Archive for August, 2009

Davison Jet Flew Jindal to Faircloth Fundraiser

08/31/2009

Davison Transport’s corporate jet flew Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to a fundraiser for Supreme Court candidate Jimmy Faircloth last week.

Aircraft tail number N390DP, registered to Davison Transport made two round-trip flights from Ruston to Baton Rouge the evening of Tuesday, August 25, 2009. The Faircloth fundraiser was held at Squire Creek Country Club, owned by James Davison. The aircraft is a Raytheon Model 390 Premier I, built in 2002.

A Davison front company owns the building in which V-Vehicle Company is supposed to use for automobile manufacturing. The Jindal administration – along with several Ouachita Parish government bodies – gifted the company nearly $90 million for construction and employee training. LPNO has reported extensively on the controversy.

Lincoln Parish News Online contacted the Governor’s Office today, and a spokesman for the Governor said travel arrangement were made through the Faircloth campaign. Faircloth campaign manager Diane Mobley confirmed that the Davison jet ferried Governor Jindal to the event.

Jindal had been scheduled to hold a Town Hall meeting at Choudrant that afternoon, but it was postponed until a later date.

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Meriweather, Scott to Host Radio Show

08/31/2009

We received this story via email late last night.

TALK 540 KMLB ALERT: Griffin Scott, Sunny Meriweather to host news radio show!

Griffin Scott, former senior evening anchor of KTVE-TV news in West Monroe, and Sunny Meriweather, former news director of KEDM-FM in Monroe, will host a news radio show on Talk 540 KMLB-AM from 5 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31, 2009.

“No subject is off the table with this show, which is being called the ‘News Hour,'” said Rob Redding, program director of KMLB.

Meriweather and Scott come to Talk 540 KMLB as the station is celebrating 79 years of leading the region in radio news. The station is already the home of national talkers Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and statewide talker Moon Griffon.

LPNO had extensively reported on the dismissal of Meriwether by ULM President James Cofer.

Former KTVE anchor Griffin Scott’s story can be found at The Dead Pelican.

Bob Redding is Talk540 KMLB’s program director.

UPDATE: 1:00 pm

Griffin Scott, former KTVE news anchor, filed suit today against the parent company of the TV station, Nexstar Broadcasting. The Dead Pelican has the story.

Eighty-Year Heritage vs Company on Paper Only

08/30/2009

Louisiana Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret said the other day the the reason they had not yet helped Bruce Foods was that they hadn’t provided his department with financial information.

Bruce Foods’ CEO Si Brown told the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget that he has been trying to get a $1 million grant from the state for seven years. Instead, LED granted $37 million to a competitor (ConAgra) and is helping finance competition against his business with taxpayer dollars.

C. B. Forgotston had reported the story last week, and Brown was also last week a guest on Moon Griffon’s radio show. Documents related to the issue can be found here.

Contrast With V-Vehicle Company

Contrast this attitude toward Bruce Foods with that exhibited toward V-Vehicle Company, an entity that did not exist before April 9, 2007. Moret signed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the company on June 15, 2009 that committed the taxpayers of Louisiana and Ouachita Parish to nearly $90 million of direct grants. Yet according to SEC documents, the company only on June 10, 2009 offered debt financing for sale. Equity investment in the company was not offered for sale until July 20 of this year.

Further, as of this writing, no Louisiana contractors have been engaged to work on the project that we can document, despite language in the CEA directing just that condition. LPNO had reported on that issue here and here.

What’s wrong with this picture?

UPDATE: 3:40 pm, 8/31/09

LOSS OF POWER
Entergy Corp’s quiet moves out of Louisiana since Katrina go largely unnoticed by state, local economic development officials

Attorney General to Investigate Ouachita Sheriff

08/28/2009

The (Monroe) News-Star’s Johnny Gunter reports today that Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones has requested the Louisiana Attorney General to investigate Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney.

Lincoln Parish News Online had earlier reported that the Louisiana Inspector General was interested in the controversy.

Hollis Downs Wants Higher Taxes

08/27/2009

Louisiana District 12 State Representative Hollis Downs thinks we need to pay more gasoline taxes. Downs wants the gasoline tax, now $0.20/gallon, to be indexed to the cost of living. The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune has the story.

Speaking of Downs, we received a glossy four-page taxpayer funded mailing last week that told us what a great politician he is. We don’t recall seeing such an elaborate mailing from him before. It’s kind of overwhelming and makes us wonder if he’s worried about keeping his seat. There are persistent rumors about town that he won’t get a free ride next election.

LED Backstabs 80 yr old Louisiana Biz

08/26/2009

J. S. “Si” Brown, III, CEO of Bruce Foods, a New Iberia based company formed in 1928, said today that the State of Louisiana’s Economic Development Department is paying a company to come to Louisiana to compete with his company.

Moon Griffon interviewed Mr. Brown today on his radio show.

C. B. Forgotston has the story on his website. Documents pertaining to the issue can be found here.

UPDATE: 6:25 pm

Moret’s side of the story here.

IG on Sheriff Toney: “Appears to be a problem”

08/26/2009

Greg Phares, Chief Investigator for Louisiana’s Office of Inspector General said today that “there does appear to be a problem” with Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney’s alleged misuse of public funds.

Last Sunday, The (Monroe) News-Star alleged that Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney used taxpayer’s money to print a newsletter endorsing a political candidate.

Lincoln Parish News Online had sent the story to the OIG yesterday.

Phares told LPNO that he was quite familiar with the law, having been a candidate for office himself. He said that he would discuss the issue with IG Steven B. Street, Jr., and that it would be his recommendation “that we look into it.”

Further developments as they occur.

Who Polices the Police?

08/25/2009

Last Sunday, Johnny Gunter wrote a story in The (Monroe) News-Star alleging that Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney used taxpayer’s money to print a newsletter endorsing a political candidate. The law is plainly written to the point that a non-lawyer can understand and Gunter apparently has documented evidence.

Yet no one in Louisiana’s “Law Enforcement” or “Legal Community” has done anything about it.

We spent a good part of yesterday and today on the phone visiting with various agencies trying to get an idea who should or should not be responsible for investigating law enforcement. We started out talking to the Louisiana Ethics Administration and reported about it yesterday.

Next we had a nice visit with Tammy Arender, Director of Communications for the Attorney General. She advised that the AG has no “original jurisdiction.” What that means is that a local law enforcement agency would have to originate an investigation and if the local agency was conflicted or lacked manpower, then it could be forwarded to their office, she said.

Our next step was a visit this morning with Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones’ office. A nice lady said that the State Police would have to initiate any investigation and then refer the case to them for prosecution if warranted.

So our next phone call was to Louisiana State Police Troop F Commander Kevin Reeves, who advised that to his knowledge no one had filed a complaint. He told us that if a complaint were filed, any investigation would likely be done by the investigative division in Baton Rouge, rather than by Troop F. As of this writing we are awaiting callbacks from the Detectives Section.

For good measure we also sent the news article to the State Inspector General so they could be up to speed on what is going on. Further reports will be published as events warrant.

Ethics Atty: “Atty General Should Investigate”

08/24/2009

Tracy Meyer, a staff attorney for the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program said today that misuse of public funds – as alleged in yesterday’s Johnny Gunter News-Star story – would be the responsibility of Louisiana’s Attorney General rather than their office.

Meyer said they would be involved if any public official tried to “force or coerce” someone to vote for or against a candidate.

The law in question, Louisiana Revised Statute 18:1465 says:

A. No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated to a candidate or political organization. This provision shall not prohibit the use of public funds for dissemination of factual information relative to a proposition appearing on an election ballot.

B. Whoever violates any provision of this Section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. On a second offense or any succeeding offense, the penalty shall be a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

LPNO will continue to follow the story and report as developments occur.

Squire Creek to Host Faircloth, Jindal

08/24/2009

Squire Creek Country Club will be the setting Tuesday night for a fundraiser for Louisiana Supreme Court candidate Jimmy Faircloth. Special guest will be Governor Bobby Jindal.

The fundraiser could be an ominous sign for Faircloth’s opponent, Marcus Clark. Squire Creek is owned by Ruston businessman James Davison, a major political force in the region. When Clark announced his candidacy several months ago, Davison was rumored to be a supporter. The Squire Creek fundraiser may mean that is no longer the case.

Adding to Clark’s woes is a Sunday News-Star story alleging that Clark supporter Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney violated state campaign finance laws by using public money to endorse Clark. LPNO will be contacting the Louisiana Board of Ethics later today to see what their position is on the Toney/Clark controversy.

The News-Star story could signal another potential Clark problem. If the newspaper intended to support Clark for the seat, it is probable the story would never have been published.

LPNO had earlier reported on Clark’s suspension by the Louisiana State Supreme Court in 2004.

UPDATE: 12:40 pm – Invitation PDF

LPNO has obtained a pdf copy of the invitation to Tuesday’s Faircloth fundraiser.