Thursday, July 22, 2010

Local political bodies receiving attention from Tea Party activists

Local Shreveport-Bossier Tea Party member Evodna Springer questions the Bossier City Council on the process that led up to the increase in sewage rates.  Council members tell Mrs. Springer that lead-up meeting, 'workshop' sessions were advertised in the Press-Tribune as required by law.  Minutes, however, were not kept.  Asked directly by Ms. Springer about minutes, City Attorney Jimmy Hall says that the law does require that minutes be kept, but none were.  Ms. Springer suggested that the council do more in the future to advertise any public meeting addressing the issues.
The exchanges are very cordial, and there is no accusation of wrongdoing involved, just a citizen attempting to keep the public body on its toes.  I will note that Ms. Springer is active in the Republican Women of Bossier and was a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention.
So what is the point?  That the city council is getting oversight from citizens as never before, and that's a good thing.  We will keep you updated on Ms. Springer's efforts to obtain other public records.

Louisiana's Open Meetings law


  1. With the exception of Chubby Knight, the arrogance displayed by our other city officials is really unbelievable,specially when they know that they are being scutinized as never before. It was obvious this fall. They must feel that the citizens are both mindless and forgetful. These gentlemen apparently think that they are above the law, and apparently also believe that it is the citizens who owe them some service as opposed to their pledging to provide a service to our city. I was just commenting today about how much I love our city, but how it seems that a handful of men seem determined to prove what others believe is the norm for Lousiana politicians. I, for one, am embarrassed.
    One could make the arguement that attendance at city council meetings is slim to none most weeks and they'd be correct. How many hard-working, tax-paying, concerned citizens can drop everything at 3pm to attend a meeting? There is a reason that meetings aren't well advertised and are scheduled for times when few citizens can attend. It's a whole lot easier to spend carelessly and irresponsibly when no one can be there to question such decisions. Thank God for activists committed to watching over our leaders. I, for one, am already planning to campaign for their replacements.

  2. Although this is a serious issue, it has a simple solution: Keep written minutes of the Workshop Meetings.

    Each and every single one of these Council members has a choice to make regarding this issue, and each and every one needs to publicly state their position on this matter.

  3. springer do you really believe any of them are going to do anything that would shine a bit more light into how they do business? don't be so naive

  4. @Anonymous - You're right. the City Council won't do it on their own. It's up to the private citizens to shine the light.

    Also, anonymous, why don't you join Ms. Springer to try and hold these politicians accountable? Isn't it our job to make sure they follow the law? We have laws, and those laws have penalties, and those laws are enforced by the DA, and the Legislative Auditor. The problem is the DA and LLA can't enforce the laws if they don't know about the violations.

  5. what is it that you are trying to uncover? was there something that happened at the workshop that was illegal?

  6. You mean other than not keeping minutes as required by law? I don't think anyone suggested that anything illegal happened. The point Ms. Springer was trying to make with the council was that it would be nice if they would offer more public notice of such meetings, not that they had not met the letter of the law by advertising the meeting in the Press-Tribune notice.
    Of course, without the required minutes it is hard to know what sort of input was offered by the public at the meetings, if indeed anyone in the public used due diligence and scoured the legal notices in the paper.
    The citizens of Bossier are not happy. Members of the council believe that all will be forgotten by the next election cycle, but they are seriously mistaken. The people of Bossier have a lot of pride in their city and that pride has been injured in the last year. They were humiliated and they didn't like it. The council still doesn't get it and seems to want to play cat and mouse games. There are a couple of exceptions, I will note.

  7. These are last 3:30 minutes of the 7/6/10 City Council meeting.

    I honestly appreciate Mr. Jones' and Mr. Larkin's efforts to clarify the issue of advertising of the Workshop Meetings (see video link). What they may not realize, however, is that notice of the Workshops does not appear in the Bossier Press Tribune. The City Council Clerk graciously provided an explanation to me as to why this is not occurring. Though the Clerk's reason is plausible, the fact remains, notice in the Bossier Press of Workshop Meetings is absent.

    With regard to notice of Workshops on the City Council web site, this is also not accurate.

    [Please note that all the Council must do by law for 'notice' is posting on the door and providing notice to media members if requested. It appears that the Council is in compliance with that portion of the law.]

    But Council members are mistaken regarding the extent to which Workshop meeting notification is given. Again, notice does not appear in the newspaper, nor on the City Council web site.

    By no means do I believe Mr. Larkin knew that notices are not being posted on the web site or in the Bossier Press, when he made statements on the video to that effect. I don't believe Mr. Jones knew this either. (Even I did not know for sure until I did further research.)

    David Jones and Tim Larkin were the only two Council members willing to go into detail to explain the Workshop process to me at the 7/6/10 Council meeting. I am grateful to them for this courtesy, and have confidence that they will actively work to remedy these notification issues.

    My hope is that they will also lead the way toward insuring that written minutes of Workshop meetings in compliance with the Louisiana Open Meetings Law also becomes a reality.

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  9. MPERS’ triple bogey

    This is from Baton Rouge Business Report

    By Penny Font (Contact)

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    •MPERS’ triple bogey via Louisiana’s police pension fund could really use a mulligan.

    please post story and start discussion

  10. The above is about the Police and Fire Pension funds - think it may have an impact on local politica bodies - TEA PARTY please look into this

  11. Jim - will you post the entire story - Jeff Saddow sounded the alarm about this on his blog last year. See below title - needs a link

    MPERS must eschew vanity, cut golf course losses


    I'd like to know more about this, Jim. Maybe you and some others can look into it. How do we go from getting rid of police/fire personnel last year because of a 6 mil. deficit to now a surplus? I know how...typical Bossier politics.

  13. Does anyone know if there is any validity to the rumor that Bossier City Police and Fire Dispatch will recieve a $15,000 (yes that's 3 zeros)per year raise?...Which would have them starting at roughly the same salary as a police or fire lieutenant. A person who does not wear a bullet-proof vest, or bunker gear, or a gun, or go into burning buildings, or intercept dangerous criminals, or work in any and all weather conditions. I hope that this rumor is false, because it would be such a slap in the face to those brave men and women who work everyday to keep us safe for $37,000/year and who can no longer appreciate any job security.

  14. 1. I have followed the MPERS investments for a while. I will put something up probably tomorrow to start a discussion.
    2. The article that anon at 3:08 linked (nwla news) did say something about a new Fire Department communications officer. So far as dispatchers pay increasing by that much, we will attempt to find out.

  15. To the last Anonymous: The salary increases about which you are inquiring are budget items and should be public records. You can file a Public Records Request under LRS Title 44 and obtain that information. Public Records Requests are by and large not known or understood by most citizens in our state. But they are an absolutely incredible tool. Let us know if you need assistance in exercising this right.

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  17. Anonymous 4:36. The rumor isn't false. It is true. Besides that, they hired a person from outside the department to supervise the dispatchers who will be making equivalent to lieutenants' pay, and that person will be making equivalent to majors' pay.

  18. Why is someone posting and making comments about Mrs. Springer's "beach body." I find it disrespectful of Mrs. Springer. But then again, when you ask questions of anyone in politics or government, their political hacks or they themselves attack.

    Mrs. Springer is correct, everyone should familiarize themselves with the Public Records Law under the federal and state law. You can find out public official salaries, spending accounts, expense accounts, etc.

    I think everyone will be suprised what they find out is going on-

    Jim, what about the MPERS discussion? I intersted to see what you post - this will impact our city much like the national debt impacts our country.

  19. This was printed in the Monroe New Star today about City Council members using private email accounts to conduct business - it was a long article - but this guy was quoted -

    Barry Erwin, president and CEO of the Council for a Better Louisiana, one of the state's top government watchdog groups that frequently advocates government transparency, said public officials' e-mails related to government business — regardless of the type of account — are public records and need to be open to the public.
    "The public records law is there for a reason," Erwin said. "The public has an absolute right to know what its government is doing. Ignorance of the law should be no excuse with regard to this. How can citizens really know what their government is doing if they don't have access to those records?"

  20. Yea, Jim. What about MPERS?

  21. Bossier City Hall is a Shriners' Circus, Literally!

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