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Archive for the ‘Public Records’ Category

Since our publication of those Crimson Tide pictures on a Terror-Bonne sheriff’s patrol vehicle, we have gotten all manner of pushback from supporters—and one apparent relative—of Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, one even suggesting we had libeled the good sheriff (we have not, by any definition of the term “libel”).

If those good people think we have been a little tough on Sheriff Larpenter, we have a few more surprises that are certain to get their blood boiling.

This is the sheriff, you recall, who had a search warrant executed against a blogger who had the temerity to criticize the man who holds what is arguably the most powerful elected office in the parish. The blogger’s home was raided in the early morning hours and his computers seized only to be sheepishly returned after a federal judge read the sheriff the riot act about a person’s First Amendment rights.

One who commented on our story said, “You guys do realize those letters are photo-shopped into that picture, right?”

Um, no.

Another well-meaning writer who works in graphic arts assured us she had no dog in the hunt but after examining the photos, she, too, was of the opinion they were photo-shopped.

Nope. Afraid not. It turns out they are produced specifically for Alabama fans. Subsequent photos put up by LouisianaVoice revealed that the tires had been turned around since our store so as to not be visible to the public.

But then the dealer who sold the tires to Larpenter’s department weighed in, saying that the tires cost no more than any other tire because they were on state contract and actually cost less than what they cost the dealer.

Okay, we concede that point but if the good sheriff had nothing to hide, why was he so quick in flipping them so that the lettering faced the undercarriage of the vehicle? Perhaps he did so to escape the wrath of LSU fans who can be every bit as rabid as ‘Bama faithful.

One writer, who identified himself as Joseph Larpenter, wrote, “If that’s all you people are bitching about is tires, then you are stupid. I know the reason behind the tires and it’s a great idea. I’m not saying this because of who I am. I’m not stupid to this approach. If you don’t get it, then you are stupid as well.”

He later emailed us to say, “Because of a set of tires really.” The lack of punctuation marks in the appropriate places sort of diluted his message, but we get it. He doesn’t like us and he thinks we’re picking on the sheriff as did the person who commented that we were treading dangerously close to libel. Our only response to that is that he’s obviously not an attorney.

Well, today we received a little tip about deputy overtime pay and, considering the financial plight of the sheriff’s department where employee benefits have been cut back to help the sheriff overcome a huge budgetary deficit, the numbers ain’t pretty.

Take Maj. Tommy Odom, for example.

Maj. Odom apparently is a workhorse of unlimited energy and a capacity for long hours.

Copies of time sheets from nine randomly selected two-week pay periods indicate Odom’s income may well surpass that Larpenter himself working as he does an average of 21 hours per week in overtime.

The man is dedicated, working Saturdays and Sundays and hardly, it seems, even taking time to go home for lunch, taking as he does only half-hour lunch breaks.

Why, in a single two-week pay period, he logged 88.5 hours over and above his regular 80 hours, good for an extra $5,100 in overtime in addition to his regular pay of $4,080. From September 15, 2014 through September 28, he worked 13 consecutive days, logging as many as 15 hour on several of those days, according to the time sheets obtained by LouisianaVoiceCLICK HER FOR TIME SHEETS

Using the nine pay periods as a base, it showed he worked an average of 21 hours per week overtime. At his base rate of $51 per hour, his regular salary is about $2,040, or around $106,000 per year. At the legal time and one-half overtime rate, he made $76.50 per hour for his overtime work, which, at an average of 21 hours per week, would be about $83,500 in addition to his regular salary.

These figures aren’t photo-shopped. They’re real. And it leads one to wonder just what it was that Odom did during all those overtime hours—or why he was allowed such latitude.

Odom, our source said, is the only one of his rank who is allowed to work overtime. In fact, our source said, “No one else at Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office at the rank of captain or above is allowed to work overtime.” Only Odom, who also is charge of purchasing. When he previously worked patrol, our source says, “he used to dictate his reports to his wife and she would write his reports for him.”

So, while we had a little fun with our tire story, the manner in which Larpenter runs his office is serious business and remains a sticking point with many residents of Terrebonne Parish.

So, in response to Mr. Joseph Larpenter, who obviously has skin (or at least kindred blood) in the game: No, bitching about tires is not all we have to bitch about is tires—not by a long shot. And LouisianaVoice will keep poking and probing and prodding for answers and we will report our findings.

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Word from inside the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (LOSFM) is that state auditors have come calling and are taking a close look at agency expenditures.

Without being privy to any specific findings by the Legislative Auditor’s Office, it’s a pretty safe bet that the bean counters are going to find that the LOSFM likes to worm its way around the rules by making multiple purchases in amounts that fly—barely—under the radar, as it were, of minimum amounts for which quotes are required.

Other expenditures that might be questioned by auditors include meals at Mike Anderson’s Restaurant, purchases from a grocery store, a seafood market, a deli, a cookware outlet, association memberships and convention fees,

The  LOUISIANA PROCUREMENT CODE (LPC: that would be R.S. 39:1551-1755 for whoever is wearing military medals at LOSFM these days] does not require competitive bidding for purchases that are $5,000 or less. Purchases that are greater than $5,000, and up to $15,000, require quotes from at least three vendors by telephone, fax or other means. (emphasis ours.)

LouisianaVoice recently spent the better part of a week poring over and scanning stack upon stack of purchasing records by the fire marshal’s office. Several years’ worth of receipts, no less.

If LOSFM is an indication, the so-called state budgetary crisis is largely a myth and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, erstwhile State Treasurer, was correct when he said the state didn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. (Kennedy, alas, not knowing when to call it a day, would go on to talk about drinking weed killer and quoting a mysterious Louisiana adage known only to him about how we should love one another but should also carry a handgun).

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning apparently makes a lot of photocopies and prints volumes of documents, judging from the toner purchases made by his office. But those notwithstanding, it became fairly obvious from our findings that Browning, his second in command, Brant Thompson, and other top honchos like to split their purchases so that they fall just under that magical mystical $5,000 amount.

We even stumbled across one purchase of $4,999.99 on September 6, 2016, from Broad Base of Harvey for the purchase of 10 washers and 10 dryers for the agency’s laundry trailer. Apparently, they learned well from the Jindal administration which would issue state contracts for $49,999 so as to avoid the laborious approval of the old Office of Contractual Review, a requirement that kicked in at $50,000 and above.

LOSFM also liked a well-dressed agent. In 2015, it spent $33,490 with Guidry Uniforms of Lafayette, with at least three of those purchases being in increments of $5,000 and another for $5,000.01 (oops).

On April 7, 2015, the fire marshal’s office spent $2,558.59 with Guidry’s and immediate recorded another purchase that same day for $685.83. Six days later, on April 13, another $5,000 was spent with Guidry’s, all apparently without benefit of the required three quotes as there were no such quotes provided along with the receipts.

In 2014, records were found for expenditures with Guidry’s of $4,531.53 (September 15) and $5,000 (November 14). Another $17,600 was spent at Guidry’s in 2016, including individual purchases of $1,069 on March 31 and payments on outstanding invoices of $4,932.67 in April 12 and $2,517.61 in April 20.

“Agencies should maintain documentation of each quote received,” the state law says. “Procurement amounts may not be artificially divided in order to circumvent the LPC.” (emphasis ours) Quotes may be taken by telephone, facsimile or other means. The quotes must, however, be in writing if the price exceeds $5,000. Awards shall be made to the lowest responsive quotation.

Other apparent split purchases made without obtaining the required three quotations:

  • Tri-Parish Communications of Baton Rouge: March 10, 2015 ($1,870.75), March 16 ($1,876 and $382.80), March 18 ($107.80 and $148.30), March 19 ($232.85) and March 24 ($274.85 and $359.85) for a total of $5,253.20.
  • Louisiana Office Solutions of Baton Rouge: January 14, 2016 ($269.32), January 21 ($2,668), and January 22 ($2,828) for a total of $5,765.32.
  • Preferred Data Voice Networks of Baton Rouge: April 5, 2016 ($1,873.60), April 12 ($3,248.80), April 19 ($4,970.80) for a total of $10,093.20 with all three purchases precisely one week apart (clever).
  • Quality Lapel Pins of Littleton, Colorado (we’ll have more on them later): February 21, 2016 ($3,569), March 9 ($3,569—yep, identical amounts in two separate purchases barely two weeks apart), and March 30 ($1,040) for a total of $8,178 over a span of five weeks.
  • Quality Lapel Pins: June 27 ($4,862), July 13 ($921.02), and July 18 ($1,828.20) for a total of $7,611.22 purchased over a period of three weeks.
  • Goodyear Commercial Tire of Baton Rouge: March 26, 2015 ($3,484.17) and March 30 ($2,677.43), a total of $6,161.60.
  • Ferrara Fire Apparatus of Holden: December 11, 2014 ($4,985), December 12 ($2,747.52), and December 22 ($2,190.14), a total of $9,922.66.
  • Ferrara Fire Apparatus: April 2, 2015 ($3,784.38) and April 8 ($1,712.16), a total of $5,496.54.
  • Ferrara Fire Apparatus: March 18, 2016 ($4,828), April 14 ($3,196 and $1,164), and April 26 ($4,342), a total of $8,702 (grand total of split purchases: $24,121.20). Additionally, LOSFM had individual purchases from Ferrara of another $10,321 in the years 2014-2016, including one purchase of $4,985, just $15 below the amount requiring quotations.
  • Teeco Safety of Shreveport: November 6, 2014 ($4,731.50) and November 14 ($4,994.50), a total of $9,726.
  • Teeco Safety: December 5, 2014 ($3,979.30) and December 11 ($3,248.32), a total of $7,227.62.
  • Teeco Safety: February 13, 2015 ($3,525, $564.30, and $711.76) and February 19 ($546), a total of $5,347.06.
  • Teeco Safety: November 6, 2015 ($2,763), November 12 ($4,763.14), and November 16 ($1,413.96), a total of $8,940.10.
  • Teeco Safety: December 18, 2015 ($3,606.79 and $179.76) and December 22 ($2,601.31), a total of $6,387.86.
  • Teeco Safety: September 9, 2016 ($4,587.96), September 14 ($3,433.92), and September 30 ($1,919.76), a total of $9,941.64. LOSFM also made individual purchases of $4,941.98 on October 30, 2014, and $4,777.80 on April 8, 2015, and had three purchases totaling $4,804 in December 2016.

Documents provided by LOSFM indicated that an occasional quotation was obtained from Teeco prior to purchases, but there were no quotes from other vendors.

Besides the four purchases of $5,000 each from Guidry’s and the $4,999.99 from Broad Base, the fire marshal’s office also chalked up at least a dozen one-time purchases that fell just below the $5,000 amount requiring quotations. Those purchases ranged from $4,000 to $4,900, $4,990 and $4,999—all without benefit of quotations.

That $4,900 expenditure was for a deposit to LR3 Consulting for creation of the “Louisiana Firefighter Proud” website. The State of Louisiana has IT personnel to perform such tasks.

Over a relative short span, from May 9 to September 22, 2016, LOSFM spent $9,600 at Best Buy on such items as juice boxes, computer and video cable, and other computer-related equipment.

Another $8,754 was spent on association memberships and sponsorship fees for conventions, records show. Those included:

  • $1,300 for 2015 memberships in the Merchant International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI);
  • $1,875 for 2016 memberships in the Louisiana IAAI;
  • $1,175 for 2017 IAAI membership;
  • $1,404 for 2015 membership in the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA);
  • $700 for sponsorship of the Louisiana Municipal Association (LMA) 2015 convention;
  • $750 for sponsorship of the LMA 2016 convention;
  • $800 for sponsorship of the LMA 2017 convention;
  • $750 for sponsorship of the Louisiana Police Jury Association (LPJA) 2017 convention;

On December 3, 2015, LOSFM employees were treated to a Christmas meal at Mike Anderson’s Seafood Restaurant at a cost of $2,195. Another $1,014 was spent at LeBlanc’s Food Stores and $126.62 was dropped at Tony’s Seafood Market & Deli in January 2016, and $479.85 was spent at Jason’s Deli in April 2016.

On January 21, 2015, $895 was spent at Krazy Kajun Cookware for the purchase of a 30-gallon roll-around combo set, including the pot and accompanying paddles—apparently to compliment the purchase later that year (May 18) of a special service trailer for “emergency field food service” to support USAR events/emergencies. (A quick Google search of USAR came up with U.S. Army Reserve and Urban Search and Rescue.)

But that pales in comparison to more than $62,000 spent by the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office between May 2014 and September 2016 on such things as badges, ribbons, plaques, coins, medallions, stadium cups, lapel pins, and decals—all without benefit of obtaining quotations. A couple of those nudged right up against that $5,000 limit:

  • $5,000 with Quality Lapels and Pins in February 2016, $7,138 in two purchases of identical $3,569 on February 21, 2016 and again 16 days later, on March 9, and $4,862 on June 27;
  • $4,617 from Rebel Graphics of Baton Rouge in June 2016, and
  • $4,997 with Action Flags of Baton Rouge (no invoice date).

There was no indication if any of those purchases were for military medals to be worn by Browning.

 

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By Ken Booth

Guest Commentator

Employees at the Monroe Veterans’ Home were rushed into recalling a mysterious incident five years ago this month at the Home which has until now remained undisclosed. Two employees were called upon to sign affidavits about the unusual episode that occurred on August 10, 2012. Their affidavits were signed only this Tuesday (Aug. 1).

This, following my public records request issued on August 1 to the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs in Baton Rouge for a work order to a West Monroe security firm to remove and replace the hard drive from the Monroe Veterans Home’s security set-up.

Documents from the security firm show the work was requested by Ken Houston, the former Home administrator who abruptly ‘retired’ last week.

The signed employee affidavits stated it was Houston who on that day asked them to “open the door to the telephone room” presumably to allow the security technician access to the hard-drive in question, before shooing the maintenance worker away, telling him he didn’t need help and “I’ll take it from here.”

An invoice detailing the security company’s work issued to the NELA Home indicates it charged a total of $281 for the job, which included $218 for a new hard-drive.

What happened to the hard-drive which was replaced is not known. In fact, none of this was known until last Tuesday when our records request startled employees at the Veterans Home, some of whom had no knowledge themselves this had ever happened.

Why Houston may have wanted that hard-drive removed and replaced is not known. Why this was done outside the knowledge of other Home officials is also unknown.

However, this is not the first time matters which might be considered curious in nature at the Home have been hidden away out of public view.

You may recall that it was in August of just last year that agents from the office of Louisiana Inspector General and auditors from the Office of Legislative Auditor were digging into allegations of alleged mistreatment of Home residents which also, ironically, dated back to 2012.

Those allegations were documented and filed with the Secretary of the Dept. in Baton Rouge but somehow escaped being publicly disclosed until July of last year when an anonymous letter, slipped under the door of Congressman Abraham, triggered action by LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland to investigate why all of those allegations had never seen the light of day.

At the time, James Ken Houston was administrator at the Monroe Veterans Home. Tommy Shoemaker was the assistant administrator.

Amid the renewed probe, Shoemaker was arrested and charged with felony theft of $9000 from a 69-year-old resident of the Home, Roland J. Matheny. Matheny is now deceased. His family is said to be seeking restitution.

Now we know that computer system hard drive was removed and for some reason replaced about a week before Shoemaker and Vets Home accountant Misti Dawn Westbrook both signed a check in the amount of $9000 from the fiduciary account of Mr. Matheny ostensibly to pre-pay for his burial. Those expenses were never paid. The money was deposited into Matheny’s private account at Progressive Bank but on August 6, four days before the hard-drive was replaced, about $2000 was paid to an Orchard Bank credit card account in the name of Thomas W. Shoemaker.

In addition, bank records show a number of ATM cash withdrawals from Matheny’s account totaling about $3200 as well as another $1200 in retail purchases made on Matheny’s ATM card.

We could find no written authorization by Matheny for Shoemaker to make these withdrawals from his Progressive Bank account.

Ken Houston, then administrator, imposed a one pay period reduction in Shoemaker’s salary from $2,076 to $1,453 bi-weekly.

Fast-forward to last week when James Ken Houston abruptly “retired” from his job at the NELA Veterans Home. Ironically, his swift departure announcement came within 24 hours to the very day five years ago Shoemaker and Westbrook signed that $9000 check.

—Ken Booth, now residing in Arizona, is retired from KNOE-TV in Monroe, where he worked for many years as a highly-respected investigative reporter.

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If you ever decide to step out of your routine and launch a search for the poster child for corruption within the Louisiana justice system, you might wish to begin your search in New Orleans.

It will be a short but successful search. Guaranteed.

Without delving too far into Orleans Parish’s sordid history, there was the removal of U.S. District Judge G. THOMAS PORTEOUS JR. by the U.S. Senate in 2010 and four more judges got themselves caught up in the FBI OPERATION WRINKLED ROBE in adjacent Jefferson Parish back in 2003.

Corrupt judges are bad enough but after three straight administration changes, it appears the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office still can’t get its act together.

The most egregious was the late Harry Connick, Sr., HARRY CONNICK, SR., who earned a well-deserved national reputation for consistently withhold exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated defendants he sent to Angola for extended prison terms—one of whom spent 18 years on death row before the discovery of withheld evidence finally freed him.

He was followed by the derby-wearing Eddie Jordan, who previously served on the federal prosecuting team that won a conviction of former Gov. Edwin Edwards.

The first hint that things were a bit askew was when Jordan, a black, began handing out pink slips to white employees who saw red and sued in federal court, ultimately winning a major reverse discrimination DECISION in 2005. That, along with a somewhat bizarre story of a robbery suspect who showed up at Jordan’s HOME in October 2007, finally forced him to RESIGN from office only a week later.

Then, on July 14, LouisianaVoice received this otherwise benign press release from Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James M. LeBlanc:

Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame Announces 2017 Honorees

Inductees to be honored today during ceremonies

BATON ROUGE, La. –  Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James M. Le Blanc, Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Darrell Vannoy, and the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation are proud to announce the following highly distinguished individuals as 2017 inductees to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame:

  • The Honorable Dennis R. Bagneris, Sr., 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge, Retired, New Orleans
  • The Honorable Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney, New Orleans
  • The Honorable Jimmy N Dimos, 4th Judicial District Judge, Retired, Monroe
  • Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, Retired, Alexandria
  • The Honorable Marc H. Morial, President & CEO of The National Urban League
  • Sheriff Newell Norman, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Rabbi Arnold S. Task, Alexandria

The new inductees will be honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame today during ceremonies at the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum and at LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center. The Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum is proud home to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame.

Okay, what’s wrong with that, you ask?

Not much except that the Southern Poverty Law Center has just filed a 61-page official COMPLAINT against Cannizzaro with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel in Baton Rouge following an excellent series of investigative stories in The Lens, a non-profit New Orleans watchdog online news service.

The basis for the complaint—and of The Lens stories—was the routine issuance of non-legal subpoenas intended to intimidate subjects to report to the district attorney’s office to answer questions by prosecutors. Those subpoenaed were not necessarily suspected of any wrongdoing.

The fake subpoenas were not signed by a judge, a requirement under law to make the subpoena legal and enforceable. Instead, they were issued as ploys to intimidate those served into coming into the DA’s office.

http://thelensnola.org/2017/04/28/woman-who-got-fake-subpoena-from-orleans-parish-da-said-she-was-told-she-could-be-jailed-if-she-ignored-it/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/06/14/new-orleans-prosecutor-used-fake-subpoena-to-seek-arrest-warrant-for-victim-of-alleged-domestic-violence/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/03/will-prosecutors-who-sent-fake-subpoenas-face-any-consequences/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/05/da-we-cant-say-how-often-fake-subpoenas-are-used-and-its-too-hard-to-look/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/12/orleans-parish-da-sued-over-refusal-to-turn-over-witness-subpoenas-real-and-fake/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/15/the-lens-is-suing-orleans-parish-da-leon-cannizzaro-to-force-him-to-turn-over-fake-subpoenas/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/19/notices-sent-to-witnesses-on-north-shore-werent-called-subpoenas-but-they-looked-real-enough/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/06/14/new-orleans-prosecutor-used-fake-subpoena-to-seek-arrest-warrant-for-victim-of-alleged-domestic-violence/

http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/22/defense-attorney-asks-judge-to-force-orleans-parish-district-attorney-to-disclose-whether-it-used-fake-subpoenas-in-home-invasion-case/

On July 11, an Orleans Parish JUDGE ordered the DA’s office to provide the ACLU complete records related to its use of fake subpoenas.

But apparently, the practice has bled over into adjacent JEFFERSON PARISH, where fake subpoenas are also reportedly being issued.

So while Donald Stumped and his shrinking army of unquestioning loyalists fret and fume over so-called fake news, there is the very real issue of fake subpoenas being used by those charged with upholding the Constitution of the United States to trample on the rights of its citizens.

Leon Cannizzaro attended and graduated from law school. We know that because you must be a licensed attorney to be a district attorney.

By virtue of that law degree (a juris doctorate, we assume), he is fully aware that a subpoena, to be legal, must be issued by a court, i.e., signed by a judge.

He also must be aware that the actions of his office, for which he must take full responsibility, were blatantly illegal, unconstitutional, unethical and immoral—and that the practice casts a long shadow of doubt as to the credibility and legal ethics of yet another Orleans Parish district attorney.

Unless, of course, he was absent on subpoena and/or legal ethics days.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said it best in its complaint in such a succinct manner that it bears repeating:

  • Subpoenas are, by definition, orders issued by a court.
  • By law, district attorneys may only seek to have subpoenas issued with court authorization.
  • The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office routinely lied about individuals’ obligation to speak to district attorneys and the penalties for failing to do so.
  • The District Attorney’s Office now acknowledges ethical violations but continues to resist transparency and the voluntarily (sic) regulation of this practice.

The bogus subpoenas carry a bold-face notice that says, “A fine and imprisonment may be imposed for failure to obey this notice.”

We can’t help but wonder what the penalty for badgering, intimidation, misrepresentation, and lying by an officer of the court might be.

But congratulations for that Justice Hall of Fame thingy.

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More proof that when leaders are unhappy with the message, they shoot the messenger as the obvious solution:

“I hear the State Fire Marshal’s office may be going to terminate several employees (this) week based on their (the employees) not being loyal to the agency and (State Fire Marshal Butch) Browning. There is actually a DPS (Department of Public Safety and Corrections) rule that says you have to be loyal.”

That’s the message LouisianaVoice received from one of its sources over the weekend.

If true, it gives credence to the expression that no good deed goes unpunished.

The overall administrative mood at the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (LOSFM) has been more than a little surly since our initial STORY last week about unqualified personnel being forced to investigate possible arson cases.

With already interviews with a half-dozen sources under our belt, other sources began coming forward with claims of shortcomings in the INVESTIGATION of a fatal fire scene in St. Tammany Parish.

Also called into question was the investigation of several nursing fires in Simmesport and the arrest of an employee, who was not even at work during all but one of the fires, on some 75 counts, including cruelty to the infirm and attempted murder. An Avoyelles Parish grand jury is scheduled to investigate that case beginning on Thursday.

LouisianaVoice has since been asked to look into the circumstances of yet another Avoyelles Parish CASE in which a local firefighter was arrested in connection with the death of his wife of 10 months in a house fire. His trial is next month.

LOSFM administrators took immediate action to confront the problems with the St. Tammany and Simmesport cases by calling in employees from the field and grilling them about whether they had talked to LouisianaVoice. Among the tactics employed in improving investigative methods were threats of polygraph tests and further interrogation.

And now there are those pesky loyalty issues which appear to have placed employees’ jobs in jeopardy.

Apparently, it’s the DPS Trump card, if you’ll forgive a bad pun.

But when the so-called “loyalty rule” is invoked, it’s important to ask: to whom is this “loyalty” due?

We have not seen the rule requiring loyalty but it would be assumed that it was intended to require loyalty to the agency, DPS, and to the principles to which it espouses—namely justice administered on a fair, equitable, and impartial basis.

If that’s the case, it would seem a pretty steep hill to climb to prove disloyalty on any employee.

But if it’s loyalty to the guys in the corner offices, namely Browning, Fire Chief Brant Thompson and other top brass (whether laden with unwarranted military medals or simply blessed with protectors in high places), that’s another story.

We’ve heard the stories of LOSFM employees being reassigned to remote districts or being forced into resignations after revealing problems to management, it’s difficult to see how leadership at LOSFM warrants loyalty from anyone other than those who literally owe their jobs to Browning—those cronies brought in at higher pay grades than veteran employees.

Loyalty in exchange for political benefaction should not be a requirement of any job in government. That’s the very reason the Department of Civil Service was enacted during the second administration of Jimmie Davis.

Whistleblowers most often come forward reluctantly and after all other avenues of rectification have been exhausted.

But another reason the honchos at LOSFM might want to reconsider any rash decisions to clean house of so-called “disloyal” employees is that terminated employees, now disgruntled (as opposed to gruntled?), might feel free to open up even more to LouisianaVoice and other media outlets.

And that, guys, is the elephant in the room that you seem to be ignoring.

 

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