Archive for July, 2010

There’s Just no End to It

07/30/2010

For the taxpayers of Louisiana, here’s something to make your day and weekend.

State says welfare, food stamp recipients can now apply for benefits electronically

Department of Children and Family Services officials said today that applicants for food stamps, welfare and other benefits can now apply for them electronically.

Department spokesman Trey Williams said individuals who have already registered and are getting the benefits do not have to sign up electronically.

He said the new program is aimed at new applicants or those who have been disqualified and may be eligible to re-apply.

“Louisianians can now apply for, complete a verification interview (by telephone) and receive benefits without stepping into a DCFS office,” agency Secretary Ruth Johnson said.

Williams said since the state closed 18 offices recently, some applicants may have to drive up to 45 minutes to get to the nearest benefits office. The on-line applicatiion process will eliminate the travel, he said.

Johnson said that the new system is a way the department is “modernizing its practices and providing more ways for Louisianians to reach us.”

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Ruston City Council Monday Night

07/30/2010

The City of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet in regular session Monday, August 2 at 5:30 PM on the second floor of city hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Under Light & Power, a resolution will be considered authorizing extension of city utilities beyond the city limits. The property is located on Beacon Light Road and belongs to William Sumlin. The resolution will allow the property to be annexed into the city at some future date.

Under Planning & Zoning, a public hearing will be conducted to consider an ordinance amending chapter 29 of the zoning codes. Here is a copy of the proposed ordinance.

Also to be considered is a final plat approval for Nest of Ruston, LLC., a development at the corner of Kentucky and Trenton. As a housekeeping measure, the city will revoke street dedications in The West Acres Subdivision for streets that were never developed.

Under Code Enforcement, a public hearing will be held to begin the condemnation process for structures located on several pieces of property in the city.

Under finance the board will consider and adopt an ordinance levying property taxes on subject property located in the city. The ordinance had been introduced at last months meeting.

EssBee Tea Party Focus is on Local

07/29/2010

In today’s The (Shreveport) Times there is this.
Tea parties emerge, grow

“We felt the need for a different point of view,” said Robert Gaudet, co-founder of the Shreveport-Bossier Tea Party. “We wanted to get a different direction going for another tea party group in the area.”

But as the tea parties enter their second year in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, their role has begun to evolve from one that is primarily educational, and about national issues like health care and immigration, to an activist role as a watchdog for local government.

So we did a little digging and here’s the latest from the organization.

Members of Shreveport-Bossier Tea PArty meet with District Attorney, J. Schuyler Marvin

On Monday, July 26, 2010, members of the Shreveport-Bossier Tea Party Coordinating Team met with J. Schuyler Marvin, District Attorney for the 26th Judicial District, asking Marvin to intervene in the issue of the Bossier City Council’s repeated failure to keep written minutes of their public Workshop Meetings, as required by the Louisiana Open Meetings Law, LRS 42:7.1.A. The meeting with the District Attorney was coordinated as a response to the verbal acknowledgment of City Attorney Jimmy Hall that although the Louisiana Open Meetings Law requires written minutes of public meetings, the Council had no written minutes for the Workshop “presentation” on the sewerage issue. Hall’s acknowledgment was made at the 7/6/10 City Council Regular Meeting.

An additional purpose in meeting with District Attorney Marvin concerns a follow up to Hall’s revelation. This follow up consisted of the filing of a formal Public Records Request, which was filed with the Bossier City Council, seeking copies of minutes of all Workshop Meetings held from 1/1/08 through 7/7/10, as well as a titled list of all Workshops which had been held during that time period, the location, date, and time of these Workshops, and who was in attendance. Per this Public Records Request, the Council produced no minutes to any workshop meeting held during that 2 1/2 year time period, nor produced any documentation as to who was in attendance. The few Public Notices of Workshops produced per this Public Records Request concur with the 7/6/10 statements of the Council that the Workshops occurring during this time period were in fact public meetings.

Today, District Attorney Schuyler Marvin made a commitment to the SB Tea Party Coordinating Team to contact City Attorney Jimmy Hall for Hall’s explanation of the matter, with Marvin’s instruction to Hall on City Council compliance with the written minutes mandate of the Louisiana Open Meetings Law.

The Coordinating Team specifically requested from Marvin, written documentation from Marvin of his compliance instruction to the Bossier City Council regarding this issue. Additionally, the Team requested copies of the written response which Marvin receives from the City Attorney regarding this matter. Marvin stated that he would report back to the Team by the end of the week.

With guarded optimism that greater transparency in local government is slowly inching its way toward reality, we appreciate the many people who have encouraged us to stay on course. We will keep you updated.

Sincerely,
Evodna Springer
Shreveport-Bossier Tea Party Coordinating Team

And then there is this story which has been crackling across the nation for the past couple of weeks.

California’s city officials scramble to limit damage from Bell scandal

Folks, this is all very good news.

A Stopped Clock

07/28/2010

We can’t recall the last time we agreed with what the Los Angeles Times media columnist James Rainey wrote. But today we do.

On the Media: Let’s put more public documents online

Is there any reason why every city in California shouldn’t put up a Web posting with the salaries of top employees and elected officials? How about a state law that says the information must be posted online?

That should be just a start to an epic document dump, which would allow journalists and citizens alike to make meaningful searches of government business. But the push for greater transparency has been one of those public policy orphans — with no great champion or sense or urgency. Maybe the scandal in Bell — a hideous, multi-year rip-off of public funds — stands a chance of changing all that.

It’s not hard to imagine the power of a database that might include, for example, the minutes of meetings held by every agency in California, along with records of all campaign contributions and contracts.

Persistence is the key. Sometimes you have to be ready to go to court to free up documents that should be made public with no fuss.

Newspapers used to handle this job all on their own. But now the printed word has retreated in many places. Jane and John Q. Citizen may have to step into the void.

Culvert Bill Signed Into Law

07/28/2010

The Louisiana Legislature enacted a “culvert law” during this year’s session, Act 719.

See here a copy of Act 719.

The purpose of the new law is to compile and communicate the existing law regarding the authority of a parish or municipality installing culverts. It neither expands nor contracts authority under existing law. It does take the existing statements of law and puts them in the newly enacted RS 33:4883 so that the law is more easily located and understood.

Recall last year the minor flap over installation of a set of culverts at a Grambling, LA church.

The (BR) Advocate Strikes Again

07/27/2010

This makes two days running for The (Baton Rouge) Advocate bellyaching about how we taxpayers just ain’t paying enough to keep Louisiana’s deadhead payroll in tall clover.

Our Views: Stelly repeal hurt the state

Fortunately, our dear friends Scott McKay at The Hayride and Jeff Sadow at Between The Lines had these must read rebuttals today.

Bad theory, selective outrage mark anti-tax cut screed

Baton Rouge’s Out Of Touch Rag Strikes Again

2nd Jackson Parish Sports Hall of Fame Held

07/27/2010

The Second Annual Jackson Parish Sports Hall of Fame banquet was held last Saturday night at Jonesboro’s First Baptist Church Family Life Center.

This year’s inductees were John Baily, Jonesboro-Hodge High School; Fred Clay, JHHS; Grady Staggs, Ansley High School; Stuart Toms, Quitman High School; and Edwin Walker, Walker High School.

See a copy of the program here.

They Never Give Up

07/26/2010

Today again, the loons at The (Baton Rouge) Advocate editorial page try to make their case for – you guessed it, more taxes.

Because of large state budget cuts, some services once funded with state tax dollars will have to be funded with local dollars — or not at all.

Louisiana’s homestead exemption law limits the ability of local governments to raise money, which makes them more reliant on state funding for local services.

Louisiana leaders can use this funding crisis as an opportunity for thoughtful reflection on the state’s tax structure.

There’s just no end to it for these people.

Candidates Withdraw in Jackson Parish Races

07/26/2010

Several Jackson Parish candidates for office have withdrawn as candidates for public office in the October 2 primary race according to documents from the Louisiana Secretary of State (LA SOS).

Withdrawing from the District Three Race for the Jackson Parish School Board was Dennis Hicks and from the District Four race, Mable Houston. That leaves incumbents Mary Saulters and Gerry Mims unopposed for re-election in each district, respectively.

Withdrawing from the race for Mayor of the Village of Hodge was Hope Meeks. That leaves incumbent Quenten Causey unopposed for re-election.

Last week, Roger Curry, a candidate for the Town of Jonesboro’s Chief of Police was disqualified in that race.

Monroe City Council Tuesday Night

07/25/2010

The Monroe City Council will meet in regular session, Tuesday, July 27 at city hall, 400 Lea Joyner Memorial Expressway. The pre-council work session will be a t 6:00 PM and the council meeting will be at 6:00 PM.

Here is the agenda.

Taxes will be on the agenda,

VIII: INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS & ORDINANCES:
(b) Introduce an Ordinance adopting the authorized Millage Rate(s) and providing for the Levying of Special and General Taxes for the City of Monroe for the year 2010.

As will the issue of the Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) water meters.

(c) Introduce an Ordinance authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into a contract for a Water and Sewer Rate Study with Burns & McDonnell and further providing with respect thereto.