Archive for the ‘Louisiana Legislature’ Category

Louisiana State Police Corruption Update

07/17/2018

State Police Commission delays action on Las Vegas ‘side trip’ discipline; troopers say they’ve been scapegoated

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

Three Louisiana State Police troopers disciplined last year for taking a lavish “side trip” to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving to a law enforcement conference in California offered their first public remarks on the controversy during their appeal Monday before the State Police Commission.

At turns resentful and conciliatory, they said they had been scapegoated for a scandal that embarrassed the State Police and prompted the retirement last year of Mike Edmonson, the agency’s longest-serving superintendent.

The State Police Commission, after a full day of testimony Monday, deferred action on the appeal.

The commission, which acts as a civil service board for the State Police, emerged from executive session without a decision on whether to uphold, amend or overturn the demotion and the pay reduction that two of the troopers received after their taxpayer-funded excursion became public. A third trooper on the trip received a letter of reprimand but contends even that discipline was unfair.

The inaction means a decision will not be announced until next month at the earliest, when the commissioners are scheduled to meet in Monroe to hear another appeal.

The troopers insisted Edmonson not only signed off on the side trip but encouraged the troopers to take a scenic route to the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference. Edmonson initially said he had not approved the trip, but text messages and phone records show he stayed in touch with the group as they drove across the country in a State Police vehicle that Edmonson wanted to have at his disposal at the San Diego conference.

The circuitous journey took the troopers hundreds of miles out of their way and included an overnight stay at a Las Vegas casino resort and a visit to the Hoover Dam.

The side trip prompted two state investigations, including a legislative audit that found Edmonson abused his power and took repeated handouts during his years at the helm of State Police.

The state Legislative Auditor’s Office found the “side trip” resulted in at least $13,000 in unnecessary taxpayer expenditures.

One commissioner, Brian Crawford, the chief administrative officer of Shreveport, resembled a prosecutor at times during the four-day hearing, referring to Edmonson’s testimony as “contradictory” and grilling the troopers on their decisions.

“I blame Col. Edmonson for most of this mess,” Crawford said. “He didn’t do you any favors. But you guys have some individual responsibility.”

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Louisiana State Police Update

07/12/2018

Edmonson subpoenaed to testify in hearing on Louisiana troopers’ Las Vegas ‘side trip’

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

Mike Edmonson, the former longtime State Police superintendent, has been subpoenaed to testify at a hearing this week in which three troopers are challenging the discipline they received for taking an expensive “side trip” to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving to a law enforcement conference in California.

Edmonson was out of the country Wednesday as the troopers’ appeal began in Baton Rouge, but officials said they expected him to appear before the Louisiana State Police Commission on Friday.

Edmonson, who retired amid scandal last year, has been under federal investigation for months and could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

But his testimony could be the most critical part of the proceeding, as the troopers have maintained that Edmonson not only authorized the trip but kept in contact with them as they traversed the country in a State Police vehicle.

Two Sparta Meetings This Week

07/08/2018

Two meetings related to the Sparta Aquifer will be held this week – one in Ruston on Monday, and the other in Farmerville on Wednesday.

The Monday meeting is billed as a planning meeting and will reportedly have Louisiana Lt Governor Billy Nungesser as a guest.

Monday, July 9, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton, 3:00 PM
Agenda

The Wednesday meeting is the regular quarterly meeting of the Sparta Groundwater Commission.

Wednesday, July 11, Police Jury Meeting Room, 300 E. Water Street, Farmerville, 2:00 PM
Agenda

More LACE Hijinks

06/21/2018

DeSoto sheriff blocks release of personnel files to auditors; says not related to LACE

Gary Hines & Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3, Shreveport

The state legislative auditor, who is investigating suspected abuse of a traffic-enforcement program in DeSoto Parish, is meeting resistance from the local sheriff, who has gone to court to block a subpoena in which the auditor seeks personnel records as part of a possible expanding probe of the sheriff’s department.

The legislative auditor — who is investigating whether a group of DeSoto deputies got paid for overtime hours they didn’t work — overstepped his authority by asking for unredacted personnel records, Sheriff Jayson Richardson said in a petition filed in DeSoto District Court on Tuesday.

The subpoena, issued last week, seeks copies of the personnel files of Richardson and 12 deputies – five of whom are retired and several others who are administrative employees. Only four now-former deputies have been publicly implicated in the traffic-enforcement probe.

The investigation involves a program called LACE — Local Agency Compensation Enforcement — which has been under fire on a statewide basis as separate investigations focus on state troopers in South Louisiana suspected of padding their paychecks. One trooper made more than $200,000.

Shadoin a Snitch for the Governor?

06/05/2018

From The Hayride:

By Scott McKay

We’ve been told repeatedly by Shadoin’s Republican colleagues that House GOP delegation meetings are all but hopeless when he’s around. “We have to meet in small groups because when he’s in the delegation meetings he runs and tells the governor everything that’s said,” one complained. “We’ve gone back and forth over whether to kick him out.”

What’s shameful is Rob Shadoin’s misrepresentation of his constituents back in Ruston. District 12, which he supposedly represents, is one of the most conservative in the state. In the last four major elections in Louisiana, District 12 went 76 percent for Bill Cassidy, 64 percent for David Vitter, 75 percent for Donald Trump and 77 percent for John Kennedy. And yet Shadoin, who was on hand at Edwards’ inauguration, has put together one of the worst voting records of anyone with an “R” next to his name in the Louisiana legislature from the perspective of those conservative voters. His LABI scorecard marks indicate a pitiful 33 percent score in 2016 and a 49 percent score last year; this year isn’t likely to be any better when the final score comes out.

Shadoin Makes AFP “Takers Dozen” List

06/04/2018

Rep. Shadoin Revealed as Newest Member of AFP’s Taker’s Dozen

BATON ROUGE, La. – Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana (AFP-LA) announced the newest member of the Taker’s Dozen: Rep. Robert Shadoin.

AFP-LA State Director John Kay released the following statement:

“Rep. Shadoin has been in lockstep with his other Taker’s Dozen members raising taxes and growing the government. He can’t hide from his voting record of supporting increased taxes on small businesses, the income of hard-working Louisianans, online businesses, and an increased sales tax. We urge Rep. Shadoin to consider his constituents and vote against any tax increases as this special session winds down – they are tired of shelling out more of their hard-earned dollars to finance legislators’ reckless spending habits.”

Has Rob Shadoin Ever Voted Against a Tax?

05/26/2018

The Attempt At A Compromise Tax Bill Failed, And Here’s Where Louisiana Is With Its Budget Crisis

By Scott McKay

HB 27 by House Republican delegation chair Lance Harris, which would have raised about $369 million in tax revenue via a one-third-cent sales tax renewal and the “cleaning” – that is, removing exemptions – from sales taxes on the books, fell short of the needed 70 votes for passage with only 64.

What this vote showed, and this time, really proved beyond any credible denial, is that Edwards has no control whatsoever over his own base. It calls into question whether he even has a legislative base anymore beyond RINO Republican Rob Shadoin, who made a fool of himself by attempting to amend the bill to make it a half-cent sales tax and raise an extra $220 million in revenue. Shadoin was immediately set upon by other Republicans from the microphone, with Rep. Jay Morris asking him if he could ever remember voting against a tax increase and stumping Shadoin in the asking.

Shadoin: Keeping “temporary” Taxes is Really a Tax Cut

05/22/2018

Two years ago, the Louisiana Legislature and Governor Bel Edwards put in place a “temporary” one cent sales tax increase, set to expire 6/30/18. Guess where Lincoln Parish’s state representative comes down on this issue as the deadline approaches.

Louisiana Teachers to Strike?

05/22/2018

Survey shows Louisiana teachers support a strike for pay raises

By Wilborn P. Nobles III
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Sixty one percent of respondents in an online survey by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers said they would support a statewide walkout or strike in order to force lawmakers to approve pay increases. The survey results were released Monday (May 21) by the teachers union.

An LFT news release stated 3,832 teachers from 73 school districts in Louisiana responded to the “Louisiana Teacher Salary Satisfaction Survey,” which was provided between April 10 and May 7. Les Landon, spokesperson for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said Monday the survey was “promoted heavily” through social media and that it was not limited to LFT’s 20,000 union members.

The survey’s findings come as teachers across several states stage walkouts over school funding. The results show that 67 percent and 76 percent of respondents are willing to petition their local school board and lawmakers in Baton Rouge, respectively, to demand pay raises. When asked “Which of these steps are you willing to take to win significant pay raises,” 59 percent said they would do a “mass demonstration” at the state Capitol in Baton Rouge.

LFT Press Release

$12 Thousand/Yr Sheriff Pay Raise Signed into Law

05/18/2018

A bill that will give Louisiana Sheriffs an average pay raise of $12,750/year was signed into law last week by Governor Bel Edwards, and will become effective 8/1/2018. The raises will be effective July 1, 2020

See here Act 123.

To qualify for the higher pay, a sheriff must have graduated from the FBI Acadamy, or have an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, or have 20 years experience in law enforcement or the military. Any one of the requirements will qualify the individual.

According to the fiscal note from the Legislative Auditor, the average base pay of Louisiana sheriffs today is $161,599/yr, and the average annual retirement contribution is $20,604.

See here the document.