Archive for August, 2011

Where Jonesboro’s Money Has Gone

08/31/2011

At the 6/30/11 budget meeting of Town of Jonesboro’s Board of Alderman, there was considerable discussion about why only $75 thousand was budgeted for street repair.

See here earlier reporting on that meeting.

KTVE-TV10′s Jonesboro Newscast
Jonesboro Mayor Again Hints at More Taxes

We decided to do some digging and see just where some of the town’s money is going today compared to the 2007-2008 budget, the first one put together after controversial mayor Leslie Thompson took office.

We see that in the 2007-2008 document, the General Government category was $463 thousand, compared to $680 thousand for 2011-2012, an increase $217 thousand, or about 47%.

General government consists of following budget accounts: Legislative, Judicial, Executive, and Financial & Administrative.

Fire increased slightly, from $315 thousand in 07-08, to $342 thousand in 11-12. Police declined from about $781 thousand to about $731 over the same time period.

The street budget also decreased some, from $976 thousand to $935 thousand. There were significant changes among the individual accounts, however.

Salaries, insurance and retirement increased from $356 thousand to $467 thousand, an increase of $110 thousand, or about 31%. Over that same time period, street repair decreased from $200 thousand to $75 thousand.

Another interesting set of accounts is the town’s phone bill budgets. Each department has a line item budget for telephone, and here’s what happened over the four years from 07-08 to 11-12.

Telephone – Financial & Administrative: $4 thousand to $8 thousand
Telephone – Fire: $2 thousand to $1.3 thousand
Telephone – Police: $11 thousand to $7 thousand
Telephone – Streets: $2.7 thousand to $4 thousand
Telephone – Animal Control: $2 hundred to $1 thousand

See here the documents.

Budget 2007-2008
Budget 2011-2012

Higher Ed Roundup – 8/31/11

08/31/2011

Southern University group OKs proposal

Southern University financial aid woes hit Law Center

Board agrees to ULM’s study abroad pact

Students, faculty embrace alternatives to traditional textbooks

Higher Ed Roundup – 8/30/11

08/30/2011

Southern University Furlough deal fails

Jordan Jefferson Reinstatement pitch planned

Lincoln School Board Shuts out Public Illegally

08/29/2011

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) closed its meeting to the public this morning – an action that is within its purview to do when the subject matter allows – but they failed to follow proper procedure when they did it. Furthermore, they had one of the chief law enforcement officers in the parish giving them bum advice that it was all okay.

Not only was there no public comment section provided for in the meeting agenda, but Assistant District Attorney for the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union parishes) District – Andy Shealy – advised that since two agenda items were to receive reports and no votes would be taken, then the requirement for public comment would not be necessary.

“It’s going to be my recommendation that with respect to items 4.1 and 4.2, there is no need for public comment period on those particular items – they are reports only,” Shealy said. “The statute requires only that there be comment period prior to taking a vote,” he added.

However, when the one item where a vote was required – the vote to go into executive session – Shealy reversed himself and opined that no public comment period was necessary, despite the plain language in the law.

“I don’t intend to argue with you, that’s my recommendation and I would suggest they (the board) follow it,” Shealy said.

Here’s the law.

LA RS 42:15 – School board meetings; public comment

A. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, each school board subject to the provisions of this Chapter, except as provided in Subsection B of this Section, shall allow public comment at any meeting of the school board prior to taking any vote. The comment period shall be for each agenda item and shall precede each agenda item.

We objected vociferously, but to no avail.

Wanting to comment was Ruston activist Bill Smith. He wanted to question the 7/5/11 decision to close the parish’s two alternative schools – Lincoln Center School and Lincoln Parish Career Academy – an action that was taken without a vote of the board.

Smith also wanted to address a status report from the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning the 45 year old desegregation lawsuit under which Lincoln Parish schools operate. It was revealed after the 8/2/11 board meeting that some board members had not been given a copy of the report, even though it had been filed back in May.

Board President and District 10 member Otha Anders refused to recognize Smith.

“I’m not accepting your comment, yes,” Anders told Smith.

See here the DOJ status report.

Another improper action in closing the meeting was the failure to secure a roll-call vote.

LA RS 42:16 – Executive Sessions

A public body may hold executive sessions upon an affirmative vote, taken at an open meeting for which notice has been given pursuant to R.S. 42:19, of two-thirds of its constituent members present. An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from discussion at open meetings by R.S. 42:17; however, no final or binding action shall be taken during an executive session. The vote of each member on the question of holding such an executive session and the reason for holding such an executive session shall be recorded and entered into the minutes of the meeting. Nothing in this Section or R.S. 42:17 shall be construed to require that any meeting be closed to the public, nor shall any executive session be used as a subterfuge to defeat the purposes of this Chapter.

So what are the possible consequences of this morning’s action by the board?

LA RS 42:25 – Enforcement

A. The attorney general shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter throughout the state. He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed.

B. Each district attorney shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter throughout the judicial district within which he serves. He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed.

C. Any person who has been denied any right conferred by the provisions of this Chapter or who has reason to believe that the provisions of this Chapter have been violated may institute enforcement proceedings.

Also, any action taken by the board today could be voided.

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.

The Reports

Two reports were delivered to the board before the fireworks – one from School Improvement and Accountability Coordinator Donna Doss – the other from Baton Rouge attorney Pamela Dill, of Hammond & Sills. Dill is the board’s attorney handling the desegregation suit.

See here the Doss report.

Dill said the May DOJ report was not a court order, but that it was a report to which the school district would have an opportunity to respond.

“Our office has been continuously working with the U. S. Department of Justice, on the district’s behalf, and the subject of this report has been the subject of an intense investigation ever since it was file and received,” Dill said. “On or before September 15, the district and the lab schools will have the opportunity to file individual responses to the U. S. DOJ’s report,” she added.

Sometime in the future, the court will rule, according to Dill.

The LPSB will meet in regular session next Tuesday, September 6.

“Kangaroo Court” says Jonesboro’s Mayor

08/29/2011

“Kangaroo Court” was the derisive term the Town of Jonesboro’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson used to describe Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Division B Judge Jimmy Teat’s court in the wake of the judgement Teat delivered against Thompson and three members of the Board of Aldermen in the civil case Essmeier v Jonesboro.

Thompson was speaking via phone to Alexandria radio host Tony Brown in an interview that was posted on The Fount Online News last week.

See here the video “Mayor Calls for Community Action.”

Thompson called for “community action” to oppose the court’s decision.

“There was a day and time when the color of the robe dictated the racist attitude of the individual,” Thompson said. “But in this day and time we now have guys that are wearing black, and sitting on the bench, and handing out decisions like this, and the community has to come together to do something about it,” he added.

Thompson also said he was “called” to be Jonesboro’s mayor.

“This is what I HAVE to do,” he said. “This is what King and those guys died for.”

OCC Tax Hike Try Convinced Robinson to Run

08/29/2011

At a Saturday lunch meeting of Monroe area political observers, Scotty Robinson said the Ouachita Correctional Center (OCC) tax hike controversy was what convinced him he needed to run for the District A slot on the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ).

He noted that the incumbent was the biggest booster for that tax increase, but had promised not to support tax hikes when he announced in 2007.

The voters turned down the tax by a 3 to 1 margin last April.

From the 9/12/07 Ouachita Citizen.

If elected, Jackson says it is important to continue efforts by the police jury to become more efficient with the taxpayer’s money.

“You start by digging into the numbers and understanding the numbers. Clearly, we’ve had several tax elections in a row where the voters have said, ‘enough is enough.’ There are things we can do better, and the challenge is to look for those sorts of things on an on-going basis and not wait for the next tax election.

“Here’s the reality: Do we become more efficient, or do we cut millages? If we cut millages, then there is much less resources, but yet we still have potholes, drainage issues and payroll issues. Far better in my mind, at this point in time, we get rid of the inefficiencies, so we’ve got those extra funds and we can get caught up on the roadwork and other things.”

Jackson believes the current millages are adequate to fund parish services.

Robinson believes the solution is for the jury to work more closely with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) to find places to save money.

He also said he would oppose any attempt to bring a casino into the area and would return the V-Car/Next Autoworks tax money to the taxpayers as was promised by the jury two years ago.

Robinson is a twenty-five year old who grew up on Avant Road in the middle of the district. He had recently operated an auto glass business in downtown West Monore, but sold it last year. He now is a manager at a local wrecker company.

The district runs from White’s Ferry Road westward to the Calhoun area, and mostly north of U. S. Hwy. 80. See here the map.

Higher Ed Roundup – 8/29/11

08/29/2011

ULM events mark Bruno’s investiture

Attorney teaches law class during professor’s absence

Neb. Book Co. bankrupt

Southern University delays exigency vote

Jindal may attend dedication today at LSU-Alexandria

Lincoln Parish School Board Tomorrow AM

08/28/2011

A special meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) has been called for Monday, August 29, 9:00 AM, 410 South Farmerville Street.

See here the agenda.

Up for discussion will be the status of the alternative schools, and the procedure and status of the desegregation lawsuit.

Higher Ed Roundup – 8/27/11

08/27/2011

Southern University board delays exigency vote

Board approves amended contracts

LSU’s Jefferson, Johns arrested in fight case

LSU players suspended

Jordan Jefferson’s felony arrest rocks LSU football program

LSU System approves $7.9 million for University

Alleva Lies

08/26/2011

From The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune:

LSU Board of Supervisors approves new deals for Les Miles, Joe Alleva

For his part, Alleva said the current problems facing the football team are “frustrating,” but added that he understands how to handle delicate off-the-field issues from his experience around an alleged 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case that sparked controversy during his time as athletic director at the school.

“There’s a lot of similarities in this situation,” said Alleva, who has been at LSU since 2007. “I think it’s always disappointing when student-athletes don’t behave the way they’re expected to.”

This, from the lying bastard who was in the big, fat middle of the lynch mob at Duke in the spring of ’06.

It’s all documented here.

It’s Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered – by Don Yaeger and Mike Pressler

And the LSU Board of Supervisors gives him a raise. Only in Louisiana.