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    Formerly incarcerated Louisianans to met Monday, cast first vote together

    After becoming eligible to register on March 1, local activist Checo Yancy along with others will vote for the first time Monday.

    On March 1, approximately 40,000 Louisiana citizens on probation and parole regained their right to vote under Act 636. The law was made possible by members of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), who advocated for the passage of House Bill 265 at the State Capitol during the 2018 legislative session. The majority of these activists were people who are directly impacted by felony disenfranchisement. Thus, come March 1, when Act 636 goes into effect, they will be able to register to vote.

    Yancy, who directs Voters Organized to Educate (VOTE), registered the first day he could. “Now, I’ll be able to elect people who actually have my best interests in mind,” he says. He’ll also be taking advantage of the early voting period for Louisiana’s upcoming Oct. 12 primary election.

    “We have come from out of prison to do all this, and we are doing it,” said Yancy.

    For him and thousands of others, it has not been an easy race to the finish line of the ballot box. People who have a conviction have to go through extra steps in the registration process. This includes getting paperwork from their local probation and parole office, even if they have finished their probation or parole time five, 10, or 20 years ago. For those living in rural Louisiana, the nearest office is a half-day’s drive away. Due in large part to the employment barriers that formerly incarcerated people, many cannot afford to buy a car or hire transportation to obtain that paperwork.

    Find more info here.

     

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    Deltas, NAACP, Urban League host Sept 24 Candidates’ Forum

     On Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. at Baton Rouge Community College’s Magnolia Theatre, 201  Community College Drive, the Baton Rouge Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,  Inc., the Baton Rouge NAACP, and the Urban League, are hosting an East Baton Rouge Candidates’ Forum.

    All candidates are invited to attend. The candidates will have a few minutes to give remarks and there will be questions afterward. After the forum, candidates will have a chance to meet with the attendees. The public is invited to attend.

    “This is a very important election, so our Sorority and partners are committed to help inform and educate our residents on who the candidates are and where they stand on issues of concern to our community,” said Chi Joseph Franklin, president of Baton Rouge Sigma.  “We’re looking forward to a great discussion.”

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    Public invited to submit questions for LPB, CABL Governor’s debate, Sept 26

    Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for a Better Louisiana will present a Louisiana Governor’s Debate, live on Thursday, September 26 from 7PM to 8PM from the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The public is invited to submit questions at lpb.org/debate.

    Participating candidates include incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards (D), U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham (R), and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone (R). The debate will be broadcast statewide on LPB and in New Orleans on WYES and WLAE. It will also be streamed live at LPB.org/live and on public radio stations.

    Debate moderators Beth Courtney, President of LPB, and Barry Erwin, President of CABL will be joined by a panel of distinguished journalists who will pose questions to the candidates. Journalists are: Mark Ballard, The Advocate; Greg Hilburn, USA Today Network; and Natasha Williams, LPB. Candidate-to-candidate questions will also be allowed.

    Courtney said, “For forty years, LPB has presented live candidate debates as an essential part of the democratic process. It is important for voters to hear from the candidates for governor in a candid forum where they can answer questions and explain their positions on vital issues.”

    “We are really pleased to be able to partner once again with LPB to bring this debate to voters across Louisiana,” said Erwin, CABL President. “It’s our hope with this forum to focus on issues that are of importance to the state and give citizens a chance to hear straight from the candidates about their positions and what their priorities will be if elected.”

    As in years past, CABL has set criteria for participation in the debate. For this debate, candidates were invited if they: Have established a campaign committee with a treasurer and campaign staff, and filed campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission prior to the debate; AND polled at least 5% in a nonpartisan or news media poll recognized by CABL released after qualifying; AND raised at least $1 million in campaign funds prior to the debate.

     

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    Insurance executive, local agent Tim Temple announces campaign for Commissioner of Insurance

    DeRidder native and long-time local agent and insurance industry executive Tim Temple announced his candidacy for La. Commissioner of Insurance, saying “For too long we’ve prioritized political experience, and the results have been painful for the citizens of Louisiana.”

    Temple has served in various roles in the insurance industry over the past 25 years, from neighborhood insurance agent to insurance executive helping businesses recover from the BP oil spill. “What Louisiana needs most now is a Commissioner who understands insurance first-hand. For too long we’ve prioritized political experience over knowledge of the industry and the results have been painful for the citizens of Louisiana; the highest auto rates in the nation, fewer companies writing policies, and a business climate which often pays many times more in premiums than our neighboring states. This cannot continue and that’s why I felt I ultimately needed to run for this office,” said Temple.

    The top priorities for Temple will be addressing Louisiana’s highest insurance rates in the nation, increasing competition by recruiting more insurance companies to begin doing business in Louisiana, improving the service and communication aspect of the office, and being a voice for both ratepayers and the industry. Temple is kicking off the campaign with a tour of the state. The tour will begin in Temple’s hometown of DeRidder.

    Temple and his wife Amy Marie Temple, live in Baton Rouge with their two daughters, Aubrey and Sophia. He is president of Temptan, a family owned business in Baton Rouge. While serving on the Louisiana Committee of 100 for Economic Development, he works outside of government to provide leadership and resources. He has helped create real and positive change for Louisiana residents in government, education, and the economy. Temple is a founding board member of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Foundation and a member of the NRA.

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    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield announces run for EBR Coroner

    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield, a board-certified Family Medicine Physician, has officially announced his candidacy for Coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish.

    As coroner, Whitfield would conduct or oversee death investigations, orders of protective custody, Coroner Emergency Certificates, and sexual assault investigations throughout the parish.

    “My mission is not just documenting death, but preserving life,” said Dr. Whitfield whose campaign has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the Louisiana Democrats. The election is Oct. 12, 2019.

    Whitfield is a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge. After graduating from University High Laboratory School, he went on to earn a bachelors of science degree from Southern University. He completed his medical school training at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, his residency in Dayton, Ohio, at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, and a Sports Medicine Fellowship at The Ohio State University. He has a certificate of added qualification in sports medicine.

    He is deputy coroner in East Feliciana and an active member of the American Academy of Family Practice, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society of Sports Medicine, Louisiana State Medical Association, and East Baton Rouge Parish Medical Society. He is also an ambassador/national spokesperson for the American Heart Association, a board member for the organization’s Southeastern Affiliates, and a member of the American Stroke Association’s Advisory Committee. He is a sought-after lecturer and educator, addressing health-related issues in front of local and national audiences.

    As “Tha Hip-Hop Doc,” Dr. Whitfield shares health messages to people across the globe. What started as a simple nickname from students has become a persona that allows him to connect with a generation that needs a deeper understanding of the health issues they face. “Young people respond when they feel that you are sincere and actually care about them,” he said. “To be easily accessible to young people makes a big difference.”

    Dr. Whitfield said he will continue to use his grass-roots and hands-on approach as Coroner for the people of East Baton Rouge Parish, actively engaging the public, conducting outreach to citizens, and working to address the many challenges facing citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish. He has served on the boards of educational and civic organizations including the Southern University Board of Supervisors and has received multiple awards. He served as a physician volunteer and medical director of the National Association of Free Clinics Communities are Responding Everywhere (C.A.R.E) which provides free health care to the underserved patients across the USA.

    Married to registered nurse Kiara and the father of two children, Dr. Whitfield is also a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc and a bass player in the band U4ria.

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    Ben & Jerry’s debut flavor backing criminal justice reform

    Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has unveiled a new flavor to highlight what it calls structural racism and a broken criminal justice system.

    Justice ReMix’d is described as cinnamon and chocolate ice cream with gobs of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownies. A portion of proceeds supports Advancement Project National Office, a multi-racial civil rights group and its fight for justice for all, despite race or wealth.

    The company said it has been working with Advanced Project in St. Louis to close The Workhouse jail and in Miami to slow what the two groups call “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

    “Our approach to creating social change is to raise up the work non-profits are doing on the ground,” said Co-Founder Ben Cohen. “We bring every resource we have to support them—our business voice, our connection with fans, our Scoop Shop community and of course, ice cream. Somehow, it’s easier to talk about difficult issues over a scoop or two.”

    At the grassroots level, Ben & Jerry’s is deploying its Scoop Truck in various states to spark conversations, activate community members, and give away ice cream. It’s a tactic that has proven effective in growing social movements.

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    Mayor Broome releases a statement on Gov. Edwards veto

    In response to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a Senate bill which would have allowed for the proposed City of St. George to continued collection of certain sales taxes, EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said:

    I’m pleased with the decision by the Governor to veto Senate Bill 229 due to the adverse effects on the entire Parish of East Baton Rouge. The amendments made on the Senate floor would have allowed the proposed City of St. George to simply walk away from debt and pension obligations for services that benefit all citizens.

    Despite an agreement in a Senate Committee with the bill’s authors, Senator Dan Claitor and Senator Bodi White, the agreement was altered on the Senate floor without consultation with my office or the City-Parish Employees’ Retirement System general counsel. Serious concerns about the effects of the floor amendments would have been communicated to both Senators.

    The bill would have forced EBRI and the proposed City of St. George into unnecessary and expensive litigation to interpret the floor amendment provisions that were added without any notice or consultation. The fact remains that this transition legislation is not needed because current law provides that the Governor shall appoint all officers of a newly incorporated municipality until the next general election.

    As demonstrated by our cooperation and negotiation during the legislative process, my office stands at the ready to negotiate a transition with the City of St. George should the voters approve of the new municipality on October 12. I commend the Governor for listening to the concerns of all of the citizens in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    Click here to read the governor’s veto letters.

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    Kamala Harris earns first endorsements for Helena Moreno, Rep. Ted James

    Senator Kamala Harris has earned her first endorsements in Louisiana, a critical early primary state, from New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno and State Representative Ted James earlier this month. Louisiana’s 2020 Democratic primary will be on Saturday, March 7, just four days after Super Tuesday. Fifty delegates will be up for grabs.

    Moreno and James are pointing to Harris’ commitment to help working families through policies like the LIFT Act and her recently released equal pay plan as reasons for their early support. Moreno is the first Latina to serve as New Orleans City Council President. The two will serve as Harris’ campaign co-chairs for the state.

    New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno

    New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno

    “Kamala Harris is just the type of bold,  courageous leader our country needs and I couldn’t be prouder to endorse her for President,” said Moreno. “I’m inspired by Kamala’s commitment to building coalitions and connections that unite us around priorities that America needs to work for all people, not the just the wealthy and well-connected. I look forward to helping elect the first woman president who is champion for paying teachers their worth, closing the gender pay gap and uplifting working class families.”

    “There is no better leader to unite our country at this time of paralyzing divisiveness than Kamala Harris,” said James. “Kamala has spent the balance of her life fighting to ensure everyone has equal and adequate access to health care, fair wages and safe communities. Louisianans, and Americans across the country, can count on her to be their champion in the White House, and I’m proud to endorse her for President of the United States.”

    State Rep. Ted James

    State Rep. Ted James

    “I’m so proud to have the endorsement of Helena and Ted in this race,” said Harris. ‘They understand that when we lead with our values we move closer to a more perfect union. I look forward to working with them to build a better future for our children – that includes ensuring access to quality education, clean air and water and affordable healthcare. Louisiana will play a critical role in determining the nominee and I look forward to earning the support ofLousianan’s across the state.”

    These endorsements come ahead of Senator Harris’ southern campaign swing with stops in Alabama and South Carolina. Harris has been to Louisiana twice as a candidate and was last in New Orleans in April to speak to more than 10,000 members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at their South Central regional conference.

     

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    May 29 is Louisiana Black Chamber Day at the Capitol

    Make plans to join Louisiana Black business leaders from across the state for a day at the Louisiana State Capitol, Wed. May 29, 8:30am – 3pm to interact with legislators, explore the halls of the Capitol, and see how the legislative process works first-hand.

    Attendees will gain insight on the legislative process and can:

    • Engage with Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members
    • Commemorate a special proclamation in support of Louisiana Black Chamber Day
    • Attend committee meetings and see the legislative process in action
    • Get updates and information from Louisiana Workforce Commission, Louisiana Economic Development, and other state agencies
    • Show pride for Black business within Louisiana

    ONLINE: https://brmbcc.org/

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    State Representative Barbara Norton to hold equal pay rally

    State Representative Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport of House District 3, will hold an equal pay rally on Thursday in the Governor’s Press Room on the 4th floor of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, to bring awareness to the gender pay gap in Louisiana.  Currently, Louisiana women earn 69 cents for every dollar Louisiana men earn, meaning women have to work an additional three months to earn the same pay a man would earn in a single year.  This staggering difference in pay can affect a woman’s ability to provide for her family, and additionally would affect her retirement and social security benefits for a lifetime.

    “It is important for citizens to recognize and understand this issue, and to work together to bring about a much-needed change,” said Norton whose most recent equal pay bill, House Bill 289, stalled in the House Labor committee by a vote of 6-9. Although the equal pay bill has been introduced many times, it has only once made it to the full House for a vote.

    “I have carried equal pay legislation for nine years, and I am determined and committed to continue to fight for the rights of women,” said Norton.  “I continue to ask the question, why not, why not, why not pass this bill? To this very day, I have yet to receive an answer.  If women are just as qualified and have the same credentials to do the work, then why are they not receiving the same pay? ”

    Norton’s Equal Pay Rally will be held this Thursday, May 23, from 8:00 am to 9:00 am, in the Governor’s Press Room on the 4th floor of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.  Speakers will include Louisiana Pay Equity Lobbying Director Camille Moran, members of the Louisiana Legislature, and members of local equal pay for women groups.

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    Public invited to second Baton Rouge Zoo & Greenwood open house public meeting

    Round #2 of the Greenwood Community Park and Baton Rouge Zoo Master Planning Meetings.

    We heard you! Join us to see how our nationally renowned consultants took your ideas and created preliminary master plans for the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Community Park. You will choose which ideas you like best for the next phase of the park and learn how your Zoo will be completely transformed one phase at a time.

    Thursday, May 2, 2019

    6 – 8 pm
    Highland Road Community Park
    Recreation Center
    N. Amiss Rd., Baton Rouge, LA
    (From Highland Rd., turn north onto Amiss Rd., then east onto N. Amiss Rd. Destination will be on the right.)

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    Women of Cancer Alley to show March 8 with RootsCampLA

     

    On Friday, March 8th, RootsCampLA is participating in the traveling premiere of the film “The Women of Cancer Alley.”  We’ll be showing it in partnership with the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and 350 New Orleans.  

    Women from around the Cancer Alley area became new filmmakers this year, each crafting two-minute stories of their experience living next to petrochemical plants.  Using footage from their own lives, these new filmmakers are ready to take their stories on the road as leaders and strategists for the Louisiana environmental movement.  The screening includes a pane discussion with the women who shared their life stories in the film.

    This film viewing is open to the general public at no cost.

    Time and Location: Friday, March 8th from 6-8:00pm at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge located at 8470 Goodwood Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806

    tickets are availble x for the entire RootsCampLA weekend

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    Supreme Court halts closure of abortion clinics in Louisiana

    On Feb. 7, the Supreme Court granted an emergency request from the Center for Reproductive Rights, blocking a law that would have shut down some of the last three abortion clinics in Louisiana . The law, which was set to take effect on February 8, would prohibit physicians from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The justices voted 5-4 to grant the stay, with a dissenting opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    An identical admitting privileges law in Texas was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In that case, the Supreme Court found that requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

    “The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The three clinics left in Louisiana can stay open while we ask the Supreme Court to hear our case. This should be an easy case—all that’s needed is a straightforward application of the court’s own precedent.”

    The Supreme Court’s stay comes after the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana’s admitting privileges law in a split 2-1 ruling last September. In January, the Fifth Circuit refused to rehear the case and also refused to put the law on hold while The Center petitioned for certiorari. In his dissent, Judge James Dennis warned that the Fifth Circuit’s decision to uphold the law would have “devastating effects on women’s rights to abortion”. He also noted that, “Women in poverty, who make up a high percentage of women seeking abortions in Louisiana, would be especially burdened by the closures, because any travel, child care, and required time off work would burden them disproportionately”.

    The law at issue, Act 620, would require any physician providing abortion services in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure. There is no medical justification for this requirement, as abortion is extremely safe. In fact, the rate of major complications requiring hospitalization is about 2 in 1,000 women. Hospitals frequently deny admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions for reasons ranging from ideological opposition to the fact that too few of their patients will ever need hospital care.

    The Center for Reproductive Rights originally filed this case in August, 2014.  Plaintiffs are a women’s health center, doctors and their patients. Julie Rikelman and Travis J. Tu are lead counsel for plaintiffs, along with local counsel Larry Samuel.

    Cases:  June Medical Services v. Gee

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    Kelvin Hill hired to oversee public works

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has hired Kelvin J. Hill to fill the newly created assistant chief administrative officer position overseeing all six city-parish public works departments, beginning Feb. 4.

    Hill, the former vice president of operations at Georgia Pacific in Port Hudson, will be charged with supervising the departments of building and grounds, development, environmental services, fleet management, maintenance, and transportation and drainage.

    “The addition of Mr. Hill to my administration bolsters our capacity to ship high-high quality providers to the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish,” stated Broome in a news release. “He brings a wealth of experience to our public works departments, which are the spine of City-Parish government.”

    Hill served as the vice president of operations at Georgia-Pacific and has more than 20 years of operations and management expertise.

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    Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights & Justice honors Black Panther Malik Rahim

    The Center for African and African American Studies at Southern University at New Orleans partnered with Southern University Law Center’s Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights & Justice to honor and recognize Louisiana’s own Malik Rahim (formerly known as Donald Guyton) at an inaugural Living Legend Award Celebration, Jan. 18, at the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work on SUNO’s campus.

    Rahim was selected because of his lifelong commitment to community activism.

    He enlisted in the United States Navy and after an honorable discharge, he became a founding member of the Louisiana Black Panther Party. He later served as a founding member of Sister Helen Prejean’s anti-death ministry, Pilgrimage for Life, as a founding member of the Fisher Projects Health Clinic and GED studies program and as the founder of the Angola 3 Support Committee. Following Hurricane Katrina, he served Louisiana citizens in need through immediate rescue efforts and later founded Common Ground Collective, which offered free healthcare, legal, rebuilding and clean up services in homes, schools and commercial buildings in nine parishes. By the time his work with CGC ended, approximately half a million Louisiana citizens had been served at no cost. From the 1970s until the present, Rahim has been a fierce and committed advocate for environmental and social justice, housing and prisoner rights and civil and human rights.

     

    Feature photo of Malik Rahim is from BlackSourceMedia.com

     

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    Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance holds inaugural meeting at the SU Ag Center

    The Southern University Land-Grant Campus hosted the inaugural meeting of the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance (LIHA) on Monday, January 14.

    The meeting, which was held in Fisher Hall on Southern University’s Campus, was convened to address new legislation regarding Industrial Hemp.

    “Industrial Hemp has been around for millennia,” said Arthur Walker, Chair of the LIHA. “It is a grain in the family of Cannabis Sativa L. The difference between it and other versions of the cannabis plant is in the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. It has a level of .3% and below. Marijuana, its cousin, has THC levels of 5 and above,” he said.

    THC is the psychotropic component of the plant that can cause individuals to experience a “high.” Making it virtually impossible to get high from the Industrial Hemp plant.

    However, it was still classified as a schedule I drug, along with marijuana, by the Nixon administration in the ’70s. Making it illegal to be grown in the United States, but, the purchase of imported raw materials to manufacture products from the plant was legal.

    Many of these products include clothes, soap, fiberboard and insulation.

    “For a number of years the US has spent morethan $150 million per year on importing Industrial Hemp products just from China alone,” said Joe Lavigne, LIHA member. “We feel that Louisiana is the perfect safe space to take a fraction of that market and really drive the Industrial Hemp economy.”

    “The small farmers and the small business owners of Louisiana need that infusion of opportunity,” said Walker.

    The 2018 Farm Bill officially removed Industrial Hemp from the schedule I classification. Industrial Hemp is now classified as a commercial commodity like corn, sugarcane, and rice.

    “Now farmers can get crop insurance and receive financing opportunities from the federal government to start growing Industrial Hemp,” said Walker. “The whole commodity designation and moving Industrial Hemp from the Department of Justice, where it was a schedule I drug, to the control of the Department of Agriculture is a game changer.” 

    As of the end of December 2018, 40 states had passed legislation that allowed their farmers and business owners to get involved with Industrial Hemp. Louisiana is among the last 10 states to have no legislation for the commodity.

    “With the passage of the Farm Bill, those 40 states that have passed legislation are now ready to go to commercialization, as long as their laws are modified to fit under the federal umbrella,” said Walker. “Louisiana has to have something established from ground zero.”

    The Alliance hopes to influence legislation in the state of Louisiana to allow the state’s small farmers and business owners to involve themselves in the commercial end of Industrial Hemp.

    If legislation is passed, the Southern University Land-Grant Campus plans to assist small farmers in the propagation of the crop.

    “Part of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’s mission is to work with small, limited resource farmers throughout the state. We will assist the LIHA in helping to teach small farmers how to grow, cultivate and prepare this commodity as a value-added crop that can be exported throughout the world,” said Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus. “It is our hope that this crop will enable small farmers to remain on their farms and be able to earn a decent living by growing Industrial Hemp.”

    The Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance’s mission is to aid in the acceptance of the free marketing of Industrial Hemp as an agricultural crop in Louisiana. The organization is dedicated to a free market of Industrial Hemp, Low-THC varieties of Cannabis, and to change current laws to allow Louisiana farmers to grow this crop and Louisiana processors to process this crop on a commercial scale.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

    For additional information about the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance, contact Arthur Walker at artw@communicationsone.com.

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    Kenneth Sanders elected Justice of the Peace

    Southern University alumn Kenneth Sanders has been elected Democratic judge of the Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Courts in Arlington, TX.  Sanders is part of a historic number of new Black justices of the peace in Texas. The Fort Worth native defeated the incumbent in the general election on Nov. 8, 2018.

    See his swearing in here: https://youtu.be/xS7ak9Fm-GQ

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    Dyslexia screening provision included in new criminal justice reform bill

    Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate health and education committee, announced that his provision providing for the screening of inmates for dyslexia is included in the new version of the First Step Act (S. 3649), legislation endorsed by President Trump to reform America’s criminal justice system. Cassidy announced his support for the legislation two weeks ago.

    “Having treated patients in prisons, I learned that illiteracy often leads someone to turn to a life of crime. Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I’m pleased Chairman Grassley, Jared Kushner and the White House agreed to incorporate my proposal for screening inmates for dyslexia into this bill. It makes sense that if a someone learns to read, they’re less likely to end up in prison and more likely to be a productive member of society. And if someone ends up in prison, they’re more likely to get a job and keep it once they are released. In the end, I think this will save some people from the prison system, make our streets safer, and save taxpayers money.”

    A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.

    The First Step Act will formally define dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell.” The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate an evidence-based, low-cost, readily available dyslexia screening program into the new risk and needs assessment system, including by screening for dyslexia during the prisoner intake process and each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner. It also requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate dyslexia treatment programs into recidivism reduction programs.

    In October, Cassidy and his wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, coauthored a column about their family’s personal struggle to overcome dyslexia.

    In June, Cassidy met with Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner about prison reform, and Cassidy stressed the need to identify and address dyslexia in early education in order to prevent students from being consigned to a path of illiteracy, crime, and incarceration.

    Ameer Baraka

    Ameer Baraka

    In May 2016, Cassidy chaired a HELP Committee hearing on understanding dyslexia. The hearing featured actor Ameer Baraka, a New Orleans native who struggled with dyslexia as a student and turned to selling drugs. Barak discussed how he taught himself to read in prison on Fox News in April 2017.

    In February 2016, Cassidy’s READ Act was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to devote at least $2.5 million to dyslexia research every year.

    In 2015, Cassidy hosted world experts on dyslexia for a discussion at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and chaired HELP Committee field hearings on dyslexia and education in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    Each year, Cassidy introduces a resolution in the Senate designating October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

    Read more »
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    Barrow, Peacock named State Senators of the Year

    The Childcare Association of Louisiana recently named Senator Regina Barrow and Senator Barrow Peacock as its 2018 State Senators of the Year.

    District 15 State Senator Regina Barrow was honored for her support of important legislative reform issues promoted by the association and her many other significant contributions on behalf of early childhood education. The association also noted her tireless work in ensuring the safety and education of the state’s youngest learners and her passion about early childhood education. Senator Barrow is currently enrolled in the Tulane University Early Childhood Policy Leadership Institute and will graduate in November 2018.

    Barrow Peacock

    Barrow Peacock

    District 37 State Senator Barrow Peacock was also selected for the award. He promoted legislation during the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana legislature to lower the cost of childcare. The association also noted his consistent support of early childhood education when selecting him for the award.

    The Childcare Association of Louisiana is a professional organization serving the needs of licensed childcare centers and early childhood education across the state. Its mission is to educate, advocate and collaborate to build a premier, proactive early childhood education industry for Louisiana families.

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    State expands medical marijuana treatments

    Three years ago, the Louisiana Legislature approved medical marijuana as a treatment option for certain health conditions.

    The drug is expected to become available to patients this year.

    The number of people who could qualify has grown to about 100,000, after the Legislature expanded the program.

    A previous rule by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners limited doctors to recommending medical marijuana to just 100 patients each. But the state board voted  last month to eliminate that patient cap, out of concern that it would make the drug too difficult to access.

    Only a limited number of specially-licensed pharmacies will distribute medical marijuana  Louisiana has not legalized recreational marijuana.

    LSU and Southern University’s agriculture centers are growing the plant and will process the medicine into different forms, like oils, edibles or pills.

    Medical marijuana does not include the inhalation or vaping of cannabis. According to the law it cannot be in raw form or smoked.

    Around 30 physicians in Louisiana have been approved to recommend the drug.

    The list of debilitating conditions that will be eligible for treatment include:

    • Cancer
    • HIV+ status
    • AIDS
    • Wasting syndrome
    • Seizure disorders
    • Epilepsy
    • Spasticity
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Muscular dystrophy,
    • Glaucoma
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Severe muscle spasms
    • Intractable pain
    • Post traumatic disorder
    • Some conditions associated with autism spectrum disorder.

    ONLINE: ldh.la.gov

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    Should jury convictions be unanimous? and other questions head to Louisiana voters Nov. 6

    Senator J.P. Morrell

    Senator J.P. Morrell

    Like the rest of the nation, Louisiana voters will head to the polls November 6 for mid-term elections. But, here, voters will also decide on six constitutional amendments including one that has garnered national attention from criminal justice activists, entertainers, and legal organizations. It is the question of if  jury convictions be unanimous?

    Clearly one of the most discussed political and legal policies of the recent legislature, the non-unanimous juries were proven to vestiges of Jim Crow policies that unfairly lead to mass incarceration and voter suppression statewide.  Originally a senate bill  authored by Senator. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), the law goes to vote in November. Voters will decide the fate of a new law and change in the constitution to require juries in felony cases to reach a unanimous verdict. Right now, only 10 of 12 jurors are needed, even on some murder cases.

    Angela Allen-Bell

    Angela Allen-Bell

    “We are sending people to prison (for felonies) routinely without the unanimous vote of 12,” law professor Angela Allen-Bell told Eric Hatfield and Perry Daniels, hosts of Louisiana All American Sports Show on WYBR 96.9FM. “This is historic. This is important. This is going to be the greatest piece of criminal justice legislature to impact any of us in our lives because of the far-reaching effects of this.” She started public discussion on the topic in 2015 at Southern University Law Center. Allen-Bell, a legal analyst, said the damage of the unjust, non-unanimous jury law is extensive.

    In two months, voters will also decide if convicted felons can be allowed to run for office, if certain funds can be used for traffic control, and if increased property taxes be phased in. Here are the amendments as they will appear at the polls:

    Proposed Amendment No. 1 : Act 719 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to add Article I, Section 10.1 to the Louisiana Constitution.

     “Do you support an amendment to prohibit a convicted felon from seeking or holding public office or appointment within five years of completion of his sentence unless he is pardoned?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 2: Act 722 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article I, Section 17(A) of the Louisiana Constitution.

     “Do you support an amendment to require a unanimous jury verdict in all noncapital felony cases for offenses that are committed on or after January 1, 2019?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 3:  Act 717 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 14(B) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment to permit, pursuant to written agreement, the donation of the use of public equipment and personnel by a political subdivision upon request to another political subdivision for an activity or function which the requesting political subdivision is authorized to exercise?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 4: Act 720 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 27(B)(1) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment to remove authority to appropriate or dedicate monies in the Transportation Trust Fund to state police for traffic control purposes?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 5:  Act 721 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to add Article VII, Sections 18(G)(6), 21(K)(4) and (M)(4) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment to extend eligibility for the following special property tax treatments to property in trust: the special assessment level for property tax valuation, the property tax exemption for property of a disabled veteran, and the property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a person who died while performing their duties as a first responder, active duty member of the military, or law enforcement or fire protection officer?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 6: Act 718 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 18(A) and (F) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment that will require that any reappraisal of the value of residential property by more than 50%, resulting in a corresponding increase in property taxes, be phased-in over the course of four years during which time no additional reappraisal can occur and that the decrease in the total ad valorem tax collected as a result of the phase-in of assessed valuation be absorbed by the taxing authority and not allocated to the other taxpayers?”

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    Congressman says Democrats who want to win in November must advertise in the Black Press

    While there’s at least a perceived growing number of Democrats who say they want to replace California Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn has emerged as a favorite among his peers to become the first African American to hold that position.

    In an exclusive interview with the NNPA Newswire, the 25-year congressman said that, while he’s ready for the challenge, Democrats currently have much bigger fish to fry.

    “The first order of business is to win the [midterm] elections on November 6,” Clyburn said. “That’s what I’ve been concentrating on.”

    Clyburn and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond each told the NNPA Newswire that they’ve identified 37 districts across the country they believe can be won by Democrats this year, which would wrest control of the House from Republicans.

    “We feel, with the right kind of effort, we can win,” Clyburn said.

    Clyburn listed three keys to success this November.

    The first key, Clyburn said, is to prioritize the Black vote; Democrats can’t afford to take the African American vote for granted.

    The secondly, the Democrats shouldn’t rely on an anti-President Donald Trump wave to get out the vote. Finally, Clyburn said that candidates must advertise in the Black Press , if they want to win in November.

    “We are also talking about districts where Barack Obama won twice and where Hillary Clinton also won, but these voters don’t turn out for the so-called ‘off-year elections,’” Clyburn said. “We can’t let these voters feel like we’re taking them for granted.”

    Clyburn, 78, said he was recently taken aback by one candidate, who said that he could win the Black vote by running on an anti-Trump platform.

    “Wait one second,” Clyburn said that he told the individual. “We can’t just go around being ‘Republican-light.’ We have to be out there putting forth an alternative message, for our base, and we have to reach out to Black voters and let them know we’re not taking them or any of our base for granted.”

    To that end, Clyburn said advertising campaigns must largely include the Black Press.

    “It’s very, very important…Chairman Richmond and I have had candidates in and we’ve been telling them that one of the best ways to demonstrate that you’re not taking the Black vote for granted is to advertise in the Black Press,” Clyburn said.

    The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is the oldest and largest trade group representing the Black Press, comprised of more than 200 Black-owned newspapers operating in the the United States.

    “I’ve been in [the Black Press]. My daughter and I ran a newspaper down South, so I know that candidates tend to take Black media for granted,” Clyburn said. “They tend to judge Black media the same way they do other media and you just can’t do that, because the business model is totally different.”

    Each Sunday after attending Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., Clyburn said he and other churchgoers habitually pick up the local Black-owned newspaper.

    “People tend to pay attention to the headlines, the stories and the ads in the Black Press so it’s vitally important that candidates know this,” Clyburn said.

    A former history teacher, Clyburn said Trump’s obsession with dismantling Obama’s legacy is reminiscent of tactics employed by Andrew Johnson to demean his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln.

    Johnson, who was impeached by House, had a vision of America as a White man’s government, according to historians.

    “If you remember, it’s the same kind of reaction Johnson had to Lincoln and I remember sitting alone once in the Oval Office with Obama and I told him that this would be the kind of reaction he could expect,” Clyburn said.

    “[Obama] was never going to get the kind of respect for his presidency that was shown to presidents before him,” Clyburn said. “The narrative that exists in this country is that there are certain things that Black folks are not supposed to do and one of those things is becoming the president of the United States and [President Trump] and his administration, feel they have to do whatever they can to wipe out any semblance that Barack Obama was ever president of the United States.”

    Clyburn continued: “[Trump] has a deep-seated hatred for people of color and it manifests itself every day.”

    Though he doesn’t support or agree politically with former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, Clyburn said he was deeply troubled when Trump referred to her as a “low life” and a “dog.”

    “I’m the father of three daughters and I’m deeply insulted by the president of the United States referring to an African American women the way he referred to her,” he said. “Politics aside, I’m insulted that the president of the United States would denigrate the office in this way.”

    Clyburn continued: “The president asked an important question when he was running, ‘What do we have to lose?’ Well, we have lost dignity and the respect of the presidency, because of his coarseness in the office. When you lose respect, you’ve lost about everything there is to lose.”

    While he still supports Pelosi, Clyburn said that if the Democrats take back the House, he’s up for the job as speaker.

    “I have always supported her, but I have always remembered a sermon I heard my father give a number of times,” Clyburn said. “That sermon stayed with me and he said, ‘keep your lamps trimmed and burning to be ready when the bridegroom comes.’ My point is, I’ve never forgotten that sermon so I keep my lamp burning so I’m ready.”

    Stacy Brown is an NNPA Newswire Contributor and co-author of “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask: An Insider’s Story of the King of Pop.” Follow Stacy on Twitter @stacybrownmedia.

    This article was originally published on BlackPressUSA.com.

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    QUALIFIED!

    Meet the candidates vying for votes in Tangipahoa’s November 6 election

     

    Secretary of State

    (One to be elected)

    R. Kyle Ardoin, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

    Heather Cloud, Turkey Creek,Republican, White Female

    ‘Gwen’ Collins-Greenup, Clinton, Democrat, Black Female

    A.G. Crowe, Pearl River, Republican, White Male

    ‘Rick’ Edmonds, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

    Renee Fontenot Free, Baton Rouge, Democrat, White Female

    Thomas J. Kennedy III, Metairie, Republican, White Male

    Matthew Paul ‘Matt’ Moreau, Zachary, No Party, White Male

    Julie Stokes, Metairie, Republican,  White Female

     

    U. S. Representative 1st Congressional District

    (One to be elected)

    Lee Ann Dugas, Kenner, Democrat, White Female

    ‘Jim’ Francis, Covington, Democrat, White Male

    Frederick ‘Ferd’ Jones, Ponchatoula, Independent, White Male

    Howard Kearney, Mandeville, Libertarian, White Male

    Tammy M. Savoie, New Orleans, Democrat, White Female

    Steve Scalise,Jefferson, Republican, White Male

     

    U. S. Representative 5th Congressional District

    Ralph Abraham Archibald, Republican, White Male

    Billy Burkette, Pride, Independent,  American Indian Male

    Jessee Carlton Fleenor, Loranger, Democrat, White Male

    Kyle Randol, Monroe, Libertarian, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District A

    (One to be elected)

    Walter Daniels, Amite, Democrat, Black Male

    Jonathan Foster, Amite, Democrat, Black Male

    Janice Fultz Richards, Fluker, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District B

    (One to be elected)

    Rodney Lee, Loranger, Independent, White Male

    ‘Tom’ Tolar, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District C

    (One to be elected)

    Robin Abrams, Independence, Republican, White Female

    Janice Reid Holland, Independence, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District D

    (One to be elected)

    Terran Perry, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Phillip David Ridder Jr., Tickfaw, Republican, White Male

    Glenn Westmoreland, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District F

    (One to be elected)

    ‘Randy’ Bush, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

    Christina ‘Chris’ Cohea, Hammond, No Party, White Female

    E. Rene Soule, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    ‘Mike’ Whitlow, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District G

    (One to be elected)

    Alvon Brumfield, Hammond, No Party, White Male

    Jerry Moore, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Betty C. Robinson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District I

    (One to be elected)

    Rose Quave Dominguez, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Female

    Arden Wells, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

    John H. Wright Jr., Ponchatoula, Democrat, Black Male

     

    Mayor City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Oscar ‘Omar’ Dantzler, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Jim ‘J.’ Kelly Jr., Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Peter Michael Panepinto, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Mayor Town of Kentwood

    (One to be elected)

    Rochell Bates, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Irma Thompson Gordon, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Michael ‘Mike’ Hall, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Herbert Montgomery, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

     

    Chief of Police – Town of Kentwood

    (One to be elected)

    Gregory ‘Big’ Burton, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Michael Kazeroni, Kentwood, Republican, Black Male

     

    Council Member District  1, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Kiplyn ‘Kip’ Andrews, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Carl R. Duplessis, Hammond, No Party, White Male

    ‘Chris’ McGee Sr.,Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

     

    Council Member District  2, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Carlee White Gonzales, Hammond, Republican, White Female

    Craig Inman, Hammond, Republican,White Male

    ‘Josh’ Taylor, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member District  3, City of Hammond

    Janice Carter, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

    Devon Wells, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    ‘Brad’ Wilson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Council Member District  4, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Sam Divittorio, Hammond, Republican, White Male

    Justin Thornhill, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member District  5, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Louise Bostic, Hammond, No Party, White Female

    Steven Leon, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member(s) Town of Kentwood

    (Five to be elected)

    Gary Callihan, Kentwood, Democrat, White Male

    Irma Clines, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Tre’von D. Cooper, Kentwood, Independent, Black Male

    Xavier D. Diamond, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Antoinette Harrell, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Terrell ‘Teddy’ Hookfin, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Shannon R. Kazerooni, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    William Lawson, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

    James Robbins, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

    Michael L. Sims, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Steven J. Smith, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Paul Stewart, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Tonja Thompson, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    John Williams, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Audrey T. Winters, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Council Member(s) Village of Tickfaw

    (Three to be elected)

    ‘Mike’ Fedele, Tickfaw, Other, White Male

    ‘Steve’ Galofaro, Tickfaw, Other, White Male

    Guy J. Ribando, Tickfaw, Democrat, White Male

    Jimmy Sparacello, Tickfaw, No Party, White Male

     

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    Congressional Black Caucus speaks out on immigration bills, family separation

    The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) – led by CBC Chair Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) and the CBC Immigration Task Force Chair Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) – released the following statement on two immigration bills that House Republicans are trying to pass this week, the Securing America’s Future Act and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.

    “Make no mistake about it, both of these bills – the Securing America’s Future Act and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act – are extreme measures that seek to allow Republicans to avoid responsibility in an election year for a crisis that they themselves created, rather than actually bringing justice to the more than 1.5 million DREAMers who have been waiting for years for Congress to act.

    “Both bills would allocate billions of dollars to an unnecessary and ineffective border wall, rather than opening our borders and hearts to immigrants.

    “Both bills are an attack on immigrant families that would limit, if not completely eliminate, key family reunification policies, including sponsorships for married family members. In addition, children would still be able to be separated from their parents, or else forcibly detained with them for an indefinite period as many of them were over Father’s Day weekend. Uniting families strengthens communities, which is something the party of family values should support.

    “In addition, by threatening to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a program whose recipients are typically from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, both bills seek to keep black and brown immigrants out of this country, even though recipients are required to have a high school diploma and pass a thorough background check.

    “Finally, both bills don’t have any Democratic support because Republicans chose to ditch the bipartisan approach to immigration that the House was taking until last week.

    “The most famous line from the poem mounted on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ It is in that spirit that the Congressional Black Caucus will continue to do all that we can to prevent these inhumane and unjust bills from becoming law.”

    —-
    The Congressional Black Caucus was established in 1971 and has a historic 48 members for the 115th Congress, including one Republican member and two senators. Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) is the chairman of the caucus.

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    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

    Dawn C. Collins is an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member and community advocate. The Lee High School graduate and Baton Rouge native, is a governor’s appointee to the East Baton Rouge Parish Board of Elections Supervisors. She began her professional career at Louisiana Department of Health where she was responsible for program-related data management. A grassroots organizer, Collins, who is 42, gives data-driven strategic consultation to campaigns and handles government affairs and training programs for non-profit organizations.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:    Was elected to public service on the East Baton Rouge School Board, District 4, on March 6,2016.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: I will be fighting for teacher and support staff pay raises in order to retain and attract the best educators for our children. Several community-wide events are on the horizon that will not only galvanize support for schools but help develop a sense of togetherness on this side of North Baton Rouge.  We have tremendous community assets, and we should celebrate them.

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Getting re-elected to School Board so that I can keep fighting for progress in our schools.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

    Role Models: My humble mother, Yolanda Castle Chanet; State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith; and political guru, Ben Jeffers

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?  A very bad experience when my children were in elementary school compelled me to be an education advocate.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? “Best of Me” by Anthony Hamilton and “Really Love” by De’Angelo

    What are you reading? “The Originals” by Adam Grant

    What’s entertaining you? “Queen Sugar” – The depth of each character is amazing, plus I absolutely love Violet and Hollywood›s relationship. Also, Netflix’s “Black Mirror” – It’s so on point in so many ways.

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

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    Historic independent police monitor bill heads to Governor’s desk

    The Louisiana House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that recognizes the potential value for local law enforcement agencies of an independent police monitor.

    House Concurrent Resolution 98, sponsored by State Representative Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, received final passage and heads to Gov. John bel Edwards’ desk for signature.

    The legislation provides responsibilities of an independent police monitor, recognizes the potential value for local law enforcement agencies of an independent police monitor, and encourages parish and municipal governing authorities to consider the advantages of such a position for its respective sheriff’s office or police department.

    Hunter presented the resolution on the house floor stating, “effective policing requires effective community support; policing is not done in a vacuum; if civilians are to be as safe as possible, they must work collaboratively with law enforcement officers and agencies, but if citizens come to perceive law enforcement officers to be as much of a threat to their safety as are criminals, the health of the community deteriorates rapidly.”

    Additionally, the resolution states, though citizens and local elected officials desire to hold sheriff’s deputies and municipal police officers to very high standards of integrity and service, many aspects of a law enforcement agency are unique to the law enforcement field. Special expertise is required to evaluate and improve internal practices, procedures, and culture. General management experts and local officials may not be in the best position to determine whether a particular department is fulfilling its duties in a way that meets such high standards; and an independent police monitor can fill that gap by combining law enforcement expertise with an outside-the-department perspective. Thereby playing a role that neither a member of the department nor a traditional government executive or inspector general can play.

    COMPLETE HCR 98

    This bill provides advisement and benefit of developing local police monitoring agencies to build trust and collaboration between law enforcement agencies and citizens. Cultivating agencies that strive for superior community service in every facet of life, including hiring and promotion, training, discipline, interagency cooperation and community outreach.

    By On Notice 4 Justice

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    Judge Piper Griffin named Louisiana Judicial Council Chairperson

    Louisiana boasts the largest number of Black  judges per capita and the Louisiana Judicial Council/National Bar Association prides itself on being the voice of its membership.  The Council recently installed as the organization’s 10th chairperson was Judge Piper D. Griffin during its 20th annual meeting in Baton Rouge last month.

    Griffin has served as the organization’s secretary for many years and most recently as its Chair Elect. Judge Griffin currently serves on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court since her election in 2001. She also serves as Chair of the 4th and 5th Circuit Judges Association, Secretary of the Louisiana Judicial Council Foundation/NBA, Treasurer of the Louisiana District Judges Association, President of the St. Katharine Drexel Prep Board of Directors (formerly Xavier Prep) and President of the Crescent City Chapter of the Links, Inc.

    Other judges installed to new board included Judge June B. Darensburg as chair-elect, Judge Regina B. Woods as treasurer, Judge Rachael Johnson as secretary, Judge Angelique Reed and Judge Adrian Adams as district representatives, and Judge Madeline Jasmine, past chair.

    With a theme of “Advancing Judicial Competence,” organizers said the meeting saw meaningful continuing legal education and dialogue amongst the bench and bar. The Conference began with a community service activity and frank conversation with civil rights activist and attorney, 99-year-old Johnny Jones. A reception honoring retired Baton Family Court Judge Luke A. LaVergne took place at the home of former Congressman and State Senator Cleo and Debra Fields. The meeting was chaired by Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th Judicial District Court. Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson swore in the newly elected officers.

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    High schoolers meet Chief Justice for Law Day

    Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson hosted students from L.B. Landry-O.P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School, and McDonogh 35 Senior High School at the Louisiana Supreme Court building in observance of Law Day, a national day set aside annually to celebrate the rule of law. Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, was the theme for the 60th observance of Law Day.

    Established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower who was motivated to highlight the American governmental system, the Constitution and the inherent freedoms it subscribes to, Law Day is celebrated annually on May 1.

    Nearly 70 students sat in on oral arguments before the Supreme Court on May 1. Immediately after, law clerks fielded questions from the teens regarding the case. They also toured the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and Law Library of Louisiana, which featured new displays on the three branches of government, and some had an audience with the Chief Justice.

    Chef Johnson“The theme of the day is very timely,” said Johnson. “Citizens of the United States are more in tune with what is happening in America with regard to government, policy and law-making than any other time in history. The Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom encapsulates the U.S. government model that compartmentalizes the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Each branch has distinct responsibilities to maintain a balance of power, and underscores the mantra– no one is above the law,” said Johnson.

    The American Bar Association declares the Law Day theme annually. Law Day activities are planned to encourage Americans to reacquaint themselves with the Constitution, to encourage careers in the legal profession and government buildings are encouraged to raise the American flag.

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    Retiring? You have a choice to make on Medicare

    When you retire and qualify for Medicare at 65, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to receive your health care benefits.

    Because you’ll be new to Medicare, you may not realize you have two options.

    One is to join the government’s fee-for-service program that’s existed for 53 years. The other is to buy a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurer.

    The choice may seem bewildering at first, so let’s go over each option.

    With traditional fee-for-service coverage, you may go to any doctor, hospital or other provider that accepts Medicare. Medicare pays the provider a fee for the service you receive. Once you meet your annual deductible, Medicare typically covers 80 percent of the cost for your care.

    You have a few choices for covering the other 20 percent:

    • You may use your retiree health plan from your former employer, if you’re retired and have such a policy. Some retiree plans may cost less or provide more benefits than other supplemental coverage.
    • You may qualify for Medicaid, if you have limited income and savings. Besides helping with your out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-insurance, Medicaid may pay for your monthly Medicare premiums.
    • If neither of those applies, you may buy a “Medigap” policy from a private insurer to cover what Medicare does not. There are 10 kinds of Medigap plans, with different benefits, so you’ll need to decide which is best for you.

    If you choose the traditional fee-for-service program, you’ll probably also want to buy a prescription drug plan to go with your other coverage.

    Traditional Medicare remains the favorite among people wanting the broadest possible access to doctors, hospitals and other providers. When coupled with a supplemental plan, it also makes your health care costs relatively predictable.

    Still, 33 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries – including 33 percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare — now prefer to get their health care benefits through a private insurer. The number of people buying private Medicare Advantage plans has more than doubled over the last 10 years.

    With Medicare Advantage, insurance companies contract with the government to provide care. Every private plan must cover all the benefits that traditional Medicare covers. In some cases, Medicare Advantage plans may offer extra benefits, like routine hearing or vision care.

    Many plans charge a premium on top of the amount you’ll pay each month for Medicare’s Part B medical insurance, but there’s no need to buy a supplemental Medigap policy. Likewise, most Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage with their other benefits.

    The premiums, deductibles and co-payments will vary from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. But all plans, by law, must have annual limits on their overall out-of-pocket costs.

    Unlike the traditional fee-for-service program, most Medicare Advantage plans require you to go to doctors and hospitals within their network of providers or pay more for getting care outside the network.

    Still, the private health plans have been especially popular among people with low to moderate incomes. They provide relatively affordable supplemental coverage, with lower premiums than those for Medigap policies.

    So, which is better — the traditional fee-for-service coverage or a private Medicare Advantage plan? That depends on your own circumstances and preferences. What’s best for one person may not work as well for someone else.

    To find out more about your options, you can visit www.medicare.gov and browse through the “Medicare and You” handbook. The website will also give you detailed information about the Medigap and Medicare Advantage policies available in your area.

    Becoming informed will help you select the health care option that best fits your needs. It will also help you avoid mistakes that may cost you money.

    By Bob Moos/Southwest regional public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

     

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    PERSPECTIVE: Local laws should reflect local values; Baton Rouge needs civil rights commission

    As the capital and second largest city in Louisiana, Baton Rouge has great cultural, historical and economic significance. But is it a city of true opportunity? A lack of protections from discrimination would  indicate that Baton Rouge is not. This is because our municipal code does not currently declare civil rights for any of its citizens. More than 230 U.S. cities have some form of non-discrimination laws.

    Many of these cities established commissions before the passage of the Civil Rights Act to protect their citizens that were not granted protections at the state and federal level. Many of these cities (such as Shreveport, Birmingham, and Jackson) have created  Civil Rights Commission which is a governing body that accepts complaints based upon discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations for protected classes.  

    The structure and activities of a Civil Rights Commission in each city varies based on the language of the city’s municipal code and the needs of citizens, but generally they have acted as mediators between its citizenry and businesses. As time went on, these cities later amended their laws to include more groups of people to protect.  But it’s important to note that state and federal protections are lacking coverage for certain classes.

    The citizens of Baton Rouge have always longed for corporations to see our city as a viable option for setting up offices.  Amazon was previously scouting cities to place its new HQ2 corporate offices.  Without something in place such as an ordinance and commission, Baton Rouge was quickly removed from any list of prospects. Charlotte, North Carolina, lost major attractions like the NCAA’s Final Four games to Louisiana’s own New Orleans because of lack of inclusive laws. Large corporations want to make sure that the customers and clients they bring to a city are welcomed wherever they go. In addition, each year, The Human Rights Campaign evaluates 509 cities including Baton Rouge.  The Human Rights Campaign is a well recognized, credible non-profit organization that advocates for civil rights across the nation. As of 2017, The Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index scored Baton Rouge 36 out of 100 points, which puts the city after New Orleans, Shreveport and Alexandria. If Baton Rouge were to adopt a civil rights ordinance and establish a commission it’s estimated the HRC score would almost double.

    In 2017, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued an executive order to expand efforts to increase the enterprise participation of small businesses in city-parish contracts, including those owned by minorities, women and veterans. This effort was part of her goal to make Baton Rouge “a progressive, inclusive and just community.” A civil rights ordinance and having a civil rights commission is would be a step forward for Baton Rouge.  Since there is a lack of protections within the city-parish, cases of discrimination are currently deferred to state and federal policies that are not suited to the people of Baton Rouge.  Our local laws should reflect our local values and send the message to potential employers and employees that we are a welcoming city with a infamous Louisiana spirit.  

    By Christine Assaf
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

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  • ,,

    Fair housing rule may soon be restored by suing Sect. Ben Carson

    Civil rights organizations are suing Secretary Ben Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over his suspension of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. This suit challenges the Trump Administration’s rollback of efforts to encourage localities to work toward meeting the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s statutory requirements. Although the act is 50 years old, communities still have a long way to go to achieve its goals of ensuring that people have access to the housing of their choice regardless of race, national origin, religion, presence of children, sex, or disability status.

    This is the second suit against Secretary Carson for suspending the implementation of HUD policy. A suit settled earlier this year led HUD to reinstate the requirement that local public housing agencies in metro areas where vouchers are disproportionately concentrated in low-income neighborhoods align their voucher subsidies more closely to local rental costs. This policy, known as Small Area Fair Market Rents, makes more units in higher-opportunity areas available to voucher holders.

    In formulating the AFFH rule, the Obama Administration recognized that HUD’s prior enforcement mechanism hadn’t ensured that localities use federal funds to take meaningful steps to address racial segregation and other fair housing problems that have long plagued their communities, as the Fair Housing Act requires. The rule requires localities to analyze data with local and regional partners to identify systemic barriers to fair housing and propose actionable solutions. If implemented effectively, the rule could make great strides toward helping more voucher holders with children move to better neighborhoods, increasing their chances of health and success over the long term.

    The Trump Administration abruptly abandoned its implementation in January 2018, delaying it for four additional years. The lawsuit challenges Secretary Carson’s arbitrary decision to suspend the rule, which was adopted after years of public input — and nearly 50 years of federal inaction. Moving forward with the rule is vital to ensuring that all families have a real choice about where to live and that agencies receiving federal funds for housing assistance or community development dismantle policies that maintain isolation and segregation.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Payday lenders fail to win Louisiana’s representatives approval for expansion

    The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, May 9, rejected a push by the national payday lending industry to expand its Louisiana operations and make the debt trap deeper and longer for vulnerable borrowers. Witnesses testified to the harms payday lending already inflicts on Louisiana families, as well as the availability of much cheaper and less harmful alternatives.

    6 Carmen Green JS journalist“We applaud the nine committee members who voted against Senate Bill 365 for standing with the people of Louisiana and against predatory lenders who trap hardworking people in debt they can’t afford,” said Carmen Green, state policy fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project. “Payday lending is not the short-term cushion that their lobbyists make it out to be; it is set up to milk people for the cash they need to keep their families going.”

    The bill was opposed by a broad array of organizations including the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, the credit union industry and even local payday lenders. Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but that actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Byron Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Tell State Rep. Carmody that Louisiana’s Black communities aren’t for sale!

    Earlier this week, the Louisiana Senate narrowly passed SB 365, a bill that would allow predatory payday and car title loan companies to financially exploit Black communities with “installment loans” that carry interest rates of over 167%. Trapping them in a cycle of toxic debt.

    Payday lenders and car title lenders already drain more than $240 million in fees each year from low-income Louisiana residents. Louisiana should be reining in these devastating practices, not expanding them. Similar bills have been blocked in 14 out of 16 states where they were introduced and we’re fighting to block this one in Louisiana.

    We have a real chance to shut down this exploitative bill in the House, but we need to act fast. The legislative session is winding down, and the only way for this bill to move forward is if Chair of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Thomas Carmody, listens to payday lobbyists and extends the session. A flood of calls from Louisianans is just the pressure we need to stop this exploitative bill.

    Call Rep. Thomas Carmody and tell him to kill SB 365

    Black people are twice as likely to become trapped in long term cycles of debt from predatory loans and that is deliberate. Even when income is the same, payday lenders set up shop in 2x as many Black and Latinx communities than white ones.1 By targeting Black and Latinx communities, this industry is doing everything it can to keep people of color in financial servitude and widen the racial wealth gap. In Louisiana, 79% of payday loans are lent to borrowers on the same day they paid back their previous loan, while 87% of loans went to borrowers who re-borrow within two weeks of paying back their old loan.2

    Fourteen organizations, including Color of Change and the Louisiana NAACP, have signed an open letter asking the Louisiana legislature to block this bill because of the harm it would cause low-income families and Black communities, in particular.3 Under SB 365, payday loan company would still have direct access to your bank account, removing their exorbitant fees from your account before you even get to pay your regular bills or buy groceries. Louisiana needs responsible lenders, like HOPE Credit Union, who offer installment loans that help borrowers build savings and improve their credit score. Support for this payday lender giveaway is waning, and if we put pressure Rep. Carmody we can shut it down for good.

    Tell Rep. Carmody: stop selling out our communities

    Until justice is real, 

    –Evan, Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Angela, Saréya, Eesha, and the rest of the Color Of Change team

     References:

    “Predatory Profiling: The Role of Race and Ethnicity in the Location of Payday Lenders in California”, Center for Responsible Lending, 26 March 2009 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/24924?t=8&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy
    “Analysis: SB 365 expands the predatory debt trap”, LA Budget Project, 9 April 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/42366?t=10&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy
    Letter to House and Senate Commerce Committee Members, LA Budget Project, April 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/46305?t=12&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy

    Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

    If you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to hear from Color Of Change again, click here to unsubscribe.
    This email from Color of change urges Louisiana residents to speak against a bill in the legislature designed to enhance predatory lending throughout the state.

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  • ,,

    14 groups and BR NAACP petition legislators to stop bill that expands predatory lending

    Legislation backed by the national payday lending industry that would expand their operations in the state narrowly passed the Louisiana Senate by a vote of 20-17 on Tuesday, May 1. Predatory payday already lending drains more than $240 million each year from Louisiana workers by saddling vulnerable borrowers with high-interest loans that they often cannot afford. But instead of working to address this problem, the Senate has voted to make it worse.

    Senate Bill 365 would expand predatory lending in Louisiana by allowing payday and car title lenders to issue “installment loans” with annual interest rates of up to 167 percent. The bill is being pushed by national predatory loan corporations as a way to evade new federal consumer protection regulations. Similar bills have already been rejected in several other states (Florida being the lone exception).

    “We see too many people taken down the path of financial ruin by payday lenders in Louisiana already,” said Carmen Green, State Policy Fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project.”This bill should not even be on the table. We ask our lawmakers to stand with the hardworking people of our state and not the payday lending industry.”

    Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Bryon Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “SB 365 adds a new triple-digit interest cash-stripping mechanism to what we’ve already got in this state. It is absurd and will hit low-income people hard. Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    The Louisiana Legislature should be looking to expand consumer protection rather greenlight an expansion of the predatory lending industry.

    For more information about Senate Bill 365, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,

    APPLY NOW: Fellows Program in Louisiana Government

    Gov. John Bel Edwards has launched the Governor’s Fellows Program in Louisiana Government, which provides an opportunity for Louisiana’s college and university students to experience policy making in action through participation in the state’s governing process.

    Fellows will be assigned to cabinet-level agencies, and they will have the opportunity to observe first-hand how the governor leads and how policies are developed and advanced. Fellows will also participate in a weekly speaker series and field trips designed to enhance the overall experience and understanding of Louisiana government and current affairs.

    “Through the fellowship program, we will cultivate a new generation of leaders in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “I encourage all college-aged students with an interest in Louisiana and a desire to make a positive change in our state to apply. The fellows will bring insight and fresh perspectives to the work that will mold the future of our great state.”

    The application process is now open and available here: http://www.gov.louisiana.gov/fellows

    The fellowships are open to all students attending a Louisiana public higher education institution and Louisiana residents enrolled in out-of-state public higher education institutions. Fellows will be chosen based on the students’ commitment to leadership, public service and good government.

    “LSU is excited to partner with the Governor’s Office in launching the Governor’s Fellows Program,” said Dr. Jared Llorens, director and associate professor at the LSU Public Administration Institute. “Fellows will have an excellent opportunity to learn how public policies are shaped and implemented across a wide spectrum of state agencies.”

    Participating students will receive housing on LSU’s campus for the duration of the fellowship, a stipend up to $1,500 and three credit hours through the LSU Public Administration Institute.

    “Southern University has a longstanding tradition of contributions to the politics and governmental affairs of Louisiana,” said Southern University President Ray Belton. “This collaboration with the governor’s office, LSU and others will ensure that students continue this legacy throughout our great state and beyond.”

    The Governor’s Fellows Program in Louisiana Government is a partnership with the Office of the Governor, Louisiana State University, Southern University and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The program will be funded entirely through philanthropic contributions managed by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

    For information about requirements for participation and application procedures, click here. The application process is now open and available here: http://www.gov.louisiana.gov/fellows

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  • ,,

    Not sure what’s on the April 28th ballot for East Baton Rouge Parish school tax renewal

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 1 of 3 – 0.51% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in funding repairs and renovations, enhancing technology and construction of new classrooms and schools in the public school system in East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of fifty-one hundredths of one percent (0.51%) (the “Tax”) (an estimated $43,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District, (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.46% and July 1, 2020 for 0.05%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 2 of 3 – 0.08% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in improving the educational environment in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System by improving discipline, providing alternative education and reducing truancy in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of eight hundredths of one percent (0.08%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $6,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.07% and July 1, 2020 for 0.01%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 3 of 3 – 0.41% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in increasing compensation of teachers and other school system employees in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of forty-one hundredths of one percent (0.41%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $35,300,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective date of April 1, 2019, with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

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  • ,,,

    Senator Chabert writes ‘It’s time to end attacks’

    Dear Editor:

    Since 2014, several parishes have filed lawsuits in an attempt to make energy manufacturers pay for rebuilding Louisiana’s coast. These lawsuits are mostly being driven by plaintiff’s law firms that have built reputations for suing our state’s oil and gas companies.

    Restoring our coast and protecting our wetlands is an important mission, but these lawsuits are not the answer. The reality is that there are many parties that contribute to coastal and wetland degradation in our state, not just energy manufacturers. The energy manufacturers are good corporate citizens that contribute to their communities in many ways. These employers are the source of thousands of high paying jobs, tens of billions in economic growth, and billions more in state and local tax revenue. The recent approval of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project is an example of this recent growth.

    These lawsuits attack the companies that are currently the largest contributors to our coastal restoration funds. If we truly want to grow and maintain our coastline, we should be doing everything possible to encourage the industries to locate and expand in our state. It’s time to end these attacks and come together to create a coastal protection plan that works for everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Senator Norbert “Norby” Chabert
    Louisiana Senate District 20

    Read more »
  • ,,

    PERSPECTIVE: Metro council considers marijuana policy changes to stop criminalization

    The Baton Rouge Metro Council is considering potential changes to the city’s current marijuana possession policy. The proposal, co-authored by Councilmen Chandler Loupe and Lamont Cole, would prohibit the arrest of individuals in possession of small quantities of marijuana and disallow the use of prior marijuana possession convictions to be used to justify longer prison sentences for repeat offenders. The proposed changes are an example of sensible, progressive policy and bipartisan cooperation that seem to be more common coming from the council recently.

    The move towards decriminalization of marijuana is happening in cities all over the country as attitudes regarding marijuana have changed and more attention is being focused on the potential adverse effects of current drug policies. In 2016, the New Orleans city council passed an ordinance that decriminalizes marijuana possession by providing tickets, not arrests, and reducing the penalties to modest fines.

    Unlike the New Orleans ordinance, the proposal currently before the Metro Council retains current penalties; a fine of up to $300 and/or 15 days in jail for possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana and a fine of $500 and/or 6 months in jail for possession of more than 14 grams. However, the proposal ends the practice of using prior marijuana possession convictions to compound penalties for repeat offenders which prevents misdemeanors from turning into felonies with lengthy jail sentences.

    The proposed changes are smart policy and a good first step for several reasons. No longer arresting for marijuana possession eliminates potential hurdles and financial barriers individuals with arrest records face. Despite the rate of marijuana usage being roughly the same for across racial lines, Blacks are much more likely to be arrested for possession. And thus for a single marijuana charge, more young Black men and women will be denied jobs, school loans, housing assistance, and promising futures.

    Aside from impacting inequity in the criminal justice system, there is also a strong fiscal argument for making these changes. The proposed policy would not only save the city money, but it would free up resources in an already stretched thin police force.PSN BR logo

    At the Jan. 24 Metro Council meeting despite Cole’s requesting that the item be deferred for two weeks, several concerned citizens and advocates expressed their support for passage of this ordinance. We think that this is smart policy that benefits the community as a whole and hope that it will receive the full support of the council when it comes up again at the next meeting.

    Perspective By Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge
    Special to The Drum

    Progressive Social Network is a grassroots advocacy organization promoting the progressive values of equity, inclusion, and accountability in the greater Baton Rouge area. ONLINE: www.psnbr.org

     

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  • ,,

    State asks public for comments on reallocating disaster recovery funds from The Great Food of 2016

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on an Action Plan Amendment that reallocates Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for recovery from The Great Floods of 2016.

    Action Plan Amendment 7 will move $22,484,482 from the Multifamily Rental Gap program, which has experienced lower than anticipated demand, into the Neighborhood Landlord and Piggyback rental programs; and will amend the maximum award for the Piggyback program in order to accommodate multiple affordable housing models. The total Rental Housing Allocation will remain the same at $134,163,402.

    The formal public comment period for Action Plan Amendment 7  continues until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Residents, community leaders and elected officials can view the plan by visiting http://www.doa.la.gov/Pages/ocd-dru/Action_Plans.aspx and clicking on the respective APA link.

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  • ,

    Who to Watch: Councilwoman Chauna Banks

    Chauna Banks has lived her entire life in Scotlandville district where she has served seven years as councilwoman. A graduate of Southern University Lab High School and Southern University, she has found her life’s purpose in being a public servant beyond her master’s degree in counseling and full-time job. She has argued for equitable resources for the northern part of Baton Rouge, saying the area “has been systematically subjected to political, economic, cultural or social degradation because its residents are majority Black. It is inflicted with several forms of discrimination: economic, recreation, retail, housing, media and infrastructure.” She moves into the final year of her second term with more recognition in part due to her fights to keep the Baton Rouge Zoo at Greenwood Park in North Baton, to end the contamination of Devil’s Swamp in Alsen, Louisiana, and to have Baton Rouge police

    release the 911 recordings on Alton Sterling. She continues to believe that there is a solution to every problem, and “when we work together, everybody wins.”

    MEET COUNCILWOMANCHAUNA BANKS, 56

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:

    • Tasked the North Ba- ton Rouge Blue Ribbon Com- mission to work toward qual- ity of life assets in the north- ern portion of the parish, such as an emergency room and other healthcare options.

    • Organized the Alsen/St. Irma Lee Advisory Board to look at bringing resolve to the years of environmental justice.

    • Increased city-parish funding for Jewel J. Newman Community Center building and grounds upgrades.

    • Awarded several grants: The KaBOOM! In the amount of $15,000 towards a “Community Playground Build” Project, an annual ExxonMo- bil Grant of $2500, and just recently, the Capital Area United Way grant for $30,000 to operate the JJNCC TeenWorkPrepBR, $25,000 BRAF Flood Relief Grant to renovate JJNCC computer room.

    • Supplement revenues via an annual JJNCC Capital Campaign: Masquerade Ball, Back-to- School Rally, and Annual Senior Appreciation Luncheon.

    • This fall we added a GED Adult Education Program to offerings.

    What to expect in 2018 from you:

    • Maintaining the Baton Rouge Zoo at its current Thomas Road location and expanding the concept of “The Zoo at Greenwood Park” with sig- nificant upgrades.

    • Advocating for a middle class housing sub- division for young professionals with growing families.

    • Reducing the time for rehire of city-parish workers with a positive marijuana read from three years to one year.

    • My long-range goal is to have a performing arts theatre built in District 2.

    Personal resolution: My personal res- olution is to be dedicated to God by doing my best to exercise kingdom principles in earthly affairs.

    Life/business motto: Work smarter, not harder. Business resolu- tion: My business resolution is to maintain and promote a high standard of professional ethics and practice impartial- ity, fairness, and an equitable discharge of services without bias.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Maintaining the Baton Rouge Zoo at its current Thomas Road location and expand- ing the concept of “The Zoo at Greenwood Park” with significant recreational upgrades.

    Best advice you have ever received: Rules without relationships bring on rebellion.

    Role models: Both my grandmothers, my mother, and my aunts.

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? Rearing a male child as a single female parent propelled me to be a very responsible and involved parent.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Contemporary Gospel is what I listen to daily, but I also like ‘70s R&B.

    What are you reading? HOLY BIBLE

    What’s entertaining you? CBS shows

    E-mail: cbanks@brgov.com

    Social media: Facebook/CouncilwomanChauna Banks

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  • ,,,

    State task force established to review sexual harassment, discrimination policies in agencies

    Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order announcing the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy.  The seven member board is tasked with reviewing current harassment and discrimination policies within every state agency that falls under the executive branch, as well as researching and identifying the most effective ways to create work environments that are free from any form of harassment or discrimination.

    “Every person, whether they work in state government or private industry, should be able to do their jobs without fear of being sexually harassed or discriminated against,” said Gov. Edwards. “There is no circumstance under which harassment or discrimination of any kind will be tolerated by my administration. This task force will help us identify which current policies are effective and which ones are not, whether new ones need to be implemented and whether additional changes need to be made in these areas. The goal is to ensure state employees are safe at work and have the confidence in knowing that any allegation made will be taken seriously and that there are adequate procedures in place to address those complaints. The work has already begun, and we will have helpful discussions and feedback in very short order.”

    The duties of the task force members include the following:

    • Review the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of each state agency within the executive branch.
    • Research and identify the most effective mode of training to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing video state employees are required to view each year.
    • Develop a protocol for sexual harassment and discrimination policy orientation for new employees, those participating in any state sponsored training academy and employees promoted to supervisory positions.
    • Research and identify the specific conduct that should be prohibited by sexual harassment and discrimination policies.
    • Research and identify a clear reporting process when an allegation is made as well as the most appropriate action that should be taken once an investigation is completed.

    The task force will make specific recommendations to ensure uniformity of sexual harassment and discrimination policies across the agencies and submit a report to the governor regarding its findings no later than March 1, 2018.

    Further, before January 1, 2018, all state agencies within the executive branch are to review their policies relative to sexual harassment and discrimination and submit a detailed report to the commissioner of administration.

    ONLINE: executive order.

     

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  • ,,

    Broome issues executive order to expand small business participation in city contracts

    East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome today issued an executive order to expand efforts to increase the enterprise participation of small businesses in City-Parish contracts. The order also ensures that such businesses — including those owned by minorities, women and veterans — are afforded fair opportunities and do not face unfair barriers when seeking and performing City-Parish contracts.

    “This executive order is much needed in our city and parish,” Mayor-President Broome said. “I have been consistently vocal and demonstrative about the need for equity in all areas of life in our community, and this includes business. Everyone should have equal opportunities to build and grow successful businesses in the place they call home. These businesses add to our economic development, and a diverse array of business owners creates a more welcoming, progressive city for both current and future residents.”

    The order, which takes effect immediately, outlines accountability, inclusion and outreach efforts, and policy administration and operation in City-Parish departments. Stakeholder engagement is also prescribed, instructing the chief administrative officer in the Office of the Mayor-President to create more opportunities for members of the contracting community and for City-Parish departments, the Metropolitan Council, and others to work collaboratively on recommendations for how the City-Parish can better develop, deliver, monitor and measure a more successful small business enterprise program.

    Read the order here: http://www.brgov.com/press/SWB%2017-02.pdf

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  • ,,,

    City Hall rally urges Mayor, Council to keep their word on ‘grocery gap’ funding

    Together Baton Rouge will hold a rally on Monday, November 13th at 4:30pm at City Hall, 222 St. Louis Street, to urge the Mayor-President and Metropolitan Council to fulfill their commitment to fund an economic development program to attract grocery stores to “grocery gap” neighborhoods.

    As candidates during last year’s elections, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and a majority of the current Metropolitan Council committed to support city-parish funding for a fresh food financing initiative in the amount of $1.5 million.

    The proposed city-parish budget contains zero funding to implement the initiative.

    It is the fourth straight year that city officials have given verbal commitment to support the project, but not followed through with funding.

    In 2013, the central recommendations of the EBR Food Access Policy Commission was to start a fresh food financing initiative to bring access to healthy food to the parish’s 100,000 residents who live in low food-access areas.

    Together Baton Rouge is holding the rally to urge city officials to keep their word and finally get the project off the ground.

    “Budgets are statements of a community’s values and priorities,” said Edgar Cage, who helps lead Together Baton Rouge’s food access work.

    “We believe our officials are sincere in their support. But it’s time we start saying, not just with our words but with our budgets and with our actions, that we value and prioritize addressing food access and economic development in our most neglected neighborhoods.”

    To RSVP to attend the rally, click here.

    For full details on the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, click here.

    Facts on the Grocery Gap in East Baton Rouge Parish

    • Nearly 100,000 residents in East Baton Rouge Parish live in “grocery gap” neighborhoods –about 20% of the parish population.
    • The national average of residents food deserts is 7%
    • 32,753 of the EBR residents in Grocery Gap neighborhoods are children. 13,282 are seniors.
    • The Grocery Gap affects all 12 Metro Council District.
    • Lack of access to health foods is directly related to obesity and obesity-related illnesses
    • Lack of access to grocery stores increases the cost of food by 7 to 25%, typically in the neighborhoods least able to pay more.
    • New Orleans has had a fresh food financing initiative since 2011. It has funded 6 grocery store projects, creating 200 jobs and adding 179,000 sq. ft. of food retail.
    • Fresh food financing initiatives are public-private partnerships. Public funds typically leverage 8 to 10 times as much private sector funding.

    Together Baton Rouge would not receive any public funds under this initiative. The organization does not accept funds from government sources, period. The funding for a fresh food financing initiative would go as incentives to grocery stores and to a community development finance initiative to administer the program.

     

     

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  • ,

    Black Lives Matter Movement cannot be sued, U.S. Judge rules

    A Louisiana police officer cannot sue Black Lives Matter because it is a social movement.

    (Reuters) — A Louisiana police officer cannot sue Black Lives Matter because it is a social movement, a U.S. judge ruled on Sept. 28, finding the campaign could not be held responsible for injuries he got at a protest.

    The unidentified officer sued Black Lives Matter and an activist involved in a July 2016 protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the officer was struck by a rock.

    The Black Lives Matter movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media in 2012 after Black high school student Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Sanford, Florida, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter.

    It grew into a nationwide movement in response to the use of excessive force by police, particularly against Black men.

    “‘Black Lives Matter,’ as a social movement, cannot be sued, however, in a similar way that a person cannot plausibly sue other social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, the LGBT rights movement or the Tea Party movement,” Chief Judge Brian Jackson of a U.S District Court in Baton Rouge wrote in a 24-page ruling.

    While the movement itself lacked the capacity to be sued, an associated entity could be held liable, Jackson said. But the judge found the officer had not made a sufficient case against such a group or an individual involved and dismissed the lawsuit.

    Billy Gibbens, an attorney for DeRay Mckesson, the activist named in the lawsuit, said his client “does not condone violence of any kind, and we are very sorry that the officer was injured.”

    “The court was absolutely correct to find that DeRay is not responsible for the criminal conduct of an unidentified person,” Gibbens said in an email to Reuters.

    Attorneys for the officer, Black Lives Matter and the activist named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    It was not clear how the ruling might affect a related lawsuit filed by an officer who was wounded during protests last year in Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Ascension parish pushes to reject school tax exemptions

    Ascension Parish teachers, community leaders call press conference to urge school board to reject “blank check” on corporate school tax exemptions

    PRAIRIEVILLE–On Monday, September 18th, at 6:30pm, teachers, faith and community leaders are holding a press conference to urge the Ascension Parish School board to reject a proposal being put before it to offer a blank check to industry on exemptions from school taxes.

    The resolution will be considered by the Ascension Parish School Board’s finance committee on Tuesday, September 19th, 5pm.

    The resolution is being brought to the school board by Ascension Economic Development Corporation. It would have the school board grant a 100% property tax exemption to subsidize a non-disclosed project by a corporation already operating in the parish, the identity of which AEDC officials are refusing to disclose.

    “It is shocking that a school board would consider something so carte blanche and irresponsible,” said a statement by local educators, congregations and community leaders in Ascension Parish. “We’re calling on the school board to reject the proposal out of hand and start subjecting these corporate exemptions to serious scrutiny.”

    Standard practice for local tax exemptions across the country is that local taxing bodies create a set of policy criteria before approving exemptions, so that there are clear standards by which exemptions can be judged. The Ascension Economic Development Corporation originally intended to pursue that path several, but back-tracked to their current demand for 100% exemptions on non-disclosed projects.

    Industrial tax exemptions will be decided by local school boards for the first time this year, instead of by the state Board of Commerce and Industry, due to an Executive Order signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2016.

    In 2017, industrial tax exemptions are costing Ascension Parish schools $79.1 million in lost revenue.

     

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    Brandon to serve on state ethics board

    Bishop L Lawrence Brandon, of Shreveport, was elected by the Louisiana House of Representatives to serve on the Louisiana Board of Ethics with 10 other members. Brandon will serve a five-year term with a two-term limit. He is responsible for administering and enforcing Louisiana’s conflict of interest legislations, campaign finance registration and reporting requirements, lobbyist registration, and disclosure laws in order to achieve compliance by officials and others. He has relinquisched postons on local and regional boards that may have caused a conflict of interest.

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    Three amendments on Oct. ballot; five candidates vie for city court seat

    The Oct. 14 election is shaping up to be full of candidates for state treasurer and city court judge as well as constitutional amendemnts for voters to decide statewide.

    Five candidates have qualified for the state treasurer’s seat. They are: former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, a Republican from Baton Rouge; Derrick Edwards, a Democrat from Harvey; Joseph D. Little, a Libertarian from Ponchatoula; Sen. Neil Riser, a Republican from Columbia; and former Rep. John Schroder, a Republican from Covington
    However, in Baton Rouge, lawyers Whitney Higginbotham Greene, Chris Hester, Carson Marcantel, Johnell Matthews, Janice Miller, and Judy Moore Vendetto are vying for the City Court Division E seat vacated by retired Judge Suzan Ponder. Greene, Hester, Marcantel, and Vendetto are Republicans. Matthews and Miller are Democrats.

    Greene, the daughter of state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Toni Higginbotham and sister of 19th Judicial District Judge Beau Higginbotham. Hester is the son of former 19th Judicial District Judge Bob Hester. Greene is an assistant state attorney general and Hester is a prosecutor in the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office. Both are currently on leave for the duration of the campaign. Division E is a subdistrict in south Baton Rouge.
    There are three constitutional amendments voters will consider. One would ban property tax assessments from being applied to construction work materials.

    The second constitutional amendment creates a property tax exemption for the home of a wife or husband who lost their spouse in the line of public service. The third would dedicate the cash generated from any prospective increase in gas taxes to a special construction fund, said Jeremy Alford with LAPolitics Weekly.

    “These proposals represent the most concrete ways lawmakers and voters can put ideas into the law. As such, they deserve your attention and, your votes,” he said.

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    Edwards makes more appointments to boards, commissions

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

    Louisiana Military Advisory Council
    The Louisiana Military Advisory Council serves to provide a forum for issues concerning the installations and units of the armed forces located in Louisiana and the military and retired military personnel and their families who reside in Louisiana.

    Joel R. Whitehead, of Madisonville, was appointed to the Louisiana Military Advisory Council. Whitehead is the President and CEO of J. Whitehead & Associates, Inc., and is a retired Rear Admiral Upper Half of the United States Coast Guard.

     

    Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges
    The Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges serves as the management board for Louisiana’s public 2-year institutions. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of the State’s citizens through education programs offered through its colleges.

    Tari T. Bradford, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges. Bradford is the Executive Assistant for Governmental Affairs for the City of Shreveport and will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

     

    Parish Boards of Election Supervisors
    The purpose of the board in each parish is to oversee and supervise all elections within the parish to ensure the safety and accuracy of the democratic process. The Board of Election Supervisors oversees the preparation and conducting of each election in the parish. Each parish’s board is composed of the parish’s registrar of voters, the parish’s clerk of court, the chairman of the parish executive committee of each recognized political party, and one member appointed by the governor.

    Jesse L. Toney Jr., of St. Francisville, was appointed to the West Feliciana Parish Board of Election Supervisors. Toney is retired and is a veteran of the Louisiana National Guard.

    Joanna C. Leopold, of Belle Chasse, was appointed to the Plaquemines Parish Board of Election Supervisors. Leopold is retired.

     

    Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review
    The Fire Prevention Board of Review was established to evaluate alternatives to fire prevention or protection laws and regulations established by the fire marshal when a request of review is properly submitted. The Fire Prevention Board of Review does not have the power to waive fire prevention and protection requirements but determines whether the suggested alternative provides equivalent or better protection within the context of the intent of the law.

    Jay Charles Smith, of Pearl River, was reappointed to the Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review. Smith is a registered engineer and Vice President of Crescent Technology, Inc. He will serve as a registered engineer on the board.

    Bruce E. Cutrer, of Amite, was reappointed to the Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review. Cutrer is the Fire Chief of Tangipahoa Parish Fire District Number 1. He will serve as a chief of a fire department on the board.

    Jeffrey K. Smith, of Hammond, was reappointed to the Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review. Smith is a registered architect and a principal of Holly & Smith Architects. He will serve as a registered architect on the board.

     

    Louisiana Board for Hearing Aid Dealers
    The Louisiana Board for Hearing Aid Dealers is responsible for protecting the public welfare by overseeing those persons rendering or offering to render services for the sale, maintenance, and repair of any type of hearing aid device and for examining and licensing hearing aid dealers in the state.

    Bryan K. Stinson, of Gretna, was appointed to the Louisiana Board for Hearing Aid Dealers. Stinson is a hearing aid specialist with Advanced Hearing Aid Center, Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Society of Hearing Aid Specialists and will serve as a representative of Hearing Aid Dealer District I.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners
    The Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners prescribes minimum curricula and standards for practical nurses, examines and licenses qualified applicants, accredits practical nurse schools and courses, and conducts hearings upon charges calling for discipline of a licensee.

    Myron L. “Myra” Collins, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners. Collins is a licensed practical nurse and the Director of Business Development at CareSouth Medical and Dental.

     

    Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council
    The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council is responsible for monitoring and reporting to the governor and the legislature on the implementation and administration of laws pertaining to the administration of workers’ compensation claims and making specific recommendations thereon.

    Michael D. Morris, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council. Morris is an attorney and the Chief Executive Officer of the Louisiana Home Builders’ Association. He will serve as a representative of self-insured industries in Louisiana, as required by statute.

     

    Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority
    The Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority is a public corporation and is authorized to perform in its corporate capacity all acts necessary and proper for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, and operating Louisiana Regional Airport.

    Rydell J. Malancon Sr., of St. James, was appointed to the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority. Malancon is an equipment officer with St. James Government and a former NFL player. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension or St. James Parish and will serve as an at-large member.

    Kevin F. Landry, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority. Landry is the Aviation Manager of Dow Chemical. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension or St. James Parish and will serve as an at-large member.

     

    Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee
    The Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee is responsible for developing and maintaining a preferred drug list (PDL) in conjunction with a prior approval process relating to the Medicaid drug program.

    Mohammad Suleman, M.D. of Kenner, was reappointed to the Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee. Suleman is a licensed physician in private practice. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana State Medical Society.

     

    Red River Waterway Commission
    The Red River Waterway Commission was created for the purpose of establishing, operating, and maintaining the Red River Waterway, a navigable waterway system, extending from the vicinity of the confluence of Red River with Old River and the Atchafalaya River northwestward in the Red River Valley to the state boundary.

    Randell A. Fletcher, of Colfax, was reappointed to the Red River Waterway Commission. Fletcher is retired and previously served as the Grant Parish Assessor. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Grant Parish Police Jury.

    Michael B. Simpson, of Coushatta, was reappointed to the Red River Waterway Commission. Simpson is a self-employed farmer. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Red River Valley Association and will serve as a representative of Red River Parish.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Dentistry
    The mission of the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry is to protect the public by regulating the professions of dentistry and dental hygiene in Louisiana in accordance with the Dental Practice Act.

    Glenn E. Appleton, D.D.S., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry. Appleton is a dentist and the owner of Appleton Family Dentistry. He is a veteran of the United States Navy Dental Corps. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the 8th Dental Board District.

     

    Drug Policy Board
    The Drug Policy Board is responsible for identifying, examining, selecting, or developing, and recommending or implementing drug control policies to more effectively combat illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The board evaluates how anti-drug monies are used in implementing related programs. It also identifies and evaluates the effectiveness of public awareness and drug prevention programs.

    A. Kenison Roy, M.D., of Metairie, was reappointed to the Drug Policy Board. Roy is a physician and the owner/medical director of Addiction Recovery Resources, Inc. He will serve as a representative of a private organization involved in substance abuse prevention.

     

    Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council
    The Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council (LGISC) was created by the state Legislature to eliminate duplication of effort and unnecessary redundancy in data collections and systems and to provide for integration of geographically-related data bases to facilitate the policy and planning purposes of the state of Louisiana.

    Lynn E. Dupont, of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council. Dupont is the Principal Planner/GIS Coordinator of the Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa Parishes. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Association of Planning & Development Districts.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Massage Therapy
    The Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy is responsible for the licensure, registration, investigation, and regulation of persons practicing as massage therapists within the state. The board may establish continuing education requirements for massage therapists.

    Robin R. Alexander, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Massage Therapy. Alexander is a licensed massage therapist and an instructor at Blue Cliff College.

     

    Atchafalaya Basin Levee District
    The Atchafalaya Basin Levee District provides levee maintenance for the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Iberia, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Martin, and West Baton Rouge.

    Spencer T. Harvey, of Donaldsonville, was appointed to the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District. Harvey is the Public Works Director for the City of Donaldsonville and will serve as a representative of Ascension Parish. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension Parish.

     

    Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission
    The Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission administers the international tourism promotion program which offers the incentive of sales tax refunds to foreign visitors on purchases made at participating merchants in an effort to induce increased shopping and tourism within the state.

    Caitlin L. Cain, of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission. Cain is the Chief Executive Officer of the World Trade Center New Orleans.

     

    Advisory Committee on Polysomnography
    The Advisory Committee on Polysomnography assists the Board of Medical Examiners in providing the minimum standards for polysomnography; approving the licensure examination; licensing of applicants; conducting administrative hearings on the denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew a license; and the adoption of rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act for the purpose of administering the Polysomnography Practice Act.

    Christine Soileau, of Lafayette, was reappointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Soileau is a licensed polysomnographic technologist and the Administrative Director of Our Lady of Lourdes Sleep Disorders Clinic. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

    Wade S. Young, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Young is a licensed polysomnographic technologist with Premier Sleep Medicine Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

    John K. Schwab, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Schwab is a physician and the Medical Director of the Louisiana Sleep Foundation, LLC. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana State Medical Society and will serve as a physician who is a diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine on the committee.

    Joshua D. Johnson, of West Monroe, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Johnson is a licensed polysomnographic technologist and Clinical Coordinator of Neurology at Glenwood Regional Medical Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

     

    Louisiana Medical Advisory Board
    The Louisiana Medical Advisory Board assists the Office of Motor Vehicles in determining if a driver has any visual ability or physical condition, impairment, or disability which may impair his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

    James D. Sandefur, O.D., of Oakdale, was reappointed to the Louisiana Medical Advisory Board. Sandefur is an optometrist and the Executive Director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana. He will serve as an optometrist on the board.

    Reinhold Munker, M.D., of Shreveport, was appointed to the Louisiana Medical Advisory Board. Munker is a physician and Professor of Medicine for Tulane University. He will serve as an internist on the board.

    Gary J. Avallone, O.D., of West Monroe, was appointed to the Louisiana Medical Advisory Board. Avallone is an optometrist with Vision Center. He will serve as an optometrist on the board.

     

    Louisiana Shrimp Task Force
    The Louisiana Shrimp Task Force studies and monitors the shrimp industry and makes recommendations to the state regarding same.

    Steven Sode, of Buras, was appointed to the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force. Sode is a commercial fisherman and will serve as such on the task force.

     

    Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee
    The Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee serves to make recommendations to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners regarding rules and regulations for the appropriate training and competency of clinical laboratory personnel who are engaged in the practice of clinical laboratory science in a clinical laboratory operated by a physician licensed by the board exclusively in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of his own patients.

    Cheryl R. Caskey, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee. Caskey is a licensed clinical laboratory scientist-generalist and a compliance officer with Pathology Resource Network. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Association and will serve as a clinical laboratory scientist-generalist who has been employed in a supervisory or administrative capacity on the committee.

    Lawrence A. “Larry” Broussard, Ph.D., of Prairieville, was appointed to the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee. Broussard is a licensed clinical laboratory scientist-specialist and the President of Larry Broussard Toxicology and Clinical Laboratory Consultant. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and will serve as a clinical laboratory scientist-specialist on the committee.

    George H. Roberts, Ed.D., of West Monroe, was reappointed to the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee. Roberts is a licensed clinical laboratory scientist-generalist and adjunct Anatomy and Physiology Instructor with Louisiana Delta Community College. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and will serve as a clinical laboratory scientist-generalist who has been actively engaged in clinical laboratory science education.

     

    Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council
    The primary function of the council is to review and adopt the state uniform construction code, provide training and education of code officials, and accept all requests for amendments of the code, except the Louisiana State Plumbing Code. Specifically, the council establishes the requirements and process for the certification and continuing education of code enforcement officers, code enforcement inspectors, third party providers and building officials and determines whether amendments to the state uniform construction code are justified.

    Heather A. Stefan, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council. Stefan is the Director of Baton Rouge Area Electrical JATC.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors
    The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors regulates embalmer/funeral directors, funeral directors, funeral establishments, crematories, and retort operators. It also handles consumer complaints. In addition, the board prescribes requirements for funeral homes and crematories engaged in the care and disposition of dead human remains.

    S.J. “Bubba” Brasseaux, of Lake Charles, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. Brasseaux is a licensed funeral director and embalmer and the Director of Support for Carriage Services. He will serve as a representative of District C on the Board.

    South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission
    The South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission operates Port Manchac in Tangipahoa Parish. The Commission’s operations include transportation, storage, shipping of products, and leasing of warehouses and docks.

    William F. Joubert, of Hammond, was reappointed to the South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission. Joubert is the Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Senator representing District 11.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
    The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is responsible for licensure and regulation of psychologists within the state.

    Leah J. Crouch, Psy.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Crouch is a clinical psychologist and the owner of River Bends Psychology. As required by statute, she was chosen from a list of names submitted by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

     

    Louisiana Rehabilitation Council
    The Louisiana Rehabilitation Council’s duties include reviewing, analyzing, and advising the Louisiana Rehabilitation Services within the Louisiana Workforce Commission regarding the performance of its responsibilities relating to eligibility, extent, scope, and effectiveness of services provided. The Council also reviews functions performed by state agencies that affect or that potentially affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment.

    Virginia Gay Young, of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Young is a Project Development Manager with Lighthouse Louisiana. She will serve as an individual with a disability on the council.

    Tarj L. Hamilton, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Hamilton is a licensed real estate agent and the owner of Clear2Close Realty, LLC. She will serve as an individual with a disability on the council.

    Glyn F. Butler, of Baker, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Butler is a Client Advocate with the Advocacy Center and will serve as a representative of the Client Assistance Program on the council.

     

    Capital Area Human Services District
    The Capital Area Human Services District directs the operation and management of community-based programs and services relative to public health, mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services for the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

    Amy P. Betts, of St. Francisville, was reappointed to the Capital Area Human Services District. Betts is the Chief Executive Officer of Bettlam Global Solutions and a former Supervisor of Special Education for the West Feliciana Parish School system. As required by statute, she was nominated by the West Feliciana Parish Council.

     

    Advisory Committee on Polysomnography
    The Advisory Committee on Polysomnography assists the Board of Medical Examiners in providing the minimum standards for polysomnography; approving the licensure examination; licensing of applicants; conducting administrative hearings on the denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew a license; and the adoption of rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act for the purpose of administering the Polysomnography Practice Act.

    Judson A. Willard, of Roxie, Mississippi, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Willard is the Baton Rouge/Mississippi Territory Manager for ResMed. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a non-licensed member who is active in field of sleep medicine.

    Melissa A. Boutte, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Boutte is a licensed polysomnographic technologist and the Director of the LeBean Sleep Center. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

     

    Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board
    The Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board serves to defend the public health, safety and welfare by protecting the people of the State of Louisiana against unnecessary deaths and morbidity due to trauma and time-sensitive illness.

    Karen O. Wyble, of Arnaudville, was appointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Wyble is the Chief Executive Officer of St. Martin Hospital. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Rural Hospital Coalition to serve as a representative of hospitals with fewer than sixty beds.

     

    Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board
    The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funds for non-profit and public agencies throughout the state for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    Franchesca L. Hamilton-Acker, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Hamilton-Acker is the Senior Attorney of Acadiana Legal Service Corporation. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association.

     

    Louisiana Emergency Response Commission
    The Louisiana Emergency Response Commission (LERC) coordinates and supervises implementation of the federal hazardous materials Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act within Louisiana. The LERC develops, coordinates, and leads the state emergency management program, enabling effective preparation for, response to, and recovery from emergencies and disasters in order to save lives, reduce human suffering, and minimize property loss.

    Kenneth “Scott” Bowman, of Zachary, was appointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Commission. Bowman is a sergeant with and the Explosives Unit Commander of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

     

    Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District
    The Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District serves to understand the dynamics of flood protection and tidal surge needs specific to Iberia Parish in order to implement a plan for such protection in conjunction with neighboring parishes. The board also determines and identifies funding sources to implement said plan.

    James Stein, of New Iberia, was reappointed to the Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District. Stein is the owner of Iberia Aggregates. He was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Iberia Parish Council, as required by statute.

    Patrick Broussard, of New Iberia, was reappointed to the Iberia Parish, Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District. Broussard is the owner of Broussard Manufacturing Consulting. He was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Iberia Parish Council, as required by statute.

     

    Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps
    The Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps serves to advise and assist the Lead Agency in the performance of its responsibilities, particularly in regard to: (a) identification of the sources of fiscal and other support for early intervention services; (b) assignment of financial responsibility to the appropriate agency; and (c) promotion of interagency agreements. The Council also advises and assists the Lead Agency in the preparation of applications, the transition of infants and toddlers to preschool or other appropriate services at age three, and the preparation and submission of an annual report to the Governor and to appropriate federal authorities on the Status of EarlySteps.

    Charles M. “Mike” Billings, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps. Billings is a Program Specialist with Transportation Security Administration. He will serve as a parent of a child with a disability on the council.

    Michelle S. Roberie, of Kenner, was appointed to the Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps. Roberie is a caregiver and will serve as a parent of a child with a disability on the council.

    Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority
    The Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority is a public corporation and is authorized to perform in its corporate capacity all acts necessary and proper for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, and operating Louisiana Regional Airport.

    Jeffrey L. Gaudin, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority. Gaudin is the owner of JGSG Holding Company. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension Parish and will serve as representative of Ascension Parish.

     

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    Edwards appoint several to councils, commissions

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

    Bruce Parker, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Homelessness, while Nicole E. Sweazy, of Baton Rouge, was appointed chair of council. Parker is the Director of the Office of Community Programs within the Office of the Governor and will serve as an at-large member on the council. Sweazy is the Housing Authority Executive Director for the Louisiana Housing Corporation and serves as the designee of the Executive Director of the Louisiana Housing Corporation on the council. The Governor’s Council on Homelessness serves to advise the Governor on issues of concern to Louisiana citizens concerning homelessness; review and update Louisiana’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness; monitor implementation of Louisiana’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness; serve as a resource for information about access to available services for the homeless population, including housing and transportation options for the homeless; consult and coordinate all activities with the Federal Interagency Council for the Homeless, HUD, and all other federal agencies that provide assistance to the homeless; ensure the services for all homeless persons of the State of Louisiana are appropriately planned and coordinated, thereby reducing duplication among programs and activities by state agencies and other providers; recommend improvements to the service delivery system for the homeless; and conduct other activities as may be appropriate and necessary.

    Robert E. “Bob” Barsley, D.D.S., of Ponchatoula, was appointed to the Task Force on Coordination of Medicaid Fraud Detection and Prevention Initiatives. Barsley is a dentist and professor with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Dentistry. He will serve as an advisory member who represents the dental field on the board. The Task Force on Coordination of Medicaid Fraud Detection and Prevention Initiatives is an interagency task force established to coordinate existing Medicaid fraud detection and prevention efforts and to recommend means for enhancing the efficacy of those efforts.

    Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., of Gretna, was appointed to the LaSTEM Council. Mackie holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and is the President and CEO of the Channel Zero Group. He formerly served on the faculty at Tulane University where he researched heat transfer, fluid dynamics, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Mackie is also the founder of STEM NOLA, an organization which serves to expose, inspire, and engage members in New Orleans and the surrounding communities about opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics Advisory Council (LaSTEM) was established to coordinate and oversee the creation, delivery, and promotion of STEM education program; to increase student interest and achievement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; to ensure the alignment of education, economic development, industry, and workforce needs; and to increase the number of women who graduate from a postsecondary institution with a STEM degree or credential.

    Gerard D. Rinchuso, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council. Rinchuso is a master plumber and the President of Rinchuso’s Plumbing. The primary function of the council is to review and adopt the state uniform construction code, provide training and education of code officials, and accept all requests for amendments of the code, except the Louisiana State Plumbing Code. Specifically, the council establishes the requirements and process for the certification and continuing education of code enforcement officers, code enforcement inspectors, third party providers and building officials and determines whether amendments to the state uniform construction code are justified.

    Mark S. Leeper, Ph.D., of Shreveport, was appointed to the State Board of Election Supervisors. Leeper is an assistant professor of political science at Centenary College of Louisiana. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As required by statute, Leeper was nominated by the President of Centenary College. The State Board of Election Supervisors conducts hearings for complaints under the administrative complaint procedure for federal elections and for the removal of registrars of voters, reviews election laws and procedures, and reports annually to the legislature.

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    Licensing law changes for Louisiana contractors

    According to the Louisiana Home Builders Association, HB 675, now Act 231 of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session makes several changes to the Contractors’ Licensing Law. Act 231 will go into effect Tuesday, August 1st 2017.

    Licensed residential contractors shall provide in writing:
    1. Name
    2. Contracting license number
    3. Classification
    4. Current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability
    insurance maintained and proof of workers’ compensation coverage

    Registered home improvement contractors shall provide in writing:
    1. Name
    2. Registration number
    3. Current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability
    insurance maintained and proof of workers’ compensation coverage

    This information shall be provided to the party with whom the contractor has
    contracted to perform contracting services, regardless of whether such information is requested by the contracting party for whom the work is to be performed.

    Also, licensed residential contractors and registered home improvement contractors shall produce to the permitting authority evidence of a license or registration in good standing prior to the issuance of any permit required by law. Click here to read the act in its entirety

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    Louisiana groups release statements on GOP’s repeal failure

    After the Senate rejected Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, several Louisiana organizations released statements showing their pleasure. Here are their words:

    From the Louisiana Center for Health Equity  president Alma C. Stewart:
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is pleased that millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief. After several failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it remains the law of the land. Today, 51 Members of Congress stood up for the American people protecting them from losing their healthcare coverage. It is disappointing that neither Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy nor Senator John Kennedy was among them. We are thankful for our many supporters who made their voices heard over and over. As we celebrate a victory today, we acknowledge that there remains work to be done to ensure that everyone has access to affordable quality healthcare. We urge Congress to allow this work go forward in a bipartisan manner.

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  • Edwards appoints Boyce new DAL director

     Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointment of Emalie Boyce to the role of director of the Division of Administrative Law (DAL). She will fill the position recently vacated by the founding director, Ann Wise. Boyce currently serves as deputy executive counsel to Gov. Edwards and has over ten years of legal experience in the public sector.

    “Emalie has been an invaluable member of our team and provided counsel on many issues from the start of this administration. In her role as my deputy executive counsel, Emalie has helped us remain transparent and accountable to the public. I could not be more confident about the leadership she will bring to the Division of Administrative Law,” said Gov. Edwards. “The agency will do great things under her charge, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”

    The DAL is Louisiana’s centralized state administrative hearings panel, providing fair, prompt, and orderly adjudications conducted by independent, impartial, and professional administrative law judges.

    “I am appreciative of the opportunity to serve the people of Louisiana in this new capacity and am grateful for the confidence Gov. Edwards placed in me during my time working in his administration,” said Emalie Boyce. “I am excited to join the wonderful team in place at the DAL and continue my work fostering a more transparent and accountable state of Louisiana.”

    Prior to her role as deputy executive counsel to the governor, Emalie Boyce served as deputy director of the Civil Division in the Office of the Attorney General. Her duties included oversight of opinions, training public officials, managing transparency processes, and advising boards, commissions and officers of the state of Louisiana. She has been married for fifteen years and has two children. She has also served many community organizations, including the LSU Museum of Art Advisory Board and the Board of Directors for Hospice of Baton Rouge.

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    COMMENTARY: Trump telling police ‘Don’t be too nice’ is unsettling at least

    Donald Trump, showed up on Long Island recently spewing his propensity for violence and promoting his disdain for former President Barack Obama to the Suffolk County Police department. Turns out the audience was comprised of officers in a police department that has been scrutinized for racial profiling and whose former chief was recently sentenced to prison for beating a man.

    Trump has a burning desire to discredit Barack Obama and a commitment to destroying his pristine image and presidential legacy by whatever means at his disposal.

    Under Obama, the Justice Department opened investigations into more than two dozen police departments, and worked out formal reform agreements known as consent decrees with 14 of them including the Suffolk County Police Department. These agreements were reached in the wake of several nationwide high-profile fatal shootings of Black men by police.

    Upon being appointed Attorney General, probably upon orders from Trump, Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure that these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

    In his address to the Long Island crowd, Trump suggested police shouldn’t worry about roughing up suspects. This was Trump’s subtle attempt to erase the effects of Obama’s policing reform agreements.

    In reference to M13, a violent gang of young men mostly of Salvadorian decent, Trump suggested that police should ignore arrest guidelines and not be “nice” to the suspects. The president spoke dismissively of arresting officers who protect suspects’ heads while putting them in police cars.

    Trump: “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting the head. You know? The way you put the hand over the head, like ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody, ‘Don’t hit their head.’ “I said, ‘You can take the hand away,’ OK?”  Officers in the audience responded to Trump’s remarks with thunderous applause.

    Such a reaction is, at the very least, unsettling given the allegations of discrimination against the department. The Suffolk County Police Department was investigated for discriminatory policing against Latinos, including an indifference toward immigrant residents that discouraged reporting crimes and cooperation with law enforcement, failing to thoroughly investigate hate crimes, and enforcing immigration policies in a way that encouraged racial profiling. A reform agreement reached between the DOJ and Suffolk County in 2013 required the department to institute a range of reforms. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions sent a disturbing message to these officers and they relished the news.

    The Long Island gang known as Mara Salvatrucha or MS 13 is known to have about 10,000 members and it’s one of the most dangerous and violent gangs in operation today. They are operational in over 40 cities around the United States. This is one of hundreds of dangerous street gangs operating in North and South America.

    Donald Trump seems to revel in violent and dissident environments.

    During the presidential primaries of 2016, he encouraged violence among his supporters against protesters at his rallies. He encouraged a crowd of supporters to “knock the hell” out of anyone who looked like they might throw anything at him, and promised to pay the legal fees for anyone who took him up on his suggestion. All succeeding rallies were accompanied by some sort of Trump inspired violence. When confronted with the possibility to make good on the promise to pay the legal fees of a man who admitted to punching a protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina, Trump said “No, I didn’t say that, I never said I was going to pay for fees.”

    In a recent attempt to discredit Obama, he asked a group of teenage boys attending their annual Boy Scout Jamboree, “Did Barack Obama ever attend a Boy Scout Jamboree?” He answered his own question with a no but Obama did attend the Jamboree in 2010 via video. He had no interest in other presidents who had or had not attended the Jamboree, he either researched the issue or had someone do it for him and he knew Obama had not attended in person. However he got his expected results when he popped the question, boos and cheers.

    Scouts learn the importance of being “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” How few of those adjectives apply to Donald Trump. A man who can’t control himself to act in a manner befitting the setting, is a man without the steadiness of character to run a nation. A grown man who is so insecure as to seek affirmation in a group of teenagers is not a man with the maturity to lead a nation. A man who is so self-absorbed as to make every utterance about himself and his needs is not a man with the vision to elevate a nation.

    Trump’s remarks has been repudiated by the Suffolk County Police. The Department said they will not tolerate such behavior from their officers. The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.

    The failure of “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare is a direct result of Trump’s obsession with discrediting Barack Obama.

    His 30 million supporters was not aware that the Affordable Care Act, which they loved and subscribed to, and Obamacare was one and the same. The pushback on “Trumpcare” came directly from them.

    When will the US congress wake up and rid themselves and the American people of this  narcissist, arrogant, manipulative, vindictive, delusional, overbearing, ill-informed, deceitful, inarticulate, and pessimistic aberration to America’s image and reputation?.

    By Walter Smith
    Publisher, Philadelphia Observer

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    COMMENTARY: New healthcare bill the wrong choice for African Americans

    In 1954, Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys argued the landmark civil rights case, Brown v. Board, before the Supreme Court. They demonstrated to the Justices that segregated schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause — that separate was and would always be unequal.
    Our representatives are on the brink of instating a health care plan that epitomizes separate and unequal. Thirteen U.S. Senators — all white men — sat behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. and crafted a replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    Their proposed bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), based off of the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), would only benefit people like themselves — healthy, wealthy white men — and quarantine the rest of the country into the confines of high cost, low quality health care.
    The Senate’s inequitable protection plan would disproportionately hurt the sick, the poor, the elderly, women, and people of color. It would make healthcare more expensive for seniors and people who are already sick, increase out-of-pocket costs for doctor’s visits, slash subsidies to help low-income people pay for health insurance, and cut Medicaid support to states by three-quarters of a trillion dollars.
    In more than twenty years as a health and social policy professional, I have witnessed the dire consequences of African Americans living without health care, and I have watched the ACA repair some of the most egregious inequities in our health care system. If the Senate bill passes, the impact will be devastating, and, in many cases, lethal.
    The current version of the Senate’s health care plan is projected to cause some 22 million people to lose their coverage by 2026, including 15 million next year. It also proposes to cut more than $772 billion from the Medicaid program over ten years and phase out additional funding for its expansion. At the same time, the bill proposes tax cuts of $700 billion that will largely benefit high-income individuals and big businesses — especially profiting the top one percent of earners. In effect, cuts to Medicaid for the poor and to premium subsidies for low-income people will serve to refund the rich.
    The Senate’s plan grants several allowances to states that hold the potential for serious harm. The plan permits states to opt out of providing essential health benefits that made coverage under the ACA more comprehensive, such as maternity and mental health care. States that opt out of providing these essential benefits would receive their share of $112 billion over ten years to help offset the states’ cost for covering those who need care most and likely set up high-risk insurance groupings. This provision would incentivize states to mark up the cost of coverage for people with certain needs, ostracizing them to their own costly risk pool.
    But the sick are not the only ones that the Senate plan puts at risk: under the new bill, low-income families and individuals would also be significantly hurt by the cuts to Medicaid. Proposed changes to Medicaid would make it more likely that states will reduce much-needed services or cut back enrollment. The resulting increased cost of care would be hurtful to elderly Americans, most of whom experience a decline in income, but they would be especially crippling to African-American seniors, who experience poverty at twice the rate of their white counterparts.
    The ACA cut the uninsured rate for African-American adults by almost half between 2010 to 2015 and eliminated the inequity in uninsured rates between African-American and white children. For the first time in history, thanks to the ACA, a Black child is no longer more likely to be uninsured than a white child. The new bill threatens to undo all of this progress. Suddenly, health care and insurance will once again be out of reach for many African Americans, nearly a quarter of whom were living below the poverty line in 2015.
    Further, the BCRA is an assault on the health of women of all races. The bill would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for at least one year, including Medicaid and Title X, despite its status as a source of care for services that women need, such as contraception and screenings for cancers and STDs.
    Our nation does not need a new health reform law. The ACA is the most comprehensive legislative effort to improve and democratize health care access in our nation’s history. We need to bolster the ACA’s promises of progress, not regress to conditions that were unacceptable then and are indefensible now. We need Congress to develop policies that help prevent illness, better manage disease, and facilitate health and well-being in our society overall. Our government’s focus should be on repairing and strengthening the ACA, not replacing it–much less with a dangerous, divisive alternative. It is time to put all of America first.
    By Marjorie Innocent
    Guest Columnist
    Join the NAACP on social media with the hashtag #BeInTheRoom. Dr. Marjorie Innocent is senior director, NAACP Health Programs. Contact: Malik Russell, director of communications, mrussell@naacpnet.org, 410-580-5761 (office)
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    Legislators send multiple bills to Gov. Edwards to signs, vetoes

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he signed several bills into law and vetoed a number of bills either entirely or partially using his line-item veto authority.The following bills were signed into law:

    ACT 365 – HB 20:  Provides relative to exemptions from the requirements for school instructional time under certain circumstances

    ACT 366 – HB 33: Provides relative to legislative staff attendance at executive sessions of the boards of trustees of state and statewide retirement systems

    ACT 367 – HB 211: Provides relative to business filings with the secretary of state

    ACT 368 – HB 304: Expands definition of “racketeering activity” to include armed robbery and armed robbery or attempted armed robbery committed with a firearm

    ACT 369 – HB 341: Amends laws relative to behavioral health and mental health to provide for current practice and appropriate terminology

    ACT 370 – HB 395: Amends the procedures for involuntary mental health treatment

    ACT 371 – HB 423: Authorizes the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to establish and administer a water quality trading program

    ACT 372 – HB 450: Provides relative to the Upper Audubon Security District in Orleans Parish

    ACT 373 – HB 483: Provides relative to disclosure of data maintained by the Louisiana Tumor Registry and for a cancer investigation initiative

    ACT 374 – SB 1: Renames the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts as the Jimmy D. Long, Sr. Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.

    ACT 375 – SB 25:  Sunsets the individual income tax education credit.

    ACT 376 – SB 54: Provides relative to exploited children.

    ACT 377 – SB 95: Changes the rebate for donations to certain school tuition organizations to a nonrefundable income tax credit.

    ACT 378 – SB 97:  Provides relative to the sales and use tax exemption for feed, seed, and fertilizer used by commercial farmers.

    ACT 379 – SB 102: Creates and provides for Louisiana Educational Workforce Training Fund to provide opportunities for educational training in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

    ACT 380 – SB 117: Requires certain insurance producers to maintain professional liability insurance

    ACT 381 – SB 121: Provides relative to terminology of court-ordered and other mandatory examinations in civil and administrative matters and claims.

    ACT 382 – SB 148: Creates the Waterway Dredging and Deepening Priorty Program.

    ACT 383 – SB 170:  Provides relative to the use of student assessment data for school accountability purposes for the 2016-17 school year for parishes in declared disaster areas.

    ACT 384 – SB 177:  Provides relative to the Motion Picture Tax Credit Program for the withholding of income tax for performance of services on a state-certified production.

    ACT 385 – SB 182: Provides for the tax credit for ad valorem taxes paid on inventory by taxpayers included in one consolidated federal income tax return.

    ACT 386 – SB 183: Provides termination dates for certain tax incentive and rebate programs.

    ACT 387 – SB 187: Provides for establishment of a pilot evidence-based budget proposal process for mental health programs administered by the Louisiana Department of Health.

    ACT 388 – SB 189: Provides for ethical standards for public servants.

     

    Edwards vetoed the following bills for various reasons. Click each bill number to read the corresponding veto letter.

    HB 598 was amended in a fashion that would prevent the Department of Transportation and Development from meeting the infrastructure needs of the state.

    HB 269 would be unnecessary and overly burdensome to Louisiana colleges and universities as the freedoms this bill attempts to protect are already well-established by the bedrock principles declared in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of the Louisiana Constitution.

    HB 568 would create legal inconsistency among civil and criminal penalties incurred in the case of a violation of authorized uses of student information collected.

    HB 132 would create overly burdensome red tape in administrative reporting to the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget where current practice is sufficiently transparent and responsive.

    Edwards line-item vetoed portions of HB 1, which passed during the 2017 Second Special Session. Click here to read the veto letter.

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    Southern’s college government to offer additional international studies in policy, finance and business

    Southern University’s newly formed Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences will introduce a new curriculum, programs and international opportunities this summer. Previously known as the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, the school was upgraded at the beginning of 2017, and it is the only college of government in the state.

    “Our goal is to become more expansive and create additional opportunities for our student body and faculty,” said Damien Ejigiri, PhD, dean of the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences. “The curriculum now extends beyond foreign government relationships and presents recruitment and academic connections with African countries.”

    In addition to international opportunities, the new curriculum will have a stronger emphasis on government issues and relationships within the state and southern region. The college has also formed a partnership with the Southern University College of Business to introduce a new Ph.D. program with a concentration in finance and business. Students from the College of Business will be able to earn dual degrees from the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences.

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Ejigiri has established a relationship with the South African Ambassador to the United States, Mninwa J. Mahlangu, who has openly declared the forging of a connection between the College and South African government. The South African diplomat rededicated the college on behalf of the late Nelson Mandela on the campus of Southern University in May. After the ceremony, Mahlangu and Ejigiri discussed leading efforts to establish exchange programs and training opportunities within multiple South African universities. The relationship will also connect the college to South African companies to establish recruitment efforts for graduates. Furthermore, faculty will be encouraged to visit the country to discuss best practices and further develop valuable connections.

    “The mission of the College is to attract and educate men and women from across the globe who will matriculate with the spirit of service, superb competence and employability skills needed in the market, and who further will acquire the uncompromising spirit to fight for justice and equality,” said Jocelyn Freeman, Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences professor.

    ONLINE: www.subr.edu.

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    Mayor Broome to citizens: ‘I stand against hatred, division, and words that divide’

    On May 19, 2017, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released this letter to residents of East Baton Rouge Parish after seeing racist and bigoted statements posted online.

    At my inauguration in January, I spoke about the fabric of our community and how it could be torn by the challenges of the day. I said that many would look at these challenges and choose to define us by the different and diverse pieces that exist. I stood before this city excited by the opportunity to help lead the unification of our different and disparate pieces of cloth into a wonderful, colorful, distinctive and inclusive quilt that will be the “new Baton Rouge.” I spoke about how we could utilize the common and strong threads of respect, opportunity, fairness, inclusion, equity, and optimism to weave an amazing tapestry of growth and progress that touches every area of this parish and beyond. I had much hope then and I have much hope now.

    I have a profound love for this city, parish and ALL residents. My goal as mayor-president is to unite people around our collective goals of progress and equity. While freedom of speech is one of the pillars that makes this country so beautiful, irresponsibility of such can be used as a tool to separate us as community. As your mayor-president, I stand against hatred, division, and words and actions that only further divide our community. I do not endorse or support the opinions of any individual or media outlet that would attempt to take us down a path of strife and contentiousness. I write to you today to say that this division cannot and will not be the demise of Baton Rouge.

    While this administration has been working diligently to address the priorities that you as citizens have established for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, we still have much work to do. This includes but is not limited to: ensuring that all of our children, regardless of their addresses, receive an optimum education; our police are equipped and trained properly not only to be aligned with 21st century best practices, but to also be aligned with the community they serve; we are adequately prepared for natural disasters and recovery; and that all neighborhoods have the tools necessary to make them the safe, progressive places that residents deserve; and that economic growth touches all parts of our city. Lastly, I will continue to work to make peace and justice the standard for our community — not the exception.
    We can accomplish these goals and more if we work together. That is when we are our strongest.

    In closing, I want to be very clear: I reject any efforts intended to create division and strife in our community. The statements that I made during my campaign for your mayor-president and subsequent inaugural address were not just idle words. I meant every word with every fiber of my being when I spoke of the “new Baton Rouge.” Our future is a shared one. We are inextricably bound together in our search for
    a place that we can be proud to call home. And I, for one, refuse to be deterred in our journey.

    Sincerely,
    Sharon Weston Broome

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    Losing healthcare access, Medicaid too risky for Louisiana

    There are very few things, if any, more important in life than our health. As such, it’s important that we as Louisiana residents are mindful of the gains we’ve made through the Affordable Care Act as well as through Medicaid expansion here. For the first time ever, insurance companies are mandated to cover preventative care services and are also prohibited from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

    As the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid, Louisiana has positioned itself to be at the cutting edge of healthcare reform. With more than 420,000 individuals who now have health coverage under Medicaid expansion, Louisiana residents are receiving life-saving early detection because of an increase in health screenings and treatment of health conditions including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Sadly, however, many of the gains that have been made over the last few years are on the verge of being lost.

    On May 3, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) signaling the first victory toward President Donald Trump’s repeal and replace agenda. Though this reform impacts the entire nation, it poses significant concerns for poor states like Louisiana which, prior to Governor John Bel Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid, had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. A 2017 survey conducted by LSU’s School of Mass Communication noted that, “About three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state’s decision to expand its Medicaid program last year under the auspices of the federal ACA. [However], the public remains deeply divided over the ACA itself, but opinion is shifting in a more favorable direction.” That being considered, it’s highly likely that many Louisiana residents, even those in favor of passing Trump’s AHCA, will be disgruntled to discover its potentially negative impact on Medicaid funding in Louisiana. If the Senate successfully passes the AHCA, those with pre-existing conditions could be forced out of the insurance marketplace into a “high risk” pool. There could be a reduction in the benefits now offered that cover preventative care services. This could have a major impact on the health of Louisiana residents.

    As of May 8, more than 6,400 Louisiana women were screened for breast cancer; 103 were diagnosed with cancer. Additionally, 8,823 Louisiana residents were screened for colon cancer. Of those individuals 2,593 of them successfully averted colon cancer by having polyps removed, and 82 individuals were diagnosed. These statistics make it clear that the issue of protecting the ACA and Medicaid expansion is about saving lives. In order to ensure that our state continues to move forward in providing access to healthcare for all of its residents, we must take action now prior to the U.S. Senate vote.

    Join other advocates and:

    • Stand together for health at the State Capitol. The “Health Day at the Capitol” is May 24 at 9am, hosted by the Louisiana Center for Health Equity in conjunction with the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana and a number of other community organizations. The event will feature a press conference on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, followed by a display of resources in the Capitol Rotunda until noon. This is an opportunity to stand together in support of health care, showcase your organization and services, network with others, share your concerns, attend committee meetings and connect with legislators. (www.facebook.com/LACenterHealthEquity/).
    • Contact your U.S. Senator now. The Senate is taking up the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Contact your U.S. Senator now. Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator John Kennedy can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Select option “1”.
    • Subscribe to Louisiana Center for Health Equity newsletter. Stay informed about healthcare advocacy efforts and the work of LCHE partners. Go to http://www.healthcareeveryone.org/ and subscribe. The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is a nonpartisan non profit IRS tax exempt public charity 501(c)(3) organization. LCHE works to address the increasing disparities in health and healthcare across Louisiana. LCHE represents the interest of health equity by promoting the elimination of health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality healthcare and unhealthy environmental conditions with a focus on health and wellness.

    By Alma C. Stewart, R.N., M.S
    Founder and President, Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    Convener, Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana
    Host, “Today’s Health Topics,” a weekly radio show on WTQT 106.1 FM.

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    Civil Rights group calls for investigation of La. Legis. Auditor, state offices for discrimination

    After a succession of African-American officials and directors have been investigated by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) a local think tank, Justice & Beyond, is asking the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and Governor John Bel Edwards’ office to investigate the LLA. The group is also calling for a review of the state’s compliance with federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act rules.

    The LLA is a joint committee of the Louisiana Legislature. The Council is composed of five senators and five representatives. The Council is charged with oversight of the legislative auditor and, most importantly, resolving audit findings contained in audits issued by the legislative auditor and private accounting firms performing governmental audits in-lieu of the legislative auditor.

    “Our coalition has been presented evidence that suggests racial targeting and disparate legislative outcomes depending on who is being investigated by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor,” Justice & Beyond leaders wrote when requesting the investigation.

    Justice & Beyond issued the call when it noticed suspect findings in an LLA Report of the Health Education Authority of Louisiana, headed by Jacob Johnson, another African-American man. In fairness to the LLA, it does investigate a range of state-funded entities, but relative to the above cases, the findings amounted to much ado about nothing.

    Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Civil District Court Judge Kern A. Reese, and Arthur Morell, Clerk of Criminal District Court, all African-American elected officials, have been investigated by the LLA.

    “They spent two years investigating my office. Initially, they came to investigate the claims of guys who went to jail but the investigation turned up nothing,” said Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman.

    Read more by C.C. Campbell-Rock, Louisiana Weekly contributing writer

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    Vote on school tax renewal April 29

    On April 29, voters in East Baton Rouge will determine the 10-year renewal of two property taxes totaling an estimated $42 million over 10 years to improve and maintain salaries of employees and to reduce state receipts to maintain the system. Specifically, voters will say “yes” or “no” to these propositions which state:

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 1 – 7.14 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.: Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of seven and fourteen hundredths (7.14) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $25,437,280 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for improving and maintaining salaries and benefits of public school employees in said District?

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 2 – 4.98 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.:Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-eight hundredths (4.98) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $17,741,970 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2018, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for the purpose of replacing reduced state and local receipts and operating and maintaining the public school system in said District?

     

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    Holmesville receives loan for drinking water system improvements

    The Louisiana Department of Health recently awarded a $1.9 million loan to the Holmesville Water System through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. This low-interest subsidized loan will help improve Holmesville’s water system.

    LDH and Holmesville officials closed the loan in February. The proposed project includes improvements to two water treatment facilities with new treatment units and storage tanks and a new well and emergency power equipment at one of the facilities. Also, the system will use the funds to make modifications to the electrical control systems and chlorination system to comply with the EPA’s drinking water standards.

    In addition to the loan, the Fiscal Year 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidies in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 20 percent of the loan’s principal, with a cap of $500,000 of principal forgiveness per project.

    Through this special provision, the fund will provide additional financial assistance in the form of principal forgiveness in the amount of $384,000 for this loan for the Holmesville Water System.

    “Consistent access to safe, clean drinking water is critical to the health and well-being of any community,” LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. “The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund provides an affordable way for communities and water systems such as Holmesville to update their drinking water systems and keep their residents safe.”

    Loans made through this program have low interest rates and repayment periods capped at 20 years. Both public and privately-owned community water systems and nonprofit, non-community water systems are eligible for these loans. Once a loan has been approved, water systems can use the funds to make necessary improvements. As the systems pay back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for loans to other communities. All projects funded by these loans are approved based upon a priority ranking system. Among other factors, projects that address the most serious risks to human health and those that ensure compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act are given the highest priority.

    Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program is jointly funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the individual participating states. In Louisiana, the fund is administered by the LDH Office of Public Health.

    “The Fund allows the Department of Health to provide communities with low-interest subsidized loans,” said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for LDH’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. “This allows the communities to make needed infrastructure improvements and protect public health.”

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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.

    image

    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.

    Read more »
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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 »
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    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 »
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    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.

     

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  • ,

    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 »
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    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 »
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    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 »
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