Monday, May 16, 2011

Wrap Up on EMS, Duxie Scott and Sammy Halphen

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

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The individuals received the raises for 4 pay periods from January thru March, at which time they were rescinded.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

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

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


  1. 2:37 - I'll help you out, I know your little fingers broke rule #1 before you could stop them. Here is your comment without that last sentence:

    I find it comical that Mrs. Springer wants others to handle things in a professional, methodical manner. She has posted that the Bossier City Council appoints 3 of the Civil Service Board members. The fact is that they approve 1 person and that is the Mayor's appointment.

  2. As fast and loose as Springer is with her constant accusations, she is no one to talk.

  3. Where would one go to look up the laws on nepotism? Revised Statutes?


  5. well hopefully it will take Mr. Halphen longer to screw up Bossier EMS than it toke him to screw up Bossier City Fire

  6. And we're suppose to be shocked? Hell, we're talking about Bossier Parish (and that includes the city). I am counting the days I won't have to deal with the dirty bastards that run both.

  7. from what I have seen and read about this debacle, the police jury did their jobs. what were they supposed to do? let this continue?? I say lets move on and job well done to the jury

  8. If these things are true (and it looks like they are) why would the police jury NOT let Scott go?

  9. The police jury hardly did their job.

    They ran to the press with allegations before even doing an investigation, smearing a man's name and reputation. Most of the allegations can be proven false with documentation (which the police jury refused to see at their "special meetings"). They did not confront Mr. Scott before letting all of the allegations get publicized, he found out about it on the news. Why didn't they ask Scott about the allegations made by Berry, and see what explanations he had to offer before running to the press and asking for board members to resign? Wouldn't that have been the decent and kosher thing to do?

    And even if the allegations had truth to them, why does an entire board need to be replaced if the misdeeds were committed by one man?

    If they wanted to fire Mr. Scott, they could have done so. All of these dog and pony show special meetings were not necessary. They were a publicity stunt. So why did they intentionally add all of the fanfare and unnecessary slander? Because they wanted to replace Scott with someone who will cut checks without asking, and they knew if they just fired him, they would look bad before re-elections. Instead, they chose to slander Scott's name prior to forcing him to resign, thinking they would look like the goodguys.

    If you want proof, then watch how this will unfold:

    Out goes Scott, who questioned the legality of checks the police jury wanted him to write, and in goes the police jury's pet Halphen to conduct an "investigation" and act as interem director.

    Mark my words: the new permanent director will be from BCFD, and will be a friend of Halphen's and some of the Bossier City members of the police jury.

    If it plays out this way, then you can rest assured, if anyone needs to be replaced it is the crooked police jury.

  10. if a public employee uses a public credit card to buy something totally personal and does not pay it back - is that a public employee that needs to be kept or terminated - what say you Ms. Springer - if you just look at a single transaction - Duxie bought flowers for his mother in law's funeral with tax payer money - is that enough to ask for his resignation? just look through that package of stuff with receipts - how can this guy stay on board and further - how can people defend him

  11. Jim - you are the public records guru here - what would happen if the news media asked for the Robert Berry report and the police jury said they would not give it to the public until they had vetted all the contents - I know what would have happened - Ms. Springer would have alleged coverup and the news media could have sued and won because it is a public document and can not be withheld from the public - what say you Jim?

  12. True, it is a public document and should have been released. I think Mrs. Springer reacted more to the suspension of Scott because of the document than to the document itself.

  13. I am just astounded that anyone would question the police jury's actions - you have a board president and vice president that bring these types of concerns and duxie was put on administrative leave with pay while they were investigated - seems like the exact correct thing to do. Imagine a serious complaint comes in on a police officer - guess what - ad leave with pay while investigated. The back fire came when the news media got the allegations and then the genie was out of the bottle. I am just having a hard time understanding why the Tea Party of all people would be offended by 1) placing an employee on ad leave with pay after 2) receiving serious allegations with some initial proof and 3) almost everything turned out to be as alleged then they found some credit card abuse. Seems like a no-brainer to me. What am i missing?

  14. Dirty sons of bitches! ALL! And it's getting worse.

  15. does the word "reimbursment" imply anything to you morons? why would the Scott guy reimburse a public agency if he had not taken something that he was not entitled to

  16. If you want to grow straw, plant it in BS. Springer is proof.

  17. I find that Mr. Halphen has done a respectable job in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Many people are jealous of others successes. He may be a Halphen but he is NOTHING like his brother.

  18. Some of you people must be the ones who benefit from being buddies with the current Police Jury members. You know, the in crowd, the ones that get money and business deals thrown their way. It was wrong to have the Police Jury boy, I mean attorney, to go out and slander this man publically, then say that if will all be investigated. He may or may not have been guilty, but we will never really know because the whole process was abused by Altimus and his buddies. We have already seen numerous lies from Altimus concerning this matter, so what makes you think he has honest intentions in the other matters. As far as hiring Helphin, well there you go having public office leaches at work. He retires then is given a job that was created JUST FOR HIM. Kind of strange? Well not really, since this is one of several jobs that was "CREATED" for a former government employee, such as Billy Montegomery. Remember he was hired to help out Altimus because he was so overworked. Maybe Altimus needs to stop being a Police Jury and Administrator at the same time. That would save the 40K for Montegomery (who already gets retirement from the government) and save money for Montegomeries car that he drives. Also, maybe someone should check into how Altimus gets paid for being a Police Jury member, while getting paid for being the admin. He is getting 2 paychecks for doing the same job...Only in public service. O well, this is why governments all over the US are going broke, because they don't care what they do with OUR money. Just watch Altimus at a police jury meeting, whenever someone from the public is speaking. He sits up there on his high horse, talking to his buddies and not giving a damn about what the public is saying. No respect at all. They all need to go. Vote them all out!!!!!

  19. I would like to take a look at Altimus' & Helphin's credit card statements for the last several years. Bet we could find out several things in those!

  20. Does anyone find it strange that Mr. Berry is supposedly good friends with Halphen, that the original EMS board never did ask for the police jury to hire Halphen (unlike what Altimus stated to the public during an EMS board hearing), and that Mr. Berry got a position on Cypress Lake Commission, which is where he lives and from what the rumors are, where he wants to do things that they don't allow. This is just what I have heard, but it would be interesting in getting to the bottom of all this, wouldn't it.

  21. It's even more interesting that Mr berry son, was fired from bossier parish end prior to all of this cause he would not show up for work


Rules of the road:
1. No personal attacks or insults.
2. No accustory statements about wrongdoing or criminal acts against anyone.
3. Say all you want about the pros and cons concerning the candidates and the issues, or the general subject of the blog post, just follow Rule #1 and Rule #2.