Taxpayer Funded Courthouse Crowd Vacation Time!!

04/21/2017

Created by DPE, Copyright IRIS 2009



Sumlin Trial Put Off Until October

04/19/2017

Trial for former State Representative William Sumlin was rescheduled for 9:00 AM, Monday, October 30. It had been set for next week.

The action came yesterday afternoon at Division B Judge Tommy Rogers’ Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

Yesterday’s hearing was on a motion to strike by the defense, but that too was reset for 1:30 PM, July 18.

Sumlin was charged in October, 2015 with indecent behavior with a juvenile, and a Lincoln Parish Grand Jury returned an indictment in December, 2015.

Representing Sumlin was Lavalle Salomon, and representing the State was Chief Felony Prosecutor Lewis Jones.

Speed Trap: Slaughter, LA

04/19/2017

From The Hayride

Needless To Say, Slaughter’s Mayor Robert Jackson Ought To Resign Yesterday If Not Sooner

By Scott McKay

Something both conservatives and liberals ought to be able to agree upon is that the traffic and criminal laws shouldn’t be a vehicle for local government revenue.

Which is to say, it is an abuse of power to see the writing of tickets as a means of taxing the populace rather than to promote public safety. That’s why Louisiana law, in RS: 40:2401.1, declares…

“municipalities and their police departments are prohibited from establishing or maintaining on a formal or informal basis policies which require or suggest predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of arrests or traffic citations.”

Unfortunately, the town of Slaughter, which is in East Feliciana Parish northeast of Baton Rouge, has a mayor who doesn’t give a fig about his constituents and certainly has no regard for state law. Bobby Jackson was caught on tape commanding the town’s police chief and his chief deputy to have his officers write 40 tickets apiece each month, which is about double what they currently write. Regardless of what it’ll take to write those tickets.

Thankfully, the chief deputy recorded the conversation and gave it to WBRZ-TV…

It’s fair to say the mayor acquitted himself poorly in that interview. It’s also fair to say he’s not exactly a leader you’d expect great results from.

But Bobby Jackson, who ought to clear out of his office and go back to whatever private sector job he has on the side before lunch today, isn’t alone. This business of using law enforcement to prey upon the populace in order to raise money for the ruling class, is a lot more widespread than it ought to be. It’s a practice which goes all the way back to medieval times; there is an unquestionable feudal odor to the idea of manipulating the law so as to squeeze the serfs out of their spare change.

And in larger towns than Slaughter – Baton Rouge is a great example – using the cops as a cash generator by hammering away at tickets for inspection stickers and driving five miles an hour over the speed limit rather than having them concentrate on fulfilling the vow to protect and serve is common practice. One of the expected results from the Alton Sterling investigation the Justice Department is going to release soon, while the police officer who shot Sterling is likely to be exonerated, is that the BRPD and city-parish government will come under fire for burying its citizens, and particularly poor and black citizens, under a financial burden with excessive and expensive traffic and other tickets. That was one of DOJ’s key findings when it investigated the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri – that town was using the issuance of tickets as a means of alternative taxation, and forcing lots of poor citizens into outlaw status because they simply couldn’t afford $500 for a speeding ticket, and so forth.

This should be greatly discouraged. It’s one thing to enforce traffic laws, though those can be enforced by a police officer stopping a motorist and delivering a friendly lecture on road safety just as much as sticking a driver with hundreds of dollars in fines. It’s another to use the police as something akin to mob enforcers. It’s correct that this should be illegal, and if Jackson won’t resign here’s hoping Attorney General Jeff Landry writes the mayor a big ticket of his own.

Lincoln School Tax Early Voting Underway

04/17/2017

Early voting got underway Saturday to reimpose three Lincoln Parish School District property taxes that are set to expire at the end of 2018. The three taxes total 18.36 mils. That amounts to about $320/yr for the owner of a $250 thousand house.

See here the propositions:

Proposition No. 1

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-four hundredths (4.94) mills on all property subject to taxation within the District (an estimated $2,156,200 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019 and ending with the year 2028, for the purpose of constructing, equipping and/or improving school buildings in the District or for the maintenance thereof?

Proposition No. 2

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-four hundredths (4.94) mills on all property subject to taxation within the District (an estimated $2,156,200 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019 and ending with the year 2028, for the purpose of giving additional support for operation of public schools in the District?

Proposition No. 3

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana, levy an eight and forty-eight hundredths (8.48) mills tax on all the property subject to taxation in said School District (an estimated $3,701,350 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2020 and ending with the year 2029, for the purpose of giving additional support to public elementary and secondary schools, more specifically as follows: (i) 50% for paying salaries and benefits of teachers and other employees of the Lincoln Parish School Board, and (ii) 50% for paying retirees single coverage health insurance premiums, paying for computer technology equipment, software, maintenance and training, cost of mandated summer school program, and for operating, improving and maintaining school buildings, facilities, vehicles and equipment?

Early voting is through Saturday, April 22, at the Lincoln Parish Registrar of Voters Office, Lincoln Parish Court House, ground floor, 8:30 AM to 6PM.

The election date is Saturday, April 29.

Substance Abuse Clinic for Alcoholic Federal Judge

04/13/2017

Records: Federal judge in Louisiana diagnosed with ‘alcohol use disorder,’ moved into assisted living

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

A federal judge whose unusual behavior preceded her mysterious removal from a string of cases was ordered to get treatment for alcoholism so severe a colleague believes she cannot take care of herself, according to court records released Thursday.

The records revealing U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi’s alcoholism don’t answer whether it was a factor in the secretive interruptions in her Louisiana courtroom. But the documents show she moved into an assisted living facility specializing in “memory care” within three months of presiding over a criminal trial that was cut short without explanation.

The mandate for Minaldi to complete at least 90 days of substance abuse treatment came from a higher court official — the chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A newly released medical record cites the severity of Minaldi’s alcoholism and unspecified “legal consequences she had attained” as the reasons for that requirement.

It is unclear when Chief Judge Carl Stewart imposed that mandate, but Minaldi, 58, has been on medical leave since late December. She arrived at a rehab facility Jan. 4, according to a “patient discharge summary” included in the now-unsealed records.

LPPJ Administrator Issue Goes Away

04/12/2017

A move by District Ten Juror Nancy Wilson to dismiss Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Administrator Courtney Hall at last night’s meeting went nowhere when her motion got no second.

With no second, there was no opportunity for discussion or debate.

In Monday’s Ruston Daily Leader, Wilson promised she would explain her motives during the meeting.

A Comment

Having covered the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for almost eight years, we have gotten to know Courtney Hall quite well, from a public business standpoint.

During that time, he has never been anything but a professional in his dealings. He’s been responsive to questions and public records requests, and we think he’s a credit to Lincoln Parish and the jury.

And it’s not a very easy job. Think about it – he’s got twelve bosses…

Lincoln/Union District Courts Order ROR for Some Misdemeanors

04/11/2017

Following the action of Ruston City Court last month, judges of the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District have also issued an order rescinding the misdemeanor bond schedule in effect, and adopted a revised policy regarding bond requirements.

Wrote Judges Cynthia Woodard, Tommy Rogers, and Jay McCallum:

Considering the need to reduce the number of persons who remain incarcerated because they cannot afford to post bond misdemeanor charges, the Court after consultation with the Sheriff and District Attorney deemed it appropriate to rescind the misdemeanor bond schedule currently in effect and to adopt the following policy and procedure with regard to misdemeanor arrestees:

1) After arrest, all misdemeanor arrestees – except those expressly listed in Section 2 below and those who are non­ residents of the State of Louisiana – will be released on their own recognizance after the completion of standard booking procedures.

2) For arrestees charged with offenses listed in (i) – (liv) below or non-residents, the duty judge will make a case-by­ case determination as to whether the arrestee will be released on recognizance or if bond will be required. This determination will be made after review of the affidavit for probable causes.

See here the complete order with offense list.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

04/10/2017

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) will meet Tuesday, April 11, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor. Committee meetings begin at 5:30 PM

Finance Committee – 5:30 PM

Agenda

Public Works Committee – 6:00 PM

Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Agenda

Notable is the introduction of a change to the parish’s alcohol ordinance. Presently, consumption of alcohol on parish property or roads is prohibited. The change will allow consumption at Lincoln Hall.

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held at the May 9 jury meeting.

See here the document.

All You Need to Know About the Detention Center

04/09/2017

Five years ago, the entire budget for the Lincoln Parish Detention Center was $2.1 million, when LaSalle Southwest operated the facility. For 2017, the payroll alone is more than that figure. The jail is now operated by Sheriff Mike Stone.

Your tax dollars at work.

Milstead Pay Raise/Contract Renewal May Be Void

04/07/2017

A recent $10 thousand/year pay raise and four year contract extension for Lincoln Parish School Superintendent Mike Milstead may be null and void because the committee that recommended the action likely met in an illegal secret meeting.

At the 3/7/17 meeting of the board, a unanimous vote was made by the eleven members present to award the raise and extend the contract. However, the vote was upon the recommendation of the Executive Committee, chaired by Lynda Henderson (District 9). Other committee members are Curtis Dowling (District 3) and Danny Hancock (District 5).

As the action was recommended by a committee, there was no motion or second for the new contract.

If placed into effect, Milstead’s salary increases from $137 thousand/year to $147 thousand. Additionally, he receives, yearly, $7 thousand in medical benefits, $37.6 thousand in retirement contributions, and about $10 thousand in travel benefits.

The action has been questioned by some in the school system, as the district is facing an $8 million plus cut in Minimum Foundation Program funding from the state.

According to the approved minutes of the March meeting, the pay raise recommendation came from the committee.

President Joe Mitcham announced that Mike Milstead’s current term as Superintendent would expire on June 30, 2017. He turned the floor over to Lynda Henderson, Chairperson of the Executive Committee, whose committee consists of Danny Hancock and Curtis Dowling. On behalf of the Executive Committee, she said she would like to recommend that Superintendent Milstead’s contract be extended for an additional four (4) years and that his salary be increased by $10,000.00 effective July 1, 2017.

Joe Mitcham repeated the Executive Committee’s recommendation and added that all others terms and conditions of the original contract would remain the same. He asked for public comments or questions. After a few questions from the public and one comment by a board member, the Board unanimously voted by roll call to extend Superintendent Mike Milstead’s contract for an additional four (4) years, to increase his salary by $10,000.00, and for all of the other terms and conditions of the contract to remain the same.

See here the minutes.

We have reviewed our audio recording of the meeting (we record and archive ALL public meetings that we cover), and the minutes are an accurate reflection of the discussion that took place.

We requested a copy of the committee meeting minutes, agenda, and public notice a day after the March meeting.

See here our letter.

Two days later, Milstead replied in writing that there were no records, because there had been no meeting of the Executive Committee.

See here Milstead’s letter.

So the issue is can a committee that didn’t meet recommend an action be taken? And if the committee met secretly, are actions taken therein valid?

For that, we turn to Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law.

LA RS 42:24

Voidability – Any action taken in violation of this Chapter shall be voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction. A suit to void any action must be commenced within sixty days of the action.

LA RS 42:28

Civil Penalties – Any member of a public body who knowingly and wilfully participates in a meeting conducted in violation of this Chapter, shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars per violation. The member shall be personally liable for the payment of such penalty. A suit to collect such penalty must be instituted within sixty days of the violation.

LA RS 42:14

Meetings of public bodies to be open to the public
A. Every meeting of any public body shall be open to the public unless closed pursuant to R.S. 42:16, 17, or 18.
B. Each public body shall be prohibited from utilizing any manner of proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, or any other means to circumvent the intent of this Chapter.
C. All votes made by members of a public body shall be viva voce and shall be recorded in the minutes, journal, or other official, written proceedings of the body, which shall be a public document.