As many readers are aware, I have been continuously researching our Caddo Parish Commission since 2013, focusing particularly on its financial management and the bountiful compensation with which members reward themselves. As a result of the increasing public awareness of these facts, Caddo voters and taxpayers have strongly pushed back against both the Commission’s fiscal abuses and now infamous self-dealing.
First, on October 19, 2013, voters rejected both the Commission attempt to extend their “limit” of consecutive terms in office from three to five (related article here), and the renewal of a 1.75-mill property tax for capital projects (related article here). The property tax was then defeated by only 59 votes.
Next, when the Commission brought the 1.75-mill property tax renewal back for a re-vote on Read more
Let me start by saying I am proud to have had the honor of knowing Marty Stroud as a friend and working with him as a colleague for many years. His recent letter to the Shreveport Times[linked] regarding his actions as one of the prosecutors who obtained the conviction and death sentence of an innocent Glen Ford brings great credit to Louisiana’s legal profession, precisely because it sheds light onto all of the things that are wrong with the American criminal justice system in general, and with the Louisiana justice system in particular.
First, and most importantly Marty’s letter shows that miscarriages of justice don’t come about because there’s one or two bad apples in the barrel. It’s not the apples that are bad. It’s the barrel that’s bad!It’s the broken system!Let me make that clear. Wrongful convictions come about because the System is broken. Our broken criminal justice system not only creates the opportunity for good people to do bad things, it incentivizesbad behavior. It produces what Psychologist Philip Zimbardo termed in his book by the same name “The Lucifer Effect.” Good people do evil things not because they are predisposed toward unethical, illegal or immoral behavior, but because of the corrupting influence of situational and institutional forces acting upon them.
The bill of particulars against the Louisiana criminal justice system is far too long to summarize in these few paragraph, but we can list a few, starting with the way we fund criminal justice in this State. Louisiana has a profit-driven criminal justice system funded almost entirely off the backs of the people brought into the system Read more
The fog of the holidays will soon be lifting. Caddo residents need to gear up for the new year and try not to think about all of the failures and resources we’ve wasted over the past eight years that a failed mayor and school board allowed our system to linger in disrepair. As fun and pretty as the holiday decorations have been, it’s almost lovely to try to get your house back to something you can call a “ normal state” (whatever normal really means.)
I enjoy allowing the holiday to settle into something past, behind me, and try to blaze forward into what I want to believe promises to be a healthier, wiser year! (As a popular and over used children’s chorus sings, “Let It Go, Let It Go!”)
This is a summary of my research on Swag Nation USA, as it is named here. With interest in non-government organizations receiving funds from the RiverFront Fund, which is parish collected funds from the gambling boats here on the riverfront, I discovered that Swag Nation which has as its spokes person here before the Parish Commission, Commissioner Michael Williams. The commission, as stated in the contract, wanted an etiquette program for juveniles that wore swagging paints. [KTAL Story] [KTBS Story]
The NGO’s are funded from the RiverFront Fund except for Swag. Swag has become a budget item like all other operational expenses paid for by the taxpayers of Caddo and not the gamblers at the River Boats.
Swag Nation has a contract with the Parish to provide such a service. Each juvenile with a recommendation from the Juvenile Court Swag gets $350 from the taxpayers for a six weeks course in how to keep up their paints. The parish pays for material and supplies and transportation for this six weeks of training.
It appears the mold, which has 30 years of well-documented history in the current downtown branch of Shreve a memorial Library, has permeated the administration as well as the board based upon the dysfunctional scheduled meeting March 31. It may as well have been an April Fool’s joke on citizens that board members were educated on both meeting protocol and public records responsibilities.
Somewhat shocking to visitors was that board member and public school librarian, Gail Griffin, attempted to close the meeting in executive session before the meeting even began. Fear that criticism would follow, led the call, and with good reason as four public comments each sounded out against the library’s cancelling of the Sunshine Forum during the national celebration of open government. Complaints were offered by local attorney John Settle, public activist, Willie Bradford, blogger and activist Jimmy Couvillion and myself. Yet the board and administration defended the decision to cancel the forum based on the failure to accurately represent the diversity of the community.
Attorney John Settle announced to Griffin and the board as a whole that if they attempted to improperly close the meeting to the public he would sue each member personally and as a board for violating public meeting requirements. The board attorney who was present informed Griffin that legally the board could not close the meeting to the public in the manner in which Griffin requested.
In complaining about the gender diversity of Read more
In the twelve-month period of July 1, 2012 through July 1, 2013, the Caddo Parish population lost -2,204 residents. Its population of 257,091 of July 1, 2012 dropped to 254,887 by July 1, 2013. The population drop erases gains registered since the 2010 Census, with the latest report showing 82 fewer parish residents as of July 1, 2013 than the 254,969 reported in the April 1, 2010 decennial head-count. Caddo is Louisiana’s 4th-largest parish by population, behind East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, and Orleans, in rank order.
Neighboring parishes in the Northwest Louisiana cluster show a mix of cumulative population gain and loss since the April 1, 2010 census. Bossier Parish’s population increased 6,844 to 123,823 (+5.9%), and DeSoto Parish gained 427 (+1.6%) residents during the multi-year period, now at 27,083. Joining Caddo Parish in the population loss column are Webster Parish, having lost -529 residents (−1.3%) to 40,678, and Red River Parish, with a loss of -197 residents (−1.2%) to 8,894.
Thanks to each participant, both panelists and interactive audience members, of the “REAL” Shreveport Sunshine Forum Wednesday night for not permitting those who attempted to bully the forum to cease and silence any voice of dissent. Had they succeeded the flickering hope I had that Shreveport might yet succeed would have been extinguished. The apparent evil or criminal element we seem to have inherited would have won. We would have allowed evil forces, people and what they represent, to put us into their box.
The Times story unfortunately stated specifics contrary to the facts we know to be true. The 90th anniversary committee of the Shreve Memorial Library had been organizing special events for the library since last year planned and reserved the original venue.
Second, while it is alleged that the makeup of the panel was not known until the 11th hour, those same records indicate that an all-users email was sent a week before the scheduled event, and that the Facebook event had also been available for a full week prior. Information on some speakers was available to the organizing committee and others even earlier than that. The bullies had yet to realize they may be targeted. [FREE ACCESS to email records here]
Finally, although this was not included in the records I acquired, based on Read more