Ruston City Marshal Mike Hilton Retiring?

08/21/2014
Ruston City Marshal Mike Hilton

Ruston City Marshall Mike Hilton

Long-time Ruston City Marshal Mike Hilton is apparently not running for re-election for the position that he has held since 1981, sources are telling Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).

Adding credibility to those sources is the fact that two Deputy Marshals from the office have filed for the position – Sandy Freeman and Jim Liner.

The City Marshal provides enforcement for the Ruston City Court, which adjudicates traffic tickets issued by the Ruston Police Department and Louisiana Tech Police. City Court also presides over criminal misdemeanors which occur within the city limits of Ruston.

The Ruston City Court has jurisdiction parishwide on civil cases with a monetary limit of $25,000. Typical suits which may be filed in that court include debt collection on open accounts, promissory notes and rent, evictions, contractual disputes and actions in tort for money damages.

Fire District “Structure Fee” Unchanged from Last Year

08/20/2014

At last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1’s Board of Commissioners, the board unanimously voted to to levy the annual “structure fee” using the same language as was used for tax year 2013. Here is the pertinent language:

SECTION 1. Pursuant to the provisions of the Act and the Proposition which was approved at the Special Election, there is hereby levied an annual Service Charge of Seventy­ Two Dollars ($72.00) in the year 2013 on each person owning residential or commercial structures, whether occupied or unoccupied, located wholly or partly within the boundaries of the District and that for the purposes of the assessment and collection of the Service Charge, owners shall be assessed the Service Charge for each such structure which they own, and each residential or commercial unit and each housing unit within a multiple dwelling structure shall be considered a separate structure and a mobile home, as defined in R.S. 9:1149.2(3) shall be considered a structure, all as provided in the Act and stated in the Proposition.

However, it is specifically understood that the annual Service Charge levied herein shall NOT apply to any structure used solely for personal storage by the owner thereof, nor any building, barn, or other construction located on land devoted solely to agricultural and cultivation purposes, unless such building, barn or other construction is used for a residence.

See here the complete documents:

Resolution 2014-00
Resolution 2013-02

Commissioner and Finance Committee Chair Bart Dugdale reported that so far this year, the district was a little over budget, but said he was hopeful that increased sales tax collections for the year would offset the extra spending. Dugdale said supplies had cost more than had been budgeted.

Much of the meeting involved discussion about the hire of a chief, and whether a full-time chief was necessary.

Chairman Richard Aillet said that they would soon be submitting a questionnaire to the Office of State Examiner, who would prepare a job description that would be returned for review.

Commissioner Mike Fulton asked if a permanent chief was necessary. He stressed that he wasn’t necessarily suggesting that course of action, but worried that once a permanent chief was hired, that individual might not want to follow the direction of the board as diligently as would a part-time chief. He also noted that a permanent chief would be under civil service rules.

Aillet suggested that concern made it that much more important that they do a thorough job in hiring.

Temporary Chief Donnie Watson said that the area of the district would likely preclude any interest in a temporary or part-time chief.

Said Watson, “In my experience, I don’t you’re going to find anybody that would be interested in taking this size district on as a part-time. This is a huge fire district.”

Qualifying Begins for Area Political Offices

08/20/2014

Qualifying begins today for several area political offices. Among the offices to be decided on November 4:

City of Ruston Mayor
City of Ruston Board of Aldermen
Town of Jonesboro Mayor
Town of Jonesboro Board of Aldermen
Town of Jonesboro Chief of Police
Lincoln Parish School Board
Jackson Parish School Board
Ouachita Parish School Board
Monroe City School Board
District Attorneys – Statewide
District Judges – Statewide

Here is a link to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website that updates as new candidates qualify.

St Tammany DA Update – 8/20/14

08/20/2014

St. Tammany DA’s brother, Richard Reed, booked with felony sexual battery

By Heather Nolan, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Richard Reed, the brother of St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed, has been booked with sexual battery after Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz said he reviewed surveillance video from the Chimes restaurant that showed Reed made sexual advances toward “an incapacitated female that rose to the level of a criminal act.”

The arrest stems from an incident in which Richard Reed, 65, of Covington, was pulled over with an allegedly intoxicated woman in his car.

Lentz said at a press conference Tuesday (Aug. 19) that he reviewed the video last week which showed the woman resisting Reed’s advancements “violently by punching and kicking Mr. Reed in an attempt to get away.”

“The actions of Richard Reed that night can be best described as disturbing,” Lentz said. “Mr. Reed is observed on the video groping the lady’s breasts, along with placing his hand in the area of her genitalia on more than one occasion.”

Lentz would not publicly release the video, saying it was part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Reed was arrested Monday, Lentz said.

Walter Reed issued a statement saying he would recuse himself and his office from the case.

Lentz said last week that officers were called to The Chimes in Covington on Aug. 10 after an allegedly intoxicated woman at the bar became belligerent and started throwing punches. Lentz said police now believe her behavior stemmed from Reed’s advances.

Once officers arrived, Lentz said someone in the parking lot told them they saw the woman leave in a Honda Accord, that officers later determined was driven by Reed. Lentz said police still are unsure how the woman ended up in Reed’s car.

“We have no one that has said she went screaming, kicking or yelling into his car,” he said.

After tracking down the Accord, Covington police said Reed flashed a “wallet badge” from the District Attorney’s Office, trying to give the impression that he had credentials with the office.

Officers ignored the badge.

Police: Tammany DA’s brother booked with sexual battery after groping drunk woman

By Faimon A. Roberts III

Richard Reed, the brother of embattled St. Tammany and Washington Parishes District Attorney Walter Reed, repeatedly groped an intoxicated woman’s breasts and genitals inside a Covington restaurant, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz alleged Tuesday in announcing Reed’s arrest on a count of sexual battery.

Reed, 65, surrendered without incident Monday night after a nearly weeklong investigation into a bizarre episode Aug. 10 in which he attempted to drive the intoxicated woman home, and then sought to shoo away police by flashing an honorary badge issued by the DA’s Office.

Police had been called to The Chimes restaurant in Covington that night because the woman allegedly had gotten belligerent at the bar, but Reed took her to his car before police arrived. His car was spotted at a nearby red light and was pulled over. Police ignored Reed’s badge and insisted on speaking to the woman, who was slumped over in Reed’s back seat, Lentz said.

After taking the woman to the police station to make sure she wasn’t in danger of alcohol poisoning, police cited her for public intoxication and sent her home with friends, Lentz said. The charge against the woman was dropped after city prosecutor Rene Frederick reviewed the incident.

St. Tammany Parish DA Walter Reed should resign: James Varney

By James Varney, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Perhaps power isn’t inherently corrupt. It may be that holding it for too long guarantees some level of corruption.

That may be one of the factors at play as St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed’s three-decade career unravels. As the revelations mount that he played fast and loose with money and a sibling gets arrested, it seems clear Reed has been at the helm too long.

Why not resign? Is Reed another example of a politician who digs in his heels against all allegations and, impervious to shame or remorse, soldiers on because he needs the money or can’t live outside the spotlight?

St. Tammany Parish has had its share of such characters recently. Convicted former coroner Peter Galvan springs to mind. Here was a man who, in the face of overwhelming evidence, had the gall to sue the parish thereby costing taxpayers even more in legal fees.

In Reed’s case, he’s always had a knack for not answering questions. His announcement that he won’t seek re-election but will cling to the job and the paycheck until then is reflective of a man too comfortable with the levers of power.

City of Ruston Trims Workforce

08/19/2014

Ruston has trimmed its workforce by about fifty positions over the past two years, Mayor Dan Hollingsworth told the Board of Aldermen yesterday in a special meeting. However, there were no “layoffs” of employees during that time.

Said Hollingsworth, “We have a lot fewer employees today than we had two years ago. The fact that this year’s budget we’ll have almost fifty less, and that’s a significant figure. Nobody got discharged because of that – it’s simply retirement and attrition.”

Hollingsworth said the rapidly increasing cost of the city’s portion of employee retirement (from about $475 thousand in 1999, to about $2.5 million this year), coupled with no growth in sales taxes, made the cutbacks necessary.

The remarks were made at the meeting that was called to discuss the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

See here the proposed budget for 2014-2015.

Compare to the budget for 2013-2014.

In other business, the council approved a resolution to rent a building on West California Avenue, that had been the location of a bank and credit union. The location is needed, Assistant City Administrator Ed Pittman said, to house the city’s Customer Service Department (now located on the City Hall’s first floor) while that area is renovated. The department serves Ruston’s water and sewer utility customers.

Pittman said they will explore the possibility of purchasing the building and foregoing some of the City Hall renovations, if that is economically feasible.

Lincoln Parish Fire District Board Meeting Tuesday

08/18/2014

The Board of Commissioners of Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 will meet in regular session Tuesday, August 19, 6:00 PM, at the Vienna Station, 4786 Highway 167.

See here the agenda.

Jackson Parish Rec Dept Cited by Auditor

08/18/2014

The Jackson Parish Recreation Department’s audit for the year 2013 revealed a couple of issues – internal controls, and budgeting.

Condition – During our audit, we noted that for the years ending 2006 to 2013 concessions generated
an average annual loss of ($6,785).

Effect – The District may be losing revenues in the area of concession due to inadequate internal
controls.

Recommendation – The District should monitor inventory purchases, inventory safe keeping, and
concession sales to ensure that all funds have been accounted for.

And,

Condition – Actual expenditures exceeded budgeted expenditures by more than the 5% variance
allowed. The 2013 budget was adopted March 18, 2013.

Cause – The Jackson Parish Recreation District does not have procedures to ensure that the budget is
approved and amended in compliance with state revised statutes.

Recommendation – It is recommended that the District institute procedures to ensure the budget is
adopted in a timely manner and amended whenever actual revenues are less than budgeted revenues
by more than 5% and/or actual expenditures are more than budgeted expenditures by more than the
5% allowed.

See here the complete audit.

Natchitoches’ Johnson Thomas & Cunningham, CPA performed the audit.

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday

08/17/2014

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, August 18, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Court House, second floor.

Here is the agenda.

Notable items include an ordinance setting the property tax rates for 2014, and an ordinance creating a garbage district for part of the parish. There will be a public hearing on the proposed new laws.

Special Meeting of the Ruston City Council Monday

08/17/2014

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, August 18, 5:30, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton, second floor Mayor’s Conference Room. The Personnel/Finance Committee will also meet.

On the agenda is discussion and adoption of the 2014-2015 budget for the city for the upcoming fiscal year that begins 10/1/2014.

Board of Aldermen Agenda
Personnel/Finance Committee Agenda

Claiborne Judges Race Heats Up

08/15/2014

The race for Division A Judge (Claiborne Parish) of the Second Judicial District (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) has gotten hot. In response to several weeks of newspaper advertising by challenger Ben Bleich, incumbent Jenifer Clason this week ran full page ads responding to Bleich’s claims.

Facts are Important

In his political ad about the first degree murder trial of Carl Sims, Judge Clason’s opponent made statements which he knows or should know are not true. Here are the facts:

FACT: Carl Sims was convicted of first degree murder, not second degree murder as he stated in his ad, a fact he should have known from the appeal decision which affirmed Sims’ conviction of first degree murder and his sentence, State v. Sims, 745 So. 2d 151 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1999).

FACT: The sequestered jurors, picked in Webster Parish and brought to Claiborne Parish, finished their deliberations at 10:00 PM on Saturday, September 26, 1999, after 13 straight days of trial and 18 hours of deliberations for the guilt (14 hours) and penalty (4 hours) phases of the trial, facts which are in the record of the Sims’ first degree murder trial.

FACT: After thanking and releasing the jury at the jury box, the judge was returning to the bench when Sims grabbed her hand and pulled her to him. Frightened because she thought he might be trying to kill her, she extricated herself quickly and returned to the bench, facts which are available from the people who were there.

FACT: Candidates for judicial office are prohibited from making false statements about their opponents in their campaigns for office.

Read the document by clicking this link.

Do you want an experienced judge or the candidate who can’t get his facts straight?

Who is Judge Clason’s Opponent?

He wants to be the judge for Claiborne Parish. He bought lakeside property in the parish on August 24, 2012. He has lived here two years but parish residents know very little about him. Here is what his sister said about him in a sworn affidavit submitted to the Ruston City Court in his lawsuit for injuries he received on March 17, 2004 during a bar fight in Ruston, LA:

“In her affidavit, Allyson stated that her brother, Benjamin Bleich, had a history of provoking fights, and being arrested for fighting in bars, and was intoxicated on the night of the fight.”

Bleich v. Brown, No. 41,170-CA (La. App. 2 Cir. 6/28/2006)

IF YOU BELIEVE CHARACTER COUNTS RE-ELECT JUDGE CLASON

Bleich responded with this:

image (3)

Here are Bleich’s earlier newspaper ads:

image (1)

image (2)

image

Voters in all three parishes of the district can vote in the election.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 331 other followers