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A lawsuit was filed last Thursday in Civil District Court in New Orleans that seeks to disqualify Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member Kira Orange Jones as a candidate for re-election to the 2nd District seat she has held since 2012.

While the petition of plaintiffs Linnell Steib and Michael McFarland cites only two causes for the disqualification of Jones, there appears to be an entire laundry list of reasons she should be disqualified as a candidate, some of which LouisianaVoice has addressed in previous posts.

Little is known about the plaintiffs other than a Google search turned up the name of one Linnell Steib as being manager of judicial courts of the State of Louisiana. There was another Linnell Steib, but his work address was given as Wichita, Kansas.

But as long as the plaintiffs are electors in Jones’s district, they have legal standing to bring the lawsuit to block her candidacy.

The two disqualifying points they list in their petition are:

  • Jones’s failure to file Louisiana state income tax returns for the years 2015 and 2017 as required for candidates;
  • Her failure to pay outstanding ethics fines and fees to the attorney general’s office totaling $8,800.

But there are other reasons, according to educator Mercedes Schneider, who has a web blog called DEUTSCH29 in which she points out Jones’s chronic absence from BESE, missing more than a third of its meetings altogether and either arriving late or listing alternatively no fewer than three separate residence addresses on various reporting forms—not counting the New Mexico address of her husband Christopher Ruszkowski, the former secretary-designee for the New Mexico Department of Education.

Schneider also questioned whether or not the New Mexico Department of Education had a contract with Teach for America (TFA), for whom Jones serves as an executive director (it does). Here is another of her posts about JONES.

LouisianaVoice had previously questioned possible conflicts of interest with Jones as an executive director for Teach for America (TFA), which had a lucrative contract with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) even as she sat on BESE.

Schneider also noted that Jones sits on the board of directors for a non-profit called Instruction Partners (IP) which is listed by LDOE as a vendor for professional development for 2018-19, a relationship that also could be considered a conflict of interests or an ethics violation.

Finally, Schneider, on her blog, notes that Jones was “extremely delinquent” in filing her required annual financial disclosure forms with the state. In fact, Schneider said, as of August 11 of this year (last Monday), she still had not filed her annual disclosures for 2017 and 2018, only doing so on August 12 (last Tuesday), six days after she official qualified for reelection.

Apparently, there are those who worked for Jones at TFA who were less than enamored with her leadership. This from the website GLASSDOOR.COM.

Jones is opposed in this year’s election by Shawon Bernard and Ashonta Wyatt.

The Louisiana Democratic Party has Wyatt in the District 2 race.

“We’ve seen the effects of Democratic leadership versus Republican leadership on our educational systems,” Stephen Handwerk, Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party said. “Under a Republican administration, we’ve seen underfunded education, underpaid teachers, and a lack of concern about investing in our children. Compare that to a Democratic administration who is putting teachers, students, and our educational institutions first and it’s clear why we need to support Louisiana Democrats for the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The endorsements we made today will promote education reform and push our state forward and I’m confident we’ll see them making a difference this January.”

The following are candidates the Louisiana Democratic Party endorsed for BESE:

BESE District 2: 

Ashonta Wyatt


BESE District 6: 

Ciara Hart


BESE District 8:

Vereta Tanner Lee

Preston Castille



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A second development in what I thought was an issue laid to rest with the resignation of Mike Edmonson cropped up today just hours after the Louisiana Board of “Ethics” (that word should always be in quotes when talking about Louisiana political “ethics”) whitewashed its investigation of Edmonson and the infamous San Diego road trip and his overall management of Louisiana State Police (see post of earlier today).

Right on the heels of that story was the unconfirmed report from a usually solid source that State Sen. Neil Riser is being considered to succeed David Young as executive director of the LOUISIANA STATE TROOPERS ASSOCIATION.

Young, who retired, effective last month, is the one who laundered campaign contributions from the LSTA through his personal checking account in order that the LTSA might circumvent state civil service laws prohibiting classified employees from active involvement in political campaigns, including, of course, campaign contributions.

Young would ultimately enter into a CONSENT AGREEMENT with the Louisiana Board of “Ethics” in which he admitted to making $17,500 in contributions to various political candidates for which the LTSA later reimbursed him.

Riser, a Republican senator from Columbia who failed in a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in a 2013 special election, is the one who tacked on an amendment onto Senate Bill 294, an otherwise innocuous bill dealing with procedures for formal, written complaints made against police officers. That amendment, slipped in on the closing hours of the 2014 legislative session, would have given Edmonson a generous increase in his pension that otherwise he would not have been entitled to. Riser at first denied but later ADMITTED that he was behind the amendment and days after he did so, posed for a photograph with Edmonson.

Edmonson and Riser

Riser, who owns two funeral homes in Columbia, again failed in his bid to succeed former U.S. Sen. John Kennedy in another special election in 2017 to fill Kennedy’s vacated State Treasurer’s position. He is term-limited in his current state senate position and is a man potentially without a job in politics, so it stands to reason that he would be looking to maintain an influential presence in Baton Rouge.

Such is the intoxicating nature of politics that some egos simply cannot walk away from it.

LouisianaVoice was first to break that STORY about the amendment boosting Edmonson’s pension on July 11, 2014, after receiving an anonymous tip and that story generated immediate and near-unanimous opposition. State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) was successful in filing a lawsuit in Baton Rouge district court to block the pension increase.

Young, contacted Thursday by LouisianaVoice, said he had had no contact with the association since his retirement and that he knew nothing of Riser’s pending appointment to head the LSTA.

Attempts were made to reach Association President Jay O’quinn for confirmation but he didn’t answer his cell phone.

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Or you can send a check for $30 to:

Tom Aswell

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, LA. 70727

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Jeffrey Epstein is dead, a suicide.

It should have never happened.

He previously had attempted suicide in his jail cell and had been placed on suicide watch.

Why was he taken off that watch? That’s the question someone is going to have to answer.

No matter what ultimate facts surface in answer to that question, one thing is for certain and you can bet the farm on it: the conspiracy theorists are going to be swarming like a fire ant bed run over by a lawn mower.

In fact, they already are with none other than Donald J. Trump front and center with his TWEETS implicating the Clintons. Another contributor to what is certain to become a cottage industry, Lynn Patton, who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted that Epstein had been “Hillary’d!!”

Of course, it’s common knowledge that Epstein and Bill Clinton were pals. Bill even flew in Epstein’s private jet. There’s no escaping that fact and no one is denying it.

Trump’s more rabid supporters, however, will pounce on this fact as some kind of validation of their theory that the Clintons had Epstein murdered and they will cling to that absurdity to the bitter end while at the same time dismissing credible reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did in fact intervene in the 2016 election, that it was all a “hoax,” “fake news.”

They will trumpet the Clinton “conspiracy” to eliminate Epstein while continuing to deny any possibility of Trump collusion with Russia or of any obstruction of justice on their hero’s part.

They will also overlook all the connections between Epstein and Trump first revealed HERE three years ago and AGAIN just last month.

If Trump’s supporters want a conspiracy theory, they may wish to review the Jeffrey Epstein-Alexander Acosta-Steven Hoffenberg-Donald Trump connection in an effort to untangle that little knot.

It was Acosta, you may remember, who was the Miami U.S. attorney who engineered that nifty little plea bargain for Epstein in 2008 in which the pedophile received a sentence of only 13 months in jail for running his underage sex ring but was allowed to leave the jail each day to go to his office to work while spending only his nights in the jail cell.

And it was Trump who plucked Acosta to be his secretary of labor until Acosta resigned when the heat became a little too intense.

And Hoffenberg? He was Epstein’s partner in a gigantic Ponzi scheme (the biggest on record until Bernie Madoff came along) and it was Hoffenberg who, after getting out of prison for that escapade, established a super PAC in 2016 and pledged $50 million of his own money on behalf of candidate….Trump.

In fact, the one common thread in all of this appears to be….Donald Trump.

Yet it was Hillary, the conspiracy nuts said, who ran a pedophile sex ring out of a Washington pizza parlor. This is the mentality we’re dealing with here.

With all these Epstein connections firmly established in the record—not a conspiracy—it seems rather curious that Trump would wade in with his tweets pushing a Clinton conspiracy in Epstein’s death. It might seem to make sense that Trump would prefer to back away from the whole sordid mess and try to let it blow over.

But that’s not his way because rationale has never been his strong suit.

So, if it’s conspiracies one wants, there seems to be plenty to go around with these four men’s association with each other.

But my guess is the newest Clinton conspiracy will “trump” those.

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A dear friend says that Donald Trump is “100% responsible” for the latest shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

It’s difficult to disagree with him.

Yes, we had mass shootings before Trump: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado come to mind.

But they were random acts aimed at everyone in general and no one in particular.

But now we have the Pulse shooting in Orlando, the African-American church shooting in Charleston, S.C., Charlottesville, Virginia, among others, that were directed at specific groups: gays, blacks, and Hispanics. There were even pipe bombs sent to Trump critics.

Yes, there are still random mass shootings, like the one in Las Vegas, but a disturbing trend seems to be toward white nationalists trying to take out as many minorities as possible in the shortest time possible.

As another friend observed, assault weapons are more efficient than nooses with these monsters.

I’ve said my piece about taking these assault weapons out of circulation, so I won’t belabor the point. But these mentally deranged people are taking their cue from the top—and that’s Trump. His rhetoric, from ridiculing a physically handicapped reporter in 2016, to belittling women, to encouraging crowds to rough up protesters and leading them in chants encouraging violence.

That has to stop. Trump doesn’t seem to understand that words and actions, especially those of POTUS, have consequences—or he just doesn’t care.

First of all, that kind of nonsense should be beneath the dignity of the president. His stooping to such levels gives him the appearance of a fourth-grade bully taunting other kids on the playground. That is not what this country needs, though you wouldn’t know it from his base.

I’ve been accused of having some affliction called “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” but those women, I will suggest emphatically, do not represent the country I grew up in and sadly, neither does our president.

How is it that we could come to this land, inflict genocide an entire civilization already living here and assume that it’s somehow our land by wearing something so flagrantly racist?

Another friend forward the following to me:

When you speak of Trump Derangement Syndrome, are you referring to his supporters or to his critics?

OK, so who’s deranged…..the people speaking out against hate speech and racism—or those who are defending it?

Who’s deranged……the people stuffing children into overcrowded cages—or those who are exposing it?

Who’s deranged……the people who expose the president’s lies everyday—or those who make excuses for it?

Who’s deranged……the people who are investigating Russian interference in our election—or those who call it a witch hunt?

Who’s deranged…..the people who recognize the importance of dealing with climate change—or those who call it a hoax?

Who’s deranged……those who honor our war heroes and POWs—or those who prefer soldiers who weren’t captured?

Who’s deranged…..those who believe that a businessman who built his fortune by cheating working people, lost a billion dollars in ten years and never performed even one day of public service has their best interests in mind—or those who see a con-man?

OK, it’s up to you. Who’s deranged?

(I’m informed the image of the women wearing “Make America White Again” T-shirts was photo-shopped and not authentic. Accordingly, I have removed it—with apologies.)

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