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Archive for the ‘Retirement’ Category

On August 13, Eliska Lynch and husband Bill lost their Denham Springs home to devastating floods that cause billions of dollars in damages in Southeast Louisiana.

On August 31, she was notified—by mail—that she had lost her job as a bookkeeper for the Parochial Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). http://www.persla.org/

PERS is a public defined benefit pension plan which provides retirement benefits pursuant to Act 205 of 1952.

The system provides for two separate retirement plans—one designed for employers not participating in Social Security and one for those who remained in Social Security, according to the RERS Web page. http://www.persla.org/history.htm

The system provides benefits to all Louisiana parishes except Orleans, East Baton Rouge and Lafourche. Additionally, agencies who are wholly or partially funded with parish funds may participate in PERS.

Apparently, according to the two-page notifying her of her termination, Lynch did not perform sufficiently at her new position of bookkeeper, a position into which she had been moved when the former bookkeeper retired.

According to Lynch, however, she was fired because she wanted to return to her former position of benefits analyst but that job had been filled by Cari Hill, the daughter of PERS Assistant Director Becky Fontenot.

Lynch said when she complained of nepotism, she subsequently received the letter from PERS Administrative Director Dainna Tully informing her of her termination.

In her letter—and in an interview with LouisianaVoice, Tully indicated that Lynch had voluntarily accepted the bookkeeping position. In her letter to Lynch—provided to LouisianaVoice by Lynch—Tully said Sullivan trained Lynch for three weeks before conducting her first interview for a benefits analyst to fill Lynch’s former position. In all, she said, Sullivan worked six weeks with her. She also said the PERS audit team worked with Lynch for three days in an unsuccessful effort to provide “additional training tutelage” for her new position.

Lynch, however, said she never encountered any criticism of her job performance until she broached the nepotism issue of Hill’s being supervised by her mother, which Lynch says constitutes nepotism. http://employeeissues.com/nepotism.htm

Not so, said Tully. “She (Hill) answers directly to me. All employees answer to me.”

That may well be. Many agency heads are micro-managers. That, theoretically, at least would make all employees equal in the agency head’s eyes. But in the words of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some are more equal than others.

And in most agency organizational charts, Hill would certainly be under the direct supervision of Fontenot, her mother, a clear violation of Louisiana’s ethics laws governing nepotism.

  • 1119. Nepotism
  1. No member of the immediate family of an agency head shall be employed in his agency.

B.(1) No member of the immediate family of a member of a governing authority or the chief executive of a governmental entity shall be employed by the governmental entity.

Who may be held liable for a violation of §1119?:

In addition to the agency head and the agency head’s immediate family member(s) hired in violation of §1119, the following persons may also be held liable for a willful violation of the nepotism restrictions:

Member of the governing authority (Hill);

Public employee having the authority to hire and fire the employee (Tully);

Immediate supervisor of the employee (Fontenot).

After leave time was applied, Tully said in her letter, Lynch’s official date of termination was Sept. 14—one month and a day after floodwater swept through her home and reducing her household belongings and two vehicles to a mound of worthless debris at the edge of the street.

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Once again, and for the sixth consecutive year, State Civil Service employees are being forced to go without a pay raise.

And on the heels of this, the Office of Group Benefits is raising premiums by about 7.5 percent.

But not to worry: what Louisiana State Police (LSP) Superintendent Mike Edmonson couldn’t accomplish two years ago via what was literally a last-minute amendment to an obscure legislative bill, State Police Maj. Jason Starnes has done for him—and for himself and other high-ranking troopers, as well.

The tactic was pulled off so quickly and with such surprise that it could be considered a variation of the old smash and grab move where you strike suddenly, grab what you can and make a fast getaway.

Edmonson got a healthy salary increase of $43,100 (32 percent), from $134,350 to $177,450, effective Aug. 1, LouisianaVoice has learned.

Edmonson says several sheriffs, national guard officers and some State Police majors were making more than he did and that the increases were needed to make state police salaries more competitive.

But Edmonson also receives free housing, meals and furnishings, free butler, cooks and lawn care (courtesy of prisoners of the Louisiana Department of Corrections), a state vehicle and fuel—all at taxpayer expense.

So, just how competitive does he need to be?

Edmonson’s Chief of Staff Charles Dupuy also got a 14.5 percent raise, from $140,900 to $161,300, a jump of $20,400.

Starnes, promoted to LSP Chief Administrative Officer on Aug. 15, received a $21,850 (17 percent) raise, from $128,900 to $150,750.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning received a raise of $33,500 (32.2 percent), from $104,000 to $137,500.

The Baton Rouge Advocate, which broke its story an hour before ours went up and which cited the same sources (State Civil Service), listed two other LSP Deputy Superintendents who received raises: Glenn Staton and Murphy Paul, who got raises from $140,890 to $150,752 (7 percent). http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/crime_police/article_4b9471c4-76e0-11e6-ab44-ffb987ff581f.html?sr_source=lift_amplify

It’s also worth noting here, since we’re talking about getting the records from Civil Service, that The Advocate also made a request to LSP for the records on Sept. 1 and The Advocate is still waiting. It’s not certain when The Advocate made its request to Civil Service but LouisianaVoice made its request to Civil Service about 3:30 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 9) and the records were produced within an hour. LSP, meanwhile, was busy doing the Kristy Nichols Shuffle, i.e. delaying providing the most basic of information. The Advocate story said the official LSP position was that it was still checking for redactions. Paraphrasing former New Orleans and Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Mora, we can only respond with incredulity, “Redactions?! REDACTIONS?! Are you kidding me? REDACTIONS? Don’t talk to me about redactions! We’re not thinking about redactions; we just want basic information.”

Starnes, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the LSP ranks, apparently is the one who usurped legislative intent by signing off on the raises of Edmonson, Dupuy and Browning, each retroactive to Aug. 1.

http://www.forward-now.com/2014/08/09/louisianavoice-tracks-careers-of-key-edmonson-associates/

You’ll remember that in 2014, in the closing minutes of the regular legislative session, State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) tacked an amendment onto a bill that would have given Edmonson an additional $50,000 or so in retirement benefits. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/07/11/generous-retirement-benefit-boost-slipped-into-bill-for-state-police-col-mike-edmonson-on-last-day-of-legislative-session/

Here is a copy of Amendment 4, which was passed but subsequently struck down in Baton Rouge state district court pursuant to a lawsuit filed by State Sen. Dan Claitor. http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=911551&n=Conference

Earlier this year, the Legislature, through passage of House Bill 1, set the salaries of statewide elected officials and the governor’s cabinet members. Edmonson’s salary, like that of the governor, was set at $134,400.

But thanks to even more creative maneuvering by Edmonson (he continues to insist he had nothing to do with that retirement gambit but it’s our contention the amendment didn’t write itself and since it applied only to Edmonson and one other trooper….well, you do the math), certain select LSP personnel are getting generous pay bumps over and above last year’s two separate raises that amounted to 30 percent or more across the board.

Edmonson said last year that pay raises would not be going to troopers of ranks higher than major but with this latest round, which went into effect on Aug. 1, that promise appears to have been conveniently forgotten—as was Edmonson’s salary, supposedly set by HB 1.

The whole affair appears to have stemmed from Edmonson’s determination to promote Starnes. He first attempted to move him into the position of Interim Undersecretary to succeed Jill Boudreaux who retired (for a second time) earlier this year. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/02/29/dps-undersecretary-jill-boudreaux-retiring-for-real-this-time-6-years-after-taking-incentive-buyout-at-governors-directive/

But retired State Trooper Bucky Millet filed a formal complaint, claiming the appointment was illegal. The move, Millet’s complaint said, 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.

Edmonson subsequently pulled the appointment. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/06/06/starnes-promotion-pulled-by-edmonson-after-complaint-governor-fails-to-sign-lsp-pay-plan-rescinded-by-lspc/

But last month Edmonson came before the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), the equivalent to the State Civil Service Board, with a proposal to create a new classified position, Chief Administrative Officer, apparently with the same duties and powers as the unclassified—and still vacant—Undersecretary position.

On Thursday (Sept. 8) of this week, the formal approval of the new position came before the LSPC, which immediately went into an illegal executive session.

Upon emerging from that closed-door session, Townsend recommended no action on Millet’s complaint and explained away Millet’s complaint by claiming Edmonson never actually appointed Starnes because that can only be done by the governor. Townsend failed to explain how the “non-appointed” Starnes’ appointment was posted briefly on the LSP Web page before quietly being taken down after Millet filed his complaint.

First of all, LSPC legal counsel Taylor Townsend (who has become a major disappointment as a $75,000 contract investigator who twice in as many “investigations,” has recommended no action by the commission  while conducting no interviews and without introducing any pertinent recordings in his possession and writing no reports of his “findings”) said the executive session was to discuss “personnel matters” when in fact, the smart money says it was to discuss the legality of Edmonson’s move. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/09/08/calling-out-the-hayride-pseudo-investigations-backdoor-contracts-and-executive-sessions-cloistered-in-subterfuge/

Here are the guidelines for an executive session to discuss “personnel” matters:

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.

The closed-door meeting was illegal on at least three levels:

  • To our knowledge, there was no discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health” of Starnes.
  • If that was what was discussed, the commission again violated the law by not complying with the requirement that “such person is notified in writing at least twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.” By failing to notify Starnes, he was denied the opportunity to say whether or not he desired a closed meeting.
  • Moreover, the public meetings law says, “Nothing…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.”

Besides Townsend, the commission has one other full-time attorney who sits at the table during LSPC meetings. Between the two, someone should advise the commission of it legal obligations when trying to conduct its business away from the eyes and ears of the public.

Here’s the short version: Guys, there’s no app for that.

But then it was Townsend who in August attempted to tell LouisianaVoice (incorrectly, it was pointed out to him at the time by LouisianaVoice) that the commission was not required to give a reason for an executive session. And this from a man who once served in the Louisiana Legislature where our laws are written.

For Mr. Townsend’s enlightenment, here is that law:

La. R.S. 42:16 Executive Sessions

A public body may hold executive sessions upon an affirmative vote, taken at an open meeting for which notice has been given pursuant to R.S. 42:19, of two-thirds of its constituent members present. An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from discussion at open meetings by R.S. 42:17 (see above-quoted statute); however, no final or binding action shall be taken during an executive session. The vote of each member on the question of holding such an executive session and the reason for holding such an executive session shall be recorded and entered into the minutes of the meeting. Nothing in this Section or R.S. 42:17 shall be construed to require that any meeting be closed to the public, nor shall any executive session be used as a subterfuge to defeat the purposes of R.S. 42:12 through R.S. 42:2 (Emphasis added).

 

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Call it the summer doldrums or whatever you wish. The truth is there hasn’t been much political blog activity—from any of us.

It’s not that there is a dearth of news to report; between killings by cops, killings of cops, terrorist attacks, political accusations, political promises that border on fantasy, e-mail scandals and plagiarized speeches, there’s more than enough to go around. But somehow, we’ve become inured, victims of a malady we can only identify as scandal fatigue for lack of a better term.

But LouisianaVoice, with the help of a couple of volunteer researchers, is working on a project that should generate considerable readership interest—unless, of course, readers are also victims of the summertime lethargy that seems to be at least somewhat contagious.

But we’d be less than honest if we didn’t admit we get pretty discouraged when we expose wrongdoing—some of it even criminal in nature—on the part of elected and appointed officials and nothing is done about it.

What more needs to be done, for example, than to point out the illegal use of campaign funds for such personal use as season tickets to sporting events, luxury car leases and even paying ethics violation fines and personal federal income taxes from campaign funds? Yet, nothing is done.

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/05/17/improper-spending-of-campaign-funds-appears-to-be-the-rule-rather-than-the-exception-in-louisiana-random-check-reveals/

What more needs to be done than to publish official investigative reports of a state trooper having sex in his patrol car while on duty to bring severe disciplinary action down on that officer?

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/10/04/you-couldnt-time-an-egg-with-this-guy-state-police-lt-has-sex-twice-on-duty-once-in-back-seat-of-patrol-car-still-on-job/

It took LouisianaVoice weeks and many stories before official action was finally taken against a state trooper who went home to sleep during his shift so that he could work his second job the next day before he was finally fired. And even though we revealed that his supervisor allowed this practice to go on for years, the supervisor was simply transferred—even after we published audio recordings of that same supervisor refusing to accept a citizen’s complaint after he had denied refusing the complaint.

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/09/11/gift-cards-for-tickets-payroll-chicanery-quotas-short-shifts-the-norm-in-troop-d-troopers-express-dismay-at-problems/

After we ran a story about a legislator, who made thousands of dollars by purchasing stock in a company he knew was going to be approved for a major program with the Department of Education, that legislator was re-elected.

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/03/27/senate-education-chairman-appel-purchases-discovery-stock-week-before-company-enters-into-state-techbook-agreement/

When we outed Frederick Tombar III, the $260,000 per year director of the Louisiana Housing Corporation, over his sexually explicit emails sent to two female employees, he promptly resigned only to turn up at Cornerstone Government Affairs, a consulting company headed by former Louisiana Commissioners of Administration Mark Drennan and Paul Rainwater.

https://louisianavoice.com/category/campaign-contributions/page/9/

When we ran the story of a clerk in Fourth Judicial District Court in Monroe with ties to powerful attorney and banking interests who was failing to show up for work, both the Louisiana Attorney General the Office of Inspector General punted on their investigations.

When a north Louisiana contractor sued the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development over attempts by DOTD employees to extort payoff money from him, he won more than $20 million. Instead of paying up as it should, however, the state simply said it doesn’t have the money to pay the contractor who was forced into bankruptcy by the department’s criminal activity. Yet, no one at DOTD was fired, much less prosecuted.

http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2015/12/04/contractor-wins-20m-suit-against-dotd/76813444/

Department of Public Safety Deputy Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux twerked the system by taking an incentive buyout for early retirement that netted her an extra $59,000. She promptly promoted herself and came back to work the next day at a salary bump. Ordered to repay the $59,000 by then Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, she never did.

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/08/24/edmonson-not-the-first-in-dps-to-try-state-ripoff-subterfuge-undersecretary-retiresre-hires-keeps-46k-incentive-payout/

But a caseworker for the understaffed and overworked Office of Children and Family Services was arrested with all the appropriate posturing and chest-thumping by law enforcement officials—including State Police—for payroll fraud after allegedly falsifying reports on monthly in-home visits with children in foster care.

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/13/dcfs-funding-slashed-necessitating-driveway-visits-but-overworked-caseworker-is-arrested-for-falsifying-records/

The lesson here is obvious: if you’re politically connected, you can scarf off $59,000 with no repercussions but if you’re a lowly civil servant striving to meet impossible work demands brought about by budgetary cuts, you’re SOL. It’s not that we condone the payroll falsification, but justice should that should be administered evenly and blindly—but somehow never is.

The stories we have written about the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry and what the board does to dentists to destroy their practices and their very lives are horrific. Some of the investigative tactics and the retributions against defenseless dentists are sadistic at best and criminal at worst. Yet the board is allowed to continue its practices unchecked.

And as recently as May 2, we have the announcement from Gov. John Bel Edwards of the appointment of TERRENCE LOCKETT of Baton Rouge to the Louisiana Auctioneers Licensing Board. His appointment was made despite his being ordered in 2013 to pay $600 in penalties for his failure to file lobbying expenditure reports from March-December 2011 and his second-offense DWI in April 2014, which was reduced to a first-offense DWI.

http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/gov-edwards-announces-boards-and-commissions-appointments-5-2

By now, you’ve probably detected a trend.

It’s more than a little frustrating to see these transgressions reported, to know they are seen by those in a position to do something, and yet see these same ones in charge do nothing—or do so little as to make any discipline meaningless.

LouisianaVoice over the next few days will examine ethics fines that have gone uncollected for years, critical legislative audits of state agencies about which nothing seems to get done, and campaign contributions and lobbying activity that fortify the positions of special interests while diminishing to virtual insignificance the influence and interests of Louisiana’s citizens.

And nothing gets done.

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In North Korea, to the best of our knowledge about that closed society, political dissidents quietly disappear, rumored to receive a bullet to the back of the head.

In the old Soviet Union, dissidents were disposed of in similar fashion—with a bullet behind an ear. Today, Vladimir Putin apparently prefers the quieter—and cleaner—method of ricin-tipped umbrellas.

Thankfully, we are a bit more civilized.

But a purge is still a purge and things are about to get very nasty over at the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association, an organization that is growing increasingly more rogue with each new revelation.

Now the LSTA has under consideration a six-point proposal to change the organization’s by-laws to allow the expulsion of LSTA members without cause.

That’s right: The practice of Teaguing, perfected by Bobby Jindal, has wormed its way into the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association. The timing of the move couldn’t be more obvious.

The proposal apparently is aimed at a few retired troopers who dared question what may yet turn out to be illegal political activity and campaign contributions by LSTA and certain of its members.

The LSTA’s Web page says, “The Louisiana State Troopers Association is a fraternal organization representing the men and women of the Louisiana State Police. The LSTA represents approximately 97 percent of the commissioned officers as well as a substantial portion of the State Police Retirees.” https://latroopers.org/about

Suddenly, with the proposed changes on the table, it doesn’t seem so “fraternal” anymore.

First there was that endorsement of John Bel Edwards last November, the first ever by the association, which raised all manner of questions about the propriety of political endorsements by an organization, albeit a private one, on behalf of Louisiana state troopers who are forbidden by statute from political activity.

Then came the news of some $45,000 in political contributions (about $10,000 each to Edwards and Bobby Jindal) over the past several years. Even more questionable was the method by which those contributions were made: LSTA Executive Director wrote personal checks and made the contributions in his name but then was reimbursed by the association for “expenses,” prompting State Police Commission (the equivalent to the state Civil Service Commission) to observe the whole thing took on the shady characteristics of money laundering.

For what it’s worth, when LouisianaVoice broke the news about the unexplained circuitous route of the campaign funds from LSTA through Young, Edwards refunded the money he received. Jindal, ever the shining beacon of his highly touted gold standards of ethics, did not.

The LSTA board did balk when asked to write a letter to then Gov.-elect Edwards endorsing State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson for re-appointment. That request was not made directly by Edmonson, but there is little doubt that the idea originated with him.

When retired state troopers (members of LSTA, incidentally) tried to get answers about the decision-making process and the source of the campaign money they encountered instant resistance as the association dug in its heels. They’re a private organization, don’t you know, and it’s no one’s business—not even that of members. So naturally, you shoot the messenger.

So the retirees, led by Scott Perry and Bucky Millet, filed a formal complaint with the State Police Commission whose chairman, Franklin Kyle, took the position that the commission had no authority because LSTA was a private entity.

But its membership is not, Perry and Millet argued. The LSTA board is comprised of state troopers and if the board made those decisions, it was state troopers over whom the commission has oversight who may have violated terms of Article X, Sec. 47 of the Louisiana State Constitution: No member of the commission and no state police officer in the classified service shall participate or engage in political activity; be a candidate for nomination or election to public office except to seek election as the classified state police officer serving on the State Police Commission; or be a member of any national, state, or local committee of a political party or faction; make or solicit contributions for any political party, faction, or candidate; or take active part in the management of the affairs of a political party, faction, candidate, or any political campaign, except to exercise his right as a citizen to express his opinion privately, to serve as a commissioner or official watcher at the polls, and to cast his vote as he desires. (Emphasis added)

LouisianaVoice then discovered that three members of the commission charged with enforcing those laws had themselves been active in the political arena during the time they were sitting on the commission. Commission Chairman Kyle was among the three. The others were William Goldring and Freddie Pitcher.

Pitcher was the first to go, announcing his resignation soon after we revealed that he had made political campaigns himself. Then on Thursday, after a nine-page report by Natchitoches and former State Sen. Taylor Townsend recommended the removal of all three, Kyle and Goldring submitted their letters of resignation.

Obviously, the LSTA and Edmonson were highly offended over the unwelcome questioning by retirees. They were raining on the association’s parade and it wasn’t appreciated one bit. The forced ouster of three commission members who had also made tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions did nothing to assuage those feelings.

So now we have that six-point proposal that would allow the LSTA to rid itself of those noisy old has-beens who the association apparently thinks should just ride quietly off into the sunset.

But this over-the-hill gang still has a few battles left to fight in its effort to preserve the integrity of a once-noble organization that has descended into the depths of political deals and dirty tricks. Those retirees are the ones who built the LSTA and they are pissed that a bunch of politically motivated board members who were in diapers or yet unborn when LSTA was founded have chosen to pervert its intended purpose.

Here is the six-point by-laws change currently being proposed:

  • The affiliate troop (Troop A, Troop B, etc.) to which the member is attached shall move to remove the member via a vote of the members present at a duly called meeting of said affiliate.
  • The cited member shall receive formal written notification of the action pending against him and shall have an opportunity to respond to such action. Response may be either via written reply or in person at the next scheduled affiliate meeting.
  • The affiliate membership shall then take a vote on the motion to remove the member.
  • If the motion carries, the affiliate president shall report the action to the Board of Directors of the Association, who will then notify the cited member of the action and offer him an opportunity to appeal his removal.
  • After hearing any appeal of the action, the Board of Directors will vote to ratify or decline the member’s removal.
  • At any time that the Board of Directors of the Association feel that removal of a member is warranted, they may initiate such action via a motion from a Board member by following the procedure beginning in Step 4 above.

Apparently the proposed changes apply only to male members: Point 2 refers to “action pending against him” while Point 4 said the LSTA will “offer him” an opportunity to appeal. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a tad sexist to me.

But it is that last point, Point number Six, that is crucial and eerily reminiscent of the manner in which Edmonson attempted to swing an illegal $55,000-a-year increase in his retirement benefits. In 2014, an amendment was tacked onto a benign Senate bill during the closing hours of the legislative session which ignored an irrevocable action taken years before by Edmonson that froze his retirement benefits.

Generous retirement benefit boost slipped into bill for State Police Col. Mike Edmonson on last day of legislative session

The provision in Point 6 appears to allow the LSTA board to circumvent the individual troops, or affiliates, by initiating expulsion action on its own, a provision which would, in effect, negate any input from affiliate troops.

It’s obvious to even the most casual observer now that the LSTA is no longer a “fraternal” organization, but one that is highly politicized—and vindictive to the core. By rolling out this proposal, it is clear that dissention will not be tolerated: what the board wants trumps anything the membership desires.

Perhaps that is why LouisianaVoice is picking up rumblings that the association has lost membership from among the ranks of active troopers. Apparently even the active troopers who are subject to extreme pressure from above, i.e. Edmonson, want no part of what LSTA has become.

That may also be the reason we’re also hearing that private donations to LSTA have slipped over the past several months. Benevolence is one thing; political activism by an organization that passes itself off as a “fraternal organization” is something else altogether.

LouisianaVoice sent the following email to David Young earlier today:

From: Tom Aswell
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2016 10:52 AM
To: David Young
Subject: QUESTIONS

Mr. Young, please respond to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this proposed by-laws change?
  • Who proposed it?
  • Was the board’s vote unanimous?
  • Is it aimed at any retired troopers in particular?
  • How many troops (affiliates?) have already recorded votes for and against this proposal?
  • Has the LSTA lost membership in recent months?
  • Has the LSTA experienced a drop in private donations in recent months?

I eagerly await your response.

I am still waiting.

Meanwhile, the time has long passed when Gov. Edwards should intervene and rein in the LSTA board members. Allowed to continue their off-the-reservation activity, they will only bring further embarrassment to the administration which has already come under considerable criticism for the re-appointment of both Edmonson and Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc.

Certainly, Governor, your  plate is full with a massive budget deficit but when you were elected, you were elected as the CEO over all departments in the state.

You cannot afford to ignore festering problems in any department, especially one as high-profile and as saddled with morale issues as the Department of Public Safety and the Louisiana State Police.

 

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As we face the end of eight years of ineptitude, deceit, and whoopee cushion governance, LouisianaVoice is proud to announce our first ever election of John Martin Hays Memorial Boob of the Year.

There are no prizes, just a poll of our readership as to whom the honor should go in our debut survey.

Hays was publisher of a weekly publication called appropriately enough, the Morning Paper in Ruston until his death last year. He relished nothing more than feasting on the carcasses of bloated egos. He single-handedly exposed a major Ponzi scheme in North Louisiana, sending the operator to prison. That got him some major ink in the Atlanta Constitution and the New York Times.

The problem of course, is trying to narrow the field to make the final selection manageable.

The obvious choice for most would be Bobby Jindal, but there are so many other deserving candidates that we caution readers not to make hasty decisions. After all, we wouldn’t want to slight anyone who has worked so hard for the honor.

So, without further ado, here are the nominees, along with a brief synopsis of their accomplishments.

  • Bobby Jindal: Mismanaged the state budget for an unprecedented eight consecutive years. At least there’s something to be said for consistency. In his eight-year reign of error (mostly spent in states other than Louisiana) he managed to cut higher education more than any other state; he robbed public education to reward for-profit charter schools and virtual schools; he gave away the state’s Charity Hospital system (he awarded a contract to the new operators—a contract with 50 blank pages which is now the subject of what is expected to be a prolonged legal battle; he appointed political donors to prestigious boards and commissions, including the LSU Board of Supervisors which, under his direction, fired two distinguished doctors, the school’s president and its legal counsel; He trumped up bogus charges against the director of the State Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) to appease mega-donor Tom Benson and to appoint the husband of his children’s pediatrician to head up the agency; he forced state offices to pay higher rent in order to again accommodate Benson by signing a costly lease agreement with Benson Towers; rather than consider alternative ideas, he simply fired, or teagued, anyone who disagreed with him on any point; he refused Medicaid expansion, thus depriving anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 low-income citizens needed medical care; he tried unsuccessfully to ram through pension reform that would have been devastating to state employees; he insisted on handing out contract after contract to attorney Jimmy Faircloth who is still searching for his first courtroom victory after receiving well more than $1 million in legal fees; he spurned a major federal grant that would have brought high-speed broadband internet to Louisiana’s rural parishes; he stole $4 million from the developmentally disadvantaged citizens so he could give it to the owner of a $75 million Indianapolis-type race track—a family member of another major donor and one of the richest families in the state; he abandoned his duties as governor to seek the Republican presidential nomination, a quest recognized by everyone but him as a fantasy; he ran up millions of dollars in costs of State Police security in such out-of-state locations as Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, and South Carolina; he had the State Police helicopter give rides to his children, and the list goes on.
  • Attorney General Buddy Caldwell: All he did was completely botch the entire CNSI contract mess which today languishes in state district court in Baton Rouge; He consistently turned a blind eye to corruption and violations of various state laws while ringing up what he thought was an impressive record of going after consumer fraud (Hey, Buddy, those credit care scam artists are still calling my phone multiple times a day!); and his concession speech on election night was one for the books—a total and unconditional embarrassment of monumental proportions.
  • Kristy Nichols: What can we say? This is the commissioner of administration who managed to delay complying to our legal public records request for three entire months but managed to comply to an identical request by a friendly legislator within 10 days; We sued her and won and she has chosen to spend more state money (your dollars, by the way) in appealing a meager $800 (plus court costs and legal fees) judgment in our favor; it was her office that came down hard on good and decent employees of the State Land Office who she thought were leaking information to LouisianaVoice (they weren’t); she first reduced premiums for state employee health coverage in order to free up money to help plug a state budget deficit all the while whittling away at a $500 million reserve fund to practically nothing which in turn produced draconian premium increases and coverage cuts for employees and retirees (and during legislative hearings on the fiasco, she ducked out to take her daughter to a boy-band concert in New Orleans where she was allowed to occupy the governor’s private Superdome suite.
  • Troy Hebert: appointed by Jindal to head up ATC which quickly turned in a mass exodus of qualified, dedicated agents; he used state funds to purchase a synthetic drug sniffing dog (hint: there is no such thing as a synthetic drug sniffing dog because synthetic ingredients constantly change; this was just another dog, albeit an expensive one); he launched a racist campaign to rid his agency of black agents; while still a legislator, he was a partner in a firm that negotiated contracts with the state for hurricane debris cleanup.
  • Mike Edmonson: Oh, where do we start? Well, of course there is that retirement pay increase bill amendment back in 2014; there is the complete breakdown of morale, particularly in Troop D; then, there was the promotion of Tommy Lewis to Troop F Commander three years after he sneaked an underage woman into a casino in Vicksburg (he was subsequently fined $600 by the Mississippi Gaming Commission but only after first identifying himself as the executive officer of Troop F and asking if something “could be worked out.”); allowing Deputy Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux to take advantage of a lucrative buyout incentive for early retirement (which, in her case, came to $46,000, plus another $13,000 of unused annual leave) only to retire for one day and return the next—at a promotion to Undersecretary. She was subsequently ordered to repay the $56,000 but thanks to friends in high places, the money has never been repaid (maybe incoming Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne would like to revisit that matter); consistent inconsistency in administering discipline to officers who stray—such as attempting unsuccessfully to fire one trooper for assaulting a suspect (even though the suspect never made such a claim) while doing practically nothing to another state trooper who twice had sex with a woman while on duty—once in the back seat of his patrol car.
  • David Vitter: what can we say? The odds-on favorite to walk into the governor’s office, he blew $10 million—and the election. His dalliance with prostitutes, his amateurish spying on a John Bel Edwards supporter, an auto accident with a campaign worker who also headed up the Super PAC that first savaged his Republican opponents in the primary, turning Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle irreversibly against him and driving their supporters to Edwards’s camp. In short, he could write the manual on blowing an election.
  • The entire State Legislature: for passing that idiotic (and most likely illegal) budget on the last day of the session but only after Grover Norquist was consulted about the acceptability of a little tax deception; for allowing Jindal to run roughshod over them on such matters as education reform, hospital privatization, pension reform and financing recurring expenses with one-time money; for being generally spineless in all matters legislative and deferring to an absentee governor with a personal agenda.

Those are our nominees but only after some serious paring down the list.

Go to our comments section to cast your vote in 25 words or less. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 18.

As much as you might like, you are allowed to vote only once.

 

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