Archive for February, 2022

Lincoln Parish School Board Tomorrow

02/28/2022

The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet Tuesday, March 1, 6:00 PM, S.T.E.M. Center, 525 Tarbutton Road.

Here is the agenda.

LSP “policy” does not supersede law

02/16/2022

Last year when it was discovered that several state police officials had their phones “sanitized” (What? Like with a cloth or something?), it puzzled us how such a thing could happen.

It was “policy,” the Louisiana State Police General Counsel Faye Morrison said in an email to Sound Off Louisiana’s Robert Burns.

Yesterday, Louisiana Voice’s Thomas Aswell actually dug up the aforesaid policy documents.

What we cannot comprehend is how a law enforcement agency chock full of lawyers can with a straight face suggest that their “policy” invalidates state law.

LA RS 14:132.  Injuring public records

A.  First degree injuring public records is the intentional removal, mutilation, destruction, alteration, falsification, or concealment of any record, document, or other thing, filed or deposited, by authority of law, in any public office or with any public officer.

B.  Second degree injuring public records is the intentional removal, mutilation, destruction, alteration, falsification, or concealment of any record, document, or other thing, defined as a public record pursuant to R.S. 44:1 et seq. and required to be preserved in any public office or by any person or public officer pursuant to R.S. 44:36.

C.(1)  Whoever commits the crime of first degree injuring public records shall be imprisoned for not more than five years with or without hard labor or shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars or both.

(2)  Whoever commits the crime of second degree injuring public records shall be imprisoned for not more than one year with or without hard labor or shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or both.

State Police Brass destroyed evidence in Greene coverup

02/12/2022

Nakamoto: Top State Police leader tied to Ronald Greene cover-up had phone data erased

WBRZ – TV 2 – Baton Rouge

By: Chris Nakamoto and Trey Schmaltz

BATON ROUGE – As pressure started mounting against State Police following controversial excessive force incidents,  including the death of Ronald Greene, the phone of top agency Lt. Colonel Doug Cain was scrubbed of its data.

It’s a process known as being “sanitized,” and it appears to have erased the messages and other information from Cain’s phone.  The timing is interesting: It came amid a state and federal investigation into Greene’s death.

State Police confirmed Cain’s phone was sanitized but said it could provide little other information because it kept no records.

Chris Nakamoto originally received word from a source about Cain’s phone being cleared of data.  State Police only verified it Thursday when it responded to a public records request and avoided elaborating on when the data was erased from the phone.  State Police said there were no documents related to the process.  In follow-up emails, WBRZ asked for the agency to talk directly with Cain about when his phone was cleared.  A spokesperson eventually offered that Cain estimated it occurred in February 2020.

Cain is among three top leaders at State Police that had their phones wiped clean. The other two officials who had phones wiped after Greene’s death were former LSP Superintendent Colonel Kevin Reeves and his second-in-command, Mike Noel.

Jury Gives in to Walker’s $120K ambulance fee demand

02/09/2022

Apparently frightened by Ruston Mayor Ronny’s threat to terminate ambulance service outside the city’s corporate limits, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury last night acceded to his demand for a quadrupling of the parish’s annual contribution.

The $30 thousand payment was increased to $120 thousand for 2022. The motion also created an ambulance committee that is tasked with developing a long-term plan for a parish-wide ambulance service.

The action came in the jury’s Health & Welfare Services Committee on a motion by Matt Pullin with a second by Milton Melton.

Though not a committee member, Skip Russell had several pointed questions.

“Do we know how many – either during the year 2020 or 2021 – how many times the ambulance service went out into the parish,” he asked.

He also asked if the city received reimbursement from Medicare or private insurance.

“I just would like a little justification, a little documentation showing what those figures really should be,” he added. “I guess I’m offended a little bit when we’re told take it or leave it, and there are no concrete figures as to where that money is going and what it’s being spent for.”

Committee Chair Annette Straughter agreed with Russel about the threat, but said that “we have to work with someone.” She had no answer for Russell’s questions about the numbers.

Sharyon Mayfield echoed Straughter’s comments about not having much of a choice about an ambulance service.

Theresa Wyatt said she met with the parish’s fire district and suggested that an alternative could be to use that entity as a foundation for a future ambulance service.

The Ruston Daily Leader’s Caleb Daniels spoke up and said that he had figures from the city on the number of call for 2021. He said that the service made about 1,650 calls outside the city, and that was about 40% of the total.

The committee voted unanimously for the motion, and the full jury later ratified the committee’s action.

At the conclusion of the jury meeting, Bill Smith had a comment about the jury’s audit for 2020, which was released to the public in November of last year.

Smith question why the auditor had never given a report to the jury in person, as has been customary in the past. He suggested that since the report had several findings, the jury didn’t want the negative publicity.

See here that audit report.

WBRZ: Edwards sent helicopter for Belton

02/08/2022

By Chris Nakamoto and Erin McWilliams

(LA Gov Exec Council Matthew) Block was also in constant communication with John Belton, the district attorney in Union Parish.

“Have a moment to talk,” Block texted Belton.

At one point as things were unraveling, the governor’s office even offered to send a helicopter to pick up Belton to meet with the Greene family in Baton Rouge. Sources confirmed to the WBRZ Investigative Unit, Belton used the helicopter offered by the governor’s office.

Another text appears to show Belton was keeping the governor’s office abreast of meetings.

“Greene family and their attorneys would like to meet with me Thursday,” Belton wrote to Block. “If this causes issues with you, then I will reconsider. Out of respect, I wanted to make sure you knew about it.

See here the complete story.

Ruston to alter EDD 1 boundaries

02/08/2022

A couple of new restaurants will be added to the Economic Development District 1 in Ruston, and one deleted, if an ordinance introduced at last night’s meeting of the Ruston Board of Aldermen is approved.

Added were McAlister’s Deli at 1101 North Service Road East, and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, 1803 Farmerville Hwy. Removed was The Platter at 708 Celebrity Drive.

Said City Attorney Bill Carter, “This is our periodic review of the hotels and restaurants in EDD1. We have had two new restaurants, which are McAlisters in the Wal Mart strip mall, and a new Popeyes on Farmerville Highway.”

The district was created by the city council in 2018, and took effect at the beginning of the 2019. An extra 1.75% sales and use is collected on hotel stays and meals located within the district.

Two street projects were discussed that are about to commence, one in the area of Dan Reneau Drive, South Home, and West Mississippi.

The other area is South Monroe, West Texas, West Louisiana, and Oil Mill Street.

The final approval of an $18 million bond refinancing deal was agreed to, with an estimated interest savings of $700 thousand expected.

Texts, emails reveal Ronald Greene coverup extended throughout LA state government

02/08/2022

From WBRZ-TV2 Baton Rouge – By Chris Nakamoto and Erin McWilliams

BATON ROUGE- A trove of text messages and emails obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit through a public records request show key members of Governor John Bel Edwards’ staff, lawmakers and those at the top of Louisiana State Police were all talking among themselves about the Ronald Greene case as WBRZ stories played on television weekly throughout 2021.

The emails are thousands of pages long and show the massive force of the general public writing to the governor expressing outrage that no one had been arrested tied to the Greene case.

Police Jury meets Tonight

02/08/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet tonight (Tuesday, February 8), Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Committee meetings begin at 6:00 PM.

Health & Welfare Committee – 6:00 PM

Agenda

This agenda item is notable: Discuss and Take Action, if Necessary, Ambulance Services and Authorize President to Appoint Members to Joint Ambulance Committee.

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Agenda

Ruston City Council Tonight

02/07/2022

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet tonight (Monday, 2/7), 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Covid a no-show @ School Board Meeting

02/02/2022

Maybe the most newsworthy item at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board was what wasn’t discussed. The word “covid” was mentioned but once in passing. No talk of elevated absenteeism, lack of substitute teachers or other personnel.

After the past several months of remote learning, curtailed schedules, and quarantines, no conversation about extensive illness in our schools is the best news we’ve heard in a while.

The meeting itself was just about as routine as it gets.

Assistive Technology Facilitator Terri Belknap reported on the progress being made on technological aids for students with learning disabilities.

One of the tools for the hearing-impaired is text-to-speech.

“That can give that student more independence. They can take that technology with them,” she said.

Belknap also talked about Bookshare, an online library for those with reading impairment disabilities like dyslexia or blindness can access books.

The personnel report had but a handful of changes.

Superintendent Ricky Durrett said that at the March board meeting the district’s teachers, principals and students of the year will be recognized.