Archive for October, 2012

Jonesboro Ordered to Produce Finanical Info

10/25/2012

The Town of Jonesboro was late today ordered to produce financial information to the the Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Court and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA), relative to the town’s employee payroll for “review prior to approval of any request for authority to pay the amounts alleged to be owed.” The town’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson was included in the order.

See here the motion and order.

Ordered to be produced by 8:00 AM, tomorrow (Friday, 10/26/12) are:

  • The payroll register for the week ending October 24, 2012;
  • The check stubs for the October 24, 2012 payroll;
  • The total payroll figures for every fund and the amounts required to be transferred into the payroll account for those obligations;
  • The “weekly funding sheet,” including itemization of bank balances, deposits, outstanding checks, accounts payable, and book balance by fund;
  • All underlying documentation supporting requested payment authority for payroll, payroll taxes and/or any “other obligation,” including, but not limited to, time sheets, invoices, etc.
  • The name of the person compiling and verifying the above described information.

The order was signed by Division B Judge Jimmy Teat.

Also in the motion was this revelation:

By order of the 2nd Judicial District Court, Parish of Jackson, State of Louisiana (“the Order”), a fiscal administrator was appointed pursuant to LA RS 39:1352 to manage the financial affairs of the Town after a two-day trial on the merits of the State’s petition for same. Since July 25, 2012, the appointed fiscal administrator, William J. Ryder, has attempted to perform the duties set forth in the Order. However, he has been continuously and repeatedly obstructed and impaired from doing so by actions of the Town in violation of same. Since these actions prevented him from accomplishing his duties, he could no longer justify the expense of his services and, as a result, Mr. Ryder sought permission from the Court to withdraw as fiscal administrator. The Court granted his request effective October 18, 2012, by letter.

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The Constitutional Amendments

10/25/2012

CA NO. 1 (Act 873 – SB 82)
Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly
Do you support an amendment to prohibit monies in the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly from being used or appropriated for other purposes when adjustments are made to eliminate a state deficit? (Adds Article VII, Section 10(F)(4)(g))

CA NO. 2 (Act 874 – SB 303)
Right of each Citizen to keep and bear arms
Do you support an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Louisiana to provide that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and any restriction of that right requires the highest standard of review by a court? (Amends Article I, Section 11)

CA NO. 3 (Act 872 – SB 21)
Prefiling DL/for retirement/public employee
Do you support an amendment to require legislation effecting any change to laws concerning retirement systems for public employees that is to be prefiled to be filed no later than forty-five days before the start of a regular legislative session and to require the completion of public notice requirements regarding legislation effecting such a change no later than sixty days before introduction of the bill? (Amends Article III, Section 2(A)(2), Article X, Section 29(C), and Article XIII, Section 1(A))

CA NO. 4 (Act 875 – SB 337)
Surv. Spouse/Deceased Veteran/Homestead Exemp.
Do you support an amendment to exempt from ad valorem taxation, in addition to the homestead exemption, the next seventy-five thousand dollars of value of property owned and occupied by the spouse of a deceased veteran with a service-connected disability rating of one hundred percent who passed away prior to the enactment of the exemption? (Effective January 1, 2013)(Amends Article VII, Section 21(K)(1))

CA NO. 5 (Act 868 – HB 9)
Forfeiture Retirement Benefit Pub.Off./Conv.Felon
Do you support an amendment to provide for the forfeiture of public retirement benefits by any public servant who is convicted of a felony associated with and committed during his public service? (Adds Article X, Section 29(G))

CA NO. 6 (Act 869 – HB 497)
Gov.Auth. of New Iberia – prop.annexed by the City
Do you support an amendment to authorize the granting of ad valorem tax exemption contracts by the city of New Iberia for property annexed by the city after January 1, 2013? (Adds Article VII, Section 21(L))

CA NO. 7 (Act 870 – HB 524)
Provides filling appts/Vac. on Bds./Comm.
Do you support an amendment, relative to the membership of constitutional boards and commissions that have members who are selected from congressional districts, to retain the existing number of members and to provide for implementation of membership from reapportioned congressional districts by filling vacancies first from under-represented districts and then from the state at large? (Amends Article VIII, Sections 5(B)(1), 6(B)(1), and 7(B)(1) and Article X, Sections 3(A) and 43(A); Adds Article VIII, Section 8(D))

CA NO. 8 (Act 871 – HB 674)
State Bd. of Comm./Industry-Tax Exemp. contracts
Do you support an amendment to authorize the granting of ad valorem tax exemption contracts by the Board of Commerce and Industry for businesses located in parishes which have chosen to participate in a program established for the granting of such contracts? (Effective January 1, 2013) (Adds Article VII, Section 21(L))

CA NO. 9 (Act 876 – SB 410)
Security District/Parcel Fee w/in District
Do you support an amendment to provide that no law relative to the creation of a special district, the primary purpose of which includes aiding in crime prevention and security by providing for an increased presence of law enforcement personnel in the district or otherwise promoting and encouraging security in the district, shall be enacted unless three separate notices of the proposed law are published at least thirty days prior to introduction of the bill, which notice shall set forth the substance of the proposed law and whether the governing authority of the special district would be authorized to impose and collect a parcel fee within the district, whether the parcel fee will be imposed or may be increased without an election, and the maximum amount of such fee? (Amends Article III, Section 13)

PW School District
Local Option – Term Limits
“LOCAL OPTION ELECTION Within Lincoln Parish School District: Shall the number of terms of office that any member of the school board may serve be limited to three consecutive four-year terms?”

The Feds and the Lafayette DA’s Office

10/24/2012

FBI Investigates DWI Bribery Scheme

KLFY-TV10 has obtained a copy of a target letter issued by the US Attorney’s Office. Click here to read it.

Eyewitness news has learned the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office believe they’ve exposed an alleged bribery scheme the feds claim has been operating inside the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.

The investigation first became public in March when the FBI obtained search warrants to examine DWI records.

Soon afterward, District Attorney Mike Harson’s long time Administrative Assistant, Barna Haynes, was placed on administrative leave and eventually resigned.

Now, after months of collecting evidence agents are alleging a combination of attorneys and employees of the court have been making thousands of dollars to make DWI cases disappear.

Sources close to the case say those allegedly involved in this scheme were asking anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per case to make a DWI go away.

We’re being told upwards of 20 people may be involved. In the last few days FBI agents have reportedly been hand delivering what are called “target letters” to those individuals.

Harson: No comment on federal bribe probe

District Attorney Mike Harson declined comment again Tuesday about a federal investigation into allegations of bribery and extortion connected to drunken driving prosecutions in Lafayette.

A letter, sent to The Daily Advertiser anonymously and purporting to have been sent to a target of the investigation, indicates that federal prosecutors may be ready to go to a grand jury as early as this month. The Daily Advertiser has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the letter, or information reported by KLFY-TV 10 that multiple letters have been issued.

News of the investigation into the handling of drunken driving cases here surfaced last spring in connection with the 15th Judicial District’s pretrial diversion program. That program allows certain nonviolent offenders, including defendants in drunken driving cases, to have their records expunged if they meet certain requirements and stay out of trouble.

The letter says the FBI has developed evidence showing that the recipient “participated in criminal activity associated with individuals obtaining favorable treatment from the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office for the 15th Judicial District.

Higher Ed Roundup – 10/24/12

10/24/2012

LSU dean accepts job at Reno college

Timeline set in search for UL System president

UL System could have new head before December

Taxpayers Forgotten in OPPJ Health Provider Discussion

10/23/2012

Ouachita Parish taxpayers – the folks who finance government – didn’t get talked about much at last night’s meeting of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury’s (OPPJ) Finance Committee. Instead, most of the talk was about the cost impact upon the jury’s employees during a discussion about a healthcare insurance provider for 2013.

The jury wound up going with the most costly (for taxpayers) option.

The 2013 plan will cost about $326 thousand (5%) more than the 2012 plan.

See here the spreadsheet and proposals.

John Pegues CEO of Coventry Health Care, the current provider and winner of the vote for 2013, made a presentation on behalf of his company.

Billy Justice of Vantage Health Plan made a competing presentation.

A lot of the discussion centered around which plan included the West Monroe, LA based Glenwood Regional Medical Center in their networks. Vantage does not include Glenwood, but Coventry does.

Jury President Shane Smiley (District E) noted that the employees had a “rich” plan, and that about 79% of the premiums were paid by the jury (taxpayers).

However, when voting time came, Smily made the motion to go with the most expensive plan, seconded by Mack Calhoun (District B). Also voting for the plan was Scotty Robinson (District A) and Ollibeth Reddix (District D).

Voting no were committee chair Walt Caldwell (District C), and Pat Moore (District F).

In other business the committee approved the budget for the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. That office’s 2013 expenditures are set to decline to about $181 thousand, from about $259 thousand for 2012.

See here the documents.

Lincoln Schools 2012 Performance Scores

10/23/2012

See here the complete data table.

Jonesboro Cost Auditors Over $300K

10/23/2012

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) has spent about $309 thousand assisting the Town of Jonesboro with its financial issues since 2009, according to a letter from the agency.

click to enlarge

Higher Ed Roundup – 10/22/12

10/22/2012

Colleges want Louisiana lawmakers to surrender control over tuition

Letter to the Editor

10/22/2012

There has been enough media coverage (good and bad) to have raised a red flag the size of Texas for the issues that plague the Town of Jonesboro. No one does a thing, Everyone sits around waiting for the other person to do something or make some sort of lame excuse.

Ken Booth was an excellent investigative reporter, the only difference with what Ken Booth got accomplished and what Walter Abbott has accomplished is that the people with the authority to act on the facts that were presented by Ken Booth actually did their job.

Vicky Welborn of the Shreveport Times has been working on Investigative Reports of issues in Webster Parish, DeSoto and other Parishes, review the success she has seen with the facts she has presented-arrests were made. Go to the Shreveport Times and look in the archives or go to the nearest Library and look at the articles.

Is a vote that important, does the need to have the approval and support of people that abuse every one’s tax dollars and rights mean so much that you won’t do your respective jobs?

There still remains a remnant of people that do the right thing, they obey the law, they pay their taxes and they expect Government to do the job they were elected to do, not provide a way of escape by pointing their finger at each other and making the excuse that “they won’t do their job, so I can’t do mine”.

If one day of job performance would have included doing their respective jobs, we would have never seen the need for the Federal Government to have placed a tax lien on the assets of the Town of Jonesboro and the constant progression of decline to the point that the State had to step in and appoint a Fiscal Administrator to the Town of Jonesboro.

With the recent exit of William Ryder as Fiscal Administrator to the Town of Jonesboro, who recently testified before the Fiscal Review Committee that was comprised of Mr. John Kennedy-La. State Treasurer, Mr. Richard McGimsey-Assistant Attorney General and Mr. Daryl Purpera-La. Legislative Auditor as to numerous issues that one would think would immediately launch yet another investigation and merely the fact that he could not receive any cooperation from the Mayor should have proven to the Committee and the entire State that the issues at hand in the Town of Jonesboro are not racial, they are total and blatant disregard-for the law, and total and blatant disrespect for the rights of all the State of Louisiana taxpayers that have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to send assistance from Baton Rouge to the Town of Jonesboro, but have not seen any results of the taxes spent to aid the Administration in the Town of Jonesboro.

This charade has become a burden to the entire State of Louisiana now, hopefully someone that reads this will please contact the State offices listed above and ask them stop wasting our tax dollars and ask the people in the elected positions to address their job responsibilities, including Mr. Stewart District Attorney and Mr. Caldwell, the La. Attorney General.

The elderly, Veterans and children all across our State need assistance while our budgets to assist them are cut all across the state and the Town of Jonesboro continues to receive funding that under the current law stipulates that we should not be receiving due to the fact that we were on the Non Compliance List. We have not had an Audit in 4 years, when Mr. Ryder was assigned, we were taken off the Non Compliance List. Mr. Ryder is gone now, will the Town continue to receive funding as if he were still in place overseeing the tax dollars or will that tax dollar pipeline remain open with our taxes flowing unaccounted for and compliance with their use unmonitored?

It’s time for all of the taxpayers to raise the question to Baton Rouge about this issue, we have seen enough waste to last a life time and 5.5 years of it in the Town of Jonesboro has cost the taxpayers of the State of Louisiana precious taxes that could have been utilized for the individuals listed above and most likely used for their intended purposes.

Renee Stringer
District B
Town of Jonesboro

OPPJ Finance Committee Monday

10/21/2012

The Finance Committee of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, October 22, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Court House, second floor.

See here the agenda.