereafter referred to as SCR 122, by State Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego), which commended, expressed appreciation and otherwise praised former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson. It passed by a 27-0 vote with 11 members either absent or not voting.

The resolution, which runs on for three full pages when a single paragraph would’ve sufficed, concludes with:

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby commend and express appreciation to Superintendent of Louisiana State Police Colonel Michael David Edmonson on his retirement after thirty-six years of dedicated and distinguished service in law enforcement, including nine years as superintendent, and does hereby extend to him and his family full measures of continued success and happiness in their future endeavors.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be transmitted to Mike Edmonson.”

It seems entirely fitting that this resolution would have been authored by Alario. After all, his son John W. Alario, serves as the $115,000 a year director of the DPS Liquefied Petroleum Gas Commission. That’s in the Department of Public Safety, where Edmonson also served as Deputy Secretary until his resignation.

LouisianaVoice also reported in September 2014 that John W. Alario’s wife, Dionne Alario, was hired in November 2013 at a salary of $56,300 to work out of her Westwego home supervising state police personnel in Baton Rouge—something of a logistics problem, to say the least. Well today, she is still there and now pulls down $58,500 per year. And she still works from home.

We were perfectly willing to let go of the Edmonson story after he resigned. But Sen. Alario’s resolution, however, compels us to review some of the highlights of Edmonson’s tenure as Superintendent of State Police.

Our first encounter with Edmonson came at the end of the 2014 legislative session when we learned that Charles Dupuy, who would rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, conspired, along with State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) and Gov. Bobby Jindal, to sneak the amendment to Senate Bill 294 during the closing minutes of the session that allowed Mike Edmonson a “do-over” on his decision to enter the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) which froze his retirement at his pay at that time of his decision to participate in DROP.

The major problem with that little plan is that it left other state troopers and state employees who similarly opted to enter DROP and then received significant promotions or raises out in the cold because the amendment did not afford the same opportunity for them. Before it was revealed by LouisianaVoice and before State Sen. Dan Claitor successfully filed a lawsuit to prevent the move, Edmonson was in line for a whopping pension increase estimated as high as $100,000 per year when the raises to state police were factored into the equation. (Claitor, incidentally, was one of those voting in favor of Alario’s SCR 122 demonstrating, we suppose, that he does not hold grudges.)

Here are some other Edmonson actions we wrote about in 2014:

  • “Consultant” Kathleen Sill, placed on the state payroll and being paid $437,000 plus $12,900 in air travel for 21 flights for her between Baton Rouge and her Columbia, S.C. home.
  • DPS Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux’s taking a $46,000 cash payout incentive to retire early from her $92,000 per year salary as Deputy Undersecretary, plus about $13,000 in payment for 300 hours of accrued annual leave and then re-hiring herself two days later—with a promotion to Undersecretary and at a higher salary of $118,600—while keeping the incentive payment and annual leave payment. Then-Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis ordered her to repay the money but Davis resigned before she could follow through on her instructions. Under her successor, Paul Rainwater, the matter was quietly forgotten.
  • Boudreaux’s son-in-law Matthew Guthrie who, while employed in an offshore job, was simultaneously on the payroll for seven months (from April 2, 2012 to Nov. 9, 2012) as a $25 per hour “specialist” for the State Police Oil Spill Commission.
  • Danielle Rainwater, daughter of former Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, who worked as a “specialist” for State Police.

And then there are the spouses brought into the fold.

  • Jason Starnes benefitted from two quick promotions from 2009 to 2014 as his salary jumped from $59,800 to $81,250, an increase. Three years later, he makes $150,750 an overall increase of 152 percent.
  • As if that were not enough, his then-wife Tammy was brought in from another agency as an Audit Manager at a salary of $92,900. Today, she makes $96.600. So not only did make nearly $11,700 a year more than her husband initially (until he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel), she also was in charge of monitoring the agency’s financial transactions, including those of her husband.
  • In January of 2008, just before Edmonson was named Superintendent of State Police by Gov. Bobby Jindal, State Trooper Charles Dupuy was pulling down $80,500. Today, the one-time Edmonson Chief of Staff makes $161,300, a bump of more than 100 percent.
  • Kelly McNamara and Dupuy, both troopers, met at work and eventually married and Kelly Dupuy’s star began ascending almost immediately. Her salary has gone from $65,000 in 2009 to $117,000 today
  • On Sept. 7, 2011, Mike Edmonson’s brother Paul was promoted from lieutenant to Captain, filling the spot previously held by Scott Reggio. On Oct. 10, 2013, Paul Edmonson was again promoted, this time to the rank of major. This time however, he was promoted into a spot in which there was no incumbent, indicating that the position was created especially for his benefit.
  • His rise has been nothing less than meteoric. Since December 2006, he has gone from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant to captain to major at warp speed and his pay rose accordingly, from $57,500 to $136,800 a year, a 138 percent increase—all under the watchful eye of his brother.

Doesn’t it give you a warm fuzzy to know that the good folks like Alario and Riser (who also, of course, voted for SCR 122) are looking out for us?

And isn’t it interesting, by the way, to know that Angele Davis, who tried to get Jill Boudreaux to repay her ill-gotten gains from her pseudo-early retirement, is pitted against Riser, who tried to sneak that illegal pension boost for Edmonson, in the upcoming election to succeed John Kennedy as State Treasurer?

As our late friend C.B. Forgotston would say if he were with us: You can’t make this stuff up.

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