After learning of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s policy of issuing credit cards to City-Parish Council members who request them — and giving each council member the autonomy to decide what travel expenses are appropriate to bill LCG for — The Independent Weekly checked in with three other cities to find out how LCG’s credit card and travel policies compares with others around the state.
Two we checked on don’t issue cards to council members, and a third does — though it has a policy for ensuring the card was used for city business only, something lacking in Lafayette.
This web-exclusive comparison coincides with The Independent Weekly’s news story on City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin, who used his LCG-issued credit card to fund a three-night stay in New Orleans the weekend of last year’s Bayou Classic and stated in his expense report that the only reason for his trip was an hour-and-a-half scholarship brunch sponsored by the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. Read more on Shelvin’s Big Easy trip here.
According to the Lake Charles City Council clerk, council members are not allowed to hold their own government-issued credit cards. When travel expenses are requested for government-approved conferences, the council clerk books hotel rooms, flights and conference registration in advance of the scheduled trip and charges the expenses to a credit card used only by the council office. Council members in Lake Charles are sometimes reimbursed for other out-of-town ventures, such as traveling to a neighboring city to examine an asset Lake Charles might need, but when asked if the policy allows for council members to charge the city for a weekend in New Orleans for one brunch event, the council clerk promptly said, “Oh, no.”
Council members in Alexandria are given credit cards to use for city-related travel, according to the Alexandria City Council clerk’s office. But unlike the Lafayette City-Parish Council, the Alexandria City Council president reviews the charges and can decide if the travel expenses were inappropriate. If it is determined the purpose of the trip or the expenses incurred were not allowed, the council member must reimburse the city.
LCG can ask a council member to reimburse the city for expenses that do not follow travel policy, but, surprisingly, no one in the city administration or on the City-Parish Council can deny travel expenses based on the purpose of the trip. Each council member has an annual $4,000 travel budget, and he or she decides what’s appropriate travel. Shelvin, apparently, thought it was perfectly acceptable to turn what should have been a day trip to New Orleans into a three-night stay. He did not reimburse LCG for any of the weekend’s expenses, and no one is saying whether he was ever asked to do so.
Shreveport, like Lake Charles, does not allow its council members to have city-issued credit cards. When conferences or other travel is called for, the council office typically arranges some of the accommodations ahead of time, but council members must pay for the bulk of their travel expenses and seek reimbursement after their return.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.