Do you really want to know how your elected officials go about stabbing honest individuals in the back in order to do favors for political cronies?

Well, do you?

You must not because you just keep electing these same political hacks to office. Term limits? Hah! Doesn’t mean a thing. Francis Thompson ran his string in the House only to turn around and run for the Senate. Same for Jim Fannin. Of course, Neil Riser’s claim to infamy is his laughable attempt to ram through a six-figure retirement increase for his pal former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.

And Walsworth needs his proctologist every morning to fine his….well, never mind.

And now these “honorable and distinguished public servants” are pooling their political muscle to block the appointment of Dr. Jeetendra Patel to the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry after he was properly included in a list of three nominees, including incumbent Dr. Richard (we like to call him “Rick”) Willis.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be done: three names submitted to the governor and the governor names the new appointee.

But, oh no. Rick couldn’t play by the rules. Tearing a page from Mitch McConnel’s playbook, he adopted a new set of rules and called for a new election—to hell with what the governor wanted. Not only that, whereas previously, only members of the area dental association (in this case, Northeast Louisiana) could vote on a nominee, Rick decided to let the voting be opened up to all comers. Not a dentist? No problem! Here’s my campaign brochure.

Even good ol’ Rick had the cojones to admit in the letter above that Patel was ousted only “after multiple votes and petitions.” Man, he must need a wheelbarrow to haul ’em around.

In the above letter, Rick, apparently desperate to hold onto his power, implores members of the Northeast Louisiana Dental Association to “keep the pressure on Fannin, Riser, Walsworth and Thompson” to “do the right thing.”

Do the right thing, Rick?

The right thing would have been for you to shut the hell up, lick your wounded pride and walk away with your head held high. You served your five-year term, now go home.

But you couldn’t do that.

Why? is the question. What is so important about serving on the board that would deliberately go out of your way to undermine a man who has done nothing to you? Is it power, prestige, or something else?

And that, dear readers, is the crux of the issue with the Louisiana State Dental Board. Its only purpose is to serve as a means of extorting huge fines for minor infractions from dentists who, should they resist, are systematically ground down by an agency that has unlimited financial and legal resources. And this is usually done to a dentist who poses a competitive threat to a sitting board member.

If it’s not about power, it’s about race.

And neither is what this country, this state, is supposed to be about.

We are supposed to be about fairness.

We are supposed to be about compassion.

We are supposed to be about democracy.

None of these traits apply to the methods employed by Dr. Rick Willis.

Perhaps it’s time for the Dental Board to investigate him for unfair competition.

But don’t hold your breath.




LSU basketball coach Will Wade has been REINSTATED and all those Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) supporters can breathe a sigh of relief.

But does anyone even remember the shabby treatment of STEVEN HATFIELD by LSU? Did anyone ever protest the disgraceful manner in which he was shown the door? Well, a handful of SCIENTISTS did protest Hatfield’s firing, but who listens to scientists anyway? Certainly not Donald Trump.

Hatfield, for those who may not remember, was an expert on biological warfare who, along with about 30 others, found themselves on the FBI’s list of “persons of interest” in connection with its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Apparently, this honor was bestowed upon him because he had once passed through Fredrick, Maryland, where the anthrax envelopes were mailed from. Actually, he worked as a biodefense researcher for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick—enough to make him a “person of interest.”

Even though the FBI repeatedly said that Hatfill was not a suspect in the case, it nevertheless directed the university to prohibit Hatfill from participating in any projects financed by the Justice Department.

LSU meekly complied without asking the FBI for a shred of evidence. The university denied that its decision was influenced by the fact that LSU received substantial funds from the Justice Department for programs that trained law-enforcement and public health officials to handle bioterrorism attacks and similar crises.

Not satisfied with firing Hatfield, LSU went a step further in firing his boss, STEPHEN GUILLOT, director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the Academy for Counter-Terrorist Education.

And our legislators wonder why so many professors are looking at Louisiana in their rear-view mirrors.

Can you say “extortion”?

Hatfill had the last laugh, however, settling his LAWSUIT against LSU and the federal government for $4.6 million.

The odyssey of a former LSU BAND DIRECTOR got more ink than the injustices inflicted upon Hatfield.

The Baton Rouge SUNDAY ADVOCATE was liberally PEPPERED with stories SPECULATING with breathless anticipation the next steps for Wade and LSU. The gnashing of hands and wringing of teeth even carried over to Monday with yet another story that DICK VITALE had returned to a Baton Rouge radio show to discuss the monumental ongoing saga that, to rabid LSU fans at least, carries all the weight of say, the selection of a new Pope.

Yet, only minimal coverage was given to the manner in which LSU canned hurricane scientist IVOR VAN HEERDEN following his criticism of the U.S. Corps of Engineers because his public statements were “hurting LSU’s quest for federal funding across the board.”

Now that’s the humanitarian approach: go right for the bottom line.

The fact that van Heerden’s criticism was vindicated when tests of steel pilings revealed the very deficiencies, he had described that led to the levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina did nothing to prompt LSU to rush to reinstatement.

So, he did the obvious: he FILED SUIT filed suit against LSU in 2010 for wrongful termination.

LSU, if nothing else, is consistent. It doggedly defended the lawsuit, even after losing one key ruling after another until Jed Horne, a columnist for THE LENS, a New Orleans online news service, wrote:

Journalists and members of the LSU community who are aware of the ongoing persecution are disgusted and somewhat mystified that the university has chosen to go after van Heerden, rather than quietly settle this shameful case. It seems especially odd in light of the state’s increasing vulnerability to catastrophic storms and van Heerden’s proven expertise in anticipating their wrath—not to mention the high cost of protracted litigation as Gov. Bobby Jindal makes devastating cuts to the university’s budget.

Finally, after throwing $435,000 of taxpayer funds down a rat hole to defend the suit (benefiting no one but the state’s defense attorneys) LSU finally decided to settle in February 2013 for an undisclosed amount. Again, taxpayer dollars but this time the court concealed from public view the amount of the settlement, itself a disturbing trend when public dollars are involved.

While the local media in Baton Rouge have given extensive coverage to the travails of poor Will Wade (six-year, $15 million contract), not a nano-second of air time nor a single sentence has been devoted to the manner in which the LSU Dental School swept a multi-million-dollar scandal under the rug by firing the whistleblower who revealed that a joint replacement device developed by Dr. John Kent, head of the LSU School of Dentistry’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, was defective. That the deficiencies resulted in excruciating pain and at least eight suicides wasn’t enough to prevent the department from ruining the career of DR. RANDALL SCHAFFER.

But thank God Will Wade has been reinstated.

Following drastic budget cuts to higher education in general and LSU in particular by the Bobby Jindal administration and his lap dog legislators, it was decided that LSU President JOHN LOMBARDI  John Lombardi had to go for his failure of leading LSU to its “true vision and leadership.” Lombardi had opposed some of Jindal’s PROPOSALS, a cardinal sin, it turned out.

One of the things that sealed Lombardi’s fate was his hesitancy to endorse the surrender of the LSU Medical Center via a contract containing 55 blank pages. The beneficiary of Jindal’s generosity, by the way, was a sitting member of the LSU Board of Supervisors who headed the outfit that took over University Medical Center in Shreveport. But no conflict there, apparently.

Also loath to approve the giveaway of one of the finest teaching hospital systems in America were LSU Health Care System head Dr. Fred Cerise and Interim Louisiana Public Hospital CEO Dr. Roxanne Townsend. On July 17, 2013, there was a meeting at which the privatization of the state’s system of LSU medical centers was pitched.

Both Cerise and Townsend were present at that meeting and both EXPRESSED THEIR RESERVATIONS. Members of the Board of Supervisors who were at the meeting “indicated they want LSU’s management to pursue this strategy,” according to a two-page summary of the meeting prepared by Cerise.

With days, two of the most respected members of the LSU medical community were gone. Fired.

But LSU has Will Wade back in the fold and all is well.

Following drastic budget cuts to higher education in general and LSU in particular by the Bobby Jindal administration and his lap dog legislators, it was decided that LSU President JOHN LOMBARDI had to go for his failure of leading LSU to its “true vision and leadership.” Lombardi had opposed some of Jindal’s PROPOSALS, a cardinal sin, it turned out.

And who could ever forget the humiliation the LSU Board heaped upon legendary football coach Charles McClendon by making the man wait in his car back in 1979 while the board decided his fate? He was canned because he couldn’t beat Bear Bryant. Well, guess what? No one else was beating the Bear either. If that is the barometer for a coach’s survival at LSU, then no coach’s job is safe as long at Nick what’s-his-name is at ‘Bama.

And the ham-fisted manner in which Athletic Director Joe (Duke lacrosse death angel) Alleva handled the LES MILES firing had all the delicacy and subtlety of Jack the Ripper.

But Will Wade is back and that makes everything okay.

Until the other shoe drops from the ongoing FBI investigation, as it almost surely will.

Try for a moment to imagine that:

  • You were born in England of Indian parents, moved to Louisiana at the age of 10 with your parents and twin brother;
  • You graduated from the prestigious Louisiana School for Math, Science & and the Arts and the LSU School of Dentistry;
  • You’ve practiced dentistry for the past 16 years in Monroe;
  • You have devoted your entire adult life to serving those less fortunate;
  • The Dean of the LSU School of Dentistry recommended you for a seat on the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry;
  • You were appointed to the board by the governor of the State of Louisiana in January 2019;
  • Three months later, you learned your appointment had been abruptly rescinded because the incumbent board member pitched a hissy fit and called in political favors.

If your name is Dr. Jeetendra S. Patel, you don’t have to imagine because that scenario is all too real to him.

Along the way, he has learned several valuable lessons they don’t teach in high school civics classes:

  • Power is bestowed upon those who best know how to abuse it;
  • Once in possession of that power, they are quite reluctant to relinquish it;
  • Not everything in politics is done above-board—far from it;
  • Without the right connections, there are no slam-dunks;
  • There are many avenues to obtaining power but conniving, back-stabbing, deception, treachery and outright lies are the preferred methods.
  • Power is never achieved for the purpose of doing good; it is for one purpose only: crushing your opponents, both perceived and real;
  • The simultaneous possession of power and idealism are incompatible;

But, hey! That’s the new reality. You study hard, make good grades, do well in college, work hard, provide for your family, help the underprivileged, get involved in your kids’ schools, cheer for your favorite team and then see you idealism, your dreams smashed against the cold, hard rocks of political favoritism, back-room deals, good ol’ boy cronyism, and big-money politics.

In short, your American Dream has morphed into an American nightmare—and you never saw it coming.

That’s the story—the disillusionment, really—of Dr. Jeetendra S. Patel.

In an April 12 (Friday) email to State Sen. Francis Thompson (D-Delhi), Patel wrote:

The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry has been in the hot seat the last several years. The board needs diversity and some fresh faces. On Monday, October 1st, 2018, I was nominated to be on the board and to represent Electoral District 4. Dr. Richard Willis (who has already served a 5-year term) and Dr. Robert Spatafora were also nominated. These nominations were submitted to the Governor. On January 18th, 2019, I was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry by the Governor. As of today, I have been on the state board almost 3 months and have already participated in the first meeting of 2019 as well as reviewed a board complaint case against a dentist. I have had the pleasure of meeting all the board members.

Unfortunately, I found out from a colleague today that I will not be confirmed by the Senate. Please help me understand why this is the case. I have been practicing dentistry in Monroe for 16 years and have attended most Northeast Louisiana Dental Association (NELDA) meetings since 2003. On September 18th, 2018, Dr. Willis sent an email out to all practicing dentists in our district stating that there would be a nominating meeting for the District 4 vacancy (a vacancy that did not exist). The meeting was to be held at his practice/office. How is this fair?  He had all his friends, most of whom were older dentists, come to the meeting.  A few of the dentists present don’t even practice dentistry anymore and I have never seen them at a meeting. Most of the dentists that came to his office usually are not present at our association meetings. Dr. Willis also had all 3 of his dental partners present. Nowhere in the bylaws, is there a ballot vote required. I questioned Dr. Willis that night about this unfairness in voting and his words were that’s what we are going to do.

This whole situation was handled poorly and with bias. Our first NELDA meeting of 2019 was held at The Taste of India on Thursday, January 17th. Dr. Willis was present that evening and was to give a state board report to all dentists who were present. When he found out that I was going to be appointed the next day, he stormed out of the restaurant and never gave his report. To make matters worse, he had one of his associates call me the following week to see if I would step down from the board. On Monday, April 1st, 2019, an anonymous email went out to all 4th district dentists asking for a new vote on the state board member appointment. This was a survey that any person could vote on. To make matters worse, the email stated that “At our recent legislature dinner, our local legislators requested a new vote on the state board member appointment.” The very next day, the Alternate Director to the LDA and the President of NELDA, sent out an email stating that this was not discussed.

So, basically, here’s what we have:

  • Willis has completed a five-year term on the board;
  • By law, the governor’s office solicits three names for nomination to succeed him;
  • The names of Patel, Willis and a third dentist were submitted;
  • Patel was selected from the three and nominated to the board—and has even attended a board meeting;
  • Willis didn’t want to go;
  • Willis tries an end-run around the governor’s office to call a new vote, a vote which state regulations do not allow;
  • An anonymous email was sent out (apparently on Willis’s behalf) announcing that a new vote had been requested by area legislators. This time, unlike the first, anyone who had a body temperature of approximately 98.60 would be eligible to vote;
  • Those in attendance of a meeting at which Willis walked out say no such discussion was ever held;
  • Patel’s nomination, nevertheless, was yanked and now Willis is scheduled for Senate confirmation within the next few days.

The words ruthless come to mind here.

And unless Gov. Edwards intervenes in this power play and reinstates Patel, this could become a campaign issue. It’s at least the second such case of a board appointment suddenly being rescinded by the governor’s office and if this is indicative of a trend, it’s an ugly one.

Many state boards in general and the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry and the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners in particular have become tight little cliques and outsiders need not apply.

It’s far past time that once and for all, the unequivocal point needs to be driven home that the memberships of these boards are not for personal enrichment or to destroy competition, but to serve the citizens of the State of Louisiana.

That point has been lost somewhere along the way.

This is necessarily going to be short.

Regular readers may have noticed I’ve not been very active in my writing this past week. That’s because I’ve been extremely inactive physically.

It’s difficult to concentrate when you’re in a neck brace, fighting headaches, fatigue, and prohibited from driving for six weeks.

That’s what a C-3 through C-6 fusion will do to you. Demobilization, I call it. A pain in the neck.

Shoot, I’m not even able to talk much and those of you who know me are aware what a handicap that is for me.

I have a phobia about pain pills. Up until this procedure, I’ve always refused to use them. Not this time. When you get this kind of headache, you’ll do just about anything to make it go away.

I’ve been putting this off for some time but I finally had to face reality: my neck wasn’t going to heal itself.

My neurosurgeon, Dr. Luke Corsten, told me it was a “difficult” procedure. He has a flair for the understatement.

I was laid on my back, strapped to the operating table, my arms stretched outward and upward as far as they would go and my chin pushed upward, a position I remained in for the entire four-hour operation.

I wouldn’t be this sore after an extreme triathlon on a hot August day in Baton Rouge—without warming up.

They made a lengthy incision in the front of my throat, pushed the vocal cords out of their way and went to work doing what they do best—making people better.

And I’m here to tell you that the folks at The NeuroMedical Center and The Spine Hospital of Louisiana are the best. From Dr. Corsten down to the hospital orderlies, the personnel were magnificent. Ever been in a hospital and pressed the nurse “call” button? Did you have to press it two or three more times before finally getting someone to your room?

Not at The Spine Hospital. Push the button one time and before you could release it, someone’s in your room. And not with an attitude like you’re interrupting something important like, say, Facebook time. The staff there make you feel like you’re the most important person they’ve ever met.

Surgery isn’t pleasant, but they did their best to make it so. And I, for one, noticed and appreciated that.

Medical personnel these days want you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe.

If I had to rate their kindness and professionalism on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I give them a 15.

And lest I get scolded for omitting the most important ones in my life, Betty, you and the girls have been absolutely splendid. It’s been 50 years since I walked you down that aisle and the only thing I’d do differently today is maybe walk a little slower. Seventy-five years tend to make the footsteps a bit more deliberate and a lot more cautious.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have two cuddly pals, chihuahuas Bella and Ellie, who are waiting to curl up in my lap for our nap.


Okay, this is going to bring out all the foaming-at-the-mouth Trump supporters. But go ahead, give it your best shot. (a) I am used to your blind, hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil unwavering devotion to anyone who speaks the same hate-filled “all-hat-and-no-cattle” rhetoric as you and (b) I don’t really care because I would rather stand up for decency, honesty, and respectability than to curry favor with any of you.

Having said that, I can now turn my attention to Mr. Hominy and grits, Mr. syrup for brains, Mr. Hypocrisy himself, aka Louisiana’s junior senator John Neely Kennedy, for his latest sound bite for the TV cameras.

It’s been said that the most dangerous place in Washington, D.C. is to stand between Kennedy and a TV microphone but to tell the truth, his down-home, aw, shucks B.S. is starting to wear just a little thin, especially with his latest PROCLAMATION.

Yep, you read it right. Mr. Morality Kennedy just called Joe Biden a “creepy old man.”

Before going any further, a disclaimer is called for here. I am not a Biden fan necessarily, although I do certainly think he is far superior in intellect, honesty, decency and experience than Clown Prince Trump. Personally, I feel Biden, like Bernie Sanders and a few others (including Trump) are too old for the rigors of being the leader of the free world—if one could indeed call Trump a leader, which I certainly do not. (I’m 75, so I don’t believe I’m necessarily guilty of age discrimination in saying that—just realistic.)

But for Kennedy, a one-time fairly liberal Democrat just in case anyone needs reminding, to call Biden “creepy” and at the same time endorse and embrace every utterance and act emanating from Trump is indisputably the height of hypocrisy, duplicity, and evidence of a lack of a real moral compass. If Kennedy had an ounce of self-respect as opposed to a ton of ambition and ego, he would distance himself from Trump, who is on record, courtesy of the ACCESS HOLLYWOOD tapes, saying much, much, MUCH worse than anything Biden has ever said or done.

Trump’s payoff of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were to cover up adulterous affairs and despite claims by Trump apologist (creator, actually) BREITBART, were most definitely not “private transactions.”

Yes, Biden crossed a line—several times. Women, for the most part, are just not comfortable with touchy-feely men and men should respect that. He also should apologize and not just slough it all off by saying he will change his behavior, as he said today.

At the same time, I cannot help but feel that with the manner in which Russia took over social media in the 2016 election, that this entire Biden business would never have surfaced had he not been the leading Democratic challenger to Trump. Now, whether some kind of character assassination was carried out by Trump or by Biden’s Democratic challengers is not certain but rest assured it was just that—a character assassination or as it is better known, dirty politics.

And it’s not the last such event that we’ll see in the upcoming presidential election. There will be others, lots of others.

Some might even say what I’m writing here is a character assassination of Trump.

Except he doesn’t need my help. He has a very rare affliction: every time he opens his mouth, he shoots himself in the foot. Very rare indeed. He is his very own walking, talking character assassination.

But this little rant is about Kennedy. If he is a true Trump loyalist, and I have no reason to doubt he is, he should never have opened that little can of worms.

After all, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

And Kennedy just heaved a big one on behalf of the resident of a very large but fragile glass house.

Maybe Kennedy, for once in his ego-driven life, should just shut the hell up.