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General Opinion

Human Trafficking in the United States

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According to the U.S. Justice Department, 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year. The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 57,700 U.S. Citizens and immigrants are victims of human trafficking, including young children, teenagers, men and women.
At the same time, recent analysis by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed a gap between the claimed number of victims and confirmed cases of victimization. How is this discrepancy characterized? Are people sensationalizing their experiences, or is the system hindered in some way? In many cases, sex workers refuse to report crimes because they themselves will be arrested as active participants in criminal behavior.
This brings to mind statements made by New Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizarro in April of this year regarding victims of rape and domestic violence. In effect, victims would be forced to testify with material witness warrants or face jail time. Not only is jailing a victim of that nature of crime abusive, it is counterproductive to the goal of removing violent criminals from the street.
It is a crime to make people work by use of force, coercion or fear under federal law; by extension, no one should be forced to testify under duress. Our very own Declaration of Independence was influenced in part by the philosophy of natural law, which was instrumental in challenging the divine right of kings, and is distinct from common law.
Simply, it is the idea that all human beings on the planet ultimately have the same rights, which are not to be violated by the state or by one another.

That seems pretty idealistic, but the ancient Greeks, who influenced some of the better aspects of our current social knowledge, thought it was fairly legitimate. The responsibility evident in the concept of natural law is that taking care of oneself is essential to having the ability to help others. This self determination also implies the right to be free of negative influence, in whatever fashion.
The basis of natural law is such that a person or entity does not have the right to impose their will on another individual. Although it seems that we have moved far away from that ideal, it is always obtainable. It begins simply with how we treat one another, exhibiting a basic respect for life, and placing people over profits.
Fear should never be a factor in disclosing abuse, and neither should ignorance. The real problem with the discrepancy of the numbers is that it implies one of two things: 1) people are making up stories or 2) the nature of the issue is more institutional than recognized. Send comments or responses to


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 sildenafil dose in pulmonary hypertension child labour essay 50 words viagra medication interaction how to write an essay about a birthday party click here dissertation for karl marx can you bring viagra into canada go site coffee shop essay source site essay on napoleon bonaparte here gabapentin with abilify purchase nolvadex rx on line enter site cialis 5 10 ou 20 how do i sync my outlook email with my iphone 6 go can i drink coffee before taking viagra valtrex to treat shingles best descriptive essay ghostwriters site ca see follow example thesis statement for comparison essay (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
Contact:   email to



Local History Local News Opinion

The Beginning of the End of “Tammany Hall”

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By Timothy Achan Gates

2015 signaled a significant change in St. Tammany politics.  Warren Montgomery was inaugurated as the new District Attorney in January, ending an administration in place for three decades.  Another visible change in 2015 was the election of a new Sheriff, ending a two decade administration.  While the similarities between the recent administrations of the St. Tammany political machine and the historic Tammany Hall of Boss Tweed fame may be lost among some, the response of Parish Administration to the changes reflected that comparison, and voters did respond.  Propositions that would render the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter useless were voted down when the public understood that the Parish Council was attempting to place a wedge between themselves and the District Attorney’s Office.
Contrary to what some may think, we do not sit around and contemplate ways to agitate people, we simply feel that the ability to question things is inherent and necessary for a healthy society and community.  Are all being represented fairly?  It’s a trite saying that life’s not fair;  the law of reciprocity implies that an individual gets out of life what the individual puts into life.  Therefore, criticism about a thing which is not working properly is not sour grapes as much as it is a natural result of the action of the thing in question.

“We’re All In This Together”  –  Moving forward in 2016, I ask the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of local government to think about this statement, made by D.A. Montgomery at his inauguration.  The control mechanism existing under the symbolic depiction of Chief Tamanend will never defeat the historic reality and literal interpretation of his likeness, which is that of cooperation and peaceful relations.  As divided as the media, political parties and religion would like people to feel, great things can, have and will continue to be accomplished by cooperative efforts, strong communities, and working toward justice for all.

This statue of Tamanend is in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and basic foundation of our nation's core principles. Photo property of Jim McWilliams.

This statue of Tamanend is in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and basic foundation of our nation’s core principles. Photo property of Jim McWilliams.



Curatorship, Recusals & Public Office by Timothy Gates, Correspondent

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While last week gave a brief overview of the District Attorney Debate hosted by Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, this week will explore a few specific issues raised, particularly that of curatorships and recusals.  A curatorship refers to the authority of the court to administer the property of an individual unable to take care of their own estate and affairs, for any variety of reasons.  A recusal is a judicial safeguard in which a judge or prosecutor is removed (recused) from a legal case due to a conflict of interest.

During the debate, Brian Trainor was asked by Roy Burns about his efforts in achieving accountability and transparency during his eight years as an Assistant D.A. with regard to work release programs, nepotism and other abuses of office. Trainor responded that he was not aware of any violation of policy or law, otherwise it would have been reported.

Burns then pointed out that curatorships are an abuse, judicial appointments in which the appointee benefits financially, while holding a public office. Trainor stated that if the judge appoints a local attorney to represent someone in a case, they represent them. This answer seems simple, but it doesn’t address the question of the process being abused in a partial manner.

With regard to judicial and prosecutorial recusal, Trainor stated that recusals should only be offered in the furtherance of justice. Alan Black responded that recusals are overused, explaining that they are mandatory when the reasons exist. The suggestion of abuse in relation to the practice is that recusal is not offered when obvious conflicts exist, but is taken when no conflict exists, in which the recused has the opportunity to operate through a private practice while also serving the public office.

The subject of recusal has surfaced in the 22nd Judicial District Family Court Judge’s race between Judge Dawn Amacker and Candidate Nanine McCool, as reported by The Advocate, “St. Tammany school arrest raises more questions about dual roles of Walter Reed’s assistant.” The story details several conflicts of interest throughout the case, exemplifying the problems in this type of abuse of office. Find it online at

If mechanisms used to provide a speedy and impartial judicial process to the public are instead used to judicial or prosecutorial benefit at the expense of the public, as the referenced story indicates, that needs to change. Trainor doesn’t seem to recognize a problem. Black does recognize a problem, but prefers to rely on the framework in place. Burns has a comprehensive plan for reform of the office, with an emphasis on being “unconnected.” Warren Montgomery touts transparent leadership and a staff of qualified individuals to establish integrity in office.

After 30 years of the same, St. Tammany is ready for change. View the debate videos here:

Timothy Gates,

Local News Opinion

Brief Analysis Of CCST D.A. Debate by Timothy Gates, Correspondent

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Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany Parish CCSTPThe Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany hosted a debate for the candidates for D.A. at the John Davis Center in Lacombe on August 26, 2014, moderated by radio personality Don Dubuc.  Participating in the debate were Candidates Alan Black, Roy Burns, Warren Montgomery and Brian Trainor.
Trainor opened his statements by pointing out that he is the  clear choice because he is the only candidate with law enforcement experience, uniquely understanding of the partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, the D.A.’s Office and the community.  The current political climate indicates that the described partnership is rhetorical and lacking; Trainor did not indicate that he intended to initiate any major changes other than revising the office’s screening process and establishing comprehensive independent audits.  Trainor takes a democratic view on issues like term limits, reserving it for public vote.   Quote:  “I can’t report it if it didn’t exist.”
Black is in the same spectrum as Trainor with regard to relying mainly on the existing mechanism.  He has a more representational approach, and stressed the separation of powers inherent in our state and federal constitutions.  Black plans to hire a former employee of the State Legislative Auditor’s Office to ensure transparency and accountability. Black is also the Chairperson for the Committee to Re-Elect Judge Dawn Amacker, according to documents relating to Amacker’s campaign finance as well as documentation on Amacker’s website.  Quote:  “Transparency is the word of the night.”
Burns has the most radical approach to accountability and transparency, supporting the idea of an inspector general, term limits and reducing wasteful spending, starting with chopping the salary of the office for which he is running by $50,000.  Stressing conflicts of interest, he would like to “de-centralize” the office.  Quote: “I can’t change human nature, but I can change the attitude towards it.”
Montgomery has experience as a federal prosecutor, and favors a team of qualified individuals combined with transparent leadership to establish integrity in the office.  He also stressed that solid family foundations are integral to healthy communities, and criticized the ‘good old boy’ network.  Quote:  “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The District Attorney debate took a turn for the surreal when former Sheriff’s Deputy Winston Cavendish asked the candidates if they would prioritize the unsolved murder of Margaret Coon, a former Assistant D.A. in the Sex Crimes Division.  While all candidates agreed that unsolved murders are a priority, Trainor added that the Sheriff and D.A. Offices can’t be used “as a means to get what we want.”  The ghost of Margaret Coon may very well be the defining factor in the District Attorney Race.     View the debate videos here:

See more detailed summarization/partial transcript of the debate here.

Timothy Gates, Correspondent, Covington Weekly

Local Events Local News

Forum for Upcoming Elections at Fuhrmann Auditorium In Covington

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Alliance for Good GovernmentCandidates for District Attorney St Tammany/Washington Parish, Division L 22nd JDC, Justice of the Peace Wards 1 and 3, and Constable Ward 3, will participate in a forum this Wednesday September 17th at 6:30 pm at the Fuhrmann Auditorium in the Greater Covington Center. This event is hosted by the Alliance for Good Government and is open to the public.