Archive for November, 2016

VP-Elect Pence to Visit NOLA Saturday

11/29/2016

Vice-President Elect Mike Pence will visit Louisiana Saturday, a week before the runoff for U. S. Senate between Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democrat Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell.

According to the press release, all the state’s GOP statewide elected officials will be there, in addition to the state’s Republican congressional delegation.

Doors will open at 10:45 a.m. at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, Bastian Mitchell Hangar, 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd.

See here the announcement.

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Early Voting Underway in Louisiana

11/27/2016

Early voting for the December 10 General Election is underway in Lincoln Parish. It began Saturday, 11/26, and will continue through Saturday, December 4. Registered voters can vote in person at the Lincoln Parish Court House, Registrar of Voters office on the ground floor.

Here is the ballot for most of the parish

U. S. Senator (Select 1)
Foster Campbell #3 Democrat
John Kennedy #13 Republican

PW Prop. No. 1 – 4.41 Mills – PJ – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
Shall the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “Parish”), levy a special tax of four and forty-one hundredths (4.41) mills on all property subject to taxation within the Parish (an estimated $2,028,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2017 and ending with the year 2026, for the maintenance and/or improvement of public roads and bridges throughout the Parish? YES/NO

Shall the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “Parish”), levy a special tax of four and forty-one hundredths (4.41) mills on all property subject to taxation within the Parish (an estimated $2,028,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2017 and ending with the year 2026, for the construction, improvement and/or hardsurfacing of public roads and bridges throughout the Parish? YES/NO

The City of Grambling will have this tax to decide upon.

Shall the City of Grambling, State of Louisiana (“City”), pursuant to Article VI, Section 30 and 32 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, as amended, and other constitutional and statutory authority, continue to levy and collect a special tax of five (5.00) mills on all property subject to taxation in the City (an estimated $55,387 reasonably expected to be collected from said levy for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, commencing with the year 2017, for the purposes of maintaining, operating, improving, and supporting the waterworks system of the City? YES/NO

Second Circuit Court Issues Surface

11/23/2016

Attorney blows whistle on Second Circuit Judge Larry Lolley for ex-parte messages in Sixth St. bar case

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com 2 hrs ago 0

Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Larry Lolley initiated an ex-parte communication with Monroe attorney Mark Neal last month, warning the attorney the appellate court would likely rule against his client, the Sixth Street Saloon in Monroe, prior to a hearing on the bar’s appeal.

The ex-parte communication was conveyed in text messages from Lolley to Neal on Oct. 27. Ex-parte communications concerning substantive matters or the merits of a case are forbidden, according to the state Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

Lolley, of Monroe, said Neal was wasting time pursuing his client’s lawsuit and should take his career into consideration before taking such cases. Lolley also indicated the Second Circuit’s three-judge panel – including himself – would likely favor the defendant, not Neal’s client.

Neal reported the incident to the Second Circuit in an Oct. 31 letter that included screenshots of the text message exchange with Lolley. The Ouachita Citizen obtained the documents through a public records request to the court.

“This exchange clearly and unfortunately demonstrates unsolicited, ex-parte communication from Judge Lolley to me regarding a case pending before this court and to which the three presiding judges are referenced by name,” stated Neal’s letter to the court.

Rapides DA Bookkeeper in the Till

11/21/2016

From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – Seized Cash Assets Not Deposited

Records indicate that the District Attorney for the 9th Judicial District (District Attorney) received $794,166 in seized cash assets from local law enforcement agencies from January 1, 2009 through October 31, 2015, that were not deposited into the District Attorney’s bank accounts. The records further indicate that: (a) $267,640 in funds from sources other than seized assets were deposited improperly into the asset forfeiture bank account; and (b) the District Attorney’s Office failed to disburse $281,015 in asset forfeitures as ordered by the 9th Judicial District Court (Court). Former Bookkeeper Margaurette Beard was primarily responsible for receiving, recording, and depositing seized cash assets and disbursing those funds in accordance with Court judgments. By failing to ensure that all seized cash assets were properly recorded and deposited, allowing funds from sources other than asset forfeitures to be diverted into the asset forfeiture bank account, failing to comply with Court orders, and failing to properly disburse asset forfeiture funds, Ms. Beard may have violated state and federal laws.

Several years ago, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) did a series of stories on the pitfalls of asset forfeiture laws.

School Performance Scores Released

11/17/2016

2016-sps

See here the complete statewide list.

SPS: School Performance Scores

Trump Elector Kay Katz to Stand Firm

11/17/2016

‘Dump Trump’: Kay Katz bombarded with requests to abandon her electoral vote for Trump

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

Kay Katz, one of Louisiana’s eight Republican presidential electors, is weathering a deluge of requests by email and telephone asking her to renege on her pledge to vote for President-elect Donald Trump.

“I have cleared 250 emails just today,” said Katz during an interview with The Ouachita Citizen Thursday afternoon.

Katz, who is president of the Ouachita Parish Women’s Republican Club, was selected as a presidential elector by the state Republican Party earlier this year. She’ll join the state’s other seven presidential electors at the state Capitol on Dec. 19 to cast her vote, which was pledged to Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

Katz said changing her vote is not an option for her. Members of the Electoral College who do not vote for their party’s specified candidate are referred to as “faithless electors.”

“I would never break my word,” she continued. “I was elected by the state party to represent my candidate, who was upheld by the people. If you become faithless and turn away, you truly are faithless.

One of the callers pleading with Katz to change her vote identified herself as a New Orleans native who later moved to California.

“She told me she and her friends used to leave New Orleans and come to Monroe to eat boudain,” said Katz. “I told her, ‘You need to go over your talking points. We can’t even spell boudain up here.’”

Poor Spending Oversight @ LA Wildlife & Fisheries

11/14/2016

Auditor Reports Lack of Management Oversight over Wildlife and Fisheries’ Funds and Operations

An evaluation of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ internal financial controls found a lack of management oversight over the Department’s funds and operations, the Legislative Auditor said in a report released today. A draft copy of this report was previously obtained by the media, and news stories were published based on this preliminary information. The Legislative Auditor has now completed his work and issued the final report on November 9, 2016, citing several deficiencies, including purchases that appear excessive, missing state property, and inadequate controls over purchasing, contracting, and time and attendance.

The state entered into an agreement with British Petroleum Exploration & Production Inc. (BP) following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that would pay the Department $18 million to develop a seafood testing program. The report noted that the Department lacked financial and operational oversight over the nearshore segment of the BP Tissue Sampling Program, which resulted in deviations from the Seafood Safety Testing Sampling Protocol, costs that appear excessive, and missing state property. Employees spent more than $3 million, or $2,796 per fish for the 1,091 fish sampled. Of the total, approximately $2.3 million was spent on boats, fishing and water sports equipment, lodging, vehicles, household supplies and groceries, clothing, cameras, and other items.

Auditors also found a lack of management oversight over purchasing, sponsorships, and contracts. Some examples included in the report are the Department’s purchase of a used aircraft for $1.8 million without a proper inspection that could cost the state up to $580,000 in repairs as significant damage to the plane’s landing gear was found after the Department took possession of it; $283,675 spent on clothing and uniform purchases for Department employees that were made without a formal uniform policy; $220,000 spent on a Catamaran that was used twice between 2012 and 2016 and appeared to have little or no benefit to the agency, and $188,805 paid for sponsorship agreements that may have been a violation of the Louisiana Constitution as a donation of public funds.

Auditors documented additional findings relating to improper oversight of the Louisiana Saltwater Series or the License to Win! Sweepstakes that may have resulted in donations of state resources or ineffective programs; and to not properly accounting for property, including drones and guns.

Auditors made 15 recommendations for changes. Department management provided corrective actions on all recommendations and pledged cooperation with the auditors in addressing the deficiencies.

Here is the complete report.

Cox Wins 2nd Circuit Judgeship

11/08/2016

Cox defeats incumbent for seat on appeals court

By Gary Hines – KTBS-TV3

In a rare challenge of a sitting judge, Bossier-Webster District Judge Jeff Cox defeated incumbent Jay Caraway on Tuesday for a seat on the state appeals court representing much of north Louisiana.

Cox had 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Caraway, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

Cox heavily outspent Caraway in the race, which also had its share of acrimony. A Caraway campaign ad pointed to the number of times Cox’s rulings in civil cases have been overturned on appeal. The Cox campaign criticized Caraway for reducing the bond that had been set for a man accused of rape. A judicial campaign oversight committee said both candidates misrepresented some of the facts.

The judgeship is on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal. Voters in parishes from Bossier to Lincoln voted in the election.

Weyerhaeuser Offices Return to Ruston

11/08/2016

Weyerhauser, a Seattle, WA base wood products company will be consolidating several satellite offices around North Louisiana into a soon to be constructed buidling on a one acre lot at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Hwy 167.

Weyerhauer formerly occupied the old Willamette Industries regional office building on Reynolds Drive, after its hostile takeover of Willamette in 2002. After downsizing in the late 2000’s during the recession, Weyerhaeuser located its remaining personnel into offices at Dodson and Taylor. Last year, it bought Plum Creek Timber, and the decision was made to build an office in Ruston.

Last night, the Ruston City Council approved sale of the city owned lot to Weyerhaeuser for half the appraised price, conditional that the company create at least 20 jobs within two years of the sale. If that condition wasn’t met, the company would be obligated to pay the full price, City Attorney Bill Carter said.

Asked Jim Pearce (Ward 4), “These 20 jobs created, they have to last the duration?” Carter said there was no time limit on the agreement.

The sale price was $140 thousand and the lot appraised for $280 thousand.

The council approved several budget amendments for the fiscal year ended 9/30/16.

Budget Amendment Ordinance
Requests for Budget Amendments

Finally, the council introduced an ordinance that may prove to be contentious with many Ruston homeowners. Among other things, curbside garbage pickup would be cut from twice a week to once a week.

See here the proposed ordinance.

A public hearing and final vote on the matter will be held at the December council meeting.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tomorrow

11/07/2016

Lincoln Parish Police Jury committee meetings start early tomorrow (11/8), with the Christmas Party Committee kicking off at 4:30 PM. Here are the meeting times and agendas.

Christmas Party Committee – 4:30 PM
Agenda

Health & Welfare Committee – 5:00 PM
Agenda

Public Works Committee – 5:30 PM
Agenda

Finance Committee – 6:00 PM
Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
Agenda

The meetings will be at the Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.