Archive for November, 2011

City of Ruston Waxes Fat: 2001-2011

11/30/2011

Wax – (verb) a: to increase in size, numbers, strength, prosperity, or intensity b: to grow in volume or duration

With today’s declaration by Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth that area citizens aren’t paying enough taxes, we thought it would be educational to see just how much the city’s coffers have grown over the past ten years. During roughly the same time period, Ruston’s population has grown about 6 1/2%. According to City-Data.com, Ruston’s median household income has increased from about $23 thousand in 2000, to about $25.6 thousand in 2009.

Sources:

2011 Budget Summary
Audit for Year Ended 9/30/2001

And still it ain’t enough. You decide.

Advertisements

Hollingsworth to Propose New 1/2 ¢ Sales Tax

11/30/2011

We just received this email from City of Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth.

We will have a proposal for a half cent sales tax for implementing Ruston 21 initiatives and infrastructure on the agenda Monday nite. The election would tentatively be in march right now. We would look forward to meeting with you to answer any questions or concerns you might have in that regard. Do you have some time Thurs or Fri of this week? We would also like to have your input.

Thanks, Dan Hollingsworth

Higher Ed Roundup – 11/30/11

11/30/2011

Governance Commission suggestions to go to La. Legislature

LSU Graduate School dean candidates to speak at forums

Higher ed changes urged

State commission plans to restructure higher education

Meanwhile, at the East Baton Rouge Library

11/30/2011

Library chief’s status in question

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control deferred action Tuesday on the library board director’s evaluation until the city attorney can research whether the director needs state certification.

The special meeting Tuesday night was held to conduct an annual evaluation of library Director David Farrar.

John Berry, library watcher and activist, however, told the board Farrar doesn’t have a certification from the state Board of Library Examiners that is required by state law.

Defense Motions in Stringer Assault Case

11/30/2011

Carol Powell-Lexing, attorney for controversial Jonesboro mayor Leslie Thompson has filed motions in the case of the alleged assault by Thompson against District B Alderwoman Renee Stringer.

Motion to Suppress

Motion for Discovery and Inspection

The motions are scheduled to be heard at 9:30 AM, December 12, in Second Judicial District Court in Jonesboro.

Tom Roberson on “Walking Quorums”

11/29/2011

This Way to the Secret Meeting

In violation of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone attempted to hold a series of secret meetings with members of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury Monday in a tactic known as a walking quorum to discuss a new tax.

The State of Louisiana explicitly forbids publicly elected officials from meeting in secret to discuss public business. This law is intended to prevent the type of backroom deals which previously were commonplace in Louisiana and which have so tarnished the state’s reputation as an honest place to do business. These secret meetings are a violation of the public trust in which the interests of the public take a back seat to the interests of the parties involved. In recent years, Louisiana has made significant strides in repairing its reputation as a corrupt state and such meetings only serve to reinforce the stereotype of corruption it has long sought to leave behind.

Higher Ed Roundup – 11/29/11

11/29/2011

Governance Commission says single higher education board not a choice

Community, technical college sign agreement

Higher ed panel urged to be ‘bold’ in changes

Southern University online program to expand

Shealy, Stone Admit Initiating LPPJ Summons

11/29/2011

Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone and Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union parishes) First Assistant District Attorney Andy Shealy admitted that they initiated the communication that summoned Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) members to a “walking quorum” meeting where issues related to the parish detention center and public safety complex were discussed

In an interview late Monday with Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) and the Morning Paper, the two said the phrase in the email “Sheriff Stone and Mr. Shealy have requested that the Jurors meet with them…” was indeed accurate.

A walking quorum is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum.

In two meetings early Monday, at least six jurors and one juror-elect met to “dialogue” with Stone and Shealy.

Asked specifically what was discussed, Stone wouldn’t say, except that it concerned operation and funding of the detention center.

Stone denied trying to keep secrets from the public, and said that he would disclose what his plans were within the next couple of weeks. He also said he wanted the jurors to gauge public sentiment on the issue in their districts.

Illegal LPPJ “Walking Quorum” Meet Broken Up

11/28/2011

An illegal “walking quorum” meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) was broken up this morning by Morning Paper publisher John Hays and Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) publisher and editor Walter Abbott.

A 1:00 PM meeting of two of Lincoln Parish’s top law enforcement officers – Sheriff Mike Stone and Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union parishes) First Assistant District Attorney Andy Shealy – and members of the jury was cancelled after Stone claimed to have had an emergency call and was unable to attend. The jurors scheduled to attend the meeting were notified that no meeting would be held.

Earlier, the two met with groups of police jurors to discuss parish detention center issues. At the 9:00 AM meeting reportedly were jurors Micky Mays, Jody Backus, Theresa Wyatt, and juror-elect Ronnie Walker. The 10:00 AM meeting was attended by Roy Glover, Joe Henderson, and Annie Brown, a source said.

A walking quorum is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum.

When this reporter and Hays arrived at 11:00 AM on the third floor of the Lincoln Parish courthouse, no jurors were there, nor was the sheriff or the ADA.

Jury personnel said at the time they knew nothing about any meetings. When shown a copy of the email that had originated from the jury office, Administrator Courtney Hall said, “You’ll have to go talk to Mr. Shealy about that – I don’t have anything to say to y’all.”

In an impromptu meeting with Shealy moments later, Hays and Abbott asked about the meetings that had taken place earlier that morning. Shealy admitted that he had met with the sheriff and some of the jurors. But he denied that any such meeting was illegal or that the meetings were clandestine.

“You can have meetings to explore possibilities,” said Shealy. “Nobody’s trying to keep a secret,” he added.

Shealy also denied having anything to do with the email that summoned the jurors to the meeting. When it was shown to Shealy he said, “You didn’t see me write that email, did you?”

Lincoln Parish Sheriff, Assistant DA, LPPJ Plot Illegal “Walking Quorum” Meeting for Tax Pitch

11/28/2011

Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union parishes) Assistant District Attorney Andy Shealy, and members of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) have plotted to violate the State of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law – the law that prohibits meetings of public bodies in secret – and have organized what is known as a “walking quorum” meeting to discuss a new tax.

A walking quorum is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum.

According to an email obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO), the jurors are set to meet with Stone and Shealy in groups of four “to avoid a quorum.” The meetings are scheduled throughout the day today and reportedly are to discuss a new tax to fund operation of the sheriff’s “Taj Mahal” public safety complex.

See here the email.

The action violates this provision:

LA RS 42:14 – Meetings of public bodies to be open to the public

A. Every meeting of any public body shall be open to the public unless closed pursuant to R.S. 42:16, 17, or 18.

B. Each public body shall be prohibited from utilizing any manner of proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, or any other means to circumvent the intent of this Chapter.

LA RS 42:13 – Definitions

A. For the purposes of this Chapter:

(1) “Meeting” means the convening of a quorum of a public body to deliberate or act on a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. It shall also mean the convening of a quorum of a public body by the public body or by another public official to receive information regarding a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.

Additionally, Louisiana Attorney General’s Opinion 90-0349 says:

…avoid the use of the sanction of this opinion to engage in the so-called “walking quorum.” In this artifice, different committee members leave the meeting and different members enter the meeting so that while an actual quorum is never physically present an actual quorum during the course of the meeting participates in the discussion.

…please advise them that the abuse of the practice of a “walking quorum” is subject to the injunctive remedy of R.S. 42:11A(2).

It is axiomatic to the law of equity, and recognized by the jurisprudence of Louisiana, that lawful means cannot be used to achieve an
unlawful purpose.

We will be at the courthouse today to sit in on these meetings, if they occur.