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This is a story that Troy Hebert asked us to write.

It is also a story with much ado about formers.

Former Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) Director and current candidate for U.S. Senator Troy Hebert emailed LouisianaVoice earlier this week with a copy of a news story from the New Orleans CityBusiness Report, which quoted from a Baton Rouge Advocate story that Hebert had been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with alleged preferential treatment of certain applicants for liquor licenses from ATC. http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2016/09/19/fbi-clears-former-atc-commissioner-troy-hebert/90714008/

With all the third-person reporting swirling around FBI agent Maurice Hattier Jr., former liquor lobbyist Chris Young, his brother, former Jefferson Parish President and former candidate for Lieutenant Governor John Young, and former State Sen. Julie Quinn, it’s rather difficult to stay focused on the actual legal proceedings in which Chris Young was asking Middle District Federal Court in Baton Rouge to formally dismiss child pornography charges against him.

Okay, that’s formal, not former, but you get the drift.

Chris Young, you will remember, was indicted on child porn charges after he forwarded a text containing a video of an underage boy having sex with a donkey (this sounds more and more like a Farrelly Brothers comedy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farrelly_brothers).

Hattier allegedly tried (rather crudely, if true) to lean on Chris Young to give up Hebert in order to grease the skids on his investigation of Hebert.

(Putting Hebert’s guilt or innocence aside, it is disconcerting to note that the FBI more and more relies on strong-arm tactics and witness intimidation to produce the desired results in its efforts to obtain indictments and convictions instead of traditional, less tainted methods.)

The sister of John and Chris Young was hired by Hebert for the New Orleans ATC office and sources told LouisianaVoice that anyone desiring a liquor permit from the state was referred to Chris Young for legal representation. Those same sources said that Chris Young rarely, if ever, actually appeared before an ATC hearing. Instead, sources said, all the details were worked out by Chris Young and Hebert behind closed doors.

The CityBusiness story said Hattier testified that the FBI had closed its investigation of claims of public corruption on Hebert’s part.

But things got really weird.

While correctly citing a joint effort by LouisianaVoice and Lee Zurick of WVUE-TV in New Orleans as the original source of the FBI investigation, CityBusiness then veered far off course when it reported, “Speculation centered on New Orleans attorney Julie Quinn as the source” of our story.

While CityBusiness is correct in saying we relied upon anonymous sources (because the sources feared retaliation if their identities were revealed) we can say with absolute certainty that Julie Quinn was not—repeat, was not—one of our sources.

Moreover, Quinn, a former state senator and former fiancé of John Young, was also described by CityBusiness as having competed with Chris Young for alcohol clients and having had “a rocky relationship with Chris Young while dating John Young.

“Quinn’s legal clients have run into ATC trouble with various permit issues and a strip club sting (Operation Trick or Treat was a statewide sting joint operation of ATC and Louisiana State Police last October) that involved drugs and prostitution.

Quinn on Monday told LouisianaVoice she had never represented a client before ATC. “I don’t do liquor licenses and I have never in my career represented a single client in a liquor permit matter,” she said.

Here is a copy of the email we received on Monday from Troy Hebert:

From: Troy Hebert [mailto:troyhebert@yahoo.com]

Sent: Monday, September 19, 2016 10:03 AM

To: Subject: Fw: Press Release: FBI clears former ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert

All,

Please see the following article from the New Orleans Business Report. I respectfully ask that your media outlet give this story the same coverage/space/time to clear my good name as when/if your media outlet first reported the story. 

Sincerely,

Troy Hebert

U.S. Senate Candidate

No problem, Troy. Perhaps this will jump start your campaign and get your poll numbers up to 1 percent.

Top of Form

 

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You may have seen one or more of a series of http://www.vote-4-energy.org/ television ads by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that have been running on a more regular basis than lawyer commercials recently.

Intended to give us a warm fuzzy feeling about Big Oil, it’s no coincidence they’re airing in an election year.

The primary trade association of the oil and gas industry, API boasts nearly 400 members. http://www.polluterwatch.com/american-petroleum-institute

Though it spent only about $200,000 on the 2012 election, it literally pours money into other programs—$33 million on lobbying between 2008 and 2012—and was instrumental in funding a $27 million anti-science “scientific” study to refute research linking benzene to cancer.

API was also not above embellishing job creation claims, touting 20,000 new jobs as opposed to the 6,000 estimated by the U.S. State Department and Cornell University.

API also donated money to the National Science Teachers Association for distributing a short film promoting the petroleum industry. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/American_Petroleum_Institute#Concerns_about_API-funded_research

If there remains any doubt to the underlying intent of the recent glut of ads, a leaked memo written by API CEO Jack Gerard in August 2009 revealed that a number of trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, coordinated “Energy Citizens’ rallies in key Congressional districts in an effort to ramp up political opposition to climate and energy legislation.

Directly funded and organized by API and member companies, the “rallies” were coordinated by oil lobbyists and API member Chevron even bused it employees to events.

API also contributed $25,000 to Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party organization founded and chaired by billionaire oilman David Koch. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/03/energy-industry-trade-groups/

Which brings up Koch Industries, headed by David and brother Charles, both major players in the American political arena.

In just one state for example, Texas, the Kochs are proving our repeated position that money has supplanted the importance of voters in influencing election outcomes by dumping money into the campaigns of 66 candidates—15 for the U.S. House of Representatives, three for the Texas Supreme Court, 31 for the Texas House of Representatives, 16 for the State Senate and one for the State Railroad Commission (the Texas equivalent to the Louisiana Public Service Commission).

Here is a complete state-by-state listing of Koch-supported candidates (Note: only legally-required reported contributions are listed but Koch, in addition to monetary contributions has been known to exert pressure on its employees as to which candidates they should support.

And it’s not as if the Kochs are alone, nor is this an effort to say that only Republicans are beneficiaries of the avalanche of campaign funds that has occurred since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court opened the spigot of campaign cash.

Politics has become a game played by any billionaire with an agenda—to the overall detriment of the average citizen, whose numbers comprise 99.9 percent of the nation’s population. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/superpac-donors-2016/

So just how much Super PAC money, so-called outside spending (which does not include individual contributions to thousands of candidates in federal, state and local elections), was lavished on behalf of or in opposition to candidates in the 2012 elections?

The 1,310 super PACs raised $828.2 million for the 2012 election cycle, which was just two years after Citizens United, and spent $609.4 million. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?cycle=2012&chrt=V&type=S

This year, in the Presidential, and Congressional elections alone, spending has already surpassed $1.8 billion. Of that amount, more than $248 million has come from PACs. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/03/daily-chart-1

Before all is said and done, it is expected that more than $5 billion will be spent on the Presidential election. That figure includes money to be spent by candidates, political parties and outside groups (PACs), and includes money spent on presidential primaries—more than double the cost of the 2012 campaign.

All of which raises a moral question: if political donors are so civic-minded (as most insist they are) as opposed to an eagerness to promote a personal agenda (as most will go to great lengths to deny), why don’t they put their money to use for an even greater good?

Has it ever crossed the minds of the Kochs or any of the other members of the mega-rich influence-purchasers what even a small portion of that kind of money would mean to St. Jude or other children’s hospitals?

Have they ever considered underwriting cancer research on such a scale? What about feeding the hungry or even helping restore the country’s crumbling infrastructure? After all, they use the same highways, rely on the same water and sewer services, depend on the same police and fire protection.

So much good could be accomplished with the billions of dollars that are wasted on the campaigns whose promises are as empty and meaningless as the hopes and dreams of the poorest of our poor?

Yes, the Kochs give millions to charities but then spearhead coalitions of businesses and industries that pour hundreds of millions into efforts to pass anti-environmental legislation or they endow chairs at schools like Florida State University on condition that they get the final say in the hiring of faculty members who will teach their political and economic philosophy.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/spreading-the-free-market-gospel/413239/

But we as a nation have somehow seen a trend away from using our wealth to accomplish the greater good for all our citizens. Instead, we’re seeing the wealthiest using their monetary buying power to purchase influence so they can accumulate even more wealth.

And we wonder why there is an ever-widening disconnect from the American political process.

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They have full arrest powers but instead of patrolling the state’s highways and arresting drug dealers, they patrol the more placid State Capitol complex.

You won’t see them providing security for the governor or trotting onto the field at Tiger Stadium along with Les Miles and the Tiger football team. Nor will you ever see their commander standing stoically behind the governor during press briefings.

They’re not even allowed to head up security at the Capitol during the legislative session. That honor goes to the more glamorous State Police detail.

They have the same arrest powers as the high-profile State Troopers, charged with enforcing the same laws for the benefit of public safety and protection of the state’s citizens while securing the safety of the myriad of state offices.

And they must go through the same training and certification qualifications as State Troopers.

Though Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers conduct investigations and all other duties that State Troopers perform, they are, for all intents and purposes, invisible to all but state employees. Both they and the more prestigious Louisiana State Police (LSP) are part of the Department of Public Safety and both patrol the entire state. But make no mistake, the DPS Police are the stepchildren of DPS.

Held to the same standards as State Troopers, State Capitol Police get the equivalent of table scraps. DPS police patrol throughout the state in patrol cars eight- to 10 years old and with as much as 300,000 miles on them, according to one DPS officer.

State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, meanwhile, just got a brand new SUV issued to him. “Edmonson tells us over and over that he’s ‘working’ on something,” the DPS officer said. “I guess that ‘something’ was that $43,000 raise he got on August 1. I guess it’s good to be the king when your living expenses are paid by somebody else.”

Despite repeated promises, pay for DPS police officers lags further and further behind that of their counterparts over at Independence Park.

The evidence is right there in black and white for all to see.

Here is the comparison between comparable ranks, based on years of service:

  • DPS Police Officer 2: $24,066 to $57,900 per year;
  • State Trooper: $46,600 to $94,750;

 

  • DPS Sergeant: $29,500 to $66,300;
  • LSP Sergeant: $51,500 to $104,700;

 

  • DPS Lieutenant: $33,758 to $75,920;
  • LSP Lieutenant: $56,900 to $115,700.

Adding insult to injury, the DPS pay grid stops at the rank of lieutenant, meaning $75,920 is the most a DPS officer can anticipate making.

The LSP pay grid, on the other hand, keeps going to Captain ($64,750 to $131,670) and major ($69,300 to $140,900).

Edmonson, who was not making the pay grid maximum (he was making $134,351.10), was recently granted a $43,100 pay increase to $177,435.96. The increase was approved by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Chief of Staff Ben Nevers who previously served in the State Senate.

Nevers received $1,500 in campaign contributions from the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) last year. The controversial contribution was funneled through LSTA Executive Director David Young who was reimbursed by the LSTA.

Others who got raises included Edmonson’s Chief of Staff Charles Dupuy ($140,890.10 to $161,304.78), Jason Starnes (promoted to Lt. Col. And raised in salary from $128,934.26 to $150,751.90, and Deputy Superintendents Adam White, Glenn Staton and Murphy Paul, both receiving raises from $140,900 to $150,750. All this despite an executive order issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards freezing all merit increases from June 29, 2016 through June 29, 2017.

http://www.doa.la.gov/osr/other/JBE%202016/JBE16-32.htm

With the latest glut of increases, Edmonson, Dupuy, Starnes, Staton, Paul and White all now make salaries that exceed the maximums on the State Police pay grid.

When Edmonson came to the Louisiana State Police Commission last month with the proposal to create the new position to which Starnes was approved by the LSPA last week, he told commission members there would be no additional costs but Starnes got an immediate increase of $21,850. Moreover, the opening for the new post was never formally announced, thus barring others the opportunity to apply for the position.

LouisianaVoice has learned that several legislators are upset at the latest pay raises, Edmonson’s in particular, and that the Legislative Fiscal Office has begun inquiries as to who authorized them.

This gambit comes only two years after a furtive attempt to increase Edmonson’s retirement benefits by $55,000 per year despite his having locked his retirement years before by opting to participate in the former Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).

LouisianaVoice learned of the attempt, made via an amendment to an obscure bill in the closing hours of the 2014 legislative session. That attempt, from which Edmonson attempted to disassociate himself, was thwarted by a combination of negative public reaction and by a lawsuit filed by State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge).

But now he’s back and time it looks as though he may have focused unwanted attention on himself and his agency.

Sometimes it’s best to keep a low profile, but in the case of DPS, it certainly hasn’t been very profitable—or fair.

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It’s been more than a year since Troy Hebert showed up at State Civil Service hearing over his firing of former Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) agent Brett Tingle with five taxpayer-paid attorneys in tow.

That was the hearing from which Hebert tried unsuccessfully to bar LouisianaVoice only to be told a public hearing meant that it was…well, public. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/07/10/civil-service-hearing-for-fired-atc-agent-continued-to-sept-after-settlement-talks-break-down-troy-didnt-want-us-there/

It was during the proceedings that fateful day (July 10, 2015) that Hebert, then the ATC Director but now a minor (and boy, do we mean minor) no-show (as in the polls) candidate for the U.S. Senate, made such a big production of releasing the contents of private cell phone text messages by Tingle. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/09/27/troy-hebert-may-have-violated-state-constitution-in-releasing-contents-of-private-text-messages-in-effort-to-discredit-agent/

It was a move (mis)calculated to embarrass Tingle publicly and to weaken his appeal before the Civil Service hearing officer.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, however, it was Hebert, Bobby Jindal’s fair-haired boy, who was dealt a little embarrassment. file:///C:/Users/Tom/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/CKN53EOO/2016%2009%2013%2032%20Order_Mo%20to%20Dismiss%20(003).pdf

U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles of Louisiana’s Middle District in Baton Rouge ruled that the privacy of Tingle’s cell phone was protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Fourth+Amendment and under  Article I § 5 of the Louisiana Constitution.  Louisiana courts have established that Article I § 5 provides greater protection of privacy rights than the Fourth Amendment. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/09/27/troy-hebert-may-have-violated-state-constitution-in-releasing-contents-of-private-text-messages-in-effort-to-discredit-agent/

At the same time Judge deGravelles, while dismissing some parts of Tingle’s lawsuit, left intact the most serious of the claims when he ruled that Hebert may have defamed Tingle on three separate accounts by:

  • Releasing the contents of the text messages;
  • Implying publicly that Tingle was in some way involved in the theft and burning of Hebert’s state vehicle when he said, if a person would “connect the dots,” it would be easy to determine who vandalized the vehicle;
  • Making statements about Tingle in his termination letter and in news releases.

deGravelle’s defamation ruling opens the door to Tingle’s seeking substantial monetary damages.

Because Tingle’s lawsuit is against Hebert personally and not the state, Hebert would be solely liable for any damage award if found liable.

Reached at his home Tuesday night, Tingle said he had not had a chance to read the six-page ruling but he had discussed it with his attorney, J. Arthur Smith, III. “I’m delighted at what I’ve heard,” he said.

Hebert has been the subject of several stories by LouisianaVoice over the past few years—ever since his appointment to succeed Murphy Painter as ATC head when the Jindal administration attempted to frame Painter on trumped up charges when he wouldn’t play ball with Stephen Waguespack and the rest of Jindal’s junior varsity team. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/10/24/another-embarrassment-for-jindal-ex-atc-commissioner-murphy-painter-wins-defamation-suit-against-his-accuser/

Besides his bizarre behavior in person-to-person dealings with his agents, he also has been known to assign a female agent to undercover drug enforcement in New Orleans bars and then to assign her to uniformed patrol at the same establishments the following week, a move that could have endangered her life.

He also transferred a black agent from New Orleans to Shreveport on a full time basis with less than a full day’s notice, supposedly as a way to force the agent’s resignation and was said to have confided in one of his white agents that he intended to force blacks out of the agency.

And then there was this story that LouisianaVoice broke last January: https://louisianavoice.com/2016/01/26/fbi-said-investigating-troy-hebert-for-using-office-to-extort-sex-from-woman-in-exchange-for-fixing-licensing-problems/

All in all, it’s not been a very good year for Troy Hebert who, in the last poll we saw, polled exactly 0%. You’d think that with 24 candidates in the race to succeed U.S. Sen David Vitter, Hebert would pull at least 1% just by accident.

Shoot, even our former governor, ol’ what’s his name, did better than that in his comical run for the Republican presidential nomination.

But for what it’s worth, Troy, if it came down to a choice between you and David Duke, we’d be out campaigning for you. Thankfully, however, it looks as though it may be between the two of you for 24th place.

 

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co–opt

verb \kō-ˈäpt\

  • to use or take control of (something) for your own purposes

LouisianaVoice and The Hayride come down on the same side of an issue about as often as Bobby Jindal balanced the State Budget without imposing draconian mid-year cuts.

We are both in accord in the belief that there’s something that doesn’t pass the smell taste in the suspicious manner in which an investigation of political contributions by State Troopers was quietly dropped by the attorney hired to conduct the investigation—only to see that attorney retained to represent the state in a high-dollar lawsuit against oil companies over coastal land loss.

But the folks over at The Hayride should check the time line a little more carefully before trying to claim credit for breaking the story.

In its Thursday (Sept. 8) post, The Hayride said, “our own John Binder was at the forefront in reporting on the (contribution) scandal, following up with updates on the investigation, and exposing how deep it goes.”

That’s a pretty interesting claim given that LouisianaVoice and The Baton Rouge Advocate have attended every meeting of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) meeting (except when Advocate reporter Maya Lau was pulled off the story following the police shootings in July).

John Binder has yet to make an appearance at any of those meetings.

Moreover, to our knowledge, Binder’s first story about the contributions being laundered through Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) Executive Director David Young was posted on Jan. 14 of this year. http://thehayride.com/2016/01/trooper-gate-illegally-funneling-money/

That was more than a month after our Dec. 9, 2015, story. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/12/09/more-than-45000-in-campaign-cash-is-funneled-through-executive-director-by-louisiana-state-troopers-association/

Moreover, The Hayride gave attorney Taylor Townsend credit for revealing that three members of the LSPC also had made political contributions in violation of state law when in fact, LouisianaVoice announced that fact before Taylor’s revealed it to the commission. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/04/14/two-more-members-of-lspc-quit-over-political-contributions-while-pondering-probe-of-lsta-for-same-offense/

Co-opt.

But enough of that. At least we’re in accord in our conviction that there’s something rotten in Denmark over the sleazy way in which it was announced that (1) no witnesses were interviewed, thus no written report was generated, (2) because there was no report, there are no findings to be provided the media, ergo (3) it’s nobody’s damned business what his “official investigation” found.

That’s correct, public records requests have hit the proverbial stone wall. In fact, LouisianaVoice has learned that there is a recording of a meeting of the Troop I affiliate of LSTA at which a member acknowledged that the LSTA violated the law in the manner in which the donations were approved by LSTA directors, funneled through Young, who was then reimbursed for “expenses.”

When a request for a copy of that recording was made of Townsend, he never denied the existence of the tape but said that because the tape was never introduced into evidence, it is not public record.

First of all, why was the recording not included as evidence? Second, why did Townsend not interview a single member of the LSTA?

So the obvious lesson here is if you don’t want your buddies (or one of your appointees) to be found guilty of some impropriety or if you don’t want to embarrass the agency you head, the obvious solution is to terminate the “investigation” short of interviewing witnesses or introducing key evidence (like an incriminating recording) and never issue  written report. That way, you keep your “findings” away from the nosy media. Hell, Nixon could’ve learned from these guys.

For a $75,000 contract, taxpayers deserve a little more thorough effort on the part of their “investigator.” To call Townsend’s efforts at a legitimate investigation and his lame explanation to the commission an exercise in duplicity would be charitable.

It would be enough if that were the end of the story. But it’s not…and it gets worse.

The fact that Gov. Edwards selected J. Michael Veron of Lake Charles and Gladstone Jones of New Orleans to represent the state in the legal action against the oil companies doesn’t concern us so much because (1) a lawsuit to force big oil to bear the cost of cleaning up after itself is long overdue, and (2) both men have proven track records in such litigation, having major decisions in the past. After all, in litigation with so high stakes, you want the best—even if they were major contributors to Edwards’ campaign—which they were. http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/environment/article_36a72414-6fd3-11e6-84fb-533941a35403.html

The fact that he chose to include Townsend, basically inexperienced in such litigation but a major Edwards fundraiser, on the heels of a complete—and shameful—whitewash in a probe that at least peripherally involved State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, re-appointed by Edwards, only reinforces our skepticism and our belief that the “investigation” was ordered quashed from the very top—by Edwards.

Of course Attorney General, in kicking off his 2019 gubernatorial campaign (can anyone seriously doubt he’s running?) has refused to concur in the attorneys’ appointments, which is an entirely different sideshow that’s certain to get even more interesting.

The Advocate’s Lau reported that Matthew Block, Edwards’ executive counsel, said the governor was not aware that Townsend had been hired by the LSPC until after it happened. http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_2d629298-712d-11e6-b66b-4f996a7bf239.html

Block’s claim, to say the least, stretches credulity.

And then there was Thursday’s closed door meeting of the LSPC.

The commission went into executive session not once, but twice and that second time may have been in violation of the state’s open meeting laws.

At issue was the promotion of Maj. Jason Starnes to the position of Department of Public Safety Undersecretary to succeed Jill Boudreaux who retired (for a second time) earlier this year.

Starnes, a classified member of LSP, had been transferred by Edmonson to an unclassified non-state police service position as Interim Undersecretary, Custodian of Records of the Office of Management and Finance within the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS). https://louisianavoice.com/2016/06/06/starnes-promotion-pulled-by-edmonson-after-complaint-governor-fails-to-sign-lsp-pay-plan-rescinded-by-lspc/

That move, the complaint says, was in violation of Rule 14.3(G), which says:

  • No classified member of the State Police shall be appointed, promoted, transferred or any way employed in or to any position that is not within the State Police Service.

When the matter of a rule change to allow the appointment came up on the agenda, the commission went into closed session a second time.

When we pointed out state law prohibits carte blanche closed-door meeting, Townsend said the executive meeting was to discuss “personnel matters,” which is permitted under law.

La. R.S. 42:17 Exceptions to open meetings

  1. A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to R.S. 42:16 for one or more of the following reasons:

(1) Discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person, provided that such person is notified in writing at least twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the scheduled time contained in the notice of the meeting at which such executive session is to take place and that such person may require that such discussion be held at an open meeting. However, nothing in this Paragraph shall permit an executive session for discussion of the appointment of a person to a public body or, except as provided in R.S. 39:1593(C)(2)(c), for discussing the award of a public contract. In cases of extraordinary emergency, written notice to such person shall not be required; however, the public body shall give such notice as it deems appropriate and circumstances permit.

(2) Strategy sessions or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining, prospective litigation after formal written demand, or litigation when an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body.

(3) Discussion regarding the report, development, or course of action regarding security personnel, plans, or devices.

(4) Investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct

But, we said, the executive was not to discuss personnel matters, but to discuss policy, which must be discussed in open meeting.

You can guess who prevailed in this mini-debate. Townsend, again earning his fee, decided that since Edmonson claimed he never actually “appointed” Starnes because that can only be done by the governor, there was no need for action by the commission. Neither Townsend nor Doss bothered to mention that while Edmonson said he never “appointed” Starnes, the Louisiana State Police (LSP) Web page first listed Starnes as Undersecretary but then took the page down following the official complaint registered by retired State Trooper Bucky Millet of Lake Arthur.

As for the first executive session, it appeared to be legal. It was to discuss a settlement proposal in a legal matter, which was ultimately rejected by the commission.

A proposal by Commission President T.J. Doss to revamp the duties of the LSPC Executive Director was tabled following complaints by other members that they had not had an opportunity to review the changes.

Doss was caught off guard but recovered after we asked if the proposed changes, which would sharply curtail the executive director’s powers and responsibilities by transferring them to the LSPC, represented a power grab by Edmonson. The proposals certainly left that impression but Doss denied that was the motive behind the proposed changes.

The commission also rejected Doss’ call for a three-member “executive committee,” saying that was simply another layer of bureaucracy.

Nice to know there is still a sliver of sanity on the commission.

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