Category: Bossier Politics

Social Media, Principal Bourgeois, and …

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the  Bossier Parish School Board

Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

In what is certainly a first for northwest Louisiana (and is a sign of the times), a social media campaign is being waged by south Bossier residents against Parkway Principal (Dr.) Nichole Bourgeois and the Bossier Parish School Board (BPSB). Utilizing a online website change.org, over four hundred Bossier residents and Parkway alumni have electronically signed a petition to have the controversial Bourgeois ousted from her job. This brouhaha has no signs of letting up, and the “petition posse” may be seeking legal action in the near future.

New school, DARK clouds...
New school, DARK clouds…

The backdrop of the story is three serious incidences that have, to date, been whitewashed by school officials. Bourgeois made national news last fall for having Five Oaks High School football coach arrested prior to a playoff football game at Parkway High School. Litigation has been filed by the coach against Bourgeois and the BPSB over that incident. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association sanctioned Parkway by denying the school the ability to host a playoff game this year.

Bourgeois is also the key player in litigation filed last spring against BPSB by the family of a student who committed suicide. The suit alleges that Bourgeois and the school district did nothing to protect the child from “constant bullying and harassment” by fellow students. This suit is scheduled to go to trial in November of next year.

Investigate to find the bug...
Investigate to find the bug…

Another suit was filed earlier this month naming Bourgeoisas a defendant along with the school’s nurse coordinator and the BPSB. This litigation is a “whistle blower” action, alleging reprisals against the plaintiff after she expressed concerns about a student who she says was bullied and later committed suicide. This litigation seeks punitive damages for harassment and retaliation.

The BPSB president Eddie Ray Presley poured fuel on the Parkway fire by referring to the online petitioners as “morons in South Bossier.” The BPSB quickly issued a statement distancing the Board from Presley’s remarks, stating that the “remarks do not represent the views of the Board or the School district…” Bossier School Superintendent D.C. Machen also released a statement that he “would not validate grievances, personal attacks or agendas posted in social media sites about Dr. Bourgeois or any administrator or employee of Bossier Parish Schools by commenting on them.” Machen also made it clear that under state law he, not the School Board, would decide Bourgeois’ fate.

Nichole Bourgeois
Nichole Bourgeois

Many parents believe that the state of affairs at Parkway High School is not the rosy picture that Machen and the BPSB have painted. A public records request has been made to Machen for legal fees expended by the BPSB on all litigation involving Bourgeois. Another public records request is for the number of suicides at Parkway High School while she has been assigned to that school, and the number of suicides at all other Bossier Parish Schools during this time period. A last public record request has also been made for the beginning and ending school enrollments for the same time interval at all Bossier Parish Schools, along with the drop out and transfer numbers for each school for these years.

Coming round the bend.
Coming round the bend.

The website change.org has many comments about Bourgeois that are not complimentary, to say the least. Only those persons who will publically “sign” list their name can have comments posted. Most parents of Parkway students fear repercussions against their children and thus have only “signed” the petition without posting comments. Their names are not made public, but are available to the petition organizers.

At some juncture the BPSB and Machen must deal with the uproar over Burgeois. Parents can express their dissatisfaction in many ways, – – withdrawal of financial support for school athletics and organizations, recall petitions against school board members, and possible litigation against Machen and the Board for malfeasance in office. Machen and the Board have enjoyed a long rope by Bossier residents who rubber stamped an excessive bond package and have rarely held Board staff or school officials to task. This time its looking like south Bossier, which is often treated as the red headed step child by Bossier governmental bodies, will demand to be recognized and not ignored, – – and rightly so.

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BLOODBATH IN BOSSIER 2014 SENATE RACE

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Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

Although the election in Senate District 36 is more then a year away, the battle for voters in Senate District 36 has already begun between State Representatives Henry Burns and Jeff Thompson. This will be a “take no prisoners race”, and even by Bossier standards it promises to be an ugly, no holds barred, election.

Term Limited Robert Adley
Term Limited Robert Adley

Senator Robert Adley is termed out, and thus can not seek re-election. Adley is one of these elected officials that is either loved or despised, and it is doubtful he will endorse any candidate seeking his office.

District 36 is primary a rural parish. It encompasses all of Bieniville and Webster parishes and part of Bossier, Claiborne, and Red River parishes.

The political posturing between Burns and Thompson, both public and private, is in high gear. Former State Representative Billy “Coach” Montgomery is considering the race, but it is doubtful he will run. Richey Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully against Burns in 2007, may also be a candidate.

Lot's of Suits
Lot’s of Suits

Assuming that both Thompson and Burns qualify for the District 36 race, their respective House seats (District 9 for Burns and District 8 for Thompson) will be open since the House and Senate terms both end in 2014. Both Burns and Thompson have been effective for their Read more

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Bossier’s 2014 Political Rumor Mill Cranks Up

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Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

Although there will be no school board or mayor/council races on the east side of the Red in 2014, there are several front burner elections to be monitored. And for some elections, the politicking has already began in earnest.

The most closely watched election will no doubt be the one to fill the shoes of State Senator Robert Adley, who is termed out.

Robert Adley
Robert Adley

Early names for this race are well established Bossier politicians – State Representative Henry Burns and State Representative Jeff Thompson. Rickey Jackson, another Republican, is being mentioned, and reportedly former State Representative Billy “Coach” Montgomery is giving this race a Read more

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2014 To Be A Big Big Election Year

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Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

Despite the fact that there will be an election in Caddo Parish on October 19, most political junkies are focusing their sights on next year. Interest in this fall’s races for District Judge, Parish Commissioner (District 5), Blanchard Alderman and a home rule charter proposition has drawn scant attention to date. The big political players are certainly more focused on the long 2014 ballot.

Mary Landrieu reelection leads ballot
Mary Landrieu reelection leads ballot

The headline campaign will undoubtedly be Senator Mary Landreau in her re-election bid against one or more Republicans. Not only will this be a feature race in Caddo, but the entire state, – with national attention as well. Representative Fleming will also be up for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

All the judges in Caddo District Court (11), Caddo Juvenile Court (4) and Shreveport City Court (4) will be on the ballot. Additionally, the Supreme Court associate judge seat held by Judge Jeff Victory will be filled as Read more

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ROSE MCCULLOCH OUTSPENDS SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER COUNCILS ON TRAVEL/CONVENTIONS/MEETINGS

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Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

One of the perks of being an elected official is paid expenses for various conventions and meetings – – both in and out of the state. These expenses include travel, registration fees and the cost of hotel rooms and food.

The Shreveport City Council travel policy is very open-ended, – – “city council members will approve their travel.” The policy restricts travel requests to what “has been budgeted for training and travel.” The budget submitted by each council member “may include two educational sessions (e.g. annual meetings of the National League fo Cities or the Louisiana Municipal Association) and travel expenditures (e.g. a lobby trip to the legislature or another city to explore a successful project in development).

Rose know where to find the FUN!
Rose know where to find the FUN!

The current council was sworn in on November 23, 2010. Since that date Rose McCulloch has expended $8,432.00 for conventions, meetings and food. Oliver Jenkins has expended $1,706.00 and Jeff Everson $820.00. Council members Mike Corbin, Ken Webb, Joe Shyne, and Sam Jenkins leave no travel/convention/meeting expenses paid by taxpayers.

Rose McCulloch is a former Caddo Commissioner, and she obviously still likes to run in the Police Jury circles. Her taxpayer paid trips included the National Association of Counties Conference in Washington, D. C., (March 2013), the National Organization of Black County Officials Annual Economic Development Conference in Detroit, Michigan (May 2013) and Decatur, Georgia (April 2012) and the Read more

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Bossier City Hall Tapes

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 Illegal Action to Keep Media and Public Out

by Elliott Stonecipher
Follow the law? Why??
Follow the law? Why??

It’s been three months since my Public Records Request to Bossier City Mayor “Lo” Walker for documents regarding the Walker Place project.  Many are yet being withheld.  Walker most recently mailed me a list of communications from and by City Attorney Jimmy Hall which the two are withholding under “attorney client privilege.”  As we know, City Hall has much to hide.

In scheme after scheme after scheme over many years, Bossier officials – led mainly by the same top officials throughout – have violated laws dictating governmental openness and transparency.  Whether the then-CenturyTel project, Louisiana Boardwalk, Walker Place, or the new casino project, taxpayer money by the truckload has been risked, and much of it lost, with astoundingly little media or public scrutiny to reduce such risks.

You can't make me!
You can’t make me!

With City Hall’s $27,000,000 Walker Place loss now focusing public attention, it is easier to explain how the Boardwalk project – initially dubbed “Riverwalk” – set off early warnings of how such secrecy is assured.  Boardwalk, the mixed-use development on Bossier’s downtown Red River bank, is Read more

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WALKER PLACE (Part 2–The Bossier Mob)

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How “The Mob” in Bossier City did its Thing

Elliott Stonecipherby Elliott Stonecipher

Some few years ago, a clique of Bossier City Hall officials who ironfistedly control that government took to calling itself “the Bossier mob.” To taxpayers, this homage to organized crime is both unfunny and unsavory, particularly after city hall’s mishandling of Walker Place, South Bossier’s intended multi-use development project. Exposed in the aftermath is the way “the mob” goes about doing what it does. Walker Place was city hall’s own bad idea that turned worse – a clinic in what happens when a town’s governmental process controls and accountability seize up, then fail.MOB_Insignia

It spotlighted, too, what happens when a self-interested few officials have far too much power. When the smoke from this fire of mismanagement, if not misfeasance, cleared, the tab to taxpayers was $27,000,000-plus, more than $5,000,000 of which paid the city’s attorneys while years of a legal war – and the city’s vendetta against developer U.L. Coleman Companies – played out then blew up. To fill-in the how and why blanks, I submitted to Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker on March 6, 2013, a public records request for “… any and all communications of any kind …” concerning Walker Place insurance, attorney actions, claims management and so forth. Walker passed the request to City Attorney Jimmy Hall. Hundreds of documents were produced. Some were withheld and have been re-requested. (Minutes of Special Bossier City Meeting)

Case_Gone_WrongAs to which city officials had frontline roles, documents show that Mayor Lo Walker was AWOL, never writing or being copied on even an email. Likewise, Joe Buffington, the city’s finance director, participated only in a couple of emails on Jan. 18 and 19, 2012. Most importantly, the city’s risk manager, Tom Amundson, seems also to have been Read more

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HOW BOSSIER CITY HALL BLEW $27,000,000

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THE WALKER PLACE FIASCO

by Elliott Stonecipher
BLOWN AWAY!
SIMPLY BLOWN AWAY!

How Bossier City officials hatched and botched their Walker Place development scheme is the stuff of a novel.  Imagine a small city hall gang conspiring to benefit certain unidentified parties – their friends? themselves? – in a real estate development project.  To make the deal pay-off as intended, their go-to model for such doubtful enterprise is used, a unique public / private partnership.  Given that their past and repeated use of such schemes has for years done harm to their city’s reputation, the bunch recruits a top company from across the river, availing itself the cover of that firm’s expertise and good reputation.  The cover is jerked away, however, as the real form and shape of their plan emerges.  The developer’s team refuses to do things honest people simply do not do, and the city hall gang officially retaliates.  The developer opts out, returns home, and files an epic federal court lawsuit which could publicly expose the city hall boys’ way of doing business.  The developer wins big in the end, but we learn that other big winners are some members of the city hall team.  The only – and big – losers are the taxpayers.

Sorry TaxpayersIn the non-fiction version, an investigation by outside authorities will be necessary to get to the whole truth of Bossier City’s monumental failure in the huge financial hit now known simply as “Walker Place.”  What we do know is stupefying.

Last month, I filed with Bossier City Mayor “Lo” Walker a formal Public Read more

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Bossier Voters Can Punish Lousy Politicians

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In A Way Shreveporters Can’t

By Dr. Jeff Sadow, Ph.D.

Who Me?
Who Me?

A month after red-faced Bossier City officials announced the distinctly unfavorable settlement in a needless lawsuit their actions created, Shreveport officials could have matched that when they announced the city finally was throwing in the towel on its notorious Bioset deal – even if they, unlike most of their Bossier City counterparts, had no direct complicity in the mess.

This saga began a dozen years ago during the first administration of former Mayor Keith Hightower as a response to Environmental Protection Agency concerns over the city’s waste treatment. One alternative was to buy technology to deal with it at a cost of $26 million. But another was to make a deal with Bioset, as the firm had a process by which sludge could be turned into sod.

Divided by more than a bridge
Divided by more than a bridge

Hightower did the latter – but on distinctly unfavorable terms for the city. In a total contract of $32 million over 20 years, along with the city backing a $10 million loan, low interest and tax exempt, of then-available small-issue Industrial Development Revenue Bonds from the state’s Louisiana Community Development Authority to build facilities, for an estimated value of $700,000 the city would get sod from Bioset for its use on various city properties. Over time, rumors surfaced that this had been a sweetheart deal for Read more

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THE BIRTH OF A PUBLIC MONEY SLUSH FUND …

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THIS ONE CAN AND SHOULD BE STOPPED, HERE AND NOW!

by Elliott Stonecipher

PorkLips-Fund-SPORTS POLITICSHow often do taxpayers and supporters of ethical and fair government get to see the birth of a slush-fund of public money?  In my experience, such is very rare, right up there with finding and watching the formation of a galaxy.  Thank goodness, we don’t need a Hubble telescope to find and see this creation – simply read this article in the Saturday morning Shreveport Times.

Before I write another word, let me say I seriously doubt that either State Representative Henry Burns or core supporters of the Independence Bowl know the history or other important details of what they could be signing on to.  Thus, I hope this article will be of particular help to them.

Do they understand?
Do they understand?

For more than a year, mainly in 2010, I worked, pro bono, on issues surrounding the genesis of this awful political op.  In fact, I was present in the room when a public official first laid it out.  What is described in this morning’s Times article is Read more

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