Archive for the ‘Jonesboro’ Category

When do the Politicians Take a Pay Cut?

04/15/2020

Over the last six weeks, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands of those have been our fellow Louisiana citizens.

As we had predicted, local governments have begun to trim their payrolls, because their tax revenues have been vaporized by shutdowns. School districts, police juries, and cities have furloughed employees.

Have any local politicians volunteered to cut his/her pay? Very few, if any.

In any of the last month’s public meetings we’ve been to, or watched online, never has that subject come up.

City councils? Police jurors? School board members? Judges? District attorneys? Senators? Representatives? Sheriffs?

So when will our “public servants” show they are really willing to share the pain that the people who pay their salaries are now enduring?

Local Government Layoffs Soon?

03/17/2020

Unlike the Federal Government, The State of Louisiana and local governments cannot print money. They must rely on current revenues to meet expenses.

Lincoln Parish local budgets, with which we are intimately familiar, rely on sales taxes for a large percentage of revenue. The City of Ruston, in particular, funds all of the new 1.5% tax on restaurants and hotels.

With Gov. John Bel Edwards order shuttering restaurants all across the Bayou State, he has vaporized a huge revenue stream for local and state governments. Tourism will go away in the blink of an eye.

The largest expense component for government is payroll, in some cases making up 85% of expenses.

Many teachers probably thought closing the schools would amount to a month-long paid vacation. They perhaps should spend their time updating their resumes.

Used to be, having a government job was seen as having a lifetime guarantee of employment. You had to really mess up to get fired. Great retirement and medical benefits, too.

That hayride is about to end.

Jackson Parish Ballot

08/10/2019

Jail Time for Arcadia Council Member

01/04/2018

Arcadia council woman to spend a year in prison for theft

Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3 Shreveport

An Arcadia council woman will spend a year in jail following her sentencing Wednesday in Bienville District Court for a felony theft conviction.

Hampton has been unable to participate on the Town Council since her conviction last fall. She was automatically suspended when convicted. If the conviction is upheld on appeal, she’ll have to resign.

A Bienville Parish jury convicted Hampton of felony theft of more than $1,500 following a four-day trial. The six-person jury was unanimous in its decision.

Hampton was arrested in February 2011 after state Inspector General Stephen Street concluded she diverted more than $37,000 in water payments over a three-year period, starting in July 2007 and ending June 2010. An investigation started after auditors found discrepancies in the water department records.

Hampton’s job was to take payments, file reports on the collections and deposit the money. The theft occurred from 2006-2010 and reports were altered to hide the thefts, Street said in an investigative report.

Despite pending her criminal prosecution, Hampton was elected to the Town Council in the fall 2014 elections. She took office Jan. 1, 2015, with her term set to expire Dec. 31, 2018.

Power Restored to Jackson Parish

01/02/2018

Jackson Parish Entergy customers are back on line late this morning after what a spokesman for the company said were “load issues” as a result of the cold weather.

Electric power demand is often greatest during extreme cold weather.

Roderick Worthy told Lincoln Parish News Online that high demand spikes can sometimes result in distribution system imbalances.

Said Worthy, “Sometimes we have to manually re-balance the system” to fix the problem. Worthy added there appeared to be no major equipment failures.

The outages began to appear early this morning, and affected nearly 3 thousand customers by about 8 AM.

Much of Jackson Parish without Power

01/02/2018

On the coldest morning of the season, much of Jackson Parish is without electric power.

According to Entergy’s outage map, Weston, Chatham, and Caney Lake, are without power until later this morning. Over 2,700 customers are affected.

From the website postings:

Weston area: Customers Affected: 1,007
Outage Start Time: Jan 2, 6:03 AM
Estimated Restoration Time: Jan 2, 8:30 AM
Comments: An outage has been reported in your area. Additional information will be provided when available. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Chatham area: Customers Affected: 1,659
Outage Start Time: Jan 2, 7:57 AM
Estimated Restoration Time: Jan 2, 10:30 AM
Comments: A serviceman is working to determine the cause of your outage. Power will be restored as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Former Arcadia Town Clerk Convicted

09/26/2017

Arcadia town clerk suspended from office following theft conviction

Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3

An Arcadia councilwoman may no longer participate in Town Council matters following her conviction last week for stealing money when she was the water clerk.

A Bienville Parish jury late Thursday night convicted Patricia Hampton of felony theft following a four-day trial. The six-person jury was unanimous in its decision.

Hampton was arrested in February 2011 after state Inspector General Stephen Street concluded she diverted more than $37,000 in water payments over a three-year period, starting in July 2007 and ending June 2010. An investigation started after auditors found discrepancies in the water department records.

Hampton’s job was to take payments, file reports on the collections and deposit the money. Reports were altered to hide the thefts, Street said in an investigative report.

District Attorney Danny Newell inherited the case when he took office in 2015.

“Assistant District Attorney Russell Davis has worked very hard on this case and did an excellent job of presenting the case to the jury,” Newell said in a news release. “Hampton is the last of two former employees of Arcadia to have either been found guilty or pled guilty to felony theft. The town will begin recovering these stolen funds through restitution payments from both defendants.”

That other former employee, Theresa Burris, testified in Hampton’s trial. She’s the former town clerk whose theft through altered checks took place during the same time frame as Hampton’s thievery. In addition to having to repay the town, Burris spent a year in prison.

Newell expressed appreciation to Street and his investigator Tom Boulton for their assistance in investigating the Hampton case.

Despite her pending criminal prosecution, Hampton was elected to the Town Council in the fall 2014 election. She took office Jan. 1, 2015, with her term set to expire Dec. 31, 2018.

However, Louisiana law dictates that Hampton, now a convicted felon, is automatically suspended from public office, and she will no longer receive the monthly Town Council compensation pending an appellate review. She’ll have to resign if the conviction is upheld.

Hampton will be sentenced Nov. 8.

On a related note, early in Hampton’s trial, Billie Smith, wife of Arcadia Mayor Eugene Smith, was banned from the courtroom. She reportedly was sharing testimony from the stand with her husband, who as a witness was not supposed to be privy to what others were saying nor talk about it with anyone outside of the courtroom.

Newell to Review Case Before Deciding on Thompson Retrial

09/18/2017

Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District Attorney Danny Newell will have to “review the case files before making a decision” on whether to retry former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson on malfeasance.

The Louisiana Supreme Court today vacated Thompson’s three convictions, one for malfeasance, and two counts of misappropriation. The court remanded the case to the district court for a new trial on the malfeasance charge.

Newell noted that the trial was held four years ago, during the term of his predecessor Jonathan Stewart.

Newell made his comments late this afternoon to Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).

An interesting concurring opinion by Chief Justice Bernette Johnson was part of today’s ruling.

She claimed that Thompson was first elected mayor in 2000. In fact, Thompson was first elected in 2006, took office on 1/1/07, then re-elected in 2010.

The late Ira Reeves was mayor in 2000.

See here the documents from the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Another specious claim from Johnson was that: “The evidence demonstrates that defendant did not create the town’s accounting issues, but rather inherited longstanding recordkeeping problems and a poorly-managed accounting structure.”

It was well-documented during our extensive coverage of the town’s finances that prior to Thompson’s term, the town for many years had no significant issues raised during the annual financial audit.

Former Jonesboro Mayor Thompson’s Convictions Overturned by LA Supreme Court

09/18/2017

Former Town of Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson’s malfeasance convictions have been overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Writing for the majority was Justice John Weimer:

We granted certiorari in this case primarily to consider defendant’s contentions that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions on three counts of malfeasance in office, (2) the district court erred by permitting the state to introduce unduly prejudicial “other bad acts” evidence under La. C.E. art. 404(B) and the court of appeal compounded that error by applying a faulty “harmless error” analysis in assessing the effect of the erroneous admissions, and (3) the district court erred in denying his motion for a mandatory mistrial under La. C.Cr.P. art. 770 due to the prosecutor’s references to race.

After reviewing the evidence in this case from the perspective of a rational trier of fact who interprets that evidence as favorably to the prosecution as any rational trier of fact could, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to find defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to Count I of the malfeasance in office charge; however, as to Counts II and III, we find that no rational trier of fact could have found defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Pretermitting all other assignments of error, we additionally find that the district court erred in denying defendant’s motion for a mandatory mistrial after the prosecutor directly referenced race in a comment before the jury that was neither material nor relevant and that could create prejudice against defendant in the minds of the jury members. Accordingly, we vacate defendant’s convictions and sentences, and remand this case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

See here the complete ruling.

Thompson was convicted by a Jackson Parish jury in September, 2013.

Hearing set in BR on Jackson Parish Hospital Lawsuit

08/21/2017

An August 30 hearing has been scheduled in 19th Judicial (East Baton Rouge Parish) District Court in Baton Rouge to rule on whether an injunction will be granted that would declare Act 171 unconstitutional. Originally, the hearing was set for 9:30 AM this morning.

The hearing will be in Judge Timothy Kelly’s courtroom.

See here the court documents.

The injunction would prevent the Jackson Parish Police Jury (JPPJ) from appointing members to the Jackson Parish Parish Hospital Board of Directors in accordance with the act.

The legislation, signed by Governor John Bell Edwards last June, restructures the hospital’s governing board to five members from seven, and places qualifications on new appointees. Several new appointments have been made to the board, which recently met.

Plaintiffs claim in the suit that the legislation deprives them of equal protection of the law in violation of the U. S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

Plaintiffs in the suit include Herbert Simmons and Windy Calahan; and two police jurors, Maxie Monroe and John McCarty.

Representing the plaintiffs is Baton Rouge attorney Ernest Johnson.

Defendants include Gov. Edwards and the Jackson Parish Police Jury.

Last week, the jury hired Alexandria law firm Gold Weems to represent them.