Archive for October, 2016

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

Wall St Journal: CenturyLink, Level 3 Come to Terms


CenturyLink to Buy Level 3 Communications for $25 Billion

By Joshua Jamerson

CenturyLink Inc. said Monday that it reached a cash-and-stock deal to buy Level 3 Communications Inc. for roughly $25 billion, a marriage that would give the communications companies more heft to weather a competitive landscape.

Shares of Level 3 rose 8% to $58.41 in premarket trading, while shares of CenturyLink slipped 0.7% to $67.

Level 3 runs one of the largest internet backbones in the world but has turned its focus increasingly to small and midsize business in an attempt to reverse slowing sales growth in its core business. CenturyLink, traditionally a rural local-phone-service provider, has sought to upgrade its network with fiber-optic lines in a bid to compete with AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and rivals in the cable industry.

Under the deal’s terms, CenturyLink agreed to swap $26.50 in cash and 1.4286 CenturyLink share for each share of Level 3. The company said the deal was worth $34 billion, including debt, and is expected to close by the third quarter of 2017.

CenturyLink Chief Executive Glen Post will lead the combined company, and Level 3’s chief financial officer, Sunit Patel, will serve as financial chief of the combined firm.

The chairman of CenturyLink’s board at the time of the closing will continue to serve as chairman of the combined company. CenturyLink has agreed to appoint four Level 3 board members at closing.

The combined company will be based in Monroe, La., and will maintain a significant presence in Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area.


Wall St Journal: Monroe, LA based CenturyLink in Merger Talks


CenturyLink in Advanced Talks to Merge With Level 3 Communications

By Dana Mattioli and Dana Cimilluca

CenturyLink Inc. is in advanced talks to merge with Level 3 Communications Inc., a deal that would give the business-telecommunications companies greater heft in a brutally competitive industry.

A deal could be announced in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. As always, there is a possibility the talks could fall apart.

Terms of the deal couldn’t be learned. As of Thursday afternoon before the Journal’s report of the talks, Level 3, based in Broomfield, Colo., had a market value of $16.8 billion. CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., was worth $15.2 billion.

Shares in Level 3 were up 11% at $52.28, while CenturyLink shares were up 8.3% at $30.58 on Thursday afternoon after the Journal’s report.

About Those Red Light Cameras


Ex-CEO of company that operates redlight cameras in Lafayette sentenced to prison for bribery scandal

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP/KLFY) — The former CEO of a Phoenix-based traffic-camera company, Redflex, has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for her role in a scheme to bribe public officials in Ohio’s capital in exchange for city contracts, the Associated Press Reports.

A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, sentenced Karen Finley on Wednesday to 14-months in prison.

Finley pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit bribery and she now awaits sentencing in a similar corruption case in Chicago.

Ohio lobbyist John Raphael was sentenced in June to 15 months in federal prison for extortion in the scandal.

Authorities said Raphael extorted money in the form of campaign contributions for elected officials from the traffic-camera company Redflex for contracts awarded by the Columbus City Council.

According to the Lafayette Consolidated Government, Lafayette’s red light camera program, SafeLight, is operated by Redflex Traffic Systems INC. Redflex is responsible for the administration of the entire program.

Proposed Louisiana Constitutional Amendments


Proposed Amendment No. 1
Act 677 (2016 Regular Session)
amends Article XI, Section 5.
“Do you support an amendment to provide that the manner of appointment for the registrar of voters in each parish is as provided by law and to require the qualifications of the registrar to be provided by law?”

Proposed Amendment No. 2
Act 680 (2016 Regular Session)
adds Article VIII, Section 7.2.
“Do you support an amendment to authorize the postsecondary education management boards to establish the tuition and mandatory fee amounts charged by institutions under their supervision and management, without legislative approval?”

Proposed Amendment No. 3
Act 31 (2016 First Extraordinary Session)
amends Article VII, Section 4(A).
“Do you support an amendment to eliminate the deductibility of federal income taxes paid in computing state corporate income taxes?”

Proposed Amendment No. 4
Act 678 (2016 Regular Session)
adds Article VII, Section 21(M).
“Do you support an amendment to authorize an exemption from ad valorem property tax for the total assessed value of the homestead of an unmarried surviving spouse of a person who died while on active duty as a member of the armed forces of the United States or the Louisiana National Guard, or while performing their duties as a state police, law enforcement, or fire protection officer?”

Proposed Amendment No. 5
Act 679 (2016 Regular Session)
adds Article VII, Section 10(F)(4)(h), 10.15, and 10.16.
“Do you support an amendment to establish the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund for the deposit of recurring mineral and corporate tax revenues, to restrict the use of the fund to 10% of the balance when the balance reaches $5 billion, to restrict the use of the fund to construction projects and transportation infrastructure, and to allocate recurring mineral revenues to the payment of state employee retirement debt?”

Proposed Amendment No. 6
Act 681 (2016 Regular Session)
amends Article VII, Section 10(F)(2)(b); and adds Article VII,
Section 10(F)(4)(h), (i), (j), (k), and (l)).
“Do you support an amendment to authorize the use of up to five percent of current year appropriations or allocations from statutorily or certain constitutionally created funds or up to one percent of the current year’s balances in certain constitutionally created funds to eliminate a projected deficit in the next fiscal year if the official forecast for the next fiscal year is less than the official forecast for the current fiscal year or if the official forecast has been reduced by at least one percent from the most recently adopted estimate for the ensuing fiscal year, and to exempt certain funds and mandates from being used to eliminate a projected deficit?”

Iberia Sheriff’s Trial 10/31


Iberia sheriff’s civil rights violation trial set Oct. 31 in Shreveport

By Gary Hines

The trial of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal, who is charged with directing the beatings of prisoners by his deputies, will be held in Shreveport because of extensive publicity surrounding the case in Acadiana.

The trial will begin Oct. 31 at the United States Court House. It is expected to last two weeks.

Scheduled to be tried along with Ackal are a top supervisor in the sheriff’s department and a former captain. All have pleaded not guilty.

Nine other deputies have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation alleging a series of beatings inside the Iberia Parish jail’s chapel.

Prosecutors said inmates were beaten there because there were no surveillance cameras. Ackal allegedly directed the beatings, telling deputies to “take care” of certain inmates. The indictment against Ackal also alleges some inmates were beaten because they were accused of making improper comments toward deputies, while one inmate had complained about jail conditions.

Former Monroe City Councilman Disbarred


Upon review of the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee and disciplinary board, and considering the record, briefs, and oral argument, it is ordered that Arthur Gilmore, Jr., Louisiana Bar Roll number 1059, be and he hereby is disbarred, retroactive to June 9, 2013, the date of his most recent interim suspension. Respondent shall also be given credit for the time he served on interim suspension during the period of June 19, 2011 to September 21, 2011 and during the period of May 2, 2012 to April 3, 2013. Respondent’s name shall be stricken from the roll of attorneys and his license to practice law in the State of Louisiana shall be revoked. All costs and expenses in the matter are assessed against respondent in ccordance with Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 10.1, with legal interest to commence thirty days from the date of finality of this court’s judgment until paid.

See here complete decree.

Iberia Parish Clerk of Court Cited


Iberia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office Improperly Kept Unused Advance Court Cost Money, Failed to Report Unclaimed Property

An investigation into the Iberia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office found that the Clerk of Court improperly kept $314,495 in unused advance court costs and failed to remit unclaimed property to the state Treasurer as required by law, the Legislative Auditor said in a report released today.

Investigative auditors found that between May 2013 and May 2016, the Clerk of Court transferred $218,021 from the office’s advance deposit bank account to the office’s salary fund bank account to pay salaries and other expenses. State law requires that the money be returned to the individuals who originally deposited the money. An additional $96,924 currently in the advance deposit fund also should be returned to the people who made the original deposits, the state auditor said.

Under state law, clerks of courts are required to collect advance funds from individuals when they file lawsuits. The money is used to pay for services performed by the clerk of court and other governmental agencies, such as opening civil matters, filing and serving civil pleadings, giving notice, making copies, certifying copies, etc.

Once a lawsuit is concluded and all fees and other charges of record are paid, clerks of court must refund unused advance costs to the person who posted the deposit. They also must refund unused advance costs even when a lawsuit is not concluded if no pleadings have been filed and the suit has been completely inactive for five years.

In addition, auditors found that the Clerk of Court failed to report and remit unclaimed property to the state Treasurer. Under state law, any unclaimed property must be sent to the state Treasurer each year. An examination of office records showed that checks issued to original depositors from the Clerk of Court’s advance deposit fund were not presented to the bank, which resulted in outstanding checks. The office reissued at least 334 of these outstanding checks – which totaled $47,611 – and deposited them in the Clerk of Court’s salary fund in April 2012.

See here the complete report.

Ford Lawsuit Testimony Ends


Testimony concluded late yesterday morning at Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, for a Civil Bench Trial, Ford v Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1.

Division A Judge Cynthia Woodard told the attorneys to have their briefs submitted within three weeks. She is expected to rule within a couple of months.

Ford is suing the agency for “comp time,” insurance costs, and penalties. He is demanding almost $500 thousand, plus attorney fees.

Taking the stand on behalf of the defendant fire district was former Chief Neil Kirkland. He testified that for the ten years that he was chief (1993-2003) he never was given “comp time” for any overtime hours he worked. He said that if he had to work late or on weekends, he considered that part of his job duties and wasn’t due paid compensation for it.

However, he said that if he needed to take off, he did so as long as it didn’t conflict with job duties.

Current Fire Chief Kevin Reynolds also testified that he does not record or take “comp time.” Not so, hourly employees, Reynolds said. Their time sheets reflect any extra hours worked, for which they are compensated.

During testimony of district Board of Commissioners Chair Richard Aillet, there was discussion of a change in medical insurance carriers and what retired employees are covered.

At present, Kirkland is the only retiree with paid medical coverage.

In his suit, Ford claims that as a retiree, he is also due paid medical coverage. A set of minutes was introduced into evidence that shows the intent of the board was to provide retirees with coverage, Ford’s attorney said.

Ford’s attorney is Daniel Street. Representing the district is Shreveport Attorney Michael Lowe.

LPPJ Refers Jail Expansion to Finance Committee


Discussion of Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone’s proposed $3 million jail expansion plan took up the entire hour of last night’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Public Property & Buildings Committee meeting.

The committee did not reject or approve the proposal outright, but instead voted to send it to the jury’s Finance Committee to discuss it further and figure out just how to pay for it.

Stone, Lincoln Parish Detention Center (DC) Warden Jim Tuten, and Architect Mike Walpole presented a repeat of what was explained at last week’s DC Commission meeting – a 96 bed dorm for trustees, and a 10 bed segregation wing for inmates with mental or other special issues.

According to Stone, housing overflow inmates at adjoining parish facilities is costing the Lincoln Parish Jail some $300 thousand annually. If he had additional room at the DC, that money would be saved, and would pay for any expansion.

However, as the building actually belongs to the police jury, they would have to fund it. For that amount, a bond sale would likely be required, and the jury would be the entity responsible for repayment.

Jury Administrator Courtney Hall noted that the State Bond Commission requires a dedicated revenue stream prior to approval of any bond issue. All public entities in the state must seek that agency’s approval for borrowing.

Jury President Jody Backus (District 7) voiced concern that future state funding could be cut, which is a major source of jail revenues. The jail houses prisoners on behalf of the Department of Corrections, and is paid a daily per diem of $24.39 for service.

Said Backus, “My concern is the state. What are they going to do next spring? The $24, they could cut it in half.”

Stone said that Governor John Bel Edwards promised him that would not happen. “They need us. I really don’t think that’s going to happen,” Stone said.

Randy Roberson (District 4) noted that the jury had just learned of the issue four days ago, and that more time was need to review the financing.