Archive for July, 2020

Lincoln School District Supt Milstead to Retire

07/30/2020

Lincoln Parish School District Superintendent Mike Milstead has told school board members that he will retire at the end of 2020. The information was revealed in a memo distributed today along with the agenda for next week’s meeting of the board.

See here the memo.

Milstead was formally appointed to the job in April, 2015, and began the job July 1 of that year. His contract was renewed in 2017.

An accompanying memo recommends that the board hire attorney Jon Guice to assist in the selection process for a new superintendent.

DA Says Not Enough Evidence to Challenge Campbell Candidacy

07/29/2020

The Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney’s Office said that “We did not find enough evidence to challenge” the candidacy of incumbent Fifth District Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell for the upcoming November 3 election.

The news was reported today in a Zach Parker story for the Ouachita Citizen (subscription required).

Lincoln Parish News Online had reported earlier this week on the complaint filed with the DA.

“Pandemic Pod” Learning The Future of Education?

07/28/2020

We’ve noticed the past several days articles in national newspapers about an unfolding phenomenon on the education front: Pandemic Learning Pods.

Wall Street Journal: Amid Coronavirus, Parents ‘Pod Up’ to Form At-Home Schools
USA Today: As school starts online, parents need to study up on ‘pandemic pods’
Chicago Tribune: ‘Pandemic pods’ and ‘micro-schools’: How parents are finding ways to help their kids — and themselves — manage schooling at home

The best definition we’ve found is “any group of children, and their families, that get together regularly and in-person with measures in place to manage COVID-19 exposure risks. This includes many informal arrangements, such as two families whose adults trade off on supervision duties so that the children can safely play and participate in their school’s remote learning offerings. This can also include nanny shares, homeschool arrangements, smaller home-based preschools, playdate pods, and more formalized setups such as “microschools,” in which a teacher(s) is hired to educate a group of children in person.”

A Facebook page was created about three weeks ago, and already is up to nearly 30 thousand members – Pandemic Pods. A Frequently Asked Question page was also created.

It will be interesting to see if any “pods” have organized in Lincoln Parish.

Campbell Candidacy Challenged

07/27/2020

A complaint has been filed with Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton asserting that Foster Campbell is not eligible to run for a fourth term as Public Service Commissioner from the Fifth PSC District.

Ruston Attorney Heath Hattaway wrote in his complaint:

Foster Campbell is prohibited by law from becoming a candidate for the Public Service Commission because he has served more than two and one-half (2 1/2) terms in three (3) consecutive terms at the time of qualification.

1. Foster Campbell was first elected to the Public Service Commission on November 5, 2002 by a mere 3,000 votes (hereafter, “Term 1”).
2. Foster Campbell was re-elected on October 4, 2008 (hereafter, “Term 2”).
3. Foster Campbell was re-elected on November 4, 2014 (hereafter, “Term 3”).
4. Foster Campbell qualified for Term 4 on July 22, 2020.

Because Foster Campbell has previously served three (3) consecutive terms of office without the requisite two (2) year wait period found in Article IV, Section 22 (A), he would appear to be ineligible for office under the Louisiana Constitution.

Additionally, while there is a “special privilege” for persons who held the office in 2008 (Foster Campbell was in Term 2 of the office during this time), the Constitution is clear that an exception to the “special privilege” would prohibit him from seeking a Fourth Term during this election because the prior terms (Term 1, Term 2, and Term 3) are counted when considering whether a Fourth Term is permissible under the Constitution. See supra.

As such, I am objecting to his qualification for office under La. Rev. Stat.§ 18:492 A. (4) and submit this evidence to your office in accord with La. Rev. Stat. § 18:491 B.

See here the documents.

And Just Like That – No Free Ride for Foster Campbell @ PSC

07/23/2020

Long-time readers of Lincoln Parish News Online will recall our coverage for several years of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. Since 2007, District E has been represented by Shane Smiley. He served as the body’s President much of that time. That district covers much of North Monroe and the Swartz area.

Yesterday, Smiley filed as a candidate for the Fifth District of Louisiana’s Public Service Commission, challenging incumbent Foster Campbell.

Campbell, 73, is a career politician. He first won election to the PSC in 2003. Prior to that, for 26 years he had been a state senator from the 36th Senate District. Campbell has also run for U. S. Congress, U. S. Senate, and Louisiana Governor.

Smiley is a Republican and Campbell is a Democrat.

Also notable is another name from the OPPJ, Scotty Robinson.

Robinson yesterday filed as a candidate for U. S. Congress, Fifth District.

Durrett to Seek LPPJ District Three Seat

07/20/2020

Richard Durrett, a former administrator of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, will be filing as a candidate for the District Three slot this week, Lincoln Parish News Online has learned. Qualification for the Tuesday, November 3 election is July 22-24.

District Three encompasses much of the western part of the parish, and lies mostly south of Hwy 146 and west of Grambling. It includes the communities of Simsboro and Vienna.

Here is a map of the jury districts.

Incumbent Juror Marvin Franks was appointed to the seat last February, after a controversy over whether it was legal for him to have sought the office in the first place. The appointment was only good to the end of this year, with an 11/3 special election for the remainder of the 4 year term.

Lincoln School Calendar/Strong Start Plan

07/18/2020

Strong Start Plan 2020-2021

Library Tax Millage Vote set for Saturday, December 5

07/15/2020

With an 8-2 vote, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury last night approved a resolution calling a Saturday, December 5, 2020 election for re-imposition of an expiring property tax dedicated for operation of the Lincoln Parish Library. The proposed tax is for 10 years. The expiring tax was approved 10 years ago.

On a motion by Skip Russell (District 8) and a second by Logan Hunt (District 5), the yes votes were Russell and Hunt, and Theresa Wyatt (District 1), Hazel Hunter (District 2), T. J. Cranford (District 4), Glenn Scriber (District 6), Joe Henderson (District 9), and Milton Melton (District 10).

The two no votes were Marvin Franks (District 3) and Matt Pullin (District 7). Sharyon Mayfield (District 11) and Annette Straughter (District 12) were absent.

The vote came after about 25 minutes of discussion on what rate to set the millage. The expiring rate had been set at 5.99 mils, maximum, and the new resolution calls for a 5.85 mil rate, maximum. Recall that for the past few years, a lesser rate was actually collected so as to deplete an excess balance that had accumulated in the library’s fund.

For the tax year 2019, the rate collected was 4.65 mils, while the 2018 rate was 3.2 mils.

Franks suggested that a lower rate be asked for, and that he was dubious the voters would approve the 5.85 rate.

“We need to look at lowering that millage to get through the election and get it to pass,” he said. “I want a millage that will pass. And my gut feeling is this millage won’t pass,” he added.

Library Director Vivian McCain said the additional money was needed to help with the greater number of students that would be homes-schooling this year. Many students likely will be using the library’s computers and internet connection to keep up with lessons, she added.

“We feel like we need to put more money into the technology so that can bring those people in,” she said.

Pullin asked, “Do they need $2.7 million next year? Absolutely not.” He noted that the 5.85 rate would collect about $300 thousand more than the library’s present budget calls for.

See here the resolution as adopted.

During the earlier Personnel Committee meeting, Parish IT Director Tracy Calloway was allowed time to make comments regarding the recent controversy over the hiring of the Parish Administrator.

Calloway read from a prepared statement where he alleged that the hiring procedure was “fraught with poor training, poor leadership, illegal activities, lies, and a colossal lack of integrity.”

He suggested that the recent appointment of Doug Postel should be rescinded, a new hiring procedure be adopted, and a do-over of the interview and hiring process.

Calloway went on to suggest that the full jury vote to “immediately remove” District 8 juror Skip Russell from the body. He accused Russell of “serious lack of integrity, and either ungodly or immoral behavior.”

See here the complete statement.

The committee took no action after Calloway’s remarks.

The committee did hear from Personnel Director LaTonya Lacey who reviewed with the members a draft personnel hiring procedure. Many suggestions were made, but the committee took no action, and decided to further discuss the proposal in a future meeting.

LA Atty Gen: Bel Edwards’ Mask Mandate Unconstitutional

07/15/2020

In summary, the three provisions of the executive order – the mask mandate, the 50-person indoor/outdoor gathering limit, and the bar closure – are likely unconstitutional and unenforceable. Although the mask mandate and the 50-person limit may be good recommendations for personal safety, they may not be enforced with financial or criminal penalties. Both businesses acting under color of law as mask police and actual police acting as mask police could face liability if individual civil rights are violated due to the Proclamation.

Jeff Landry
Attorney General

See here the complete opinion.

LPPJ Committe Recommends Employee Covid Protocol

07/14/2020

Last night’s twelve minute Health & Welfare Committee meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury recommended to the full jury a one-page “protocol” on how Covid-19 cases would be dealt with among employees.

The recommendations define exposure or close contact, and details procedures when an employee is sick, has symptoms, or is exposed. The document also “highly encourages” employees to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

Committee Chair Annette Straughter said, “I ask that you please consider this as a protocol and not make it a policy, because as we all know day-to-day Covid operations, diagnosis, testing changes.”

After a few minutes of discussion, the protocol was adopted, with an amendment to have employees fill out a weekly checklist to be signed. If any two signs or symptoms are noted, then the employee would be tested for Covid-19.

Prior to the meeting, Straughter distributed a photo of a “face mask exempt card” that is Americans for Disability Act approved.