Imagine yourself the manager of a local grocery store. Now imagine that you forgot to order king cakes in time for Carnival season. The cakes arrive on Ash Wednesday, so you quietly put them on “sale” and, when questioned by the store owner about lost profits, you blame your employees for the snafu and say that the store has always put leftover king cakes on sale after Mardi Gras.
That, in effect, is how Jefferson Parish President John Young explained his bungling of the parish’s failed millage propositions on May 4.
The propositions were intended to extend a pair of 5-mill property taxes that provide for critical sewerage and water services in most of Jefferson and to renew a 20-mill tax for fire protection in Terrytown. They had the misfortune of appearing on the same ballot as the wildly unpopular CCC tolls, which Jefferson voters killed by a margin of more than four-to-one.
Everyone saw the tolls’ defeat coming. All the more reason, therefore, for Young, as the parish’s chief executive, to marshal Jefferson’s civic and political forces in support of the millages, which every responsible citizen agrees are absolutely necessary. Instead, he ran to the front of the anti-toll parade and all but ignored the parish millages, at least publicly. He even sent out a parish-wide email the day before the election with the subject line, “Vote NO Tomorrow.” The text of his email message dealt exclusively with the tolls, no mention of the millages.
Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts and Councilman-at-large Elton Lagasse have sent an open letter to state representatives, asking them to call off the special election in May that would have voters (again) determine the fate of the now-suspended tolls on the Crescent City Connection.
Roberts and Lagasse also announced that the council would act on a formal resolution requesting the state legislature to "save the cost of the election which would be incurred by the State of Louisiana."
Letter under the jump.
If you want a taste of Carnival during Super Bowl weekend, you'll have to leave Orleans Parish and head to Jefferson, where there are three parades on the East Bank and one on the West Bank. Or you can go to the Veterans Memorial Boulevard neutral ground in front of Lakeside Shopping Center, where the parish's annual Family Gras festival will be held Fri.-Sat. Feb. 1-2, featuring plenty of live music both days. The first day's theme is "Fun Friday" (wear your Carnival colors), while the second day is "Sports Saturday," where attendees are encouraged to break out the colors of their favorite teams. (In response to the commenter below: Family Gras has been abbreviated to two days this year because of the Super Bowl, but the festival plans on going back to three days next year.)
Under the jump: the lineups for both days. They're still working out some of the times, but here's what we know:
The latest rumor about former Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard is that he has decided to form a prison ministry in anticipation of his conviction on federal criminal charges. He faces several dozen felony counts, including conspiracy, fraud and bribery, among others.
Several of Broussard’s friends have told me they heard “prison ministry” talk from Broussard himself, so it’s more than just a rumor. Of course, most of those same friends also shake their heads when they tell that story. Some wonder if Broussard has lost his senses.
It’s not unusual for those who have found the Lord to be accused of insanity. Broussard’s well-documented penchant for showing his emotions publicly merely adds a measure of believability to such talk. After all, the other rumor — which I have heard from attorneys who I believe know a thing or two about this case — is that the feds offered Broussard a plea deal that would have let him off with probation … and he turned it down.
If that’s true, the presiding judge should appoint a sanity commission forthwith. After all, you don’t have to be an inmate to have a successful prison ministry. Just ask Sister Helen Prejean.
Meanwhile, Broussard’s last remaining co-defendant, former Jefferson Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, proved this past week that he’s no loon. Wilkinson cut a deal to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit misprision of a felony. In return for his expected testimony against Broussard, the feds are dropping 22 more serious felony counts against him.
Court filings indicated that former Jefferson Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, who last month pleaded not guilty to more than 20 counts of fraud and conspiracy for his alleged role in the ongoing corruption case centered around former parish president Aaron Broussard, may be cooperating with federal investigators.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten today filed a superseding bill of information against Wilkinson. A bill of information generally indicates that a defendant has decided to cooperate. He was formerly charged in an indictment along with Broussard. What's more, the bill of information contains only one charge, misprision of a felony, the same, lesser charge to which Broussard's ex-wife Karen Parker and former parish Chief Administrative Officer have already pleaded guilty. Whitmer and Parker are both listed as witnesses for the prosecution in the case.
Read the bill of information: WilkinsonBOI.pdf
Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson today pleaded not guilty to more than twenty federal charges including payroll fraud, theft of federal funds, conspiracy and, as of a second superseding indictment released by the U.S. Attorney's Office this week, bribery. Broussard, who has been receiving treatment for prostate cancer since March, revealed to federal Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy that he has recently been diagnosed with skin cancer.
Today marks the third time Broussard and Wilkinson pleaded not guilty before Stacy in an arraignment hearing, as the government's case has continued to evolve.
"This indictment's a bit different from the former indictment in that accusations have been added," Stacy said before reading out the charges.
(More after the jump)
Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson face new charges from federal prosecutors, according to this morning's indictment, which adds six new charges to the duo's pending fraud charges. (Read the Aaron Broussard/Jeff Parish scandal FAQ here.)
Today's superseding indictment charges Broussard and Wilkinson with conspiracy to commit bribery, and Broussard was additionally charged with five counts of substantive bribery — unrelated to the 2003 conspiring to hire Broussard's then-girlfriend Karen Parker as a paralegal supervisor (despite not having any experience) and bumping up her salary significantly. (Parker pleaded guilty; Broussard and Wilkinson did not, to any of the 30-plus charges against them.)
In March, former parish chief administrative officer Tim Whitmer pleaded guilty to one count of concealment of a felony as part of a plea deal to cooperate with the prosecution in the Broussard case.
For Romney fans, this will be a great chance to get a close-up look at the candidate; the Clearview Rooms are two modest meeting spaces that are normally the home of baby and bridal shows.
"Boasting an elegant feel with over 3,000 square feet in two meeting rooms,"
"Boasting an elegant feel with over 3,000 square feet in two meeting rooms,"the combined spaces can accommodate up to 300 people, and provide direct access to both the food court and Serrano's restaurant. Just remember: no confetti, glitter, rice, birdseed, streamers or open flames are allowed. Oh, and no DJs.
The rally is is scheduled to start at 9 a.m and is open to the public. Under the cut: A list of Louisiana politicos who are supporting or who have endorsed Romney, according to the campaign.
Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson pleaded not guilty to 38 counts — in theory carrying maximum sentences totaling 695 years each if convicted for all of them — of conspiracy , wire fraud and theft of programs receiving federal funds today in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy.
According to the indictment, Broussard and Wilkinson in late 2003 improperly hired Broussard's then-girlfriend, now-ex-wife Karen Parker as paralegal supervisor for the parish attorney's office, despite the fact that Parker was unqualified for the position and was actually working in ID management for parish employees.
Read the indictment here: Broussard__Aaron___Wilkinson__Thomas_sind.pdf
Between 2003 and 2010, the government charges, Broussard increased Wilkinson's salary from $100,000 to $184,000 and in return, Wilkinson kept Parker on his staff, gradually increasing her salary from $48,000 to $64,000.
When the feds indicted former Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard, former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson and Broussard’s ex-wife Karen Parker for payroll fraud on Dec. 2, some courthouse observers wondered if that was all that the government had against Broussard.
Wonder no more.
With Parker’s guilty plea last week to a single count of misprision (failure to report a felony), followed quickly by a single count of misprision against former parish administrator (and top Broussard aide) Tim Whitmer, federal investigators signaled that there’s a whole lot more to come.
Meanwhile, Whitmer and the former Mrs. Broussard are cooperating with the feds against Broussard and probably River Birch landfill co-owner Fred Heebe.
That should make Broussard, Wilkinson, Heebe and a lot of others in Jefferson politics very uncomfortable.
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