Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: The year in review

Just thought I’d throw in some highlights from 2009.
The culmination of a bitterly fought judge’s race arrived in January when Mike Craig took the oath as 26th JDC judge. He seems to have had a good first year.
On the negative side, the first of the school board thieves entered a guilty plea in federal court.
The school board was in disarray, Ken Kruithof resigned and in May D. C. Machen, Jr. was appointed superintendent.
June brought a plethora of news and events.
Shreveport rapper Hurricane Chris stirred up a storm when he performed before the Louisiana Legislature.
Pop Culture Icon Michael Jackson passed away, leaving mourning fans around the world.
Kaboom! Billy Mays died at age 50. Seems he had used cocaine a few days earlier and that contributed to his death. Who woulda thought?
LSU won the college world series, Geaux Tigers!
The trashy story of the year also comes out of June. This was a tight one, between Cucumber guy (remember him?), the woman who knocked her mother out in Benton and then pooped on her (Woman knocks Mom out in Benton then poops on her back).
The winner, however, has to be this ballbuster: Woman Attacks Scrotum - Judge Orders Protection
October brought surprises too, the arrest of a 26th JDC ADA and the brouhaha that ensues when a public official is treated as if they were an ordinary citizen.
The story of the year, however, developed when Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker announced the layoff of 117 city employees, most in the Police and Fire Departments. That announcement started a firestorm that finally culminated in the City Council proposing and adopting a budget of their own which had far fewer cuts.
This brings us to My Bossier’s most influential person of the year, Heather Carter.
Since this is still in everyone’s memory, I won’t burden you with a lot of details. Suffice it to say that Heather stood up and led the fight to oppose the cuts, recruited 3,700 people to a Facebook Group in support of that effort, and swayed the City Council and greatly affected the final outcome of the budget process.
Congratulations Heather!

On a sad note, our friend Judge Burchett left us this year.
Listen to Guy Lombardo and raise a glass to Judge Burchett.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jingle Bells

The Night Before Christmas 1920

Recorded by Thomas Edison in 1920

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
(or A Visit from St. Nicholas)
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of
midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

"Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chief Tommy's Last Call

This was filmed Wednesday by Mario Villafuerte for Channel 33 news.
Battalion Chief Tommy Adams of the Shreveport Fire Department was injured in February by a fall from a ladder, and passed away earlier this week.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bossier Deputy rescues man from icy water

Bossier Parish Deputy Sheriff Harlan Dredge responded to a call on Sligo Road of a man calling for help at about 3AM.
When he arrived at the scene, he heard the cries and realized they were coming from the bayou that runs beside the road.
Thomas Hart lost control of his car in the rain and ran into the bayou and was trapped in 18 ft of water. Dredge jumped into the bayou and pulled the man to safety.
A spokesman for Willis Knighton Pierremont said that Hart's core body temperature was down to 75 degrees when he arrived there.
Good job, Deputy Dredge!

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Bake Sale for Madison Johnson

There will be a bake sale this weekend to benefit Madison Johnson.
Madison is a 2nd grader at Bellaire Elementary, is currently receiving treatment at St. Judes in Memphis.
Assorted homemade cookies packaged in Christmas Tins & Other Items Avanilable
Donations will be also accepted at both locations. An account has been set up at Barksdale Federal Credit Union for the Johnson Family.
For more information about the sale or making a direct donation, please call Sun Sport Tanning at 742-4502.

Friday & Saturday
Sun Sport Tanning 7-7 Friday and 10-5 Saturday
River Cities Car Wash - 8am-5pm both days

Monday, December 14, 2009

Officer fired in Sentell arrest appeals to Civil Service Board

Former Bossier Police officer Phillip Vernon has appealed his firing.
Vernon was fired for willfully misrepresenting a matter in a report. The matter that he was alleged to have misrepresented were remarks he, and fired reserve officer Jared Fisher, reported were made by Sherb Sentell, the Webster Parish ADA allegedly threatening to have them fired.
Vernon had said that the remarks were made during transport. The in car video-audio system did not reflect that.
Vernon’s attorney, Joel Pearce, said “I think the public record is very clear that the (Bossier City police) officers have been given a warning that you don’t do this to one of us — a VIP,” Pearce said. “It's a chilling effect.”
The Civil Service Board will probably hear the appeal in February.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sure those Public Safety cuts were wise?

Yes, I know what the supporters said, BCPD is overstaffed. Take six minutes and listen carefully. This is made by someone in Riverwood in North Bossier.
Really think the cuts are responsible?
WARNING: Bad Language!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Battleground Chuck E Cheese: Pizza and Pandemonium

Two women are cooling their heels in jail tonight thanks to a fight they started at Chuck E Cheese in Bossier City.
Apparently fighting over continuing man/woman/domestic/baby daddy issues, several other patrons got involved, but fled the premises before police got there.
One of the women had threatened to 'get her gun' out of her car, the other lost her weave during the melee`.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

James Dupré CD to come out in January

We blogged about James Dupré in July. James is a young singer from Bayou Chicot in Evangeline Parish who has become well known through local appearances and from a prolific YouTube Channel.
Now James has an album coming out. He gives you some details in this video as well as a sample of his music. Keep an eye on him!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thunderbirds will appear at Barksdale in April

The Thunderbirds released their 2010 schedule today, and it includes a visit to Barksdale on April 24th and 25th. The Thunderbirds hold demonstrations from March to November and train during the winter months.
The Thunderbirds' 2010 schedule is as follows:

20 and 21: Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.
27 and 28: Maxwell AFB, Ala.
10 and 11: Eglin AFB, Fla.
17 and 18: Lakeland, Fla.
24 and 25: Barksdale AFB, La.
1: Dyess AFB, Texas
2: Altus AFB, Okla.
8 and 9: Shaw AFB, S.C.
15 and 16: Columbus AFB, Miss.
22: Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
26: U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.
29 and 30: Janesville, Wis.
5 and 6: Ocean City, Md.
12 and 13: Quebec City, Canada
19 and 20: Tinker AFB, Okla.
26 and 27: North Kingstown, R.I.
10 and 11: Gary, Ind.
17 and 18: Duluth, Minn.
21: Cheyenne, Wyo.
24 and 25: Fairchild AFB, Wash.
Jul 31 and Aug 1: Rockford, Ill.
7 and 8: Moffett Field, Calif.
14 and 15: Abbotsford, Canada
21 and 22: Westfield, Mass.
25: Atlantic City, N.J.
28 and 29: Brooklyn (Coney Island), N.Y.
4 and 5: Martinsburg, W.V.
11 and 12: Coraopolis (Pittsburgh), Pa.
18 and 19: Whiteman AFB, Mo.
25 and 26: McConnell AFB, Kan.
2 and 3: Salinas, Calif.
9 and 10: Little Rock AFB, Ark.
16 and 17: El Paso, Texas
23 and 24: Houston
30 and 31: Cocoa Beach, Fla.
6 and 7: Lackland AFB, Texas
13 and 14: Nellis AFB, Nev.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Louisiana Pearl Harbor survivor honored

Pearl Harbor survivor James Cook of Slidell was honored during a ceremony Monday at Pearl Harbor Park in Chalmette, Cook, 84, was on the USS Rigel (AD-13) during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The Rigel, originally built in 1918, was at the American base in Hawaii for an overhaul when the Japanese attacked. The ship was only slightly damaged; its crew, unable to fire, immediately turned to rescue and salvage operations. The Chalmette observance of the 68th anniversary of the bombing was sponsored by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
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Police cars repossessed, officers fired in Napoleonville

Bossier, it could be worse . .
(From The Advocate)
An Oklahoma-based dealer of police vehicles has sued the village of Napoleonville over two police cars that the dealer had to repossess on Oct. 9 after the town used the cars and did not pay for them as promised.
The lawsuit highlights problems village officials have had in tapping a $151,628 federal stimulus grant awarded earlier this year through the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice.
The two-year reimbursement grant, which comes through the U.S. Department of Justice Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, was meant to pay for two cars and two police officers, village and commission officials said.
Reimbursement grants pay communities back after the communities spend their funds. However, when the grant funding ends, at least in this case, the village would likely have to seek other funding.
Since the cars were repossessed, the town of St. Gabriel has donated two police cars, Napoleonville Police Chief Lionel Bell has said.
The village had continued funding concerns because grant money had not come in by Nov. 15. That led Bell to lay off the two officers hired under the grant who were supposed to patrol in the donated cars.
“If we had started getting our reimbursement, it would have been good,” Bell said.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Heather Carter: a lesson in participatory government

There are times when one person standing up can focus hundreds, even thousands of others to do the same.
Heather Burney Carter is the wife of a Bossier City police officer who was due to be laid off under the budget proposed by the mayor. Instead of sitting back, Heather took the initiative and proved that local government does respond to the people. The proposed budget called for the layoff of 26 police officers and 38 firemen. In the end, only 1 police officer and 8 firemen will be laid off. Regretfully, those people in the academies and a number of other city workers will be let go.
Heather started a Facebook group “Save our Bossier City Police and Firefighters” which ended up with almost 3,800 members. She attended every city council meeting, expressed her views to the concil and corresponded with council members.
Heather agreed to share her experience with the readers of My Bossier.

October 16th, 2009 was the kind of day in which something small happens but it changes your life forever.
When I was told that the mayor would be making a statement about possible lay offs for city employees I was concerned. When I realized my husband was one of the people that may be laid off I was devastated. My immediate reaction was to cry and then to pray.
The more I thought about the situation the madder I got. I knew someone had to do something but I quickly realized that most of the people who were involved could not do anything at all because Civil Service rules will not allow them to speak out.
I started sending emails and making phone calls trying to find out what could be done to help and what city officials needed to be contacted. I also started a Facebook group so the families involved would have an easy way to share information, ideas, and concerns.
I went to every city council meeting and tried to find as much information as possible on line so I could make sure everyone knew what was going on and how it affected their families.
My goal in the beginning was for the 2010 budget to have no layoffs. I quickly learned that was not feasible so I changed my goal to saving as many jobs as possible. I had several people tell me that one person could not make a difference and that I should just give up and start looking for my husband a job with a new department.
Several people said I was only adding to the problem. I was also accused of trying to save jobs in the police and fire departments at the cost of other city employees. I can honestly say that was never my intention, but I doubt anyone can say they would not fight for their job given the opportunity. I made it clear to anyone who would listen to me that I would not be quiet and I would not stop fighting until the final vote was cast.
Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I do not like to speak in public. Making the decision to address the city council was hard, but I knew someone had to do it and none of the other family members were coming forward. In the end two other wives did come forward and speak out for their families. There are not words to express how much it meant to me to have someone who was going through the exact same situation I was in standing with me to take a stand. I told them both that when everything was over, no matter what the outcome, we would know that we did our best to help save our husband’s jobs.
I would not call the final decision a victory for my cause. The city council was unable to present a budget that everyone could agree on but they were able to get a majority vote. The city council was also unable to save all of the city employees from being laid off, but they were able to save some.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those being laid off. I personally feel that the council men did the best they could given the current situation.
All of the hard work and stress paid off in the end. When the final votes were cast and I saw the look in my husband’s eyes I knew I made the right decision.
By chance the votes were cast on our eighth wedding anniversary and I can not think of a better gift to either of us.
People will soon forget about everything that has happened over the last two months. They will stop attending the city council meetings, the news will not mention what the families of those being laid off are going through, and people will start to complain about the police again. To the families involved though we will never forget what it felt like to go through this process. How proud we were to watch our loved ones go to work and put their lives on the line everyday knowing they may be laid off in a few weeks.
I never wanted anyone involved in city government to know my name, much less to be on the news and in the papers, but my parents taught me to always stand up for what is right even if it is not was is popular and to always put family first. At the end of the day that is really all I have done.
I am so thankful now to have my life back. I no longer have to ask my boss for time off to attend council meetings. There will no longer be daily emails and phone calls trying to get people care about our situation and get involved. I can go back to just being Hannah’s mom and Officer Carter’s wife. That may not sound like much to some but to me it’s the best news I have gotten in weeks.
I would like to thank everyone who helped with our cause. Several people worked behind the scenes and did not get the credit they deserve.
It’s over, it’s really over.
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Tiger Woods

In a statement on his website, the world's top golfer said he had let his family down and that he regretted those "transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behaviour my family deserves."

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Morris Dees in Claiborne Parish for news conference on Bernard Monroe shooting

KSLA is reporting that that Claiborne Parish District Attorney Jonathan Stewart has removed himself from the case of Bernard Monroe, who was shot to death in February by a Homer police officer.
Stewart is turning the case over to the State Attorney General.
Monroe, 73, was shot outside his home by a police officer who had been chasing his son. Police said Monroe was armed, but witnesses dispute that fact.
Morris Dees from the Southern Poverty Law Center was at the news conference. He said he would represent the Monroe family in any possible civil cases related to the shooting. He said he would have up to a year after the grand jury's decision to file his case.
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Grand Jury: no indictment in police shooting

Officer Kary Szyska has been cleared by a grand jury of any criminal culpability in the shooting of Scott Gray in October.
Gray family lawyer Elton Richey said the family is considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
"We are not going to speculate about or criticize the grand jury's decision or any prosecutorial decisions of the Bossier Parish district attorney," Richey said. "This grand jury was simply called upon to decide whether or not these officers should be criminally prosecuted for murder, not to decide whether they are civilly liable for his death."
This was a very unfortunate incident, as Chief Mike Halphen pointed out when he announced that Szyska had not violated department policies in the shooting.
The incident in Washington where four police officers were killed has something in common with this; the individual in both cases proclaimed he was Jesus Christ and both were mentally unstable. In the Bossier City case, however, the result was quite different.
We wish the best to Mr. Gray’s family and to the officers involved and their families.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bossier Deputy recovering from gunshot

A Bossier Parish Deputy was shot in the arm this afternoon near Benton.
The Times reports that The deputy, who has not been identified, was helping two other deputies try to arrest an attempted rape suspect in north Bossier Parish, said Ed Baswell, Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman.
The shooting comes four days after a Shreveport police officer was shot while trying to stop a bank robbery suspect.
The deputies talked to the suspect, Robert Sellers, before trying to rush and stun him with a Taserhim, Baswell said.
The Taser apparently didn't work, because Sellers allegedly was able to grab a .22-caliber bolt action rifle and squeeze off a shot.
The bullet went through the deputie's arm and into the ceiling of the suspect's home. The three deputy helped overpower Sellers before going to WK Bossier for treatment of the injury.
Sellers, 27, was charged with three counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of attempted forcible rape.

Hung jury in Pilkinton murder trial results in mistrial

Just a week after jury selection began, the trial of Charles Pilkinton ended in a mistrial last Tuesday.
Pilkinton was charged in the murder on November 15, 2008 of 66 year old Raymond Tobin. Tobin was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car on Inda Drive shot twice in the back of the head. According to reports, when police arrived at the scene Pilkinton admitted to killing Tobin.
Pilkinton was represented by Shreveport criminal defense attorney Daryl Gold.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict as to Pilkinton’s guilt.
Pilkinton was originally charged with 1st degree murder under a provision in Louisiana law that allows that charge when the victim is under the age of 12 years or over the age of 65 years. The district attorney later reduced the charge to 2nd degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Bossier District Attorney Schuyler Marvin recused himself from the case and it was tried by Assistant Attorney General Clifford Strider III. Marvin removed himself from the case because Pilkinton’s son-in-law contributed to his campaign for DA and because of a personal friendship with the son-in-law's brother.
Tobin was an Air Force retiree who had moved back to the area after spending a few years in Ohio. He was a Eucharistic minister at his church.
DA Marvin said that his office will re-file the charges.
Tobin’s two children have filed a civil suit for wrongful death against Pilkinton.
If you want to keep up with this case, I suggest that you buy the Inquisitor and read this blog. There have been absolutely no reports from Channels 3, 6, 12 or The Times about the mistrial, or even the trial for that matter.
They are really on the ball when it comes to keeping you informed of ‘holiday safety tips’, recalled cribs or Chinese drywall, but don’t expect them to report on a mundane matter such as this.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

To the readers of My Bossier, one and all, Happy Thanksgiving.

Shreveport police shootout - officer down, suspect hit

A Shreveport robbery detective was shot today in a foiled bank robbery. The robbery occured at Capital One at Greenwood Road and I-20. Police caught up with the Harley riding suspect at Mansfield Road and Midway where the shooting occurred.
The detective is in stable condition and the suspect is in critical condition.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lucien Trammell sentenced to 58 years

Lucien Trammell, who was convicted earlier this year of shooting Shreveport Police Officer John Madjerick in the face, was sentenced today to 58 years by Judge Leon Emmanuel. Trammell was sentenced under the habitual offender bill which provides for enhance penalties of 33½ to 100 years.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crossing the bridge: Remembering Judge Burchett

I remember very distinctly the first day I set foot in the Benton Courthouse.
My hands were shaking.
My stomach was upset.
No matter how much "practice" I had, nothing was like the realization that I would be in court, fighting for a real cause and putting my name on the line.
My judge? The Honorable Judge Dewey E. Burchett, Jr.
And instead of giving me a hard time, he actually gave me advice from the bench.
A young lawyer who was scared out of her mind that her client might see that she was
....terrified and new at all this.
Years later, I helped all I could with his campaign. I made phone calls, I wrote blogs, I sent emails, and I did everything I could to help someone I believed in. Somewhere in the middle of all this, a KSLA news anchor contacted me to find out "what the hype was with this 26th JDC election?" I contacted him back in November 2008, after a long talk with Ms. Pat, Judge Burchett's lovely wife. He responded with "keep in touch with me about any news in Bossier" or something like that, and I did when my mom ran for office, and well, the rest is history.
You see, Judge Burchett brought me and the love of my life together.
And he taught me to be patient.
And he taught me to care.
And he told me, without speaking the words, that you can be a good person and be a lawyer.
He gave me hope.
Today, he passed away and honestly, my heart aches.
I will very much miss my friend and my mentor, Judge Burchett.

M. Samantha McAllister graduated summa cum laude from LSU-Shreveport, earned a Masters in history from Louisiana Tech and received her Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Civil Law degree from LSU, Paul M. Hebert School of Law. She practices family law in Bossier City.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Annie's Girls Going the Distance

A group of women will band together to finish the race Saturday for a friend they lost to ovarian cancer.
Friends of Anne Denney from Fitness Lady, 1700 Old Minden Rd. Suite 180, Bossier City, have put together a team to walk a half marathon hosted by the YMCA. Annie's Girls Going the Distance are completing the 13.1-mile route in her honor and to raise awareness of the disease.
"The name is because she had gone the distance in so many different ways and so many different conditions that we would finish the race for her. We would take on the mission of finishing the race and taking on the legacy of awareness," said Kedgy Larson, owner of Fitness Lady.
Anne, who had been training with Kedgy since 1992, was diagnosed with cancer in late 2001. It was during her eight-year battle that Kedgy came up with idea to have Anne train for a marathon in order to maintain her physical fitness, avoid focusing on cancer and keep her spirits high.
The team consists of Anne Coleman, Cindy Warren, Marvis Grisham, Sara Miller, Sharon Denney and Yulon Jackson with coaches Kedgy Larson, Janet Martin and Elizabeth Willis.
Read the entire article at the Bossier Press-Tribune website. Video compliments of KTBS.

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Judge Dewey E. Burchett, Jr.

I was very saddened to learn that Judge Dewey E. Burchett, Jr. passed away earlier today. Judge Burchett had been ill for some time and undergoing treatment.
He received a degree in government from LSU, went to the Air Force as a fighter pilot and trainer from 1962 thru 1967. He returned to LSU for his law degree.
Judge Burchett served the people of Bossier & Webster honorably and well as a district judge for 20 years.
He was loved and honored by his wife Pat, sons Dewey III & Edward, and a granddaughter.
May God give them comfort at this time.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here's a first: a blog post for a commenter

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to address a commenter’s remarks in a blog post.

Here is the comment:

  • Funny Jim - I have not seen you focus on anything positive in Bossier since the blog started - you have determined the entire leadership of the school board, the city of bossier city, and the district attorney's office need to go - what is left - the library system. I dont see how you wake up in this community each day without being in a horrible state of depression. It must really suck to see the world from such a half empty perspective. We have good leaders in this community that try to do the right thing - but crap happens and people with very little information attack peoples character with no basis - it is a wonder that anyone would do those jobs - you know its kind of like anytime one cop does something wrong - the entire department is suddenly a bunch of crooks, civil rights violators or thugs - i am sure you can relate to that

Let’s break it down.

  • “you have determined the entire leadership of the school board, the city of bossier city, and the district attorney's office need to go - what is left - the library system.”

There was obviously a lack of supervision in the school board when employees stole almost $1,000,000. I questioned appointing the person who was in charge of administration to be the next superintendent. He is not the ‘entire leadership’ of the school board, and I never once suggested that he ‘needed to go’.

  • “the city of bossier city”.

Again, I questioned the continued hiring and spending when the mayor and council knew that had a budget problem. I opposed the layoffs. I never once said that any official in Bossier City ‘needed to go’.

  • “The DA’s office.”

Herein lies the commenter’s problem. I have questioned what appears to be an excessive number of ‘nol-prossed’ charges, even when the First Assistant DA stated that an individual would be prosecuted ‘to the fullest extent of the law’. That entailed taking a plea on one charge and dropping 5 others.

Still, I had no major problem with the DA until someone in his Bossier office gave information to Eric Johnson, a Minden attorney, who twisted the facts to feed to The Inquisitor in an effort to discredit my son, a police officer. Why would they want to do that? Because he had arrested one of their own. Thankfully, Danny Lawler has more integrity and character than the individual in the DA’s office who did this, and did not put this in print without giving an opportunity to refute.

Louisiana has a ‘must arrest’ policy for domestic violence cases, which means that if it even appears to the officer that domestic violence has occurred, he ‘must arrest’. The DA apparently has a ‘must not’ arrest policy if the arrestee is one of his friends or employees.

What is so troubling about this is that they believe that it is perfectly all right to act in this manner.

It is not.

I think the problem with lawyers is that as a result of their profession, they become so caught up in what is ‘legal’, that they forget sometimes what is right and what is wrong. The individual who did this, with or without the support of the District Attorney himself, should be ashamed.

  • “I dont see how you wake up in this community each day without being in a horrible state of depression. It must really suck to see the world from such a half empty perspective.”

I wake up every morning looking forward to the day. I have a wonderful family, great friends, and I do not have a ‘half empty’ perspective. I got a new lease on life about 7 years ago and have relished every day since.

  • “We have good leaders in this community that try to do the right thing - but crap happens and people with very little information attack peoples character with no basis - it is a wonder that anyone would do those jobs”

We do have a lot of good elected officials. You look at them as leaders, I prefer to look at them as public servants, the role they claim when they are running for office. Crap doesn’t happen, it is caused to happen. I have not attacked anyone’s character, unless you consider relating the facts an attack.

As to whether it is a wonder anyone would do the jobs, that is their choice. They know, or should know, when they seek office, that they are accountable to the people. As Harry Truman said, ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

  • “you know its kind of like anytime one cop does something wrong - the entire department is suddenly a bunch of crooks, civil rights violators or thugs - i am sure you can relate to that”

No, actually I can’t. I’ve never worked in law enforcement, but if you want me to apologize for supporting the people who do, you’ll have a long wait.

Blogging is a great thing. On my blog I get to express my opinions about what is going on around us. Although some bloggers choose to comment on national politics and such, I find that I like to comment on what is happening in our area. I have from the beginning had an open comments section and welcome comments, like the one above, from people of all persuasions.

I started My Bossier about two years ago and it has had a good response. Last month was the biggest we have had yet, with 19,247 hits and 433 comments. That’s not bad for a local blog. This month, we’re closer to normal with an average of between 300 and 350 hits a day. (A ‘hit’ is anyone coming to the blog either through a link or directly to the site.)

Keep on reading, and keep on commenting!

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Bossier City Council steps up

The Bossier City Council met yesterday and presented their version of the 2010 budget. The council has heard a lot from constituents about the proposed layoffs, and not very much of it was favorable. They have stepped up and worked out a compromise plan which basically is what we outlined in an earlier blog post: “ . . . the plan spares 20 policemen and 20 firemen from the Mayor’s ax. Of the remaining 37 cuts across different city departments, 16 will be spared and 21 will be laid off.”
The council has never been so involved in changing a budget, and the public has not been so interested. Hopefully this process has awakened the people of Bossier and they will take more interest in the process from now on.
The budget needs 4 votes to be approved, and in the event that the mayor sees fit to veto it, 5 votes to override.
You can view the council's version of the budget here.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here's something you'll never see in Bossier

Sheriff forms public corruption unit

Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator has scheduled a news conference to announce the formation of a public integrity unit that will investigate complaints of wrongdoing by elected officials and local government employees.
The two sheriff's detectives who will be assigned to that unit are the lead investigators in the Community Development case. The public corruption unit will work in conjunction with the Caddo district attorney's office, which would prosecute any cases.
"We're sick and tired of hearing complaints about favoritism and nepotism and, 'It's not what you know; it's who you know,'" Prator said. "I want to create a vehicle that citizens can know that what they say is at least investigated."

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bossier DA: the fullest extent of the law?

In November of 2006, A Bossier Deputy sheriff who was directing traffic at an accident scene had a close call when a car sped past him at 87 mph. A deputy stopped the car, which was driven by Richard Hahn. On observing Hahn’s slurred speech, five empty beer cans and two empty vodka bottles in the car, the deputy asked him how much he had to drink. “Not enough”, was the reply.
Hahn was charged by the Sheriff’s Department with DWI 3rd offense (a felony), a charge which could carry from one to five years in prison. He was also charged with speeding 87 in a 55, no drivers license, open container, careless operation and flight from an officer.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Baswell said "we'll arrest and keep on arresting. Someone else takes care of prosecution."

That person, of course, is the Bossier DA. Bossier Parish First Assistant District Attorney Lane Pittard said at the time, "we'll prosecute this guy to the fullest extent of the law." Pittard said Louisiana law pushes multiple offenders into rehab and counseling, but he believes the risk is just too high. Pittard says, because of that, the law does need to go back with the mandatory prison sentences."

Hahn appeared before Judge Jeff Cox on March 7, 2007. In a plea arrangement worked out by the DA’s office, he was allowed to plead guilty to DWI 1st offense (a misdemeanor). He was sentenced to 60 days in jail (suspended), one year’s probation and a $500 fine.

As to the other charges:

  • Flight from an officer: Nol-prossed
  • Careless Operation: Nol-prossed
  • Open Container: Nol-prossed
  • No Driver’s license: Nol-prossed
  • Speeding 87/55: Nol-prossed

Is allowing him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor which had been reduced from a felony and dismissing the other five charges really the full extent of the law?

You’ll have to be the judge of that.

Same song, second verse

Hahn was back just a year later, in May of 2008, with a ticket from Louisiana State Police charging him with DWI 3rd offense, again a felony. He was charged by the DA with DWI 2nd offense, a misdemeanor. He was also charged with driving under suspension and improper lane change.

He appeared in court in January of this year and was allowed, in another plea bargain arranged by the DA’s office, to plead guilty once again to a DWI 1st offense.

This time, he was sentenced, also by Judge Cox, to 90 days in jail (suspended), a $750 fine and another one year’s probation. The other two charges were nol-prossed.

The fullest extent of the law?

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Bossier City Mayor refuses to work with council on budget

"I support my budget, this is my budget and I'm sticking with it".
That is the message that Mayor Lo Walker has given to the city council in refusing to work with them in re-working the 2010 budget.
The budget the council is working on will tenatively not take any policemen off the street. People who are eligible will retire, and the five people who are now in the academy will be let go, but not until they complete their training.
As for the fire department, which was due to face 38 cuts, 8 active firemen will be laid off along with the 10 in the academy.
Basically, the plan spares 20 policemen and 20 firemen from the Mayor’s ax.
Of the remaining 37 cuts across different city departments, 16 will be spared and 21 will be laid off.
Every department, including police and fire, will have to make an across the board (except for salaries) 15% cut.
There will be no raises in the Mayor’s office and the travel budget will be cut.
Heather Carter, who started the Facebook group Save our Bossier City Police and Firefighters, has has been working with the council and has provided us with this information.
Heather’s husband is a Bossier City Police Officer who would have been laid off under the mayor’s plan. Heather has worked tirelessly in organizing the group, which now has 3,600 members, and has led the internet effort to save the jobs.
That’s Heather in the picture below with her two favorite people.

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Unanswered questions about Cyber Innovation Center

This is what we were told to justify the $107,000,000 investment by the City, the Parish and the State:
We’re definitely on the fast track here,” said David Rockett, executive director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation.
"What that means is 10,000 potential new employees with families that will need to find housing, enroll children in the school system, drive on city streets and shop in local stores.”
"In my opinion, it's a done deal," Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker, a retired Air Force colonel, said of Cyber Command coming to Barksdale.
CIC Director Craig Spohn was quoted as saying "Cyberspace is where the next big threat to industry, individuals and national security is."
"Artillery and nuclear missiles will not be the weapons of the future.”
After it was announced that there would be no separate Cyber Command, and that what was left of it was to be in San Antonio, Mr. Spohn changed his tune.
"We were never intending to be a one trick-pony with respect to the Air Force. The Air Force provided us a good catalyst and still does because of the things at Barksdale Air Force Base and it's not scheduled to go away.
"There are new businesses coming to town," Spohn insisted. "There are actually millions of dollars worth of research in the cyber field today that weren't here a year ago."
Perhaps Mr. Spohn could share the names of the businesses that have been lured here by the CIC, and give us examples of these millions of dollars of research that CIC has helped create. We could feel much more comfortable about the $107,000,000 if we had some specifics.
Meanwhile, some people have a different take on CIC.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bossier City Council wants to hear from citizens

Bossier City Council President Don Williams has put the word out that the council wants to hear from the public on the 2010 budget. While the mayor’s budget called for 40 layoffs in each the fire and police departments, and 37 cuts elsewhere in the city, several council members have been meeting in an effort to stave off any layoffs of officers and firemen on the street.
They are working to get people who have reached eligibility to go ahead and retire and to find money to plug the gaps that are left.
Positions will still be eliminated, but not through layoffs, if they can get the plan consolidated and approved.
If the council can achieve that, freeze hiring, and if they follow it very closely every month as David Jones has suggested, the city could suffer as few casualties of the financial crisis as possible.
The next city council meeting will be next Tuesday at 3PM. Please attend and share your thoughts with the council.
Video of yesterday’s meeting is courtesy of KTBS.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some things are worth paying for

When Bossier City police officer Trey Hutchison was murdered while answering a domestic violence hang up 911 call on August 11, 2004, the entire city and area was in shock and mourning. On the day of his funeral people lined the route from First Baptist Bossier to Hillcrest cemetery to show their love and support for his family and for his memory. My sister, brother-in-law and I found a spot in the corner of the mall right by the church.
We all have memories that will live with us until we die. One memory that is engraved in my soul is the image of Chief Halphen driving Officer Hutchison’s car at the head of the procession as it left the church, followed by the entire Bossier City Police force and by officers representing police departments and sheriffs all around the region and state.
Now, each year the Caddo/Bossier Domestic Violence Task Force honors one Caddo and one Bossier law enforcement officers with the Trey Hutchison award for outstanding performance in the field of domestic violence prevention.
In a bitter twist of irony, the award ceremony this year was held on October 17th. This is the day that Mayor Walker chose to announce his plan to eliminate 40 positions from the police departments, 40 from the fire department, and 37 other positions spread around different city departments.
Some things go beyond the budget and beyond politics. When these officers were hired and trained they were repeatedly asked if they were willing to give a total commitment to the City of Bossier City and to the people of Bossier. In every case, they unhesitatingly made that commitment.
Now the question has been reversed: what commitment has the city made to these men and women who promised to serve, even at risk of their own lives?
That question has yet to be answered.

Then came the storms
As if a sign, a couple of weeks after the announcement Bossier City and the area were wracked by tornadoes, storms and floods. Guess who was on the frontlines, working for days with 3 or 4 hours sleep, giving everything they had to keep the people of Bossier City safe?
One of the officers told the story of ‘a woman and her two kids that got their car stuck in all of the water at the entrance to Old Greenacres. He and another officer got her and two kids out of the car in water up past their knees and then pushed her car out of the water. She just cried and told them thank you and that she did not know what she would have done if they had not been there.’
Hopefully she can find time to attend the city council meeting Tuesday at 3pm and make her feelings known.
This officer made the statement that “I will continue to put on my badge and do my job until I'm told that I'm not needed anymore.”
Another of the officers who is due to be laid off noted that there “Must be a lot of out-of-towners in Bossier, cause no way a bossier city citizen would cuss me like I've been cussed tonite while directing traffic in the rain.”
On a lighter note, he also said “If a police officer is directing traffic in a manner that you consider incorrect, honk at him. He will realize your superior knowledge and allow you through!”
This says a lot about the character of the people who have been chosen to serve. Now we are waiting to see if the character of the people who are being served can match that.
There will be a city council meeting Tuesday at 3pm at City Hall. If you feel strongly that politics should be put aside and that the City should make a commitment to keep these officers and firemen, try to attend the meeting and let your feelings be known, if only by your presence.
If you have not yet contacted the council, email us at this link and we will be glad to pass on your email to them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bossier City Councilman David Jones: 'there is an alternative'

The Bossier City Council will meet Tuesday at 3pm and it should get interesting. For the first time since the proposed budget cuts, people will be allowed to speak.
Ordinarily, the council allows 3 people from each side of an issue to speak. Hopefully, the council will relax the rules Tuesday and allow more people to express their opinions. People are angry and feel that they have been ignored by several of the members, while several have responded promptly to calls and emails.
One member who has been communicative with the people is David Jones, who represents District 4 on the council.
I spoke to Councilman Jones today at length and he was very adamant on his view of the proposed layoffs. "I will not vote for any budget that includes public safety layoffs'.
The gentleman does not mince his words. "There is an alternative, and that is to make cuts in the budget in other areas to make up half of the deficit, and to use surplus money to buy us time to assess the situation and make adjustments where they are needed."
Part of Jones' plan would be to freeze hiring and to let attrition begin to lower personnel. He also would like for the council to look at the finances monthly in detail to see where the city is headed and what additional steps would be needed.
"I believe we can achieve our goals without the heartache and personal hardships to so many families", he told me. "We have had unexpected expenses this year and that threw things out of kilter. We (the council) are working very hard for a solution."
A large crowd is expected to attend the Tuesday meeting.

Alexandria City Council a hungry bunch!

Meanwhile, Central La. Politics and Alex Cenla's Rants & Ravings are reporting that the Alexandria City Council has some problems of its own.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2010 Budget: Plenty of blame to go around

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Marty Carlson has a new column in the November Forum entitled Deficit Not New. In the column she answers the question everyone is asking – ‘how did this deficit just pop up and we knew nothing about it?’.
“That would be because we were not paying attention”, Marty answers. She points out the history of the deficit, the continued rolling back of tax rates even as the city was getting into trouble, the appropriation of surplus funds for the last couple of years and warnings from some people of the impending problems.
Rather than blame the mayor and members of the council, people should first point the finger at themselves. That is absolutely true, but it is a damning truth that cuts both ways.
The simple truth is that the people trusted the mayor and council to take care of their business and they also trusted them to keep them informed. I think Marty, while correct in her assessment of the inattention of the people, is being a little too kind to the mayor and council.
The simple lesson learned is that the people shouldn’t trust their public officials to do what is right, they should monitor them and make sure that they do so.
As I pointed out in another blog post, the December 2007 minutes of the meeting of the council in which they discussed the budget for 2008 states that "Public Hearing for the 2008 City of Bossier City Budgets. Joe Buffington, City Finance Director, explained some of the major budget items. Hearing nothing from the public, the Public Hearing was closed." .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Councilman Larkin apologizes to Mayor for Councilman Darby's remarks

Councilman at-large Tim Larkin spoke out at today’s council meeting, chastising Councilman Jeff Darby for remarks he made two weeks ago saying that the Mayor had misled the council.
The official minutes of the meeting reflect that “Mr. Darby read a personal statement concerning the City’s budget.”
That is an understatement. What Councilman Darby said was “I have been deceived”. According to Larkin, Darby accused the mayor of criminal behavior and said that he should be punished as a criminal. None of that was reported in the media, that I’m aware of.
Darby also said that he would vote against the cuts to the police and fire departments.
Larkin also said, speaking of the rules of order of the council, that “we should discipline ourselves rigidly”.
The council members did seem to exercise that rigid discipline in the election earlier this year, when none of them spoke out to warn the people of the disastrous direction in which the city’s finances were headed.
They still don’t get it. People are not only upset at the idea of so many city employees are in danger of being laid of, they are highly upset that this was sprung on them at the last minute. The mayor and council have known for some time that revenues were not keeping up with expenditures, and did nothing at all to address the problem. The council has been aware for the last two years, as they (with the exception of Don Williams) voted surplus funds to continue city operations.
Why did they not impose hiring freezes two years ago? A year ago?
Whey did they not implement money saving measures in other ways?
Make no mistake, people are angry. The recurring theme during the aftermath of the terrible storms last weekend was “Thank God they are still here”. When disasters happen, people don’t look to the mayor or the council for help – they look to the first responders, the firemen and policemen. These people worked around the clock dealing with the problems, and appreciate the support of the people they serve.
Next week the council will have to listen to some citizens regarding the cuts. They will allow equal time for people in favor of the cuts and for people opposed.
Wonder how many takers they will get in favor of the cuts?
Video compliments of Bossier City attorney Samantha McAllister.

Representative Fleming thanks Air Force for help during floods

Monday, November 2, 2009

The people of Bossier City are talking, is anyone listening?

Just a few of the remarks from the Facebook group
Save our Bossier City Police and Firefighters:

• My home backs up 30 yards to Red Chute Bayou just south of Dogwood trail. This morning, my home and street are dry and I still don't understand how this is possible! Thanks to the focused organization of the US Air Force of Barksdale, Army, and National Guard, and help from the BCPD . . .
• Thanks to all the Bossier City Police working Greenacres Place during the storm! You guys have really been awesome - we appreciate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
• Save our men and women in Blue and firefighters...they deserve the BEST!
• Bossier city has the lowest crime rate in the state according to many statistics.... why would anyone want that to change? Laying off such a high amount of patrol officers and firefighters just isn't a smart decision. Cut budgets elsewhere!
• Last weekend my car broke down on ART and McDade! It was 1:45 A.M. My friend and I had been shopping in Shreveport. We were so scared and who do you call at 1:45 A.M.??? A wonderful BCPD Officer showed up, went WAY out of his way to help and then took us to safety!!! This is no where in his job description. . . I pray the budget cuts are made somewhere else.
• Our Bossier Police and Firemen are very important to us. We need them.
• Thanks guys for a job well done!
• This is God's way of saying this is not were we need to do BUDGET CUTS PLEASE LISTEN!!!!
• Dear Mayor Walker...I sure am glad that we had an extra 60+ police officers and fire fighters on hand last night during the tornados. God speaks to us in LOTS of ways. Perhaps...this was his way of saying...WE REALLY NEED THOSE GUYS AND GALS! PLEASE take note...and pray about your decision. When God speaks...LISTEN!
• Thank you BCPD and BCFD for your hard work and showed all of us Thursday night you are there for us.....We are here for you as well.
• God is watching over them!!!!
• Thank god the city of bossier has such great firemen and police officers to help protect the city and assist citizens during the weather situation today and this evening. Why on earth does it make any since to lay any of them off, imagine how bad things would be if we were missing 80 personnel tonight
• Cut the police and firefighters and give raises to the mayor's office?? Let's get the priorities straight....Thank you for your service!
• Let's make cuts starting with those who missmanaged the money in the first place.
• The mayor and his staff should be ashamed.
• With Bossier being in debt and cutting needed police and firemen how can the city afford pay raises for the Mayor's staff which should have seen the same cuts as the other departments if the mayor sees cutting our work force as his only means of controling the debt?? I support keeping our firemen and policemen ,we need them!
• All those who have protected and served this what they deserve? I think not....
• As much flak as our police get in the local media, they are an outstanding agency. Our low crime rate in the city is a direct result of people not wanting to mess with the BCPD and the professionalism and skill they posses. When will people learn that progress is made by growth and expansion, not shooting yourself in the foot?
• Lets save these jobs so they can continue to protect our wonderful city. Let some of the big wigs take pay cuts or cut back somewhere else but not with our police or firefighters.
• I can think of a lot of ways to cut spending without cutting fire and police. To the city council and the mayor, you need to get your heads out of the sand and think this through. You people have spent alot of taxpayers money on things like Cyber Command, etc and now you want to put our safety in jeopardy to fix your mess?
• Police and Firefighters protect the citizens.....of course we should keep every one of them. Who could possibly think otherwise???
• We love our Bossier City police and firefighters!
• Mayor Walker should stop and realize that people are moving to Bossier due to our great police and fire departments. Cutting our safety elements will cost Bossier in the long run when our current reputation for safety vanishes. Bad financial decisions should not cost the working men of Bossier their jobs! We ask the City Council to please vote against this and find other ways to restore the budget.
• Bossier police and firefighters are a cornerstone to this city. They are key members to any community.
• I do not ynderstand the concept of rolling back property taxes because of rapid growth in the city. Rapid growth means more people,homes,and businesses. This requires more city services, not less. I can see not raising taxes but not cutting them.
• Thank you to all who put their lives on the line for us every day!!!!! God Bless all of you!
• We need our police and firefighters!!! Praying for wisdom!!!
• Public safety should NEVER be the FIRST place they look when it comes to budget cuts. I am positive that there are other areas that could trim down. What is Lo thinking??
• It doesn't make sense to use the very people who are there to protect, serve and save citizens used to salvage a shortage that certainly wasn't their doing. I can't think of anyone besides a physician that is more important to a community. Isn't there an auditor that could have foreseen this problem long before the problem became critical?
• Before you can offer a salution to this shortage problem, you must first see what caused the shortage. I hope in the next few weeks this shortage is published and a fix found. Then a impartial manpower study done with private funds so the citizens will know. No longer do we trust out Government to do the best thing for us. Good luck.
• We all understand that these are tuff economic times...but somehow our priorities are sooooo skewed! Cut-backs on things that can wait, are extraneous, even unnecessary...But NO! NO! NO!, not on those who are most vital to our well-being as a community...our firefighters and policemen . . .
• we moved here 4 1/2 years ago and until now this is the most I have seen out of our so called Mayor. I totally agree with so many of you about him taking a pay cut but we all know that the big dogs don't do that. Where are all of our tax dollars going? We have had property tax increases and the city is part of it.
• We're praying for each of our fire and police officers. The city council needs to see how important these men and women are to their city, more important than spending the money on updating a water park.
• Our prayers are with all Firemen and Policemen. Their jobs are to important to let this happen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Louisiana Downs Closing

Harrah's Louisiana Downs is closing due to floodwaters from Red Chute Bayou. The levee is overflowing and in danger of flooding.
They announced that they will close at 1AM Sunday.
The Casino at Louisiana Downs is open 24 hours per day year round.

Mayor to residents: “Find yourself a nice hotel”

Mayor Lo Walker’s advice to the 25,000 or more residents faced by flooding in Bossier City and in South Bossier was “Find yourself a nice hotel”.
That might get a little crowded.
Shreveport/Bossier has a total of 9,500 hotel rooms. According to the Tourist and Convention Bureau, at the latest count they were maintaining a 73% occupancy rate, the highest in the state. That would leave about 2,400 rooms available for the 25,000 folks.
Shelters have been opened at Platt Elementary School on Hwy 80 in Haughton and at the old Parkway High School on Panther Drive.
The city has decided not to open the convention center as a shelter.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s subdivision is being evacuated. Wonder which shelter he chose?

Levee Breach threatening Louisiana Downs
A minor levee breach on Red Chute Bayou has already been reported near Louisiana Downs. If the levee breaches, the complex could see waters up to 5 or 6 feet.
Residents are evacuating from Stockwell, Brookhaven, Victorian Point, Carriage Oaks, Carriage Oaks Crossing, Stonebridge and Richmond Cove subdivisions.
In South Bossier, the sheriff’s office and Wildlife & Fisheries have boats available to help evacuate anyone trapped by high water.
The sheriff’s office can be reached at 965-2203.

Videos: Aftermath of Thursday's storm damage in Bossier Parish

These excellent videos are courtesy of Mario Villafuerte, an independent photojournalist. Check out his YouTube channel for more. Some were shown on KMSS 33.