Archive for August, 2010

Economic Development, but for Whom?

08/31/2010

One of the myriad “economic development” agencies dotting the state and area is the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance (NELEA), headed by Tana Trichel. What drew our attention to this particular agency at this particular time was the email she dispatched last Friday, the day before a primary election.

Dear Friends of Economic Development

Our vote is a precious demonstration of our wishes for all that happens in our nation. Please exercise this privilege this Saturday in the Republican Primary.

We have been privileged to have Congressman Rodney Alexander give us direct assistance in our Marketing and Recruiting, many regional initiatives and in our Economic Development endeavors. His assistance has led to many opportunities in our Region.

But the right to vote is within the individual. Vote your political conscience on Saturday, August 28, 2010.

Sincerely,
Tana Trichel

Tana Trichel President/CEO Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance
http://www.nelea.us http://www.renewalla.com

Here’s what is listed on the organization’s tax return as their mission:

To provide economic development, industrial recruitment and readiness, and job creation for the Northeast Louisiana area.

We’re not sure what emailing everyone and boosting Rodney Alexander has to do with economic development, other than an exercise in apple-polishing to make sure the federal dollars keep flowing in.

The organization’s income for the year 2008 consisted exclusively of government grants (translation – taxpayer money) of just over $1 million.

Now let’s look at where the money went.

Trichel’s 2008 salary was $85.5 thousand.
The VP’s salary was $49 thousand.
The 2008 travel budget was $105 thousand.
Other salaries for 2008 was over $235 thousand.
Benefits for 2008 was $75 thousand.

In other words, the total for salaries, benefits and travel eats up over half the revenues of the organization for the 2008 tax year.

Now explain to us again why it’s a good thing to tax the citizenry, keep most of the money for overhead and administration, and then claim that is the way to boost the economy?

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Some More Tidbits from Saturday’s Election

08/30/2010

A few more items concerning last Saturday’s primary election. Be sure to watch the video. Hilarious!!

Pinsonat: Tea Party type voters are now dominating elections across Louisiana

Performance of Senate also-rans telling

Outrageous New YouTube Video- Jay Dardenne: Too Big To Fail

Booth: Landry/Downer Runoff Would Help Villerie

08/30/2010

Upstart Jeff Landry came within 162 votes of beating establishment GOP candidate Hunt Downer in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District primary this past Saturday. So far, Downer says he intends to hang tough in a runoff.

Conservative activist and regular Hayride columnist Ryan Booth says that’s a good thing.

He says that a runoff in the CD03 race would keep the Tea Party activists energized and that energy would bleed over into the race for Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor. That would in turn help Roger Villere, who the Tea Party activists have endorsed, and who, according to polls, trails country-club GOP candidate Jay Darden.

Said Booth in an interview with Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) this morning:

“The Tea Party is backing both Landry and Villerie. It stands to reason that a big turnout of those voters in the Third Congressional District would be a huge boost for Villere.”

Meanwhile other conservatives call on Downer to pull out of the race.

Tea Party of LA Calls on Downer To Exit Congressional Race

The Tea Party of Louisiana, which organized the “Down with Downer” campaign, tonight called on Hunt Downer to withdraw from the congressional “Second Primary” after opponent Jeff Landry came within 200 votes of winning the race outright.

“Tonight, the liberty-minded citizens of Congressional District 3 sent Hunt Downer and RINOs everywhere a message,” Spokesman Chris Comeaux said. “Mr. Downer should do what’s in the best interest of the liberty movement and withdraw from this race. It’s not going to get any easier for him,” Comeaux said.

Downer Can’t Win, And He Needs To Get Out

In the aftermath of last night’s 3rd District GOP congressional primary, one thing is very clear.

Hunt Downer can’t win.

In a three-way race, Jeff Landry and Kristian Magar – a pair of conservative firebrands with Tea Party-friendly ideas and curricula vitae which do not include public officeholding – outpolled Downer 64-36 yesterday. Landry was just a couple hundred votes shy of the 50 percent he needed to avoid a runoff altogether.

Downer can’t help the GOP take over the 3rd District seat by staying in the race. He can’t help himself, either. It’s in the best interest of all for him to retire from the field.

Louisiana politics! Don’t you just love it?

As one out-of-state friend told us several years ago, “Y’all play that stuff without a helmet!”

Vitter/Traylor – Pundit Predictions Turn to Ashes

08/29/2010

Six weeks ago the ink was flowing about what a serious challenge retired State Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor would be to incumbent U. S. Senator David Vitter. This morning the political pundits awoke from their wet dream to the reality that Vitter won the GOP primary with 88% of the vote.

Some of the more fanciful predictions from six weeks ago:

Traylor makes a difference

Chet Traylor’s decision to qualify for the Aug. 28 Republican primary election gave Louisiana Republicans a viable alternative to U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Scarred by his own indiscretions and those of a trusted aide, Vitter is vulnerable in the eyes of some Republicans, including some well-heeled businessmen.

David Vitter challenger emerges at 11th hour

Bradley Beychok, campaign manager for Melancon, said he was pleasantly surprised there was a “viable challenger at the last minute” in the Louisiana Senate Republican primary. “We look forward to our primary on Aug. 28, and certainly Sen. Vitter has a very competitive primary with a very respected Republican on the same day,” Beychok said.

David Vitter faces untainted GOP challenger

Talk about Republican Sen. David Vitter’s worst political nightmare — a surprise challenger with all the right conservative credentials and none of the baggage of the incumbent’s prostitution scandal.

One pundit who got it right was DC based Stu Rothenberg who actually went to the trouble to do some real research before opining.

Louisiana Senate Hype: Don’t Believe It

Reporters like to write about Vitter because it gives them the opportunity each time to detail his juicy past problems, but until there is evidence that Traylor is making headway in his uphill bid, the Republican primary isn’t much of a story.

Lincoln Parish News Online readers will recall our small part in this story. We were interviewed by now-disgraced political reporter Shira Toeplitz of Politico.com. What she didn’t report was the graveyard of skeletons in Traylor’s closet – skeletons that she knew about but chose not to report.

What Politico’s Shira Toeplitz DIDN’T Write About Louisiana’s Senate Race

We sum all this up with this immortal phrase from Nelson Muntz of The Simpsons:

Ha! Ha!

Today is Election Day!

08/28/2010

Today is election day for congressional and senatorial primary elections. Don’t forget to vote!

Administrative Bloat at Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education

08/27/2010

From the Goldwater Institute

Enrollment at America’s leading universities has been increasing dramatically, rising nearly 15 percent between 1993 and 2007. But unlike almost every other growing industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate each student. In short, universities are suffering from “administrative bloat,” expanding the resources devoted to administration significantly faster than spending on instruction, research and service.

Between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students at America’s leading universities grew by 39 percent, while the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only grew by 18 percent. Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61 percent during the same period, while instructional spending per student rose 39 percent. Arizona State University, for example, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent during this period while actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona State University are administrators.

There is a world of information in this study. MUST READING for those interested in where the money goes.

ULS Tenure Vote Delayed

08/27/2010

The controversial issue of academic tenure at the University of Louisiana System (ULS) has been delayed until the October 22 meeting of the body, according to information received by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on the following motion:

I move to defer this item to a future meeting of this Board so UL System staff in consultation with legal counsel can consider feedback of the faculty to further refine policy and Board Rule changes.

The delay follows what apparently was an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying effort by faculty members across the state.

Today in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a nationally-recognized journal that covers the profession, there was this news story.

U. of Louisiana to Consider Weakening Tenure

The University of Louisiana system’s Board of Supervisors plans to vote Friday on a proposal that would make it easier to dismiss tenured professors—a move that has upset faculty members throughout the system’s eight campuses, as well as national faculty organizations.

Also, from the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors there was this letter:

We wish to express, in the strongest possible terms, our objections to these proposals. They represent a repudiation of the faculty’s role in the governance of system campuses, a dilution of the meaning of financial exigency, and a trivialization of the meaning of academic tenure. These proposals are an assault on the conditions required for the academic freedom they, in Orwellian double-speak, purport to protect.

LPNO had first broken the story earlier in the week.

Tenure Policy Change on ULS Board Agenda

ULS Proposals Would Significantly Weaken Tenure

Traylor Ethics Complaint Procedure Spelled Out

08/26/2010

There is a precise script that is followed whenever an official complaint is filed against an attorney in Louisiana.

According to Charles Plattsmier, Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC), the timeframe for their group’s work is a “window of six months.

The LADB’s website spells out the procedure that is to be followed.

Filing a Complaint

All complaints regarding attorneys must be received in writing. Complaints can be filed by any person, not just a client. Complaints can be filed in one of two ways:

(1) By submitting a completed complaint form to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

You can obtain a complaint form in person at the offices of the Disciplinary Board or Disciplinary Counsel, or you can call (800) 326-8022 or (504) 834-1488 to request that one be mailed to you.

The complaint form can also be downloaded here. This form requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded here.

Once you obtain a complaint form, please complete it in full.

(2) By writing a letter to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel including your name, address and telephone number. Describe what the lawyer did or failed to do and include all important information, including attorney name, address, phone numbers and dates of events. If letters, agreements or other documents are available, submit them to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

All complaints must be sent to the following address:

OFFICE OF DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL
4000 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 607
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816

The phone number for the office is (225) 293-3900

Review and Investigation

Each complaint is reviewed to ensure that it falls within the jurisdiction of the agency. If it does, and if no further details are needed from the complaining party at the time, the ODC will send a copy of the complaint to the lawyer, who is asked to submit a written response to the complaint.

The complaining party usually receives a copy of the lawyer’s response and is asked to submit further comments. Depending on the nature of the complaint and the complexity of the facts, the process of exchanging correspondence could be repeated several times. The ODC may also need to interview the parties or other witnesses directly and to obtain further supporting documents. The aim of the investigation is to gather all facts necessary to determine whether there is clear evidence of misconduct on the part of the lawyer.

Evaluation and Disposition

When the ODC obtains all necessary facts, an evaluation is made as to whether there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of a Rule violation. The investigation will result in one of the following dispositions:

* Dismissal of the complaint, meaning there is inadequate evidence to support a clear finding of misconduct.
* Imposition of a private admonition by ODC, the least severe form of discipline. Although confidential, the admonition remains on the lawyer’s record and can be considered should the lawyer violate the Rules again.
* Commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings, required whenever discipline more serious than an admonition is believed necessary.

The preceding events cover the six months time period noted earlier. If a formal disciplinary hearing hearing is warranted, another 9-12 months of hearings, testimony and discovery can be expected. Here is that procedure:

Hearings

A hearing on a complaint is held only if a formal disciplinary proceeding is begun. When a formal disciplinary hearing takes place, a three-member hearing committee (two lawyer members and a public member) appointed by the Disciplinary Board (but not consisting of Board members) convenes to take evidence.

The procedure is similar to a court trial. The complaining party may be called as a witness. Testimony is given under oath and documentary exhibits are submitted. A full record is kept of the proceedings, which are open to the public.

Disciplinary Board Review

Upon completion of a formal disciplinary hearing, a written report is prepared by the hearing committee for review by the Disciplinary Board. The Board is composed of fourteen members (both lawyers and members of the public) who are appointed by members of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Board members donate their time on a voluntary basis.

When a hearing committee finds unethical conduct warranting discipline, the hearing committee’s report and recommendation are forwarded to and considered by the Board. The hearing committee cannot itself impose discipline, although the Board can. When a hearing committee has filed a report recommending public discipline, oral argument is routinely scheduled before the Board. The lawyer may appear in person and may be represented by counsel. No witnesses are permitted at this oral argument and no testimony is taken. If the Board determines that a suspension, or a disbarment should be imposed, its written recommendation must be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. The Board forwards a copy of the recommendation to the complaining party and to the lawyer.

The Board can impose a public reprimand upon the attorney, in which event the case will end there. Like an admonition, a reprimand remains on the attorney’s record and may be taken into account should a future Rule violation occur.

A review by the Louisiana Supreme Court can take an additional six weeks.

Review by Louisiana Supreme Court

Suspension or disbarment can be ordered only by the Louisiana Supreme Court. After receiving the Board’s recommendation, the Supreme Court hears oral argument on the matter. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel represents the public interest before the Court, which issues the final order disciplining the attorney or determining that no discipline is required.

Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) will be following the Traylor ethics case to its conclusion.

ULS Proposals Would Significantly Weaken Tenure

08/25/2010

If proposed changes are adopted by the University of Louisiana System (ULS) Board of Supervisors, the concept of academic tenure would be significantly weakened, according to documents obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).

According to the executive summary,

The proposed changes effectively expand the circumstances in which the number of faculty may need to be reduced. Currently, faculty terminations may occur when a program is discontinued. Recommended PPM revisions expand this action when the size and scope of a program has been reduced. As well, a shorter notification period for both tenured and non-tenured faculty in the event terminations is proposed as follows:

• Instructors and Non-Tenure Track Faculty may be terminated upon one month’s notice.
• Tenure Track Faculty (regardless of years of service) may be terminated with three months’ notice.
• Tenured Faculty shall receive at least one academic semester/quarter notice prior to termination.

Under Section XI. Tenure, one of the more significant changes is that the rule changes become retroactive. The following part is completely deleted.

Subsection L 3. This policy shall in no way affect any rights acquired by any person employed by an institution prior to the effective date of this policy.

See here the amended Section XI. Tenure.

In the Section XV. Termination, some of the more significant changes are:

Under the section “Cause for Terminating Tenured Faculty,” subsection (2) “Financial exigency constitutes cause,” has added to it the phrase “as does program discontinuance or reduction.”

Under the section “Petition for Review,” the phase “Except in cases where the termination occurs pursuant to financial exigency, program discontinuance or reduction” is added.

The existing policy allows academic staff to petition the Board of Supervisors for a review of a termination after due process procedures at the institutional level are exhausted. With the new rule, academic staff would have no right to appeal if they were terminated because their program was reduced or eliminated.

See here the amended Section XV. Termination.

The Policies and Procedures Memorandum also has several changes.

See here the present Academic Program Discontinuance policy.

See here the proposed Academic Program Reduction and/or Discontinuance policy.

One significant phrase is this added in Section III, Termination of Faculty:

Timing for phasing out programs and displacing faculty members will be based on institutional need; including analysis of reasonable time for enrolled students to complete their degree programs and budget constraints.

Minter Stops AMR @ Monroe City Council

08/25/2010

Monroe civic activist Byrd Minter won a big victory at the Monroe City Council last night and halted the proposed Automated Meter Reading (AMR) project. Minter had said it was a waste of money and would likely result in higher water rates for citizens, nor would it save the city any money.

See The (Monroe) News-Star story.

The Monroe City Council, in a lengthy meeting Tuesday, chose to bypass discussion in rejecting all proposals for an automated water meter system and defeated an ordinance to study the way the city figures its water bills.

The council voted down an ordinance to allow a consulting firm to conduct a study on water and sewer rates.

See here earlier news stories.

Minter Challenges Monroe’s Water Meter Plan

Monroe City Council Tuesday Night

Water Meter Ordiance on Monroe Council Agenda

Monroe City Council Tuesday Evening

Citizen asks: What savings?