Archive for July, 2013

Port Allen, LA Update – 7/31/13

07/31/2013

Sept. 19 trial date set in lawsuit against Port Allen mayor

PORT ALLEN — State District Judge Alvin Batiste on Wednesday set a Sept. 19 trial date for Port Allen Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain’s wrongful termination lawsuit against Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter.

Batiste set the trial after denying portions of Slaughter’s petition to have McCain’s case dismissed from the 18th Judicial District Court.

McCain has asked the court to grant a permanent injunction nullifying Slaughter’s February attempt to fire her.

Batiste on Feb. 20 blocked the mayor’s attempt to dismiss McCain and ordered her reinstated on the grounds Slaughter lacked authority to dismiss McCain without City Council approval because McCain is a city government department head.

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New Poll Says Mary Landrieu Won’t be Re-elected

07/31/2013

Do you believe that Mary Landrieu has performed her job as US Senator well enough to deserve to be reelected or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?

TOTAL RE-ELECT 39.2%
TOTAL NEW PERSON 50.6%

See here the complete poll results.

Magellan Strategies BR surveyed 1,800 likely Louisiana voters between July 29th and July 30th, 2013.

The margin of error was 2.3% at a 95% confidence interval. This survey was not authorized or paid for by any campaign or political organization. The survey was conducted using automated telephone technology.

Jonesboro Christmas Lights, Again

07/31/2013

From Truth And Balance For Jonesboro

Christmas Lights Held HOSTAGE AGAIN-Same Threat Every Year

I just finished reading the most recent edition of the Jackson Independent dated Thursday July 25, 2013 and on the front page the reporter quotes Ms. Wilda Smith-Jackson Parish Chamber of Commerce Director in a interview regarding the Downtown area and it’s lack of maintenance and repair in the following manner:

“Since April the appearance of Main Street has declined.” Smith stated she had contacted the Public Works Director and the Compliance Officer and nothing had been done. The article goes on to quote Ms. Smith regarding Vandalism of benches and she is quoted in regard to that issue ” The mayor told me that he didn’t know if the town had the funds to replace the $150.00 broken benches.” Smith is also quoted with regard to the annual Christmas Lights-”The mayor has informed the Chamber that he does not know if the town of Jonesboro will be able to fund the hanging of Christmas Lights.”

The Law Can Move Fast, Sometimes

07/29/2013

The wheels of justice can move fast, when the circumstances are just so, it appears.

In the fall of 2008, Town of Jonesboro District B Councilwoman Renee Stringer was arrested on a charge of “improper telephone communication,” LA RS 14:285. The arrest was made on a Monday, after the Friday night incident, or within less than 72 hours.

In other words, an investigation was conducted, a warrant was prepared and signed by a judge, and an arrest was effected over a weekend.

A lawsuit was filed by Stringer, after the charges were thrown out by the district attorney.

Complaint
First Amended Complaint
Defendant’s Answer

Compare the above to the glacial pace of the legal system in dealing with the perjury that allegedly occurred last May 8th, in a Jackson Parish courtroom.

Willie Joseph Convicted of Battery in Jonesboro – Witnesses May Have Perjured Themselves
Active Investigation Ongoing of Alleged Perjured Testimony in Jonesboro Trial
So… Who Lied? The Judge, or the Witnesses?

What is taking so long? In the Stringer case, they didn’t bother with a grand jury hearing, or lengthy investigation. Bang, she was arrested almost immediately. On a bogus charge, it appears.

Now we have a judge alleging perjury in his courtroom, but no one seems able to do anything about it.

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SUV, Car Allowance, or Both?

07/26/2013

So the Monroe Regional Airport wants a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, presumably so the airport’s director Ron Phillips can have a nice, taxpayer supplied vehicle to ride around in. That appears to be the crux of the latest flap with the city’s controversial mayor Jamie Mayo, who’s in a snit because the city council won’t rubber stamp his budget requests.

It isn’t about grass cutting, since the public works department recently got supplied with a couple million in new equipment, including eight mowers and fourteen tractors.

From the 6/11/13 city council minutes:

Upon motion of Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved a request from the Sanitation Division of the Public Works Department for Council approval to purchase one (1) Tow Truck, eight (8) Mowers, fourteen (14) Tractors, one (1) Trailer, one (1) Gradall, two (2) Sweepers, one (1) Backhoe and one (1) UTV. A portion will be purchased off state contract and the remainder put out on bid. The estimated cost of these purchases is $1,752,500.00. Funds will be derived from the Capital Fund Account.

So it’s all about the luxury SUV.

Our question is this: If the airport director gets the new SUV, does he give up the $4,800/year car allowance he is now paid? Or does he get to keep both?

Lincoln School Board Sets November Tax Vote

07/25/2013

A Saturday, November 16 tax election for Ruston School District No. 1 was set at this morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB). The vote was unanimous, except for the vote of Eddie Jones (District 2) who was a late arrival.

Specifically, the proposition is worded thus:

Shall Ruston School District No. 1 of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “District”), incur debt and issue bonds not exceeding $21,000,000, in one or more series, to run not exceeding 20 years from date thereof, with interest not exceeding 8% per annum, for the purpose of acquiring and/or improving lands for building sites and playgrounds; including construction of necessary sidewalks and streets adjacent thereto; purchasing, erecting and/or improving school buildings and other school related facilities, INCLUDING, TO THE EXTENT FEASIBLE, THOSE SPECIFIC SCHOOL PROJECTS SET FORTH IN THE “CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS PLAN” APPROVED BY THE SCHOOL BOARD ON JULY 25, 2013, and acquiring the necessary equipment and furnishings therefor, title to which shall be in the public; Which bonds will be general obligations of the District payable from ad valorem taxes to be levied and collected in the manner provided by Article VI, Section 33 of the Constitution of the State of Louisiana of 1974 and statutory authority supplemental thereto, with no estimated increase in the millage rate to be levied in the first year of issue above the 11 mills currently being levied to pay General Obligation Bonds of the District?

See here the resolution.

The new bonds will replace several bonds that are near payoff, with the current 11 mil property tax remaining in effect for the 20 year life of the new bonds. Depending upon property assessments and future tax collections, the 11 mil tax rate could decrease in the future.

The proceeds from the bond sales (about $21 million) will be used for maintenance and improvements to the Ruston District’s seven schools:

Cypress Springs Elementary
Glen View Elementary
Hillcrest Elementary
I. A. Lewis Elementary
Ruston Elementary
Ruston High
Ruston Jr. High

A preliminary plan of the proposed improvements was slightly changed for the final version approved today.

Original Plan
Adopted Plan

Rodney Alexander Votes to Continue Unlimited Citizen Phone Surveillance

07/24/2013

Rodney Alexander, the U. S. Representative from Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District today voted to continue what the sponsor of the measure (Justin Amash, R, Michigan 3rd) called the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ phone records.

The measure was offered as an amendment to a $598.3 billion defense spending bill for 2014. It would have canceled the statutory authority for the NSA program, and ended the agency’s ability to collect phone records and metadata under the USA Patriot Act unless it identified an individual under investigation.

Alexander voted no.

See here the Roll Call Vote.

LPSB to Consider Ruston School District Capital Improvement/Property Tax Plan

07/24/2013

A $20 million capital improvement plan for the Ruston School District – and the property taxes to foot the bill – will be considered at a special called meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) tomorrow (7/25) at 11:30 AM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

See here the agenda.

About half the money would be spent on Ruston High School (RHS), and Ruston Junior High School (RJHS). The remainder would be divided among the district’s five other schools: Cypress Springs Elementary, Glen View Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, I. A. Lewis Elementary, and Ruston Elementary.

See here the Capital Plan Memo.

Financing for the projects would come from re-imposition of a gradually expiring eleven mil property tax that now funds payoff of six maturing bond issues. The three new bond issues would be for twenty years, with the first issue in 2014, and one each for 2015 and 2016. A November election is proposed.

See here the Bond Election Memo.

More on Monroe City Council

07/24/2013

Monroe City Council Chair Eddie Clark (District 5) began last night’s meeting with a recitation of the duties and responsibilities of the Chairman, and a recent news story concerning the placement of items on the agenda.

Clark noted that a KTVE-TV10 news story from earlier this week questioned the procedure for placement and removal of items on the meeting agenda. Said Clark, “Persuant to Robert’s Rules of Order, only a member of the prevailing party may move for reconsider of an agenda item once it has been previously voted upon.”

Clark also said that council procedures not covered by law or ordinance shall be governed by Robert’s Rules.

The issue concerned a request for purchase of a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV – and mowing equipment – for the airport. The request had been denied last May, and until the request for the SUV is removed, it won’t be placed on the agenda, Clark said.

Who controls the agenda reportedly goes back to when the new council was sworn in.

For the first few meetings of this year, City Attorney Nancy Summersgill and Mayor Jamie Mayo’s staff published the agenda.

Often, the council would not timely receive the information that needed to be considered at the upcoming meeting. Also, the practice of one branch of government dictating to another what they were allowed to discuss and vote upon was problematic.

Back when the council was populated with Mayo stooges, it made little difference who made up the agenda. But with an independent council, it is a basic requirement of shared governance that each branch must govern its own affairs.

Clark also made it clear that as Chairman, he would “decide all questions of order” subject to appeal to the council.

There was also a bit of discussion on a resolution to adopt a procedure for the hiring of council staff.

Summersgill claimed the resolution would violate the city’s charter.

The issue concerns hiring of a council secretary, a position that has been vacant for two years, said Clark. The paperwork has been on Mayo’s desk for three weeks, awaiting his signature, Clark added.

Mayo said he held up approval because District Two’s Gretchen Ezernack had some questions about the hire.

The resolution passed on a 3-1 vote, with Ezernack voting no. The resolution would take the mayor out of the loop, as far as city council hires are concerned.

Finally, Mayo suffered another defeat, when the quarterly budget amendment was defeated 3-1.

Ezernack was the lone yes vote.

Buddy Caldwell Can Move Fast When he Wants

07/24/2013

Potential takeover of Madison Parish Hospital

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has heard enough from leaders of the Madison Parish Hospital. During Tuesday’s meeting Caldwell reminded board members things need to change if they want to stay in control of the hospital.

Madison Parish hospital board members welcomed Attorney General Buddy Caldwell into their meeting. They listened to his candid remarks about the importance of this hospital and the problems he wants to help fix.

“The attorney general’s office wants to help and take care of the issues that can cripple and crush this hospital which would additionally hurt this area tremendously,” said Buddy Caldwell.

With people saying different things Caldwell wants to see the results of a current audit before he makes a decision about who controls the hospital.

Caldwell says if anyone is guilty of lying about the financial situation at the hospital he or she is guilty of committing a felony. This attorney general says he will get to work and send anyone responsible to the unemployment line.

Caldwell says taking over the hospital would be extreme, but it is a possibility depending on the outcome of the audit.

The Madison Parish Hospital has had only two bad audits compared to the Town of Jonesboro’s five. So when does Buddy Caldwell show up in Jonesboro?