Archive for March, 2014

Area Juvie Center Eyed

03/31/2014

Several area parishes are contemplating construction and operation of a juvenile detention center for youth incarceration, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone told this morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission.

Said Stone, “The parish’s around us are in desperate need of beds” for youth offenders. He added, “We’re spending $250 thousand out of our (budget) going to other places now.”

Besides Lincoln, the other interested parishes are Union, Jackson, Claiborne, and Bienville.

Youth offenders are now housed at Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center in Monroe, or at Ware Youth Center in Coushatta. Bed space at those two facilities have to be reserved and paid for, even if no youth inmates actually are incarcerated, Stone said.

Stone got permission from the commission to visit Ascension parish, where officials there are also facing a similar situation.

In other business, Lincoln Parish Detention Center Warden Jim Tuten reported that total capital spending on the Road Camp Road facility would come to about $1.4 million, with about half spent last year, and the balance in 2014.

Tuten said that all the issues with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal had been addressed and corrected.

West Monroe City Marshal, OPSB Audits: Money Missing

03/31/2014

Money seems to be missing at the West Monroe City Marshall’s Office. From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

West Monroe City Marshal William Guyton’s office could not find $3,300 it received for deposit during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, the second time in recent years money to be deposited was missing, according to an audit released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.

The certified public accounting firm of Cameron, Hines and Co. of West Monroe said in its report there were two instances in 2013 when cash was received and the individual given a receipt, but the money was not deposited into a bank account.

In the report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, auditors said that approximately $42,000 had been taken from the office during a four-year period, but the cash was reimbursed.

Guyton’s office said in its response to the 2013 audit that it “has changed personnel and the process over cash receipts. Auditors recommended that the marshal’s office should continue to strengthen controls over cash receipts to help reduce the risk of misappropriations or theft happening in the future.”

Besides the Legislative Auditor’s Office, the marshal’s office has agreed to notify the Ouachita Parish District Attorney’s Office of the missing $3,300, the report said.

Here is the complete report.

Ditto at the Ouachita Parish School Board (OPSB), and also property at a couple of schools. From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

A 2013 audit of the Ouachita Parish School Board found that one employee was overpaid by $1,860 and a bookkeeper resigned after $2,517 in funds “could not be accounted for” between April 2012 and June 2013, according to a report released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.

In its report, the Monroe certified public accounting firm of Luffey, Huffman, Ragsdale and Soignier said the bookkeeper at Crosley Elementary School resigned subsequent to the June 30, 2013 year-end audit. An investigation showed that more than $2,500 in concession fees, t-shirt payments and school registration fees were missing.

Auditors said that restitution has been made by the former employee, who was not identified in the report, and all funds have been returned to the school. The report prepared for the state auditor said that because of the small size of the school, the school secretary was also the school bookkeeper “who received funds, prepared deposits and posted receipt activity.”

The report also said that some of the Ouachita Parish schools are not properly maintaining their capital assets in compliance with property control policies.

At Richwood High, auditors said, the property control manager could locate only one of 19 items searched for, “leaving the remaining 18 items unaccounted for.” In a test of capital asset schedules for four rooms, the report said, there were items that were on the list of property and not in the room and equipment in the rooms that were not listed.

“One of the many exceptions we discovered included finding 36 Dell computers with monitors in a classroom that had a capital asset schedule of three items,” auditors said. The computers were not listed on the most recent property manifest, the report said. “We also noted a list of capital assets totaling $117,867 that did not have a room location listed,” it said.

At Shady Grove Elementary School, laptop computers bought for the library between 2009 and 2013 were not in the library, but were found in a different room, according to the auditor’s report. The school also had capital assets of more than $65,000 that did not have a room listed for the items on the equipment log.

See here the complete report.

Simsboro, Cypress Springs Principals Hiring Process to Begin

03/31/2014

Applications for Principal of Cypress Springs Elementary and Simsboro School, and Supervisor of Special Education will be taken from Wednesday, April 2, 2014 to Tuesday, April 15, 2014, according to a memo from Lincoln Parish Schools Superintendent Danny Bell. The matter is on the agenda for the Tuesday, April 1 Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) meeting set for 6:00 PM, at the Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

See here the memo and job advertisement.

See here the agenda.

Prior to the full meeting, the Building & Grounds Committee will review architect’s plans for the Cypress Springs construction project. That meeting is set for 5:30 PM.

See here the agenda.

Also to be considered is the distribution of tax monies from the 1979 sales tax. Those funds are typically used for art, PE, library supplies, music, science, and periodicals.

See here the memo.

Reports to be hear include personnel and the 2/28/14 fund balance.

Lincoln Detention Center Commission Meeting Monday

03/30/2014

The Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission will meet Monday, March 31, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

Port Allen, LA Update – 3/28/14

03/29/2014

Port Allen voter fraud investigated

Early voting ballots in mayoral race eyed

By Terry L. Jones
tjones@theadvocate.com

PORT ALLEN — The West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office have launched an investigation into allegations of voter fraud in the Port Allen mayoral race, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. Richie Johnson said Friday.

The investigation began late Thursday after the Sheriff’s Office received multiple complaints about hundreds of mail-in and faxed requests for early voting ballots that did not match voter information on file with the parish Registrar of Voters Office, Johnson said.

Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office, confirmed Friday her office had also received complaints, which it turned over to the Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s proper protocol in this case,” she said. “We can’t release any details beyond that since it is an active investigation.”

Johnson said at least one of the ballots under review in the special election is from someone tied to the campaign of former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, who is seeking re-election after her Nov. 16 recall, less than six months into her first term as mayor.

Amendment Would Require 20% Turnout For Local Taxes

03/28/2014

A proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by the Louisiana Legislature and the voters, would require a turnout of 20% of registered voters in order for local tax elections to be valid. Senate Bill 200, by Bret Allain (Dist 21) of Franklin, would take effect in 2015.

Whenever a proposition to incur or assume debt, issue bonds, or levy a tax is required by this Article or other law to be approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, in order for the proposition to be considered approved, the total number of persons voting in such an election shall constitute not less than twenty percent of the number of voters on the official or active list of voters on all the precinct registers and any supplements thereto for all the precincts in which the election is held.

See here the document.

Local tax elections are usually scheduled for dates where nothing else is on the ballot, usually in the Spring months. A low turnout election is considered a better bet for passage, as the proponents are more likely to vote on those dates than the average voter.

Watch for a tremendous push from municipalities, school boards, and parish governments to defeat this proposed amendment.

Jonesboro Council Meeting – 3/26/14

03/27/2014

Because of prior obligations, we were unable to attend a Noon, Wednesday, 3/26/14 meeting of the Town of Jonesboro’s Board of Aldermen. One of our corespondents took notes on that event, for which we are very grateful. Herewith, his account of the meeting:

Attendance was much improved this meeting (100%) compared to the regular March meeting (20%). The primary purpose of this special meeting was to hear J. Walker give an oral presentation of his company’s town audit. The alderpeople had copies of the unofficial audit (not official until approved by the state auditor).

In the interest of brevity, I will enumerate the gleaned verbal comments, as best as possible not having a hard copy, made during the presentation summary in the form of bullet points.

• J.Walker (JW) – June 2012, a disclaimer had to be issued because many employees had dual or conflicting assignments causing too many errors to accurately conclude an audit.
• JW – While the town in not totally stabilized fiscally yet, it is greatly improved with record keeping much more accurate.
• K.Folden (KF) – we are working on getting the software updated because Microsoft no longer supports it (xp?). We are not at 100% yet, with water and sewer issues leading the area of work needed from lost revenue.
• JW – Unable to comment on past audits because they were not in compliance with state mandates of taxpayer funds.
• KF-The town is suspected to be overpaying for garbage collection due to many residents not paying for the town service.
• JW – Reductions in town assets were not in audit because of previous lack of information (examples: police officer trained at town expense and not repaying the town for the training after taking another job shortly after graduation, missing town equipment, embezzled funds, etc.

Council comments invoked a spirited discussion on why the fiscal administrator seems to have more authority with the special authority from the state compared to the Lawson Act that normally dictates how a town operates. The town attorney, Doug Stokes was not present at the meeting, despite being requested in advance of the meeting, to field legal questions. The legal questions that were not answered are to be added to the agenda for the next meeting.

Ken also gave an impromptu “state of the town”.

• Monies (grants) are needed to improve the town’s aging sewer/water system
• Town has reduced payroll and benefits by $250k with no reduction in services to town.
• Audit is still not good and work is continuing to get it where it belongs
• Town pays $22k for Entergy billing and has not had to owe for past billings anymore.
• Bank statements are now reconciling with town records.
• We continue to need monies for street improvements.

It’s Not Just in Louisiana – Charlotte, NC Mayor Pinched

03/27/2014

Charlotte, NC Mayor Cannon resigns after corruption arrest

Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor’s office.

Cannon, a 49-year-old Democrat who took office only four months ago, was scheduled to show up at a luxury apartment in SouthPark for yet another payoff from what he thought were businessmen needing his influence in city matters, the affidavit says.

But after arriving, Cannon learned who they really were, a source confirmed: undercover FBI agents who’d been recording their meetings over the past three years, long before he launched a campaign for mayor in 2013.

Cannon resigned as mayor Wednesday night, capping an extraordinary day that included allegations of an illicit trip to Las Vegas and payoff negotiations at the Capital Grille – the same uptown steakhouse that figured in the region’s last major political scandal. It was there that former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black of Matthews, also a Democrat, took bribes from a group of chiropractors seeking help with legislation.

Homer, LA Mayor Arrest – LA State Police Statement

03/25/2014

Homer Mayor Arrested for Malfeasance

On March 24, 2014, investigators with the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations arrested the mayor of Homer, LA for six (6) counts of malfeasance in office. The arrest is a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, and the Claiborne Parish District Attorney’s Office.

In early March 2014, investigators began an extensive review of the town of Homer’s records. The review revealed 41-year-old Alecia Smith of Homer used her position as mayor to misuse public funds from 2011 to 2013.

Smith took trips that were not related to town business which were paid for in advance by the town of Homer. She then used the town’s credit cards for expenses incurred during the trips. Smith falsified public records to justify the expenses in order to get reimbursed.

Investigators also discovered Smith used city of Homer credit cards to download audio files and data to her personal computer, all of which were non-work related expenses. Additionally, Smith failed to pay water bills owed to Homer in excess of $800 which was a violation of the town of Homer policy.

Investigators obtained arrest warrants and arrested her for six (6) counts of malfeasance in office. Smith was booked into Claiborne Parish Detention Center.

If convicted, Smith faces up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $30,000 and may have to pay restitution.

The Louisiana State Police online reporting system is available to the public through a secure reporting form that is submitted to investigators. Citizens can access the form by visiting http://www.lsp.org and clicking the suspicious activity link.

Liquor License for Monroe Club Pulled From Agenda

03/25/2014

The application for a Class A Alcoholic Beverage Permit for the Washington Street Jazz Club was pulled from tonight’s agenda of the Monroe City Council.

No explanation was given.

However, documents obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) seem to verify that the facility is within the prohibition zone for alcohol-related business that are closer than 300 feet to schools or churches.

See here the documents.

The bar was the subject of a controversy last year when controversial Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo was seen at the bar during a campaign event for erstwhile Shreveport mayoral candidate Sam Jenkins. At the time, the bar was unlicensed.

Mayo-Backed Shreveport Mayoral Candidate Pulls Down
Monroe Mayor Mayo Spotted at Illegal Bar

We will have additional reporting later on tonight’s meeting.