LOGO
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    Lawmakers attack Obama’s education law

    Educators nationwide are voicing concern following a push by Republicans in Congress to overturn accountability regulations for ESSA which could have far-reaching consequences for how the law works in states.

    Groups supporting the move argue that it would free schools from unnecessary burdens, while opponents contend that overturning the rules could hurt vulnerable students and create turmoil in states and districts trying to finalize their transition to ESSA.

    ESSA, which also reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and ESSA goes into full effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

    Under the 2015 law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, each state will adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools.

    “The ESSA law was established to help increase the effectiveness of public education in every state,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “Our task is to inform, inspire, and encourage parents, students, teachers, and administrators to fulfill the intent and objectives of ESSA with special focus on those students and communities that have been marginalized and underserved by the education system across the nation.”

    Last week, the House of Representatives approved a joint resolution that would overturn ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration.

    Those rules, which became final in November, are intended to detail for states the timeline for addressing underperforming schools, how schools must be rated, the ways English-language learners must be considered in state accountability plans, and other policy issues.

     

    “One of the things that should be included in any modification of ESSA is the fifth criteria for schools which is about school climate,” said Helen Levy-Myers, founder and CEO of Athena’s Workshop, Inc., a texting application for educators. School attendance is often dependent on other factors, like the friendliness of the staff, school leadership, safety of the school and neighborhood, health of the community, and the level of engagement between students and teachers, she said.

    A white paper presented by Levy-Myers noted that the “cold, hard truth is that chronically absent children end up leading harder lives.”

    Students who miss just two or three days each month in kindergarten and first grade never catch up. They become chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

    While many Republican lawmakers have moved to strike down the implementation of ESSA, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state school officers around the country that despite a delay, several regulations will be reviewed and changed by March 21.

    DeVos told the officers that state ESSA plans will still be accepted either in April or in September.

    In a memo to state school heads DeVos wrote: “Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are absolutely necessary for consideration of a consolidated State plan.”

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    Madam Mayor: Meet Louisiana’s Black Female Mayors

    Village of Mansfield mayor Dessie Lee Patterson was known across Louisiana as a lone ranger in her fight for universal civil rights. On March 14, 1971, she became the first Black female to serve as mayor in the state when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the Village of South Mansfield. Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage Blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield  were hampered by the lack of registered voters.

    Louisiana's first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Louisiana’s first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Patterson was murdered Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Born July 6, 1919, the 88-year-old community servant was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills. “The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic,” family said to reporters at the time. Her term was set to expire in December 2008. Patterson was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as mayor.

    “The story of how she got into office and what has happen to her since provides a classic illustration of trials and tribulation suffered by African Americans in some parts of the country when they aspire to be an elected officials,” wrote her grandson, Kerwan Reed, in a tribute. “As we look forward to our future we must not loose sight of those who paved the way for us.” Because of Patterson, the state now has 17, Black female mayors serving in large cities, villages, and towns.

    The mayors are: Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Lori Ann Bell of the Town of Clinton, Irma Gordon of the Town of Kentwood, Erana Mayes of Melville, Trashier Keysha Robinson of the Village of Tangipahoa, Ollie Tyler of Shreveport, Shaterral Johnson of Grand Coteau, Demi Vorise of Maringouin, Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte, Johnnie Taylor of Powhatan, Josephine Taylor-Washington of Clayton, Rose Humphrey of Natchez, Alma Moore of the Town of Boyce, April Foulard of Jeanerette, Donna Lewis Lancelin of Baldwin, Dorothy Satcher of Saline, and Wanda McCoy of Rosalind.

    “This class of Black women mayors represents the single largest group to serve the state simultaneously,” said Vernon “Step” Martin, president of the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus Association who, along with The Network Coalition, honored the mayors. They gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church, Feb. 23, for a special Black History Month salute.

    Meet some of the current Black, female mayors of Louisiana.

    Photo: Mayors Irma Gordon, Lori Bell, Shaterral Johnson, Sharon Weston Broome, Erana Mayes, and Trashier Keysha Robinson are among the 17 Black, female mayors of Louisiana, the largest group in the state’s history. Photo by Sailor Jackson.

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    Same Crime, Different Punishment; Together Baton Rouge to report on BRPD enforcement disparities

    Tomorrow at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Together Baton Rouge will release an analysis of neighborhood disparities in the Baton Rouge Police Department’s enforcement of drug possession laws between January 2011 and January 2017.

    According to the Reverend Lee T. Wesley, the goal of the study is to improve the quality and depth of the police reform discussion in Baton Rouge.

    “We figured we could either sit around and wait for the Department of Justice to make some contribution, or we could start to act for ourselves at the local level,” said Wesley, who is an executive committee member of Together Baton Rouge. “Our first step has been to take a close look at this very important aspect of policing in our community and how it can be improved.”

    The report examines drug enforcement disparities by calculating BRPD enforcement rates for drug possession on a per capita basis at the zip code level and assesses the proportionality of those enforcement rates by comparing them to the prevalence of illegal drug use in that zip code.

    It also examines the extent to which drug enforcement disparities correlate with neighborhood demographics, including the racial composition of a neighborhood, its poverty level, median income, home values, education level and crime rates.

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    Mayor Broome announces six cabinet positions

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced several key staff positions in her new administration.

    Rowdy Gaudet will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer.  Gaudet currently works as the chief of staff for the Disaster Recovery Unit for the state of Louisiana and will join the administration in February. Gaudet has experience in government relations, business and economic development, infrastructure management, and strategic communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from McNeese State University and earned an MBA from Louisiana State University.

    James Gilmore, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. He formerly worked as the director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet in the office of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Gilmore has experience in human resources, training, and managing various workforce development and educational programs for a variety of organizations. Gilmore earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern University. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in human resource education and workforce development from Louisiana State University.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. Wade formerly worked as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Learning Expert and Integration Manager. She facilitated the management of national partnering entities and provided administrative oversight to the development and implementation of federal programs.  Her experience is in research, policy, and academia.  Wade earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in public policy and urban affairs from Southern University.

    Brian Bernard will serve as human esources Director. Bernard has worked as the Interim Human Resources Director for the City of Baton Rouge since 2012.  He has been employed with the city for 22 years.  He has  bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern University.

    Carey Chauvin will continue to serve as development director, a position he’s held since 2015.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 23 years. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University.

    Eric Romero will serve as the director of information services. Romero has served as interim director of information services for the past four years.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 22 years. He is a graduate of Nicholls State University.

    “I’m excited to work with these highly-qualified individuals who will be a part of my new cabinet,” Broome said. “I’m confident that I have chosen the right people to help move this city forward.”

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    School rep from flooded district meets with principals, partners to ‘move forward’

    EBR school board representative Dawn Chanet Collins hosted a New Year’s reception for the principals in East Baton Rouge Parish School System, District 4, with more than 50 residents and community stakeholders present on Jan. 18.

    Collins said participation in this Moving District 4 Forward event was “better than anticipated…The purpose of the event was to begin building a strong relationship between the schools in the area and the community – the village – because that is the only way the schools will truly prosper,” she said.

    “I promise to bring this type of event to the district at least once a year.  It’s so important.  Many parents in this area would like to see these schools enhanced so that some of the best programs the district has to offer are right here in their own back yards.  Right now, many parents feel compelled to send their kids to options on the other side of town,” Collins said.  “I’m excited about moving forward, and I believe this is something Superintendent Drake is eager to do as well.”

    Some highlights from the meeting included attendees being made aware that though both North Louisiana and South Louisiana experienced cataclysmic flooding in 2016, the Louisiana Department of Education has not made any provisions to accommodate students who have not been able to prepare for the state’s first mandatory computer-based testing this Spring. Drake has already reached out to the state for a waiver, and State Senator Regina Ashford-Barrow committed to working with her colleagues to address the issue.

    Some attendees committed to assisting District 4  schools by donating books and revisiting a partnership with Belair High to bring back the DECA Club.  “I know other partnerships will soon follow,” Collins said.

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    Dawn Collins, EBRP School Board Rep


    The district includes Belair High School, Brookstown Middle Magnet, Greenbrier Elementary, Howell Park Elementary, La Belle Aire Elementary, Northdale Superintendent’s Academy, Park Forest Elementary, Park Forest Middle, and Villa Del Rey Elementary. Six of them were damaged by the August 2016 flood.

    City Councilpersons Donna Collins-Lewis, Erika Green, and LaMont Cole; business owners Jason Gardner of Vivid Images, Jeremy Jackson of State Farm Insurance, and Denise Harris of REMAX Preferred Choice; public education advocates Rev. Reginald Pitcher and Anthony Troy Dennis; Johnny Anderson, deputy chief of staff for Governor John Bel Edwards; and Darlene Fields, Congressman Cedric Richmond’s representative for the Baton Rouge area attended the event at Baby Dolls Café on Greenwell Springs Road.

    Collins said she is planning to host meetings specifically for parents and caregivers who reside in or send their children to schools in District 4.

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    Historians rank President Obama’s legacy highly

    Supporters and critics alike may eventually come to view President Barack Obama’s two-term White House tenure the same way.

    His determination for change never appeared to cause him to stumble on his goals, be it Obamacare or commuting the sentences of so many who were imprisoned for so long — primarily because of antiquated laws that punished mostly low-level minority drug offenders.

    Even as Obama is set to leave office, he took unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Obama labeled Russia’s action as significant, malicious and cyber-enabled and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities while ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country.

    The president also gave them and their families just three days to pack up and leave.

    “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

    It’s the kind of action that some said will make them miss the progress of the past eight years and critics will come to realize that Obama’s place in history will be a lofty one.

    “The biggest tragedy of the Obama presidency was the relentless and often irrational unwillingness of Republican lawmakers to work with him to achieve meaningful objectives,” said Mario Almonte, a public relations specialist who also blogs about politics and social issues. “Even so, many years from now, when the history of his presidency comes into better focus, our society will come to recognize the enormous impact Barack Obama had on American culture and possibly world culture as the first Black president of the United States.”

    And, as Kevin Drum a writer for Mother Jones wrote, Obama has moved forward on eight substantial executive actions over the past month – aside from the Russian sanctions – including enacting a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard; he’s refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank; designated two new national monuments totaling more than 1.6 million acres – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada; and he’s instructed the Department of Homeland Security to formally end the long-discussed NSEERs database.

    Obama has also instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to deny final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and he’s issued a final rule that bans the practice among some red states of withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortions.

    Also, the outgoing president completed rules to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “He was most effective as a normal president, and he helped put the presidency back on a human scale,” said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He was a devoted and involved father, a loving husband, a man with acknowledged – albeit – vices, and someone who made it clear that he did not regard himself as omniscient.”

    “As president, he showed that effective governing requires careful deliberation, discipline, and the willingness to make hard and imperfect decisions, and he let us all watch him do just that.” Walt said future historians will give President Obama “full marks” for never acting impulsively or cavalier.

    Daniel Rodgers, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, emeritus and historian of American ideas and culture who taught at Princeton University, wrote that what buoyed Obama’s aspirations was not a program, but a dream that in his person, the people might come together and shape politics to their will and common aspirations.

    “That was what the ‘we’ in the brilliant ‘Yes We Can’ slogan in the 2008 campaign was essentially about,” Rodgers said. “He has not called the nation to new feats of courage — ala Kennedy — to make war on poverty — as Johnson did — even to dream more freely than ever before — as stated by Reagan. What Obama’s words have called for is for Americans to be the people they already are.”

    The single, biggest impact on Obama’s presidency has been the shattering of psychological obstacles in the American psyche toward electing a non-White president, Almonte said.

    “When Hillary Clinton first ran for president, her gender was a major issue among voters. The second time around, it was not,” Almonte said. “With this psychological barrier removed, in future elections, we will see candidates from all walks of life, genders, nationalities, and possibly even lifestyles pursue the presidency with greater ease than they could have before.”

    Even as Donald Trump and other Republicans promise to do all they can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama’s signature piece of legislation, historians wrote in New York magazine that it has been the president’s greatest accomplishment.

    They noted that presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton failed to accomplish a passable affordable health care law.

    “Obamacare is easily the signal accomplishment of this president, assuming current efforts to unravel it will be defeated,” said Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History at the University of Chicago.

    “It’s an achievement that will put Obama in the ranks of [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with social security and Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicare because of its enduring impact on the average American’s well-being,” Holt said. “He won’t need bridges and airports named after him since opponents already did him the favor of naming it ‘Obamacare.’”

    The Affordable Care Act’s progressivism stands out as the embodiment of Obama’s best intentions, said Nell Painter, an American historian notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century and a retired professor at Princeton University.

    “Some three million poor people have gained access to health care, thanks to the extension of Medicaid. But those people will not be in deep-southern states where poor people are numerous, but Republicans rule,” Painter said. “I see this convergence as a consequence of watermelon politics, as unsavory a legacy of Obama’s time as Obamacare is fine.”

    Finally, one historic trend-break that occurred during Obama’s presidency that has major significance for the well-being of African-Americans has been the beginnings of a decline in the national prison population, after decades of expansion, said Gavin Wright, professor of American Economic History at Stanford University.

    “The Obama Administration deserves a fair share of credit,” Wright said. “In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing prison time for convictions involving crack cocaine.”

    Wright said, “Under Attorney General Eric Holder, sentencing guidelines were made retroactive, leading to the release of thousands. To date, the reductions have been small compared to the total incarcerated population, but the reversal is historic, and its disproportionate significance for African-Americans is evident.”

     

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA News Wire Contributor

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    La. legislators appointed to national caucus

    State Senator Regina Ashford Barrow, of Baton Rouge, has been elected secretary of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. State Senator Wesley Bishop, of new Orleans, and State Representative Pat Smith, of Baton Rouge, has been appointed member-at-large of the NBSL executive board. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James has been named regional co-chair.

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    Broome announces transition committees, community input teams

    Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome and her transition co-chairs, Christopher Tyson and Donna Fraiche, announced that the transition will occur under operational review committees and community input transition teams. The operational review committees will evaluate and report on the inner-workings of City government. Each committee will be responsible for conducting an in-depth assessment of departmental functions and performance, including issues such as organization structure, personnel, budget and overall effectives.

    The Community Input Transition Teams have been established to anchor a wide-ranging public engagement effort Mayor-Elect Broome deems critical for the transition effort.

    The committees and co-chairs are as follows:

    1. Finance –  Jacqui Vines-Wyatt, Dr. Jim Llorens
    2. Public Works (Building & Grounds, Environmental Services, Transportation and Drainage, City Garage, Dev., Maintenance) – Co-Chairs: Justin Haydell, Matthew Butler
    3. Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW Subteams) – Rep. Ted James, Don Cazayoux
    4. Office of Community Development – Darryl Gissel, Brian Lafleur
    5. Human Development and Services – Johnny Anderson, Pat LeDuff
    6. Homeland Security – General Russel Honore, Paul Rainwater
    7. Information Services – Curtis Heromann, Sonia Perez, Padma Vatsavai
    8. Purchasing – Monique Spalding, Ronald L. Smith
    9. Internal Organization – Christel Slaughter, Dennis Blunt
    10. Arts, Culture and Leisure – Fairleigh Jackson, Walter “Geno” McLaughlin
    11. Flood Recovery – Perry Franklin, Bryan Jones
    12. Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility – Scott Kirkpatrick, Ann Trappey
    13. Economic Development & Enterprise – Rolfe McCollister, Donald Andrews
    14. North Baton Rouge Revitalization – Cleve Dunn, Jr.; Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas
    15. Healthcare, Social Services and Mental Health – Alma Stewart, Dr. Stephen Kelley
    16. Housing and Land Use – Candace Parker, Keith Cunningham
    17. Metropolitan Organization – Mary Olive Pierson, Domoine Rutledge
    18. The Millennial Agenda – Courtney Scott, Matt Adams
    19. Women’s Issues – Rachel Hebert, Tawahna Harris
    20. Race Relations – Dr. Albert Samuel
    21. Education – Sherry Brock, Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D.

    Co-chair information, as well as, future updates on committee member assignments on the official transition website, BRtranistion.com.

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    Youth to Watch: Frederick Bell Jr. 19

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.” Meet Frederick Bell Jr., 19

    School: Louisiana State University
    Parents: Freda Mason and the late Frederick D. Bell Sr.
    Career choice: Law, politics and government

    Biggest accomplishments: Being elected the youngest Louisiana Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention; being elected the state-wide president of the Louisiana Senior Beta Club; and founding the Louisiana High School Democrats.

    Why was this “big” for you? These three accomplishments were “big” to me because of their unlikely nature. For the 2016 DNC, I was only 18 years old, and I was a part of the delegation that featured Governor John Bel Edwards, Congressman Cedric Richmond, Sen. Mary Landrieu and many other prominent political figures from our state.

    For the Beta Club, it was a huge undertaking for everyone involved at my school at the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy – East. It took me learning how to mobilize a team around an unlikely campaign. And being the chief executive of a state-wide student organization, caused much media attention that I wasn’t used to. This also presented me what a unique opportunity to serve like I had never before.

    And for the Louisiana High School Democrats, I was happy to found this state-wide organization that got hundreds of young people engaged in the political process. This organization is still operational today and is continuing the work of advancing democratic principles and moving America forward.

    Life aspirations: I am currently majoring in mass communication with a concentration in political communication and minoring in international studies. Upon graduation from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. Communities are the bedrock of this country, and they often rise or fall together. My goal is to help uplift communities that need it the most, because I believe the quest to perfect our union does not end just because our personal lives and communities are doing well. We are all in this together.

    After completing a master’s program, I hope to earn a law degree to better prepare myself to be an agent of change. In an ever-changing world where globalization is constantly changing the landscape of our daily lives, it will be crucial to have the wherewithal to be able to navigate through new issues as they arise.

    With a master’s degree in public policy, I will be able develop and construct policy decisions that aims to better the lives of others. With a law degree, I will be able to understand and interpret the law in a way that will make me an effective advocate for important issues. And with a mass communication degree, I will be able to communicate in a way that policy analyst will understand as well as the single mother who has little time to pour through tedious policy papers.

    Frederick Bell Jr and Former President Bill Clinton

    Frederick Bell Jr and Former President Bill Clinton

    Furthermore, I am a lover of all things Louisiana and believe our state has its challenges, but potential. It will take a new generation of leadership to lead Louisiana in a new direction. I hope to play a part in this work.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? Motto: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

    Core belief: “Do the most good.”

    Favorite quote: “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.” –Barack Obama

    Who are you mentors?:  Frederick D. Bell Sr. – Although my father passed away three years ago, when he was with us he instilled in me the will and drive to be as ambitious and determined as I could be. This is part of what drives me to set high goals, and accomplish them.  Christopher J. Tyson has been my mentor for the past year and I asked him to do so because he is on a path similar to one I plan to take. He has gotten a master degree regarding public policy and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center. He is a law professor at LSU Law Center and ran for Louisiana Secretary of State in 2015. He is a family man with a bright political future. In addition to these activities, he also leads a very active and positive role in his community. He and his work deserve admiration.

    Goals for 2017: Finish my second semester at LSU and become a summer congressional aide for Congressman Cedric Richmond.

    What are you reading? “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The New York TimesThe Advocate, and the New Orleans Times Picayune.

    What music are you listening to? The Weeknd and R&B.

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? I like to write, spend time with family and friends, and be a total political nerd.

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    Legislators say they will closely monitor Joe McKnight killing

    Louisiana Senators Troy Carter and JP Morrell, along with State Rep. Rodney Lyons, who all represent Jefferson Parish, released this statement on killing of Joe McKnight during a road rage incident earlier thi

    s week.

    In this divisive, racially-charged environment, which is in no way unique to our community, we fully appreciate and share in the public’s concern over the killing of Joe McKnight.

    We are monitoring the investigation closely to see that it is thorough and transparent, and ultimately, that justice is done in accordance with the law. We are working closely with local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and oversight agencies.

    We will continue to advocate for all of the people of Jefferson Parish who we represent. Our prayers are with the family of Joe McKnight, because violence is never the answer. The laws of the land shall prevail and the Jefferson Parish Delegation of the Louisiana Legislature will be monitoring this matter closely.

    State Senator JP Morrell, District 3
    State Senator Troy Carter, District 7
    State Representative Rodney Lyons, District 87

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    Rep. Richmond Elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 115th Congress

    Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have elected Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) to lead them over the next two years as chair. When the next Congress convenes January 3, 2017, Richmond will lead the largest CBC in history, as victories in the last election have grown the caucus to 49 members.

    “I’m honored and humbled by the confidence my colleagues have placed in me to serve as the chair of this revered Caucus, the conscience and intellect of the Congress,” said Richmond. “As we move into a new Congress and the onset of a new Administration, our Caucus will remain committed to the values that have made the CBC among the most influential institutions in the nation.”

    Also elected were: Andre’ Carson (IN-07), 1st vice chair; Karen Bass (CA-37), 2nd vice chair; Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Secretary; and Gwen Moore (WI-04), Whip.

    “As we face the challenges before us ─ from economic justice and upward mobility, to voting rights, policing, and criminal justice reform ─ we will approach each of them with vigilance. We will strive to harness the energy of our constituencies to enact policies that will have the greatest positive impact,” Richmond said. “I look forward to working with our membership, as we embark on an ambitious agenda. I stand on the shoulders of a choir of brave African-American women and men whose struggles made way for our progress. I will work every day to make them proud.”

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    COMMENTARY: Has the Electoral College outlived its usefulness?

    “No!”  The Electoral College was one of many foresighted policies that the Founding Fathers established though the U.S. Constitution..  How to choose a president through a delicate balance of the individual states and the federal government and between the Executive and Legislative branches of government was the challenge.  The Founding Fathers answer was the Electoral College (Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution).

    The winner take all approach encourages voter apathy, if that citizen is not supporting the “popular” candidate.  The feeling that their vote will not count leads to a diminished interest in participating in the election process.

    The problem is not with Electoral College, but with the implementation at the individual state level. Forty-eight states have adopted a winner take all approach for the awarding of the Electoral Votes.  This is an individual state legislative decision.  Only Maine and Nebraska have developed other plans which can allow for a split Electoral Vote.

    This author suggests that the electoral delegates/votes be assigned by Proportional Representation of the popular vote within each state.  Louisiana has eight Electoral votes. Under a Proportional Representation of the popular vote system for Louisiana’s electoral vote, the votes would be divided by percentage of vote, unless the candidate is represented by less than 10 percent of the popular vote. This would also allow for a meaningful representation of the popular vote.

    In the November 2016 Presidential unofficial election results, Trump had 58.10 percent of the popular vote; Clinton had 38.44 percent; collectively all other candidates had 3.46 percent.

    Trump would be awarded 60 percent of the electoral votes (4.8 of 8 = 5): 5 Electoral Votes and Clinton would be awarded 40 percent (3.2 of 8 = 3) : 3 Electoral Votes.

    Using the Proportional Representation method allows for the voices of the citizens to be heard in a meaningful way in the choosing of our President.  This is within the reach of all citizens, if they are willing to contact their State Legislators and ask that the law be changed on how Electoral Votes are awarded to Proportional Representation of the People.

    The choice is up to US!

    By Jean B. Armstrong, CPC, CED
    Baton Rouge

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    Broome urges White to participate in upcoming public forums

    From now until the run-off election on December 10, several organizations are hosting forums and debates between East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President candidates Sharon Weston Broome and Bodi White. Weston Broome and her campaign are concerned with the number of public opportunities White has agreed to attend and participate in.

    “The Broome campaign is pleased to learn that Bodi White has agreed to discuss the issues facing East Baton Rouge parish. Unfortunately, he has only agreed to three public discussions and none will occur before November 21st,” said Michael Beychok, spokesperson for the Weston Broome Campaign. “After agreeing and then backing out of two forums this week, and launching an attack ad from his Super PAC, it is clear that Bodi is not interested in having meaningful and timely discussions about the future of this parish with voters. Rather, and this is no surprise given his leadership style of dividing our parish, Bodi has chosen to use attack ads and limited discussion to speak with voters.

    White has two opportunities to speak publicly with voters this week.

    “Voters deserve to know where Bodi stands so we urge him to accept the Forum 35 invitation tonight and to accept the invitation of the Leaders with Vision invitation later this week so voters can listen to the candidates discuss together how to move Baton Rouge forward,” said Beychok

    The run-off election is Saturday, Dec. 10.

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    Harris, Hogan to serve on state’s domestic violence commission; others named to boards

    Gov. John Bel Edwards has made new appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions. Announced through a news release Oct 10, the appointees are:

    Fredrick H. Miller Jr., of Kenner, was reappointed to the Kenner Naval Museum Commission. Prior to retiring, Miller worked as a bay foreman for the Northrop Grumman Shipyard in Avondale. He will represent the commission as a resident of Kenner. The Kenner Naval Museum Commission was created to acquire, lease, transport, berth, renovate, equip, operate, maintain and exhibit the aircraft carrier USS Cabot-Dedalo and any other property acquired for use as a permanent naval museum and to adopt rules and regulations for the use of such museum and its properties.

    Leslie J. Hill, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hill works for the Louisiana Department of Education. She will serve the commission as a designee of the Superintendent of Education. The Volunteer Louisiana Commission serves to encourage community service as a means of community and state problem-solving, promote and support citizen involvement in government and private programs, develop a long-term comprehensive vision and plan for action for community service initiatives in Louisiana, act as the state’s policy-making body for the Corporation on National and Community Service, and serve as the state’s liaison to national and state organizations that support its mission.

    Daphne Y. Washington

    Daphne Y. Washington

    Daphne Y. Washington, of Grambling, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Washington works as a speech-language pathologist and professional in residence for Louisiana Tech University. She will serve the board as a practicing speech-language pathologist, as required by statute. The Louisiana Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, created by the legislature, provides regulatory authority over persons offering speech-language pathology and audiology services to the public in order to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare; to protect the public from incompetent, unscrupulous and unauthorized persons; and from unprofessional conduct by speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech-language pathology assistants.

    Robert N. Harwell, of Mangham, was reappointed to the Tensas Basin Levee District. Harwell is the former mayor of Mangham. He will represent Richland Parish. The Tensas Basin Levee District provides flood protection for a large portion of Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana. The district serves to construct, operate and maintain flood control structures including 434 miles of levee, 361 miles of flood control channels, 135 floodgates, 7 storm water pumping stations and 15 dams (weirs). The district also regulates and permits all activity on or near these flood control works, performs maintenance including mowing levees, repairing levees with earth moving equipment, dredging channels, spraying channels for brush control, performing mechanical repairs to pumping plants, flood gates and heavy equipment.

    Gerald S. LaCour, of Cloutierville, was reappointed to the State Plumbing Board. LaCour works for Bilfinger Industrial Services, Inc. He will represent the board as a journeyman plumber. The State Plumbing Board is responsible for protecting all persons who use and rely upon plumbing and medical gas piping systems for personal or commercial needs, and for affording protection against incompetent, inexperienced or unlawful acts by persons who perform work on plumbing and medical gas piping systems. The board qualifies and examines applicants for plumbers’ licenses and serves, licenses and enforces the law.
    Tamiara L. Wade, Ph.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Amite River Basin Drainage and Water Conservation District. Wade is a NCAS program manager and Astro Camp program lead at the NASA Stennis Space Center and will serve as a representative of East Baton Rouge Parish. As required by statute, she was nominated by a legislator representing East Baton Rouge Parish.
    The Amite River Basin Drainage and Water Conservation District serves as a multi-parish authority to mitigate flood damage in the Amite River Basin. The Commission works to accomplish flood control measures by facilitating cooperation between federal, state, and local governing bodies to foster floodplain management, maintaining and operating structures built under the auspices of the Commission, and coordinating river management within the basin.

    James R. Corley, D.V.M., of Sunset, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Corley is the president and owner of Acadiana Equine Hospital. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association. The Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine is responsible for examining and determining the qualifications and fitness of applicants for licenses to practice veterinary medicine in the state. The Board investigates complaints against licensees and disciplines licenses.

     

    Twahna Harris

    Twahna Harris

    Lila Hogan

    Lila Hogan

    Twahna P. Harris, of Baton Rouge, and Lila T. Hogan, of Hammond, were appointed to the Domestic Violence Prevention Commission. Harris is the founder and director of The Butterfly Society Domestic Violence Organization and a membership executive with Girl Scouts of Louisiana East.

    Hogan is an attorney and partner at Hogan Attorneys and was the first director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services in Hammond. The Domestic Violence Prevention Commission assists local and state leaders in developing and coordinating domestic violence programs. The Commission makes recommendations with respect to domestic violence prevention and intervention and develops a state needs assessment and a comprehensive and integrated service delivery approach that meets the needs of all domestic violence victims.

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    ‘Things get uncomfortable’ when protesters Blackout BR, interrupt policing meeting

    As officer-involved shootings continue to plague cities around the country, frustrated citizens are continuing their fight for justice. With each shooting that has occurred, dash cam footage has been released, surveillance and other forms of film have been released to ensure complete disclosure. But, unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case with the deadly shooting of Alton Sterling.

    After nearly three months, only the cell phone videos filmed by spectators has been released. In addition to the withholding of dash cam footage and surveillance, Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II are still on administrative leave. No charges have been brought against the officers and citizens are wondering why. The recent officer-involved shootings that led to the deaths of Philando Castile and Terence Crutcher have resulted in charges brought against the officers. But, law enforcement officials in Baton Rouge have remained silent.

    Now, citizens and protesters are demanding answers. Why has the footage been withheld? Why haven’t the officers been charged? Monday, Sept. 26 was declared #BlackOutBR, a day where local citizens wore black clothes and did not work, go to college, or shop. A rally was held at the steps of City Hall calling for information on the Alton Sterling case.

    BlackOutBR flyer

    After the rally, protesters entered a police reform meeting to hear the committee’s plans and to demand answers and action.

    “The problem is, with an exception of a few, we don’t see these people in the community,” businessman Cleve Dunn Jr. told the committee. “When you look around and you don’t see the community, there should be no meeting.”

    The committee included District Attorney Hillar Moore; councilmembers Tara Wicker, Donna Collins Lewis and Erika Green; BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie Jr; local pastors; and residents. 

    “What happens when leaders & protesters disrupt a meeting on police reform? Things get uncomfortable, they get real, and then they get a seat at the table, alongside the chief of police, the DA, & the DOJ,” wrote artist Walter Geno McLaughlin on Facebook.

    More than 30 protesters lined the walls of the small meeting room, including Sterling’s aunts.

    “We want to press upon our local government but also go all the way to feds that we want a decision on the investigation, said Dunn who explained the reason for the gathering and expressed protesters’ demands. “We are pressing upon the Department of Justice, our mayor, Kip Holden, as well as our Governor… to solicit a timeline of some type of idea of when we can get a decision.”

    “This issue of Alton Sterling has been divested from the people in this room as much as we hate to hear that,” said Will Jorden, who is an assistant district attorney and prosecutor. “We hear the frustration. I am frustrated. These pastors are frustrated. But what this (committee) does is give the people a sense of legitimacy and to be able to move forward with positive change.”

    Wicker said, “This group today is not the group trying to come up with solutions. That’s not our charge. That’s not our job. That’s not what we are doing here. Our charge is to setup an infrastructure so that what you are saying can actually be heard, documented and put into a policy paper that will be submitted as the voice of the community.”

    Several protesters asked the committee for better communication and circulated a paper to add email addresses for future contact. They also presented a list of demands.

    In addition to the demand for a decision in the July 5th shooting, they are requesting that changes be made to city and state flood contracts. The change to contracts would require the cancellation of current contracts in order to include Black-owned firms in renegotiations.

    Community leaders argue that the exclusion of government resources is a strong contributing factor to the financial inequity in the black community. The officer-involved shootings in impoverished areas of the city are also arguably attributed to the lack of economic development.”You cannot prevent an Alton Sterling encounter without economic development in black communities,” the list states.

    The third demand is in reference to police reform. With incidents of alleged injustices resolved with internal investigations, community leaders and local citizens adamantly believe there needs to be a task force in place on state and local law enforcement levels to reform police across the city and state. 

    Here’s the list of demands:
    1. A Decision in the Alton Sterling Case from the Department of Justice.
    We request Mayor Kip Holden and Gov. John Bel Edwards both send letters to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting that the DOJ swiftly conclude its investigation. The most powerful government in the world shouldn’t take longer than a district attorney from Tulsa Oklahoma to decide which way to proceed in an investigation, with all the resources at their disposal. Our community deserves to be able to move forward.

    2. Cancel Current State & Local Flood Contracts and Include Black-Owned Firms In Renegotiations. Currently, our state and local government are handing out millions of dollars in contracts relating to flood relief. Black-owned businesses are not reaping from the resources that are on the ground. The exclusion of black-owned companies is one of the primary causes of inequity in our community. You cannot prevent an Alton Sterling encounter without economic development in black communities. Black businesses owners hire black people, giving second chances to people like Mr. Sterling which puts them in our workforce and makes them productive citizens. There should be DBE Mandates equal to the percentage of the population in order to ensure fairness and equity in how our state and local government does business.

    3. Reform Our Police Department
    The murder of Alton Sterling has surfaced issues within our police department that must be addressed. We request a task force convened on a state and local level to reform policing in the city and state. The task force should not just include members of law enforcement and elected official, but local protestors and community advocates who have taken to the streets to oppose the tactics of police departments around the country.

    The list of demands has garnered criticism from local news outlets and citizens with opposing views. Many readers said they believe the demands are far-fetched and argue federal authorities have refrained from filing charges because they haven’t been able to gather enough evidence against the officers involved. But, despite the arguments, the footage is still being withheld, which leads protesters to believe local authorities have something to hide.

    “These demands, especially the first two, are silly. The prosecutor should make a decision only when all the evidence is in. The flood recovery companies should only hire the best companies and people for the job,” wrote writers with The Hayride.

    The question remains: will officers Salamoni and Lake be charged in connection with the shooting death of Sterling? At this point, no one knows what the outcome will be.

    The case is currently still under review by federal authorities. It is still unclear whether charges will be filed against Salamoni and Lake.

    By Meaghan Ellis
    Community Reporter

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    DOTD announces public hearings

    A series of Public Hearings will be held in accordance with LA R.S. 48:231 and conducted by the Joint Transportation, Highways, & Public Works Committee. Below is a list of the times and places where the hearings will be held. The purpose of the hearings is to review highway construction priorities for the fiscal year 2017-2018. A copy of the Preliminary Program for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be available for review by interested persons at the LADOTD Headquarters Building, 1201 Capitol Access Road, Room 200U, Baton Rouge, LA 70802 or at http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LADOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/Transportation_Planning/Highway_
    Priority/Pages/default.aspx.

    All interested persons are invited for the purpose of becoming fully acquainted with the proposed program and will be afforded an opportunity to express their views. Oral testimony may be supplemented by presenting important facts and documentation in writing. Written statements and comments should be handed to the committee conducting the Hearing, or mailed to the following address, postmarked within 30 calendar days following the Hearing:

    JOINT HIGHWAY PRIORITY CONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE
    C/O LA DOTD (SECTION 85)
    P.O. BOX 94245
    BATON ROUGE, LA 70804-9245

    Should anyone requiring special assistance due to a disability wish to participate in this public hearing, please contact LADOTD (Attn: Ms. Mary Elliott) by mail at the address above or by telephone at (225) 379-1218 at least five days prior to the date of the public hearing.

    LEGISLATIVE PUBLIC HEARINGS
    FOR THE HIGHWAY PRIORITY CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM (2017-2018)

    October 10, 2016 – at 10am, Franklin Media Center, 7293 Prairie Road, Winnsboro
    DOTD District 58, Serving Parishes: Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, LaSalle, and Tensas

    October 10, 2016 – at 2 pm, Monroe City Hall, Council Chambers, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway, Monroe
    DOTD District 05, Serving Parishes: E. Carroll, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Union, and W. Carroll

    October 11, 2016 – at 8:30 am, Bossier Civic Center, Bodcau Room, 20 Benton Rd, Bossier City
    DOTD District 04, Serving Parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Desoto, Red River, and Webster

    October 11, 2016 – at 2:30 pm, England Airpark, James L. Meyer Commercial Terminal Conference Room, 1515 Billy Mitchell Blvd., Alexandria
    DOTD District 08, Serving Parishes: Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Vernon, and Winn

    October 12, 2016 – at 8:30 am, Lake Charles Civic Center, Contraband Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles
    DOTD District 07, Serving Parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis

    October 12, 2016 – at 2 pm, Lafayette Consolidated Government City Hall Council Chambers, 705 W. University Avenue, Lafayette
    DOTD District 03, Serving Parishes: Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion

    October 17, 2016 – 9:30 am, New Orleans Regional Transportation Management Center, Conference Room A/B, #10 Veterans Memorial Blvd, New Orleans
    DOTD District 02, Serving Parishes: Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and Terrebonne

    October 17, 2016 – 2:30 pm, Southeastern Louisiana University, University Center Room 133, 800 W University Ave, Hammond
    DOTD District 62, Serving Parishes: Livingston, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington

    October 18, 2016 – 9am, State Capitol Basement, House Committee Room 1, Baton Rouge
    DOTD District 61, Serving Parishes: Ascension, Assumption, E. Baton Rouge, E. Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. James, W. Baton Rouge, and W. Feliciana

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    ‘Moment of Movement’ symposium starts Oct 3 at LSU

    On Monday, Oct. 3, and Tuesday, Oct. 4, LSU will host “Moment of Movement: A National Dialogue on Identity, Empowerment and Justice for All,” a two-day symposium discussing the tensions and tragedies that took place in Baton Rouge and across the nation during the summer of 2016, and exploring the intersection of politics, identity, and the democratic process.

    Don Lemon

    Don Lemon

    Signature events include “A Moment” with Don Lemon, CNN host, which will explore the events of Baton Rouge in summer 2016 and the media and community response that ensued, and will culminate in “A Movement,” a keynote by civil rights pioneer and Xavier University President Emeritus Dr. Norman Francis, which will explore “where we stand now as a society – and where our next steps might take us.”

    Dr. Norman Francis

    Dr. Norman Francis

    Congressman Garrett Graves

    Congressman Garrett Graves

    Paul Taylor

    Paul Taylor

    The two-day event is open to the public and all are invited. Parking will be available. Registration is free – though not required – but by registering, participants will be alerted of schedule updates and changes. Other events include musical and spoken word performances; panel discussions with area business leaders and government officials, including Congressman Garrett Graves; a presentation by Paul Taylor, author of “Next America”; a screening of “Remember the Titans”; explorations of media coverage and its impact on social justice; and more. Visit www.lsu.edu/momentormovement for the latest agenda and more information.

    As part of the event – and to underscore the importance of voting – LSU will hold a mock presidential election for its students from Sept. 26 – Oct. 2. Results will be announced at the final event on Oct. 4.

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    Trump, Bodi White get EBR Republican Party endorsements

    The East Baton Rouge Republician Party has endorsed State Senator Mack “Bodi” White for mayor-president and Donald Trump for president.

    “(White) is a solid conservative who stands against high taxes and overregulation,” EBR Republician Party leader Woody Jenkins said. “He supports traditional family values and the Second Amendment, and he is an ardent supporter of quality education.”

    The Louisiana GOP, the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, Louisiana Associated General Contractors and several other GOP leaders have also endorsed White.

    According to the latest campaign finance reports, White raised $383,096 and has $371,877 on hand. There is an
    additional $105,000 sitting in a PAC –Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge– which will be supporting White. The candidate with the next highest cash on hand is former Senator Sharon Weston Broome, a Democrat, who has $76,581.

    The general election for the mayor-president’s race is November 8 and is expected to end in a runoff election on December 10.

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    SU professors receive state appointments

    Southern University Baton Rouge professors Revathi I. Hines and Leslie T. Grover will serve as advisors to Governor John Bel Edwards through separate recent panel appointments

    Hines, an Alphonse Jackson Professor of Political Science in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, has been appointed by Governor Edwards to the Louisiana Women’s Policy and Research Commission. The Louisiana Women’s Policy and Research Commission is comprised of members appointed by the Governor to serve during his term of office. Duties of the commission include advising the governor, through the executive director of women’s policy, on the particular hardships, concerns, economic, educational, and health needs that challenge women in Louisiana and their possible policy solutions. The commission is charged with submitting a detailed annual report to the governor.

    Hines’s research and on-the-field focus is on community development, homeless women, gender based disaster management policy, environmental racism and justice movements, and discrimination in public housing.  She currently is involved in coordinating donation to homeless women in Baton Rouge through her project, Red Stick Bras and All Project. She also serves on the boards of Volunteer in Public Schools, the Butterfly Society of Domestic Violence, Baton Rouge, and the Women’s Community Rehabilitation Center/UpLIFTD, Baton Rouge. 

    “I am honored to be appointed to the Commission. I look forward to being a part of this administration’s efforts to examine the determinants of well-being of women in Louisiana and engage in the development of meaningful and viable policy solutions that elevate the status of women, across the spectrum, in our great state,” said Hines.

    Grover has been appointed to the Governor’s Council on Homelessness that serves to advise the Governor on issues of concern to Louisiana citizens concerning homelessness. The council will review, update, and monitor implementation of Louisiana’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. The council serves as a resource for information about access to available services for the homeless population, including housing and transportation options for the homeless.

    “What an honor to serve the people of this state through addressing issues of homelessness and poverty. Addressing these issues through policy and research improves the quality of life for all of us in the state,” said Grover.

    Grover is a tenured associate professor in public administration and public policy. She does extensive work with low income and impoverished populations, and has unlisted extensively in her field. Her previous government experience includes working for NASA as a management analyst; executive director of the Emerging Scholars program in South Carolina; and grant writing for the City of Starkville, Mississippi.

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    Governor Edwards appoints 27 to boards, commissions

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions.They are:

    Louisiana Executive Board on Aging
    The Louisiana Executive Board on Aging is responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures pertaining to the Office of Elderly Affairs within the Office of the Governor; for approving matters of policy and all rules and regulations pertaining to elderly affairs and all voluntary parish councils on aging; and for reviewing and making recommendations to the director of the Office of Elderly Affairs on matters of general importance and relevance to the planning, monitoring, coordination and delivery of services to the elderly.

    Harold L. “Digger” Ritchie, of Franklinton, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Ritchie is the owner of Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home and a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He was nominated by the Washington Parish Council on Aging and will serve as a representative of the 1st Public Service Commission District.

    Ricco A. Thomas, of Addis, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Thomas is a district manager with the Social Security Administration and a part-time police officer for the Addis Police Department. He was nominated by the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging and will serve as a representative of the 2nd Public Service Commission District.

    Edward J. Walters Jr., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Walters is an attorney and founding partner of Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, LLC. He was nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association and will serve as a representative of the 3rd Public Service Commission District.

    Mona F. Gobert-Cravins, of Washington, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Gobert-Cravins is a 211 manager and assistant administrator with 232-HELP, Inc. She was nominated by 232-HELP, Inc. and will serve as a representative of the 4th Public Service Commission District.

    Worlita L. Williams, of Mansfield, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Williams is a licensed clinical social worker with the DeSoto Parish School Board. She was nominated by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and will represent the 5th Public Service Commission District.

    Volunteer Louisiana Commission
    The Volunteer Louisiana Commission is charged with encouraging community service as a means of community and state problem-solving, promoting and supporting citizen involvement in government and private programs, developing a long-term comprehensive vision and plan for action for community service initiatives in Louisiana, acting as the state’s policy-making body for the Corporation on National and Community Service, and serving as the state’s liaison to national and state organizations that support its mission. Appointments to the commission are made by the Governor in collaboration with the Lieutenant Governor.

    Jeremy C. Babers, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Babers is an attorney and the owner of The Law Office of Jeremy Babers. He will serve as a representative of business on the commission.

    Karen Moss-Barnes, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Moss-Barnes is the fair share coordinator for the City of Shreveport’s Fair Share Program. She will continue to serve as a representative of local government on the commission.

    Carissa J. Graves, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Graves is a former educator and AmeriCorps alum. She also serves as a mentor for Kids Hope USA. She will serve as a member with expertise in educational, training and developmental needs of youth on the commission.

    Mitzi R. Hail, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hail is an enterprise corporate delivery manager with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. She will serve as a representative of business on the commission.

    Gwendolyn W. Hilliard, of Prairieville, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hilliard is a mentor with the Big Buddy Program and the Boys and Girls Club. She also serves as a frequent volunteer with Volunteer Ascension and the American Red Cross. Ms. Hilliard will serve as a representative of community-based agencies or community-based organizations within Louisiana on the commission.

    Angela S. Jouett, of Lake Charles, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Jouett is the health initiatives and strategic partnership manager for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. She will serve as a representative of local government on the commission.

    Patrick C. Lawler, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Lawler is a team supervisor with Love Our Community and a City Year Baton Rouge corps member. He will serve as a member between the ages of 16 and 25 who is a participant or supervisor in a service program on the commission.

    Laurie A. Manley, of Slidell, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Manley is the volunteer coordinator at Slidell Memorial Hospital. She will serve as a member with expertise in the delivery of human, educational, environmental or public safety services to communities and persons on the commission.

    William O. Stoudt, of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Stoudt is a self-employed manager and former executive director for Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. He will serve as a representative of a national service program on the commission.


    Washington Parish Reservoir District

    The Washington Parish Reservoir District was formed to study the feasibility of developing a reservoir in Washington Parish and to search for a potential site. Appointments to this board are made by the Governor from nominations received by the Washington Parish President, each of the seven Washington Parish Council members, and the three members of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    Charles E. Mizell Sr., of Bogalusa, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Mizell is the former mayor of Bogalusa. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Washington Parish President.

    Michael K. “Mike” Garic, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Garic is the owner and operator of Alex’s Tamale Shack and a former Bogalusa Police officer. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Bob D. Bateman, of Franklinton, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Bateman is retired and previously worked with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Michael L. Melancon, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Melancon is the director of revenue cycle for Our Lady of the Angels Hospital. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Clifton E. Roberts, of Angie, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Roberts is retired and previously worked at the LSU Bogalusa Medical Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    William A. “Bill” Jenkins, of Angie, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Jenkins is the owner of Bill Jenkins Forestry Services. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Jason M. Creel, of Franklinton, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Creel is the chief operating officer of Creel Brothers, Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    James F. “Jim” Beatty, Ph.D., of Mount Hermon, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Beatty is retired and previously worked as a dairy nutrition consultant with Purina Mills. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    John E. Nichols, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Nichols is retired and previously worked as a senior consultant on nuclear energy projects. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    D. Beryl Schilling, of Mount Hermon, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Schilling worked in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division for 29 years. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    Jerry A. Thomas, M.D., of Franklinton, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Dr. Thomas is a family practice physician and a former member of the Louisiana State Senate and House of Representatives. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

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    Edwards, DOTD, Officials unveil plans for Washington Street off-ramp

    Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson and local elected officials to highlight a major transportation project in Baton Rouge. The Edwards administration is investing more than $20 million to advance the construction of a new off-ramp to relieve the merging conflict for motorists at the Washington Street exit on I-10. Last month,Edwards secured a $60 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund a project between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. By partially funding that project through federal resources, the state of Louisiana is able to reallocate financial resources to other projects throughout the state, including the Washington Street off-ramp.

    “The Washington Street exit along I-10 is one of the most congested portions of interstate in the country,” said Edwards. “By engaging our federal partners and bringing our tax dollars home to Louisiana, we can improve our infrastructure, grow our economy and make life easier on the citizens who live, work and travel through this region. I appreciate the hard work of DOTD over the last seven months to get us to this point, and I am confident that the Capital Region will be positively impacted by this critical work. Going forward, I am committed to partnering with the federal government to make critical investments in infrastructure throughout our state.”

    “The benefit of the FASTLANE award is significant for other state priories,” Wilson said. “This allows the state to provide independent utility in the form of a new left side off-ramp that will ease traffic in the vicinity of Washington Street.”

    With the funds made available through the FASTLANE grant, Edwards is allocating $20-$25 million dollars of state money to the construction of this new project. Construction of this new off-ramp is now funded and awaiting final plans. To get to the construction phase, DOTD in the last 7 months accelerated the interchange modification report and expects completion by the end of 2016.

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    ​Sparking outrage

    Group says Sen. Brown’s two arrests expose double standard in fight against violence on women

    “It’s time to get people stirred up, protesting, and even mad, said Twahna Harris, a passionate domestic violence advocate. “We have to move and get people off the sidelines. We have to take to the street and protest against domestic violence! It’s going to take a movement to end this!” 

    With the recent high profile murders and assaults of women by their husbands, Harris said, now is the perfect time for elected officials and the community as a whole to take deliberate stand against domestic violence and “say we will no longer allow this.”

    Harris said the recent arrest of state Sen. Troy Brown (D-Geismer) gives legislators an easy opportunity to demonstrate that domestic violence will not be tolerated. “It shouldn’t matter who you are, when you commit the crime of domestic violence you should be punished.” 

    Her voice is adamant and anyone who knows her can see how vigilant Harris is in her quest to end domestic violence. As executive director of the Butterfly Society, a nonprofit advocacy group, Harris has been educating groups and advocating for new domestic violence protection laws for nearly 20 years. 

    “When you, as a leader, aren’t walking the walk that you talk you have to be held accountable,” Harris said. “It is unacceptable when we allow our leaders to get away with what we’ve allowed Sen. Brown to get away with. He should be held to the same standards. As voters we have to be very clear that we are not going to stand for it.”

    The Butterfly Society has taken the message of accountability across south Louisiana into barbershops, churches, policy meetings, and candidate forums. They educate and support victims in escaping abusive relationships. The group has established memorial gardens as a place to remember victims in the downtowns of Baton Rouge, Zachary, New Roads, and Baker.

    “We want to make sure that the victims are never forgotten,” she said. “We want to speak their names. These gardens can be a way to begin the conversation in communities.” 

    In 2014 and 2015, Louisiana ranked 4th in the nation for domestic violence. “We can do better,” Harris said. “Women are dying at an alarming rate.”

    “Domestic violence is a dark and lonely place to be,” Harris said. “I’ve learned that what we go through isn’t always just for us, it is to prevent and empower others.” The Butterfly Society was established as a nonprofit in 2014 after decades of advocacy and partnership-building. “We believe in being reached. We want people to know that we are here for you, to support you, and to empower you. There is life after domestic violence. You can live and survive.”

    Harris said the message of support is clear, however, her concern is “as long as we continue to do business as usual and not punish attackers, we will continue to lose our families.”

    “These lives are too valuable for us to continue to lose through domestic fights when we can get them the help they need to escape,” said Jane Yellow, a 26-year domestic violence survivor and author of It Only Happened Once. Yellow was attacked and left for dead by her husband of 11 months who served less than two years in prison for battery. “Policies have to continue changing,” she said. “Laws have to be enforceable. Abusers must be severely punished for this to stop… There has to be justice.”

    One solution is to have men on the front line, said Harris.

    “We need men standing up and saying, ‘No longer will I take another woman, sister, mother, cousin, teacher, or friend being abused at the hand of someone who is supposed to love her’,” said Harris. 

    The Butterfly Society educates church leaders and pastors — who are often men — on how to have conversations with other men on how to treat women during times of anger. The group also reminds the men that one in four men are abused by their partner. Their conversations at local barbaershops  allowed the volunteers and men to be open. “The dialogue was so powerful,” Harris said. “Men are willing to commit to take a stand.”

    The Butterfly Society will host its annual Painting the City Purple, a weeklong observance to raise awareness of domestic violence for youth, men, and women Oct 3 – 7 in Baton Rouge.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Read more »
  • ,

    Rhone attends White House summit

    SHREVEPORT, LA — Cheredith Rhone ’17 has taken Centenary College’s motto “Do More” and run with it all the way to the White House. This summer, she was nominated as a change maker and was invited to attend The United State of Women Summit this summer. She also had the privilege of serving as the youngest secretary ever on the Shreveport Mayor’s Women’s Commission, a committee dedicated to supporting women by addressing citywide concerns and implementing programs to alleviate them.

    No stranger to the political arena, Rhone started getting involved in politics and in her community while still in junior high. At the age of 13, she worked on State Representative Cedric B. Glover’s campaign when he ran for Mayor. Since then, she has earned several prestigious internships and joined organizations that have helped her form connections and further her involvement.

    At the Summit, which was the first of its kind, Rhone had the opportunity to hear from speakers such as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, and several other world leaders. The conference provided a platform for political leaders to celebrate their successful steps towards gender equality and also to discuss ways to keep improving it. Speakers covered issues on a wide variety of topics such as education, economics, health, and violence.

    “My most memorable experience was sitting and talking with Ms. Wanda Durant, NBA’s Kevin Durant’s mother,” said Rhone. “She talked about the difficulties she had living and raising Kevin in an underprivileged community and how she overcame those challenges.”

    After the summit, Rhone returned to Shreveport and continued working for Mayor Ollie Tyler as part of both her 2016 Summer Internship Program and the Shreveport Women’s Commission. As the commission’s secretary, she contributes by recording the board meetings that take place and logging their minutes.
    “Working for Mayor Ollie Tyler is an honor and a blessing,” says Rhone. “Working alongside her and many other qualified and influential women, helping to promote and further economic status, health, education, and leadership opportunities for women and youth in the city is a rewarding experience.”

    It is no coincidence that Rhone has involved herself in projects and organizations centered around the progression of women. She said she feels a strong calling to support those who are struggling and to be a force of positive change in their lives.

    “I believe that gender equality is necessary for the advancement of our society as a whole,” said Rhone. “Secretary Tom Perez said it best at the White House Summit, ‘When you educate a woman, you educate a generation.’”

    Studying at Centenary has played a large role in Rhone’s career choices, giving her unique opportunities and allowing her to make lasting connections. As a business major, she has not only become adept at financing and accounting, but has also picked up invaluable abilities such as networking and communication skills.

    “Attending Centenary has been a remarkable experience,” said Rhone. “I’m truly grateful for all of the opportunities that I’ve encountered by attending Centenary, from working in the president’s office to traveling across the world to Paris, France. My advice for my fellow peers is to always remain humble as you elevate in your career and life and remember to thank and appreciate the people that help you along the way. Never forget to pay it forward and help others along the way.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baker man one of 42 prisoners released by President Obama

    On June 3, 2016, President Barack Obama granted commutation of sentences to 42 individuals.

    Cleon Jermaine Hawkins of Baker, LA, was the only Louisianan commuted this month. His 180 month imprisoment was scheduled to expire Oct. 1. Hawkins had been found guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime by the Middle District of Louisiana.

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Brittney Mills Act failed

    The Brittney Mills Act, sponsored by Rep. Edward Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, failed to pass out of the House Commerce Committee. After a motion to pass the bill
    failed with a tie vote of 6-6, James asked to voluntarily defer the bill. 

    HB 1040 would require that all phones made, sold, or leased in Louisiana be capable of being unlocked for law enforcement in the case of murder investigations. If the phone cannot be unlocked, the seller or leaser faces a $2,500 fine per phone. There are exceptions to this rule in the case where a phone user may have downloaded a third party encryption app. 

    “It’s not just about justice, it’s about comfort and security for the family,” James told the committee. 

    The bill is called the “Louisiana Brittney Mills Act,” in honor of the woman who inspired the legislation. Mills was killed last April at age 29, but the case remains open and the killer unidentified. 

    Mills was shot after opening the door to her
    apartment. She was eight months pregnant at the time, and while a medical team was able to deliver the baby, he died a few days  later. 

    Investigators believe Mills’ cellphone may be the key to catching the killer. However, detectives cannot get inside because the phone is passcode protected. Mills’ family said she changed her passcode just days before she was shot. 

    Investigators asked Apple to unlock the device, but that request was denied.

    James said he hopes to bring the bill back to the committee again some time before the end of session. 

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Special session, what it brings

    I had the good fortunate of being a part of the Together Louisiana that was invited to set in the balcony and hear firsthand the (Governor John Bel Edwards’) speech as he opened the special session on Sunday, Feb. 14. We were of course in the House of Representatives and watched as they talked with each other hugged and seemed glad to be there. I watched the new legislators including the one from my hometown as they tried to figure out just what to do and who to engage with. It was amazing how many of them are seated close together. Finally the speaker opened the house and had read into the minutes certain pieces of information that no one on the floor paid any attention to, I guess because it was only formality. Then the speaker sent a group of four to announce to the senate that the house had convened and he sent a group of four to announce to the governor that the house had convened. It became evident that the senate had done the same thing because a group of four came and announced that the senate had convened.

    Finally at five the governor arrived with the members from the senate and house as part of his escort team. The colors were presented and an excellent rendition of the Stars Spangled Banner was sung a Capella by a member of the staff.

    The governor began his speech, now it seems as if he has presented in my opinion a bleak state of affairs for Louisiana. He also presented his proposals for alleviating the deficit. His plan does include cutting (160 million) and of course raising additional revenue.

    On my way to the capital, I was walking behind a lady carrying a sign and of course I asked her what the sign was for and she said it had to do with the waivers parents had gotten for disabled children that Governor Edwards wanted to do away with. Then she made the off comment, I wish he had not gotten elected. She set in the balcony where our group set and I wondered if after she heard the speech if she still felt the same. I hope not. It became perfectly clear to me that we have had so many tricks over the last eight years to balance the budget that now the time has come to really reckon with the deficit. No one wants a tax increase, but as I look at the situation I can live with the one cent. I can also live with the tobacco and alcohol taxes especially if they bring in enough revenue to fix the budget.

    I remember last year when the past administration talked about the tax credit for college students and how that credit that brought in no dollars would balance the budget and how the presidents of all the universities with Ph.D. degrees would go along with that particular smoke and mirror screen. I understand the politics of the agreement, because I know the governor could have put pressure on the various boards to get rid of those presidents who did not agree, but for the life of me I still don’t understand how they felt that the universities would have any additional revenue, even an illiterate person could see through that disaster.
    I watched as the governor made his speech who clapped and of course who did not. It was amazing to watch especially the elected state level officials setting behind the podium and there lack of applause. It was also amazing to watch the members of the legislature as some and an awful lot of them chose to not clap even when he mentioned the couple who needed health insurance and had them stand. It was amazing to also watch when the mother of a disabled child stood who had a wavier for her child and who needed the help. I took note of those I knew who were so inclined to dismiss the governor’s plan to balance the budget.

    Now here is where it is interesting, after his speech, one legislator said he cut 160 million that is not meeting us half way, what he did not offer was his solution, just criticism. The governor asked for help and for other options. It also baffled me that one of the great opponents of the Jindal mess was the state treasure who now thinks that we don’t need additional revenue. He must know some of us remember when he was the biggest critic of the Jindal smoke and mirrors.

    So, I wrote before that I caught the breeze of change, after Gov. Edwards’ speech, I am willing to do whatever the governor needs to balance this great mess we are in and hope the legislators will remember they are elected by the people to do what the people want and that the people elected John Bel Edwards overwhelmingly.

    By Linda M. Johnson
    Plaquemine, LA

    Linda Johnson is a former Louisiana BESE representative.

    Read more »
  • N.O. mayor Mitch Landrieu endorses Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton received the public endorsement of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in the March 5 Democratic primary, citing her experience to make a real difference in the lives of Louisiana families, especially in underserved communities.

     “The stakes are too high in this election for families in Louisiana, especially in our underserved communities, and there is only one person in this race who knows how to get results for them: Hillary Clinton,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We don’t live in a single-issue country, and Hillary is no single-issue candidate. She’ll be ready on day one to make us strong both at home and abroad. And unlike Senator Sanders, who has come up with tooth fairy ideas and who does not have a long record fighting for underserved, predominately African American communities, like New Orleans, Hillary’s a proven leader who understands that being president means doing all parts of the job and delivering for working families.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    What did Che’dra Joseph say?

    “Can everybody give Che’ a big round applause”? said President Barack Obama, to a crowd of more than 700 citizens who gathered at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, Thursday, Jan. 14, for a town hall meeting.

    Che’Dra Joseph, the daughter of Jessica Bornholdt and granddaughter of Mary E. Joseph, welcomed the crowd to McKinley
    and introduced the president.

    “We could not be more proud of her. I was backstage; I asked her, ‘Are you nervous?’ She said, ‘No, I got this. I’m fine.’ That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her,” said President Obama.

    So, what did this Student of the Year with a remarkable 4.6 grade point average tell the world as she introduced the President?

    Che'Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Che’Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Good morning, McKinley alumni, students, faculty, town hall participants, esteemed guests, and viewers at home. I am Che’dra Joseph, McKinley High School’s 2015-2016 Student of the Year and a finalist for East Baton Rouge Parish Student of the Year. Neither my experiences nor my environment have always been conducive towards forming a foundation for my ambitions. My upbringing has given me the insight that hardships do not limit
    opportunities. A journey towards self-actualization is not as easy for all of us, as it is for some. It is challenging for marginalized Americans to succeed. However, remaining focused
    on ambitions and education allows opportunities for moments of surrealism, similar to this one. I am here, in spite of, not because of, my circumstances. I have defied statistics, and I will not falter in my aspirations to dismantle the glass ceilings
    imposed on women, people of color, and minority groups. McKinley has been a significant factor in my personal development due to its ever-present, but often unacknowledged historical value. In 1907, McKinley became the first institution in Louisiana to offer
    Black students academic advancement. Furthermore, its first graduating class of 1916 was all female. McKinley was a win
    for Black excellence, and a win for women. Today, McKinley is home to educational opportunities that allow for a progressive,
    inclusive environment that stimulates informative and insightful dialogue among people who exhibit diversity in everything from skin color, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. I am honored for the opportunity to introduce myself and the President. As a representative of McKinley High School,
    Baton Rouge, and Louisiana, I offer the President our gratitude for giving America a nontraditional model of success that proves
    adversity does not restrict opportunity and for choosing McKinley High School to make history. Ladies and gentleman, McKinley High
    School proudly welcomes, The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

    The gym erupted with applause.

    Read more »
  • ,

    St. Tammany Parish Government awarded excellence in financial reporting

    The St. Tammany Parish Department of Finance was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, for the 12th consecutive year. This is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. The comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, is evaluated every year and the award is given based on standards reached in the report. These include, demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story, and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

    Leslie Long, director of finance, Laura Reine Lyons, senior accounting manager, and Annie Perkins, assistant director of finance are the recipients named on the award.

    “This award is validation for St. Tammany Parish Government, as well as the taxpayers of our Parish, that we continue to exercise best practices when investing tax dollars,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We once again applaud our finance department for their impeccable record-keeping and for their work as a cohesive team.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU to honor state, city leaders, Feb. 6

    In celebration of Black History month, the Southern University Alumni Federation Home Chapter and the Southern University Alumni Federation are hosting a reception to honor state and city leaders. The reception will be held at the AW Mumford Fieldhouse,
    Feb. 3, 6pm. The event is free, but RSVPs are required by Jan. 27. Email the Home Chapter at www.suhomechapter@gmail.com or call (225) 443-2167.

    Invited guests include:
    •Department of Transportation & Development Secretary Shawn Wilson
    •Department of Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson
    •Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Carr Brown
    •Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie
    •Planning & Programming- Deputy Chief of Staff Johnny Anderson
    •Special Counsel Office of the Governor Erin Monroe Wesley
    •Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Administration Desiree’ Honore Thomas
    •State Representative Edward “Ted” James
    •Director of Constituent Services Kim Farris LaCour
    According to organizers, these leaders are being recognized
    for their accomplishments and efforts to help make Louisiana
    “a great state and Baton Rouge a better place for everyone.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana’s new SCLC president announces 7-point plan for social justice

    Charles Steele Jr., president of the National Southern Christian Leadership Conference announced the official return of the historic civil rights organization to Louisiana on January 4 in New Orleans.

    Louisiana has met all of the requirements to have its charter reinstated under the leadership of the Rev. Reginald Pitcher who the organizing state chair and Baton Rouge Chapter president.

    Steele, national and state officers, and SCLC members met at New Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans. The church is the historic site where the national organization–established by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr–began more than 60 years ago. of the beginnings of SCLC.

    During the ceremony, Pitcher shared this seven Point Plan for Social Justice through Nonviolent Direct Action:

    1. We will continue to embrace the doctrine of the beloved community. We will work to bring about the creation of a truly multi-racial, multicultural democracy, where individual human rights are protected and the dignity and worth of human personality is respected.
    2. We reject the doctrine of modern-day lynching. We will continue to combat and resist the vigilante actions of rouge police officers who continue to commit hate crimes on the streets of our cities by murdering unarmed black and poor people without fear of retribution. We will also continue to address the black on black murders that cannibalizes our communities
      and deprives them of vital human resources through the school-to-prison pipeline.
    3. We reject the doctrine of unequal justice. We will continue to protest against the racial disparities that impose harsher and unequal penalties on Black and poor people on a routine basis in the court systems throughout this state. And until this system is changed, we will continue to embrace the age old cry of “No Justice, No Peace!”
    4. We reject the doctrine of the new Plessey vs. Ferguson. We will continue to fight against the hypocritical opportunists both black and white, who are bent on the destruction of Public Education, who under the guise of Charter Schools have raped and pillaged public school systems throughout this state.
    5. We reject the doctrine of the New Jim Crow. We will continue to resist any attempt to abuse the 13th Amendment as it relates to the school-to-prison pipeline and the mass incarceration of Black and poor people in this state. We will actively lobby our legislature to design and implement alternatives to incarceration, especially as it relates to our youth.
    6. We reject the doctrine of guilty until proven innocent. We will continue to resist any attempt to violate the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it relates to due process under the law. We are tired of our people being arrested, charged, tried and executed on the streets of our cities throughout this nation. They are being lynched by those who have been commissioned to protect and to serve. This practice has got to stop and it’s got to stop now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not next year, but now!
    7. We reject the doctrine of No Vote, No Voice. We will continue to resist any attempt to water down or violate the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as it relates to voter nullification and voter suppression. We will continue to organize our people through voter education, registration and participation drives, and we will continue to aid and assist Black and poor people in understanding and utilizing the power of the vote.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana to reinstate SCLC charter

    Charles Steele Jr., president of the National Southern Christian Leadership
    Conference, announced the official return of the historic civil rights organization to Louisiana.

    Under the leadership of the Reverend Reginald Pitcher, Louisiana has met all of the requirements to have its charter reinstated.

    Steele, officers, members and friends will mark the return of the SCLC with 11 am, Jan. 5, 2016, at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third St, New Orleans, LA 70113, where C.S. Gordon, Jr. is pastor.

    Sixty years ago in the same church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jrl, Rev. T.J. Jemison, and attorney Israel Augustine of New Orleans signed documents to incorporate the organization.

    Elected officials and state leaders of many civic, social, and religious organizations, including the National Baptist Convention, the NAACP, National Urban League, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, MICAH, Nation of Islam, the AFL-CIO and more, are expected to be in attendance.

    ONLINE: www.sclcnational.org

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Edwards names economic development committee, includes Black leaders, business owners

    Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at our Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his
    transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at institutions of higher learning, and workforce development to accommodate the new industries.

    The committee will be co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Other members are:
    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council
    institutions of higher learning,
    and workforce development to accommodate the new industries coming into our state.

    “Louisiana is open for business, but we cannot simply rely on costly tax
    incentives to spread this message,” Edwards said. “Louisiana has always
    had a strong workforce and we need to ensure this workforce is attractive to
    diverse industries, while also responsibly incentivizing business and industry
    to invest in our state. This committee is critical to our long-term economic
    stability, and I’m confident they’ll help me develop a plan that is mutually
    beneficial to the citizens of Louisiana and industry.” The committee will be
    co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael
    Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Additional Economic Development Committee members are: 

    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council

    Read more »
  • United Negro Election Fund video not parody; vote selling continues

    BEFORE THE PASSING OF 1965 VOTING Rights Act Blacks living in the South could not vote. That fact was made perfectly clear with the famous march from Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, when Alabama state troopers beat marchers on their way to the state capital to demand their right to vote.

    After the passage of the 1965 Civil Right Act Blacks continued to have to to protests, riots and some was killed trying to gain the right to vote. In Tangipahoa Parish, Blacks had to sue the clerk of court in federal court to gain the right to vote.

    Today, restrictions that prevented Blacks from voting have been removed, but we still have a problem when it
    comes to voting.

    According to research, most Black voters don’t turn out to polls in mass number during a general election like the upcoming Oct. 24 election. Arden Wells a candidate for sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish has posted a series of YouTube videos.

    In one video that he has called the “United Negro Election Fund,” Wells says he will set up donation buckets and will use the funds raise to buy “some good used Negro” to get to the polls Oct. 24 to vote for him.

    Wells’ term “good use Negroes” refers to Blacks who are “used” to elect a certain candidate. In the video, he claims 7,000 Black voters were paid and driven to the polls during the last general election, which, he said, was the largest vote hauling event of the parish.

    Pat Morris president of the Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP has been speaking out about vote buying. She has asked all pastors to stop taking money to and to begin educating their members about the danger of selling votes.

    Some pastors don’t need to be reminded to teach their members about the importance of voting. The Rev. Bruce Graves, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, constantly reminds his congregants about voting and allows them to register to vote at the church.

    “People died for us to vote our choice, if we are going to sell our vote for $20.00, there was no point of our people dying,” said Morris. “Our ancestors are crying from the grave, and I don’t like the sound.”

    BY Eddie Ponds
    THE DRUM Founding Publisher

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site land use designs

    NORTH BATON ROUGE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway. The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision.

    Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.

    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey that identifies specific land use. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    High school students travel to protest Mississippi flag

    Twenty Louisiana Students Traveled to Mississippi to Rally & March over State Flag

    Students from Kentwood High Magnet School and St. Helena College and Career Academy,traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, on October 11 to participate in the One Flag for All Mississippians March and Rally.

    The 20 students were engaged during their civics classes on the importance of letting their voices be heard, and the many ways they can get involved to do so. This sparked their interest in participating in the history making event.

    The march and rally–which attracted more than 200 participants–were organized by local leaders and was led by South Carolina State Representative Jenny Horne, rapper and former Southern University SGA president David Banner, and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams to show support of Initiative 55, which calls for the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the State of Mississippi’s flag.

    Standing from left on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol during a rally following the One Flag for All March are, South Carolina State Rep. Jenny Horne, civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, rapper David Banner, and Mississippi activist Sharron Brown.

    Standing from left on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol during a rally following the One Flag for All March are, South Carolina State Rep. Jenny Horne, Civil Rights Activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, Former SU SGA President & Rapper David Banner and Sharron Brown.

    The march began at the intersection of J.R. Lynch and Rose Street and ended at the steps on the south side of the Mississippi State Capitol, where the rally lasted from 3:40 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    “We shouldn’t have a flag that represents a bad time in our history,” said Sharron Brown, who proposed Initiative 55 to the Mississippi legislature which would force a constitutional amendment to change the flag. Brown has started collecting signatures for the initiative, and she said she is hoping to see it on the state’s ballot in 2018.

    The students traveled from Baton Rouge with Southern University Ag Center’s assistant area agent Nicolette Gordon, youth coordinator Toni Melton, and St. Helena College & Career Academy’s civics teacher Idella Smith.

    Submitted by the Southern University Ag Center

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site, land use designs

    North Baton Rouge elected officials other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway.
    The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision. Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.
    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey to determine specific ways to use the vacant property. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

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  • ,,

    Attorneys say Moore vs. Tangi schools far from over, community needs to act

    Gideon Carter and Nelson Taylor

    Attorney Gideon Carter, NAACP Tangipahoa president Pat Morris, and attorney Nelson Taylor

    HAMMOND—Lead attorney for the ongoing civil rights case against the Tangipahoa Parish School Board Nelson D. Taylor and Gideon T. Carter told parents and community leaders that the case is not over and the courts have not approved the Duncan Plan, although some reports state 0therwise. Parents and leaders gathered at the African American Heritage Museum were concerned about the large number of students transferring to different schools under the Duncan Plan.

    Under the Duncan Plan, 200 white students from North Loranger will be bus to Amite, 300 white students from the Champ Cooper Robert area will be bused to Hammond. Three hundred Black students west of Hammond will be bused to Ponchatoula.

    Sandra Simmons and Angela Baldassasro

    Sandra Simmons and Angela Baldassasro

    Loranger resident Angela Baldassaaro said, “if the school board accepts the Duncan Plan my child will be attending a failing school in Amite. Make Amite schools like Hammond schools I will be glad to send my child to Amite.”

    Residents from the North and South ends of the parish want all schools to be the same. Taylor said racism is alive in Tangipahoa Parish.“Black students are being expelled from school like running water,” he said, “the school board is hostile toward the court appointed compliance officer.”

    “The school board continues to do what they always did. Don’t hire Black teachers and fire the ones they do have. They promise to build three new schools, and they are not building them. There is a power circle in this parish (with) the school board and judges. The Black community needs to take action,” said Taylor. “We are up against some top-notch lawyers. The community needs to raise some funds, because we need to talk to some people, we need depositions and that cost money. Raise funds and manage those funds,” said Taylor.

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Publisher

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  • FuturePAC endorses La Legislature, BESE candidates

    FuturePAC announced its endorsement of candidates for the upcoming Louisiana Legislature and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) elections.  The primary election will take place on Saturday, October 24, 2015.  

    “The priorities of the candidates FuturePAC is endorsing align with those of the regional business community.  For that reason, FuturePAC has chosen to support them,” said Stephen Babcock, chair of the FuturePAC board of directors.

    Candidates receiving FuturePAC’s endorsements include:

    Louisiana State Senate
    Scott McKnight, District 16

    House of Representatives
    Ronnie Edwards, District 29
    Edmond Jordan, District 29
    Tony Bacala, District 59
    Chad Brown, District 60
    Donna Collins-Lewis, District 61
    C. Denise Marcelle, District 61
    Barbara West Carpenter, District 63
    Joyce Marie Plummer, District 63
    Darrell Ourso, District 66
    Paula Davis, District 69
    Ryan Heck, District 69

    Board of Elementary & Secondary Education 

    Sandy LeBlanc Holloway, District 3
    Jason Engen, District 6
    Laree LeJeune Taylor, District 6

    About FuturePAC
    FuturePAC, a political action committee affiliated with BRAC, actively supports candidates and issues that promote economic development and improve the business climate in the Capital Region.  More information is available at www.futurepac.biz <http://www.futurepac.biz> . 

    Read more »
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    Baker candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 13

    Main Street Pilot International will host a Baker Candidate Forum, Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 5:30 p.m., Baker Municipal Center, 3325 Groom Road, Baker, Louisiana. 

    The non-profit, headquartered in Baker, mission is to transform communities by developing youth, providing service and education, and uplifting families.

    Candidates qualifying for the following races are invited to participate: BESE District 8, State Senator 15th Senatorial District, State Representative 63rd Representative District, EBR Clerk of Court, and City Judge City Court, Division C, City of Baton Rouge.

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  • ,

    Conservative Koch brothers make inroads into Black America

    It was a scene that a young, militant Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. could not have envisioned 30 years ago. At the national convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Baton Rouge, Chavis was participating on panel about reforming the criminal justice system with, among others, Mark V. Holden, the senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, Inc.

    The company is owned primarily by Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers known for their strong libertarian views, their major donations to ultra-conservative causes and opposing President Obama’s major initiatives. In fact, a major profile of the two brothers, the New Yorker observed, “In Washington, [David H.] Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular. With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars.”

    The article stated, “Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies – from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program – that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.” According to the Associated Press, “With a fortune estimated at $41 billion each, Charles and David tie for fourth on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans, and tie for sixth on Forbes’ worldwide billionaires list.”

    In the strangest of bedfellows, representatives of Koch Industry and Chavis, who served a little more than four years of a 34-year sentence for conspiracy and arson in the 1970s as leader of the Wilmington Ten (the charges were thrown out on appeal for prosecutorial misconduct) and now president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), are working together on reforming the criminal justice system. That irony is not lost of Chavis.

    “Thirty years ago, I probably would have been one of the ones questioning my leaders on why it would be necessary to sit with conservatives,” Chavis said. “But over the years, I’ve matured.”

    He has matured to the point where his focus is on results, not rhetoric, Chavis said. “For me to sit on the stage with the general counsel of Koch Industries, I think, was providential and very fitting because this is the one company that appears to be serious about criminal justice reform,” Chavis said. He said criminal justice reform should be broad-based and include everything from racial profiling to disparate sentencing and prosecutorial misconduct.

    Chavis said, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to reform the criminal justice system with rhetoric. A lot of people over the last several years have talked about criminal justice reform, but haven’t put up any money and haven’t done anything that will create a bi-partisan coalition to make it happen.” Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries, said the company has been working on criminal justice reform for the past 12 years. “It would be short-sighted for us as a company to just say, ‘Hey, someone made a mistake in the past – don’t even bother applying,” Holden told the SCLC delegates. “You would miss out on a lot of talent, opportunities, and people who could do great things for our company.” He said, “Charles Koch [the chairman of the board of Koch Industries] has already made it clear that this is his key priority this year. Whether this happens or not, we don’t control that – it’s up to Congress.”

    In a Politico column co-authored by Holden and Charles K. Koch, they wrote: “Reversing overcriminalization and mass incarceration will improve societal well-being in many respects, most notably by decreasing poverty.

    Today, approximately 50 million people (about 14 percent of the population) are at or below the U.S. poverty rate. Fixing our criminal system could reduce the overall poverty rate as much as 30 percent, dramatically improving the quality of life throughout society – especially for the disadvantaged.” They said, “To bring about such a transformation, we must all set aside partisan politics and collaborate on solutions.” For many, however, the Koch name has come to epitomize partisan politics. The Washington Post reported, “The filings show that the network of politically active nonprofit groups backed by the Kochs and fellow donors in the 2012 elections financially outpaced other independent groups on the right and, on its own, matched the long-established national coalition of labor unions that serves as one of the biggest sources of support for Democrats.

    “The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations.” Despite their right-wing politics, the Koch brothers have been making inroads into Black America. They donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund, a move that was roundly criticized by some and applauded by others. Georgia-Pacific, a Koch subsidiary, has been a longtime supporter of SCLC, and Benjamin Chavis has signaled his intention to enlist Koch Industries to advertise in Black newspapers.

    Luke Charles Harris, an assistant political science professor at Vassar College, said, “Now more than ever, it has become clear that organizations that take this sort of money are poor substitutes for the groups that sustained Black people throughout the legal revolution to dismantle segregation in the U.S.” Harris added, “One has to look at the ways that the Koch agenda undermines our battles to fight against structural racism, and the contemporary manifestations of white supremacy. Their track record across the board is horrific on these matters. “They are bad news for poor people, for unions, for people locked in the bottom of the economy, and for voters who want to exercise their right to weigh in in an important way on the issues that genuinely affect them.”

    Chavis acknowledges the Koch brothers conservative politics, but sees working together on criminal justice reform as an opportunity to influence them. “I believe as a result of this movement that’s now emerging for criminal justice reform, I think that there’s an opportunity to have a discussion with the Koch brothers about their politics,” Chavis said. “If you want to change America, we have got to have an inclusive discussion, not an exclusive discussion. Am I saying there’s the potential to have a progressive dialog with the Koch brothers? I believe the answer is yes.” But Harris believes Chavis is being naïve. “The Koch brothers already know what progressive Black folk think,” he said. “And they have spent countless millions of dollars establishing and fueling an agenda that essentially reverses the imperatives that Dr. King gave his life for: imperatives like the right to a fare wage, and the right to vote.”

    Patrick Delices, a Pan-African scholar and professor at Hunter College in New York City, said he understands Chavis’ frustration with slow rate of Black economic progress.

    “Historically and currently, the reality is that liberals at the corporate executive level and the political leadership level have failed to advance considerably the economics, politics, and culture of Black folk. Thus, it is in our best interest to engage with other people and groups who can perhaps offer to us a better deal,” he stated. “With that said, it is up to us to have a clear understanding that when we meet, negotiate, and engage in a business/political transaction with other people our interest/empowerment must come first, not the needs of other people.”

    Regardless of what his critics believe, Chavis is convinced that he is taking the correct path to being effective. “To my progressive brothers and sisters, I would say come and join me in getting the brothers and sisters out of prison,”he said. “Let’s get the question of prosecutorial misconduct resolved. Come join me. Let’s not just wait until the next incident of police brutality happens. Come join me, let’s reform the whole system.”

    By George E. Curry
    NNPA Editor-in-Chief

    ONLINE:blackpressusa.com

    Read more »
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    Mayor’s youth advisory council seeks new high school members

    Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden announces that the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is searching for youth leaders from all area high schools and homeschoolers to join the council to advocate for the youth of their communities, collaborate to tackle issues in the area through community projects, and foster leadership and character development amongst their peers.

    Parents and youth (grades 9th-12th) of East Baton Rouge Parish are invited to attend an Information and Recruitment meeting Tuesday, September 15, 2015, where they will learn more about the program and application procedures and meet the advisors. The Information and recruitment meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library located at 7771 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806.

    The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is looking for youth who are residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, currently enrolled in 9th through 12th grade, and are passionate about youth advocacy and making a difference in their community. There are no requirements to apply. Council members are expected to attend all meetings and events, demonstrate a strong commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy, and maintain positive and respectful attitudes at all times. Youth must show initiative and take responsibility for their actions. When applying we ask that if selected, members keep in mind that they will not only represent themselves, but their families, communities, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and the Office of Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden.

    The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council will offer approximately 80 youth from diverse backgrounds a chance to participate in a program that believes youth are the leaders of today as well as tomorrow. Youth will partake in professional development seminars, leadership training, service projects, team building exercises, and field trips. The council seeks to elevate youth voices in the community and provide youth with the unique opportunity to be the drivers of their own ideas from conceptualization to implementation and reflection.

    Community, parents/family members, youth, faith-based organizations, and educators are invited to encourage youth who are interested to fill out an online application.  Online applications will be available beginning Friday, September 18, 2015, and will close Friday, October 2, 2015. Applications can be found at http://myacbr.com/apply/  The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council will announce application decisions at the beginning of October 2015.

    For more information, please contact Jonas Augustine at (225) 389-4222 or via email at jaugustine@brgov.com  or Kia Bickham at (225) 389-3100 or via email at Kbickham@brgov.com  in the Office of the Mayor- President.

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  • ,

    La. NAACP denounces racist overtones in Secretary of State’s race

    Leaders of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP have taken up issue with LA Secretary of State Tom Schedler following several blog and social media posts on Schedler’s campaign website that the organization and others said are racist and troubling. NAACP state president Ernest Johnson sent this letter to Schedler and NAACP members:

    The last place Louisianans want or expect to see racist overtones and the denial of the history of voter suppression is in a race for Secretary of State- the official who is responsible for overseeing fair and impartial elections.

    We are concerned that this scenario is playing out in the campaign of Tom Schedler, our current Secretary of State. First, an article on Mr. Schedler’s website titled “We Now Have a Campaign Issue in the Secretary of State Race” takes pains to point out that Chris Tyson is a “Black Democrat” who should not be taken seriously in running against a “Republican incumbent.”

    In a separate and even more troubling article,“Tom Schedler Reflecting on the Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act”, Schedler defies logic by asserting a commitment “to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act WITHOUT the need for Federal oversight and intrusion.” 

    As recent events with the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, Bogalusa City Council, and West Feliciana Parish Council clearly show, without federal oversight, Louisiana will revert to voter suppression tactics clearly designed to destroy representative government.

    The Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP is calling upon Schedler, the top elections official in this state, to curb this divisive rhetoric and to focus on legitimate issues of the campaign- that is, focus on an inclusive process that maximizes voter participation.

    Ernest L. Johnson, Esq. President

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  • ,

    Barrow announces candidacy for Senate seat

    After serving the constituents of House District 29 for three consecutive terms, State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow will officially announce her intention to run for the Louisiana Senate District 15 seat on tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4, at her campaign headquarters, 3558 Monterrey Drive, in Baton Rouge.

    For the next several months, Barrow said she plans to travel throughout District 15 and expand her campaign as she reaches out across the district to “share her platform with citizens searching for effective, result driven and inspirational servant leadership for Louisiana Senate District 15 in Baton Rouge.”

    She said the ability to successfully lead others and influence change is the most important components to effective leadership.

    Since 2005, she has represented District 29, serving on the Ways and Means Committee; Health and Welfare Committee; Municipal, Parochial, Cultural Affairs Committee; and the Joint Capital Outlay Committee. She is the Immediate Past Chairwoman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

    She serves as the state director for Women in Government, Women in Legislature Lobby, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

    Barrow is the wife of 31 years to James Barrow, Sr. and together they have two adult children: Shanrika Barrow-Fobb and James Barrow, Jr.

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • ,,

    Attorney announces candidacy at demolished hospital

    Jordan seeks to represent Dist. 29

    Using the partially demolished LSU Earl K Long Hospital as his backdrop on yesterday (July 15), Brusly attorney Edmond Jordan announced  his candidacy for the Louisiana House District 29.

    “I will fight to balance the disproportionate economic disparity between north and south Baton Rouge….We need to bring businesses to District 29 and help rejuvenate this district,” Jordan told the small gathering of supporters.

    “If we do things the way that they’ve always been done, then things will remain the way that they’ve always been… It’s time to change what we’ve been doing. Let’s work together to stop the decline in the quality of life for the citizens of Louisiana,” Jordan told the small gathering of supporters.

    image

    Edmond Jordan

    State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow has termed out of the District 29 seat after having represented the area since 2005.

    For Jordan this is an opportunity for meaningful change.

    He said an individual who knows how to fight for the best interest of people should hold the office of State Representative.

    “The time is now to elect such an individual. I am that individual,” he said.

    Jordan said he will travel throughout the district, which covers a portion of North Baton Rouge through West Baton Rouge, and reach “like-minded citizens searching for strong, responsible and inspirational servant leadership” for the district.

    A life-long resident of Brusly, La., Edmond Jordan is a graduate of Brusly High School, Southern University A&M College and the Southern University Law Center.  Jordan has been an attorney for 17 years, representing the Louisiana Public Service Commission, LDEQ, and the United States Department of Homeland Security.  Additionally, he a co-owner of Cypress Insurance Agency in Baton Rouge, LA. 

    He currently serves as director/trustee on the boards of Essential Federal Credit Union, South Louisiana Charter Foundation and Capitol City Family Health Center.

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  • ,

    Rep. Richmond calls for investigation into abusive practices of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office

    WASHINGTON, DCIn a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into alleged abusive patterns and practices of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office:

    “We can no longer allow the abusive culture that has permeated IPSO to go unchecked,” said Richmond who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee,. “The accounts of discrimination, abuse, and even deaths occurring as a result of the actions of deputies clearly illustrate a pattern and practice that systematically violates the basic rights of citizens. It is imperative that the Department of Justice step in and correct this conduct before there is any more loss of life.”

    “Just last year Victor White III– died as the result of a fatal gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of an IPSO squad car. According to IPSO Deputies, Mr. White pulled out a handgun, while his hands were cuffed behind his back, and shot himself in the back. However, the full coroner’s report indicated that Mr. White had died from a single shot to his right chest, contradicting the initial police statement that he had shot himself in the back. This is just one example of the copious discrepancies that has plagued the office.”

    “Recent unrest in communities across the country have shed light on the fact that many people feel they have been unfairly targeted by police and forced to live their lives under the threat of an oppressive regime. The role our law enforcement officers fill is too important to the function of our society to allow this dynamic to go on unchecked.”

    The letter to Attorney General Lynch can be found here.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    1,500 petition to keep Gus Young pool

    Plans are underway to permanently close the community pool at the BREC Gus Young Avenue Park in East Baton Rouge on August 1. Public opposition is increasing, but is it enough to convince the BREC board or  superintendent Carol McKnight  to reconsider closure and re-allocate $400,000  from BREC’s $69 million annual budget to preserve the historic pool and clubhouse?

    Community leaders and residents said they want a pool and are not interested in other option–not even a splashpad that would require $500,000 in donations. Longtime activist Elwin “Bobby” Burns said he has collected more than 1,500 signatures petitioning to restore and open the pool. He will submit the petition to the Mayor’s office and Metro Councilmembers. Burns is concerned that the children have swimming opportunities within walking distance of their homes. “BREC has four dog parks!” Burns wrote in an email to The Drum asking if funds that were once identified for Gus Young park renovations had been transferred to fund the parish’s new dog parks.

    The pool was closed three summers ago for repairs about the same time the Liberty Water Park was built in Independence Park. When the pool was closed the 39 kids who signed up for swimming lessons were referred to other pools which were 2 miles away. Then, the cost of swimming in the Gus Young pool was $1.25 per person. The cost of Liberty Waterpark was $8 for people shorter than 4 feet and $10 for taller people. Today, the Gus Young residents have are given the option to learn to swim at the nearby A.C Lewis YMCA pool on South Foster Drive, which is located about 2 miles away. BREC said 103 people have signed up for the swimming lessons.

    Residents also have the option of swimming at BREC’s Howell Community Park Pool on Winnborne Ave., which is also 2 miles away, or at BREC’s Anna T. Jordan pool which is located farther in North Baton Rouge.

    For many Gus Young residents, this is not a viable option said Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle who represents the area. According to the Rev. Richard Andrus, pastor of St. Paul Apostle Catholic Church on Gus Young, his congregation overwhelmingly supports keeping the pool instead of permanently closing it or replacing it with a splashpad. He will join Marcelle in meeting with BREC leaders.

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  • ,,,

    Does the education of Black children matter in Tangipahoa?

    The Fight Continues: 50th Years of Moore v. TPSB

    The fight to ensure equality for all children and employees in the school has extended through its fiftieth year. On May 3, 2015, the lawsuit filed by M.C Moore against the Tangipahoa Parish School System turned fifty with no resolution to the desegregation suit. The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of his daughter, Fannie Moore, who was disenfranchised and not given an opportunity to receive an equitable and fair education, which is guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The name of this case was later changed to Joyce Marie Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School System, and was named after his younger daughter, thus becoming a Class Action Lawsuit with the plaintiffs being the class of Black parents and their children in Tangipahoa.

    Fifty years later, the question remains whether or not education in the lives of Black children matter. The answer is emphatically, yes it does, because the fight continues for equity in this school system. Unfortunately, there is very little resolve towards settling this decades old desegregation lawsuit.

    Moreover, many are keen to talk about or write pieces about what happens or does not happen in the public school system in Tangipahoa Parish. Consequently, I process and attempt to find balance with personal ties to the conflicts in Tangipahoa Parish race relations and injustices found in our school system that have had my attention for decades now.

    As we begin to reflect on the importance of this lawsuit, we think of the lawsuit being filed in 1965. As a result of this filing, Mr. Moore was ostracized. For instance, he and his family were threatened, and his livelihood and means of providing for his family were taken away through his logging business being sabotaged, which resulted in his having to bake cakes to sell to provide for his family. Men guarded his home at night after his home was shot into early one morning. His wife heroically crawled through grass and weeds to a neighbor’s home to call the police because their telephone lines were cut on the outside of their home. Those bullet holes remain in Mr. Moore’s home to this very day. Despite having his life threatened and his livelihood compromised, Mr. Moore pressed on. Thank you, Mr. Moore, for your courage and tenacity in ensuring equality for African-

    American children, and ultimately all children.

    After this case was filed and opened in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, with the late Honorable Alvin Benjamin Rubin as the presiding judge, the Tangipahoa Parish School System was forced to integrate its public schools in 1969. Judge Rubin ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating, in pertinent part, that the Tangipahoa Parish School System was segregated and did not provide equitable educational access to African-American students. As a result, the school board was ordered to reinstate the jobs of all terminated African-American employees as one of the wrongs the Tangipahoa Parish School System committed following forced integration in 1969.

    The plaintiffs’ case was led by Attorney Nelson Dan Taylor, Sr., who is now the Lead Attorney in the Moore Case. This case was Attorney Taylor’s first case as an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund.

    Unfortunately, the school system did not comply with Judge Rubin’s order, and the case became dormant following Honorable Alvin Benjamin Rubin’s untimely death.

    The case was later reopened in 2007 at the urging of the Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP because of numerous complaints of the school system’s wronging of African-American children and African American employees. Evidence was provided to prove that the same segregated conditions still exist in Tangipahoa Parish School System. The test case used to reopen the M.C. Moore desegregation case was the case of Coach Alden Foster, who became the first African-American head high school football coach hired in Tangipahoa Parish. Coach John Williams was reportedly the first African-American head high school football coach in Tangipahoa Parish. However, after speaking to several others, including Coach Williams, we discovered that he was not given the position of head football coach at Hammond High School in Hammond, La., despite being appointed by Judge Rubin. Instead, Coach Carmen Moore, a white coach, was named as the head football coach at Hammond High.

    The discourse of this article is too long to write all of what has happened over the past fifty years in the Moore Case, however, a Master Thesis done by Dr. Wayne Brumfield is found in the Southeastern Louisiana University public library.

    As we commemorate the lawsuit’s fiftieth anniversary, let us remember to thank God for the stamina of Mr. Moore, his trials endured, and triumphs he and others made for every child attending school in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. Let us be mindful, as well as thankful for all of the accomplishments seen and unseen in this case having been reopened, because without such, sitting conservative judges would have dismissed this case due to its inactivity.

    While there are some 36 unopened desegregation cases, let us be mindful that the M.C. Moore lawsuit has set a precedent for subsequent desegregation cases. As President of the GTPB NAACP, and as I walk in the shoes of the late Mr. M.C. Moore, I feel his pain many times, and my heart breaks as I continue to witness the disenfranchisement of African-American children in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. Despite the many wrongs of this school system, I am reminded by Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not given to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor the bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.” With these words in mind, the fight for equality will not end, and it cannot until “justice rolls down like a mighty stream” for every student and employee in this school system. There can be no other way, and no person will be left behind.

    Patricia Morris
    NAACP Tangipahoa Branch President
    Ponchatoula

    Read more »
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    Woman to Watch: Alma C. Stewart

    With the Louisiana Legislative session in active mode, this health care advocate is busy mobilizing Louisiana citizens and elected officials around all health equity issues from funding the Affordable Health Care Act, expanding Medicaid, and improving citizen’s access to health services.

    When Louisiana legislators in both the House and Senate Health and Wellness committees voted against two bills that would expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program so the working poor could get government-funded health insurance, Alma C. Stewart was there along with several hundred other advocates.

    In fact, if there is a conversation on state or national health care policies, Alma Stewart, is in the room or leading the discussion. For that, she is a Woman to Watch.

    Meet Alma C. Stewart
    Age: A Baby Boomer.

    Professional title: President and Founder of Louisiana Center for Health Equity and talk show host of “Today’s Health Topics” (which airs on WTQT 106.1FM every Monday at 7pm). I am also the CEO and owner of A. Charles Stewart Consultants.

    Organization: Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity works to address the increasing disparities in health and health care across Louisiana. A statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit IRS 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt, organization established in January 2010, LCHE is the only statewide non-profit organization in Louisiana with a mission solely of addressing disparities.

    Hometown: Natchitoches, LA, the “City of Lights,” and reared in Germany during the sixties.

    Moves made in 2014/Accomplishments: I lead two phenomenal collaborative initiatives. Over the past two years, I have organized the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana, a broad diverse group of organizations and individuals fighting for expanded access to healthcare for ALL Louisianans. The Campaign is leading policy advocacy and grassroots efforts to close the coverage gap by allowing low income, mostly working, adults to obtain healthcare insurance through federal Medicaid funds as authorized by the Affordable Care Act. I also convened the Together We Are More Adolescent Health Collaborative, a community effort that implemented the inaugural Youth Peace Olympics to promote healthy living and help curb youth violence in Baton Rouge.

    What to expect from you in 2015? I am very pleased that the Louisiana Center for Health Equity will be celebrating our fifth anniversary. This is a monumental milestone for an organization that is making an impact throughout the state of Louisiana. Our Anniversary Celebration will highlight LCHE’s accomplishments. We will continue building momentum for better access to healthcare and closing the coverage gap, and addressing inequalities that affect individuals and families in Louisiana.

    Personal Resolution: To live a lifestyle that praises Jesus Christ and to enjoy His blessings, especially my family and friends.

    Company Resolution: To work to improve healthcare and health outcomes in Louisiana with a focus on inequalities through collaboration, community engagement, education and advocacy.

    Life motto: To joyfully and diligently be of service as a resourceful resilient advocate for health equity in Louisiana.

    What music are you dancing to? Variety

    What are you reading? Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513 – 2008 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This book intrigued me because it is such a thorough historical collection. Initially, I was especially interested in learning more about what I missed as a child during the sixties when my family and I lived overseas because it was during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. I believe understanding history is important, especially for our youth.

    Mentors or Role Models: I have been fortunate to have people throughout my life that encouraged and coached me in different areas that were and still are enormously helpful. There are several people whose advice I value and seek for various purposes. Those who probably have the most influence are those who share spiritual wisdom and guidance as I strive to be Christ led.

    Watch her online at www.lahealthequity.org and or on facebook as alma.stewart.39

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    Cassidy votes against Loretta Lynch

    Louisiana’s U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy’s office said the Congressman “chose to protect the U.S. Constitution and vote against confirmation of attorney Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. Attorney General.” Cassidy himself offered the following statement:

    “Key decisions the president has made are wrong, like executive amnesty. Although Loretta Lynch is well qualified, it’s hard for me to support someone who supports that decision.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    300,000 nationwide expected to Stand Against Racism

    YWCA Greater Baton Rouge is calling on all individuals, organizations, businesses and religious institutions to join us in taking a Stand Against Racism on Thursday, April 23. YWCA Stand Against Racism will unite our community in a bold demonstration that delivers a clear message: Racism can no longer be ignored nor tolerated.

    “Racism continues to be a pervasive issue in our community and communities across the United States,” said Jennifer A. Shoub, CEO of YWCA Greater Baton Rouge. “Participating in ‘Stand Against Racism’ is just one way we can make change by coming together to organize and show our commitment to eliminating racism.”

    YWCA Greater Baton Rouge will take a Stand Against Racism in unison with others throughout the country. On Thursday, April 23, YWCAs will join in a National Day of Action to urge Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. From Thursday through Sunday nationwide, more than 300,000 people are expected to participate in a range of locally organized events involving public policy advocacy, community education and trainings that will lead to a commitment to working for racial justice by taking the pledge Against Racism.

    The local event, sponsored by YWCA Greater Baton Rouge with partner East Baton Rouge Parish Library, 4pm, Thursday, April 23, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard. Registration begins at 3pm. Participants will register, have an opportunity to sign the YWCA’s pledge to eliminate racism, make a personal statement on a provided sign, and stand with like-minded people committed to eliminating racism. Social media opportunities will also be available.

    Founded in 2007 by YWCA Trenton and YWCA Princeton, Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA. This campaign is designed to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism. Stand Against Racism is one part of the YWCA’s national strategy to fulfill our mission to eliminate racism.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: What about the fired felons?

    A Look at Apple’s Teachable Moment

    Inclusion inspires innovation. This mantra, featured prominently on Apple’s website, was put to the test last week when the company came under fire for dismissing several construction workers who had been convicted of a felony.

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, anyone who had been convicted of a felony in the past seven years was banned from working on the construction of Apple’s new Cupertino campus. Apple and its contractor, DPR Construction, also denied employment to people with felony arrests, not just convictions.

    Since then, Apple has taken a step in the right direction by rescinding the policy. But in an industry already notorious for being out of touch with the broader opportunity gap in America, the company’s leadership has an opportunity to do much more: to lead the tech field on inclusion as much as it already leads on innovation.

    Apple’s quick response was encouraging. In a statement, the company noted that its policy “may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance” and that it has “never had a blanket ban on hiring people with felony convictions”. This was an indication that Apple understands the devastating impact of blanket discrimination on the 12 million Americans with a felony conviction in their past. Still, the company’s response leaves too many unanswered questions about the status of the fired workers, the contours of Apple’s internal policy, and the company’s commitment to ensuring that this will never happen again.

    Life is hard for someone with a felony conviction. People returning to their communities not only have a difficult time finding a job. That’s more than 60 percent are unable to find work in their first year out. But also face other challenges that make landing gainful employment even harder. Even someone who served a short sentence for a low-level crime will often run into barriers to stable housing, healthcare, educational opportunities, and public benefits. In 2008, the reduced job prospects of people with felony convictions cost the US economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.

    It is not too late for Apple to right a wrong, prove its commitment to inclusion, and become a leader on fair hiring practices. (For example, The Cupertino campus project, expected to yield thousands of construction jobs, can still provide a unique opportunity for Apple to support the local economy and provide work for an underserved population.)

    Here are three steps that Apple can take in coming days:

    Apple should publicly address the fate of the fired employees.
    Reports have indicated that Apple may have plans to reevaluate or rehire the impacted employees, but it should make this intention publicly clear. The number of workers fired may have been small compared with Apple’s national employee base, but a job is important for any single worker, especially one operating in the context of perpetual discrimination. Apple should clarify its hiring policies and publicly “Ban the Box”.

    In their statement, Apple leaders denied practicing blanket discrimination. But at the same time they acknowledged that workers on the campus project had been victims of discrimination. In order to clear things up, Apple should work with community leaders to develop transparent and inclusive hiring policies that ensure that all applicants are considered regardless of their past mistakes. Crucially, the company should agree not to deny employment to people whose crimes are irrelevant to the job at hand.

    Apple should also follow in the footsteps of large companies in other fields and announce a companywide “Ban the Box” program. The company already claims that it considers all applicants on a “case by case” basis, and it could stand by this promise by removing questions about job applicants’ criminal records from initial employment applications. Walmart and other major companies have already “banned the box”, alongside cities like San Francisco, 15 states and over 100 other cities and counties nationwide.

    Apple should move Silicon Valley forward on second chance employment. Finally, Apple should use its perch as an industry leader to move Silicon Valley forward on fair hiring practices for applicants with criminal records. Apple could convene a Business Leaders Summit to encourage its peers to learn from their mistake. The summit could provide the tools and encouragement for others in the tech industry to commit to fair hiring practices. It could also impart an important lesson to others in the industry: discrimination is not only unfair to qualified job seekers who have made amends for their past mistakes (or been arrested but not convicted). It also means employers may be blindly screening out some of their best and brightest applicants.

    There is a growing bipartisan consensus, echoed by leaders as diverse as Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Rand Paul, that mass incarceration has failed the nation. Seventy million people in the United States, more than 1 in 4 adults, have some type of record of arrests or convictions. These records last a lifetime. This is long after the individual has been held responsible for the crime committed.

    Apple’s policy has already led to the dismissal of employees succeeding in their positions, supporting themselves and their families. This is exemplary of the problem. It is also the way forward. Apple can move closer to realizing its stated vision of a diverse and inclusive workforce where inclusion inspires innovation. With these steps, Apple can ensure that the reality of this vision does not leave millions of Americans with records behind.

    If Silicon Valley is going to achieve its goal of becoming a true meritocracy, it is not enough for us to focus on treating our most privileged workers more fairly. We need to ensure just treatment of the least privileged as well.

    By Ben Jealous and Heather Warnken
    Ben Jealous is partner at Kapor Capital and former president and CEO of the NAACP. Heather Warnken is a program director at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, UC Berkeley School of Law.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Stewart named La. House communications director

    The Louisiana House of Representatives has promoted Cory Stewart to director of communications. Having previously served as public information specialist and deputy director of communications for the House of Representatives, Stewart has 13 years of legislative, communications and organizational leadership experience. His work has received local, state, and national recognition and awards. Stewart is the Chairman of the National Association of Legislative Information and Communications Staff and is the recent recipient of the national Legislative Staff Achievement Award given by the National Conference of State Legislatures. A graduate of Southern University and A&M College, Stewart began his career in public service with the Louisiana House as an intern in 2002 and joined the full-time staff in 2006.

    Read more »
  • ,

    LeBas seeks to ease substitute teacher shortage

    Legislation filed by State Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, is aimed at relieving school systems’ shortage of qualified substitute teachers and helping retired teachers supplement their income.

    “This is for the students,” LeBas said. “It’s best for students to have qualified teachers everywhere,” but current law limits how much time retired teachers can spend in classrooms without affecting their retirement income.

    LeBas’ House Bill 43 seeks to increase the number of days retired teachers can work as substitute teachers without decreasing the size of their retirement checks.

    Former teachers collecting benefits through the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana are prohibited from continuing to receive retirement pay if they return to fulltime teaching. Current law allows them to work as substitute teachers and collect salaries up to 25 percent of their retirement checks, but any pay above that amount results in an equivalent reduction in retirement benefits.

    HB43 would raise the salary cap to 50 percent of benefits, so a teacher who’s eligible to teach 50 days would be able to teach 100 days as a substitute without affecting retirement pay.

    “School board members and superintendents have expressed interest in this because they can’t find qualified teachers to substitute when a regular teacher is out of the classroom,” LeBas said. “Also, many retired teachers have approached me wanting to be substitute teachers.

    “Everyone is saying they have a problem. The whole idea is to offer our students the best possible education,” he said.

    Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said school systems are having “big problems” finding qualified teachers to work as substitutes, especially when a regular teacher is taking extended medical leave, maternity leave or sabbatical.

    Because of the salary limitation, substitutes often can work only short-term and “We want to make sure that when a classroom teacher (takes leave), students are not having to change teachers three or four times because they’re reaching the salary cap,” Meaux said.

    “If we have to hire substitute teachers, why not have the best teachers for our students?” LeBas said. HB43 is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee. The 2015 legislative session begins at noon Monday and must conclude no later than 6 p.m. June 11.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    We, the People, are intelligent enough

    Since this is THE DRUM, I want to sound out a message that communicates a crucial warning for us which may have devastating effects on the lives and health of We, The People.

    On Tuesday, March 31, 2015, the doors closed to the emergency room of Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Midcity. On April 15, 2013,  the doors of Earl K. Long Medical Center closed and on  August 5, 2012, Woman’s Hospital moved out of the community and on  August 6, 2012,  opened  at a remote location much further down Airline Highway.  I am not writing this column to allay blame. Quite the contrary, this calls to attention the need of a more responsible and watchful public whose purpose should, at least, make it more uncomfortable for policy makers and business leaders to fail to consider the concerns of all citizens. In the areas of health, politics, and economics, we all must push to have our say.  When the community fails to use its voice, the silence is deafening and dangerous.

    We, the People, can no longer allow our voices to remain silent while we announce that God “is perfecting those things that concern us,” and we do nothing to perfect them ourselves.

    I speak of my own failure to be more vigilant for I am a part of the equation as well. My complacency was driven home with the realization that a T.I.A (mini stroke) caused me to be admitted to a hospital which was open then but not now.

    It is time to become more proactive in the things that could potentially become a matter of life and death.  The “BEFORE” picture is crucial but the “AFTER” picture stands to be tragic when the lives of our families are at stake.

    We, the People, are intelligent enough, sophisticated enough, watchful enough to know who to vote for ENOUGH, to make our stand respected and considered.

    By barbara w. green
    Columnist

    barbara w. green is a licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, ordained minister, and motivational speaker. Her columns are distributed nationally by the Jozef Syndicate. Follow her at www.barbaragreenministries.com.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Legislators say their top priority is North Baton Rouge’s health care service

    With the closure of the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Hospital Mid City, North Baton Rouge area state legislators issued the following statement regarding the closure and next steps to insure that citizens have continued access to health care services.
     

         “For months we have worked tirelessly with other community leaders, citizen groups, hospital executives, the medical community, and state health and hospital officials to avoid the closure of Baton Rouge General’s emergency room in Mid City. Sadly those efforts were not successful. And while we are encouraged that the state along with its private hospital partner Our Lady of the Lake have made an effort to expand the health care services available to residents at both the LSU Mid City and North Baton Rouge clinics, we are convinced that will not be enough to protect the health, safety and welfare of tens of thousands of hard-working North Baton Rouge area residents.

         What is particularly discouraging is that there are alternatives. Expansion of eligibility for the federally- funded Medicaid program would provide health care coverage to over 200,000 Louisiana citizens and ease the financial burden on health care providers and emergency rooms who now care for those uninsured. It is working in other states, like Arkansas, and it can work here.

         Another option is to re-think the state’s partnership with Our Lady of the Lake Hospital to provide additional state financial support for those hospitals and healthcare providers who treat the uninsured outside the public-private partnership agreement. A direct appropriation to those other hospitals that are impacted by the changing health care landscape should also be considered.

         Anyone who thinks that the closure of the Baton Rouge General Mid City emergency room will not have a ripple effect across not only East Baton Rouge but surrounding parishes as well is not grounded in reality. The effect of the closure will not only impact those who have depended on those services but anyone who is need of emergency health care services in the region, regardless of their insurance status or geographical location. For many it may be a matter of life or death.

         As state legislators and proud residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, we will continue to fight and advocate for a health care system that preserves the lives and livelihoods of our parish, our communities, our neighborhoods and our families.

    —From State Senators Sharon Weston Broome and Yvonne Dorsey Colomb and State Representatives Regina Barrow, Pat Smith, Ted James, Dalton Honore, and Alfred C. Williams.

    Read more »
  • Budget won’t fund primary or voter outreach; Dems speak out

    Louisiana Will Lose Presidential Primary Under Gov. Jindal’s Budget

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler testified in front of the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 18, that Gov. Jindal’s current budget does not provide the funds to hold next year’s presidential primary, and he will be forced to eliminate his office’s voter outreach program as well.  Officials with the Louisiana Democratic Party said what is “especially troubling is that this announcement comes on the heels of the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the historic March in Selma.”

    “This is an absolute outrage and a complete abdication of core responsibilities of the state government,” said Chair Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans). “Reasonable people can have robust conversations about the role and size of government – but surely we should all be able to agree that one role of government is to oversee fair and impartial elections.  Eliminating Louisiana’s voice in the choice of our next president is unacceptable.”

    Given the timing and recent polls, Peterson said, “One must ask the question – is he doing this because he knows he couldn’t win in his own state? How much more will Louisiana have to sacrifice at the altar of Bobby Jindal’s presidential ambitions?” (Jindal garnered two percent support from the most recent Iowa presidential primary poll, and a Republican poll has shown Jindal with a 27 percent approval rating in Louisiana.)

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler

    A presidential primary election would cost the state approximately $3.5 million, according to Secretary of State Tom Schedler who said when his office looked at the budget, he found that there was no money for the primary.  “Matter of fact, there is no funding for elections beyond December, January when they leave office.” A spokesperson from the Division of Administration said they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Prefiled bill seeks to require DHH to provide health care coverage for La residents

    State Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa, has prefiled Senate Bill 40 for the upcoming legislative session.

    The health care bill would require the Louisiana  Department of Health and Hospitals to provide health care coverage with essential health benefits to every legal Louisiana resident whose household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

    The legislative session begins Monday, April 13 in Baton Rouge. SB40 will be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Follow this bill at La Leg Website: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=226625

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Sen. Broome to hold three district meetings

    State Senator Sharon Weston Broome will hold a series of community meetings in the Senate District 15 area prior to the 2015 Regular Legislative Session. Senator Broome will highlight legislative issues and her priorities for the upcoming session.

    Broome urges citizens in the area to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about important state issues.

    Save the date and join the conversation!

    Monday, March 23
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
    Baker Branch Library
    3501 Groom Road
    Baker, La 70714

    Monday, April 6
    6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
    BREC Headquarters
    6201 Florida Boulevard
    Baton Rouge, La 70806

    Tuesday, April 7
    6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
    Zachary Branch Library
    1900 Church Street
    Zachary, La 70791

    The session will convene at noon on Monday, April 13.

    For more information, contact
    lasen15@legis.la.gov or (225) 359-9352

    Read more »
  • ,

    March 12th meeting to discuss potential uses for EKL site

    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION  NEEDED

    East Baton Rouge parish residents, business owners, and other interested stakeholders are invited to a public charrette, Thursday, March 12, to help establish a framework and share ideas to develop the former Earl K Long Hospital site on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.

    The charrette is a hands-on planning session and design exercise where community members, designers, business and property owners and other stakeholders collaborate on a vision for development uses of the former hospital site, which will be demolished during late 2015. The charrette will begin at 6pm, Thursday, March 12, at the S.E. Mackey Community Center, 6543 Ford Street.

    The charrette will include various breakout sessions. Some of those breakout sessions will focus on economic development efforts while others will be geared toward discussing the needs of children and families.

    Local project management firm Franklin Associates will facilitate the charrette. Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., ASLA, DesignJones LLC; Jason Lockhart, Sinektiks, LLC; and Sit Wong, Domain Design, will join Franklin Associates. Representatives from Southern University College of Business, including dean Donald Andrews, and the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning and Commission Office will also be contributing to the discussion.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator, District 15.

    The charette is hosted by District 15 State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, District 29 State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow, District 5 Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards and other community leaders.

    For more information, visit www.5825airline.org 

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  • ,

    Accidental marijuana consumption send kids to hospital

    Marijuana Legalization Debate Continues

    Nationally, state laws surrounding marijuana use have been rapidly changing and, although marijuana use still remains illegal under federal law, many states are pushing for legalization. Currently legal in Colorado and Washington, states such as Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Alaska are following suit with voters opting to legalize marijuana for recreational use. While many individuals are in favor of this push for marijuana legalization, others see the potential for serious problems to arise.

    Individuals who oppose the legalization of marijuana have pointed out that there is higher-than-average use in Colorado and Washington, which were the first two states to sanction recreational cannabis use. The national average for marijuana use is about 12 percent, while the average for Colorado sits at 19 percent and Washington only slightly lower at 18 percent, both of which are increases from the previous year. Furthermore, both states have been inundated with dangerous products, including things such as marijuana edibles, where it is impossible to determine the THC content or identify other potentially harmful additives.

    Hospitals have seen an increase in the number of children who are treated annually for accidental marijuana consumption and are providing reports that more and more teens are needing treatment for marijuana abuse. More specifically, in the beginning of 2014, 14 children in the state of Colorado were hospitalized for accidentally ingesting marijuana, which is a slight increase when compared to 2013 when only 8 children were sent to the hospital. Between 2008 and 2011, the number was even smaller, with only four children requiring this type of emergency care. With a lack of standards for marijuana products, medical professionals do not anticipate seeing a decrease in these numbers anytime soon. For this reason, those who oppose the legalization of marijuana believe that stricter controls and regulations need to be implemented in regards to the distribution of various forms of marijuana, including edibles, because there is currently no set standard for the amount of marijuana that is used in the creation of these products.

    Those who are in favor of marijuana legalization are stating that it is completely irresponsible to draw these types of conclusions with less than a year of data. Marijuana research has drawn a variety of conflicting results and has been limited because of the federal ban.

    Treatment centers, like Acadiana Addiction Center, believe that, despite the legalization of this substance, it is still important to recognize that marijuana can be a dangerous drug that must be used with caution.

    “The legalization of any substance does not eliminate the possibility that overuse will result in harmful effects,” said Care Speranza CEO of Acadiana Addiction Center. “The potential for developing an addiction to marijuana remains, and the detrimental consequences that can arise from such an addiction must not be ignored.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Edwards announces Dist. 5 community meetings

    East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards invites the public to air grievances, speak directly to department officials, and learn about community programs at her district meetings on the following dates at 10 am.

    Saturday, Feb. 28
    Maplewood BREC Park
    8200 Maplewood

    Saturday, April 4
    N. Sherwood Forest BREC
    3140 North Sherwood Forest Dr.

    Saturday,June 6
    Times of Refreshing Ministries
    3745 Mohican Street

    Saturday, August 1
    Delmont Gardens Library
    3351 Lorraine Street

    Saturday,  October 1
    Greenwell Springs Library
    11300 Greenwell Springs Road




     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Summit on Louisiana Families of Color to present quality of life, incarceration reports, Feb. 27

    PICO Louisiana and The Micah Project along with members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus will come together, Feb. 27, at the Southern University Ag Center to present a Summit on Louisiana Families of Color. Reports presented at the summit will show the connection between the health and quality of life of children and the injustice of mass incarceration.

    There will also be a discussion on how to prepare communities for civic engagement and the La. Legislative Black Caucus will hear public concerns through guided discussions around these issues. This FREE event will be an opportunity to learn more about the systems that perpetuate injustices in our state and how your voice can make a difference in creating real change in the lives of our families.

    Date: Friday, February 27, 2015
    Time: 9 am – 2:30 pm
    Location: Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center Baton Rouge, LA
    Breakfast and lunch will be served and free parking is available

    THIS SUMMIT IS FREE and open to leaders, clergy, and concerned citizens who want to assure that ALL families of Louisiana are thriving and ALL children of Louisiana are healthy. Space is limited.


    Register online at http://summitonfamilies.eventbrite.com

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  • Rep. Graves speaks on decision to block the President’s Amnesty Program

    Washington, DC – Congressman Garret Graves (R – La) offered the following comments today after United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking President Obama’s unilateral actions on immigration February 16. 

    “Judge Hanen’s ruling to halt the deportation amnesty program is an important first step to rein in this President’s latest attempt to trample the Constitution via abuse of executive action, and it’s proof that our government’s system of checks and balances works.  The president’s unilateral action on immigration is a blatant overreach of executive power and out of step with the will of the majority of people across our country. I am hopeful that this ruling will encourage the Senate to take seriously the opportunity before them to fund DHS and permanently thwart the Administration’s unconstitutional scheme.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ER closure creates ‘Jindal Death Zone’

    Baton Rouge legislators and citizens gathered on the steps of the capitol regarding the proposed closure of the Baton Rouge General Mid-city  Hospital Emergency Room.   Almost before the diverse crowd could finish saying “amen” for Victory and Power Ministries Pastor Ralph Moore’s invocation, Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb was at the  mike laying out the problem with closing the only emergency facility for people in the heart of the city pointing out if you work downtown, live or work for Exxon  or business in the chemical corridor you are in a “Jindel Death Zone”.  The District 14 democrat called the plan to shut down the last critical care facility in central Baton Rouge “bad government”.  “We know that if Mr. Jindal gets sick he has a helicopter at his disposal,” Dorsey-Colomb said.

    Republican Governor Bobby Jindal  has refused Medicare Expansion causing millions to be without insurance coverage. One colleague of then legislator Bobby Jindal reminded those present at the rally that he had helped push LaCHIP through in 1998. It is a Medicaid expansion program for children.

    State Representative Edward “Ted” James was on hand for what he considers and emergency situation.  The lawyer and McKinley High School grad wishes Earl K. Long had not been shut down before he was elected to office.  The District 101 representative says he wants to work to help fix this problem.

    Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb calls the center of Baton Rouge a "Jindal Death Zone" with the proposed closure of the last critical care emergency room in the area. Photo by Stephanie Anthony

    Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb calls the center of Baton Rouge a “Jindal Death Zone” with the proposed closure of the last critical care emergency room in the area. Photo by Stephanie Anthony

    Father Richard R. Andrus pastor of Saint Paul Catholic Church told the crowd, “the Gospel demands justice”. He also said that in the case of heart attack or a stroke every moment counts. “Our Lives Matter!,” Andrus said.

    Senator Sharon Weston Broome served as moderator of the rally and although the Baton Rouge delegation has not thus far been included in the conversations for solutions they have made individual suggestions including having major corporations like Exxon donate annually to the General.  Another suggestion was to readjust  the state contribution to the B.R. General emergency room to be on par with its contribution to Our Lady of the Lake Regional ME=edical Center.  A stop gap suggestion was to extend the shutdown date beyond 60 days. Several participants suggested that all urgent care clinics operate 24 hours a day until the crises is over.  Most agreed the best long term solution was to have Go. Jindal accept the federal Medicaid expansion.

    By Stephanie Anthony
    LDPnews

    Feature Image: Student activist Blair Brown holds sign with a question at the February 11, 2015 rally at the Capitol regarding the closing of the Baton Rouge General Hospital Emergency Room. photos by Stephanie Anthony

    Read more »
  • ,

    Morrell to confront school reform

    NEW ORLEANS - Senator JP Morrell announced today that he will be resigning his long standing position on the Louisiana State Senate’s Natural Resources Committee to fill the vacant seat on the Senate Education Committee. Morrell’s bold move comes at a contentious time for education in Louisiana.

    Statement from Senator JP Morrell:


     “I did not get into politics to skirt the tough issues. I sought office to help bring about positive, lasting change. That is why I have requested to be appointed to the Senate Education Committee.

    Improving education is the most effective way to enhance quality of life in Louisiana. Today we are faced with a range of challenging issues, including: funding, Common Core, career and technical education, early childhood programs, and school governance. While I do not have all of the answers, I am going to listen to all sides, do my homework, and strive to resolve these issues so that we can get about the business of educating our children and preparing them to succeed in life.

    I support our teachers, our parents, and above all, our students. I learned a lot from watching my mother when she was the principal of McDonogh #15 Elementary School. I saw firsthand the effects of insufficient funding, what can be accomplished by a hard-working, professional faculty and staff, and the impact of parents dedicated to helping their children achieve a better future. As a father of two young children, I want to do my part to ensure that Louisiana is a place where they can receive a world-class education.


    We have arrived at a critical juncture, and the future of our state’s education system – Pre-K to Higher Ed – hangs in the balance. That is why I have taken on this role. I hope to bring people on all sides of the issues together to try to do what is best for our children and the future of this great state.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Forum to detail voter suppression in Louisiana

    Louisiana Progress will present a public forum, “Jim Crow Tactics: Voting and Not Voting in Louisiana,” moderated by Jim Engster, 7pm,  Thursday, October 23, at the LSU African American Cultural Center.

    This forum on voter suppression in Louisiana will feature panelists Chris Tyson, associate professor of law at LSU Law Center;  Roland Mitchell, associate professor of higher education at LSU; Alfreda Tillman Bester, General Counsel for NAACP Louisiana; and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith.

    The panelists will discuss their expert opinions regarding the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, gerrymandering in Louisiana, and how the legacies of race discrimination in voting continue to have consequences for Louisiana today.

    RSVP Online: https://m.facebook.com/messages/read/?tid=mid.1413898987749%3A5f7b0a61b56eb3bb49&soft=notifications

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  • ,,

    Will Ferguson be a tipping point?

    Civil rights leaders across the nation hope to increase Blacks youth voter turnout by citing the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a city where only 12 percent of registered voters turned out to vote in the last city council elections.

    image

    Community organizers in New Orleans and Houston — two cities with a long history of confrontations between Blacks and the police — have mixed views on whether outrage over Ferguson will translate into voter participation. Ferguson may be a rallying call in New Orleans, but it won’t be the dominant theme for staff and volunteers as they work voter registration tables around the city, said Erica Buher of VAYLA-New Orleans, a multi-ethnic community organization focused on youth empowerment. Big Easy youth are attuned and empathetic to Brown’s killing on August 9, but, according to Buher “what happened in Ferguson happens frequently in New Orleans.” Young people have their own Michael Browns to focus on. Their names, Buher said, are virtually unknown outside the city.

    Buher said she remembers when the police officer — convicted of shooting Ronald Madison on Danziger Bridge in Hurricane Katrina’s wake — was freed after a court upheld his appeal in September of 2013. James Brissette, 17, also died on the bridge from police gunfire. Henry Glover was killed in a separate Katrina incident. The police officer charged in his death was also acquitted on appeal last year in December.

    “The court’s reversal [in the Glover case] hit the community hard,” Buher said.

    Just weeks ago, Armand Bennett, a 26-year-old Black man, was shot twice in the head during a NOPD traffic stop by an officer who allegedly turned off her camera before the confrontation. The incident initially went unreported to the public by the police superintendent’s office. Buher said it reminds people all over again of the NOPD’s lack of transparency.

    “We will work to register voters through National Voter Registration Day up until October 6 which is the last day for us,” Buher said.

    Some 23 sites include college and university campuses as well as organizations like Covenant House and Liberty’s Kitchen, which offer services to the homeless and formerly incarcerated juveniles, respectively.

    “We work hard to reach that 18 to 24-year-old transitional age group because they’re such a critical age and they’re the hardest to reach,” Buher said that In Louisiana, “you can actually register to vote when you’re 16. A lot of that under-18 age group is pushing back on the concept that voting is the only way you can be civically engaged.”

    Yet, in Houston, Christina Sanders, the director of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, is convinced that Ferguson has been an “aha moment” for some of her city’s youth and a catalyst that may yield an increase in voter registration rolls.

    “This is a time when I’ve seen more young people connect to the power of the ballot,” Sanders said. She attributes increased interest to social media. “Social media, like Facebook, and the ability to connect with people around the country who are saying the same thing, feeling the same way, that changes the conversation.”

    Sanders agreed with Buher that voter registration is not a panacea or silver bullet to foster change, but the Houston native sees voter registration as the gateway for young people to become more involved in determining how to define and address critical concerns within their communities.

    “Youth should not expect everything to happen overnight, because things didn’t get the way they are overnight,” Sanders said. “Voter registration isn’t sexy, but if you connect with young people about Ferguson and how it affects people’s lives on so many different levels, you have the capacity to build on the fire in people’s bellies. You can build these small fires into a firestorm. What I say to young people is that voting is an opportunity, but your job is to constantly participate.”

    Sanders maintains that Ferguson has brought out a higher level of interest among African American youth in Houston than any single recent incident, an observation about other cities that is shared by Hazel Trice Edney, former editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and current president of the Capital Press Club in the District of Columbia.

    After a recent visit to Ferguson, Edney said she had intense discussions with the media writing class she occasionally teaches at Howard University as an adjunct professor.

    “The students are extremely interested in what’s going on in Ferguson,” she said. “They wanted to know about the disposition of the people, about the next steps the community plans to take. Even more than the Trayvon Martin shooting almost two years ago, Michael Brown’s death has been a wake-up call to many communities.”

    Edney found the stories Ferguson residents told her about police abuse to be appalling, but Brown’s death seems to be a tipping point. “People are in a mood for action. They feel it’s time to do something.”

    By Khalil Abdullah
    New America Media

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  • ,

    Candidates bow out alderman race

    OPELOUSAS– The race for District D Alderman in the city of Opelousas is down from four candidates to two. Derri Levier and Alfred Dupree Jr. are no longer running for office after their opponent Sherell Roberts filed suits against the two. She said neither candidate lives within the district. According to court documents, Roberts alleged that Levier actually lives in Palmetto, and only changed her voter registration to a home in District D to qualify. In another lawsuit, Roberts claimed that Dupree lived in the Opelousas subdivision of Broadmoor, outside of District D and only recently changed his registration to a District D address. Roberts also filed suit against her final competitor, Rachel Babineaux, who is staying in the race after a judge ruled that she is eligible. Election day is November 4th. Current District D alderman Reggie Tatum is not running for re-election and instead is running for mayor of Opelousas.

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  • Session ends with ‘sweeping change’

    THE 2014 LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE session saw sweeping change to state policy. A number of new laws were introduced and a num- ber of changes were made to ex- isting ones. As usual, areas such as public education, abortion, the rights of LGBT individuals and healthcare were front and center. As usual, there were pas- sionate advocates on both sides of each issue.

    As is often the case in Louisiana, there were several bills regarding repro- ductive rights and sex education. One of the most highly publicized bill was HB 388 which was sponsored by District 16 State Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) out of Monroe. The legisla- tion seeks to require that any doctor who performs an abortion at an abortion clinic must have admitting privileges at a hospi- tal within 30 miles of that site. The legis- lation passed and, if signed
    into law by governor Jindal, would force three of thestate’s five abortion clinics to close.

    Perhaps the most controversial bill involving pregnancy was legislation presented by State Representative Austin Badon (D)
    that would mandate that brain dead women who are pregnant must remain on life support if they are at least 20 weeks pregnant in spite of wishes to the contrary by the family or that woman herself.

    Other bills related to the life of the unborn include measures to block sex educators who are affiliated with any organization that supports or provides abortions from entering pub- lic schools and legislation that will require women considering abortions to undergo evaluation and have certain information presented to them. All of these bills passed and are awaiting the signature of Governor Jindal. Three bills by Rep. Pat Smith

    (D-Baton Rouge) regarding sex education failed in committee.

    This session was also an event- ful one in regards to issues facing LGBT citizens. There were three pieces of leg- islation that directly addressed the population. First was a bill presented by Rep. Jared Brosett (D-New Orleans) that would prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation in gender identity. It failed in the House Commerce Committee.

    There was also legislation introduced by Smith that would remove un- constitutional “anti sodomy” laws from Louisiana state law as well as local ordinances. While the bill did pass in committee, it ultimately died on the house floor. Finally, there was legislation introduced to prohibit employment discrimination in Louisiana. However, the legislation was pulled by Rep. Karen St. Germain (D-Plaquemine) who sponsored it because she felt that it would not have the adequate support.

    With a national debate over marijuana in full swing, it was in- evitable that the debate would play out on a state level as well. There was a series of bills proposed from both chambers that would change state policy regarding the drug. Notable efforts include a bill by Senator Fred Mills (R-New Iberia) that would allow for the medical use of marijuana in certain situations and a bill that would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana when the amount was less than 28 grams. All efforts to change existing state law as it relates to marijuana failed.

    Not surprisingly based on Gov- ernor Jindal’s adamant opposition in months prior to session Medicaid expansion did not pass on the state level. Senator Bill Nevers (D- Bogalusa) proposed legislation to let the voters decide whether or not they wanted it. The bill died in the Senate health committee.

    Other notable legislation include efforts to get Louisiana pay day lenders to cap interest rates—which did not pass—and a bill that would change the way schools are penalized for not meeting Common Core standards—that did pass.

    By Terry Young Jr

    Contributing Writer

     

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  • ,,

    EBR School Board seeks District 11 resident to replace Lamana

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board announces a vacancy on the school board due to the death of School Board Member Randy Lamana on April 16, 2014.  At a special meeting to be held on Thursday, May 1, 2014, the Board will appoint a qualified resident of School Board District 11, in the Parish of East Baton Rouge to serve until the duly elected member takes office January of 2015.   

    Qualified residents of District 11 interested in serving should submit a letter of intent along

    image

    with a resume and/or short
    biographical sketch.  Each applicant must also submit a Certificate of Residency/Qualifications from the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters.  The Certificates of Residency/Qualifications can be obtained free of charge.  Please submit the requested documentation to the attention of:

    Mr. David Tatman, President
    East Baton Rouge Parish School Board
    1050 South Foster Drive
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806

    The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM.   

    QUALIFICATIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

    Persons eligible to serve as members of the School Board shall have the following minimum qualifications:

    1. A Board member shall have attained the age of eighteen (18).
    2. A Board member shall be domiciled in the election district for the preceding year, except after reapportionment.
    3. A Board Member shall have resided in the state for the preceding two (2) years.
    4. A Board Member shall be able to read and write.
    5. A Board Member shall not be serving on certain other boards specified in the Constitution of Louisiana.
    6. A Board Member shall have affirmed to the prescribed oath.

    All applicants must also disclose if a member of their immediate family is an employee of the school system.  “Immediate family” as the term relates to a public servant means his children, the spouses of his children, his brothers and their spouses, his sisters and their spouses, his parents, his spouse, and the parents of his spouse.

    For more information, please visit the school system’s web site at www.ebrpss.k12.la.us or contact us by phone at 225-922-5567. 

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  • Jindal Administration asks judge to rescind desegregation order

    GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S  ADministration is asking a federal judge end a desegregation order that bans the state from giving public funds—including school vouchers— to all-white private schools.

    The 1976 landmark Brumfield vs. Dodd decision was rendered after the United States found evidence that Louisiana officials were using taxpayer dollars to encourage white flght after being ordered to integrate public schools.

    The desegregation order still applies to about half of the state’s school systems. Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled in November that the Justice Department had the right to monitor the state’s school voucher program to ensure it does not promote segregation. The Jindal administration wants to end the desegregation order, saying the state has complied with the law for several decades.

    Jindal’s lawyers are also asking Lemelle to reconsider his November decision that allows the Justice Department to monitor the state’s school voucher program to ensure it does not promote segregation.

     

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  • ,

    State Rep. Herbert Dixon resigns

    wpid-wp-1418331131236.jpegALEXANDRIA–State Representative Herbert Dixon, who chairs the Louisiana House Labor committee, has resigned. In an official statement, Dixon writes,

    “I am honored to have served the citizens of District 26 for the last seven years, however I have notified the Speaker of the House that as of December 10, 2014, I have resigned this seat to better manage my health situation, spend more time with family, and pursue other opportunities.

    I’ve served our state and our district in the House of Representatives for nearly a decade and do not resign this position of trust lightly or with little thought.

    It is my hope that I step down from this position having fulfilled the needs of my constituents and my colleagues in the House. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Speaker (Chuck) Kleckley and my fellow members to help Louisiana thrive.”

    “I and the members of the House of Representatives wish Representative Dixon the best of luck in his future endeavors. He worked hard to fight for the needs of our state, but was especially dedicated to his constituents in District 26,” said Kleckley.

    To fill this seat, the Speaker has called a special primary election to be held Saturday, February 21, 2015, with a qualifying period commencing on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 and ending at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 9, 2015.

    Dixon is a native of Alexandria, Louisiana. He is married to Janet Hartwell Dixon and they have 5 children.

    He graduated from Peabody High School in 1967. Representative Dixon received his B.S. Degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA in 1971. As an honorable sailor in the U.S. Navy, he earned a Yeoman Class “A” Certificate in San Diego, CA in 1972. He went on to further studies at George Washington University in 1973. He earned a master’s degree in education from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA in 1975. He has accumulated thirty hours above a the master’s from Northwestern University in Natchitoches, LA .

    In 1992, Representative Dixon was elected to Rapides Parish School Board where he represented District “D” for fifteen Years. In 2007, He was elected to the Louisiana Legislature Representative District 26. During this time, Representative served on the House Education Committee, House and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Transportation, Highways, and Public Works Committee. In 2012, Representative Dixon went in unopposed for a second term and is currently serving as Chairman of Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and is also a member of the Commerce Committee. Representative Dixon is currently a member of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, Louisiana Democratic Caucus and Louisiana Rural Caucus.

    Representative Dixon’s Community Affiliations include being a member of the Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Cenla’s Best, a member of the Rapides Democratic Executive Committee, Warhorse Tailgate Association, Inc., Southern University Alumni Association and the D.A. Anderson Scholarship Committee.

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