Archive for the ‘Louisiana Legislature’ Category

More on the LSP Crib

12/17/2017

The (Baton Rouge, LA) Advocate has a front-page story with more details on the infamous “crib” located at the Department of Public Safety’s Baton Rouge compound.

Is it legal? Mike Edmonson’s tax-free lifestyle sparks questions about other Louisiana-paid housing

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

The legislative auditor’s report that lambasted Mike Edmonson reverberated through the state Capitol last week, as lawmakers heard testimony that the former State Police superintendent exploited taxpayer money to provide a life of perks and privilege for his family.

Among the audit’s chief findings was that Edmonson and his family lived rent-free at the State Police compound in Baton Rouge, relying on prisoners for cooking, cleaning and even dog-walking services for nearly nine years.

That allegation — and claims the state dropped the ball by not including the accommodations in Edmonson’s W-2 income — raises questions about similar state-paid housing arrangements extended to certain university presidents, prison wardens and other officials across state government.

Dozens of other state employees who receive complimentary housing do not pay taxes for that benefit because the accommodations are a condition of their employment. That appears to be a key difference in the case of Edmonson, who became the first superintendent to move his family into the Residential Conference Center, a property built in 2002 to house the governor and State Police superintendent during emergency situations.

Edmonson’s successor, Col. Kevin Reeves, now stays at the residence during the week but returns to his home and family in Jackson Parish on weekends. “I do not by any means live in the house,” Reeves said. “It is a place for me to stay and lay my head while I’m here.”

Remember, there’s a special session of the Legislature coming within the next few months, and all we’ll hear from Bel Edwards and the thieves at the State Capitol is that we’re not paying enough taxes.

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Col Reeves Now “Staying” @ Edmonson LSP Crib

12/15/2017

LSP “Crib”, DPS Compound, Independence Blvd, Baton Rouge

Just past the end of Government Street, on land once occupied by the Baton Rouge Downtown Airport sits the Louisiana Department of Safety compound. There, you will find the Louisiana State Police Headquarters, the LSP Training Academy, LSP Crime Lab, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the State Fire Marshal, and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Also, you’ll find a nice crib, the one that was home to former LSP Colonel Mike Edmonson from 2008 to 2017. The one he lived in tax-free, with maid service and meals. We’re not sure how large it is, but a rough guess is 3 thousand square feet. It has a three-car garage, and a basketball goal in the driveway.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council talked about it a good bit, and one of the council members (Rep Blake Miguez) ask new LSP head Col. Kevin Reeves about his housing arrangements.

“Presently, I stay in the housing during the week when I’m in town working on the compound, but I do not by any means live in the house. It is a place for me to stay, lay my head while I’m here,” said Reeves.

It wasn’t made clear in the meeting whether or not Reeves pays taxes on what is obviously a valuable benefit of employment.

See the entire two-hour meeting here.

Your Tax Dollars at Work!!

12/14/2017

From today’s Louisiana State Police Audit:

From February 2013 to February 2016, the City of New Orleans purchased hotel rooms for LSP troopers who resided outside of the New Orleans area who were providing public safety services during Mardi Gras. During this time, records and statements obtained from LSP troopers and others indicate that Colonel Edmonson:

Obtained extra hotel rooms paid for by the City of New Orleans, either in his name or in the name of other LSP troopers;

Allowed his friends and family to stay in those extra hotel rooms free of charge; and

Received reimbursement from LSP for a hotel room in 2014, even though the City of New Orleans purchased a hotel room for him at another hotel.

By providing rooms purchased by the City of New Orleans to his friends and family free of charge, and by receiving an improper reimbursement, Colonel Edmonson may have violated the Louisiana Constitution and state law.

Legislative Audit Advisory Council to hear State Police Audit

12/14/2017

This afternoon’s meeting in Baton Rouge of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council (LAAC) promises to be interesting, with the recent audit of the Louisiana State Police on the agenda to be discussed.

The (Baton Rouge) Advocate’s Jim Mustain has done yeoman work in uncovering the agency’s corruption in several recent stories.

Long-time readers of Lincoln Parish News Online will recall that the LAAC is a joint legislative committee that oversees the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, and meets periodically to review reports and take whatever action is warranted.

Here’s today’s agenda. The meeting is set for 2:30 PM.

This page should have a link that will allow live viewing of the meeting.

1:55 PM, 12/14/17

The complete report, including responses from the personnel involved has been released.

Read it here.

Edmonson Update

12/10/2017

Audit: Mike Edmonson’s inner circle received free ‘hotel-style’ rooms at State Police Training Academy

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

State and federal authorities have set their sights on Mike Edmonson, the longtime Louisiana State Police superintendent who retired this year amid a cloud of controversy that has widened recently as investigators examined the lavish lifestyle Edmonson enjoyed for years at taxpayers’ expense.

Among the allegations Edmonson faces is that, unlike previous superintendents, he moved his family into the State Police compound and lived there rent-free for nine years — a benefit that the state apparently did not report to the Internal Revenue Service.

State auditors recently found that the Edmonsons lived off inmate labor, making use of trusties who cooked, cleaned and even walked the family dog at the colonel’s residence. The questionable use of state resources included the construction of a shoe closet for Edmonson’s wife.

But Edmonson’s accommodations aren’t the only living arrangements at the State Police compound that have drawn investigators’ attention.

A few troopers and others in Edmonson’s inner circle also lived in “VIP” housing at State Police training facilities, a perk afforded to them “at no charge and without a public purpose,” according to a report on a lengthy inquiry by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.

Audit: LSP’s Edmonson was a Dirty Cop

12/02/2017

Scathing audit finds Mike Edmonson took repeated handouts, used State Police role for personal gain

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

As Louisiana’s longest-tenured State Police superintendent, Mike Edmonson created a life of luxury for his family at taxpayers’ expense, ordering troopers to chauffeur his wife around the state, tapping state resources to service his son’s Jeep and even relying on trusties to walk the family dog at the Department of Public Safety compound where the Edmonsons lived rent-free for years.

Edmonson, who retired amid scandal this year, also allowed friends to stay in New Orleans hotel rooms — paid for by the city of New Orleans — reserved for troopers providing security at Mardi Gras; ate free meals at the State Police cafeteria; ordered inmates to deliver food to his residence; and improperly used the Governor’s Mansion dry-cleaning service to clean his uniforms — while taking a stipend from the state for dry cleaning.

Those are among the findings of a scathing report being finalized this month by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office — an inquiry that portrays Edmonson as a freeloader who never turned down a handout.

The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Advocate, concludes that Edmonson may have broken several laws during his nine years as superintendent, a tenure marked by a pattern of using public resources for personal benefit and questionable excesses, like free tickets to the annual Endymion ball.

Election Day Today!

11/18/2017

Louisiana State Treasurer

Sumlin Trial Date Vanishes?

10/30/2017

The glacial pace of justice in the case of former Louisiana State Representative William Sumlin just got slower.

According to records at the Lincoln Parish Clerk of Court, he is scheduled for trial today (Monday, 10/30) at 9:00 AM in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

However, during an October 17 hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, that hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 1:30 PM. Apparently, the state and the defense neglected to set a new trial date.

We will be in court today for the Bonton/Daye/Demps matter, so we will try to find out what’s what with the Sumlin case.

Ruston Native Wins National Travel Award

08/29/2017

Edmiston

LOUISIANA OFFICE OF TOURISM ASSISTANT SECRETARY KYLE EDMISTON NAMED NATIONAL STATE TOURISM DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR FOR 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. – The U.S. Travel Association named Louisiana Office of Tourism Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston their State Tourism Director of the Year for 2017 during the annual Education Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference held this year in Minneapolis, MN. ESTO is the premier annual professional development gathering for destination marketing professionals.

“It’s no surprise Kyle received this prestigious award,” said Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “Five years of record-breaking visitation numbers to Louisiana and new, exciting initiatives rolled out to increase the visitor’s experience are just a few reasons this award is well-deserved. I also want to applaud our tourism staff, travel partners, and the U.S. Travel Association for working with us to attract new and returning visitors to get that unique, authentic Louisiana experience.”

“Louisiana tourism numbers are stronger than ever thanks to Kyle and his team at the Louisiana Office of Tourism, and this award is an acknowledgement of his years of outstanding work and commitment to our industry,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Kyle’s forward thinking commitment to increasing international and out-of-state visitation to Louisiana has done wonders for the state’s economy. Quite simply, he is proof that state tourism promotion works. Kyle’s incredibly effective advocacy for travel to Louisiana has greatly benefited not just the people of Louisiana, but the entire southern region and our nation’s economy as a whole.”

In his role as Assistant Secretary, Edmiston oversees the Louisiana Office of Tourism’s promotion, marketing, and selling the state as a desired travel destination to domestic and international visitors. Under Edmiston’s oversight, Louisiana has seen record-breaking numbers each year for visitation, spending, and tax revenue generated for the state. Since 2012, the number of visitors to Louisiana has doubled, from 24.3 million in 2012 to 46.7 million in 2016. During that same time, visitor spending increased from $10.1 billion to $16.8 billion and annual tax revenue generated for Louisiana increased from $719 million to $1.04 billion.

Edmiston was instrumental in bringing a renewed focus on the international traveler, leading to an increase of 36 percent in international visitation in 2015, the second-highest of any state. Additionally, Edmiston worked tirelessly to bring the U.S. Travel Association’s premier travel marketplace, IPW, to New Orleans in 2016. As part of the events for IPW, he worked with CVBs and travel partners around the state to coordinate seven familiarization trips for tour operators and media reaching every corner of Louisiana.

To further promote and increase international visitation to Louisiana, Edmiston collaborated with a team of industry influencers to land new, direct air service into New Orleans. In March 2017, British Airways began direct service four days a week from London’s Heathrow Airport to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. Starting in November, British Airways will increase service to five days a week. Then, in May 2017, Condor Airlines began flying seasonal flights, May through September, from Frankfurt, Germany, to New Orleans. This new air service are the first direct flights from Europe to fly to New Orleans since being suspended following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Also under Edminston’s leadership, the Louisiana Office of Tourism received six national awards including: State Tourism Office of the Year; a Gold Adrian Award in Digital Marketing Excellence for Destination Recipe Video Series; three Mercury Awards for Best Travel Website, Best Social Media Campaign and Judges’ Choice for Best Overall Campaign for Destination Recipe Video Series; and an American Advertising Award—Judges’ Choice Digital Marketing for Louisiana Libations.

On a national level, Edmiston is the immediate past chairman for Travel South USA’s board of directors and serves on the board of directors for Brand USA and the Southeast Tourism Society. He also serves on U.S. Travel Association’s board of directors executive committee.

“Kyle has been the ultimate state partner for New Orleans. Never before have we had so many joint partnerships, international successes, and such a united approach to presenting and innovatively marketing New Orleans and Louisiana together to the world. No one has ever been as deserving of an award as this recognition of Kyle,” said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry.

Mark Romig, Chairman of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Board and President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., praised Kyle for his accomplishments and successes. “We could not be more proud of Kyle and his accomplishments. He is one of the first state directors to partner Brand USA with our fellow Louisiana DMOs to create a cooperative international marketing effort which, in one year, increased our international business 34 percent! In the five years since Kyle has led the Office of Tourism under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor, Louisiana has set new records each year for visitation, economic impact and state tax revenue generated. As you know, that’s not an easy feat in today’s economic environment, and our year ahead looks even more promising.”

“The growth our Louisiana tourism industry has seen is nothing short of remarkable and has come as a direct result of Kyle’s leadership, creativity and desire to create strong, lasting partnerships in both domestic and international marketing,” said Jill Kidder, President and CEO of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. “In his more than five years in the leadership role, the Louisiana Office of Tourism has steadily set new records, including a nearly 45 percent growth in state tax revenue generated by the industry. These significant accomplishments under Kyle’s leadership have raised the profile of Louisiana’s tourism industry in the eyes of our elected officials and continue to successfully communicate the industry’s strong return on investment.”

“Kyle has played an important and major role in leading the State’s tourism efforts and promoting Louisiana as the culinary and cultural destination. We wouldn’t be where we are today without his expertise and we look forward to working together with him on many more endeavors.” Paul J. Arrigo, CDME, Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO.

“Kyle is a tremendous leader in Tourism and I am proud to call him my friend. He has great vision, and relationships across the country which benefit us all,” said Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission President and CEO Ben Berthelot. “Most importantly, he always answers the phone when I and colleagues across the state call, which is most appreciated. All of us in Lafayette, the Happiest City in America, congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

“Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston has a heart for promoting everything that is unique in Louisiana. He consistently reaches out to tourism partners across Louisiana and creates programs and partnerships to bring out the best of who we are as a state,” said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A native of Ruston, LA, and graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Edmiston served as Director of Alumni Relations at Louisiana Tech and President and CEO of the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he led efforts increase visitation to Ruston and Lincoln Parish.

“Kyle could not be more deserving of this honor. He has been a friend and mentor to me for about 15 years, dating back to his pre-tourism days. His rise within the industry has been fascinating, and is a testament to his passion for travel and tourism. His display of industry knowledge and unending desire to not be satisfied with the status quo make him respected industry wide,” said Travis Napper, President and CEO of Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This award speaks to the leader that Kyle has been for Louisiana’s tourism industry. I had the pleasure of working with Kyle while he was President and CEO of the Ruston Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, and I saw his dedication to our industry every single day,” said Timothy Bush, President and CEO of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. “Since becoming the Assistant Secretary, he has continued to be a strong advocate and positive voice for promoting Louisiana and all that it has to offer. Kyle is a shining example of an industry leader. I’m very proud to call him a friend and mentor.”

A panel of state and U.S. territory tourism directors nominate candidates for State Tourism Director of the Year. Three finalists are then selected by ballot. The U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors votes on the award prior to ESTO.

Gov Bel Edwards Vetoes Free Speech on Campus

06/27/2017

Governor vetoes bill targeting free speech regulation on college campuses

BY WILL SENTELL | wsentell@theadvocate.com

A bill touted as a way to prevent the disruption of campus speakers was vetoed Monday by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The bill would have required management boards for LSU, Southern University and other schools to spell out policies aimed at protecting campus speech, “including without limitation and opinions they (students) find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive.”

Schools would be required to outline free speech rights during freshman orientation.

In his veto message, the governor said the legislation is not needed.

“This bill is a solution in search of a problem that creates a long, detailed structure for the evaluation of the freedom of expression on college campuses,” Edwards said.

Harris said the bill stemmed in part from the disruption of conservative speakers at the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere.