Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old, In with the new

In the world of politics, Bossier saw some changes in 2011. Lynn Austin is the new City Marshal. Jeff Thompson will be the new representative for District 8 in the State House. Barrow Peacock defeated Jane Smith for State Senate, even though Smith had the strong endorsement of the governor and the state Republican Party. All the better for the district, they now have a state senator who is not beholden to anyone.
Julian Whittington was elected sheriff and will take office in 2012, after Larry Deen announced that he would not run and Doyle Dempsey wisely bowed out before he got started.
Now it’s time to look to 2012 and the presidential & congressional races, along with some local ones. I don’t do a lot on national politics, I stay updated at And So it Goes in Shreveport. Pat is on top of that stuff.
The Town of Benton has a special election for Mayor in March. Interim mayor Wayne Cathcart has announced as well as Ken Shiflett. This one might get interesting.
I haven’t blogged a lot in the last couple of weeks, everyone (including me) has been busy with family and holiday festivities – the truly important things in life.
To everyone who lost someone dear to them this year, our sympathies are with you.
I was blessed with another granddaughter in April, and she is a joy. Welcome to all of the new arrivals, I know that you will all leave this world a better place than you are finding it.
Mary Celeste

So without a lot of fanfare, I am telling 2011 farewell and saying welcome to 2012.
May all of you have a healthy and prosperous new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Time

I'll get back to regular blogging next week.  In the meantime, I'll do a couple of Christmas blogs. 
Take a minute and be still and listen to the song, it's a good one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who stole the wreath?

Some things are just harder to understand than others.
For instance, I can understand a crackhead stealing his grandmother's microwave to sell for dope.  After all, he is a crackhead and has a serious addiction.
I can understand a deadbeat shoplifting a couple of cans of beer, after all, he is a deadbeat.
I can't understand someone stealing a memorial wreath left for a friend who died in a car accident just a few short months ago.  That is what happened to this memorial wreath left by a friend of Melissa Maggio's at the scene of the accident on Benton Road.
If you have any idea who stole this wreath, please ask them to return it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Benton man drunk in Legacy Elementary Parking Lot

A man was arrested late last night for driving while intoxicated and disturbing the peace drunk.
Brandon Kane Butler, 29, of the 4500 block of Lawndale in Benton, was found in the driver's seat of his parked truck in Legacy Elementary parking lot after 11:00 p.m. last night. Butler stated that he was driving and realized that he was too drunk to do so. He then pulled into the school parking lot and turned his parking lights on. He showed signs of intoxication and performed poorly on the standard field sobriety test.
Butler was arrested and transported to the Bossier Maximum Security Facility for booking. He refused the Intoxilyzer. Butler's bond is set at $1150.
From Bossier Parish Sheriff

Monday, December 12, 2011

Special Award: Princeton man clocked at 102 on Hwy 80

A Princeton man was arrested over the weekend when he was caught traveling east on Highway 80 in Haughton more than 100 miles per hour.
A Bossier deputy tracked on radar 18-year-old Garrett W. Smith of the 1700 block of Allenwood driving his Mustang on Highway 80 near the Haughton Animal Hospital at 102 miles per hour around 11 p.m. Saturday night. The posted speed limit is 55 mph. The deputy pursued the speeding vehicle with his lights and siren activated, but Smith wouldn't stop. Smith turned north on Princeton Road and then stopped on Jennifer Lane. When the deputy made contact with driver, he asked Smith if he saw him in pursuit, to which Smith replied, "Yes." When the deputy asked Smith why he didn't stop when he saw the deputy, Smith said, "I don't know."
Smith was charged with speeding, flight from an officer and careless operation and then transported to the Bossier Maximum Security Facility for booking; his bond is set at $1,500.
From Bossier Parish Sheriff

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011: Crime and Convictions

I decided to just concentrate this one on what I consider to be the three worst crimes of 2011 in Bossier.
We still have three weeks left in 2011. I hope I won’t have to amend this and include another.
Celeste Lowe
In January, Wesley and Catherine Lowe were arrested and originally charged with negligent homicide in the death of 5 year old Anna Celeste Lowe. The child died from internal bleeding caused by severe trauma.
After watching the child suffer for two days, Stepmother Catherine Lowe finally took her to Willis-Knighton Pierremont. Celeste had been dead for two hours when they arrived at the hospital.
Catherine Lowe was then charged with 1st Degree Murder, which was later dropped to 2nd Degree. In October, the DA offered her a plea of manslaughter. Just this week Lowe refused the offer.
The trial is set to begin on February 13th.
Wesley Lowe is also set for trial on February 13th on the negligent homicide charge. He also was charged in June with possession of Schedule II & Schedule IV CDS.

Bill Norris Appliance Triple Murder
Compliments of Rex Moncrief
 On April 12th, Bossier City was rocked by the triple murder at Bill Norris Appliance on Barksdale Boulevard.
Ten days later, BCPD arrested Gerald Cortez Needham aka Copperhead and charged him with the murders. Needham has a long criminal history and Bossier City detectives zeroed in on him as their prime suspect.
Fast forward to July. A robbery at Emerson’s store in Haughton resulted in the suspect, Robert L. Clark, firing a gun (fortunately, no one was injured). The bullet that was fired came from the pistol used in the Norris killings.
In the continuing story, Needham was charged by the Feds with being a felon in possession of ammunition. 100 bullets were found at his residence when Bossier Police executed the arrest warrant and a search warrant.
Needham was found guilty this week and faces up to 10 years in prison.
Clark has not been charged with the Norris murders, and is not like to be charged. DA Schuyler Marvin said that with a conviction on the armed robbery charge, he will seek to have Clark sentenced as a habitual felon under the ‘three strikes’ law. The case isn’t set for trial yet, but is set for a status conference on January 17th.

"Miss Gaye"
On August 30th, Angela Gaye Haltom was shot to death on a parking lot at First Baptist Church in Bossier City, where she was employed by the Wee Center daycare.
When she left work to go to her car, she was met by her estranged husband, Allan Haltom, who killed her and then killed himself.
Mrs. Haltom had been in District Court that very morning renewing a protective order against Haltom. He also was facing criminal charges from an incident at the family home in Haughton. Haltom had rented a car that his wife wouldn’t recognize when she left work. From there he ambushed her.
“Miss Gaye”, as she was known to the children at the daycare, was well loved by the kids and the parents alike.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Day that will live in infamy

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Greg Aymond at Central La Politics posted this video from The Times Picayune.  I hope he won't mind me following suit.
Pat also has a good writeup on it at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Judge Bolin to retire

It is not a secret, although I’ve seen no official announcement, that Judge Bruce M. Bolin is retiring from the 26th JDC effective the end of January. Judge Bolin has served since 1991. He also served in the State Legislature from 1979 to 1990.
The governor must call a special election to replace him, in the meantime a temporary appointee will be named by the Supreme Court. Quite often a former judge is chosen, and the person chosen cannot run for the position in the subsequent election.
I don’t know when the special election will be held, but I am hearing that attorneys Mike Nerren and Whit Graves are interested in running.
The next election for judges is in 2014, and word is that Judge Stinson and possibly Judge Robinson will retire at that time.
Stay tuned for more when we get it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

LSU 13-0, On to New Orleans

2011 LSU Tigers Football Schedule
Current Record: 11-0, 7-0 (SEC)
DucksOregon Ducks
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Won 40-27
DemonsNorthwestern State Demons
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Won 49-3
Bulldogsat Mississippi State Bulldogs
Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Won 19-6
Mountaineersat West Virginia Mountaineers
Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, WV
Won 47-21
WildcatsKentucky Wildcats
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Won 35-7
GatorsFlorida Gators
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Won 41-11
Volunteersat Tennessee Volunteers
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Won 38-7
TigersAuburn Tigers
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Won 45-10
---Open Date---
Crimson Tideat Alabama Crimson Tide
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Won 9-6
HilltoppersWestern Kentucky Hilltoppers
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Won 42-9
Rebelsat Ole Miss Rebels
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS
Won 52-3
RazorbacksArkansas Razorbacks
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Won 41-17
SECSEC Championship Game
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
 Won 42-10

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bossier Deputies deserve better

I have been trying to understand exactly what happened in the "under-withholding" that the sheriff reported, and the ensuing confusion over repayment to the IRS.
The official explanations were as clear as mud, and in fact misleading.
Nothing was "under-withheld". Income was incorrectly reported on Sheriff’s employees pay stubs and W-2’s for 10 years. Ten years until an employee looked at her pay stub and realized that it was incorrect.
Ten years without, apparently, any oversight that would have caught this error.
From what I am able to gather from people in the know, the sheriff agreed in 2002 to start paying 2% that employees had been paying toward retirement. The problem was, that although the sheriff paid the retirement system, employees’ pay still reflected that 2% as deferred income, rather than as taxable income. The result of this, of course, was that when these employees filed their yearly return, the income they reported was actually lower than it should have been.
The IRS only has records, according to the sheriff, for the last 3 years. The cumulative total of what is owed for 2008, 2009 and 2010, and I would assume that this would include interest and penalties, is $689,000.
Employees were given the option to pay their share by December 5th, or alternately to have 2% deducted from their pay until it is paid. This, supposedly, was part of an agreement reached with the IRS. How it will be credited to each individual employee, I have no idea. Why the sheriff couldn’t just issue corrected W-2’s and let each employee deal with it at tax time, I have no idea.
Of course, to add insult to injury in a manner that only Larry Deen could come up with, was his ‘joking’ statement to deputies that their paycheck would have a bonus included. Just joking.
Oh, and they won’t get that raise next year. Although they are paying their part of the money owed, someone has to pay the interest and penalties. That will be offset by deputies not receiving a raise.
Meanwhile, Larry Deen is sitting on almost half a million dollars in unused campaign contributions. The law closely governs how he can disburse that money to certain non-profit and charitable donations.
Shame he can’t donate it to the Sheriff’s office or to a non-profit set up for that purpose, and relieve the employees of about 2/3 of their burden.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sonja Bailes - from the frying pan into the fire

Word is that KTBS anchor Sonja Bailes is leaving to work for the Bossier Parish School Board.  I haven't seen an official announcement, though there may be one out there. 
Apparently she will serve as the Ed Baswell/Mark Natale of the school board. 
She is a graduate of Airline High School and has a degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech.

Friday, November 25, 2011

LSU 12-0, but I've changed my mind about one thing

What a game.  LSU just won't be beaten this year.
Second to LSU, I have always liked the Razorbacks, and I have really liked Bobby Petrino as their coach.
After this incident today, I have changed my mind.  As I so eloquently noted in the comments on Andy's blog, he is a poor loser and an asshole to boot (pardon the pun).
He was upset because LSU kicked a field goal when they were already up 39-17.  The reason Les wanted it, of course, was that Alabama beat Arkansas by 24 points, and by going 41-17 so did LSU.
This was Petrino's reaction.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sheriff’s ‘computer formula error’ raises questions

An error in the sheriff’s payroll computer system is causing all sorts of problems, some of which are a little hard to understand.
The error in computing taxes caused Federal & State taxes to be withheld at an improper, lower rate, than required. Employees are being required to kick in the difference for their 2011 taxes.
The question I have regards the (quoting from the times) ‘taxes owed from 2008 thru 2010’.
Haven’t the individual employees filed their tax returns for those years and paid any taxes owed, or in some cases, received less of a refund than they otherwise would have received?
How can the sheriff owe $689,000 to the IRS or to the State for ‘taxes’ for a three year period when those taxes have already been paid by the employees?
What is the $689,000 for?
We will get into this more next week.
And So it Goes in Shreveport
The Times

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spam Mail

Every day it's something.  Do you get a lot of these type things?
Dear ValuabLE Customer,
This email is coming to you as a reminder concerning your pending package that has been with us for a long time. As you already know that this package is containing an International ATM CARD in your name and in the amount of $1.5 million usd.
This email is to let you know that fedEx Courier has finally carried out delivery of your package. The package left Lagos Nigeria on June 15th and since on the 18th of June it has been in Memphis awaiting custom clearance.
To track your package, go to (it gives an address that is undoubtedly masked) and
insert the tracking number below to view delivery status.Tracking Number: 875531681014
On the tracking page you will see that this package is going to a wrong address. This is because you have refused to give us your cooperation. You are hereby adviced to provide us with the below details so we can immediately have it sent out to our FedEx office at Memphis.
Your Name(In Full):
Your Delivery Address:
Your Direct telephone Number:
Please note that you are required to provide a redirection fee of $250 which you are to make available to this office via WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER in the name of our accounting officer stated below.
Receivers Name: Mr.Greg Adams
Receivers Address: Lagos-Nigeria
Text Question: Saviour
Text Answer: God
MTCN: ??????????
Opon receiving your correct details and the payment MTCN from you, we will immediately notify the Airport Authorities in USA and the package will be redirected to your correct address immediately.
Give me a call on +2347090693524. This is important and as such your immediate response will do you Good.
Warm Regards,
Mr. Ashley Sherlock
FedEX Courier Service

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Margaritaville OK, Brotherton, Bennett & Cook win Police Jury

Bossier Parish Police Jury

District 1 – Brotherton over Small
District 3 – Bennett over Cooper
District 4 – Cook over Carter

The proposition to allow another riverboat in Bossier City has passed.
In Shreveport, Barbara Norton was re-elected with 56% of the vote in House District 3.

Sheva Sims won the race for City Judge against Shante` Wells.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Election Day Saturday

Tomorrow is election day, here are a few of the choices that need to be made with my recommendations on some of them.
Amendment 1
To prohibit the levy of new taxes or fees upon the sale or transfer of immovable property, including documentary transaction taxes or fees, or any other tax or fee, by the state or any of its political subdivisions after November 30, 2011. (November 30, 2011) (Adds Article VII, Section 2.3)

Bossier Parish Proposition
Shall Bossier Casino Venture LLC, or its successor(s), be allowed to conduct riverboat gaming along land situated in the Parish of Bossier, State of Louisiana pursuant to approval of petition for change of berth from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board?

Police Jury
In the Police Jury runoffs, voters are faced with the following choices.  I have no recommendation, the voters in each district know their candidates better than I do.
District 1: Brotherton-Small
District 3: Bennett-Cooper
District 4: Carter-Cook

Caddo Races
A couple of other races that are catching some attention are the Senate District 39 race between incumbent Lydia Jackson and former Senator Greg Tarver.
Also the race in Caddo Parish between Lynn Cawthorne and Barbara Norton for the House seat currently held by Norton. Cawthorne is well qualified and would represent the district well. For this reason, and because Barbara Norton is a disgrace, I recommend Cawthorne.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Scandal or Not?

I very rarely comment on national politics, but with the input today of a Ruston Physician I am ready to jump in.
Herman Cain, who is wildly popular in these parts, has been accused by 5 women who worked for him at the National Restaurant Association of making inappropriate sexual advances. Today Dr. Victor Zuckerman, who is a pediatrician in Ruston, came out in support of his former girlfriend, Sharon Bialek, who was the first accuser.
She said that Cain acted inappropriately.
Cain says he has no idea who Sharon Bialek is. Zuckerman said that Bialek introduced him to Cain years ago, and that Bialek also told him about the incident with Cain.
As for the other 4 women, I’m not that familiar with their stories.
A lot of people are suggesting that the Democrats are behind the women coming out, but I don’t buy that. The timing just isn’t right. If it is being orchestrated, and it probably is, it is by another one of the Republican contenders.
Indeed, Cain himself has blamed Rick Perry, saying it is ‘despicable’. Perry, in turn, blamed Mitt Romney.
I’m withholding judgment for a couple of reasons.
First of all, if there is more it will come out. So far it is ‘she said, he said’. It is better to have this fully vetted now. If Cain should get the nomination (and I don’t believe there is a chance of that), imagine more coming out when he is actually a candidate.
I’m also holding back because I have seen this a lot of times. It is a pattern, and hopefully Cain will be the exception.
1. The accusation.
2. The denial (I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky).
3. The attack on the accusers by the poltician and his minions.
4. More damning information comes out and there is an apology of sorts (I committed a serious sin).
That’s why I’m going to wait and see.
Now Herman Cain may be the biggest horndog in the country, or not. I have no idea. The problem I would have, as I have had with countless others, is that if something is proven, he has been lying to cover up. I don’t like liars.
If nothing more comes up, all the better, he can survive the storm.

Pat has this over at And So it Goes in Shreveport

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What the Bossier Parish School Board is facing

The Bossier Parish School Board is faced with a daunting task, namely looking at all of the facts and figures and deciding if they can accommodate the anticipated growth in the system on the current tax millage, or if they need to seek an increase.
The Board tasked the joint venture of SGB Architects & Yates Construction to assess and propose needed changes. A number of proposals were put forth, from building of new schools to extensive renovations and additions.
Among the possibilities are a new Airline High School and a new Benton High School.
The new Airline would carry a price tag of $53,000,000 plus an additional $10,000,000 for an athletic complex. The alternative for Airline would be an addition of 24 classrooms, a cafeteria expansion and other renovations for a total of just over $21,000,000.
A new Benton High School would cost just over $40,000,000 plus $10,000,000 for an athletic complex. Also being considered is building a new Benton Middle School at a cost of $20,000,000, moving Benton Elementary into the current Benton Middle School after adding a 12 classroom wing at a cost of $2,500,000. The alternative would be spending $16,000,000 for additions and renovations on all three Benton schools.
Other upgrades, additions and renovations that are on the table include:
  • Apollo Elementary $6,819,179
  • Bellaire Elementary $2,208,834
  • Bossier Elementary $4,746,233
  • Bossier High $8,601,330
  • Butler Educational Complex $1,701,378
  • Carrie Martin Elementary $3,324,053
  • Central Park $3,249,607
  • Greenacres Middle $9,216,840
  • Haughton Middle $5,802,217
  • Haughton High $16,377,093
  • Kerr Elementary $2,767,968
  • LA New Tech Plain Dealing $4,691,050
  • Legacy Elementary $374,400
  • Meadowview Elementary $3,467,454
  • Parkway High $5,430,000
  • Plantation Park $5,494,782
  • Platt Elementary $2,365,620
  • Princeton Elementary $4,115,652
  • Rodes Elementary $2,010,578
  • Rusheon Middle $4,168,727
  • Stockwell Place $2,462,555
  • Sun City Elementary $4,611,582
  • W.T. Lewis Elementary $2,625,000
  • Waller Elementary $3,290,139
The board is also looking at building a new technical school at a possible cost of $25,000,000, probably on the campus of Bossier High School.
Board member Jack Raley is pushing for the technical school, while Mike Mosura and Glen Bullard are very vocal in favor of a new Airline High School.
Board President Alison Brigham has the job of trying to keep everyone focused on the big picture.
That big picture, at this point, is that going with all necessary renovations and additions would cost just over $200,000,000, while the ‘full monty’ would be about $450,000,000.
The costs of two new high schools will force more talk of a consolidation of, at least, Airline and Benton High Schools.
The board will meet again next Thursday (November 17th) to begin to piece it together. Expect a bond issue next spring to finance whatever is decided.

Channel 12 does series on Danielle Cox

I blogged back in August and September about Danielle Cox, the 15 year old Parkway High School student who committed suicide earlier this year.
Remembering Danielle
Bullying has Consequences
Jason Patrick Thomas of Bossier City is facing charges of Criminal Assistance to Suicide.
Thomas had sent more than 100 messages to Danielle encouraging her to kill herself.
In case you missed them, KSLA did a series focusing on this case.
If you have a teenager, I would encourage you to have them watch these videos. High-Schoolers need to be reminded that their actions have consequences.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
The case will be back in court on November 22nd for a status conference.
Defense attorney Elton Richey was granted a motion for the State to present a bill of particulars to furnish:
  1. The facts the State contends supports the allegation that Jason Thomas knowingly and intentionally advised, or encouraged, D.C. to commit suicide on or about January 25, 2011.
  2. The facts the State contends supports the allegation that Jason Thomas participated in an act on or about January 25th, 2011, which caused D.C. to commit suicide.
  3. The specific acts that the state intends to prove at trial on the merits that constitute any of the following elements of the offense of Criminal Assistance to Suicide:
        a. That Jason Thomas advised D.C. to commit suicide.
      b. That Jason Thomas encouraged D.C. to commit suicide.
      c. The particular acts purportedly participated in by Jason Thomas, which caused D.C. to commit suicide.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
History of Veterans Day

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcome Luke to his new home

Matt Sciba and his wife Mikki are in Chicago to finalize the adoption of their second child, Luke.
Luke faces some challenges, but will be well cared for in a loving home. Luke should be home, hopefully, just before Thanksgiving.
All of the regular readers of My Bossier know Matt from his association with the Northwest Louisiana Tea Party Alliance, and quite possibly from discussions on the comment section of various blog posts.
Agree with Matt politically or not, and it’s a mix, I hope everyone will stand with me and congratulate Matt, and wish the very best to Mikki, Mary and Luke.
Mikki and Matt are blogging their experiences at A Concrete Way of Love.
Luke, welcome to Bossier.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The ongoing story of MPERS

In the ongoing story of MPERS, an interesting side note.
MPERS has sued both Bossier Parish and Bossier City to refund the ad valorem taxes they paid for 2010. This is the first year that they have done so.
MPERS paid, under protest, $190,166.70 to the Parish and $13,967.67 to the City for 2010.
In January they filed suit against both the Parish naming Larry Deen as Tax Collector and Bobby Edmiston as Assessor. They also filed against the City, naming William Buffington, Finance Director.
The suits were filed by Kimberly L. Robinson of the Baton Rouge law firm of Jones Walker.
The suits maintain that they are exempt because according to their theory, they fall under the Louisiana Constitutional definition of “public lands, other public property used for public purposes”.
I’m not a lawyer, but the “used for public purposes” doesn’t seem to fit (in my opinion) golf courses.
The lawyers and the judge will figure it out.
It just seems a little strange to me that they paid the taxes for all of those years, and now want to challenge the assessment.
I suppose desperate times require desperate measures.
We will have a lot more on MPERS in the very near future.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time to take the flag down

Today the Caddo Parish Commission voted 11-1 to remove the Confederate flag from the front of the courthouse.
I think that it is time to fold the flag and put it up.
I have heard the arguments both pro and con. On the pro side is the argument that it is part of our heritage. Generally speaking that might be true, but the flag at the courthouse doesn’t represent that heritage. It is true that the last Confederate flag to come down was at that location, and that should be properly noted. The flag at the courthouse isn't there to commemorate that event.
I love history, and I love the history of our area. I love the history of my family and try to pass it down to the younger people in the family.
Three of my four great-grandfathers fought in the Confederate army.
But that flag doesn’t represent them, the history of the location or even of the era. That flag was put up in my lifetime, and it was put up in defiance of an ever growing civil rights movement.
There were things that had to change, and needed to change. The flag at the courthouse was put up in opposition to that change. Simply put, the change came and it is time to take it down.

MPERS lawyer sentenced - more convictions to come?

Today the former attorney for The Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System (MPERS), Randy Zinna, was sentenced to 30 months incarceration in Federal Court for stealing more than $1,500,000 from several sources.
I have blogged about MPERS on several occasions, here and here, particularly zeroing in on some bad investments.
One of those, of course, is Olde Oaks in Bossier Parish, which the system sunk more than $15,000,000 into, yet it ended up with a net worth of just over $3,000,000. Because of mismanagement of the system, police officers across the state are having to pay an addition 2.5% of their salary into contributions. The amount that the municipalities involved must contribute has risen exponentially.
The $1.2 billion program went from fully funded to $836.3 million short of meeting future retirement obligations.
Zinna was ordered to make restitution of $501,318.11 to MPERS and $136,614.10 to Olde Oaks. He also must make restitution to the Employers’ Retirement System for East Baton Rouge in the amount of $340,392.93, as well as $546,351.82 that he had swindled from a widow.
Zinna could have received up to 20 years in prison, but the U.S. Attorney filed a report indicating that Mr. Zinna should be allowed a three-level downgrade for sentencing guideline purposes due to his cooperation with the investigation and assistance with respect to other potential violators.
That’s where it gets interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if more indictments follow.
More complete articles here, here and here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

State House District 3 Race - Lynn Cawthorne

I blogged yesterday about State Representative Barbara Norton. Fortunately for the people of District 3, they not only have an alternative, but a good one.
Lynn Cawthorne is managing partner of Cawthorne Financial Group. He has a degree in Business Finance from Dillard University and an MBA from Troy State. Here is his biographical info from his WEBSITE.
• Lynn D. Cawthorne is the 7th child of 13 born to Mrs. Fannie Johnson Cawthorne and the late Robert Cawthorne, Sr. He is the proud father of two children; Tatyana age 15 and 10 year-old Tylinn.
• He is a 1985 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School where he served as Senior Class President. He went on to graduate from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana with a degree in Business Finance. He also holds an MBA from Troy State University.
• His career has spanned more than 20 years working at all levels in the financial community. He began his career with Whitney National Bank in New Orleans where he rose to the position of vice-president before moving into the investment industry at UBS Paine Webber and Axa Advisors. He is currently managing partner of Cawthorne Financial Group.
• Lynn is actively involved in his community. He is the General Manager and Coach of the Caddo Heights Storm Spar League Football Team. He is the Founder of the Booker T. Washington Scholar's Society, as well as President of United Citizens and Neighborhoods (UCAN) Community Development Corporation. In 2010 he served on the Citizen's Bond Study Committee. He has been a featured panelist on Dateline Shreveport in addition to serving on the Shreveport Times Editorial/Community Board.
• Lynn is a member of Shady Grove #2 Baptist Church and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Representing an inner city district that is plagued by poverty and crime is a difficult challenge. Cawthorne has a platform that stresses education and economic development.
• Promote laws to improve education for inner city students
• Retool educational opportunities for public school students
• Establish legislation that will create Business Enterprise Zones
• Enact laws that will assist in reducing crime
The people of District 3 deserve a representative who will do his best to build the district, not to embarrass it; to serve the people of the district, not to serve himself; and to be a credit to not only District 3, but to Shreveport and all of Louisiana.
Lynn Cawthorne is that person.
Cawthorne has a YouTube channel with several videos. You can check it out for yourself here.
There are five videos on the channel, so I picked one at random to share with you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

State House District 3 Race - Barbara Norton

I was going to do this in one blog post, but it would be too much. I’ll take a look at Barbara Norton tonight and then Lynn Cawthorne tomorrow.
District 3 runs from Midway Street south to part of Cedar Grove down to the Innerloop and west across 70th Street and Hollywood to the Airport. You can find that district map here.
We’re all familiar with Barbara Norton, who has represented this district for the last 3½ years. The infamous Norton, of course, is renowned for her cursing of Shreveport Police officers on the streets of downtown during her African-American History Parade last year. To refresh your memory, here’s what happened, and it was verified by video and by eyewitness accounts.
The City of Shreveport has a law that says that drivers of parade floats must be cleared by the police department to drive in a parade. Norton did not turn in the required paperwork ahead of time so the police were checking all of the drivers as best they could.
Norton went ballistic. How dare they question her, a former ‘community activist’ turned state legislator?
Calling one officer a white motherfucker and the other, a black officer, an Uncle Tom, Norton had to be calmed down by then Chief Henry Whitehorn.
She should have been arrested, not calmed down.
In fairness, I searched for a campaign website and could not find one to link to.
Barbara Norton is a blight on the community and a disgrace to the district she serves, indeed to the Louisiana State House of Representatives.
As for issues, she is against corporal punishment in school and she didn’t like Henry Burns’ bill (which passed) to allow guns in churches with approval and under certain circumstances.
Other than that, it is hard to find anything substantive at all about Norton.
I did get the video below, in which she refused to answer questions and referred them to her ‘assistant’.
Video thanks to Shmuffinman on You Tube.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at her opponent, local businessman Lynn Cawthorne. There is a lot to recommend him other than just not being Barbara Norton.

Oceans Two – The Great Jet Ski Escape

That is just a representation of the Jet Ski that was used.
That really isn't Regis either.
It was a plan worthy of James Bond. Rob a Riverboat Casino and escape on a jet ski. My imagination runs wild, did they have a jet waiting to take them to Switzerland to a private villa to enjoy their ill-gotten loot?
Very James Bondish, except, you know, for the part about being caught and bitten by a police dog.
LaNorris Weathers and Regis Demond Hamilton tried to rob a cashier’s cage at Sam’s Town Casino in Shreveport at about 2:50 this morning.
Despite the best laid plans of mice and men, it backfired. LaNorris was captured by police in the casino. Regis apparently took the Jet Ski and wound up near the wastewater treatment plant in Bossier City, where a short time later BCPD found it and some wet clothes. A Bossier City police dog tracked Regis down and bit him in the process. He was treated at the hospital before being booked by SPD with his partner, LaNorris.

Nibbling on Sponge Cake

The Margaritaville story continues. With the yes or no vote coming up in just over two weeks, I have tried to get all of the facts that I can in order to help the readers of My Bossier make an educated decision.
Some concern has been expressed by commenters over the involvement of the city in the development. As previously noted, the city has to be involved in a couple of ways.
First of all, they owned the land just north of Bass Pro Shops where the casino and hotel will be located.
Second, the city will have to provide infrastucture for the development, as it would for any other development, be it a shopping mall, church or whatever.
The earliest projected costs, and at this point they are just projections, is about $5,000,000 for water, sewerage, a lift station and an intersection providing access to the casino/hotel. This would be recovered in projected taxes in a matter of months.
Another benefit that is showing up already, even before the vote, is that the other players in town are already stepping up their game. From physical improvements to existing casinos to better comp offers in an effort to cement their player bases, the proposed competition is already reaping some benefits.
Bossier City casinos are the city’s second largest employer, trailing only Barksdale Air Force Base. The casinos currently employ more than 3,500 people compared to Barksdale’s 10,000 plus.
Margaritaville will add an estimated 1,200 more positions.
Since casino gambling was approved in Louisiana in the 1990’s, the state has benefited by billions in tax dollars, and local governments across the state in hundreds of millions.
These are just facts, not a sales pitch for the Margaritaville development, although I have said that I support it. Some people believe that it will shut down or cripple other casinos. I don’t share that view.
If you are opposed to gambling through your moral or religious convictions, I have absolute respect for your opinion.
The fact is, however, that this is a legal and legitimate business in Louisiana and as such, the market should be allowed to operate freely.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bossier School Board considering consolidating Bossier, Benton & Airline

For the moment I am going to ignore the upcoming November 19th general election.  Don't worry, I'll be back to it tomorrow.
We have known that the Bossier Parish School Board would be coming up with a proposition by the end of the year.  Teacher pay is one thing that is being discussed, and I think people would approve teachers' raises.
More controversial, however, is talk about combining Bossier High School, Airline High School and Benton High School into a single school somewhere north of I-220.
As I understand it, some of the Bossier High kids would go to Parkway, but the rest, along with Airline and Benton students, would go to the new high school.
This may look great on paper, and may (or may not) be economically feasible. 
My personal opinion is that this one will be dead in the water if they do propose it.  Simply put, Airline folks and Benton folks will never go along with it. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween decorations coming up missing

If you live in Palmetto Park or any of the other subdivisions around the country club you may want to keep an eye out.  It may just be kids vandalizing, but there is no excuse for it. I received this letter today:
I live on Parkridge Drive in Benton, Louisiana and would like to let my neighbors know we have a thief in the neighborhood. I noticed the other morning that some of our Halloween decorations were stolen  out of our yard and then again this morning I noticed that the decorations that I have on our porch were also stolen. Please post this and see if anyone else in my neighborhood is having this problem and maybe we can catch this thief!!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Margaritaville on ballot for November 19th

Bossier City voters are being asked to vote yes or no on allowing the Margaritaville Resort Casino development to continue.
I'm pretty sure it will get a yes vote, and that's all right with me.
The upside is that this is a very strong brand and will bring new people in.  The downside is that people who are against gambling don't want another casino.
Gambling is already here.  If you don't like that, then start a move to get it outlawed.
Dealing with reality, since it is here let the marketplace work. 

A look at the Police Jury

Three incumbent Bossier Parish Police Jurors were defeated in Saturday’s primary election. Winfred Johnston, Barry Butler and Brad Cummings will not return to the jury. Incumbent Wanda Bennett is facing a runoff with Lucy Cooper.
Here is a rundown.
District 1
Incumbent Hank Meachum did not seek re-election. This one resulted in a runoff between Brotherton and Small.
District 2
Glenn Benton won re-election over challenger Mark Toloso.
District 3
Incumbent Wanda Bennett is facing a runoff against challenger Lucy Cooper.
District 4
Incumbent Winfred Johnston got only 12% of the vote. This one will be a runoff between Jerry Carter and Sonny Cook.
District 5
Jack ‘Bump’ Skaggs defeated incumbent Barry Butler.
District 6
Incumbent Rick Avery had no opposition.
District 7
Jimmy Cochran was unopposed.
District 8
Doug Rimmer defeated incumbent Brad Cummings.
District 9
Freddie Shewmake took 72% in a resounding win against Gary Binyon. Incumbent Juror and Parish Administrator Bill Altimus did not seek re-election.
District 10
Jerome Darby had no opposition.
District 11
Wayne Hammack was unopposed.
District 12
Paul Plummer was also unopposed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts on the Election

Statewide, it was a good day for incumbents. No one doubted the outcome of the Governor’s race, and Bobby Jindal carried 65.82% of the vote.
Jay Dardenne had a sound win over Billy Nungesser, winning 53.13% of the vote to Nungesser’s 46.87%.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler had a closer encounter, winning 50.48% of the vote to Jim Tucker’s 49.52%. (Senator David Vitter had supported both Nungesser and Jim Tucker, in what some saw as a power move in the state Republican Party. He lost)
Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon were both back in with substantial leads.
In our Bossier Races, Julian Whittington was elected sheriff with 68% of the vote. Assessor Bobby Edmiston won 73% for a landslide victory.
When campaigns go negative, regardless of who you think started it, someone is going to pay. In yesterday’s elections, it was Duke Lowrie and Jane Smith who paid the price. In the Lowrie-Thompson race, the negativity came from both sides.
In the Peacock-Smith race for Senate District 37, most of the negativity came from Smith. This might have contributed to her carrying only 52% of the Bossier vote. Smith accused Peacock of being ‘soft’ on abortion, and when Peacock questioned her voting record she acted as if she was being personally attacked. This apparently didn’t set well with voters on either side of the river. I wasn’t surprised at Peacock’s win, but was slightly surprised at the margin – 55% to 45% district-wide.
Caddo Races
Not surprisingly, Sheriff Steve Prator won re-election with 78% of the vote. Assessor Charles Hennington beat back a challenge by Tea Party favorite Royal Alexander, winning 65% to 35%. I think voters in both parishes realize that they have voted for the taxes they pay, and that the assessor’s job is to properly assess property in the parish, not to attempt to lower taxes by lowering assessments.
Incumbent State Senator Sherri Smith Cheek won re-election handily over challenger Troy Terrell with 55% of the vote.
In Senate District 39, incumbent Lydia Jackson is headed into a runoff with Greg Tarver, who previously held the seat. Jackson got 9393 votes, Tarver 9015 while challenger Jim Slagle received 3,215 votes. It is hard to know which way the wind will blow in this one.
In the Representatives’ races, Alan Seabaugh won a whopping 80% of the vote to hold on to his District 5 seat. In District 7, Richie Burford won re-election with 68% over Cindy Williams.
In what I consider to be great news, 3rd District State Representative Barbara Norton will be in a runoff with Lynn Cawthorne in an effort to save her ass seat.

I will have a separate post on the Bossier Police Jury races, which were very interesting.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Squeaker in City Council Race

District 5 City Council Special Election
Larry Hanisee 1167 (50.09%)
Tommy Harvey 1163 (49.91%)

This one will go to a recount.

Wind up (most of) Election 2011

Congratulations to Julian Whittington, Bobby Edmiston, Jeff Thompson and Barrow Peacock for wins tonight.
We'll look at the Police Jury results and the runoffs tomorrow.
Best news of the night - Barbara Norton is forced into a runoff.
Numbers and more tomorrow.
Good Night!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The day before: wrap up on the election

Tomorrow is election day, and at this point everyone pretty well knows who they are voting for.
I haven't covered any statewide races, but the race for Lt. Governor between Jay Dardenne and Billy Nungesser has gotten pretty hot.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is challenged by Jim Tucker. Bobby Jindal will be re-elected as governor.
The major races for Bossier residents are for Sheriff, Assessor, State Representative District 8 and Senate District 37.  Here are the candidates, with links to information they sent My Bossier about their candidacies.
Mike McConnell
Julian Whittington
Bobby Edmiston
Ryal Siem, Sr.
State Representative District 8
Duke Lowrie
Jeff Thompson
State Senate District 37
Barrow Peacock
Jane Smith

I'm not listing all of the candidates for Police Jury.
Links to the candidates who sent us information.
District 1:
Troy Ogletree
District 2:
Mark Toloso
District 3:
Martha Peace Reyenga
Lucy Cooper

These are my endorsements:
Julian Whittington for Sheriff
Bobby Edmiston for Assessor
Duke Lowrie for State Representative

Below are other blog posts about the candidates and the election.
Mike McConnell: Why I’m running for Sheriff
Election 2011: The Final Week
October races are shaping up
Candidate Profile: Mark Toloso
Duke Lowrie receives major endorsements from Business, Oil & Gas Groups
Lowrie sues Thompson for defamation, breach of Attorney-Client privilege
Lowrie Thompson race heats up
A friend’s perspective on Duke Lowrie

Videos that have been sent to My Bossier by the Candidates.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

City Employees should receive raise

The Bossier City Council met yesterday and amended Mayor Lo Walker's proposed budget.  Among other things, they cut out a 2% raise for all non-classified city workers.  Civil Service employees get a mandated 2% raise yearly.
The workforce has been cut in the last year, and workers have handled those cuts without a decrease in service to the people of the city.  In my opinion, the employees deserve the increase.
Council President David Montgomery said that the city will pay an additional 10% on health insurance that the workers would otherwise have to pay themselves.  Mayor Walker said that he would prefer the council give the 2% raise and pick up the insurance cost.
The council also nixed plans to allow for hiring additional police and fire personnel to make up for anticipated openings in those departments.
Councilman David Jones was the only dissenting voice, saying that he believed that all city employees should get the 2% increase.  He also favored beginning the hiring process on an additional 8 police officers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lowrie-Thompson race heats up

Not surprisingly, the race between Duke Lowrie and Jeff Thompson has heated up - again.  This is Lowrie's latest flyer.
In response, an email was sent out today from Thompson's office to various lawyers in the area.
Dear Colleague:
As you may know, Jeff Thompson is a candidate for the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 08. The election is this Saturday, October 22nd. Getting people to the polls is going to be crucial, and is made more challenging by the LSU home game against Auburn that day.
Rather than address the issues, Jeff’s opponent has resorted to negative and false attacks. Lowrie has already spent more than $175,000 of his own money in this race and now recognizes the fact he must resort to false allegations and attacks to in an all-out effort to defeat Jeff at any cost. He has even filed a completely meritless lawsuit alleging that Jeff violated attorney/client privilege. This suit is a political stunt and is an abuse of the legal system. It is an example of frivolous litigation Lowrie claims to oppose.
The attacks Lowrie has resorted to also include a series of all out assaults on our profession. Attached are copies of the various direct mail pieces sent throughout the district. Please take a moment to read over them and see for yourself the ridiculous claims asserted. If you share my frustration at the implications and assault not only on Jeff, but on our profession, I ask that you please join me in this final week of the campaign and help.
How can you do that?

 Make a financial contribution to help offset the tens of thousands of dollars in media buys and efforts Lowrie is making as a final effort in continuing the vicious, unfounded attacks which are certain to come in the last days leading up to the election. You can do that by making a secure online donation right now by clicking (LINK). You can also write a check, which we will gladly come and pick up. Just call me at (318) 747-7466 and let me know and someone will be right over.

 Early voting has already ended, so if you live in Bossier or Benton, please be sure to vote this Saturday, October 22, and take your family and friends with you!

 Help us with volunteers. You, your family members, runners or office staff could be used to assist with the campaign in these final days. We have things to do all day every day, so no matter when someone wants to help, we can put them to work! We are particularly working for a large turnout of volunteers for this Friday and Saturday. No amount of time is too small and all efforts would be very much appreciated. Just let us know by reply email or telephone call when volunteers may be available.

Desperate candidates do desperate things, and this election cycle has seen some incredible instances of mudslinging, misrepresentations, unfounded attacks and outright lies. We cannot sit idly by and allow these meritless assaults to continue. The price of getting that message out to the voters is increasing and your assistance in defense of not only our friend and colleague, but of our profession, calls us all to action. Please act now (CONTRIBUTION LINK). Please also ask others to join us.
Thank you.

Election 2011: The Final Week

Two things are certain this Saturday evening - LSU will be 8-0 and the two most bitterly contested races in Bossier will be settled.
Because we all know that LSU will beat Auburn.
And we know that the race for House District 8 and Senate District 37 will both have a winner.
There have been fireworks in both of these races, really revving up a little over a week ago in District 8 when Jeff Thompson sent out his now infamous flyer "Duke Lowrie, a record of deceit", in which he said that Lowrie was suspended from BCFD for 'lying'. 
Lowrie promptly responded with a lawsuit for defamation and violation of attorney/client privilege.
In the Senate race, long time Rep. Jane Smith zeroed in on opponent Barrow Peacock, accusing him of being soft on social issues.
Peacock responded by attacking Smith on her Achilles heel, tax increases.
Look for more fireworks in both of these races this week.
Meanwhile, not every race has been so contentious.  In the race for Bossier City Council District 5, candidates Tommy Harvey and former Council Member Larry Hanisee have conducted a clean, straightforward campaign.  These are both good, qualified candidates, and District 5 will be the winner in the end.
The Assessor's race between incumbent Bobby Edmiston and challenger Ryal Siem has also been free of personal attacks.  I have endorsed Bobby in this race, but tip my hat to Ryal Siem for a race well run.
In the police jury races, Mark Toloso seems to be giving incumbent Glenn Benton a run for his money in District 2.
In District 3, Martha Peace Reyenga and Lucy Cooper are both campaigning hard for the seat held by Wanda Bennett.
Incumbent Winfred Johnston has 5 challengers in District 4.  It isn't hard to predict a runoff in this one, but I have no idea who the final 2 will be.
I'll keep my ear to the ground and pass on anything I hear.