Monroe City Marshall in Violation of Budget Law

11/24/2014

A just-released audit from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) says the Monroe City Marshall is in violation of the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act (LA RS 39-1301, et seq). The audit was performed on behalf of the LLA by West Monroe accountant Cameron, Hines & Company.

See here the audit documents.

Finding 2014-02 states:

Condition: The Marshal’s Office did not prepare and/or amend a budget for the fiscal year.

Effect: The Marshal’s Office is in violation of Louisiana Revised Statutes 39:1305-39:1311.

Cause: The Marshal’s Office was unable to adopt a budget due to Louisiana Revised Statute 39:1305 – 39:1311, which states that in no event shall a budget be adopted and/or amended proposing expenditures which exceed the total of estimated funds available for the fiscal year.

Auditors’ Recommendation: We recommend budgeting expenditures in an amount that would correct the fund balance deficit based on the projected income for the next fiscal year and maintaining a monthly review of income and expenses throughout the year to determine the fund balance and if there are any necessary changes to make in order to keep expenditures at the right amount.

Views of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Action: The Monroe Marshal’s Office agrees with the above statement. The budget was not prepared and/or amended due to Revised Statute 39:1305 – 39:1311, which states that in no event shall a budget be adopted and/or amended proposing expenditures which exceed the total of estimated
funds available for the fiscal year.

This is the second consecutive year such a finding has been made. It is not likely that any investigation or prosecution will result, as Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Attorney Jerry Jones contributed $1,000 to incumbent Marshall Wince Highshaw, Jr’s re-election campaign.

See here the document.

Lincoln Parish deputies investigating Sunday morning homicide

11/23/2014

By Jillian Corder, Reporter

RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News) – Investigators are working a homicide in Lincoln Parish where the victim is a former GSU faculty member.

Sunday, November 23, around 7:30 a.m., the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department responded to 172 Garr Road, after family members discovered Grover Brown, 58, deceased in his home.

Brown, who we’re told is a retired Grambling professor, sustained what appeared to be a gunshot wound, but an autopsy will be conducted.

Deputies processed the scene and interviewed family and neighbors.

Meanwhile, No one in the Lincoln Parish “judicial system” seems concerned that Dr. Sue Hashaway’s June, 2012 murder case still hasn’t been resolved.

Early Voting Begins Today

11/22/2014

EARLY VOTING BEGINS SATURDAY, RUNS THROUGH NOV. 29TH

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is encouraging all Louisianians eligible to vote in the General Congressional Election set for December 6th to consider voting early. Early voting begins this Saturday, November 22nd and continues through Saturday, November 29th from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, excluding Sunday, November 23rd, Thanksgiving Day: Thursday, November 27th and Friday, November 28th.

“Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, early voting is shortened by two days for this election,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler reminded voters. “This is always a busy time of year with families traveling and time off of work, but it’s important not to forget about the December 6th election, especially with the congressional runoffs as well as many important local races. By casting your ballot early, you can vote on your own schedule when it’s most convenient. Don’t make excuses. Go vote!”

Voters should utilize Louisiana’s award winning smartphone app, GeauxVote Mobile, to find out where to vote, what’s on their ballot and their voting districts. Citizens who want to vote early may do so in person at their parish Registrar of Voters’ Office or at other designated locations. For a complete listing of early voting locations, visit: http://www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/Pages/EarlyVotingLocations.aspx.

For more information about the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, visit http://www.GeauxVote.com or call 225.922.0900.

Lincoln Detention Center Budget Draws Questions

11/21/2014

Introduction of an amended 2014 and proposed 2015 budget for the parish jail at this morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission drew a couple of questions about the format as presented.

Commission Chair Joe Henderson, who is also District Nine’s Lincoln Parish Police Juror (LPPJ) noted that the proposed amended 2014 budget didn’t show the original budget for 2014 to make a comparison.

Said Henderson, “We don’t see the original numbers by each category. Where is the original column?”

Jury Treasurer Dr. Bobby Gray noted that the center’s capital expenditures weren’t included in the agencies chart of accounts, nor were the source of revenues for the capital expenditures included.

Said Gray, “I think you have to roll the capital expenditures into this budget, and then offset if from the revenues coming from the city (Ruston) and from the (Lincoln Parish) Police Jury.” He added, “The auditors specifically need to see it.”

Louisiana’s Local Governmental Budget Act is specific on how budgets are to be prepared. LA RS 39:1305 – Budget Preparation states in part:

(2)(a) A statement for the general fund and each special revenue fund showing the estimated fund balances at the beginning of the year; estimates of all receipts and revenues to be received; revenues itemized by source; recommended expenditures itemized by agency, department, function, and character; other financing sources and uses by source and use; and the estimated fund balance at the end of the fiscal year. Such statements shall also include a clearly presented side-by-side detailed comparison of such information for the current year, including the fund balances at the beginning of the year, year-to-date actual receipts and revenues received and estimates of all receipts and revenues to be received the remainder of the year; estimated and actual revenues itemized by source; year-to-date actual expenditures and estimates of all expenditures to be made the remainder of the year itemized by agency, department, function, and character; other financing sources and uses by source and use, both year-to-date actual and estimates for the remainder of the year; the year-to-date actual and estimated fund balances as of the end of the fiscal year; and the percentage change for each item of information.

Commission member Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone said the corrections would be made and distributed to each member.

Said Stone, “Mr. Chairman, if it’s ok, well just email all the members the corrected budgets, and then do a phone call.”

We pointed out that such a “phone meeting” would be a violation of the state’s Public Meeting Law.

The members realized that another meeting would be necessary for final adoption, and for the required public hearing. It was set for 10:00 AM, Friday, December 12.

See here the budgets as presented this morning.

The commission also approved minutes from the 9/22/14 meeting.

Asked about potential capital expenditures for 2015, Warden Jim Tuten said that a boiler replacement might be necessary, some of the kitchen equipment needs replacement, and that additional emergency electrical generating capacity is needed.

The total cost would be about $300 thousand, Tuten said.

Detention Center Commission Meets Friday

11/20/2014

The Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission will meet Friday, November 21, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

The Hayride: Landrieu Should Concede

11/19/2014

Landrieu Can Still Save Face After Her Keystone XL Fiasco

By Scott McKay

There’s a very simple way for her to get beyond the embarrassment of yesterday’s failed vote to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, where 41 of her 54 Senate Democrat colleagues essentially flipped her the bird and voted against it despite being told ad nauseam that either they did so or they’d be consigning her to electoral demise in Louisiana’s Dec. 6 runoff.

The answer is to get out of the race, and concede it to Bill Cassidy. The sooner the better.

The fact is, the Keystone XL vote had very little to do with Landrieu’s electability. The idea that getting 60 votes to force approval of the pipeline – a meaningless number, since (1) the Obama administration would veto the bill anyway and (2) the Republican-dominated new Senate would pass the exact same bill in two months – was the key to returning Landrieu for another term flies in the face of electoral reality.

Landrieu, after all, only managed 42 percent of the vote in the primary, to Cassidy’s 41 percent. Exit polls show her support among white voters, the sizable majority of the electorate, at just 18 percent. She reeled in 94 percent of the black vote, and turned out enough of it that it represented about 30 percent of the voting electorate.

Is there really much reason to think those numbers will change in five weeks?

Landrieu can’t win the election by turning out the black vote. There isn’t enough of it to create a majority.

Blacks make up 31.5 percent of the registered voters in the state, and in 2012 turnout in that community was the highest it’s ever been as a percentage of the electorate; 31 percent.

With 18 percent of the white vote, Landrieu would need black voters to make up something like 42 percent of the electorate to get to 50 percent of the total vote. That’s not even remotely close to possible.

So how does Landrieu get above 18 percent of the white vote? If you have suggestions, she’s listening.

The fact is, there isn’t anything she can do. She has all of the liberal white voters in the state. They’re that 18 percent. The rest of Louisiana’s white voters are right-of-center in their political orientation. And Landrieu has alienated them on an emotional level by calling them racist and sexist, repeatedly.

Had she gotten a successful vote on Keystone XL that wouldn’t change anything. Those people don’t like her and they want her gone, plus everybody knows Cassidy is as big or bigger a booster of Keystone XL as Landrieu.

So as a draw for white voters, yesterday’s show was grossly overrated. One reason Landrieu couldn’t get to 60 votes is her Democrat colleagues knew it was a ruse, and a pointless ruse at that, and they weren’t going to upset the environmentalist loon donors who own them if it wouldn’t actually save her. In fact, many of them probably felt they were being marched off a cliff for no reason and resented the spectacle.

We already know Landrieu has been abandoned by the national Democrat money, and she’s already persona non grata with the Democrat leadership after having voted against Harry Reid being the minority leader (which is the best vote she’s made in years, but hardly in her interest). From the standpoint of Democrats in Washington she’s finished.

Back home, Landrieu is getting drawn and quartered on television as Republican PAC’s and Cassidy’s campaign are pouring millions of dollars onto the airwaves to attack her voting record and detachment from the people of the state. She doesn’t have the resources to fight that onslaught, and taking to the newspapers to whine about the content of those ads only increases their effect. And now that she’s lost her Keystone XL gambit, what’s her narrative? Nonstop petty attacks on Cassidy without even the money to fully blast them out? Race-baiting? Sexism?

What this adds up to is that Landrieu is going to take the worst beating of any incumbent senator in this cycle. She’s going to go out a loser like no other senator in Louisiana history.

The worst blowout of an incumbent in this cycle so far was the 56.5-39.5 clobbering Tom Cotton laid on Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor. A 17-point pounding is well within the margin of two polls making their way into the public eye in the past week; Magellan Strategies has Cassidy ahead 56-40, while Gravis Marketing has him beating Landrieu 59-38.

The real number could be as bad as Gravis has it.

If one takes the numbers from the exit polls and applies a typical December turnout model to them, in which the black vote sits at a typical number of around 27 percent, then Landrieu will end up with less than 39 percent of the vote.

Getting beat 61-39 would make her the worst incumbent Senate loser since 1978, when Maine Democrat William Hathaway was beaten by 22.7 points by William Cohen. And it would also make her the worst incumbent Senate loser in Louisiana history. There hasn’t been an incumbent beaten for a Senate seat from Louisiana since 1930, when Huey Long defeated Joseph Ransdell 57-43 in the Democrat primary.

So Landrieu is headed for a place in history – and not a good place.

The thing to do is to get out. Publicly. And declare why.

Landrieu could give a concession speech which sets down a marker for a potential rebirth of her party out of the ashes Obama and the Hard Left are reducing it to. If she truly is the centrist she claims to be, she could give a speech outlining all the ways Obama and the Hard Left have pulled the Democrat Party out of the American mainstream and made politicians like her, Pryor, Kay Hagan and others uncompetitive in red states. She could in so doing create some space for her friend Hillary Clinton to run as a center-left candidate for president in 2016, and open a discussion Democrats need to have about how far left they can go without killing themselves.

And she could help to divorce the Louisiana Democrat Party from the national Democrat Party, which has to happen if they’re to survive in this state in the future. Obama and the national Democrats are absolute poison with Louisiana voters, and the local party has been following the national example to a far larger extent under Karen Carter Peterson’s leadership than wisdom would sanction. Landrieu could concede the race and call attention to this fact, perhaps providing some leadership for more centrist elements to retake that party, and that could improve the brand enough to make it a viable base for her brother Mitch to run for governor next year – or perhaps for Mary to return in 2016 as a candidate for the Senate seat that would open up should David Vitter win the governor’s mansion.

That’s what’s available to her if she gets out and spares herself what’s coming.

But if she doesn’t, she stares political oblivion in the face. She becomes a historical footnote, or maybe a hashtag. #Landrieued as a term for taking a soul-crushing defeat probably isn’t how Mary wants to be remembered.

Get out, Mary. Do it today.

Lincoln Parish Fire District Reviews Budgets

11/19/2014

The Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 Board of Commissioners spent last night’s meeting reviewing budget figures for the year about to end and for 2015.

There was good news on the revenue front, as sales tax collections grew significantly due to oil and gas activity in Lincoln Parish. Those revenues are budgeted to increase $133 thousand, from $425 thousand in 2014 to $558 thousand in 2015.

However, those revenues will be eaten up by increased wages, retirement, and workmen’s compensation costs next year.

See here the budget documents.

The additional monies also allowed increases in vehicle supplies and maintenance of about $25 thousand. Most of that money will go toward replacing tires on the district’s fire trucks.

Commissioner Bart Dugdale, who chairs the Budget Committee, said that if increased sales tax collections hold up through next year, additional funding might be available.

Said Dugdale, “We may increase those budgets as sales tax revenues come in,” and the board “would increase maintenance if possible.”

Board Chair Richard Aillet agreed, saying, “If we do get extra funds, it should go to rubber.”

Aillet also expressed consternation with the parish’s Graphical Information System (GIS) department.

There have been problems with the fire district’s computer network, and its webpage, Aillet said. He said the district should be getting better service in consideration of the $20 thousand annual contribution to the GIS department.

The next board meeting is set for December 16, where the budgets will be finally adopted.

Poll: Cassidy 59, Landrieu 38

11/18/2014

Gravis Marketing-Human Events Poll Has Cassidy Burying Landrieu By 21

By Scott McKay

Gravis Marketing is a Republican polling firm, so when it releases a poll with a big number in favor of Bill Cassidy over Mary Landrieu you can imagine Landrieu’s camp will discount that number.

Still, when it’s Cassidy 59, Landrieu 38 and three percent undecided by all appearances we’re looking at a blowout two weeks from Saturday.

The poll was of 643 likely voters from Wednesday to Friday of last week, and the sample looks relatively typical of most polling samples we’ve seen – if a little on the Cassidy-friendly side.

Respondents were asked with what party they identify, and 44 percent said Democrat and 36 percent Republican. That might be more of a Democrat party ID than some of the others we’ve seen, but the white-to-black ratio of the sample was 69-25; that’s a bit whiter electorate than we saw in the November primary. It’s not out of the question we could see the December electorate show a 25 percent black share, but that’s probably low.

Other interesting questions in the poll: Barack Obama’s approval rating is underwater at 33-61, which fits with other polling we’ve seen, and it looks like David Vitter is the 800-pound gorilla in Louisiana politics. Vitter bombs Mitch Landrieu 54-36 in a head-to-head in the 2015 governor’s race and beats Jay Dardenne handily, 43-29, in a Republican-vs-Republican head to head contest.

But the big number is that 21-point lead for Cassidy. Coming on last week’s Magellan poll showing a 16-point lead, it’s beginning to look like this race is all over but the shouting. Of course, we know there will be plenty of that.

See here the polling data.

Lincoln Parish Fire District Meeting Tonight

11/18/2014

The Board of Commissioners for the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 will meet tonight (11/18), 6:00 PM, Vienna Fire Station, 4786 Hwy 167.

Here is the agenda.

Government Schools Pinched by Obamacare Statewide

11/17/2014

Federal law forcing schools to scramble for substitutes

Part-timers, substitutes seeing hours cut
By will Sentell

Louisiana public school superintendents are having to scramble for substitute teachers or offer costly health insurance to part-time workers because of the Affordable Care Act.

“It absolutely is an issue,” said Patricia Pujol, superintendent of the Ascension Parish school system and former president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.

Worries about running afoul of the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — have forced officials in Ascension Parish to turn the hunt for substitute teachers to a staffing agency to track hours and avoid federal penalties.

Michael Faulk, superintendent of the Central school system, said his district is trying to find new substitutes and he plans to push for legislation next year to increase their ranks.

The Lincoln Parish school district in northeast Louisiana has trimmed weekly hours for 400 substitute teachers and other part-time workers to 28 — two below the cutoff number — and boosted the minimum wage by $2 per hour, to $10.50, because of of the federal health insurance law. The change applies to 400 substitute teachers, maintenance workers, food service employees and paraprofessionals, George Murphy, business manager for the district, said in an email response to questions.

The uproar in education circles, as well as other industries nationwide, stems from a part of the law that requires employers to offer health insurance coverage to part-time workers who are employed 30 hours or more per week, or face federal fines of up to $2,000 per person.


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