Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

No comments:
Monday is Memorial Day.  And So it Goes in Shreveport has a listing of some local events that are planned.
I am reprinting my Memorial Day post from last year.  If you have never properly observed Memorial Day, do so this year. Remember Dakota Huse and all of the other brave men who have fallen on the battlefield.

Monday is Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day. It is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.
Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.
Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. I think a lot of well meaning people simply misunderstand the purpose that was intended for this day, and if they are educated as to the geniune meaning of it, that they will observe it properly.
Memorial day is not to be confused for Veterans Day, which is the day on which we thank and honor all of those who served honorably in the military.
This is a day that we should observe solemnly, not just as the last day in a three-day weekend.
Brave men fought and died on our behalf, and their sacrifice demands that we give them the honor they are due.
On Memorial Day, all U.S. flags should be displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon, they should be raised back to full-staff.
Traditionally, a red poppy is worn on Memorial Day, inspired by the poem In Flanders Field which was written by a Canadian Lt. Colonel, John McCrae after he presided over the burial of a fellow officer.
When I was in school, and even when I was a young man, we always had poppies to wear. The VFW sponsors the ‘buddy poppy’, artificial silk poppies which are made by disabled veterans. Unfortunately, this tradition is being lost, except among veterans groups. Watch for pictures and videos locally of veterans observances and you will see them.
The poem, from WWI, describes the red poppies that covered the battleground and afterward, the rows of graves.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.




Thursday, May 26, 2011

Candidate Forum: Mark Toloso for Police Jury District 2

59 comments:
Mark Toloso has announced that he will seek the Police Jury District 2 seat.
I have been a resident of Bossier Parish for 48 years, living in District 2 for the past 19 years. I graduated from Parkway High School in 1973 and began serving Bossier Parish as a Sheriff's Deputy in 1977, retiring in 2008 as Captain. I want to continue serving Bossier Parish as Police Jury representative for District 2.
I am married to Janet Middleton Toloso. I am blessed with a daughter, Ashleigh, two step-children, Kimberly and Avery and two grandsons, Avery and Robert.
I will meet with Mark sometime in the next couple of weeks and do a complete profile on him.  If you have any questions you would like me to ask him, leave them in the comments section.
Here is a link to the maps of the new districts.  You'll have to enlarge when you get to the page to make sense of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Candidate Forum: Barrow Peacock for State Senate

16 comments:
Republican businessman BARROW PEACOCK today announced he would be a candidate for the Louisiana Senate, District 37.
Peacock, 41, is a partner in BHB Properties, a Shreveport investment and real estate firm. He holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and B. A. in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. A licensed Certified Internal Auditor, Peacock is a Louisiana Notary Public, and holds a Louisiana real estate license.
"For too long Louisiana has taxed too much and spent too much. Louisiana hasn't grown, the government has," Peacock said.
He supports term limits, will oppose new taxes, supports limiting the size of government, seeks to promote conservative values in Louisiana, would oppose any attempt to bring back the Stelly Tax, and would work to create a "Job Friendly" Louisiana.
Peacock serves as an elected member of the Louisiana State Republican Central Committee. He serves on the Board of Directors of Christus Schumpert Health Foundation, the Board of Directors of Louisiana Association for the Blind, and the Board of Directors of the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, on which he serves also as Finance Chairman. He is a member of the National Rifle Association, the Shreveport Rotary Club, a holder of a Louisiana Concealed Handgun permit, and serves as an Auxiliary
Deputy Sheriff in Caddo Parish.
He is married to the former Melanie Fuller and they are the parents of three sons. They are members of First Methodist Church.
The election is scheduled for October 22.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde

6 comments:
On this day in 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were killed over near Gibsland in Bienville Parish.  This ended a massive manhunt for the pair, who had killed 14 people, some of them law enforcement officers.
I put this video together a couple of years ago and ran it on the blog, seems fitting to do it again today.

Candidate Forum: Parker Ward for Caddo Commissioner

6 comments:
Friends,
I am running for Caddo Parish Commissioner in district 11. I am a Conservative Republican who believes in limited government and less taxes.
I believe I can unseat the current Commissioner and I believe I am the only person qualified and have the name recognition to make a successful run to unseat the current Commissioner. For too long he has neglected the Keithville/Springridge part of his district. He focuses most of his time in the Shreveport part of his district. I believe, we should focus all of our attention on the entire district.
I am running on a platform of freshness and something different. We need a real plan for real people to put Caddo Parish first. My plan is simple
-          Better roads that are built right
-          Work with all local law enforcement to decrease crime in the Parish
-          Bring Business to Caddo Parish by cutting the ad valorem property tax. During this bad economy, we need to get off the backs of our businesses which creates jobs for the citizens.
-          Lastly audit every single program and department being funded by the Parish Commission and once every 6 months hold several town hall meetings to show the taxpayers where their money is going.
My plan is real open transparency. We also need a Commissioner to be a positive influence in the community and who is free to represent the people.  I am also endorsed by Young Conservatives  (http://youngconservatives.weebly.com/).  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Confusion in District Court

27 comments:
The Times has an article this morning about the hearing yesterday at the Bossier Parish Courthouse for Gerald Needham, who is charged in the triple murder of Bill Norris and two other men last month.
On May 2nd Needham’s attorney, Randal Fish, filed for a preliminary examination to determine if Needham should be held pending an indictment. The hearing was set for yesterday.
According to the Times account, the courtroom was changed 5 minutes before the hearing at the request of the prosecutor in order to accommodate his schedule. When a Times reporter and Needham’s family went to the other courtroom, they say they were turned away by a plainclothes BCPD officer. The Times account also says that a receptionist in the DA’s office said the hearing was closed.
The judge, however, did not close the hearing, and the Bailiffs in the courtroom say that there was no order to close the hearing.
I do think it is curious that they would move the hearing to a different courtroom. How did this save the prosecutor any time? Could he not have presented his evidence in the courtroom that was currently being used?
It would seem to be a simple thing to get answers by asking the BCPD officer, or someone with BCPD, on whose authority the officer was turning people away from the hearing, a job that is the function of the sheriff. Who instructed the officer to do that?
Second, ask the receptionist in the DA’s office who instructed her that it was a closed hearing.
If the DA wanted a closed hearing because he was afraid of disruption from Needham’s family he could have just asked the judge to close the hearing.
Was this a case of bad communication? Did the BCPD officer actually block the reporter and the family from entering the courtroom, or did he just convey to them that it was a closed hearing. Is it possible that he had that impression and was just passing information to them, however incorrect, and not acting in an official capacity. If someone in the DA’s office said the hearing was closed, could the officer have gotten the information from that source?
This is all conjecture, I have no idea what happened. I am hoping for a simple explanation.
The Times also has an editorial this morning about the incident.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wrap Up on EMS, Duxie Scott and Sammy Halphen

21 comments:
Here is the most complete recap I can offer into the dealings of the EMS Board of Commisioners and the Police Jury concerning the hiring of Sammy Halphen and the subsequent resignation of Duxie Scott as Director.
Board Vice-President Robert Berry gave the Police Jury a list of charges against Scott which you can view here.
Board President David Brian and Berry resigned their positions, and the Police Jury asked the remaining three board members for their resignations. An interim board made up of five Police Jurors was appointed to act in the meantime.
The Police Jury obtained the services of attorney Price Barker to investigate the charges. This is a summary of the results of Barker’s investigation.

The Allegations
New Areas of Concern
1. Biloxi Trip: March 15 – March 17, 2011 Southern Regional EMS Conference. Concern was that Scott paid for Duke Scott’s room and meals. The City of Bossier City has since reimbursed Bossier Parish EMS for the room, and Duke Scott has reimbursed the meals.
2. Also on the Biloxi trip, alcoholic beverages were purchased with meals and charged to the card.
3. $40 ad in the Press Tribune for Meschelle White on Administrative Assistant’s day.
4. Paid for flowers for his mother-in-law’s funeral in April using the credit card.
5. Credit card usage by Richard Gray, a mechanic employed by Bossier Parish EMS with no explanation as to what was purchased. Charges were $57.69 at Sears in Bossier and $479.98 at Best Buy in Bossier.
6. The credit card was also charge for $45 at a Dallas hotel and a $140 charge on PayPal.
Charges made by Mr. Berry
Unauthorized Raises
1. Unauthorized Raises included an 11% raise for Richard Gray, bringing his bi-weekly pay from $2,430.30 to $2,703.91.
2. A 6% raise for Ronnie Hall, bringing his bi-weekly pay from $2,497.63 to $2,647.59.
3. A 6% raise for Stephen Braidwood, bringing his bi-weekly pay from $2,430.46 to $2,579.07.
4. A 101% raise for Stephen McManus from $1,315.97 to $2,658.25. McManus went from part-time to full-time. Mr. Barker says that this was not approved by the board, but it was at least discussed in one meeting, according to the minutes.
The individuals received the raises for 4 pay periods from January thru March, at which time they were rescinded.
Mr. Barker says that Scott’s actions in giving the raises was inconsistent with the authority given to the Board to set the EMS budget every year.
Duxie Scott says that raises never required approval of the board previously, that the board set his salary and the budget. He, as director, set the salaries of employees and as long as payroll was within the budgeted amount, this was considered to be board approval.
Questionable Hiring
1. Mr. Scott hired two mechanics, Richard Gray and David Ham. Richard Gray is paid $59,494 and David Ham $22,439. The report notes that there is no evidence that either of these mechanics is certified. Another concern is that David Ham is a convicted felon.
2. Meschelle White was employed as an EMT and later as a paramedic. After an ankle injury in 2009, she was brought into the office to do secretarial work. Mrs. White’s salary is $48,188. The secretary who preceded Mrs. White was hired at $26,250. There is no documentation that says that Mrs. White can no longer work as a paramedic, so the question is why she is being paid a paramedic’s salary to do office work if she is capable of doing the paramedic job.
3. This appears to be at odds with past practices, where background checks have been run and applicants refused because of convictions. David Ham is Meschelle White’s son.
4. The report notes that in March 2009, the Louisiana Ethics Board fined Superior Motorsports and Auto Repair LLC for doing $19,199.32 in business with the EMS board. Superior is owned by the wife of Duxie Scott’s brother. The company paid a $2,500 fine. The board noted that Duxie Scott was not in violation because he did not make the decisions as to where to send the vehicles for work and maintenance.
5. It has also been reported that there were ethics violations due to nepotism. There are no records dealing with this, however, because ethics complaints are not public record. One of the individuals named was Duke Scott (Duxie Scott Jr, who is currently on the BCFD). The finding of the ethics board in this case was released by the Scott family, and shows that no violation occurred.
Missing Construction Material
1. Questions were raised regarding metal roofing materials that were allegedly missing from the yard of the EMS facility on Shed Road. They were materials from the temporary roof that was placed on the building after the tornado. The materials have been found, but the question raised in the report is why weren’t they sold for scrap rather than just being hauled away.
Purchases
1. In late 2010 a new ambulance was purchased. The report states that questions have arisen about the bidding process, but doesn’t elaborate. The generator on the ambulance was upgraded, but the old one was not turned in for credit. Richard Gray stated that he likes to keep extra generators around. He did admit that he used the old generator in constructing a deck at his church. Gray also returned some items that he said he was storing at this house. The report says that this brings into question the supervision of EMS equipment by Director Scott.
That concludes the information from the report.

The Conclusion
The board met on May 11 and accepted Duxie Scott's resignation.
Evodna Springer addressed the board in the meeting and noted in her statement that “It was as if you did major surgery on a problem that needed only a bandage.” You can read her entire statement here.
It was announced last December that Sammy Halphen would be accepting the job of Homeland Security Director for Bossier Parish. Nothing I write here is a reflection on Halphen in any way, he is a highly qualified professional.
Peggy Hayes addressed the board at the meeting yesterday, and asked about allegations made by a previous board member in a special meeting that was held in March. The former board member said that the board was ordered to hire Halphen.

Halphen was hired to replace Duxie Scott. Bill Altimus said as much in the video above. He came to work for the parish as Homeland Security Director, but his pay was to be $65,000 from the EMS Board and $15,000 supplement from the parish. The EMS board was charged monthly for his salary as a consultant.
In the meantime, all of the above charges and investigation played out and Duxie Scott offered his resignation. It was certain that he would have been terminated at the May 11th meeting had he not done so.
Bill Altimus said that the EMS Board came to him about hiring Halphen, and that it was done at their behest. He stated that at no time did the police jury order the EMS Board to hire him.
I have been unable to find any minutes of a meeting where the Board authorized anyone to approach Halphen and offer him the position. Perhaps I have just missed it, if someone can point me to them I would be appreciative.
I think the biggest puzzle in the whole thing is why the EMS Board or the Police Jury, since they thought they had cause, did not just terminate Scott and replace him with Halphen at the first of the year, as that was clearly their stated intention. Had they just done it in that straightforward manner, they could have accomplished their goal without all of the fanfare and brouhaha that resulted.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Police Officers Memorial Day and Police Week

9 comments:
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.
Tim Prunty
Today we all need to take time to remember Sergeant Tim Prunty of the Shreveport Police Department, who was shot and killed in an ambush attack on October 24, 2010.
He was standing next to his patrol car outside of a convenience store on Bert Kouns Industrial Loop when another car pulled into the parking lot and the driver opened fire on him. Though he was struck by several rounds, he was able to return fire before collapsing, protecting a civilian in the process. He was transported to LSU Health Science Center where he succumbed to his wounds.

Trey Hutchison
We always remember Bossier City police officer Trey Hutchison, who was shot to death on August, 11 2004 as he arrived at a house to investigate a 911 call.
Every day every police officer who reports for duty makes himself a target. Please, take the time this week to personally tell a police officer ‘thank you’ for the service that they offer to all of us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog is back up and running

1 comment:
Google Blogger, the blogging platform I use for My Bossier, was down for about 24 hours - you could read only, I couldn't blog and you couldn't comment.  The only thing I'm missing right now are two comments from the latest blog post, hoping they will be restored.
I've been with Blogger since the beginning in 2007 and have never had a problem.  They are in the middle of an upgrade and had to do some maintenance and ran into problems.
Sorry for the interruption.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Duxie Scott resigns: Time for some answers

15 comments:
Duxie Scott submitted his resignation as Director of Bossier Parish EMS today.
I haven't seen a copy of the investigation which Patrick Jackson was releasing today or tomorrow, but I will try to get a copy.
Jackson had said that the report would 'shock the conscience of the public'.  According to the account at KTBS, the report "raised questions about a business trip Scott made to an EMS conference at a Mississippi casino earlier this year. Scott paid for some of the expenses of his son, who works for the Bossier City Fire Department, the report said, and his expense account also included charges for alcoholic drinks.  It also appeared Scott also used his agency credit card to buy flowers for his mother-in-law's funeral, the report said." 
While that may be true, it doesn't exactly 'shock my conscience'.  I will attempt to get a copy of the released report and publish it on My Bossier.
KSLA also has a story on their website, along with this link to the letter and to a copy of an Ethics Board finding that Scott had not violated any rules in hiring his son.
According to the letter, Parish Attorney Jackson had stated that he was found in violation and fined $2,500.
Scott's attorney alleges that the problems began when Scott questioned payroll payments he was making from a non-payroll account to people on the instructions of the Police Jury.  I will also try to get answers to this, and find out who the people were and why they were being paid in this manner.
I apologize that I don't have more information at this time, I've been a little 'out of the loop' for the last week or so.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Candidate Profile: Mike McConnell

82 comments:
A couple of weeks ago I did a candidate profile on Julian Whittington, former Bossier Parish Chief Deputy who resigned to run for sheriff. Since his resignation, both Sheriff Larry Deen and Undersheriff Doyle Dempsey have said that they will not run.
I emailed Mike McConnell the following questions and told him that in fairness and to present all of the information we can get to our readers, I intended to do a profile on him too. I sent the following questions and asked him to address them.
The Questions
1. I know you have said you are in this until the finish, does that still hold true?
2. All the pundits are saying that Whittington has a huge advantage (and he probably does). What is your response to this?
3. How will you be able to compete financially?
4. Tell me why you would make a better sheriff than Whittington.
5. Has your support softened any since Larry Deen dropped out, or are you gaining more supporters?
6. What is the primary message you want to get out to voters?
The Reply
Jim,
Thanks for the interview for your candidate profile.
I will attempt to answer your questions and also throw in some other things that I know will be of importance to the voters of this parish.
I am an underdog in this race for Sheriff. When I announced my candidacy for sheriff in January, I wondered why Sheriff Deen did not defend his position and also announce his run, especially with a viable candidate challenging him. When Sheriff Deen announced his retirement, it changed the dynamics of this race, and I would like to think that I was instrumental in causing this feat, but humility
dictates otherwise.
Some things in this race will stay the same, but some have changed. I am still committed to this race and to the people of this parish to the very end, and it is no secret that Larry Deen’s old money backers have aligned themselves with Chief Whittington. It is also no secret that under my command, the Bossier Sheriff’s Office will no longer be for sale.
My message is clear: My duty is to the citizens of this parish and to the employees of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office. First, my dedication and pledge to the citizens of this parish that their safety is first and foremost the most important thing to me. The north and south ends of this parish have been neglected for far too long. One deputy patrolling from the Bossier City limits to the parish line during the evening shift is inexcusable. The same holds true for the Plain Dealing area. One deputy patrolling over 230 square miles is poor management. And to compound things, 4-6 deputies for the whole parish on graveyard shift is reckless and has great potential for liability. As it stands now, the citizens see a large number of deputies patrolling during the daytime which gives the impression that there is the same protection at night while the citizens are indoors or sleeping. This is only a perception because there are more deputies on day shift than evenings and graveyard shift put together. I will implement a program that could double the patrol deputies on the streets at any given time. I will utilize the corrections deputies from the jails who wish to expand their horizons and knowledge to ride out on patrol with an experienced patrol deputy. This will have a great impact on morale and benefit the citizens for whom we work. Also, there is no extra cost to taxpayers. This is a win-win for both the citizens of this parish and the sheriff’s office.
I will implement a “Citizen Ride-a-Long Program” where citizens can ride with patrol deputies for a firsthand account of how their sheriff’s office is working towards a more secure future.
I will implement a “Wayward Youth Ride-a-long Program” where high school aged youth will also have the opportunity to ride with a patrol deputy to see how poor choices could and will have a negative impact on their future (parent’s permission/liability wavier of course) .
Second, my duty to the hard working employees of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office will be second to none. As of now, rank has only been given to those who can benefit the Sheriff. The sheriff’s office has many knowledgeable people within its walls who would make fine supervisors, but unfortunately, they will retire without any rank. I will implement a true rank structure within the sheriff’s office where All who wish to rise above will have the opportunity to do so. Under my command, the “Good ol’ Boy” system dies with my predecessor.
I must also mention that no administrator or employee will lose their job, nor will I change the retirement system when I take office. They have worked with worse; I only request that they work with me to better the parish and the sheriff’s office. These are hard times and I will not place undue or unneeded burdens upon the employees of this sheriff’s office.
On October 22, the citizens of this parish will have to decide what type of Sheriff they want. We have two totally different backgrounds. Chief Whittington has been an administrator for many years, and with that, I feel he has lost touch with the community and policing in general. I, on the other hand, have stayed abreast of crime and crime causation, and I am kept current on crime trends through continued education.
The first thing that I will do as Sheriff is to speak to the employees about my plan for greater morale and ease their fears of a new administration. I will stay connected with citizens by traveling around the parish speaking to civic organizations and church groups about “Domestic Violence” and “Personal Safety”, which I already do.

Gardens of Southgate Battle with the Burrs goes national

13 comments:
The featured story on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace website today is the story of the Burr family and their battle with the Gardens of Southgate HOA over the sign supporting their Marine son.

The Breitbart article links to the Marine Corps Times, a Gannett publication which ran the story from The Times.
The HOA has already created a tremendous amount of ill will by their actions so far. They might want to consider just throwing in the towel on this one.

Thanks to Andy for bringing this to our attention

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gardens of Southgate HOA

109 comments:
Geoffrey Westmoreland, attorney for the Gardens of Southgate Association, Inc. sent us this press release dealing with the controversy over the sign that the Burrs have in their yard.  Mr. Westmoreland says that since it is in litigation, he nor his clients can discuss it beyond this statement.
Click on the image to enlarge.