Archive for February, 2011

Higher Ed Roundup – 2/28/11

02/28/2011

Letter: Perspective needed on merger issue

University officials consider extending Thanksgiving break

Regents writing new chapter

Louisiana College faces $35M in repairs

J’Boro Mayor Pay Raise Public Hearing Next Week

02/28/2011

As stipulated to in a February 17 hearing in Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) court, the Town of Jonesboro has published in the official journal (The Jackson Independent) a legal notice advising of a public hearing to be held on Tuesday, March 8, 6:00 PM at City Hall, 128 Allen Avenue.

The hearing is to allow public input for ordinances 700 and 701 amending the town’s budget and doubling the mayor’s pay from $35 thousand/year to $70 thousand.

LEGAL NOTICE

The Board of Aldermen of the Town of Jonesboro will consider for adoption at its regular meeting on March 8, 2011, the adoption of Ordinance #700, amending the budget for the Town of Jonesboro for the current year, and Ordinance #701, amending the budget for the Mayor of the Town of Jonesboro, both ordinances having been introduced at the regular meeting held on January 2, 2011.

Notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held on both ordinances. The public hearing will begin on March 8, 2011 at 6:00 p. m. at the Jonesboro Town Hall. Members of the public who wish to make public comments or otherwise address the adoption of either ordinance should attend the public hearing.

Copies of Ordinance #700 and Ordinance #701 are available for public inspection at the Jonesboro Town Hall during normal business hours. Copies of either ordinance may be obtained upon the payment of the costs of duplication.

Higher Ed Roundup – 2/27/11

02/27/2011

Southern launches support campaign

Let’s revisit benefits for public sector

Higher Ed Update – 2/26/11

02/26/2011

Faculty members object to new college layoff policy

UL System approves rules to make layoffs

Clayton: ‘No apologies’ for meeting

Restructuring schools

City of Monroe Update – 2/26/11

02/26/2011

City Employees Fear for Safety

The City of Monroe’s human resources director has asked his supervisor to provide protection for himself and another employee because of “threatening remarks” reportedly made by Ricardo Nance Jr., a city employee.

In a letter written by Mike Rhymes, he asked Administration Director David Barnes to protect him and Ms. Brownie Barbo, who works in legal, because “it was reported to me (on Feb. 14) that Ricardo Nance was making threatening remarks in the workplace about persons unknown…and the oddly ambiguous events concerning seventy year old Ms. Brownie Barbo.”

Monroe’s Engineering Department Investigation Complete

For 3 months, Monroe mayor Jamie Mayo was investigating what was really going on inside his engineering department. According to human resources director Mike Rhymes, fraudulent activity was taking place with tax payer dollars. Rhymes filed a report saying city engineer Sinyale Morrison was paying employee Ricardo Nance up to 25 hours of unearned overtime each pay period.

Rhymes recorded statements given by Nances’ supervisor and co-work, with their permission. Both men said Ricardo Nance hardly ever showed up for work and they don’t think he earned the thousands of dollars in overtime pay. But, according to city attorney Nancy Summersgil, that’s not what the mayor found in his investigation.

Our news team has copies of 29 overtime sheets filed by Ricardo Nance. Nance claims he worked a total of more than 130 overtime hours but none of them were signed off by a supervisor. The city says, it’s a non issue.

Nanci Summersgil said, “Those things aren’t always signed off on so the fact that you don’t find a signature doesn’t mean there’s something being done wrong, it’s just an oversight.”

Monroe mayor says investigation finds no city payroll irregularities

MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News)–After an internal investigation, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says nothing has been found to confirm allegations of payroll irregularities in a city department.

In light of the findings, Mayor Mayo says he’s ready to move on.

For months, Mayor Mayo and his administration have been investigating an accusation of payroll padding in the traffic engineering department. The investigation was opened after workers said a fellow employee was not showing up for his job, but was still getting paid. Monroe City Attorney Nanci Summersgill says when the man’s co-workers were questioned, their stories about the employee’s absence were not consistent.

The city also sifted through payroll documents, and could find no problems with them.

“His investigation into that matter is closed,” says Summersgill.

Mayor closes payroll dispute inquiry

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo has closed an investigation into a payroll dispute and grievance, and no city employees have been disciplined.

Mayo said he found no justifiable claims for either issue. To be on the safe side, he said he asked city auditor Francis Huffman with Luffey, Huffman, Ragsdale and Soignier to look into whether call-out pay could be handled in a better way.

Fiscal Review Committee Video Archive Online

02/25/2011

The archived video of today’s meeting of the Louisiana Fiscal Review Committee is now online.

See here the link.

Fiscal Review Committee Dodges J’boro Problem – Delays Decision for Thirty Days

02/25/2011

Despite indications that an ongoing audit of the Town of Jonesboro’s finances is likely to produce a “disclaimer of opinion” for the third consecutive year, the Louisiana Fiscal Review Committee this afternoon decided to delay a decision to appoint a fiscal administrator to oversee the town’s money operations.

The committee today consisted of Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy, Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, and sitting in for Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Assistant AG Richard McGimsey.

The meeting was webcast live from the State Capitol this afternoon.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) Director of Advisory Services Joy Irwin testified to the committee regarding the town’s finances that “I do not see it getting better.” She said she had talked within the past few days to CPA Margie Williamson who told her the town’s situation may even be worse than it was last year.

Williamson is a partner at Allen, Green & Williamson, LLP, a Monroe CPA firm that is attempting to decipher the town’s books. They were unable last year to issue an opinion.

Among the town’s problems are unreconciled bank accounts, missing records, unpaid contractor invoices and payroll folders not able to be located at city hall.

Irwin said the town had about $720 thousand in accounts payable and about $700 thousand in the bank, as best she could determine. The town has about $2.3 million in long-term debt, according to Irwin.

For his part, the town’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson implied that much of the problems were the result of a former clerk who was replaced at the beginning of the year. He said she was inept, deficient, but that he could not fire her. Thompson even intimated that deliberate sabotage may have occurred.

Thompson promised that qualified people would be hired and contracted to do solve the town’s bookkeeping issues. He noted that Intuit’s Quick Books software had been purchased at Sam’s Club and training for use of the software would commence soon.

Irwin noted that Quick Books was “not designed for governmental accounting.”

State Treasurer John Kennedy said that he wanted to see definite progress from the town, and soon. “I don’t want to do this (appoint a fiscal administrator to oversee the town’s finances), but I will,” he declared.

We will post a link to the archive of the webcast when it becomes available.

Jonesboro on Agenda Today in Baton Rouge

02/25/2011

The state’s Fiscal Review Committee – consisting of Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy – will meet this afternoon at 1:00 PM, House Committee Room 3, at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

On the agenda is the Town of Jonesboro’s finances.

The meeting will be webcast – here is a link to the webcast.

See here earlier new stories about today’s meeting.

Jonesboro Fiscal Administrator May be Appointed

Jonesboro Mayor Invited to Baton Rouge

Jonesboro Attorney Sends Letter to Committee

Higher Ed Roundup – 1/25/11

02/25/2011

Ark. official approved for La. education job

Judge: Finish SUNO study

Letter: Wisconsin, La. have similarities

Our Views: More secrecy at Regents

Injunction against Regents denied

UNO-SUNO merger opposed

Limited options outlined in state’s budget crisis

Judge snubs plea from SUNO students

Decision on Patrick O’s Severance Motion Delayed

02/24/2011

Judge Wilson Rambo this afternoon in Fourth Judicial District (Morehouse, Ouachita parishes) Court delayed a decision on whether the trial for former City of Monroe Director of Revenue and Taxation Patrick Onyemechara’s (Ohn-ya-men-CHAIR-ra) will be “severed”, and separate trials held for each of the 31 counts he is charged with.

Immediately after today’s hearing began, defense counsel asked for a conference in chambers with attorneys for the state. After meeting for about 30 minutes, the judge and attorneys returned to the courtroom where a new hearing date of Thursday, March 3, 1:30 PM was set to decide the issue.

Defense counsel is Monroe attorney attorney Charles Kincaid and the prosecutors appearing today were Assistant District Attorney Neal Johnson and Assistant District Attorney Fred McGaha.

Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) had earlier reported that a motion to reduce Onyemechara’s $2.7 million bond would also be ruled upon, but that motion was never filed.

See here earlier reporting on the Onyemechara case.

Kincade Wants Onyemechara Trials Separated

Onyemechara Trial Delayed Four Months

Monroe Tax Collector Trial in Two Weeks