Covington Weekly » September 29, 2016

Daily Archives: September 29, 2016

Quote & Word of the Week

Quote and Word of the Week

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CPD Updates Local News

Meet the Covington Police Department

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In an effort to introduce our local police officers to the community and provide an opportunity for the CPD to highlight their outstanding officers, Covington Weekly profiles are provided by Chief Tim Lentz of the Covington Police Department.

sladeSgt. Jimmie Slade    graduated from Poplarville High School in 1995.  After graduating from High School, Jimmie entered the U.S. Army, spending 3 years serving our Country.  After receiving an honorable discharge, Jimmie went to work for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in south Florida.  While at the Sheriff’s Office, he served as a corrections officer and court security officer.   After four years in Florida, Jimmie moved back home and started working for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office as a Corrections Officer and Transport Officer.
In 2001, Jimmie was hired by the Covington Police Department as a patrol officer.  In 2007 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
Jimmie lives in Franklinton with his daughter and son.  During his days off,  he enjoys spending time with his kids, working around the house, and tinkering with old cars.  Jimmie is affectionately known around the city and the department as “Turtle”.  When asked how he got the nickname “Turtle”, Jimmie responded that there is nothing fast about himself…

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Covington Police Department:  985-892-8500

 

Local Events

Block Party This Friday In Downtown Covington

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It’s time for a Downtown Block Party again with the last day of the month this Friday.  Take a stroll and look at the cars, or park yourself at one of the great restaurants that Covington’s Historic Downtown offers. There’s plenty to choose from between the Tap Room and Seiler Bar, Columbia Street Rock N Blues Cafe, Vazquez Poboy, Buster’s Place and St. John’s Coffeehouse. If you’re wanting something more upscale, try Del Porto, Toad Hollow, Ox Lot 9 or Mac’s on Boston. The Block Party may end at 9:30, but that doesn’t mean the party stops. The party continues after hours with plenty of music and entertainment from local and regional groups.

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Live Music & Entertainment for the Block Party includes Columbia Street Rock N Blues Cafe hosting Rock It Productions with the 1st Annual Unofficial All-Class CHS Alumni Reunion Block Party!  The Green Room presents Street Parade during the Block Party followed by Bacon!

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Opinion

Greater Degree Of Transparency Needed In St. Tammany Economic Development

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It’s There, You Just Have To Really Look For It… And Sometimes Rely On An FOIA Request

Helis Oil & Gas Company announced last week that they would not pursue the anticipated project near Lakeshore High School, President David Kerstein reiterating that Helis consistently operated above board and within the parameters allocated in keeping with the public trust.     A day after the announcement, a Lee Zurik investigation revealed that a judge ruling on the case regarding Helis Oil & Gas Company vs. St. Tammany Parish and CCST received campaign contributions in the amount of $3,000 from Helis.  While politicians receive money from any number of industries all the time, a judge receiving money from someone with a case before them more closely resembles graft or bribery than an innocent contribution, which is not consistent with keeping the public trust.

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In March of 2014, St. Tammany Economic Development Director Don Shea declared that the district had no knowledge of upcoming projects when pitching the new Development Districts to the Parish Council.   Shea stated, there’s “Nothing In The Pipeline.” Unbeknownst to the council (or not), there was “Something In The Pipeline”.  A Freedom Of Information Act Request was obtained by the local group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, and parish government e-mails made public revealed that, not only did the parish have prior knowledge of the Helis project, there was a concerted effort to marginalize public dissent.  The publicized e-mails also revealed disparaging remarks directed at the citizenry, possibly a contributing factor to Shea’s departure from Parish Administration.

Considering that the STEDF (St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation, the “management arm” of the Economic Development District) receives millions of tax dollar derived Go Zone Funds from the Louisiana State Bond Commission for economic development related projects, and the STEDF is listed as a 501C6 Non Profit Organization, it is very confusing how the STEDF performs the following duties without being classified as a public agency, or a “quasi-public agency”:
1) be the “managing arm” of a public body (EDD)
2) raise funds for a public body (EDD)
3) appoint three board members of a public body (EDD)
4) provide one board member of a public body (EDD)
It makes very little sense how this organization claims no accountability to the public, when it is a major component driving St. Tammany Parish economic development.

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Laws Are Magic  Legislation previously discussed in CW relates to the powers held by the Economic Development District, written by Sen. Donahue (SB617) and the former Rep. Burns (HB252).  The Ethics Law Exemption written for the Economic Development District world is relative to the tax exemptions, governmental authorities and other corporate incentives granted to development districts and bond-holders.  Conflicts of interest do not exist in that world, or at least, they are identified as “exemptions”.
Parish President Pat Brister lamented on the money spent in the fracking lawsuit, stating that changing oil and gas extraction laws requires going to the State Legislature. This sentiment is appreciated, and it is one that CW echoed many times, first stated by Patrick Courreges of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

The St. Tammany Parish Government laid a foundation of Transparency and Accountability, but stories of bribery, conflicts of interest and public deception, all within one failed project that was presumed to happen, indicate that greater Transparency and Accountability can be achieved. Citizens should be able to understand how government works without a law degree or a Freedom of Information Act request, and the public has a right to know how its money is spent.   The reality is that all of the heartache, frustration and money wasted could have been avoided had there been a public referendum in the first place.  Considering the rich history of this parish, as well as its namesake, preservation of the beauty and mystique of this area should be paramount to corporate interest.