Archive for the ‘City of Monroe’ Category

Washington Street Bar Licensed Without Paperwork

04/23/2014

The Washington Street Jazz Club, located across the street from Excellence Academy, was granted a Class A liquor license at last night’s meeting of the Monroe City Council, despite no documentation showing that the club meets the requirement that it be situated 300 feet or more from a “public playground or of a building used exclusively as a church or synagogue, public library, or school,” per Monroe Code of Ordinances Section 4-24.

However, Planning & Urban Development Director Chris Fischer said he had remeasured the distance, and that it was more than the required 300 feet. An original measurement done in February showed the distance, measured along the sidewalks, to be 264 feet.

See here that document.

Fischer supplied no documentation with his verbal assertion, nor did the council receive any documents in their information packets before the meeting. Fischer seemed to indicate that he also measured along the sidewalk, although his comments were unintelligible, both live and on our tape recording of the meeting. Betty Blakes (District Three) asked Fischer to repeat what he said, but that too was not plain. We did pick the word “sidewalk” from the reply. When asked if the distance was more that 300 feet, he said yes.

Asked by District One’s Ray Armstrong how the distance could be two different numbers, Director of Taxation & Revenue Tim Lewis said that his department had requested the initial report and that it came back negative. He noted that “We didn’t request the second distance report, that was done at Mr. Fischer’s request.”

Lewis added, “What I can understand from reading the distance report, they measured from the sidewalks, which created angles, which created more distance.”

The method of measurement is defined in Section 4-24(b):

This distance shall be measured as a person walks using the sidewalks, if available, from the nearest point of the property line of the church, synagogue, library, playground or school to the nearest point of the premises to be licensed or such method as may hereafter be prescribed by state law. In the absence of sidewalks, this distance may be conducted by measuring in a straight line from the nearest point of the property line of the church or synagogue, public library, playground, school, or full-time day care center to the nearest point of the premises to be licensed. Such alternative method of measurement shall only apply prospectively to the issuance of a new alcohol permit issued on or after May 23, 2006, the adoption date of Ordinance No. 10,592.

Voting no on the resolution was Armstrong, abstaining was Ezernack (District Two), voting yes was Blakes, Wilson (District Four), and Clark (District Five).

The bar was the subject of a controversy last year when Mayor Jamie Mayo was seen at the bar during a campaign event for erstwhile Shreveport mayoral candidate Sam Jenkins. At the time, the bar was unlicensed.

Mayo-Backed Shreveport Mayoral Candidate Pulls Down
Monroe Mayor Mayo Spotted at Illegal Bar

More reporting tomorrow.

Monroe City Council Tuesday

04/21/2014

The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, April 22, 6:00 P. M., Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

Here is the agenda.

Audit Cites Monroe Findings

04/21/2014

An audit released this morning cites several findings at the City of Monroe uncovered by contract auditor Luffey, Huffman, Ragsdale & Sognier.

From the press release by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA).

An employee of the City of Monroe allegedly misappropriated almost $2,700 in Monroe Regional Airport parking lot receipts in December 2012, according to an audit report of the city for the year ending April 30, 2013 made public Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.

The audit, done for the state auditor by Luffey, Huffman, Ragsdale and Soignier, a Monroe certified public accounting firm, said that the missing $2,690 in receipts covered a five-day period and “were not deposited into the bank. The employee prepared deposit slips, daily receipt reports and journal entries to record the receipts, but none of the funds were deposited and the deposit slips were not validated by the bank.”

Auditors said the Monroe Police Department arrested the employee on charges of felony theft and malfeasance in office. The report said the case is ongoing and the district attorney’s office is seeking full restitution of the parking lot funds taken.

The report pointed out that Monroe officials discovered the missing funds “in a timely manner through their normal controls.”

The report also said Monroe had five capital projects funds involving street and airport projects with deficit fund balances totaling $384,367 at the end of the 2013 fiscal year. The deficits will be cleared by future grants, according to the report.

In another finding, auditors said that employees of the B.J. Washington Boxing and Fitness Community Center apparently are not collecting fees for the facility’s use.

“In fiscal 2013, boxing and fitness revenues at the center amounted to $50, a decline of $235 or 470 percent in comparison to the prior year,” the report said. “We observed the center’s sign-in sheets for all months of fiscal year 2013 and noted several instances where adults received membership privileges free of charge. For instance, one of the adults was not charged membership fees for six consecutive months” although he signed in on 61 days.

Auditors also found that the city of Monroe is owed $16,800 in lease payments by a corporation that leased the Forsythe Park Municipal Golf Course. The lease was to run from May 1, 2006 through April 30, 2010.

“However, only $1,200 has been billed to the tenant since May 2010,” according to the report. “No rental payments have been received by the city since August 2012.”

The report also said that the lease contains terms for an extension beyond 2010 but “no such renewal was executed.”

At the recommendation of the accounting firm, city officials said in their response to the finding that it will initiate legal proceedings to collect the outstanding debt.

See here the complete report.

State Rep/Lawyer Loses Deadhead Job With Monroe

04/14/2014

A Louisiana State Representative and attorney who apparently did little work has lost her job with the City of Monroe’s legal deparment when her contract wasn’t renewed, according to veteran reporter Johnny Gunter.

Katrina Jackson (District 16) had been hired by City Attorney Nanci Summersgill at a salary of $33 thousand/year to handle workman’s comp claims.

However, when Gunter asked to see the documentation of hours worked that was required by the contract, Jackson refused.

Jackson’s office was in a city-owned building, and she paid below-market rent, according to the article. The city also picked up Jackson’s utility bills.

See here the complete article in The Ouachita Citizen.

This is a story you will never, ever see in the The Mayo Mouthpiece – The (Monroe, LA) News Star.

Monroe City Council Tuesday

04/07/2014

The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, April 8, 6:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

See here the agenda.

Another Secret Meeting of the I-20 Board Tonight

04/02/2014

Another secret meeting of the Interstate 20 Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors has been called for 5:00 PM today.

Here is the agenda.

West Monroe City Marshal, OPSB Audits: Money Missing

03/31/2014

Money seems to be missing at the West Monroe City Marshall’s Office. From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

West Monroe City Marshal William Guyton’s office could not find $3,300 it received for deposit during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, the second time in recent years money to be deposited was missing, according to an audit released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.

The certified public accounting firm of Cameron, Hines and Co. of West Monroe said in its report there were two instances in 2013 when cash was received and the individual given a receipt, but the money was not deposited into a bank account.

In the report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, auditors said that approximately $42,000 had been taken from the office during a four-year period, but the cash was reimbursed.

Guyton’s office said in its response to the 2013 audit that it “has changed personnel and the process over cash receipts. Auditors recommended that the marshal’s office should continue to strengthen controls over cash receipts to help reduce the risk of misappropriations or theft happening in the future.”

Besides the Legislative Auditor’s Office, the marshal’s office has agreed to notify the Ouachita Parish District Attorney’s Office of the missing $3,300, the report said.

Here is the complete report.

Ditto at the Ouachita Parish School Board (OPSB), and also property at a couple of schools. From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

A 2013 audit of the Ouachita Parish School Board found that one employee was overpaid by $1,860 and a bookkeeper resigned after $2,517 in funds “could not be accounted for” between April 2012 and June 2013, according to a report released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.

In its report, the Monroe certified public accounting firm of Luffey, Huffman, Ragsdale and Soignier said the bookkeeper at Crosley Elementary School resigned subsequent to the June 30, 2013 year-end audit. An investigation showed that more than $2,500 in concession fees, t-shirt payments and school registration fees were missing.

Auditors said that restitution has been made by the former employee, who was not identified in the report, and all funds have been returned to the school. The report prepared for the state auditor said that because of the small size of the school, the school secretary was also the school bookkeeper “who received funds, prepared deposits and posted receipt activity.”

The report also said that some of the Ouachita Parish schools are not properly maintaining their capital assets in compliance with property control policies.

At Richwood High, auditors said, the property control manager could locate only one of 19 items searched for, “leaving the remaining 18 items unaccounted for.” In a test of capital asset schedules for four rooms, the report said, there were items that were on the list of property and not in the room and equipment in the rooms that were not listed.

“One of the many exceptions we discovered included finding 36 Dell computers with monitors in a classroom that had a capital asset schedule of three items,” auditors said. The computers were not listed on the most recent property manifest, the report said. “We also noted a list of capital assets totaling $117,867 that did not have a room location listed,” it said.

At Shady Grove Elementary School, laptop computers bought for the library between 2009 and 2013 were not in the library, but were found in a different room, according to the auditor’s report. The school also had capital assets of more than $65,000 that did not have a room listed for the items on the equipment log.

See here the complete report.

It’s Not Just in Louisiana – Charlotte, NC Mayor Pinched

03/27/2014

Charlotte, NC Mayor Cannon resigns after corruption arrest

Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor’s office.

Cannon, a 49-year-old Democrat who took office only four months ago, was scheduled to show up at a luxury apartment in SouthPark for yet another payoff from what he thought were businessmen needing his influence in city matters, the affidavit says.

But after arriving, Cannon learned who they really were, a source confirmed: undercover FBI agents who’d been recording their meetings over the past three years, long before he launched a campaign for mayor in 2013.

Cannon resigned as mayor Wednesday night, capping an extraordinary day that included allegations of an illicit trip to Las Vegas and payoff negotiations at the Capital Grille – the same uptown steakhouse that figured in the region’s last major political scandal. It was there that former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black of Matthews, also a Democrat, took bribes from a group of chiropractors seeking help with legislation.

Liquor License for Monroe Club Pulled From Agenda

03/25/2014

The application for a Class A Alcoholic Beverage Permit for the Washington Street Jazz Club was pulled from tonight’s agenda of the Monroe City Council.

No explanation was given.

However, documents obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) seem to verify that the facility is within the prohibition zone for alcohol-related business that are closer than 300 feet to schools or churches.

See here the documents.

The bar was the subject of a controversy last year when controversial Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo was seen at the bar during a campaign event for erstwhile Shreveport mayoral candidate Sam Jenkins. At the time, the bar was unlicensed.

Mayo-Backed Shreveport Mayoral Candidate Pulls Down
Monroe Mayor Mayo Spotted at Illegal Bar

We will have additional reporting later on tonight’s meeting.

Mayo Mouthpiece to Citizens: “Just Obey the Law”

03/25/2014

The hypocrisy of Monroe Mayor Mayo’s Mouthpiece – The (Monroe, LA) News Star – is endless. Today they are lecturing the taxpaying citizens to not drive over the speed limit. If you do that, they claim, you don’t have to worry about speeding tickets.

The editorial references House Bill 961 that would require any local governing authority that acquires 50% or more of its revenue from violations of speed limit laws be designated as a “speed trap,” and would have to post warning signs with blinking lights at the town limits.

See here HB 961.

The editorial appears to support the bill, which proves even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

But when does the Mouthpiece demand that public officials obey the law like they insist the taxpayers do? For example:

Two members of the previous city council for Monroe are in federal prison for bribery.
The previous sheriff of Ouachita Parish left office in disgrace.
The City of Monroe’s engineer is under indictment for payroll fraud.
The I-20 board continues to operate in what we believe to be an extra-legal fashion, with secret meetings and records that are not made public.

When do we see editorials and investigative reporting that addresses those kinds of issues?


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