The Daily Advertiser reported Monday that scheduled conference calls between Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members, the Department of Education and Superintendent John White to discuss key agenda items before public BESE meetings appear to violate the state’s open meetings law. In an effort to avoid a quorum, at least two conference calls were scheduled to address single matters before the board:
At least twice recently — before the vote on scholarship schools’ accountability Tuesday and earlier this year when BESE voted on the Minimum Foundation Program — board members were invited to participate in one of two scheduled conference calls before public meetings dealing with these controversial issues. ...
BESE members Carolyn Hill and Lottie Beebe say they refused to participate in the board’s last calls, scheduled the Sunday before the board’s vote to approve accountability criteria for nonpublic schools participating in the state’s scholarship program. ...
“That’s probably why they have two separate calls,” Hill said. “If that’s what’s happening and that’s the case, then we’re deceiving the public.” ...
“Walking quorums in which members of the body come and go ... so as to prevent a gathering of a quorum of the body are not allowed and violate the prohibitions of using any method to circumvent the intent of Louisiana’s open meetings law,” according to an explanation of the open meetings law posted on Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s website. ...
BESE member Connie Bradford, who referred to the conference calls as "meetings," according to the paper, said the discussions were for informational purposes only — to help board members make more informed decisions. Bradford, however, acknowedged there could be legal issues with the calls.
At last Tuesday’s official BESE meeting, the board’s legal counsel said there are no legal problem with the calls, according to the Advertiser story. Read more here.
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MAR 6 In this week's post, Jim Brown is remembering former Gov. Jimmie Davis, who was sworn in 70 years ago this week. Included in here is the governor's recipe for raccoon, which was his favorite dish, Brown says. He also tells us who "Sunshine" was - Jimmie's palomino. She's buried at the late governor's farm, Brown says.
MAR 6 Columnist James Gill applies his special combination of wit and sarcasm to our friend Don Briggs in this post. Gill read the oil and gas leader's deposition and almost felt sorry for him -- almost. The problem seems to be related to Mr. Brigg's "stupendous ignorance of his purported area of expertise," Gill writes. He also credits Briggs with doing more for the environmental cause in a couple hours than tree-huggers can accomplish in years.
MAR 6 If you're on the Facebook, you've seen this video of two NOLA police officers line dancing with some Mardi Gras revelers. But this one is even better: it's a NOLA police horse line dancing on Bourbon Street. Hey -- this is Louisiana. We all can get down, if the situation calls for it.
MAR 6 Here's some more new info on the continuing controversy at Louisiana College, this time posted on the Tennessean (so maybe this story is pretty interesting outside of Louisiana, too). The story, originally written by Town Talk reporters, tells us about a document with allegedly forged signatures which was sent to SACS, the organization which issues accreditation for southern universities and colleges. The plot thickens?
MAR 6 When one reads a story like this one on KATC about the person or persons unknown who stole a huge duck balloon, three questions come to mind. First, what kind of person steals a huge balloon used to advertise a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club? And second, how can that person drive off with a huge balloon -- and attract no attention at all? And of course, the biggie: what you gonna do with that?
MAR 6 If you're interested in how things might look in 20 or 30 years, here's a good indication. This post by a 19-year-old sophomore in the LSU Reveille is the first in a series about racism. Written by a white girl, it argues that we must discuss racism and acknowledge its existence. We can't pretend it doesn't exist anymore - because it does, she says.
MAR 6 LaPolitics is doing the math on the state's unclassified workforce, and it looks pretty good -- if you're part of it. The top 50 unclassified positions in state government are making a combined $17 million, LaPolitics reports. That's $3 million more than when Jindal took office. (It's also an average salary of $340,000 in case you're interested) What's really interesting is that a lot of these positions are related to college athletics. Huh.
MAR 6 What does Ash Wednesday in NOLA look like? Beaded trees. This Picayune story takes a look at one narrow aspect of the annual clean-up following Mardi Gras: the beads hanging from trees. It takes weeks for crews to remove the trash from the trees, the story tells us.
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