Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington wins support for stance
Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington has not been in office that long, but he has already generated national attention and the support of thousands who agree with his stand against the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division wrote Whittington and said he would have to eliminate voluntary prayer and the word “God” from the oath of two youth programs operated by the sheriff’s department.
One of the programs is the highly acclaimed Young Marine Program, designed for students age 8 to 18 to promote mental, physical and moral character.
The federal funds received totaled about $30,000, but Whittington said no deal and that he would find the funds somewhere.
When the word got out, Whittington didn’t have to worry about the money. Contributions have been pouring in to a fund set up by the sheriff.
At an “In God We Trust” rally on July 4, hundreds of people came to support Whittington, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and country music singer Lee Greenwood, famous for his hit song, “God Bless the USA.”
The decree from the Department of Justice has many befuddled, including the state’s two U.S. Senators, who are looking into the matter, since the words “In God We Trust” are on our currency and the word “God” is in our Pledge of Allegiance.
Whittington made an appearance on “Fox and Friends,” which has created support for him from throughout the country.
Well, Louisiana finally got a decent ranking in a nationwide study. The problem is, it was a study about which state consumes the most beer.
The Beer Institute, which conducted the study, represents the $246 billion beer industry, including more than 2,800 breweries and 2 million jobs the industry supports.
The study looked at shipments of malt beverages and per capita consumption of persons 21 years of age and older.
The Bayou State came in at No. 11 for drinking the most beer. The Top 10 were: North Dakota, New Hampshire, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nevada, Vermont, Nebraska, Texas, and Maine.
Mississippi came in at No. 12 and Arkansas at No 37 for consumption.
The 10 states where people drink the least amount of beer are: Utah, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Kentucky, Washington, California, Georgia, and Indiana.
One less for governor
One potential candidate for governor in 2015 has already taken himself out of the race.
State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, a Republican, had made it known that he was interested in running for governor. But he said last week that he will seek re-election as agriculture commissioner.
Some political analysts are thinking that his departure from the race could be a signal that Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter is going to run. But there is no confirmation of that.
There are still several possible contenders for the state’s top job since Gov. Bobby Jindal cannot seek a third term. Already publicly announced are Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite.
Vitter is a question mark, as is state Treasurer John Kennedy and state Sen. Gerald Long of Winnfield, both Republicans. There will likely be others.
Under the gun?
It could be said that Shreveport City Marshal Charlie Caldwell has been under the gun in recent weeks, or perhaps better put, on a political hot seat.
A recent investigative report by news anchor Gerry May at KTBS-TV revealed that Caldwell took six of his deputies to Destin, Florida, in the first week of June.
They stayed at The Crescent Condominiums on the beachfront where two-bedroom condos cost $2,900 for the week, and three-bedroom condos had a price tag of $3,700 for the week.
In addition, each deputy got $600 and Caldwell got $950 for eats. When fees and registration for the two conferences were added in, the total cost of the trip to Destin was $30,786.10.
t was also revealed that Caldwell has spent a total of more than $100,000 of taxpayer money on similar trips since taking office in 2009.
Now comes another political flap. Marshal Caldwell fired longtime Deputy Marshal Joey Hester on July 1. Hester told the Fax-Net that Caldwell informed him at 11 a.m. on that date that he was being terminated to satisfy a 5% budget cut that was requested by the city of Shreveport.
The popular Hester, whose son, Joey, plays for the Denver Broncos in the NFL, has more than 32 years of law enforcement experience, seven of which was with the City Marshal’s office.
While Hester would not give details, sources close to the situation report that Caldwell and Hester, for quite some time, have not seen eye-to-eye on how the Marshal’s office was being run.
Hester said that he will be talking with his attorney this week about establishing a political PAC to run for City Marshal against Caldwell, who already has one announced opponent in Don “D.D.” Otis, a retired Shreveport Police lieutenant.
All of these developments are setting up what could be a very interesting and contentious fight for the City Marshal’s job when the election is held in the fall of 2014. Caldwell and Otis are black; Hester is white. The City Marshal serves a six-year term.
Caldwell was appointed interim City Marshal when Marshal Jimmy Dove, who had held the post since 1996, retired in May of 2008. Caldwell became the first black City Marshal in the state of Louisiana.
In the fall 2008 election, Caldwell defeated 30-year Shreveport Police veteran and interim Chief Mike VanSant by a 53-47% margin.
Glover’s legal beagles
The members of the Shreveport City Council have been wrestling with the issue of legal expenses for Mayor Cedric Glover as he tries to defend in court his veto of a dog park, which was approved by the council.
Even after the council unanimously overrode his veto, the mayor still refused to sign a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Red River Waterway Commission, which is giving the city $280,000 for a dog park at Hamel’s Memorial Park on Clyde Fant Parkway.
The Shreveport Dog Park Alliance filed a lawsuit and won at the District Court level. So Glover is appealing the ruling to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.
Lawyers don’t come cheap. So far, according to a report on News Radio 710 KEEL’s website, the mayor’s legal expenses in fighting the dog park total $10,890.50. They will likely go higher.
The expenses are broken down this way: Ronald F. Lattier, 53.9 hours/$6,198.50; Serise D. Hall, 2.4 hours/$276.00; and Curtis R. Joseph Jr., 38.4 hours/$4,416.00.
How Glover’s proposal to put the dog park at Princess Park downtown will affect the ongoing court case remains to be seen.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.