Should an individual with an outstanding judgment to the State Board of Ethics for campaign fines be appointed to a local commission? Or an outstanding judgment to the credit bureau? How about a conviction for simple battery that involved an alleged sexual encounter with a young lady who he had hired? And should Commissioners advise the board if the suggested appointment is a fellow church member? How about a person before the commission, should they be asked if any embarrassing revelation will be revealed should they be chosen? The nature of these should not only be embarrassing to Caddo citizens, but it is embarrassing to have to even discuss them for a candidate to serve on a public board.
Unfortunately these issues were not addressed at the recent Caddo Commission meeting on March 17 when the Commission chose a candidate to fill an open seat on the MPC. Theron Jackson was voted over other qualified candidates to the Caddo Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission to fill that open position.
Jackson has an outstanding civil penalty of $4,000 to the Louisiana Ethics Board for failure to file campaign finance reports; this is now a 2011 judgment filed in Caddo records that would be easy for any citizen to research. Jackson also has a 2010 judgment for $2,540 filed in Read more
It came as no surprise to courthouse observers that former Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams was recently found guilty of all 11 charges of wire fraud by a federal court jury in Shreveport. The only real surprise, other than the fact that Williams did not accept a plea deal, was how fast the verdicts were returned—in less than 90 minutes. Basically that meant the jurors took a restroom break, got a drink of water, voted SEPARATELY on each charge with practically no discussion, and then returned to the courtroom. In legal parlance, that’s called a slam dunk by the prosecution. Williams will be sentenced on June 13; the maximum sentence is 20 years and it is anticipated his sentence will be at least 5 years.
So what can be learned by this unfortunate chapter in the history of public officials who got greedy—and were caught? Several things! Initially, remember that the U.S. Attorney’s office does not mess around once it files charges; locally they rarely, as in very rarely, lose criminal prosecutions.
Secondly—plea offers should be seriously considered; Williams could have plead to one charge of wire fraud with a probated sentence, i.e. no jail time. He should have Read more
It’s always good to follow a political body when there has been a changing of the guard—and such is the case with the Caddo Commission. To date, there have been 5 meetings of the Commission this year; other than the ceremonial first meeting for swearing in the new term, both work sessions and both regular meetings have been entertaining, to say the least! In this short interval major progress has been made for good government; unfortunately the actions of Commission President Matthew Linn have also provided major distractions.
Initially, high praise is due for substantial progress on issues that have stuck in the craw of the majority of informed Caddo citizens: the retirement plan participation by Commissioners (CPERS), the pay raises for Commissioners along with rank and file Commission workers (COLA), and subsidized health insurance for Commissioners and their families. At the first regular meeting of the Commission, CPERS and COLA were suspended for 2016 and forward. At the second meeting the Commission voted to require Commissioners to pay full premiums for the Commission health insurance—which due to the size of the group is a bargain compared to individual policy rates.
The last battle to be fought—and undoubtedly it will—deals with the travel/education expenses for Commissioners. Commissioners Matthew Linn, Ken Epperson and Lyndon Read more
by Marion Marks
I have a friend who always tries to settle daily accounts with $2 bills, and some merchants laugh at his idiosyncrasy while marking him up as just an “odd duck.” This friend’s pattern certainly goes against public sentiment regarding legal tender, but it breaks no law and often gives those at the cash register a smile or a chuckle. Additionally, we can laugh today and carry on none the worse for knowing him.
However, Caddo Parish administrator, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, even as he has effectively guided Caddo through many potential disasters, faces questions regarding his legal residence and the laws of legally casting a ballot, that are not so lightly written off as just personal eccentricities.
Wilson has admitted he is in violation of state voter law. And, in admitting that he takes Read more
It’s a question political observers are asking publicly—and many Caddo Commissioners privately. Matthew Linn has been president of the Caddo Commission for less than a month—and his lack of leadership skills becomes more and more apparent each week. Obviously he has planned for months if not years as how he behave as the instant “Commission King” once elected President,—and his actions reflect that mistaken mindset.
Linn started off the year by sending an email to Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator, signed Matthew Linn Caddo Commissioner, complaining of a Facebook post. Although a sheriff’s investigator deemed the post to NOT be a crime, the investigator subsequently confronted this individual. These actions could lead to civil liability to Linn on the basis of sexual discrimination, racial discrimination, interference with employment and abuse of office.
Thereafter, wearing his President of Commission hat, Linn decided to replace Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the Parish Administrator, on the NLCOG board of directors. Linn did NOT consult or advise his fellow commissioners—only sending Read more
by Marion Marks
The National Stage
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Republican Presidential Primary “leaders” appear to have missed the lesson Commander in Chief Eisenhower and most former presidents expressed through actions. Yes, it was a different time, however the rationale of leadership has not moved so far to the dictatorial right as we have been led to to believe, and entertainment on the small screen still does not translate to world-stage statesmanship.
The crude and irreverent manner, lack of common manners, demonstrated by leading candidate Donald Trump demonstrates and translates to the clear disgust many voters have for those who have failed the test after election to public office. The translation of failure, fatigue and frustration of citizens gives the Trump strategy that has worked in the reality TV world a demonstrated presence with a large sector of the Republican primary constituents.
However, common decency we might expect from the next president, potentially from the Republican primary, lowers the bar for those who Read more
by Marion Marks
You have to believe in something, everybody does, and even atheists have a belief in their unbelief. Yet rage and anger has a new voice in both national political parties against those who have abused the system and citizens. Too many incumbents and players who believe the political process is a personal playground or piggybank draw enough fire to quench the anger of voters who feel tarring and feathering would be a good start.
Voters have such a frail moral vision that when an elected official follows a righteous path that benefits the public, corrects wrongs and bases decisions on a belief that justice can be accomplished, the official generally ends up being ridiculed and required to prove himself guiltless. It’s almost as if voters expect officials to sell out to porn vendors, massage parlors and gambling interests.
When a commissioner, namely the current Caddo Commission President, Matthew Linn, questions past actions that have sold out citizen interests, the first question is to demand that his Read more
by Marion Marks
Matthew Linn has raised more issues in his first month as President of the Caddo Commission than any commissioner in modern memory. One of three possible results will probably be the end product of issues raised.
#1 – An embarrassed Linn will reverse course, perhaps even step down, because his actions were based on erroneous interpretations of the law.
#2 – The Caddo Commission will have to reverse course because illegal actions have been “business as usual,” because they have broken or they ignored the law and have illegally conducted business in this manner for years. Or,
#3 – NLCOG, as well as other bodies, have ignored or failed to recognize the law as Linn and other attorneys are now interpreting it, and their prior actions will be under the microscope for years to come.
Linn has taken the position that commissioners have delegated the parish’s obligation far too much to the parish administrator, Dr. Woody Wilson, and that Read more
In less than 2 weeks as the new president of the Caddo Commission, Matthew Linn has caused quite a stir—as well as a wave of embarrassment for the Commission—by his actions, both as a Commissioner and as the president of the Commission. The first was an attempt to use his office as a Commissioner to unduly influence (and apparently successfully so) to have Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator have an investigator chase down the writer of a Facebook post that Linn did not like. Now Linn, and perhaps the Commission as well as the Sheriff, face a possible civil rights suit by a local attorney claiming that the email and subsequent actions of a Sheriff’s deputy violated her rights to free speech, unlawfully threatened her employment by a public agency and racially slandered her clientele.
Linn’s latest antic is to replace Parish Administrator Dr. Woody Wilson on the NLCOG (North Louisiana Council of Governments)—who is serving as chairman this year. Linn first sent a letter to Read more
Its always exciting to have new faces in public offices, and even more so when newcomers immediately jump in and tackle the “bull by the horns”, so to speak. And that is exactly what happened at the first work session, and then the first meeting, of the newly sworn in 2016-2120 Caddo Commission.
The presence of 4 newbies—John Atkins, Mario Chavez, Steven Jackson and Mike Middleton—on the Commission made the difference between night in day on this 12 member body in the first 2 meetings. During the initial work session on January 19 Steven Jackson offered 3 ordinances to be put on the agenda for the January 21 agenda. The first was to delete the Commissioners from participation in the highly contested and now being litigated retirement plan (CPERS). The second was to stop automatic pay raises for Commissioners for cost of living adjustments (COLA), and the third was to reduce the annual unmonitored expense allowance for Commissioners from $15,000 per year to $8,000.
Out going president Johnson tried to de-rail the CPERS and COLA ordinances by making substitute Read more