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I thought of writing this column as my annual April Fool’s column but then it occurred to me that the April Fool’s columns are fictional events created around the best comedy writers available: politicians who take themselves far to seriously.

No, I decided, this can’t wait until April because I’m convinced that a conversation strikingly similar to what follows is almost certain to occur somewhere in the gret stet of Texas over the next few months. Hell, it may well happen more than once, if I know the tendencies of self-righteous politicians.

The conversation will take place when some Repugnantcan legislator receives a discreet call on his cell phone:

Him: Hello.

Her: Can you talk?

Him: For a few minutes. I’m due in a committee meeting to discuss additional voter restrictions in a few minutes, so make it quick.

Her: I have some bad news.

Him: Bad news?

Her (crying softly): I’m pregnant.

Him: extended silence.

Her: Are you there? Did you hear me?

Him: Yeah, yeah. Are you sure?

Her (sobbing): Of course. I went to a doctor. I’m 14 weeks along.

Him: Fourteen weeks? How did that happen?

Her: Seriously?

Him: You know what I mean. I thought you were careful.

Her: I was, but nothing’s foolproof. At least that’s what you’ve been saying about the COVID vaccine. By the way, did you ever get your shots?

Him: Yes, but keep that to yourself. I don’t want the anti-vaxxers to know that. They’re a big part of my base.

Her: What about the evangelical pro-lifers? Aren’t they a big part of that base, too?

Him: Damn! They’ll crucify me – if my wife doesn’t do it first.

Her: Yeah, I thought about that. She’s gonna be pissed.

Him: You sure it’s mine?

Her: Of course, I’m sure! You’re the only man I’ve been with since you hired me in your office three years ago.

Him: This is bad, really bad, for me – worse than tapping your feet in a public restroom.

Her: What about me? I’m the one who’s pregnant.

Him: Be quiet. I’m trying to think. We have to do something.

Her: I’m going to give him your last name.

Him: WHAT???!! You’re gonna do what?

Her: I’m going to have give it a last name and since it’s yours…

Him: NO!!! You can’t give it my name.

Her: Why Not? If it’s a boy, I might even give him your first name, too, and call him Junior.

Him: ABSOLUTELY NOT! (He cups his hand over the phone as passersby look his way as he involuntarily raises his voice.)

Her: Well, I’ll have to name it something. And we’re going to have to talk about child support.

Him: You obviously don’t understand the consequences here, the political repercussions…

Her: What I understand right now is that you and I went to that prayer breakfast a few months ago and on the way back to the office, we saw this motel that rents rooms by the hour…

Him: Look, I’m serious. You can’t have this baby.

Her: What?

Him: You heard me. We have to find you a doctor who can keep his mouth shut.

Her: Weren’t you one of the legislators who were out front in passing that anti-abortion bill? You know, the one that pays bounty hunters $10,000 to turn in anyone who helps a woman get an abortion? Didn’t you stand behind the governor and applaud when he signed the bill and announced that he was going to eliminate all rapists in Texas?

Him: Shut up. This is different. You cannot have that baby. It would ruin me and I have a shot at the governor’s office someday – or maybe even crazy Ted Cruz’s Senate seat. If you have that baby, all that’s out the window.

Her: So, what you’re saying is it’s all about you, right?

Him: I didn’t say that. It’s all about preserving American ideals and integrity, about putting God and family values first and only a true patriot can do that. Now hang up and start looking for an abortion doctor in Louisiana or Oklahoma. Don’t worry about the cost; I can disguise it as a political advertising expense and pay for it out of my campaign funds. Oh, and don’t call me on this number again. I’ll get a disposable phone and call you and give you the number.

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CONTRIBUTE $250 >>

The Trump family and those in the Former Guy orbit (Lindsey Graham, Newt Gingrich, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Matt Gaetz, et al) have been busier than ever flooding email in-boxes with solicitations for money, money, money and, oh, yes, more money.

These parasites are offering anything they can lay their hands on as an inducement to separate supporters from their money – even to the point of surreptitiously setting up recurring “donations” from donors who mistakenly thought they were giving a one-time gift.

Among the keepsakes being offered are “official” BUSINESS CARDS identifying suckers donors as members of some non-existent Trump club, T-shirts, caps, chances to actually meet one of the Donald’s (Former Guy or shyster Junior) at some rally, etc.

I’m not quite sure how I managed to get on the organization’s email list, but I receive, on average, a dozen solicitation per day and I’m also approached at the beginning of the message as “one of (my or dad’s, or Former Guy’s – depending on whom the message is ostensibly from) most loyal supporters.”

Occasionally, the message will note that Former Guy has been going over his list of donors and has noticed that I haven’t kicked in my fair share in quite some time (as in never) before attempting to shame me into emptying my bank account into his campaign coffers.

But now we have a new twist and one of our Livingston Parish Trumpers has apparently coughed up $500 to make it appear that Junior actually has us in his TAPs (thoughts and prayers).

There’s an online outfit called CAMEO that allows you to actually purchase (please remember the word “purchase” here) a personalized message from a celebrity.

It’s a hoot.

If you click on the link above, you will be taken to a page where JUNIOR spews out birthday greetings to Christina from Anna, to Lindsay from Matthew, and to Ira from T.K., John and Sarah, nuptial congratulations to Chris from Amanda, and retirement best wishes to Jessica from Michelle (retirement).

And he looks so genuinely excited as he does so. But hell, at $500 a pop, I could look pretty enthusiastic myself. That’s the going price for a “personal use” message like those above. For business purposes, the price is a tad higher – $5,000.

Other celebs who you will whore lend themselves to personal messages on the Cameo web page can be seen by clicking on this HERE, HERE, and HERE. Even DREW BREES gets into the act but at least he’s doing it as a fundraising effort on behalf of his foundation that helps cancer patients and families in need – not some gimmick to obtain funds for personal use.

Predictably, local advocate for a new civil war (he actually espoused such an idea on his Facebook page a few months back, declaring he was “ready.”) and unsuccessful local office seeker BRANDON BROWNING ponied up his $500 (or $5,000 – we really don’t know which, but it was one of the two options) to have Junior deliver a heartfelt message of encouragement to Livingston Parish residents as they braced for Hurricane Ida a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, Facebook lit up with enthusiastic praise for Junior’s taking time out of his busy schedule to personally express his concern for us in our time of crisis, forgetting for the moment that Junior did it for the money, not out of compassion for the citizens of Livingston Parish.

You’d have thought that he made a personal sojourn to Livingston Parish to break out his personal DT chain saw and to begin the storm cleanup.

Apparently, it never occurred to all those Former Guy faithful here that (a) Junior was paid well for his 40-second effort on behalf of Livingston’s storm victims, (b) after cutting the message, he never gave us another thought, and (c) he’s smiling as he deposits Browning’s payment in the ever-growing Former Guy Sucker Account.

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The sheriff of Rapides Parish has settled a federal discrimination lawsuit brought by deputy sheriff Jerry McKinney, Sr., against the department and former Sheriff William Earl Hilton for $187,500.

Unfortunately, McKinney died while his case was ongoing. But, say New Orleans attorneys William Most and Kerry Murphy, who represented McKinney, his case was so strong that in the few days leading up to the trial date, the sheriff’s office agreed to settle with his widow.

McKinney, a former Army officer and a 20-year veteran of the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, suffered a stroke in late 2017.

Following his stroke, he was able to return to work but did not pass his firearm recertification. The RPSO moved him to a 12-hour shift at the jail that did not require firearm certification. But the 12-hour shifts caused health problems, the lawsuit said.

McKinney’s physician recommended that his schedule be modified to eight-hour shifts and he was moved to an eight-hour job in the kitchen.

But when RPSO administrators (Sheriff Hilton) found out, McKinney was ordered back to a 12-hour position and told that if he could not work that shift, he “should retire.” When McKinney refused to retire and asked to be put in any eight-hour position anywhere in the sheriff’s office, he was fired – five days before Christmas.

McKinney filed suit, claiming that his termination was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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In the course of the lawsuit, attorney Most said, it was discovered that the sheriff’s office was “dramatically out of compliance” with the ADA. The office had no ADA coordinator, did not conduct any ADA training and described employees requesting accommodations as “complainers.”

Hilton even testified in deposition that in his 24 years as sheriff, his office had never provided an accommodation to an employee with a disability.

As of last April, the RPSO still had not addressed its ADA problems. When a public records request was made for the current ADA grievance procedures or any documents reflecting the designation of an ADA coordinator, the sheriff’s office was unable to produce any such documentation, Most said.

David Lanser of Most & Associates said, “Under Sheriff Hilton, RPSO showed a shocking disregard of its obligations under federal law. Hopefully, this settlement is a wake-up all that things need to be changed.”

Lanser may be hoping for too much. Sheriffs enjoy a unique position in society in that they answer to no one but the voters. Neither Legislators, governors, even congress, or the president have any authority over the autonomy of sheriffs.

In my book Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs: A Culture of Corruption, I point out that the office of sheriff is older than the office of the president. Indeed, it pre-dates the republic itself by more than a century, older even than the Magna Carta, signed in 1215.

The office of sheriff originated in England and dates back more than a thousand years. In this country, the first sheriff took office in Delaware in 1669 – a full 107 years before the Declaration of Independence. Other than the occasional small-town police chief, the sheriff is the only elected law enforcement official in America.

Three states – Alaska, Hawaii and Connecticut – have no sheriffs. Other than those three states, the sheriff is the single most powerful person in a given county – or parish. And therein lies the problem. That much power concentrated in the hands of a single individual, who often possesses no concept of basic human rights, is a recipe for abuse and greed.

To illustrate that point, Hilton testified in his deposition that the granting of McKinney’s request for a “reasonable accommodation” would have “disrupted the operation of the department, and he would have created a situation where other employees probably would have felt like Jerry was getting special treatment, and you know, they just – they don’t like that, and they wouldn’t have treated him like any other employee. Everybody has to be treated the same and so, that’s how it is.”

His questioner in that deposition responded, “Regardless of whether they’re fully able[d] or disabled, everyone has to be treated the same?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. So, you’re not going to make special accommodations for – for someone with a disability? You want everyone to be treated the same?”

“Yes.”

The lawsuit pointed out that the RPSO accommodated the request for eight-hour shifts for an employee with “family issues,” but fired an employee who requested eight-hour shifts because of a disability.

(Editor’s note: you can order a signed copy of Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs by clicking on the yellow DONATE button to the right of this post and contributing $30 or you can send a check to: LouisianaVoice, P.O. Box 922, Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726. We are a 503 non-profit, so all contributions are fully tax-deductible.)

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While residents of Louisiana’s coastal area were trying to determine how they were going to obtain food, clothing and shelter in the AFTERMATH of Hurricane Ida, supporters of Attorney General Jeff Landry were passing a good time during Landry’s annual ALLIGATOR HUNT fundraiser.

Never one to allow a natural disaster interfere with the all-important business of political fundraising for Landry’s Louisiana First Fund PAC, the event attracted a record number of participants for the two-day event last Friday and Saturday, according to Courtney Guastella, spokesperson for the event.

Other than to acknowledge that “a lot” attended the gator hunt, Guastella was a bit vague in providing information about the event, although the Louisiana First Fund web page boasted last week that the “hunter’s packages are sold out for 2021. We are simply out of slot.”

The first day of the hunt was only five days after category 4 Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast, destroying home and knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of people left to swelter, sweat and starve in the heat and humidity of late August and early September.

No matter. “Due to your generosity and the growing popularity of this event, for the first time in 11 years, we are sold out of actual ‘hunts,’” the message on the web page gushed with understandable (understandable for Landry’s standards, that is) excitement. “We can no longer register folks for the actual morning hunts. We would love to have you join us this year for the festivities, good food, and live music (some of the best parts of the hunt).”

So, while the Red Cross, the Louisiana National Guard and so many other unselfish volunteers were passing out meals and bottled water, Landry’s supporters were whooping it up with good food and live music.

The PAC’s web page was careful to make it perfectly clear, however, that while the hunter’s packages were sold out, there were still plenty of one-day passes and OPPORTUNITIES to be a “Bayou Sponsor.”

To get your hands on one of those one-day (Friday or Saturday, take your pick) passes, all you needed to do was to kick in a $1,000 “contribution” per person. But hey, that was cheap, as Mad Magazine used to say about its newsstand price.

To be a “Bayou Sponsor,” the cost was only $2,500 per person or company for up to four passes for both Friday and Saturday main events. That “per person” indication was important because to be a “Bayou Sponsor” for four persons, the total cost would be $10,000, not $2,500 – all of which sounds like some kind of bait and switch scheme to us.

Those “Hunter’s Packages,” about which Guastella knew so little, considering she was the point person for obtaining passes to the event, called for a $5,000 “contribution” per person or company for one hunter to hunt gators on both Friday and Saturday.

But after that, we’re starting to talk about real money. To snare the designation of a “Bayou Host,” which was a package deal for two hunters and six VIP passes – with VIP Tent Special Thursday Events (we thought it was just a Friday and Saturday hunt) and Friday and Saturday Main Events, you’d have had to pony up $25,000.

But if you really wanted to put on the dog and to show those hundreds of thousands of HURRICANE SURVIVORS what they were missing, you could chip in $50,000 and call yourself a “Swamm Master Corporate Sponsor, good for six hunters, 12 VIP passes for those same Thursday, Friday and Saturday Main Events.

And while Guastella wasn’t much help (she didn’t even know how many gators were bagged during the hunt), the event left a couple of other questions unanswered:

  • How many corporate CEOs did Landry lean on with possible veiled threats of inconvenient investigations in order to solicit those Swamp Master corporate sponsorships or, for that matter, the $25,000 Bayou Host packages?
  • What office will Landry be seeking? Will he be running for a third term as AG or will he go after the job he really wants on the fourth floor of that 24-story building across Capitol Lake?

It will be interesting to see hos the Louisiana Republican Party handles this knotty little problem. The state GOP wants the governor’s office back and the party will be pretty certain to seek out the strongest Repugnantcan candidate available.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder if the money spent on a gator hunt for the benefit of a reptilian politician might have been better spent helping victims.

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For a show-and-tell presentation, Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis’s Friday afternoon press conference called ostensibly to address problems and to explain reforms to the agency rated a C at best.

For substance. a grade of D- would be more appropriate.

For almost a full hour, Davis mechanically read through policy changes implemented at LSP in the wake of the beating death of Ronald Greene and the non-fatal beating of another Black man in LSP’s north Louisiana black hole, aka Troop F.

Davis then took questions for about half-an-hour from the gathered media but generally danced around all the questions with the basic denials of published reports stemming from the Greene matter and the usual promises of diversity, accountability and transparency.

With recent local TV reports of Lt. John Clary’s perk duty last week as body guard for Louisiana Tech University football coach Skip Holtz during the team’s game at Starkville, Mississippi swirling in my head, I wanted so badly to ask the following question:

With Division I Louisiana college football coaches surrounded by 85 beefy scholarship players, plus any non-scholarship players, why do they need a Louisiana State Trooper tagging along for protection, especially since those TV reports also showing two local Ruston city police officers including in Holtz’s “protection” detail?

Instead, I asked if that Clary body cam video of the Greene beating, which we were told didn’t exist until it was revealed in May of this year that it did, in fact, exist, was the only video available of the incident that led to Greene’s death.

Davis paused for a moment before admitting that it was not the only video.

That was an important admission because LouisianaVoice published a story almost exactly one year ago (Sept. 12, 2020) in which a RETIRED STATE TROOPER told of seeing “part of the video” and “overheard part of the conversation” of LSP personnel as they reviewed the video. “There were several troopers in the room as I walked past. Any time there’s lethal-force death, it’s pushed up the chain of command,” he told LouisianaVoice. “They were talking about something being wrong.”

At the time that story ran – 16 months after Greene’s death – LSP had yet to acknowledge publicly that there was any ongoing investigation and it wasn’t until after we ran that story that any disciplinary action was taken.

So, while all the hoopla has been about the late “discovery” of the Clary video, LSP already had another video of the event at least a year ago but it wasn’t until the Clary video was leaked in May this year that all hell broke loose.

But Davis, true to the so-called Blue Wall of Silence, stood before electronic and print media on Friday and proclaimed that the LSP investigation had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Clary’s denial of the existence of video for two full years.

That prompted one local TV reporter present at the press conference to ask rhetorically after the event, “If it wasn’t Clary’s fault that the video wasn’t produced, whose fault was it?”

To be fair, Davis is in a tough spot. He was not superintendent when Greene and OTHER MINORITIES were beaten senseless by Troop F troopers. Kevin Reeves, formerly of Troop F, was head of State Police at that time.

But in spite of his best intentions, his performance on Friday was less than inspiring as he laid out his plans to improve the public perception of Louisiana State Police, especially in the manner in which minorities are dealt with.

The only thing missing was a Power Point presentation, but he even made a stab at that with a screen showing steps he has made for the department since October 2020:

  • Expanded the Use of Force Policy, including a ban on chokeholds, a ban on the use of impact weapons to the head or neck area, and a mandate to carry a “less-lethal option.”
  • Implemented a Duty to Intervene Policy and enhanced accountability in the Body Worn Camera Policy.
  • Mandated Implicit Bias Training and developing de-scalation training for all personnel.
  • Initiated administrative investigations regarding allegations of misconduct to ensure accountability immediately after learning of an incident.
  • Increased accountability in Use of Force reporting, and video evidence revies process (and) continuing to prescribe discipline and accountability consistently, fairly and equitably throughout the agency.
  • Updated the Pursuit Policy to outline the provision for ramming which is prohibited except where deadly force is authorized to save lives.
  • Continued promotion and expansion of the Trooper and Employee Assistance Program to support the mental health of (LSP) personnel and ensure operational readiness in the field.
  • Establishing a program designed to standardize the release of critical information as soon as possible (body worn camera and in-car camera footage).

All of which begs the question of why weren’t these reforms implemented years ago?

The controversy with Troop F isn’t new. In 2005, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was F-Troopers who dragged New Orleans attorney Ashton O’Dwyer from his home right after the storm even though his residence was untouched by the hurricane and took him to a holding pen where he was shot with bean bags, sprayed with pepper spray and beaten.

The physical abuse left O’Dwyer in such an agitated mental state that it eventually cost him his partnership in a prestigious New Orleans law firm. LSP has never acknowledged its part or accepted any responsibility for ruining the man’s career, his livelihood, and his marriage – his very life.

State Police Investigator Albert Paxton said in his report that Trooper Chris Hollingsworth turned off his body camera before the beating that lead to Greene’s death but when he said Hollingsworth should be charged with obstruction, LSP leadership blocked him from pursuing the charge, again conjuring images of that Blue Wall of Silence.

But now, things are going to be better.

Col. Lamar Davis said so.

(Editor’s note: As this was being editing for posting, a story came through indicating that U.S. Rep. Troy Carter has written a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice in which he is seeking a federal investigation of LSP misconduct. You can read the letter by clicking HERE.)

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