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Both the chair and co-chair positions on the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) are now vacant with the resignations of the seventh and eighth members from the commission in the past 12 months.

Commission co-chair Monica Manzella is the latest to step down from the commission. There has been no official announcement but both her name and that of former chairman, State Trooper T.J. Doss, have been removed from the names of commissioners listed on the LSPC Internet home page.

LouisianaVoice also has learned that Doss may have claimed he was working during the time he was in a movie and later in a Baton Rouge hotel with Manzella.

Doss resigned last Friday after being called into the office of State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeves after he and Manzella were observed emerging from a movie while he was on the clock. When they exited the theater, Doss was carrying two mugs which the theater gives to patrons when they purchase beer. Soft drinks are sold in plastic cups.

Doss and Manzella were recorded on video and still camera last Thursday as they first exited Baton Rouge’s Movie Tavern and less than an hour later as they checked into front desk of the Watermark Hotel in downtown Baton Rouge. Manzella was filmed putting her arm around Doss as they checked into the hotel and then the pair immediately got on an elevator, presumably to their room.

https://louisianavoice.com/2017/08/10/chair-co-chair-of-state-police-commission-apparently-share-more-than-a-professional-relationship-check-into-br-hotel/

Although neither is married, the fact that both served on the commission that hears trooper disciplinary appeals and which approves the Louisiana State Police (LSP) pay grid, could pose as problematic because of their potential influence on each other’s votes on those and other issues that come before the commission.

Doss’s time sheet, obtained by LouisianaVoice via a public records request, indicates he claimed to be in last Thursday’s (August 10) LSPC meeting for five hours, from 7 a.m. to noon, when in fact, the meeting, which did not begin until 9 a.m., lasted less than an hour. Those five hours were listed on his time sheet as “shift differential pay hours.”

Additionally, he claimed 10 hours, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday. During at least part of that time, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., he and Manzella were in Movie Tavern and from there, were in the hotel until almost 7 p.m.

T.J. DOSS TIME SHEET

Photos taken by LouisianaVoice document that the last photo, of Doss’s state vehicle parked in a city police parking space curbside opposite the hotel entrance, was taken at 6:29 p.m., which means he was on the clock and being paid while he was with Manzella from 3 p.m. until at least 6:30 p.m.

His time sheet indicates that he was traveling from Baton Rouge to Shreveport, where he lives, from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

After publication of the photos of the two leaving the theater and later checking into the hotel, he was called back to Baton Rouge and met with Reeves from noon on Friday until 2:30 p.m. and submitted his resignation from the LSPC shortly thereafter.

 

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While LouisianaVoice is on Facebook, I know nothing about social media. Furthermore, I don’t care to know. It’s all I can do to log on and off my LouisianaVoice page to post stories.

I was doing just fine with technology until they switched from Beta to VHS. I’ve been lost since then.

So if there’s a story you want me to look into, please DO NOT try to contact me through Facebook. It won’t work. I can see the message but have no idea how to respond.

To the person who contacted LouisianaVoice via Facebook about the Terrebonne sports complex—and anyone else who wants me to look into something, email me at:

louisianavoice@cox.net

 

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Well, folks, LouisianaVoice got bamboozled by those whip-smart folks in Terrebonne Parish and we’re big enough to admit it.

That Crimson Tide tire photo we ran on Monday, one reader suggested in his comment, was photo-shopped, or at least the “University of Alabama Crimson Tide” lettering was.

A well-meaning graphic artist with no skin in the game also weighed in with the opinion that she, too, felt that the image was photo-shopped.

Stubbornly, we held our ground, insisting the photo was authentic. After all, we had other photos taken from different angles and distances that showed the same image.

Still, to at least two or our readers, we were taken in. Fooled. Duped. Outsmarted.

Well, we admit it. A third set of photos turned up late Tuesday that confirmed our worst fears. The outside of the tire, the side that faces out from the vehicle, showed no signs of any lettering.

The inside of the tire, however, had the lettering clear as day. Only part of the tire was visible but “Crimson Tide” was right there for all to see should they go to the trouble to bend over for a little to looky-look under the vehicle.

That could mean only one thing: someone photo-shopped the inside part of the tire, too.

Imagine our chagrin.

Jeepers, why would someone do such a diabolical thing?

Quite simple, really: to make it appear that the sheriff’s department, embarrassed at our photo yesterday, had flipped the tires so as to hide the Crimson Tide lettering.

And we know, of course, that Jerry Larpenter, the good sheriff of Terror-Bonne Parish would never stoop so low as to attempt to deceive the voting public—especially with the department staring down the barrel of a major budgetary deficit and the sheriff cutting employee benefits.

So, Sheriff Larpenter, please accept our apology for ever calling your fiscal responsibilities into question.

Someone must dislike you a lot to photo-shop both sides of your tires to make you look bad.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This entire post was photo-shopped to make LouisianaVoice look bad.)

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By Ken Booth

Guest Columnist

Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Col. Joey Strickland

La. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Secretary Col. Joey Strickland said today the late night shredding of records at the Monroe Veterans Home “does raise eyebrows.”

This, fast on the heels of the discovery of a heretofore unknown mysterious replacement of the hard-drive in the Home’s security system five years ago upon orders of the then Administrator Ken Houston.

The hard-drive issue surfaced with discovery of the original 2012 work order from a West Monroe security firm.

Houston was ousted at the end of last month and replaced by Ms. Marquita Mikhaliak who had previously held the post of Assistant Administrator.

Strickland said today he dismissed Houston when he learned that the ex-Administrator had skirted all protocols and asked the State Board of Ethics if the Home could hire Ms. Mikhaliak’s wife as an upper level RN. The wife, Mary Charlene Murphy, was not hired.

That Houston chose to go around him and the leadership of the Department with this Ethics question, Strickland said, “was something I could not tolerate.”

In a letter today, The Secretary said he will visit the Monroe facility Wednesday with two Under Secretaries to personally check on continuing allegations of improprieties there.

“We will have our Legal counselor Julie Baxter Payer who is meeting with Congressman Abraham and a couple of spouses from the home that we have been working with at the Monroe Home,” Strickland said.

He also acknowledged that an OIG detective has briefed Payer about a 2016 marriage by an RN there to a Navy Veteran resident who had come into a sizeable “full pay” settlement. In that case the RN befriended the Navy vet, took him from the Home to Hamburg, Ark. and married him and returned him to the home the same day. She then quit the next month.

The veteran spent about three hours with an OIG detective  last week. The investigator was said to have been back at the Home today.

“I am going to lay down the law on the quality care treatment of our veterans and families,” wrote Strickland. “Those who fail to comply will be fired.”

In addition to his fact-finding mission to the Home Wednesday, Secretary Strickland said he would be back at the end of the month “for a Town Hall Meeting with local veterans and Home residents with key staff so they can tell me about any concerns.”

(Ken Booth, now retired and living in Arizona, is a former longtime investigative reporter for KNOE-TV in Monroe.)

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Normally, a man’s tryst with a lady friend who is not his wife would be of no concern to us. It’s not an activity we would recommend but some things, after all, are really no one else’s business.

Unless the amorous couple happen to be chairman and vice chairman of a state commission that decides important issues like appeals of disciplinary action against state troopers or which votes on whether or not to conduct thorough investigations of illegal campaign contributions or which concocts evidence against its executive director in order to force her resignation because she insisted on following the law on certain procedures.

State Trooper T.J. Doss, a nine-year State Police veteran, is chairman of the Louisiana State Police Commission.

New Orleans attorney Monica Manzella, formerly the assistant city attorney for the City of New Orleans, was appointed to the commission by Gov. John Bel Edwards last October. She quickly rose to the position of vice chairman.

The commission has experienced considerable turnover in the past 12 months, with six members and an executive director submitting their resignations. After today, that number could increase to eight.

LouisianaVoice has been receiving tips that Doss and Manzella were each other’s overnight guests for several months—sometimes at the State Police Academy barracks where Doss was staying while assigned to Baton Rouge from his normal base at Troop G in Shreveport. Other times they were said to be staying at Manzella’s residence in New Orleans.

On Thursday, only hours after the monthly commission meeting, they got a little careless. We got word they were at a movie and were staying at the Watermark Hotel in downtown Baton Rouge. The hotel building, originally a bank, is the former State Office Building that was sold and transformed into an elegant hotel and restaurant.

Acting on our tip, it was a relatively easy matter to catch them exiting the movie theater CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO . As they exit, Doss can be seen carrying two mugs. They had just seen a movie at Baton Rouge’s Movie Tavern. The Movie Tavern serves beer and allows patrons to keep the containers. It is against State Police regulations to drink and drive a state police unit.

“Mug” shot

Less than an hour later, they can be seen exiting his state-assigned Ford Explorer entering the hotel where they went straight to the registration desk CLICK HERE, picked up their keys and headed straight for the elevators.  They carried no luggage, an indication that they—or at least one of them—had checked in earlier.

Checkin’ in

As said earlier, it’s normally no one else’s business but when two people sit on a seven-person commission that literally has the power to make career-altering decisions, it is critical that a professional relationship be maintained between members. Personal affairs should be strictly off-limits in the interest of fair and impartial decision-making, uninfluenced by personal feelings for fellow members. The fact that Doss and Manzella serve as chair and co-chair of the commission only serves to underscore the need for separation—literally and figuratively.

Moreover, the two arrived at the Watermark in a state-owned Ford Explorer assigned to Doss. State Police policy and procedure strictly prohibits the transporting of civilians in the state vehicles for any purposes other than state police business.

State Police Ford Explorer assigned to Trooper T.J. Doss parked outside Watermark Hotel Thursday…in spot reserved for Baton Rouge City Police.

Manzella is a civilian and they certainly did not appear to be on state business as she twice slipped her arm around Doss’s waist as they were at the hotel registration desk, once even patting him gently on his buttocks.

At this point, the only reasonable option left open for each of them is to resign immediately from the commission. Should they decline to do so, State Police Superintendent would seem to have no choice but to direct Doss to step down. In Manzella’s case, it would be the responsibility of Gov. Edwards to remove her—and Doss should Superintendent Kevin Reeves does not do so.

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