The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin Wednesday, Mar 28 2012 

Update:  Florida State Attorney Angela Corey has announced that 2nd degree murder charges have been filed against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  Corey says that charges are not being filed due to public pressure or petition, referring to a petition that garnered over 2 million signatures calling for the arrest of Zimmerman.  The charge of 2nd degree murder can include a sentence of up to life imprisonment.  Regardless of your position on this curious case, there is no doubt the case will be a barnburner.

Watching with great interest, the curious case of Trayvon Martin has become a national phenomenon.  No doubt, the death of any teenager is a heartbreaking tragedy. 

We are being subjected to an incredible amount of ‘spin’ by thousands of individuals, organizations, and the media in an effort to determine the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, the self-confessed shooter of Trayvon Martin.

By now, everyone has heard the story. 

George Zimmerman calls 911 to report what he suggests is a suspicious black male walking in his neighborhood.  During his 911 call, he admits to following the black male, to which the operator says “we don’t need you to do that”. 

Stop!

This may be, for me, the only fact that we know for sure.  Memories fade, witnesses have differing accounts, and the victim is not here to tell his part of the story. 

Why did George Zimmerman, after calling 911, get out of his vehicle to follow the ‘suspicious’ black male on foot? 

It seems to be the biggest mistake of Zimmerman’s life. 

What we don’t know is what really happened between the 911 call and what followed.  Screams for help, numerous 911 calls from neighbors hearing a scuffle, a single gunshot, a dead teenager, a police chief steps aside, the Feds get involved, and a surmounting civil rights cry goes out by thousands of individuals protesting that the shooter has not yet been arrested.

It’s been more than a month since the shooting.  People have questions. 

I have a question, or two myself.

Where were all the protesters when other young black males were being murdered on the streets of America? 

Are those protesting aware of the real statistics surrounding murder and race?

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in 2010 there were 12,996 murder victims in the United States:  6,470 african-american, 6,043 caucasian, 331 ‘other’, and 152 ‘unknown race’. 

Furthermore, the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator is eye-opening.  The FBI Uniform Crime Report’s breakdown of relationships indicates that acquaintances top the list, with family members coming in second, friends, and finally strangers very last. 

Perhaps this is why the FBI Uniform Crime Report’s breakdown indicating the race of the offender vs. the race of the victim indicates that white on white crime and black on black crime is the rule vs. the exception.  Furthermore, male on male crime and female on female crime appears to be prevalent.

By no means, does this diminish the current dilemma of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. 

It simply begs the question of the level of violence we are currently experiencing across the country, as well as the fact that it is more common for murders to be committed in ‘known’ circles than by offenders who do not know their victims.

It proves the fact that the curious case of Trayvon Martin is an exception to the rule.  Amazing, isn’t it?

You would think, by the media attention and the cries of those who are claiming that this is a prevalent problem (i.e. white on black murders), when in fact it is the exception.

I am dismayed anytime people jump on a bandwagon without all of the facts.  It’s important that we do some extensive research in order to make an informed decision.

It just doesn’t seem right to me when the lines are blurred by those who go off half-cocked making statements they can’t back up with the facts.

The curious case of Trayvon Martin will bring out the best and the worst of people. 

Those who have a personal axe to grind will take the untimely death of this young man and use it for their own personal gain.

A lot of missteps have taken place in the last few weeks. 

Perhaps a more detailed investigation should have taken place from the onset; hopefully that will be done now and law enforcement will do their best to find the truth.

Gun advocates and pessimists may use this opportunity to take a stronger stand for or against the ownership and use of firearms.

More importantly, we must address the issue that has come to the forefront in the curious case of Trayvon Martin:  Ignorance.

Ignorance has reared its ugly head through the actions and words of many.  They have expressed their true self at the expense of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

Spike Lee re-twittered someone’s home address causing an elderly couple to be forced out of their home because they were ‘fingered’ as the parents of George Zimmerman.  They were not the parents of ‘the’ George Zimmerman who pulled the trigger.

I suppose Spike Lee should take a dose of his own medicine and learn how to ‘Do the Right Thing’.  Perhaps we all should? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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To Investigate Or Not To Investigate, That Is The Question? Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

 

 

 

Investigations are required in order to solve the mystery of a crime – or potential crime.  To investigate is to do so by taking all leads and fully examining information presented with care and accuracy. 

As I continue to follow the storyline of alleged malfeasance in office possibly committed by Mayor-President Kip Holden, I have questions regarding how far the investigation has advanced thus far. 

Someone may need to help me interpret what is being reported, taking in to consideration the fact that the public is not always privy to the details of investigations. 

After all, the facts as presented to us are confusing at best. 

It was just a few years ago that we recall a flyer mailed to a select number of residents of East Baton Rouge Parish describing an alleged affair between Mayor Kip Holden and a woman (other than his wife). 

The flyer brought on accusations by an unnamed source at the time against Mayor Kip Holden.  Once made public via the newspaper, the Mayor began making counter-accusations by naming numerous individuals that he felt were responsible for the flyer. 

One by one, the Mayor (in an attempt to get the focus off of him) marched individual’s names before the media as the supposed source of the flyers that alleged he had an extramarital affair.  It caused quite a stir in the media, followed by the hiring of an attorney and investigator who proceeded to jump on the bandwagon of accusations.

I am always fascinated when someone is targeted by another party, especially when the response is a counter-accusation.  It reminds me of being on the playground as a child when the focus is now on the messenger vs. the alleged guilty party.  Sometimes ‘shooting the messenger’ works, and suddenly they are the bad guy vs. the individual who performed the dastardly deed.

For awhile, it seemed that Mayor Holden was successful in the public’s eye by attacking the sources of the flyer vs. the actual content of the flyer. 

After much ado, the creator and the distributor of the flyers were named publicly and the Mayor promised to sue them both for defamation of character.  Successfully, the Mayor got the attention off of the content of the flyer and on to the individuals responsible for sharing the information. 

This must have made the Mayor and his entourage very happy?

Unfortunately, nothing really happened.  The rumors died down, the creator and distributor were basically forgotten and all seemed as if nothing ever happened, with the exception of the whispers among those questioning the validity of the information contained in the flyer. 

Believe it or not, there are many people who really do believe that a betrayal of a marriage shows the true character of a person.

Fast forward to 2012.  Lawsuits begin flying back and forth about possible defamation of character and personal attacks that may or may not have validity.  A court date is set and we all watch with various degrees of interest.

Then, while we are all caught unaware, public records laws reveal that another party is asking for a full investigation into activities surrounding the prior accusations.  The ex-boyfriend of the woman who Mayor Holden supposedly had an affair with reveals that the woman shared with him confidentially that she received trips, gifts and cash from the Mayor that she believed to be from the city coffers. 

The plot thickens.

Now hold on!  Just when you think that a full investigation might take place to find out if the accusations are true, it appears that the investigation is thwarted because a Judge, a Sheriff, and God knows who else, claim that the former boyfriend’s story is considered “here say”.

Whoa!  Hold on!  This is where I may need some assistance. 

Let me get this right.  If I call or write a judge or law enforcement officer and tell them I know of someone committing what I believe to be a crime because ‘someone else’ told me that ‘John Doe’ is spending thousands of dollars on them that they believe came from the commission of a crime (and taking money from city coffers for use other than it was intended is considered a crime), will they just dismiss me because this is here say?

Let’s up the ante.  I talk to someone’s parent who tells me their child committed a murder, but since they believe it is self-defense, they are not going to tell anyone.  If I call with that information, am I dismissed because this is considered here say?

Well, I know the answer to that question.  Any law enforcement officer worth his salt will look into this alleged murder and will not dismiss my call as here say. 

So, why is the information from the ex-boyfriend considered here say?  Just because you are a jilted lover does not make every piece of information you share not worth fully investigating.

Maybe an investigation is still ongoing?  Let’s hope so. 

Thus, the topic of this piece. 

Hamlet asked “To be or not to be, that is the question?” 

I ask “To investigate or not to investigate, that is the question?”

In the age we live in, I say that you fully investigate possible wrongdoing.  We have watched Mayors in surrounding communities falling like flies because they chose to line their own pocketbooks vs. the pocketbooks of the taxpayers. 

Why should these accusations warrant any less attention? 

To dismiss information without carefully and fully questioning all those potentially involved in the potential commission of a crime would prove to me that the system is functioning even worst than I believe it to be.

As an officer of the law, you should not ‘pick and choose’ who you investigate and who you do not investigate regardless of their stature. 

Unfortunately, many of us already know this is a problem that needs to be thrown into the public eye for consideration when viewing the inadequacies of the legal and judicial system as it exists today.

We are watching and waiting to see if investigators will fully investigate charges that Mayor Kip Holden spent thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on a woman — or anyone else for that matter.

As an elected official, you have a duty to uphold the responsibilities of the office which you are entrusted by the people.  If, for any reason, you fail to be responsible with your time, taxpayer money or resources, you have failed to fulfill the duties of your office — and committed a crime referred to as malfeasance in office. 

In ending, one last burning question exists in my mind. 

What if the elected official entrusted to perform the investigation has some of his own skeletons, and the individual who he is charged to investigate knows those details?

I long for the days when I could say ‘ignorance is bliss’!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBR Crime Statistics Sunday, Feb 19 2012 

Every 6 months or so, I read with great interest the crime statistics provided by East Baton Rouge Parish via our media outlets.  It’s one thing to say ‘the murder rate is down’; it’s entirely another task to understand the methologies and numbers as they really exist. 

Let’s discuss murders in 2011.  Understanding, of course, that we do not have access to all of the detailed data, we can read the archives of The Advocate and determine what is reported to the taxpayers of EBR Parish.

There are a lot of different statistics to consider: 

  • 81:  On Sunday, February 5, 2012, The Advocate reported there were 81 murders in EBR Parish (incorporated and unincorporated city limits). 

  • 64:  On February 18, 2012, The Advocate reports there were 64 murders in the incorporated city limits of the Red Stick, according to the BR Police Dept. 

  • 17:  Subtracting The Advocate’s report of 64 city murders vs. 81 parish murders equates to only 17 murder in the unincorporated portions of the parish.  (Unfortunately, the murders in the unincorporated sections of EBR Parish are not identified on the EBR Sheriff’s website.  (EBRSO stats are from 2009; a bit out of date guys!)

There are some flaws in the Uniform Crime Reporting as far as tracking crime.  I know this because I read the entire archives of The Advocate for 2011 and found more than 17 murders in the unincorporated portions of our parish. 

Though I do not believe all murders are storied in the daily newspaper, I do think those murders reported are actual.  Unfortunately, we are left to the tracking of law enforcement under the guidelines of Uniform Crime Reporting system which can make a significant determination in the method in which crimes are reported. 

The City of Baton Rouge has 227,818 residents in the city limits with 64 murders; 81 in the Parish.  New Orleans has 343,829 residents in their city limits, and UCR statistics show 105 murders in their city.   They have 66% more residents than we do, and we have 60% of the murders they have.  It puts things into perspective.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker stated last week while announcing his Mayorial intentions that Baton Rouge has crime equal or worst to New Orleans.  Earlier that same day,  Mayor-President Kip Holden stated that serious crimes were on the decline. 

Any way you cut it, we have a crime problem.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker recognizes, along with District Attorney Hillar Moore, that crimes are repeated by many of the same offenders. 

On the other hand, the percentage of those commiting the actual murders are often commiting only one murder each.  I certainly do not discount those repeat offenders that commit multiple murders; the numbers are simply smaller. 

Crime does escalate in the eye of a perpetrator.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker got it wrong by stating that we need to crack down on misdemeanors such as parking violations, etc. and keep a misdemeanor jail open 24/7.  Parking violators and such are not in the same league as those commiting crimes that escalate to violent crimes. 

Furthermore, Walker touted Baton Rouge Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee as an example of a perpetrator that passed through the court system numerous times.  This was an unfortunate example to use because Lee’s crimes were of a much more serious nature.  We can’t compare stalking and masturbation outside of women’s bedroom windows with those individuals committing parking violations.

This gap in linking serious crimes with non-violent crimes that do not escalate concerns me greatly on Walker’s behalf, even though I am a fan of Walker and have respect for some of the intitiatives he has implemented during this political career.

I am digressing to the Mayor’s race, but if we are to look for the right candidate for the Office of Mayor-President while addressing the apparent spike in crime (regardless of crime statistics shared), we must find a candidate that is not a politician. 

Baton Rouge, and East Baton Rouge Parish, needs to address crime head-on and properly classify perpetrators, while admitting we have a huge, escalating crime problem in the Red Stick.

Who is that candidate? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBR Parish Crime Commission Moot Sunday, Feb 5 2012 

Here we go again!  The local East Baton Rouge Crime Commission, according to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, “is a dead issue” for voters of our parish in the Spring.  More bureaucracy, more delays to address one of the most critical issues of our parish — CRIME!

The Crime Commission includes law enforcement agency heads, the District Attorney, a Metro Council representative and the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ Mayor-President’s office (who originally balked at the idea because it was not his own, claiming he addressed some of the issues in his past tax issues.)

No doubt, we have a huge crime problem in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Residents of the Red Stick have made this a daily conversation at the dinner table, water cooler, twitter, facebook, etc.  It’s a huge concern for anyone living in our parish.

For some time, I have addressed the serious crime issues of our parish, and my personal concern as I watched an escalating problem in the Red Stick.  All you have to do is view the murder rate map at The Advocate to see how serious the murder rate alone has become for our parish.

The EBR Parish Crime Commission has discussed issues many issues such as:

  • Building a new prison at a cost of $165 million — an issue I absolutely do not understand.  When Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was elected, he clearly stated that he would increase the beds and capacity at the current prison through modular housing by aggressively pursuing federal grants.  (The Advocate, September 30, 2007, Sheriff Candidates Differ on Details) This promise has not happened!
  • Creating a new Juvenile Services Facility at a cost of $45 million.  This is an initiative of District Attorney Hillar Moore. 
  • A new/shared Public Safety Headquarters housing the Baton Rouge Police Department and the EBR Sheriff’s Office at a cost of $102 million.
  • Increasing space for a Addiction Treatment Facility at a cost of $2.5 to $5.5 million (a widely proposed cost with no definitive cost).
  • Additional funding for the District Attorney’s Office at $5 million.  This expense also includes ‘other unspecified operation costs for other law enforcement agencies’.  (Costs that should be clarified down to the penny!)

There is a lot of complexity in the facts surrounding these proposed public safety (crime) infrastructure improvements such as land that was purchased by the city parish that has yet to have been used, lease agreements, donated land, money owed to the city parish by some agencies, the precise size of facilities yet to be agreed upon, etc.

Side issues that were also considered:  a Truancy Jail, a Misdemeanor Jail, and taking over the soon-to-be-abandoned Woman’s Hospital as a Public Safety Headquarters.

To add insult to one part of this plan is the fact that Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says that it will take $1 million annually to operate a new Parish Prison, which he does not have in his annual operating budget.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, one of the largest failings of the Crime Commission aka Crime Prevention Committee was to include the Judges that rule the bench and the Legislators from our parish.

We can complain about crime while law enforcement arrests offenders, but it is the Legislators that create the laws governing our parish and the Judges that enforce those laws. 

Until we include everyone that has a say in the laws and sentencing of criminals, we are putting a band-aid on the problem of crime in our parish.

If a perpetrator commits murder, it is up to the laws of the land and the interpretation and enforcement of those laws that really matter.

Judges, the District Attorney and Law Makers are key to carrying out the proper sentences before a perpetrator stands before a Judge and/or Jury.  If the law doesn’t have enough bite, if the DA doesn’t go for the strongest sentence possible, and if the Judge doesn’t rule to keep the perpetrators in jail until and after sentencing, we are wasting our time on the other issues.

I am sorely disappointed that we have yet to find a Mayor-President for this parish that will make public safety the #1 priority.  All of the false campaign promises of a Sheriff that promised to increase housing at the prison and a Mayor that said we will not tolerate crime has worn my patience thin.

All the while, criminals are trolling our city committing horrific crimes on our citizens.  Once arrested, if they are identified, they are bonded out by Judges and allowed to serve menial sentences that put them back on the streets to commit more crime.

Any law enforcement officer worth his salt, will tell you that the majority of perpetrators are repeat offenders.  When will we address the heart of the problem?

It begins with the law and is followed by the Judges that we must hold accountable.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Why It Matters Sunday, Jan 22 2012 

While we welcome in 2012, it is time to consider the important question of why it matters.  As I ponder the incredible changes in the world, I can’t help but notice that the more things change the more they stay the same.  It really is true that history repeats itself.

Returning to the values of what is truly important has suddenly become the focus of the day:

Internationally — what Israel does is still critical to the world.  Deep in the heart of the Middle East lies the land where Jesus walked the face of the earth, millions of individuals have sought to visit the Holy Land.  The peace of Israel is absolutely at the forefront of the news we all seek to stay on top of even today.

Nationally — the economy of the United States seems to continue to be a prevailing topic around the water cooler, even if the water cooler is now gathered around Twitter and Facebook!  From the gawd awful Unemployment Rate to the incredible amount of foreclosures across our country, putting food on the table and finding enough money to put fuel in your car is a challenge for many families.

Locally — though infrastructure issues are always in the forefront of our minds as we sit through endless hours of traffic daily in the Red Stick, I would venture to say that crime is the most pressing issue of the day if we could take a honest assessment of what is truly important to each of us.  Public Safety, and in particular the safety of our families and friends are paramount!  Don’t be fooled by the fact that murders dropped in the city limits, when the truth is that we had one more murder in 2011 than 2010 in our parish.

As we reassess and begin the New Year, I would say that we must take a hard look at our elected officials and the laws that govern our land. 

Though it’s true that change begins in the home, and it behooves each of us to create a loving, caring environment for the family unit, what is happening around us in the world can influence the outcome of our lives drastically.

Recently, I was listening to the radio when I heard a friend talk about his son being shot at the Mall of Louisiana.  Unfortunately, his son was simply with a friend minding his own business when some type of altercation broke out, of which he was not even a part of.  The security at the Mall evidently has a policy that requires they round up all under age children and only release them once a parent comes to pick them up.  While waiting for a parent to come to the mall, another altercation broke out and stray bullets hit his son.  Fortunately, he will recover. 

The call from this parent to 107.3 proved to be more than enlightening.  His words were of the nature that no longer will he elect a Mayor-President of EBR Parish that does not make the safety of our children the first priority.  Well said.

Why It Matters.  It matters because we can fight many battles in the world including peace, education, employment, home ownership, and the cost of living; however, unless we secure the safety of our loved ones, all else is moot.

Where it matters is when we go to the polls to elect those that effect these critcal and important issues. 

Legislators write the laws that determine the consequences of crimal activity, judges decide how to enforce those laws, and mayors decide what the pecking order is of Red Stick priorities.

Let’s all take a stronger look at candidates and elections in 2012.  We do not need bigger jails, we need harsher sentences, implementation of those laws for violent offenders, and a no tolerance policy by local leaders.

In election years, we should not consider the promises of those running for office, but their records.  We have heard the old song of ‘no tolerance’, but not seen the action being taken.  I am looking for candidates that have a proven record of no tolerance, not just campaign promises. 

Until we focus on candidates that have proven experience in dealing with our crime issues effectively, we are in a losing proposition in that crime will continue to increase, offenders will continue to believe they can get away with murder, and those running for and elected to office will not understand what truly matters to the people.

In 2012, let’s make a commitment to understand what our role is in these important issues and truly act with the thought in mind of Why it Matters – because it is critical to the future of all that it really important!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper Wednesday, Nov 16 2011 

They say honesty is the best policy.  In the case of Coroner Shannon Cooper, I might disagree — unless you are a voter in East Baton Rouge Parish who wants to understand just how he rolls. 

When I read yesterday’s Daily Report edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report, my first thought was that Coroner Shannon Cooper needed a new political consultant.

Cooper chose to reveal his true self by honestly responding as to his intention of how to deal with protestors that planned to show up at his office today: 

IGNORE THEM!

Cooper’s words spoke volumes as to how our Coroner really feels about the 7,000 to 8,000 families his office deals with annually.

Cooper’s words are powerful:

Cooper said he had no plans of speaking with any protestors that showed up his office today.

Where is the compassion for families who have lost loved ones? 

How much time would it have taken for Cooper to drive from the Baton Rouge General Hospital  or Surgical Specialty Center, where he is listed as a staff member?  Either one of these locations are less than 30 minutes away from the Coroner’s Office. 

Instead of taking a few minutes out of his private practice, Cooper takes the position that this is much ado about nothing. 

Try telling that to families who have lost their loved ones.

Is Cooper a man we want to re-elect? 

Can Cooper possibly explain to the voters and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish why he so cavalierly wrote off families who had legitimate questions? 

What about the Temple family who was there to ask why their son’s drivers license was found at the home of death investigator, Raymond Levie, in December, 2010?  Their son was killed in 2006. 

The Traylor family was also present at the protest.  Keith Traylor, the organizer of the protest, is the father of Jeremy who died of a drug overdose in 2009.  This family has suffered unbelievable heartaches because the Coroner misdiagnosed their son’s death, and changed the cause of death after they buried their son. 

Heartbreaking stories!

Nearly 50 families whose loved ones died in East Baton Rouge Parish, are not even aware of the fact that the drivers licenses, ID cards, and medications was stolen by death investigator Raymond Levie, taken to his home, and kept in body bags and closets. 

Maybe you know some of the families listed in the Baton Rouge Police Department Report?  Maybe you are one of those families?

Perhaps the most disconcerting issue is the fact that the Coroner claims he was unaware of these facts. 

This is not true according to the BR Police report.  That report states that 6 months prior to the murder-suicide that resulted in the death of Raymond Levie by Shawn Jones (who then turned the gun on himself)  at T. J. Ribs, the Coroner was contacted by the acting Police Chief in an effort to have Cooper come to his office to discuss numerous complaints and the contents of a search warrant performed on Levie’s home. 

The Coroner also dismissed the Police Chief by responding that if he wanted a meeting, he could come to his office because he wasn’t going to the Chief’s office.

That is arrogance in its highest form. 

I wonder which one of Cooper’s offices he was referring to? 

One thing I have learned through this story is that EBR Coroner Shannon Cooper doesn’t even go the Coroner’s Office most of the time.  I personally called all three of his offices to find out that he works as a pathologist outside of the Coroner’s Office — that he has turned over the reigns of the Coroner’s Office to his Chief Operating Officer, Don Moreau, who is the only person that is willing to even take your calls.

Clarification:  Though Cooper met with Traylor awhile back, he refused to supply their family with requested documents.  Furthermore, Cooper refused to acknowledge Traylor and other families on the day of their protest. 

According to the Traylor family, when they met with the Coroner, Moreau talked over Cooper and took over the meeting in short order, refusing to provide the family with documentation they requested.  This confirms who is really in charge at the Coroner’s Office, and it’s not Cooper!

What we have here is yet another politician who is glad to claim a title, the prestige of an elected office, to pick up a paycheck — but not show up to perform the duties he was elected by the people to do.  My understanding is that paycheck is significant – nearly $100,000 annually.  Pretty hefty check for someone who doesn’t show up! 

Instead of dismissing these families/protestors, perhaps it would have been in Cooper’s best interest to show up and take a moment or two to share a little compassion for these family members whose lives were turned upside down?

Instead, Cooper said:

It will be business as usual.

The EBRP Coroner’s Office is on call 24/7; they are charged with the responsibility of investigating untimely deaths, determining causes of death, and assessing whether individuals require commitment for further assessment or treatment that are mentally ill or drug dependent.

I have some advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper:

Keep your job at the Baton Rouge General and Surgical Center, because we prefer to elect someone who will show a little kindness, and commit to the responsibilities of their office!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

To Mrs. Levie, who responded to me in writing regarding this blog:  I have made two corrections, as noted in red above, to clarify statements. 

Regarding your question as to what good would it have done for Dr. Cooper to go out side and speak with the protestors, I would respond that he was elected to serve the public, and if a family asks for a second, or third meeting, it should be granted with the Coroner or one of his appointed representatives.  To not do so is to ignore the very families he claims he is mindful of on his website — those left behind.  They deserve nothing less.  I am saddened by the loss of all families who have lost loved ones whether by murder, suicide or drug overdoses.  My condolences to you.  Let’s hope that the new Coroner has a better open door policy.

MOHSEP Grants Misused? Saturday, Nov 5 2011 

Update:  The Baton Rouge Metro Council met yesterday to delve into the details of the Homeland Security Grant debacle.  By a majority vote, they determined it was in the best interest of the taxpayers that a full investigation take place in regard to MOHSEP, Mayor Kip Holden’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.  Unfortunately, they are giving MOHSEP until January 15th to resolve pending issues before pursuing the investigation.  Amazing how MOHSEP was able to ‘buy some time’ on the investigation.  Is this appropriate?

Perhaps a whistleblower among us might be able to shed light on the proposed investigation into the alleged misappropriations  of grant monies arising out of the office of the Mayor-President Kip Holden’s office and MOHSEP (Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness)?

According to OHSEP (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness), both Mayor Kip Holden and JoAnne Moreau, Director of MOHSEP, refused to follow state and federal guidelines.  Basically, they did not submit the proper paperwork as follows:

  • Failure to submit complete project applications
  • Failure to present potential expenditures to the Parish Emergency Management Advisory Committee (PEMAC)
  • Failure to get GOHSEP’s, the State Administrative Agency’s (SAA), approval on intended expenditures
  • Failure to obtain Environmental Historical Preservation (EHP) assessments as required by federal law

To add insult to injury, Mayor Holden and JoAnne Moreau misspent funds, did not receive approval for certain expenditures, and failed to supply details on past and future expenditures. 

Among those issues are the spending of $159,000 used for salaries while grant rules capped total salary payments at $95,500.  There is another $362,784 in spending that will not be reimbursed by OHSEP; that money will now have to come out of the parish general fund because the Mayor already spent the money!

There is a total of $1.3 million in spending that has already taken place by Mayor Kip Holden.  The potential exists that, without the proper documentation, that funding will not be reimbursed to the city-parish from OHSEP.  You should never spend money without funding, especially when the terms of reimbursement are clear. 

One of the precedents for grant receipt is to properly complete paperwork prior to receipt, to provide detailed confirmation on the spending of grant monies, and to be good stewards of the monies received.

Good stewards.  Sometimes this concept is foreign, once power and control take priority.

There is good news, however!  Chandler Loupe, a councilman on the EBR Metro Council, flanked by Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker, is making a move to request a full investigation and audit of funds received by the Mayor’s Office.  It is my hope that the full council votes next week to comply with this request.  No doubt, Mayor Kip Holden will be lobbying against this request.

Mayor Kip Holden has proven time and time again that he does not like being questioned — even when he is spending the taxpayer’s money — our money.  Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of all elected officials to comply with total transparency.  A concept that the Mayor does not embrace.

Where there is fire, there is smoke. 

The challenge set forth by anyone investigating the reason that OHSEP reallocated federal homeland security grant funding from Mayor Kip Holden and gave the authority to the Sheriff’s Office of EBRP and Ascension Parish is to find the truth.  The amount they were given authority over totals $4,033,033.

If Mayor Kip Holden and JoAnne Moreau of MOHSEP have nothing to hide, then they will embrace this investigation and provide detail necessary to get to the bottom of this issue.

Unfortunately, I fully expect Holden and Moreau to continue this debacle by not complying, refusing to participate with the investigation in a friendly manner, and continuing to hide the facts.

Holden and Moreau have been long-time compadres.  Yet, some believe that Holden will use Moreau as his scapegoat.  I disagree.  Anyone who has ever met Moreau knows she will not be thrown under anyone’s bus — including the Mayor’s.

The public deserves a full-blown investigation and the facts to be presented.  Of course, so did GOHSEP when they required that MOHSEP and the Mayor’s Office to supply details required by the grant.  All other parishes complied. 

Why didn’t Holden and Moreau comply?  The devil is in the details.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Coroner’s Office Troubling Sunday, Oct 30 2011 

The Office of Coroner has caused me pause over the past few months.  While doing extensive research, I have been troubled at the facts that have come forth.  It all began with a friend who had trouble obtaining a death certificate investigated by the Coroner’s Office  in short order.  Evidently, the backlog of death certificates in the Coroner’s Office is pretty extensive. 

Then, without warning to the public, a death investigator was killed in a murder-suicide a few months ago at one of my favorite restaurants, T.J. Ribs.  It was a very sad story that slowly unfolded. 

Perhaps it was then that the public began to made aware of significant issues that seemed awry. 

According to The Advocate, both Coroner Shannon Cooper and Chief Operating Officer Don Moreau spoke on occasion with the death investigator, Raymond Levie, about his relationship with a mentally ill woman.  This fact was verified by Moreau and the Baton Rouge Police Department reports.

The Coroner’s Office website states they are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, to evaluate the mentally ill, chemically dependent and handle death investigations. 

Furthermore, their website states the conditions under which CEC’s (Coroners Emergency Certificates) are issued in order for a physician to perform a psychiatric evaluation of a patient under an Order of Protective Custody (OPC) ordered by the Coroner.

In the case of Raymond Levie, as a death investigator, who is on call 24/7 — 365 days a year, it appears that Levie took the liberty of getting involved with a mentally ill patient and went beyond the perimeters of his responsibilties by entering into a relationship with the patient.

What is more troubling is that the relationship was volitile and the mother of the patient repeatedly made efforts to put the death investigator’s personal involvement to a stop.  The Coroner and the Chief Operating Officer were both aware of the request for a restraining order, requested by the mother, and the fact that the death investigator continued the relationship.

As things unfolded, Coroner Shannon Cooper denied that the patient was mentally ill.   The truth is that the patient was mentally ill and perhaps chemically dependent according the BR Police Department reports.

In short order, we also learned that the deceased death investigator had a large amount of personal property taken from the scene of death investigations in his apartment.  Those items included drivers licenses, other types of ID’s, and medication. 

The Coroner should have either dismissed or placed the death investigator on probation, as he was made aware of the situation in December, 2010, when a search warrant was performed at the residence of the death investigator when the BR Police Chief requested that Coroner Shannon Cooper meet with him.

The death investigator died in June, 2011.  One must ask if action had been taken by the Coroner prior to that time if two unnecessary deaths could have been avoided?

Additionally, it was not until after the death of the investigator that The Advocate checked in to the situation further to learn that the medications and personal property of those investigated by the Coroner’s Office had been confiscated in the December 2010 search warrant. 

This caused Coroner Shannon Cooper to publicly state he would implement a ‘new’ policy aimed at better tracking of drugs removed from death investigations.

In response to this ‘new’ policy, The Advocate Editorial Staff issued an Opinion stating the policy should not be verbal, as stated by Cooper, but should be stated clearly in writing.

The fact that Coroner Shannon Cooper stated he was implementing a new policy is troubling at best.

With a little research into the Louisiana Constitution, I found a written policy already in existence, in fact it is the law:

  • RSS13:1551 – Part II Coroner – Subpart A General Provisions — 1567:  Retention of Decedent’s Person Effects — plainly states that the Coroner shall take charge of person effects and property of the deceased at the scene of death.  Once complete, the Coroner is to return the property to the lawful person and/or provide it to law enforcement in ongoing investigations. 

The law is clear already.  Coroner Shannon Cooper and his office personnel were in violation of a law that was already in effect.  It seems to me that by ‘reinventing a policy’ that is already law, Cooper has diverted the attention from the real issue. 

Furthermore, Ron Coe, Coroner for Livingston Parish, told The Advocate in February, 2005, that his investigators had collected medications worth thousands of dollars over the past six months and donated them to the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy.  At that time, Coroner Shannon Cooper stated he has implemented the same policy.  That was 6 years ago!  If that is the case, how did drugs find their way to the residence of a death investigator?

All of this is extremely disturbing.  Evidently Cooper has taken on the characteristics of Pinocchio during his effort to hold on to his post in a highly contested election that will continue to play out during a run-off set for November. 

Pinocchio is often a term used to describe an individual who is prone to telling lies, fabricating stories and exaggerating or creating tall tales for various reasons. 

The people deserve a Coroner that will enforce the laws that already exist  — one that is not prone to ignoring the laws, but enforcing them.  The Advocate had it right in their Opinion; however, the laws are already on the books.

This may be the tip of the iceberg.  Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire. The truth is that the story is a sad commentary on what is apparently going on behind the scenes at the EBRP Coroner’s Office. 

Unfortuantely, Coroner Shannon Cooper made a cognitive decision to ignore the law.  Is this the type of man we want to re-elect?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mayor Kip Holden Horse Trades Wednesday, Oct 12 2011 

Mayor Kip Holden has taken on a new hobby – horse trading with your tax dollars by freeing up money to repair bridges in the parish in exchange for approval of one of his downtown projects.

In late July, 2011, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor Kip Holden accused our Metro Council of “virtually playing Russian Roulette with the lives and safety of the people of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish” for not approving his proposed $740 million tax increase/bond issue which would have included the repair of bridges in our parish.

The Metro Council was simply following the lead of their constituents who are sorely against the bond issue and another tax increase earlier this year.  Holden’s bond issue failed in 2008 and 2009 when voters refused to approve his tax increase.

Perhaps the most amazing revelation in this horse-trade is that money was ‘suddenly uncovered’ to fund the bridges requiring repair.  It is utterly amazing that the voters were told no funding was possible without a tax increase in 2008, 2009, and 2011, yet funds were ‘moved’ to meet the need.

It seems that Holden has no problem spending tax dollars on personal items such as:

  • $8,000 to ‘protect’ himself from the public by installing security cameras, a panic button, double glass doors, and a keypad. 
  • Nearly $1,000,000 to widen streets in downtown Baton Rouge,
  • Purchasing a helicopter for the Baton Rouge Police Department vs. putting more boots on the ground to address ever-increasing crime in our parish. (No doubt Holden flies around in the helicopter at will.)
  • Spending between $42,000 to $68,000 annually for personal body guards.  Over an 8 year period, this equates to between $336,000 and $544,000 of your tax dollars for his personal use. 
  • An annual expenditure, according to the city-parish budget, of $642 monthly to pay for a Lincoln Town Car to drive Holden around town.  This would be approximately $61,000 during an 8 year tenure for the rental of a vehicle or Holden’s use.

Mayor Kip Holden’s annual budget has increased over $138 million since taking office.  That is our tax dollars being spent.  Imagine having that kind of increase in your personal household spending?  It would never happen.  Spending someone else’s money is Holden’s specialty.

Mayor-President Kip Holden was marked as unfriendly to business, a tax and spend liberal and named as one of two ”King of Legislative Junketeers” according to The Advocate in 1997.  By 2004, Ginger Sawyer from Louisiana Business & Industry proclaimed Holden as the candidate with one of the worst LABI ratings.

Time has not changed Mayor Kip Holden’s spending habits.  In fact, as they say in politics, Holden has never seen a tax increase he doesn’t love.

Holden also spends his campaign contributions for personal expenditures such as:

  • LSU football tickets?  $1,520
  • LSU parking fees?  $5,050
  • Southern football tickets? $760
  • Southern parking fees?  $806
  • Camelot membership dues?  $201$201, $201, (apparently this is a monthly expense during Holden’s campaigns)
  • Car repairs?  $500, $3134, $800 
  • There are also expenditures for flowers on virtually every report for $800 – $1,300 in each instance.  That’s a lot of flowers!

I’ve addressed Holden’s tax-and-spend liberal modus operandi many times.  frivolous expenditures such as spending $1,000,000 of our tax dollars to lure Frontier Airlines, only to see Frontier flee Baton Rouge faster than a bank robber.

When does it stop?  Evidently, only when Mayor Kip Holden takes up a new hobby — horse trading with our tax dollars.

The bottom line here is that there IS already funding in our coffers to take care of the needs of our parish.  Otherwise, we couldn’t ‘move’ money from one frivilous project to take care of a much needed project like bridges requiring repair.

I’m not sure who to credit for this horse-trading-deal, but it appears that Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker cut the deal with Holden.  If that is correct, then kudos to Walker for making a bold move to find monies that already exist vs. allowing Holden to raise our taxes once again.

Follow the money.  It truly is a test of character.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Metro Council Attacked Saturday, Sep 24 2011 

Here we go again. 

Baton Rouge Business Report owner, Rolfe McCollister, Jr., has shown his disdain for the East Baton Rouge Metro Council in his most recent editorial focusing on a lack of vision for the Red Stick.

McCollister’s claim is that the EBRP Metro Council members lack understanding as to how a ‘vibrant riverfront’ will attract young residents that are educated as well as companies that will create jobs.

The claim is made that individuals against downtown progress want to preserve their cluster of suburbs and rarely leave a five mile radius except to travel to their jobs.

I disagree.   

On any given day, you can find venues from Perkins Rowe to shopping venues across EBR parish packed with residents from far outside of their five mile radius.  Restaurants are brimming to the gills with families and individuals (even educated ones) every day of the week. 

The other side of the coin should be considered. 

We are living in continuously changing times.  Priorities can and will evolve.  Still, a great deal of focus and funding in EBR Parish has been dedicated to the growth of downtown Baton Rouge.  

According to the Downtown Development District, over $1.8 billion was dedicated to the redevelopment of downtown from 1987 to 2008 alone, and $300 million more is on tap.  

According to the 2010 Census, the EBRP Population is 440,171.  The only figure I can find for downtown Residents is in the 4,000 range.  That is 1% of the population of our parish.  If funding for projects was determined on population alone, downtown would not have been a priority. 

There are, as we know, other factors to consider.  The question is are those factors of the utmost importance to all of the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish?

The City of Pittsburgh was cited by McCollister as a ‘best practice’ example for a successful growth of city.  Former Pittsburgh Mayor, Tom Murphy, recently spoke at the Growth Summit hosted in Baton Rouge.  It was there that we heard the challenge of the importance of not pandering to the “lowest common denominator”. 

Unfortunately, this phrase is now being used to refer to anyone disagreeing with a $1,000,000 expenditure to build a stage canopy and art design in downtown Baton Rouge.

Furthermore, such characteristics as small minds, visionless, blind to the future, myopic, parochial, and hypocritical were ascribed to our current Metro Council members who are reconsidering this lavish expenditure.  If you disagree with this expenditure, these characteristics penned by McCollister might describe you as well.

Or, perhaps not?

The truth about downtown Pittsburgh is that they had their own challenges.  The steel industry was broken and their downtown was nothing more than a red light district with 20+ massage parlors.  They currently have approximately 5,000 residents and they are thriving. 

If we want to talk about an example, let’s take a harder look at former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy. 

In only two terms, Tom Murphy reduced their city workforce by 1,000 individuals (21%), and turned a budget deficit into a budget surplus. 

Murphy renovated almost 169 playgrounds, built world-class facilities for both baseball and football teams, and refurbished neighborhoods by a landslide.  He also attracted companies that created so many jobs that they cannot be filled — companies like Alcoa.

Under Murphy’s watch, the city of Pittsburgh experienced their lowest levels of crime in over 30 years.

Yes, Murphy is an example of ‘best practices’.  Addressing the entire city’s best interests was Murphy’s claim to fame. 

Anyone who considers downtown as our only crown jewel, and fails to consider the entire parish is truly the one who lacks vision.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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