Friday, February 27, 2009

News Flash: Politicians Lie!

And Bobby Jindal is a politician. Tuesday night his lips were moving, so . . . .

Looks like the game is up.
Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night -- about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?
Turns out it wasn't actually, you know, true.
Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee "during Katrina," and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn't have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, "that's ridiculous," prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.
But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone "days later."

Thanks to LaNewsLink

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bossier School System: No Accountability

"I'd like to have someone to do this: look at what we say we're supposed to do and then pull the reports to see if it's actually being done."
Ken Kruithof

A 2002 legislative audit pointed to problems with processing monetary disbursements — issues Superintendent Ken Kruithof said he'd rectify. Seven years later with a host of other money concerns, including employees' improper use of credit cards and missing money from school activity funds, the issues don't appear to be resolved. And the district doesn't have any new procedures in place to handle the recurring problems. Kruithof said the issues lie with some employees disregarding the rules, not the procedures themselves.
"We're waiting for the legislative auditor to give us some recommendations and our external auditor will give us some suggestions on what we need," Kruithof said. "It may be that we need additional personnel; we only have one internal auditor."
The legislative auditor gave those recommendations seven years ago - they have been ignored. This is almost surreal, it has an Alice in Wonderland quality to it.
We received these suggestions seven years ago, and now we're waiting for them to suggest it again before we act.
To repeat, the 'issues lie with some employees disregarding the rules'.
Whose job is it to see that employees follow the rules?
School Board, take heed.
Hire a new superintendent from outside the district and clean this mess up.
If you don't, the problems will continue and you will be held accountable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Johnston Pleads guilty in school fraud case

A former maintenance supervisor for Bossier Parish schools admitted today he was a ringleader in a scheme to help a company steal three quarters of a million dollars from the taxpayers through rigged bids and overcharges on air condition work.
Randy Johnston's guilty plea means all but one of the defendants in the case have admitted to wrongdoing. The fifth is expected to plead guilty next month. Each faces up to 20 years in prison.
In the mail fraud count Johnston admitted to, the school system was billed for putting two air conditioners on the auditorium of an elementary school that didn't have an auditorium.

Entire story at KTBS

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wonder why Louisiana has a decreasing population?

Louisiana is suffering from population loss, the largest any state has suffered in the last 60 years. In the near future, we will probably lose a congressional seat.

We rank dead last in healthcare, near last in education, we are only 2nd to Mississippi in the number of families living in poverty.

Keep in mind that we are last in the United States, which ranks behind Finland, Australia, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan & Singapore in education.

Before he came into office, Bobby Jindal promised to

Improve the caliber of math and science education in our high schools

A strong proficiency in math and science has been shown to be a needed

skill for many of the current and projected high-wage jobs in Louisiana, as

well as a key indicator in college achievement and higher ACT scores. For

those districts having trouble attracting and retaining teachers qualified to

teach these subjects, we need better training programs and on-line courses

to help those teachers succeed. We should also better pursue talented

graduates of multiple fields (e.g., physics, math, or biology) to make up for

teacher shortages and expand alternative certification programs so that

working professionals with expertise in these subjects can be taught the

skills needed to relay that knowledge in the classroom. School partnership

programs with local employers are critical to educate students on the

usefulness and value of strong math and science skills. Louisiana has a

large manufacturing base that uses technology daily and we should leverage

that presence to improve math and science instruction in the classroom.

This sounds good, considering that the governor is a smart guy, holding a degree in biology from Brown University.

Sounds like a dream, in fact. A governor educated in science who desires to attract business and research facilities to our state so we can keep our kids here and build our future.

Good in theory, but bad in politics, and Bobby Jindal is a political animal. He lives and breathes political opportunity and that seems to be in conflict with his scientific training.

Of course, politics trumps all.

Jindal supported Sen. Ben Nevers “Academic Freedom” (read creationism) bill and signed it into law, making Louisiana the only state to have such a law.

Although Nevers played the innocent, saying “This is strictly about teaching science in the classroom, it has nothing to do with religion”, the bill as intended opens the door to exactly that. Otherwise, why pass a bill saying that you can ‘teach science’ and have critical evaluation of scientific theory in the classroom? We have had that for as long as we have had schools.

Improve the caliber of math and science education indeed!

Science deals with natural phenomenon, religion with the supernatural. The two will never meet, and were never intended to. Belief in scientific findings are based on empiricism. Religious beliefs are based on faith.

Science should be taught at school, religion at home and in church.

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology has now informed the governor with this letter that the SICB will not come to New Orleans for the 2011 annual meeting because of the state law that undermines science education and attacks teaching evolution.

P. Z. Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, notes that

After the Louisiana legislature passed the LA Science Education Act, a total of nine national scientific societies publicly called on Jindal to veto it. He ignored them, as well as everyone else who contacted him requesting that he veto the bill, choosing instead to help execute the agenda of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), the Religious Right organization on whose behalf Louisiana Sen. Ben Nevers introduced the bill and on whose behalf Jindal signed it. Jindal is a staunch ally of the LFF. The citizens of Louisiana, whose educational well-being the governor claims to be so concerned about, are now paying the price--literally--for his loyalty to his conservative Christian base. Sorry, Louisiana. You are a lovely state, but scientists won't be supporting you as long as you're going to be dedicated to anti-scientific foolishness.”

Do you still wonder why we rank last in education, and why our kids have to leave the state to find opportunities?

H/T to Your Right Hand Thief

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bossier School Board to meet Thursday

Notice of Official Meeting-Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Bossier Parish School Board will meet in Regular Session at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 19, 2009, at the Bossier Parish School Board Central Office, 316 Sibley Street, Benton, LA.
The following items will appear on the agenda.
1. Call to Order
2. Opening Items
3. Recognition: American Legion Oratorical Contest Winner/Michael Graves
4. Recognition: VFW State Teacher of the Year
5. Report: Update on Excess Property & Excess Workers’ Compensation Insurance
6. Report: Capital Improvement Program
7. Request: Permission to Piggy Back with Caddo Parish School Board for Paper Bid
8. Report: Buildings & Grounds Committee Meeting/February 10, 2009
9. Report: Planning & Development Committee Meeting/February 10, 2009
10. Report: Finance Committee Meeting/February 12, 2009
11. Request: Approval of Personnel Agenda for February 19, 2009
12. Request: Approval of Trip Request Agenda for February 19, 2009

I plan to be there and hope you will too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bossier City Municipal Races

A little interest has been created in the Bossier City elections coming up in April, although the top spot will remain in the hands of incumbent Mayor Lo Walker.
There had been some speculation that Don “Bubba” Williams would mount opposition, but he chose instead to retain his District 3 seat on the City Council. He will be unopposed.
Also unopposed are incumbents Scott Irwin, Jeff Darby and David Jones.
In District 5, incumbent Councilman Dr. James Rogers is vacating the seat, leaving Johnnie Estess, James Knight & former Councilman Larry Hanisee in contention.
Hanisee served on the Council from 1989 – 1993.
Bossier also has two At-Large seats, currently held by David Montgomery and Tim Larkin. Both have qualified to run for re-election.
Also qualifying was Marsha McAllister. Mrs. McAllister issued a statement:
“I am running for Councilman at Large not against anyone, but for the citizens of Bossier. It has been at least sixteen years since we have had a woman serve on the city council and I feel it is time for a new perspective.
I look forward to meeting the citizens of Bossier and having an opportunity to represent them and their interests!
I can be reached by email at:
In an interesting side note, The Times yesterday ran an editorial Women's voices needed in politics.
An omen perhaps?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Congressman Fleming speaks against Stimulus Bill

After voting against the Stimulus package, Congressman Fleming speaks out on the floor of the house.

Video compliments of We Saw That

Marsha McAllister qualifies for Bossier Council at-large seat

Marsha McAllister of Bossier City has injected a little interest into an otherwise largely uncontested race for Bossier City municipal offices.
Three candidates have qualifed for the seat being vacated by Dr. James Rogers, but this was expected.
The unexpected came this afternoon when Marsha McAllister, a resident of Greenacres Place, qualifed for the at-large council spot.
David Montgomery and Tim Larkin are the two incumbent at-large councilmen.
We will post more on the Bossier City elections this weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Congressman Fleming announces District Outreach

The following monthly schedule marks times and locations when a representative from the Congressman’s office will be in cities and towns throughout the district to meet with constituents for any reason requiring federal assistance. No appointment is necessary to meet with Congressman Fleming’s representatives.

Day of Month City Location Time Parish

1st Tuesday Benton Town Hall 9:00am Bossier

1st Tuesday Vivian Town Hall 11:30am Caddo

1st Wednesday Homer Town Hall 9:30am Claiborne

1st Wednesday Haynesville City Hall 11:30am Claiborne

2nd Tuesday Springhill City Hall 10:00am Webster

2nd Thursday Minden City Hall 9:00am Webster

3rd Tuesday Arcadia City Hall 9:30am Bienville

3rd Tuesday Ringgold Taylor's Quick Stop 11:30am Bienville

3rd Wednesday Logansport City Hall 9:30am DeSoto

3rd Wednesday Mansfield Police Jury 11:30am DeSoto

4th Tuesday Natchitoches Art Center 716 2nd Street 10:00am Natchitoches

4th Tuesday Coushatta City Hall 12:30pm Red River

1st Tuesday Colfax Sheriff's Office 10:30am Grant

1st Wednesday Many Police Jury Office 9:30am Sabine

2nd Wednesday DeRidder Town Hall 9:30am Beauregard

2nd Wednesday Oberlin Police Jury Office 1:30am Allen

Congressman Fleming’s Website

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bossier School Board must do the right thing

"I'm just going to come out and say it — the 'good ole' boy' system, it's alive and well in Bossier Parish."
That's a quote in The Times this morning from Bossier Parish School Board member William Kostelka. He goes on to say "We haven't done this much, and we can't do this behind closed doors, we have to come out and do this in the public . . . I'm not in favor of us hiring a head hunter, but I'd like to see what else is out there, I know you all hear that all the time, but if we don't open it up we're doing a disservice to the taxpayers, and we don't want to send the message that we're doing what we've always done."
Mr. Kostelka and board member Tammy Smith get it right, as do most residents of the parish.
Other board members, however, seem afraid of meaningful change.
Board member J.W. Slack said the district might be sending the wrong message to current employees if someone from outside the parish is hired to do the job.
Then again, that might send just the right message.
"There's one person to me that's stood out and it's (assistant superintendent) D.C. Machen," board member Mike Mosura said. "He's never been afraid to look me in the eye and he's the man that's been in the system for more years than I've been alive. He knows so much about the system and the parish."
And therein lies the problem. The system has become stagnant from years of the good old boy system that Mr. Kostelka so aptly described.
Aggressive new administration is needed to establish procedures and policies that will ensure that every penny is properly accounted for. The board must also tighten up its screening policies on outside contractors.
Any conflict of interest between school board employees, conract or otherwise, must be addressed.
The next school board meeting will be held on Thursday, February 19th. We will post a notice of the time and location early next week.
Please plan to attend and let your feelings be known.
In the meantime, contact your school board member and tell them what you think. Their phone numbers and email addresses are listed here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Web Seminar: Why the Haynesville Shale is Really That Good

When: Anytime, at your convenience
Where: Your Computer
Cost: $100.00, Includes a copy of the upcoming Haynesville Playbook, mailed to you in March!

The Haynesville shale in Northern Louisiana and East Texas is fast becoming the premier shale play in the U.S. After a leasing rush in 2008, the drilling pace is set to pick up. One operator told Oil and Gas Investor that this will be the last play standing, and no wonder: Recent wells have shown initial flow rates of up to 28 million cubic feet a day.

Join us for this exclusive webcast that will answer your questions about what we've learned to date about the Haynesville and how we see the play developing.

Robert C. Turnham, Jr.
President & Chief Operating Officer, Goodrich Petroleum Corp.

Ken L. Kenworthy, Jr.
Co-Founder & President, GMX Resources Inc.

Gary Kolstad
President and CEO
CARBO Ceramics Inc.

Moderated by Peggy Williams, Sr. exploration editor, Oil and Gas Investor

Stormy vs Vitter: Debate or Wrestling Match?

You have probably heard about the movement to draft porn star Stormy Daniels to run against incumbent Senator David Vitter in the Republican primary next year.
Stormy has given her first interview and says that if Vitter won't meet her in a debate, she will be happy to wrestle him.
It is a refreshing interview, she doesn't try to cover up for herself and actually answers questions.
Check out the Draft Stormy website.

h/t The Reduct Box

And now, thanks to We Saw That, we have video of the CNN story.

Judge denies motion for fair trial in Bastrop police killing trial

UPDATED: The Times changed the headline and the wording in the story about an hour after I made a comment on The Times website and our blog post went up.

Don't blame me, that's what The Times published this morning in its online edition. The story goes:

A judge has denied a motion for a fair trial against Tanya "Little Feather" Smith, the woman being tried in Bossier Parish in connection with the 2007 fatal shooting of two Bastrop police officers.
Smith, 25, told Ouachita-Morehouse Judge Scott Leehy from the stand that Ouachita deputies took her handwritten notes while she was being held there, and that they didn’t return all of them.
“We made copies of it, made it available to the defense and let (Smith’s defense attorney Louis Scott) go through it,” Ouachita-Morehouse prosecutor Gary Aykock said.
Leehy denied the request before going into recess until 1 p.m.

What are the Times editors thinking when they write these stories and headlines? Denied a motion for a fair trial????
Read the story here

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Drive By Politics: A Tale of 2 Bobbys

From LaNewsLink, the first edition of Drive By Politics, a new program that will be aired soon and will be posted on their YouTube channel.

Jindal Flying High on Gambling $$$$

Governor Jindal has been flying all over the country holding fundraisers for his 2011 run for governor (not for president, wink wink). The poor fella hit a snag the other day when the plane that had been arranged to take him to North Carolina became unavailable. No problem, our boy has friends.
In an exclusive, The Old River Road reports that Jindal found alternate transportation:
The private jet, which seats seven, has a cost of $2,500 per hour! But not to worry — Jindal is not paying a dime. Rather, Alton Ashy, a fellow passenger on this trip and Louisiana’s top gambling lobbyist, is footing the bill.
A free ride to pick up fundraising checks in a private jet funded by the state’s top gambling lobbyist — now that’s something even ol’ Edwin would be proud of.
The Old River Road, in an attempt to keep up with our high-flying governor, has a new regular feature “Where’s Bobby?”. We will link it on our sidebar so you can keep up regularly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Let the Bossier School Board know what you think

Let your school board member know what you think about the search for a new superintendent. These people need to hear from us; they are there to represent the people, and they need to know what the people think.
Personally, I believe that the board should cast the net far and wide in the search for a new superintendent. The system is faced with problems that are the culmination of years of good old boy politics and 'scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' operations.
I think it is imperative to introduce 'new blood' into the system.
I sent an email to my school board member, Dr. Brigham, outlining my concerns and received a prompt and satisfactory reply.
I hope that everyone who reads this will email or call today.

Dr. Jack RaleyPresident
District 1
P.O. Box 85 Haughton, LA 71037318-949-3675

Brad Bockhaus
District 2
111 Harvest Ln. Haughton, LA 71037318-949-6680

Dr. Allison O. Brigham
District 3
511 Lee StBenton, LA 71006318-426-2911

Tammy A. Smith
District 4
183 Willow Bend Rd.Benton, LA 71006318-965-9839

Michael S. Mosura, III Vice-President
District 5
6014 Jason St.Bossier City, LA 71111318-742-3700
Bill Kostelka
District 6
309 Audubon Dr.Bossier City, LA 71111318-549-5359

J.W. Slack
District 7
2424 Douglas DriveBossier City, LA 71111318-746-5752

Kenneth Wiggins
District 8
3201 CloverdaleBossier City, LA 71111318-742-0251

Eddy Ray Presley
District 9
P.O. Box 2000Benton, LA 71006318-286-9049

Julian Darby
District 10
1130 Beverly St.Bossier City, LA 71112318-747-0818

Lindell Webb
District 11
1830 Venus DriveBossier City, LA 71112318-746-0672

Mack Knotts
District 12
5007 Kenilworth Dr.Bossier City, LA 71112318-747-4166

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bossier School Board has Opportunity

With the retirement of current Superintendent Ken Kruithof, the Bossier Parish School Board has an opportunity to make a clean break from some nasty business.
The good old boy network has left a stain on the reputation of an otherwise good system. Just look at the names of the people, from the attorney involved down to the maintenance employees involved in the recent scandal and it is very enlightening. Most (not all, but most) of the people involved are related to past superintendents, principals, school board members and/or other employees of the system or are related to people involved in politics at a local level.
Contractors must be screened in at least a minimal attempt to ensure that convicted felons are not entrusted with school business.
The school board should reach outside of the area in a search for a new superintendent, and when hired, give him/her full power to organize the system to operate in a more efficient manner.
The business side of school operations should be overseen by someone with a business education and with business experience. Accountability must be introduced into the system.
Hopefully the board will rise to the occasion and see that the Bossier Parish school system never again goes through the sort of trouble we have seen in the last few months, while at the same time pushing academic achievements to an even higher level.
The people will not stand for less.