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Local News

St. Tammany Parish Government Enters Phase One Reopening

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:



St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper signed an Executive Order, to reopen St. Tammany Parish and St. Tammany Parish Government as Phase One openings begins across the State of Louisiana.

“Our goal is to open up St. Tammany Parish Government gradually, while protecting our employees, and continuing to serve the public,” said Cooper. “We are happy to open the Tammany Trace, the St. Tammany Fishing Pier, and Camp Salmen Nature Park, giving our citizens the opportunity to utilize them in the safest ways possible. We ask that every citizen continue to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and others.”

As a portion of St. Tammany Parish Government employees return to Parish Government campuses to work in offices, each will go through a screening process in order to enter the buildings. A portion of employees will remain working remotely.  Measures will be in place to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and employees will be required to wear masks. Parish Government buildings will remain closed to the public.

The Tammany Trace, Camp Salmen Nature Park, and the St. Tammany Fishing Pier reopen beginning Friday, May 15, 2020.

  • The Tammany Trace will open from 7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. every day.
  • The Bayou Lacombe Bridge closes at 7 p.m.
  • The St. Tammany Fishing Pier will open from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Patrons are advised the Pier will be manned sporadically.
  • Camp Salmen Nature Park will open from 9a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Playground is closed to the public. Patrons are advised Camp Salmen Nature Park will be manned sporadically.
  • The Kids Konnection Playground will remain closed
  • Restrooms will be cleaned throughout the day. Patrons should plan to exercise best practices for prevention when using these facilities, including: social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand washing.

Read the entire Executive Order here. ###  

Executive Order Terminating Stay-At-Home Order And Implementing Phase One Of The Recovery Plan  May 15, 2020
sttammanysafe.com
Link to Press Conference May 12, 2020
St. Tammany Parish Extended Stay At Home Order issued April 30, 2020
St. Tammany Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan (DRAFT)
St. Tammany Parish Extended Stay At Home Order issued April 7, 2020
St. Tammany Parish Executive Stay At Home Order issued March 23, 2020
Emergency Declaration issued March 17, 2020
Emergency Declaration issued March 13, 2020
COVID-19 Links
St. Tammany Parish Government
CDC
Office of Governor John Bel Edwards
Louisiana Department of Health
OpenSafely 

Featured Posts General Local News

COVID-19: City Events Cancelled, parish Advice

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Out of an abundance of caution over Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) concerns, City of Covington leaders together with event organizers have announced the cancellation of weekend events. These events include the Covington Celtic Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Block party (Saturday, March 14, 2020), the YSB Chef Soiree (Sunday, March 15, 2020) and the St. Joseph Abbey Monk Run (Saturday, March 14). The Covington Farmer’s Market will remain open this Saturday.
“Covington Celtic Club’s St. Patrick’s Parade set for Saturday, March 14th at 12 pm has unfortunately been cancelled. However, the block party portion of the event will be postponed for a later date. We are grateful for all of our vendors, sponsors and participants and look forward to celebrating in a even larger capacity at Covington’s Celtic Celebration at the corner of Rutland and New Hampshire at t nearby date! We are as disappointed as you are, and ask for your understanding in the matter as many months of hard work and money have been put into these events and these are not decisions we make lightly. We hope to have you attend our parade and celebration next your on Saturday, March 13, 2021,” Cody Ludwig, Covington Celtic Club.
Important* Many of the local businesses in downtown Covington will continue to need your support during this time, so please remember to Shop, Eat, and Enjoy Local.

Parish Government Advice on COVID-19

With regard to COVID-19, St. Tammany Parish Government encourages people to follow the advice put forth by health experts:
Cover your cough. Stay home if you are sick.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or with a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Avoid close contact (within six feet) with those who are sick.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
Visit stpgov.org for additional information. – Thank you
Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President

Local News

Memorial Service For Patricia Brister Monday

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Memorial Service Announced For Patricia P. Brister, Former St. Tammany Parish President

The public is invited to a Memorial Service for Patricia P. “Pat” Brister, former St. Tammany Parish President, Ambassador to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, National Committee Woman to the Republic National Committee, and Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. The service will be held Monday, February 10, 2020, at Church of the King, located at 22205 Little Creek Road, Mandeville, LA. There will be a visitation from 10am until 12pm. A celebration of Pat’s life will begin at 12 noon with a Memorial Service.
The family of Ms. Brister appreciates the outpouring of love and prayers from her friends, peers, citizens who knew her or admired her from afar. They have been particularly struck by the tributes to Pat as a trailblazer for women in politics, civic duty and women’s rights.

Statement from Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President, on the Passing of Pat Brister, Former St. Tammany Parish President

Pat Brister was a woman of vision, drive and commitment, who fought for St. Tammany at the local, state and national levels through her many roles in public service.

“Pat leaves behind a legacy of service, philanthropy, and entrepreneurialism. I, along with the employees of St. Tammany Parish Government and all citizens, extend deepest sympathies to Pat’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

-Mike Cooper St. Tammany Parish President

Local News

$3.5 Million Roadway Improvement Project Begins in Covington Area

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Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President announced today the start of a $3.5 million roadway improvement investment on Highway 1085 (Bootlegger Road) in the Covington area. Crews will begin Thursday, July 18, 2019 with the replacement of the bridge over Timber Branch Creek just east of the Weston Glen subdivision; a complete mill and overlay from the roundabout at Highway 1077 northeast on Highway 1085 up to Highway 21; and the construction of a recreational path for non-motorized use on the south side of Highway 1085 from Francis Road to Highway 21.


“These roadway upgrades are essential. Bootlegger Road is a highly traveled road that helps to alleviate traffic congestion between Highway 21, and Highway 1077,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We are committed to infrastructure investments with long-term, multi-use, benefits using the most innovative engineering tools available. We thank everyone for your patience as we make these improvements.”  
Highway 1085 from Weston Way to just east of the bridge at Timber Branch Creek, will be closed to all traffic for approximately 180 days for the bridge replacement. Once the bridge is complete and the road has been reconstructed near the bridge, the road will reopen to traffic as the other aspects of the project are finished. The entire project is expected to be complete in spring of 2020.

Covington Area Roadwork Updates

Beginning July 22, 2019, on Brewster Road in the Madisonville area from Perrilloux Road to just east of Summerhaven Court, crews will begin a drainage and roadway improvement project expected to last approximately 30 days. Motorists should prepare for expected delays, increased noise levels and the potential for dust during the hours of 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. Please plan to drive slowly and with caution through the construction area, especially when construction dust is present.

Beginning July 18, 2019, Bootlegger Road in the Covington area will be closed from Weston Way eastward to the end of the bridge, for about 180 days for a bridge replacement.

Motorists should plan to use Ochsner Boulevard as an alternate route. This is the first phase of an extended upgrade to Bootlegger Road.

Local News

STPG Preparedness Posture

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Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, her administration and emergency operations personnel continue to monitor any potential impacts of Potential Tropical Cyclone Two, currently located in the Gulf of Mexico, and forecast to possibly become a tropical depression later this week. Parish Government is following its emergency planning, and has instituted its Storm in the Gulf protocols. Although the predicted path of this system by the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center modeling has not pinpointed the severity of the impact to St. Tammany at this time, Parish Government remains prepared for any predicted impacts.
Parish Officials will continue to closely monitor this system and are asking residents to do the same. The St. Tammany Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is receiving continual updates from the National Weather Service and is receiving constant updates concerning the track of Potential Tropical Cyclone Two as it gains strength in the Gulf.
Based upon the forecast, Parish Government will announce any emergency preparedness information to the public through the local media, our website, and through social media on Facebook and Twitter. Citizens can also sign up to receive automatic email updates from the Parish by visitingwww.stpgov.org.

DOTD reminds motorists to use caution during severe weather Wednesday, July 10, 2019 10:45 AM New Orleans- With severe weather and heavy rainfall impacting the Greater New Orleans area, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development reminds motorists to take extra precautions should traveling be necessary. District personnel are on site monitoring the forecast and will make appropriate decisions to ensure the safety of the traveling public. Many roads in the region are either closed or have high water on them, so use precaution and only drive if you must.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

The possibility of severe weather this weekend along with high temperatures can create a dangerous situation for those sensitive to the temperature and humidity. It is a good idea to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and understand the differences between the two.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  1. Faintness or Dizziness
  2. Excessive Sweating
  3. Cool, Pale, Clammy Skin
  4. Nausea, Vomiting
  5. Rapid, Weak Pulse
  6. Muscle Cramps
    Treating Heat Exhaustion
  7. Move To Cooler Location
  8. Drink Water
  9. Take A Cool Shower Or Use Cold Compresses
    Symptoms of Heat Stroke
  10. Throbbing Headache
  11. No Sweating
  12. Body Temp Above 103 Degrees
  13. Red, Hot Dry Skin
  14. Nausea, Vomiting
  15. Rapid, Strong Pulse
  16. May Lose Consciousness
    Treating Heat Stroke
  17. Get Emergency Help
  18. Keep Cool Until Treated
    Heat-related illnesses are preventable.
    Learn the symptoms and what to do if you or a loved one shows signs of having a heat related illness.
    Basic Hot Weather Tips:
    Wear Appropriate Clothing, Stay Cool Indoors, Pace Yourself, Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully, Protect Yourself From the Sun, Do Not Leave Children or Pets In Cars, Avoid Hot and Heavy Meals, Stay Hydrated
General

Hurricane Preparedness

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Take some time this week – Hurricane Preparedness Week – to make sure you have a hurricane evacuation plan.  The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if you’re in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane.  If you are, figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate.  You do not need to travel hundreds of miles.  Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in an evacuation zone or unsafe home, and coordinate with them to use their home as your evacuation destination.  Be sure to account for your pets, as most local shelters do not permit them.  Put the plan in writing for you and those you care about.

Just having enough supplies to make it through a hurricane isn’t enough. You need plenty to make it through what could be a LONG recovery period too. Water and electricity could be out for a week or more. Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family for a MINIMUM of one week. Also make sure you have extra cash, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and a portable crank or solar powered USB charger to charge your cell phone.

Find out more preparedness tips at stpgov.org

Survival: How Being Prepared Can Keep You and Your Family Safe by Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore (U.S. Army Ret.) Preparedness Tips:  Store survival kits in a convenient place known to all family members.  Keep a smaller version of your supplies kit in the trunk of your car, at work, and at school.  Keep them in airtight plastic bags, if possible.  Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.  Replace your stored food every six months.  Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.  Rethink your kit and family needs at least once a year.

Lieutenant General Honore is a native of Lakeland, Louisiana.  He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Agriculture upon graduation from Southern University and A&M College in 1971.

Read more at generalhonore.com

Local Events Local News

STPG Hosts Law Enforcement Luncheon

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Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, cuts the cake on Monday, January 22, 2018, at the third annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon. Organized by St. Tammany Parish Government, the event was held at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium and made possible through local sponsors. Members of law enforcement were treated to foods from local restaurants, door prizes, live music and a special message from Congressman Steve Scalise, which President Brister read on his behalf.



Photo Left–Right: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister, Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker and Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal.

Lady Beware is a comprehensive, personal safety and awareness course sponsored by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. Classes are open to both male and female. You must be 18 years of age or older, but high school students are welcome if accompanied by a parent or guardian. The classes fill up quickly, visit STPSO.com to register and check class availability.

General Local Events Local News

LWC Job Fair at Castine Center

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CONTACT: Jennifer Barnett
(985) 646-6410
Jbarnett.laworks@gmail.com
www.triparishworks.net

Greater New Orleans: All area residents in search of a new job or career advancement are encouraged to attend the Northshore Fall Fest Job Fair on Thursday, November 9, 2017 in Mandeville. Sponsored by Tri-Parish Works – St. Tammany Business & Career Solutions, St. Tammany Parish Government and the 1st Recreation District of Pelican Park, the job fair boasts over 40 participating employers that are in search of a variety of new employees. Over 1,000 jobs are available for qualified or trainable applicants.

A wide range of employers will be there to conduct initial interviews with potential employees. Participating employers range from Weeks Marine, United Healthcare, AT&T and Lowe’s, to Textron, Global Wildlife Center and Whitney Bank. Entry and mid-level opportunities are available, as well as technical and trade positions.

Job applicants should register for free for the Northshore Fall Fest Job online at www.triparishworks.net. The job fair will be held at The Castine Center, 63350 Pelican Park Drive, Mandeville, from 2:00PM to 6:PM on Thursday, November 9. Bring copies of your resume, dress for success, and find the right opportunity for starting or advancing your career.

The Tri-Parish Works Business & Career Solutions Centers serve employers and job seekers in St. Tammany, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes. For more information about the Northshore Fall Fest Job Fair, contact Jennifer Barnett at (985) 646-6410, or Jbarnett.laworks@gmail.com.

Featured Posts Local News Shop Local

CBA Statement on proposed Bikeshare Program

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Some have followed the bizarre story (here, here, and here and also here plus here as well) of the Northshore Community Foundation’s proposed BikeShare Program in the Covington Weekly. The CBA issued a statement with regard to the matter and it is printed here in its entirety, along with the results of the poll referenced:

September 28, 2017
“The Covington Business Association must adhere to the mission by which our organization was founded – to represent and advance the interests of local business. To that end, we conducted an anonymous poll of our member businesses at a recent meeting to gage their opinions on the bike share issue. An overwhelming majority of our members who responded were not in favor of the bike share program, and particularly not one that is funded by the taxpayer. Furthermore, after conducting additional research on bike share programs around the country, our board of directors does not believe that this program, as currently proposed, will be successful nor enhance our quality of life on a local level. Therefore, the Covington Business Association does not support this project, nor its funding by the St Tammany Parish government or our local municipality.
The CBA is willing to work with the Tammany Trace, local organizations and private businesses to devise and implement a strategy for expanding bicycle availability along and near the Trace. We believe that a more appropriate alternative can be identified – one that supports local business and does not require government investment.”
Brad Schroeder
Board President
Covington Business Association

Covington Business Association Member Votes Regarding the Proposed Bike Share Program for St. Tammany Parish

The board of directors of the Covington Business Association polled the organization’s members at the general monthly meeting on September 6, 2017. The questions and responses were as follows:

1) Do you think that a bike sharing program should be implemented? 40 No 8 Yes
2) Do you feel that the City of Covington should dedicate $25,000 of public money to the proposed study and implementation plan? 46 No 3 Yes
3) If a bike sharing program is implemented, do you think it should be managed by an outside vendor or a local vendor? 48 Local 0 Outside
4) Would you support a bike sharing program that was funded by the St. Tammany Parish government for costs of > $1 million? 49 No 1 Yes
5) Is it safe to say that a bike share program would NOT compete with local bike rental businesses? No 44 Yes 5

Local News Opinion

STEDF Update: Following The Money

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Recently, Covington Weekly reported on changes in the composition of economic development in the parish. The following exchange between CW Correspondent Timothy Gates and the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation took place this past week:
Email to St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation on Tuesday, September 12, 2017:
“Good Morning Tracy,
Thank you for your response in regard to my inquiry. The changes reflected in the legislation are significant.
1) I am curious about the relationship between the Northshore Community Foundation and the Parish Government; I am aware of cooperative endeavor agreements, etc., but specifically, what gives them the authority to issue a study that impacts your office, resulting in sweeping changes that include eliminating the leading 20-year+ economic agency in the parish? My understanding is that non-profit corporations (501 c3’s) are unable to influence legislation (upon review by IRS). Any commentary on this would be helpful.
2) How will these changes affect the public disclosure process, in terms of real-time information?
3) Because Mrs. Bertus represents the EDD as well, does the manager’s response to the LLA constitute an official statement from the parish with regard to the matter?
Thank you for your time. Timothy Achan Gates”
The STEDF replied with this response:
“In response to your questions:
1) For inquiries regarding the Northshore Community Foundation, the St. Tammany Parish Government, and their relationship, please contact the Northshore Community Foundation and/or the St. Tammany Parish Government directly.
2) The St. Tammany Parish Development District’s role is expanding. Beginning 1/1/18, the St. Tammany Parish Development District will be equipped to operate as the lead economic development organization in the parish.
As a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana, the St. Tammany Parish Development District will continue to be subject to Louisiana laws pertaining to open meetings, public records, official journals, etc.
3) Brenda Bertus serves at the Chief Executive Officer of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (STEDF) and the Executive Director of the St. Tammany Parish Development District (STPDD, or “the District”).
The District’s response to the LLA does not constitute an official statement from the St. Tammany Parish Government, as the District is a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana, and is not a division of the parish government. I hope that these answers provide clarity.
Sincerely, Tracy Clanton, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLED
Records Custodian, St. Tammany Parish Development District, 21489 Koop Drive, Ste. 8, Mandeville, LA 70471
(985) 809-7593 phone (985) 809-7596 fax”
“Thank you for your time and the symbolic representation of answers to the questions sent. Best Regards, Timothy Achan Gates”

If it cannot be seen clearly, there is no transparency. If there are no answers to simple questions, there is no accountability.

St. Tammany Parish Government has yet to respond with a statement regarding this matter. The only thing clear in the answers from the STEDF is that our government is over-complicated to the degree that one must be a lawyer or a robot to understand how it actually operates. Since CW began writing about the STEDF, we have seen the termination of Don Shea from the STEDD for agency to agency emails that were derogatory to the public, changes in the board composition such that public officials are no longer allowed to serve on the STEDF board (circa 2014, both Mayors Cooper and Drennan were members), and now, the apparent end of the STEDF in its current role in January 2018.
Ch-Ch-Changes… Time to Face the Strange The Parish Government deflects when it should cooperate. In the St. Tammany Chamber West’s recent letter to Mrs. Pat Brister, it is stated that the recent EDD tax should be repealed, in very strong language, referring to it as Taxation Without Representation and discriminatory with regard to application. At this point in the game, a third run may be a shot in the foot for Brister & Co.
Timothy Achan Gates, covweekly@gmail.com

Local Events Local News

LA SAFE Community Meetings Parishwide

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:  LA SAFE has scheduled a second round of community wide meetings.  These meetings follow the first round of parish wide meetings that engaged residents across the six launch parishes and allowed residents to begin planning for adaptation, setting goals and communicating values.  This round of meetings will allow residents to more sharply focus on strategies and to better plan for the diverse issues and opportunities across our LA SAFE parishes.

From the LA SAFE Facebook Page:  “LA SAFE (Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments) is made of passionate leaders and organizations committed to enabling our community members to take proactive steps towards mitigating risk and increasing resilience against coastal issues.  We are working together to acknowledge that adaptation and restoration must go hand in hand with addressing community growth and contraction, as well as realizing our most vulnerable coastal communities will need to contemplate resettlement over the next 50 years.

Our outlook is to become a global leader for adaptation and cultural design and restoration.  Connecting a global interest with the project and offering extensive ways for people to learn about the issues and get involved will provide an immense amount of support necessary for our future environment.”

See schedule of meetings on the flyer below:

General Local News

Parish Announces Repair Work On Brewster Rd.

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Beginning Tuesday, May 30th, crews will begin repair work on E. Brewster Rd. in Covington, near the service entrance to River Chase Shopping Center.  This work is expected to take three days, barring weather delays.  Please use caution when traveling during construction of this area.

Local Events Local News

St. Tammany Litter Abatement Labor of Love

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St. Tammany Parish Government, Keep St. Tammany Beautiful, and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office announced today the kickoff of a full-time, joint, litter abatement initiative to clean up Parish roadways. The collaborative endeavor, and labor of love, will utilize two litter abatement vans as well as St. Tammany Parish Jail trustees, who will deploy Monday through Friday, and execute cleanup operations assigned to them by the St. Tammany Parish Litter Abatement office. The Litter Abatement cleanup crew kicks off on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 8 a.m.
“We are committed to maintaining our quality of life here in St. Tammany, and as such, we must be committed to continued beautification which includes purposeful, consistent and uncompromising litter abatement efforts,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany President. “When we collaborate with other agencies in our Parish, we can use complementary resources to achieve continual, extraordinary results.”

“We take litter seriously here in St. Tammany,” said Randy Smith, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff. “It is an eyesore and a tax burden. This joint operation will give our crews, the opportunity to give back to the community, and at the same time, help to tackle a challenging issue here in St. Tammany.”
In addition, Brister also announced plans to roll out litter abatement initiatives including: the increased awareness of the trash hauling regulations, and penalties that will be incurred when regulations are violated, for local hauling companies; work with local dumps and transfer stations to help enforce their own rules as well as Parish ordinances; litter sweeps by Parish Code Enforcement officials; and to work with Justices of the Peace and Constables, who enforce litter laws, to encourage them to stay the course and maintain aggressive enforcement.

Residents can learn more about the various initiatives through Keep St. Tammany Beautiful or sign up to volunteer, at keepsttammanybeautiful.org.  Parish officials also encouraged local businesses to come together and show their love for St. Tammany and to encourage residents and employees to keep their parking lots and business sites clean by encouraging the proper disposal of trash and debris.

Littering is a crime under state law, as well as a violation of Parish Ordinances. State fines can range from up to $250 per incident to up to $1000 an incident for illegal dumping sites. Ordinance violations at the Parish level carry a fine of no less than $250 for a first offense.  To report litter violations, please complete a Litter Prevention Form found on the Keep St. Tammany Beautiful Website.  To request cleanup of a roadway in St. Tammany, please submit a Road Cleanup Request form found on the St. Tammany Government site.

Opinion

How Business and Trade Organizations Can Railroad the Democratic Process and Restrict Free Market Capitalism

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In what may be a general statement on the history of Louisiana politics, the public tends to take it for granted if (or when) our politicians wind up in trouble.  It makes things that much easier when it happens, because it’s already accepted.  It’s only a question of whether the person is likable or not (they’re a crook, but they’re nice). Regardless, likability and popularity does not justify the acceptance of corruption as a matter of course, or the derision of those seeking accountability.

People who ask for accountability are often ridiculed. “That’s the way it is and you can’t do anything about it.”  You can in fact “do something about it,” it just requires a little research, asking some questions, critical thinking, and then sometimes a few calls to the right people.

An interesting thing I learned in questioning the parish administration on economic development issues was that the specificity of the subject in question determined who the response came from.  If the subject was technical in nature, Parish Government responded;  if the subject was operational in nature, the St. Tammany West Chamber responded.
A real threat to the democratic process in terms of economic development is the private action of non profit corporations, specifically business and trade organizations, because they are not required to disclose their financial activity, even when operating in what should be considered a governmental role.  Such roles, filled in a public realm with no requirement of public disclosure, severely limit any existing concept of a free market.

The idea that a corporation has the same rights as a person is a particular application of the 14th Amendment,  originally intended for slaves that became free persons after the Civil War.  The use of the14th amendment to benefit corporations at the expense of the rights of the public in general is sinister, and it is indicative of a strongly fascist element in the flawed experiment of representational democracy.  If money counts as speech, it is over for the public and true representation.

When asked what has been wrought (at the Constitutional Convention), Benjamin Franklin was said to reply, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Go to Meetings.  Ask Questions.
Timothy Achan Gates   985-288-9609    covweekly@gmail

Opinion

Tammany West Needs To Re Evaluate Tactics

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Editorial by Timothy Achan Gates, CW Correspondent

Kevin Chiri wrote in a recent editorial that the perceived battle between St. Tammany Parish Government and CCST needed a “time out.”  First, there are no “time-outs” in debates that concern the health and safety of an entire community.  Whether one is opposed to or in favor of fracking, industrialization is an issue that is a community decision.  A democratically cherished ideal is crushed when the Parish reports to us that St. Tammany has no right to Self Determination with regard to the oil industry.
This sentiment was presented by Covington Weekly in Patrick Courrege’s (LA DNR) suggestion of Changing the Law at the State Level.  While the Parish Government feigned surprise when Helis’ public announcement was made, they sat on e-mails indicating knowledge of a plan years in advance, which were eventually made public.  The business lobbying groups just laughed, continuing to place people in office who will “do what they want.”

Chiri’s editorial goes on to moralize the situation, undoubtedly emboldened by his self-appointed position as referee between the Parish Government and a community advocacy group, relegating the whole thing to a lack of respect for authority.

41_Pied_Piper
Disrespect for the Public and Democratic Principles in General is Exemplified by Public Officials and Industry Colluding to Industrialize A Community Behind the Backs of Their Constituencies. 
There is ample evidence to back the assertion that Parish Administration was aware of the Helis project well before it became public knowledge.  To pretend ignorance, then pursue a lawsuit against a sanctioned project while shaming the public about the amount of money spent on said lawsuit, is absurd.  There are several instances across the parish involving drainage litigation resulting from infringing development where the parish spends a significant amount more fighting its own constituency, as opposed to what it has spent “fighting” fracking.
Disrespect Is NBC Director Larry Rase Berating the Public Due to Their Lack of Appreciation For All  the Oil and Gas Industry Does For the Parish. 
Ironically, the Advocate recently ran a series detailing the amount of tax incentives given away, roughly 1.4 – 1.6 billion dollars, a number that basically equals Louisiana’s deficit.  Oil and Gas is a large recipient of these incentives, so the question becomes, if the Oil and Gas Industry is so beneficial to the state, why is there a budget deficit equal to tax incentives given strictly to big business, while small businesses are consistently asked to pay more and more?      Where Is The Disrespect, Again?

Email:  covweekl@gmail.com

General Local News Opinion

The Continuing Saga of the Parish Government That Keeps Introducing the Same Proposals That Have Already Been Soundly Voted Down In An Open Vote

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The Parish Government has prepared a response to the District Attorney’s Office, and while the following opinion is not based in legal knowledge, it appears the the Parish is claiming Exemption from the suit citing Professional Rules of Conduct, some type of Executive Privilege.  There is a Hearing Open to the Public on May 23 (a Monday) at 9 a.m., where hopefully more light will be shed on the subject, aside from the 72 pages of reasons that it was not necessary the Parish respond.

may 23 hearing
The Parish is challenging the legal authority of the D.A. set forth in the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter, and only since District Attorney Montgomery took office.  Recently released documents show the Parish’s 2014 Annual Legal budget at $4.8 million, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany.    Email to:  covweekly@gmail.com

stp employee salaries 1stp employee salaries 2stp employee salaries 3stp employee salaries 4

Opinion

Economic Development Series Re-Revisited

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by Timothy Achan Gates, Covington Weekly Correspondent

Two years ago, Covington Weekly launched an Economic Development Series with the purpose of understanding how a seemingly quasi-public agency (The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation) can operate among regional organizations without public scrutiny. The Parish Legal Department has since inserted a disclaimer on EDF financial statements that the presentation of information is “not an admission of a quasi-public agency,” although the STEDF appears to fall within the Louisiana State Legislative regulations for that designation (RS 24:513).
corp-not-peop-290x290That regional business organizations have more influence than the public raises questions of proper representation with regard to the use of public money.  The continuous reiteration that regional organizations have no greater influence on an organizational level than the areas of development that they actually influence appears to be representative only of standard political manipulation.  The morning that the first article appeared, the Covington Weekly website received thousands of spam comments and the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce called to correct erroneous information.
Admittedly, mistakes present in the piece were a result of confusion over the array of organizations in existence related to St. Tammany economic development that have overlapping membership.  There was exception taken to the use of the word “above,” thought to indicate a “hierarchy” of organizations, as described in a printed response by Don Shea, St. Tammany Parish Economic Development Director, who, after insulting the public, is no longer under the employ of the Parish Government.
No answer was offered as to why the Parish Government responded on behalf of private individuals initiating contact through a private business organization, or how regional organizations that influence specific areas of development are actually lateral organizations, when the public has no access to them.  The conclusions of this writer are that the Northshore Business Council and the Chamber of Commerce hold a disconcertingly greater degree of influence among the Parish Government than the public, and GNO, Inc. already decided on the direction of St. Tammany’s economic development four years ago.
Full Public Disclosure of EDF activities?  Fuhgeddaboudit.  The Parish is now facing a legislative debate with the D.A.’s office regarding legal representation, a subject that directly relates to the Parish’s Home Rule Charter, a very controversial document of late.   View the St. Tammany Home Rule Charter at stpgov.org.
Contact:   email to covweekly@gmail.com

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Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day Saturday, October 31, 2015

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Keep Covington Beautiful and the St. Tammany Parish Department of Environmental Services’ host “Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day” this Saturday, October 31, 2015.  The event is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., taking place at Koop Drive. Visit stpgov.org for more information.

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