Monday, January 30, 2012

City to cough up more for MPERS

Another increase is in the works for the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System.
In 2010 the contribution rate for municipalities jumped from 11% to 25%, now it is going to 31% in the fiscal year beginning July 1st.  Let that sink in – 11% to 31% in two years.
If you will remember, the last increase came when Bossier City was facing a budget crunch and contributed to cuts in Public Safety.
Individual contributions also have increased.
I have blogged about the MPERS mess on a couple of occasions, particularly about investments locally in Olde Oaks and Stonebridge that have been big money losers.  Another bad decision was to help finance Hal Sutton’s Hill Country development, and then the decision to subordinate a first mortgage on that property in order for him to acquire more from a bank.  The system lost about $30,000,000 in that alone.
Add to that $1,000,000 plus that was embezzled by the system’s attorney, although that has been, or is being reimbursed. 
“It was like a gigantic playhouse,” says Nick Congemi, 68, chief of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Police in Metairie, who for years criticized the system’s leadership and investments. You can read that account here.
Bossier City officials were aware that another increase was coming and are prepared for it.
Doubtless this is one of the reasons that the council nixed a proposal to give a 2% raise to all city employees and to hire 8 new police officers.
Councilman David Jones was the only vote in favor of the raises and hiring new officers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Young Marines To Graduate Largest Class

(Press release from Bossier Sheriff's Office)
By Lt. Bill Davis
The Bossier Sheriff Young Marines will graduate its largest class of recruits Tuesday, January 31, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bossier Sheriff's Substation, 2510 Viking Drive in Bossier City.
Class 23 will graduate 62 recruits after completing 13 weekends of training, which included physical training, team motivation, confidence building skills and more. Classes in the Bossier Sheriff Young Marines have steadily grown over its 10-year existence, with Class 23 starting out with 81 recruits.
The guest speaker will be Michael Nerren, Assistant District Attorney, Juvenile Division, of the 26th Judicial District Court.
The Young Marines program is a national program founded in 1958 and is the official youth program of the United States Marine Corps. The Bossier Sheriff's Department was the first law enforcement agency in North Louisiana to implement the program, which began its first class of recruits on Dec. 7, 2002. Since then, the lives of more than 900 young men and women have been impacted by the Bossier Sheriff Young Marines program.
During the ceremony, the Young Marines will show off some of the ceremonial skills they have learned, as well as receive awards and promotions.
"I am very proud to honor these young men and women as they officially become Bossier Sheriff Young Marines," said Bossier Sheriff Larry C. Deen. "They have worked extremely hard over the past 13 weekends, and they can hold their heads up high as they reap the success of their accomplishments in training."
Lt. Norman Craig, a former Marine and current commanding officer of the Bossier Sheriff Young Marines for the past five years, has seen hundreds of kids "grow up" in the program.
"This is a program that teaches young people self-discipline which helps foster the growth for self-confidence, teamwork and leadership," Craig said. "When they arrive here on day one, many are scared, and they don't know what to expect," said Craig. "But you can see the growth - the lack of assurance becomes self-confidence and rebellious attitudes give way to self-discipline - and they learn to hold themselves to a higher standard and not be drug down by peer pressure."
Another key character change is making wise choices. "We teach young men and women that they need to make good choices in life and that there are consequences for every choice they make," Craig noted. "Every young person can benefit from that."
Along with parents, family members and friends at the ceremony will be members of the Bossier and Caddo Parish School Boards, Bossier Parish Police Jury, Office of Juvenile Justice, Office of the District Attorney, and area judges. Also attending will be principals, teachers, school resource officers and members of the local chapter of the Marine Corps League.
The Young Marines program is open to all Bossier Parish school-aged youth, ages 8-18, and is sponsored and administered by Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen and the Bossier Sheriff's Department. Volunteer instructors from the United States Marine Corps assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines here in Bossier City are also an integral part in the training. Applications are now being accepted for the next class which begins Feb. 18. For more information on how to enroll your youth, contact Lt. Craig at 318-965-3500.

NAACP calls for review of Shreveport Police shooting

On December 15th, Shreveport Police Cpl. Bryan Lauzon was working private security at the Fair Park Terrace Apartments. When he spotted 44 year old Michael Gilyard riding his bicycle on the sidewalk coming from an area of the apartments where there had been complaints of drug activity, Lauzon stopped him and questioned him.
You can watch the dashcam video of the stop here.
After some initial conversation, Gilyard consented to being patted down. When Cpl. Lauzon found a pistol concealed on Gilyard, he was attacked and Gilyard attempted to get possession of Lauzon’s service weapon. Lauzon warned Gilyard that he would shoot him, but Gilyard persisted. Lauzon shot him. Gilyard was pronounced dead at the hospital.
After an extensive investigation, DA Charles Scott announced this week that Lauzon was within his rights to use deadly force.
In the Times article, Scott is quoted as saying "All the evidence clearly shows no wrongdoing in the actions of Officer Lauzon, either during the initial stop of Michael Gilyard or the subsequent altercation which resulted in the shooting."
"Investigators found 16.8 grams of marijuana, 3.8 grams of crack cocaine packaged for individual sale, over $5,000 in cash and a .45-caliber handgun in Gilyard's clothing. A criminal conviction for the possession of the firearm alone would have resulted in a minimum of 10 years in prison for Gilyard."
Enter the NAACP. They are asking for a review of the case by the Louisiana Attorney General and the U. S. Justice Department. While DA Scott says he welcomes the review, I don’t understand their reasoning; I suppose they believe that Lauzon should have submitted and allowed Gilyard to shoot him.
It is a terrible thing when something like this happens, but in the words of DA Scott "When you attack a fully armed officer, it probably won't end well".
A Facebook page has been set up to show support for Cpl. Lauzon. If you are on Facebook, be sure to go the the page and click the ‘like’ button.
Support Shreveport Police Cpl. Bryan Lauzon

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Video Voyeurism in an unexpected place

Some things are just difficult to understand.
Take the case of Paul E. Holmes of Haughton, who was arrested and charged with Video Voyeurism and Child Porn.
If you are not familiar with the story, The Times has it online.
Assuming you have read it or seen it on the news, I will proceed with a few thoughts.
This is a case of a 55 year old man, active in his church, placing video cameras in a bathroom during a church connected sleepover for teenage girls at his home.
He apparently has no record of such behavior, and no criminal record. The church can’t be blamed. The parents of the girls showed due diligence in allowing their daughters to attend, it was in the home of one of their own church members, and they had absolutely no reason to even remotely suspect that something like this would, or could, happen.
I feel for the victims; a great mental and emotional stress attaches itself to something like this.
I feel for his family. I can only imagine what his wife and children are suffering.
I have heard of cases where someone with a brain tumor displayed a similar type of behavior, and I wondered if there is something like that going on with this man. I’m not looking for an excuse for him, but with no record of any similar behavior for 55 years, it makes you wonder.
If my daughter or one of my granddaughters was victimized in this way, I know that I would not look at it in such a subjective manner, I would only react to the event itself. And that reaction would not be good.
As my friend Rex pointed out in a Facebook exchange, thank goodness that one of the girls was aware of her surroundings and called her mother and let her know what was going on. That mother is the one who notified the police.
If there is a lesson here, it is to teach your children at an early age to be aware, and never to hesitate to talk to you, or to report to someone in authority if something out of the ordinary arouses their suspicions.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bossier Schools Planning & Development Committee working on plan

The School Board Planning & Development Committee is having a series of meetings to assimilate a plan of action to present to the public with the proposed $210,000,000 bond proposal. The SGB-Yates plan is comprehensive, and the board has to narrow it down to priorities.
The proposed Phase I would deal with:
  • Benton – $21 million for a new elementary school, which would help relieve Legacy and Apollo.
  • Haughton - $45 million for a new middle school, to convert the current middle school to elementary and for a 24 room wing for Haughton High School.
  • Bossier High School – would consolidate Rusheon Middle School into BHS and would renovate Rusheon Middle School to house all of the non-STEM technical programs (at a cost of $17 million). It would also call for a plan to lease 47,000 square feet at CIC with an estimated ten year lease of $7 million. It would move Bossier Learning to an empty wing at Butler, and finally would relocate Charlotte Mitchell to the old BPCC South Campus.
  • Parkway – $1 million to remove T-buildings from Sun City, add two classrooms and realign the attendance zone.
  • Airline High School - $29.7 million for renovation, addition of 24 room wing & expansion of cafeteria. This would also build five classrooms and a rear driveway at Legacy and would add 12 room wings at Greenacres & Cope, and three four-room wings at Cope.
Phase I would also set aside $2.5 million to purchase land for two new elementary schools and for one new high school, and around $8 million for road improvements for new schools and for miscellaneous paving projects.
The main thing I question in this phase of the plan would be spending $7 million to lease space from CIC for the STEM students. School districts all over the country have STEM programs, which is a good thing. By integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics into one discipline, schools hope to boost what has been a dwindling college enrollment in these subjects.
I don’t understand the advantage in spending $7 million at CIC. What does CIC offer that the school board could not provide in a facility of its own?  Does CIC offer facilities that the board could not duplicate on its own?
Of course, the committee hasn't decided to do that, it is just a proposal.
it's a sincere question, I don't know the answer. It seems to me that $7 million should provide amply for classrooms and facilities to train these students without leasing space from CIC which would have to be re-negotiated or abandoned in ten years.
Perhaps someone can shed some light on this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweet Thang

One more and then I’ll stop. Really.
Our blog friend ‘Alex’ mentioned Nat Stuckey in a comment on the last blog post.
Nat Stuckey was born over in Cass County, Texas in 1933. He earned a degree in radio and television from Arlington State College.
His first job was with KALT in Atlanta, Texas, in his home county of Cass.
He then moved to KWKH, and also became a member of the Louisiana Hayride. He wrote several hit songs, including co-writing ‘Waitin’ in your Welfare Line’ with Buck Owens. He then wrote and recorded ‘Sweet Thang’ on Paula Records, a local label. Jim Ed Brown recorded his song ‘Pop A Top’. He went on to record jingles, both nationally and regionally. He also operated a talent booking agency in Nashville.
Shortly before his death in 1988, Randy Travis released "Diggin’ Up Bones" which Stuckey co-wrote.

You're the Reason our Kids are Ugly - more country music

This country music thing just won't stop.
Country music as we know it began in the 1920’s in the South, and took its roots from folk and western music. At the time, it was referred to as hillbilly music. In the 1940’s the term country music came to being.
The Louisiana Hayride got its start in Shreveport in 1948, and was second only to The Grand Ole Opry in presenting country singers to the world.
There have been so many country singers and songs over the years, but I will give you a taste of the first two ‘hillbilly’ stars: Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family.
Jimmie Rodgers, The Singing Brakeman, recorded his first songs, "The Soldier's Sweetheart" and "Sleep, Baby, Sleep" for Victor. He received $100 for his efforts. Rodgers died in 1933 from TB at the age of 35.

The original Carter Family consisted of A. P. Carter (1891–1960), his wife Sara (1898–1979), and his sister-in-law Maybelle Carter (1909–1978). Maybelle was the mother of June Carter Cash. They made their first recordings in 1927, receiving $50 for each song.
The original group disbanded after A. P. and Sara divorced in 1944, but Maybelle kept performing with her daughters, June, Anita and Helen.

And to wrap it up, a song that I think represents the genre perfectly, from Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Gift

I did a blog post a couple of weeks ago entitled This was Country, brought on by a Facebook friend posting a Hank Williams song.
A friend of mine read the post and told me if I like Hank Williams, that he had a gift for me.
I met up with my friend and his wife a few days later and he gave me a beautiful box set of Hank Williams CD's, ten of them, with a nice booklet full of information and pictures.  When I told him I would have to blog on it, he asked me not to use his name, so I won't.  I really did enjoy our short visit, and got a couple of great hugs from Mrs. Friend.
They also gave me a baggie full of Lesbian cookies, properly titled The Best Cookies in the World.  They were awesomely great.
Seriously, this is a great gift and greatly appreciated.
Thank You!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mother of five year old Celeste Lowe files suit

Jamie Mercer, the mother of five year old Anna Celeste Lowe, who was taken to WK Pierremont last January two hours after she had died, filed suit for damages Tuesday in Bossier District Court. The suit names as defendants:

Wesley Lowe (Father of the child)
Catherine “Cat” Lowe (Step-mother of the child)
State of Louisiana, Department of Children and Family Services
Tameika Monday (Employee of Children & Family Services)
Larry C Deen (Sheriff of Bossier Parish)
Debra McKay (Detective)
Buddy Caldwell (State Attorney General)
Louisiana Office of Risk Management
Mercer's suit alleges that the Department of Children and Family Services placed Anna Celeste into the custody of her father and step-mother without investigating Lowe and his background, and if they had done so would not have placed the child with him based on their own criteria. It further alleges that the Department did not conduct a home inspection or evaluation of any sort.
The suit says that on December 9, 2010, a teacher reported suspected abuse of Anna Celeste to the Sheriff’s Office. Detective McKay spoke to Wesley Lowe, in whose custody Anna Celeste was at the time, and with someone with the Department of Children and Family Services. Both Lowe and the Department blamed Jamie Mercer. Detective McKay did not contact Mercer. Mercer says that if she had been contacted, she could have told the detective that she had not seen Anna Celeste since October 30, over five weeks prior to the teacher’s report.
Mercer is being represented by Attorney Charles L. Kincade of Monroe.
Catherine Lowe was charged with 2nd Degree Murder by DA Schuyler Marvin. She was due to go to trial on February 13, but on January 6 her attorney, Randal Fish, was granted a continuance until May 21. The case is being heard by Judge Bolin.
Wesley Lowe has been charged with Negligent Homicide and trial is set for February 13.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bossier School Board: Plans under consideration

I told a couple of commenters that I would follow up and attempt to find out what priorities, if any, have been set for use of the proposed bond money.
I emailed Sonja Bailes and received a very prompt reply.  Rather than paraphrasing what she said, I will just print it verbatim. 
1. I am glad that the 5% salary increase for teachers in included.
2. Remember, the meetings are public.

Mr. Wells,
I am attaching the latest "options" plan from the architect with SGB/Yates that the board is considering as part of the bond proposition. Let me emphasize that the board has not adopted a plan as of yet, only the resolution to bring it forth to voters in April which I am also attaching. The proposed construction plan will be taken up again at tomorrow’s school board meeting at 6 p.m. at Central Office in Benton.
May I also point out that the bond proposition is a continuation of what we are now operating under. It will not cost taxpayers in Bossier Parish one penny more than what they are already paying.
There will also be two tax propositions on the ballot seeking a $3 million recurring technology fund, something that Bossier Schools does not have right now but greatly needs. We will also ask the citizens of Bossier Parish to support our educators and faculty by approving a 5% salary increase. If I can be of further assistance please let me know.
Sonja Bailes
Public Relations Liaison
Bossier Parish School Board


BCPD promotes five

Five Bossier City Police officers were promoted to the rank of Sergeant this morning.  Congratulations to:

Darren Barclay, Violent Crimes Unit
Chris Estess, K-9 unit
Kevin Humphrey, Internal Affairs Division
Jeremy Kennedy, United States Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force
Murray Wells, Training Division. As some of you know, Murray is my son.  I'm a very proud dad today.

Jim Wells, Murray Wells

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bossier School Board: $210,000,000 bond proposition

The Bossier Parish School Board will be asking for a special election to approve a new $210,000,000 bond proposition.

Summary: To authorize not exceeding $210,000,000 of not exceeding 20 year
General Obligation Bonds of Parishwide School District of the Parish of Bossier, State of Louisiana, for the purpose of acquiring and/or improving lands for building sites and playgrounds, including construction of necessary sidewalks and streets adjacent thereto; purchasing, erecting and/or improving school buildings and other school related facilities within and for the District and acquiring the necessary equipment and furnishings therefor, and refunding and extending outstanding certificates of indebtedness.

Shall Parishwide School District of the Parish of Bossier, State of Louisiana (the "District"), incur debt and issue in series from time to time not exceeding Two Hundred Ten Million Dollars ($210,000,000) of general obligation bonds to run not exceeding twenty (20) years from date thereof, with interest at a rate or rates not exceeding nine per centum (9%) per annum, to be sold at par, premium or discount, approximately $202,500,000 of which bonds to be issued for the purpose of acquiring and/or improving lands for building sites and playgrounds, including construction of necessary sidewalks and streets adjacent thereto; purchasing, erecting and/or improving school buildings and other school related facilities within and for the District and acquiring the necessary equipment and furnishings therefor, title to which shall be in the public, and approximately $7,500,000 of which bonds to be issued for refunding and extending the outstanding Certificates of Indebtedness, Series 2008, of the Parish School Board of the Parish of Bossier, State of Louisiana; all of which bonds will be general obligations of the District and will be payable from ad valorem taxes to be levied and collected in the manner provided by Article VI, Section 33 of the Constitution of the State of Louisiana of 1974 and statutory authority supplemental thereto, with no estimated increase in the millage rate to be levied in the first year of issue above the 13.55 mills currently being levied to pay General Obligation Bonds of the District?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Congratulations Alabama

Jordan Jefferson, don't let the door hit you on the way out. 
Hopefully with Mettenberger and Kiel next year LSU will have an offense.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jane Smith appointed Deputy Director of Revenue for State

The Times is reporting that Jane Smith has been appointed to a job in the Jindal Administration.
Jane Smith, a Republican whose term as the District 8 member of the state House of Representatives ends Monday, is taking an appointment as deputy secretary of the Louisiana Revenue Department, it was announced today.
Smith will help Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges with administrative and legislative affairs, the department says.
I take this to mean that among other things, Mrs. Smith will be a de facto lobbyist for the Department.  She should be very effective, as she knows the legislature inside-out.
Smith was endorsed by the governor and the State Republican Party when she ran for State Senate last fall and lost to Barrow Peacock.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

This was Country

My Facebook friend Michael Beam posted an old Hank Williams song, Honky Tonk Blues, earlier and it made me start thinking.
Northwest Louisiana was really a hub for country music - real country music - back in the day.
Hank Williams played at the Louisiana Hayride, heck, Hank Jr. was born here.
In 1966 my brother owned a service station right smack on the Bossier Strip and I used to work for him some on the night shift.  Of course, it was a 24 hour operation.
One of his other employees was Harmie Smith, who, with his Ozark Mountaineers, was on the very first Louisiana Hayride.  Harmie was older, and lived just off East Texas Street.  He had some great stories.  He would talk about Hank Williams, how he would show up so drunk at the Louisiana Hayride that they had to prop him up and walk him onto the stage.  "And he would sing like a bird", Harmie would tell me.
Old friends would come over to the service station to see him when they were in town, people like the Wilburn Brothers.  I was there when they showed up.
Harmie went on to DJ at KENT radio in Shreveport and died a couple of years later.
I can't remember the exact year, maybe 1967 or 1968, the Hayride ended it's long run at the Municipal Auditorium.  I went to some of the last shows and they were great.
I got to hear Ferlin Husky singing Snow White Dove, Sonny James singing Young Love and Running Bear.  Marty Robbins sang El Paso (posted below), and the Statler Brothers opened for Johnny Cash singing Flowers on the Wall
Johnny Cash and June Carter were amazing performers, they could electrify an audience.  They sang, among others, Jackson, which I have posted below.
I have a lot of younger friends who claim to love country music, but I don't think any of them would know a good country song if it walked up and kicked them in the ass (yes, I can say that, it's my blog).
This was country.

Pay Raise!

Great news, I got a 34% pay raise! 
Oh wait, that's not me, it's the Bossier Parish Police Jury.  From $1,200 per month to $1,600 per month.
Yep, right after election.
No, not one of them discussed this during the election cycle.  I suppose they thought if they campaigned on a pay raise for Jurors that they would not be elected/re-elected.
They were right, better to do it on the DL.