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Saturday, April 29, 2006 by Blogger

Allow me to take a departure into national politics: When I was ten years old, I really liked listening to Rush Limbaugh. I even read one of his books, The Way Things Out To Be, which begins, "By the time you have wisely purchased this book (book for those of you in Rio Linda, California), most critics will have undoubtedly savaged it. In many cases, their reviews will have been written before the book was published. How do I know this? Because I do." It seems like maybe his psychic powers that I admired so much as a ten-year-old were actually drug-induced. So, I'm adding Rush to my mug shot collection, right next to the picture of Tom Delay, because their smiles are so similiar. To me, the basic fact that I identified so closely with Rush AS A TEN-YEAR-OLD speaks volumes about the intellectual depth and worldly sophistication of his "conservative" theories.

Friday, April 28, 2006 by Blogger

My View: RiverFest Rocks, But JazzFest Rocks Harder In the future, when we're all sitting down and planning these big music and cultural festivals, we need to keep a better eye of what's going on throughout the state. This weekend, Alexandria and Pineville are hosting RiverFest, Lafayette is hosting an International Festival, and New Orleans is hosting JazzFest. I'm sure RiverFest will be successful, even if it rains on Saturday, but I think that in the future, we'll have a better chance of attracting bigger acts and greater attendance if we better coordinate the festival. There are a lot of people here in Central Louisiana who'd love to go to RiverFest... but Bob Dylan's playing in New Orleans today, Dave Matthews is playing tomorrow, and Bruce Springsteen is playing on Sunday. Now I am not arguing that we have a chance of landing an act as big as Dave Matthews (though I met him here in Alexandria three years ago), but because JazzFest can grab the big headliners, they can also grab EVERYONE else in the state. That said, the Tim Turner Band rocks, and they're playing at RiverFest.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 by Blogger

The 100th Entry (And The Things You Learn When You Shut Up And Start Paying Attention): I started this blog in order to provide a venue in which to express my experiences and opinions of living in Central Louisiana. It's taken time to convince people that I'm not just using this as a way of promoting myself and my business interests. And I admit that this has been a learning experience. When I first entered the "scene," if you will, I walked into an environment ripe with paranoia, division, and political pandering. Like many people (particularly people in my generation), I want to see Downtown Alexandria revitalize and rebound. When I write about revitalization, I am writing about my business interests. I don't think this is a crime. I want to see the Hotel Bentley regain its status as Central Louisiana's premiere hotel. I want to see large-scale conversion projects in downtown: luxury lofts and apartments, office space, restaurants, and boutique stores. And I don't just want to talk about this vision, I want to participate in it. At times, I have listened to the wrong people. There are many good people in the world who happen to be dead wrong about their beliefs and their concept of government. Instead of turning away from these people, I engaged them in conversation. For example, when I first began this blog, I wrote about a meeting I had with Martin Johnson and Myron Lawson, two people who share my enthusiasm about downtown and provide a wealth of knowledge on revitalization plans. (By the way, I hate to disappoint anyone, but this entry isn't about Myron. If you want to bash me for listening to him, feel free to post your ignorance on the other blog). Based on the responses that I received, both on this blog and on the other one, people seemed to think that I had committed a terrible sin. Here is a sampling: To Lamar White, Jr...you were much too kind to Myron in your assessment of his care for the citizens of Alexandria. I don't actually think Myron cares one whit about anyone but himself and his own ilk. He's pretty much made that clear to us already. ..... Also, if Lamar has deals going with Harry (30 pieces of) Silver and other downtown "interests", there are potentially conflicts of interest which I hope will become a thing of the past on the new and improved council. In other words, looks like Lamar is already at the trough. Maybe he will get the water park deal - he could call it "FOR WHITES ONLY". ..... if you think that he is going to unload/develope the downtown Weiss & Goldring building for a "gift certificate" then he is not the naive one here. Watch the Silver/Lawson connection. Harry is Myron's man and that's what he is doing there. .... One of my personal favorites:

What if Harry were to sell his building to a group of "investors" (none have surfaced in the past 35 years, even when the Bentley was thriving and Charlie Damico had his establishment) and they were to sell it to the city or GAEDA. Wouldn't that be a stroke of luck and a coincidence?? In two years you won't even remember the screw job. .... If you want something to think about, check out Lamar's blog. He and Myron have a love fest over the future of downtown. It would appear that Lamar is now firmly ensconced in the Lawson Fan Club. Just what we need. I see a consulting contract in his future. .... Lamar and Lawson are in a lovefest? Lamar you just lost whatever thin support you ever had. Selling out little boy? Damn shame. On the Dorn thing, he's running against Dixon for Curtis's seat in the House. I'd put money on it that he's Myron's boy in the race. Myron apparently sees Dixon as a huge threat to his throne. ....

Initially, I was upset at the remarks carelessly spat in my direction. After all, many of these people seemed to know what they were talking about. But now that I have taken some time, shut up a little bit, and really researched the facts, I think I have a better grasp of the dynamics in place. During the past few months, I haven't just written about the political scene; I've participated in it. I've met with Harry Silver, Myron Lawson, Roosevelt Johnson, Martin Johnson, Delores Brewer, Ned Randolph, and a slew of others who make and/or broker decisions. I've listened to their opinions and their vision of Alexandria, and the vast majority of the time, I am in complete agreement with their assessments. I guess what I am getting at is this: I want downtown to revitalize. My city government wants the same thing. If working with government in order to achieve a shared objective (an objective, I believe, that will benefit our entire community) is a crime in this town, then we've really lost our perspective. I may not agree with some of the decisions our government has made in recent years, and I haven't made up my mind on the upcoming elections. But I have learned this truth: We're better working together than we are apart. I'm sure some of you may think, "Sure, good government is what is good for Lamar." Let me preemptively strike: --I'm not asking for a handout. I'm not begging for the government to provide me with a job or a steady source of income. I'm making suggestions and speaking my mind. --Good government is good for everyone. I happen to think downtown revitalization is good for everyone for a number of reasons. --But it's really risky and speculative. Although there's perfectly sound logic behind downtown revitalization, most developers are reluctant to even approach it. Right now, if you have money to invest in Louisiana, you're investing in the GoZone, cities like Lafayette, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Why? Because federal incentives programs are severely reducing the risks of investment in order to promote growth. And for those who are currently developing in Alexandria, they're spending money along 28W, because of the $100 million Lakes District development and the prospect of Wal-Mart. --So we need to be able to compete if we're planning on sustaining this growth. --And, in order to do this, we must work with our government at ensuring the solvency of revitalization programs. To the person who predicted that a group of investors would suddenly appear and receive a GAEDA grant in order to convert Mr. Silver's building: This hasn't happened. But if it did, why do you care? GAEDA was established in order to help fund downtown revitalization. It's not ALWAYS a mafia of good ol' boys intent on lining one another's pockets; sometimes, it's about reducing the risk of investment through government cooperation. Most of my critics, I realize, don't have the foggiest notion of managing a real estate asset for maximum value and cashflow, but suffice it to say, even the best case scenario for large-scale conversions and renovations in downtown won't make a reasonable return unless the government actively assists... and even then, it's still a big risk. But if we're able to set up lucrative programs that will appeal to downtown development (thus increasing tourism, convention traffic, and outside investment), people will be standing in line to invest in Alexandria. There are countless examples of this occurring in other similarly sized cities, and it works. It doesn't just make a handful of people a lot of money; it makes the entire community a lot of money.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 by Blogger

Changing Routes: Why the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Should Move the Parade. On Thursday, the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association will vote on whether to change the parade's route. The Town Talk asked readers what they think of the proposed change. The new route will begin at the Alexandria Mall, travel down Masonic, Lee, Bolton, Murray, and into Downtown. This, I believe, is the right idea, and I hope that people will buy into this concept. The Alexandria Mardi Gras parade, to the best of my knowledge, was originally supposed to travel into Downtown Alexandria, but due to the construction of 1-49, the association decided to temporarily move the parade along Texas Avenue. The parade has been traveling along this "temporary" route for over a decade. Currently, the Children's Mardi Gras parade, when it's not rained out, travels through Downtown Alexandria, and the city spends thousands of dollars in order to provide for this. If both parades travel along the same basic route, the Children's parade on Saturday and the main parade on Sunday, we can make better use of our resources and eliminate the need for the city to prepare two routes within two days. I believe there is a slight tone of racism underneath the criticism of the proposed route change, and many of these comments (I can't help it) REALLY discourage me. Here is a sampling of the remarks the Town Talk published on their website: "The old Mardi Gras route is fine, and speaking for a large group of parade-goers, we would like for it to stay just the way it is."Brent Fontenot Lamar: I also claim to speak for a large number of parade-goers, and I say that we want to move the parade! See, anyone can claim to speak for a lot of people! "I THINK THEY SHOULD LEAVE IT LIKE IT IS."Sherrie Wiggins "I THINK THE NEW PARADE ROUTE IS NOT AT ALL A GOOD IDEA!!!! MOVING THE PARADE IN THAT AREA WILL DEFINITELY CAUSE MANY MORE VIOLENT CRIMES, PEOPLE FIGHTING, DRUGS, ETC!"I WILL NOT ATTEND THE PARADE IF IT IS MOVED TO THAT AREA OF TOWN, IT'S NOT GOOD AT ALL. ... YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT DRINKING AND PARTYING A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE SONIA QUARTERS!"Anonymous Lamar: TT, why did you publish this? This person is obviously suffering from some sort of mental disability, and it's just not right to exploit the mentally challenged. "Bad idea (to move the route). No parking for one. I won't park my car off of Lee Street, and downtown has only one parking lot as it is. No convenience stores to pick up extra ice, drinks etc. People along Texas and Jackson, Charles Park etc. can't migrate from their homes without loading into cars creating more traffic and parking issues. The more trouble it takes to attend parade, the less people will attend. No place for those to set up tailgating with campers etc. Not sure what injuries they are trying to avoid, but I can't see where relocating the parade route -would resolve anything."Anonymous Lamar: What? That's a bogus argument, and you know it. There are plenty of convenience stores along this new route, and there is ample parking. Look, I don't think Bolton Avenue and Lee Street are the BEST streets in town, but it's hard to deny their importance as Alexandria's major arteries. "I think that the new route would not only subject locals and tourists to a more crime-ridden area of town, but also a less attractive part of our town compared to current route down Texas Ave. I am curious as to what is driving the change."Tom Spencer Lamar: Tom, I'd check with the police station located on Bolton Avenue for statistics about crime along this new route. I think you'd be surprised. "Leave it up to Alexandria to change things that don't need to be changed. ... If the parade is moved, there will be a lot less people coming to that area. ... Why the change? I went to the past one, and there was a group of gang members walking down the streets stealing from back of trucks. Anytime something is going well in Alexandria, somebody gets a stupid idea to move it..I guess next they will charge to get in. ... That is a bad area -- leave it where it is."Anonymous Lamar: I love it. Anonymous asks, "Why the change?" And then proceeds to recount a story about "gang members walking down the streets stealing" during last year's parade. It's like: Why the change? People are already committing crimes. "I like the idea of moving the parade route. I am not sure that the proposed route is the best one, but anything that moves the parade into the downtown area is a great idea! Some of my fondest memories of Mardi Gras are going to New Orleans and watching Bacchus, Mid-City and others roll through the French Quarter and St. Charles areas. Having a parade downtown feels more like Mardi Gras than the current route. The past few years the Children's Parade on Saturday has been more fun than the Krewe parade, in part because of its location. I think moving the parade allows everyone to enjoy the parade rather than just those that park their flatbed trailers in the mall parking lot and all down the parade route weeks before the parade starts. Doing this creates little "private" viewing parties, and I am sure tempers flare when someone "violates" your private party. The great thing about Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Lafayette is that it feels like a large community party by virtue of its setup. The Alexandria parades are fun, but you don't really get that feeling of community, thanks to all the plastic orange and yellow tape sectioning off areas for independent groups." Anonymous Lamar: A voice of reason. "BAD IDEA TO CHANGE ROUTE."Anonymous "I think moving the parade route will be a bad move. We will lose a lot of people due to the location, and there is nowhere for anyone to park. Why change it if it's not broken?"Donna E. Procell "What a horrible idea!!! That is a horrible part of town. I sure won't be bringing my child down there to stand around and wait to get robbed!"Anonymous "I enjoy the current route for the Mardi Gras Parade. Most people pull their vehicles close to where they will be standing for the parade and cook. Tailgating is a big thing for us here. Food always brings strangers together. If the route was moved to downtown, I don't think people would be able to make it the all-day event that it is now. There would be no place to "tailgate." The children's parade is fine for downtown but not the adult parade. Keep the tradition going." Anonymous Lamar: People are so backwards. The Children's parade is "okay" downtown, but not the main parade because you can't tailgate downtown. I bet people will find creative ways of enjoying the day in Downtown Alexandria, and I think this will be a real boost for our downtown economy. I think that moving the parade is a great idea for a number of reasons: 1. The new route, though not perfect (I'd like to see it travel down Desoto Street), displays more of historic Alexandria than the previous one. 2. The new route will bring between 50,000- 150,000 people into Downtown Alexandria, creating a city-wide party on a much grander scale than Horatio's Caribbean Nights. 3. The new route allows for more of the community to participate. I agree with the person who said there are now "private" home parties, and this, I think, is not in line with the spirit of Mardi Gras. If you're not at someone's home on Texas Avenue, you're stuck in the mall parking lot. 4. Wake up! The current route is boring! There's nothing uniquely Alexandrian about the route. 5. The parade still starts at the mall, so for all of those who are afraid of Lee Street and Bolton Avenue, you can STILL tailgate at the mall. You don't have to watch the parade from Lee Street. 6. The parade was originally intended to go downtown. The children's parade is already downtown.

Monday, April 24, 2006 by Blogger

Here are the questions that I sent to Councilman Lawson and Dr. Slatkin. I spoke with both of them today, and they have agreed to send their reply within the week. A quick note: I will enable commenting on their responses; however, I will not allow any personal attacks on the candidates. Comments will be moderated, and I ask that everyone please treat the candidates with the respect that this position deserves.

1. Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you originally from? Where did you go to school? How long have you lived in Alexandria?
2. What is the number one problem facing Alexandria?
3. What is the single greatest accomplishment of the current City Council?
4. What is the biggest failure of the current City Council?
5. Recently, it was reported that Alexandria is suffering from a lack of skilled workers. What measures will you propose in order to solve this labor problem?
6. How will you (do you) balance your professional career with a political career?
7. It is also well-known that Alexandria suffers from a lack of affordable housing. What measures will you propose in order to solve this housing problem?
8. What is your vision for Downtown Alexandria?
9.There are many people here in Alexandria who must make a choice between paying their utility bill and paying their rent. How do you plan on solving the utilities crisis in Alexandria?
10. Why are you running for office?
11. What will you do differently?
12. What can our community do in order to ensure that Lower Third and South Alexandria are safe and clean?
13. If the city was suddenly awarded with $1 billion, how would you spend that money?
14. Who is your favorite musical artist?
15. Who is your political role model?

by Blogger

Upcoming: Questions and Answers with Councilman Myron Lawson and Dr. Alex Slatkin. Stay tuned for more information.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 by Blogger

Reminder: Set your TiVo! "In From the Night," a movie based on the life of Louisiana writer and friend of mine, Marsha Recknagel, will be on CBS tonight at 8PM CST.

by Blogger

More Evidence to Suggest We're All Insane in Central Louisiana (Or What Happens In The Country When An Escaped Murderer Is On The Run) The article that accompanied this picture also mentioned the use of heavy appliances as a way of securing property.

by Blogger

Three Cheers for Four Corners: Last night, Alex 1805, the new blues and jazz lounge located on the corner of 3rd and Desoto in Downtown Alexandria, held its first annual Caribbean Nights block party. From an anonymous writer in Cenla Antics: "Let's roll said...

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to whether or not Alexandria can be the shining city on a hill, you needed to be at the corner of 3rd and Desoto last night. I, for one, have gone from cautiously optimistic to frankly excited. We really are worth saving. Think about it."

Seriously, this is not an understatement. The turnout was amazing. Horatio promised free admission for people wearing white linen, and so everyone was decked out, including yours truly. I don't think I have ever seen an event quite like this here in Alexandria. Great music. Great food. I'm not sure how many people were there, but I'd guess that there were several hundred in and out throughout the night.

It not only proves that Alexandria can be the "shining city on a hill;" it was also an incredible display of unity for our city.

The Town Talk ran a great story about the success of the Arna Bontemps Jazz Concert... if they had only stuck around for a few more hours, they would have had the REAL story of the day: Downtown's coming back.

Now if we can just convince Horatio to run for office....

Friday, April 21, 2006 by Blogger

Michael D. Smith, born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana, was awarded with the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Michael writes, "The commission has decided to grant me the funding to observe contemparary synthesis in Newari and Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmadu Valley. I am humbled by the immense opportunity this affords me, and hope that it be of benefit to all." Congratulations to my friend Michael. We're all very proud of you back home, and we wish you an auspicious journey.

by Blogger

Two unrelated issues: Louisiana College and Everett Hobbs. Louisiana College recently awarded Thomas Howell with the Professor of the Year Award (or whatever it is that they call it). The award is voted on by the student body, a majority of whom seem to think that Howell is the best damn professor they have. It's ashame that the Trustees are religious fundamentalists intent on making everyone conform to their narrow perception of the world. LC's Christian Commitment: "Administrators, faculty, and staff at Louisiana College will be persons who, in addition to other contractual obligations: 1. have received Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior, God, and King and personally affirm that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man, the Savior whose sacrificial death is the only means of forgiveness of sin, the King who rules over their lives and is making them righteous through His Spirit and His Word. 2. can articulate their faith in Christ to others, 3. are members of a local Christian church, faithfully worshipping Christ and serving Him through the church..." Then there's a phrase about being Christ-like with your every move and another one about abstaining from alcohol (just like Christ, the guy who turned water into wine). There's a statement about making sure your scholarship isn't "contrary" to their Southern Baptist manifesto. I think you get the idea. LC is now one of the worst colleges to teach at in the country. Professors are discouraged from practicing any lifestyle other than the one prescribed by the school (even when they're off-campus), and they're told what to think and what to teach their students. Why don't they just hand students a copy of the Bible and a copy of this Southern Baptist Mission 2000 manifesto, make them read it, give them a quiz on it after a few weeks, and then confer them with a degree? What's the point of taking a class like Biology or Philosophy or World Religion when professors are told to reduce everything down to Bible-talk? Next story: The funniest thing about that Everett Hobbs story was the C.F. Smith, Jr. quote: "I'm not saying nothing about that. I'm staying out of that. That's Everett," Smith said. "Those councilmen, they're elected," and they "have their say-so." So if he's NOT saying NOTHING about it, does that mean that he IS saying SOMETHING? Well, actually, he is saying something. He's saying that elected councilmen can have their say-so. I was probably wrong last night when I said "What was he thinking?" I don't think anyone gets "set-up" for a front page story. That said, I don't think Ned's going to step down... and I think Hobbs probably knows this... and I think this was a lame political manuever that can only serve to divide people even more... and for that reason, I hope that Mr. Hobbs will reconsider his statement and perhaps issue a retraction to his constituents. As if that could ever happen. If anything, the story proves how power hungry Councilman Hobbs and his cohorts truly are... to disparage a retiring mayor who has served with distinction for twenty years, to make claims on his mental capacity (and I know this isn't exactly breaking news)... but geez, couldn't this guy have a little dignity? One more remark: Yesterday, I went back and reread some of the letters and statements people made toward me after I first posted on Cenla Antics. Man, some of those people were REALLY mean, and I didn't even notice it at the time. I mean, I talked about it. But I never realized the extent of the anger. That said, thank you to WeSawThat, Scarlett, and Civil Sentient for being supportive. We're very fortunate to have smart people engaged in this discussion, and even if we don't all agree on the issues, at least you all have enough respect and integrity not to make things personal. Kudos.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 by Blogger

Today, We Mourn A Great American George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr

Services for George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr. will be at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21, 2006, in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church with Rev. Msgr. Ronald Hoppe and Rev. Dan O'Connor officiating. Interment will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Pineville under the direction of John Kramer & Son. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr., 56, of Alexandria, died Monday, April 17, 2006, in his residence. He was born September 29, 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Gonzaga, Spokane, Washington with a Masters in Communications. He entered the field of journalism and later the field of television. In March 24, 2001 he received a lifetime membership in the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He also received the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to the Journalism profession, April 18, 2005. Don was preceded in death by his father, George Donald Fitzpatrick and his mother, Patricia Regan Fitzpatrick; paternal grandparents, George Bernard Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Anne Dressler Fitzpatrick and maternal grandparents John F. Regan and Rose Oldham Regan. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr, is survived by: his sisters, Erin Rhodes and her husband, John of Alexandria, LA; Betsy Belgard of Pineville, LA; his brother, Sean Fitzpatrick and wife Kim of Deville, LA and ten nieces and nephews. Friends are asked to call from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2006 and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at John Kramer & Son. A Christian Wake service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home. Pallbearers will be Mark Rosenthal, Thomas Swift, Freddy Revels, John Bowling, Michael Hall, and David Hall.

Don was a member of my extended family, a rare voice of reason in my family's discussion of politics, and a charming, intelligent spirit who challenged those around him to seriously think about their lives. I last met with him three months ago, and he was brilliant.

It never ceased to amaze me that people like Don lived and worked in our community.

From Broadcasting and Cable:

TV Headhunter, Blogger Fitzpatrick Dies

Don Fitzpatrick, once one of TV's top headhunters and perhaps the industry's first blogger, died over the weekend. A longtime friend, Scott Tallal, says Fitzpatrick was found dead in his Alexandria, La. home shortly after being treated for intestinal bleeding at a local hospital.

Fitzpartrick's primary business was as a recruiter for local-TV news talent. Based in San Franciso, Don Fitzpatrick Associates (DFA) was pivotal in helping TV journalists land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks. "Don guided the careers of thousands of people in the industry," says Tallal, president of research firm Insite Media Research.

Tallal recalled Fitzpatrick's earliest days as a headhunter trying to build a tape library of talent from TV stations. Fitzpatrick outfitted an RV with 3/4-inch video recorders and would drive around the country, stopping in at a market to tape the newscasts of all the stations, then moving on to the next. The tapes would be copied and edited so clients could be sent a sample of, say, 20 female anchors.

Fitzpatrick was also blogging on TV years before it became a verb, and indeed years before there was a World Wide Web. In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and a forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Each day, he would digest articles on TV from various newspapers and magazines around the country, focusing primarily on stations. Later, the project morphed to the Web and became TvSpy.com. Fitzpatrick sold TVSpy to job Web site The Vault and closed DFA in 1999.

“Don Fitzpatrick was a friend to so many of us in the industry and will be sorely missed,” said Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran. “His knowledge of the industry was encyclopedic, and he shared his insights generously. All of us at RTNDA will miss him very much.”

RTNDA gave Fitzpatrick its John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for service to the industry. Fitzpatrick’s funeral will be in Alexandria, said RTNDA, tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 21.

Previous winners of the John F. Hogan:

  • 1959 Frank Stanton
  • 1962 David Sarnoff
  • 1963 Mitchell Charnley
  • 1964 Robert Kintner
  • 1967 Ted Yates
  • 1971 Charlie Edwards
  • 1974 Gordon Sinclair
  • 1978 Barney Oldfield
  • 1979 Rob Downey
  • 1980 John Salisbury
  • 1981 Len Allen
  • 1983 Sig Mickelson
  • 1984 Paul Davis
  • 1985 Ron Laidlaw
  • 1986 Robert Byrd, Mark Fowler
  • 1987 Malvin Goode, J. Laurent Scharff
  • 1988 Vernon Stone
  • 1989 Gordon Manning, Dick Yoakam
  • 1991 Brian Lamb, Ed Godfrey, Bob Packwood, John Spain
  • 1992 Terry Anderson
  • 1996 Sherlee Barish
  • 1997 Walter Cronkite
  • 1999 Hugh Downs
  • 2000 Stanley S. Hubbard, Jack Shelley
  • 2005 Don Fitzpatrick

by Blogger

Broken News: "Hobbs Says Randoph Should Retire"... Or "Hobbs Gossips About Mayor's Mental Capacity"... Or "Hobbs Shoots Himself In Foot By Making Divisive, Inappropriate, and Unsubstantied Remark About Retiring Mayor"... Or "This Is The Reason People Do Not Consider Councilman Everett Hobbs To Be An Honest Man"... Or "What The Hell Was Hobbs Thinking? Didn't He Realize Who He Was Talking To? I Mean, Seriously, Didn't Hobbs Realize This Would Be In The Paper? Didn't He Understand They'd Report His Remarks As 'Breaking News?' Didn't He Recognize That He Had No Factual Claim With Which To Back Up His Incendiary Statement?" Billy Gunn writes:

Alexandria Councilman Everett Hobbs says Mayor Ned Randolph should consider resigning the office he has held since 1986.

“If the mayor can’t perform his duties, he needs to step down,” Hobbs said, alluding to an illness he said Randolph might have that prevents him from fulfilling his mayoral duties. Randolph, who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a sixth term, denied today that he suffers from or has been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. “No, absolutely not,” said Randolph, who will relinquish his office in December after the election this fall. He said he would not resign. Hobbs’ comments today, made in a telephone interview with The Town Talk, followed allegations he made at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, where he said three aides close to Randolph were making the decisions, not the mayor.

For more on this story, please see Thursday's Town Talk or visit this Web site Thursday.

Lamar, for one, can't wait for the full story.

by Blogger

Revision: The "New" New TT Column:

In early March, I discovered a veritable gold mine of news and information about Central Louisiana, a weblog that calls itself "Cenla Antics." A weblog or "blog" is essentially an online message board, typically constructed around a certain theme. In the case of Cenla Antics, people are encouraged to contribute anonymously. The title page reads, "Welcome to the Central Louisiana political revelations blog! Good or bad, Democrat, Republican, or Independent... all of the information we as concerned citizens need to know. One way to get it off your chest-- Anonymously!"

I recognize the benefits of posting your opinion anonymously. Cenla Antics currently has around 2,700 anonymously contributed entries. In many cases, anonymity allows people to reveal much more information than they normally would or could. Indeed, Cenla Antics is undoubtedly heavily populated with government employees and local government officials, and often, the information they reveal is sensitive. Anonymity allows them to ability to inform the public without jeopardizing their job. However, there are also numerous problems with this anonymous content. Much of it is petty, unsubstantiated, and mean-spirited gossip. There are also several instances of blatant political maneuvering and misinformation spun as fact.

After reading some particularly vicious and patently false statements about a certain local government official, I decided to address the Cenla Antics community. In doing so, I purposely broke the golden rule: I used my real name. Within an hour, responses began pouring in. The first response was from former City Councilman Rick Ranson, who also decided to break the rules and use his real name. Immediately, I realized that this blog is monitored by more people than I thought it was, and no doubt, many people in government use the blog as a legitimate source of information.

Throughout the next few days, I received a number of e-mails encouraging me to continue openly expressing my opinion. I also received an equal number of letters warning me about the perils of public exposure. I needed to consider my family, they said, and my business. People can be ruthless, especially when they're hiding under the cover of anonymity. There is no need to rehash some of the most egregious comments I received, but suffice it to say, Central Louisiana politics can be very volatile. Thankfully, I have learned to develop a thick skin, and I understand that personal attacks are the weapons of the pathetic. But the entire experience taught me something about Central Louisiana politics: It's much more entertaining when the real issue is obscured by gossip, innuendo, and long-winded rants on racism, religion, and morality. We hardly allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and engage the real issues, because we're either too distracted by personal politics or too hung-up debating issues of which we have very little control.

Last week, in an interview with The Town Talk, Martin Johnson said that our community needs "unity." Unity isn't just an abstraction or a hollow rhetorical device; it's real. Alexandria must look itself in the mirror, because we're currently suffering from an identity crisis.

Many people in our community have a tendency to separate issues along racial lines and political party lines. This, I believe, is a dangerously reductionistic worldview, and it hinders any progress that we could make. Alexandria is not just black and white, Republican and Democrat, Protestant and Catholic. We're quickly becoming a very diverse community, and although some people may not like this concept, it's a foregone conclusion. If you're not comfortable living around people of a different skin color or a different religious faith, you probably shouldn't be living in a city of over 50,000 people. At the same time, if politicians continue to rely on racially-charged rhetoric as a way of "bringing people together," then we're likely to be even more divided in the future.

I have this dream of real leadership in Alexandria. This is what it looks like: An intelligent, thoughtful mayor who understands how to build consensus and set realistic priorities (We may never realize how incredibly fortunate we were to have Mayor Randolph, an Ivy-League educated lawyer, at our city's helm for so many years) and a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. One possible solution to the conflicts of interest that continually plague members of our City Council is to make the position a full-time job. We're currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to do the research and the work that our City Council could perform if its members weren't beholden to their own personal business interests. Often, these consultants (in whatever form they may take) are business partners, relatives, or friends of Council members, and it's difficult for the public to accept that the Council is always fair with their determination of the best available candidate. Those of us who are paying close attention know that members of our Council, through both official and unofficial channels, have repeatedly appointed and nominated unqualified individuals into positions of importance. It's critical to note that this isn't anything new, and frankly, it has little to do with the individual members of the Council. The problem is with the way our government is organized.

I hope that every reader of The Town Talk will visit the Cenla Antics blog, located at cenlaantics.blogspot.com. Readers should also be aware of another Cenla political blog, Cenla Rambler, located at cenlarambler.blogspot.com . This is an election year, and it must be the responsibility of every citizen to stay informed of the issues. We must pay close attention to the daily news; sometimes the small decisions that are buried in the news end up making a huge impact on our daily lives. We must demand a real, substantive conversation about this election. We must hold our public officials accountable for their mistakes, and we must commend them for their accomplishments. We must recognize and embrace our diversity as a community, and we must reject any suggestion that our city "should" be run by a particular race. We must look forward to our future, and we must learn from the mistakes of our past. Finally, we must realize that Alexandria is not the quaint, small community that it once was and that any attempt to "return" to this era is ultimately futile. Alexandria is growing and expanding, and for this reason, we need intelligent, ethical, and compassionate leadership. We need individuals who are driven to serve because they want to improve their community, not their own bankroll. The best way to bring about unity, I believe, is by discussing our differences in an honest way. Let's take that first step.

by Blogger

Occasionally, I like to read these reader's write debates between Christians and atheists, and today's TT features yet another installment of this neverending back and forth. At issue is an article that TT published a few weeks ago about a Harvard study that said prayer wasn't scientifically provable. The study refuted the findings of a seriously flawed Columbia University, which said prayer had an 11% success rate (basically something that ridiculous). Anyway, this guy, Gray Easterling, wrote into complain about how secular the TT is and how it should have never published that story and how the story served no purpose other than to insult the faithful. Blah. Take it like a man, I say. As Mr. Shaw's letter pointed out today, the TT publishes PLENTY of religion-friendly stories. Heck, they even have a Religion Section on Sundays. It's not as if the religious voice is being censored. Geez. The truth is that the story was not the TT's. It was an international news item that was featured in almost all of the major national newspapers and all of the major cable news networks. I think it was an important story, because, at the very least, it has the possibility of convincing one person to seek medical care for an illness or ailment instead of relying solely on prayer.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 by Blogger

Mr. Aymond made a couple of follow-up remarks on Cenla Antics, one in which he admitted to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan for three months back in the late 70s. Whoa. Interesting backstory to this whole thing. But still, Mr. Aymond's right: That has nothing to do with the current case. I, for one, am interested to hear these tapes, because, if they're as damning as Aymond claims, then this could expose a little cover-up going on across the river. Someone else said this today: "Anonymous said...

I've been thinking alot lately about the two elitist republican candidates in the mayor's race. Everytime I pull up to a gas station I think damn why do some people, a minority thank God, want to put one of these republicans in the mayor's seat? The prosperity in Rapides is no thanks to repubs., but the price of gasoline is directly related."

Yes, everyone knows that a good Democrat mayor would be able to fly over to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Dubai and convince them to lower the price of gasoline in Rapides Parish.

Are you serious? I'm a liberal (SHOCK), and even I recognize that you can't blame our LOCAL politicians on the price of GASOLINE. Plus, party lines hardly matter on the local level. If you really want to blame a Republican, blame the President.

If that's what your party's platform ("Don't elect a Republican mayor! They're in control of gas prices!"), then you're dangerously ignorant.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 by Blogger

An Editor's Copy of "Anonymous" Greg Aymond's Entry in Cenla Antics: (Disclaimer: I don't know Mr. Aymond, and I don't know the reasons I should care about this case. I'm sorry. I just couldn't help myself). Anonymous said...

I am Greg Aymond that everyone seems to have an opinion of. I am the Greg Aymond of which everyone seems to have an opinion. I sued Rich Dupre for slander, based 2 (two)separate and distinct acts of slander. First(,)he told a fellow board metting meeting thing I allegedly said in a meeting with Rich, in order to influence him to vote against me that morning. Not following you, Greg. He told a meeting board "thing"? What is a meeting board thing? The meeting never took place, as can be heard from my recording of my telephone conversation with Rich. Do you record all of your telephone conversations? Lawyers, gotta love 'em. Additionally, you can hear on that tape Rich Dupree (...you can hear Rich Dupree on that tape) telling me that my termination was political and in relation to the Roy Hebron matter, and had no reflections upon my legal ability. Almost a run-on sentence. No comma necessary. Yet approximately 2 (two) weeks later, he stated, also on tape and to a crowd of people, that my termination had nothing to do with Roy Hebron and that it was due to a lack of confidence in my legal abilities. You can also hear Dupree on tape, however, requesting that I continue to handle the ongoing litigation for the Water District. The Water District has, thus far, provided Dupree with legal defense in my lawsuit, although he had been removed from the Water Board by the Police Jury before the suit had been filed. Additionally, after the suit was filed, Pineville City Attorney, Jimmy Fairclothe, (Is this the correct spelling?) send (sent)me a letter denying me contact with the witness, Thurman Kelly of Pineville. With all due respect, there has to be something you're not telling the reader. Try revealing something about the narrator. Additionally, the Waterworks attorney, Greg Jones, posted memos to the Water District staff they they (that they)could not diiscuss (discuss) the Dupree case with me. When the 971 motion was filed by Dupree, it immediately stops the taking of depositions and requires the submission of affidavits. As there was no way I could obtain affidavits from the witnesses, (no comma necessary) and much of the evidence is on recorded tapes and in documents only available from the Waterworks, I filed a motion for discovery, as is allowed by 971. Wordy. Try splitting this sentence into two sentences.Article 971 states that there is to be an evidentiary hearing on that discovery motion. However, after sending subpoenas out for a showing of how I had been denied the ability to obtain affidavits, (no comma necessary) and Mr. Jones admitting to Judge Jackson in chambers that he had so instructed the waterworks employees, Judge Jackson dismissed my entirte (entire) case, and without granting me the hearing required by 971. I was also ordered to pay the attorney fees of Dupree and all court costs. To clarify, there has never been a hearing on the merits of my claims. No court of law has ever heard the Dupree tapes. Is it possible that these tapes were recorded illegally? I'm missing a part of the story here. Explain to your reader why the law is in your favor. There was a 3 (All numbers under 100 should be spelled in letters; three) judge panel on the court of appeal (proper noun) who decided the appeal, in a 2 (two) to 1 (one) split. Based upon the strong dissent in my favor, a (scratch the lonely a) I am considering requesting a re-hearing (one word, rehearing)before the entire appellate court. Depending upon that outcome, I will consider applying for writs to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Several things one should consider are: Why haven't any of the people I have been reporting for wrongdoing sued me? Perhaps because they know truth is an absolute defense. Perhaps they're not threatened by you and don't want anything from you. The narrator should extend more empathy toward his advisary in order to make the story more believable. As an attorney for 20 (twenty)years, I am careful in saying only what I can prove. Additionally, why is someone allegedly honest (Honest should be in quotations. Otherwise the sentence reads like, "...allegedly honest working) working so hard to stop a court of law from hearing his own words captured on tape? Do I have an ongoing vendetta? Yes I do. I will continue to vigorously work to expose lawbreakers and public officials who act contrary to serving the public. (The public? What does this case really have to do with the public?)As to the Anonomous (Anonymous) writer who said such bitter things against me here, I suspect that is Waterboard member Roger Toney, as he has never learned that my surname has no "s" on the end. (You better hope you're right Mr. Aymond. Otherwise you may have just committed libel).Keep in mind, if it is, Roger, (,if it is Roger,) as have other Board members, has already been found to be unethical by the State Ethics Board. Anyone who doesn't belive (believe) me, feel free to contact my office to hear and see the truth. Just direct the reader to a website. It'd make you much more believable.I personally do not understand how any American citizen can support witholding (withholding) evidence and the truth. Thank you. No, thank you.

by Blogger

The Number One Reason People Do Not Pay Their Rent: Their Utility Bill. And many of these people (the honest ones) can either pay for power and try to convince their landlord to give them an extension on rent or pay their rent and hope the city doesn't cut off their power. Property Managers (and/or "Landlords") can only give residents a certain amount of time before they have to file for eviction. I've been to a few of these proceedings, and suffice it to say, the city probably makes a good bit of money on eviction cases (or someone does). What does this mean? In many cases, the high price of utilities is causing people to lose their homes. (You could attempt to argue that it's the "high" price of rent, but that'd be totally bogus in Alexandria, where rents haven't significantly increased in at least eight years. In fact, Alexandria is probably way below market, considering the current demand is substantially higher than our supply). The city may have ways of solving this problem in the future, but the damage that has already been done is irreparable. They should focus on cutting energy costs however than can and increasing efficiency; then, we could pass the savings back to the consumer. But for now, a utility bill is a utility bill, and if it's not paid, your power is turned off. We don't need to refund. We need to reduce.

by Blogger

Score One for the Town Talk! In today's issue, the paper slams the Pineville City Council for endorsing H.B. 8, a ridiculous piece of legislation that whines about spending advertisement money with certain newspapers in certain communities. There are a number of problems with this stupid bill (and it doesn't surprise me that our elected officials here in Alexandria endorsed the bill without checking the facts). From the article: "

The truth is that legal advertising -- "the legals," as they are known -- are state-mandated public notices that tell taxpayers all kinds of things that are important to them, their families, their neighbors and their future, such as:

 When the school board will vote on a plan to change the attendance zone for the schools your children attend.

 How much you'll be on the hook for if a town, airport authority or sewer district borrows millions to build the flavor-of-the-day project.

 Whether a planning commission will rezeone the property next to your house so someone can build a ... well, we'll let you fill in the blank.

The truth is that there are sound reasons why state law requires government bodies to publish notices about the public's business where people can find them easily and where a third party can prove that the notices were, in fact, published.

That place, historically and appropriately, has been in a community's daily newspaper. In this case, that means The Town Talk."

This seems like dirty politics, and I think they're underestimating the Town Talk's ability to shift opinion.

Keep up the good work.

Sunday, April 16, 2006 by Blogger

Dean's Side of the Story (Or Step Into His Shoes For Just a Second): Disclaimer: My thoughts on the Hotel Bentley are based on personal encounters and conversations with members of local government, local business leaders, and associates and employees of Bob Dean Classic Properties. Don't read too much into this. I am not aware of any deal or offer on the hotel; I simply asked questions. (Anyone who wants to can find the e-mail addresses of the central players). In 1997, Bob Dean purchased the Hotel Bentley from an investment group in Baton Rouge. Dean, who was born and raised in Alexandria, wanted to own the hotel for sentimental reasons. His real estate portfolio includes some of the largest and most expensive commercial and residential buildings in Louisiana, and the Bentley was just another purchase. To those who have heard rumors about Mr. Dean's alleged financial troubles, visit his website for a sampling of his real estate holdings. It's very common for people who own a lot of real estate to constantly buy and sell property, and it often has little to do with their finances; it's just the way they like to play the real estate game. Mr. Dean is apparently very passionate about restoring historic property, and after he purchased the Bentley, he spent a considerable amount of money on cosmetic repairs and embellishments. Dean, like many people who invest in downtowns, was given many incentives by the government, on both the local and the federal levels. He was also encouraged by promises of convention business; he was told that the city would be increasing the number and variety of conventions. In the hotel business, you can't magically create guests; you're reliant on the city to attract visitors. The city's ability to attract conventions has a direct correlation to the profitability of your business. Dean bought the hotel in 1997, and if you recall, the city was spending a lot of money and time on downtown revitalization. We were talking a good game. There was even a downtown plan that was enacted. But soon, a new City Council was elected, and well, their practices and modus operandi are well documented already (though we could always use more information). In the words of one prominent local businessperson, "People are afraid of the Bentley because the owner must be beholden to the City Council for tax incentives in exchange of under the table kickbacks." Nowhere is this most evident than with the hotel across the street from the Bentley, the Holiday Inn. Real estate investors often have to play the political game, but there is an "Alexandria way of doing things," as it has been described to me from successful developers throughout the state. In other words, there seem to be groups or factions of people who have laid claim to certain areas of town, downtown being one of them, and if you plan on building, restoring, or developing in Alexandria, you have to be sure to include certain people in on the deal. This isn't necessarily "illegal;" most of the time, certain individuals filter their "investments" through secondary and tertiary means. But it's definitely not lucrative. It means that an historic hotel, like the Bentley, will continually struggle, because too many people somehow feel entitled to the hotel's profits. Bob Dean acted alone. He bought the hotel, and in doing so, he supplied 125 jobs to the local economy. He was an outsider. Although he is originally from Alexandria, he lives and works in Baton Rouge. When the hotel shut its doors, our immediate inclination as a community was to blame the owner and the management. But what if it's not the fault of ownership or management? What if our community and our government are to blame? What if the "Alexandria way of doing things" creates an impossible situation for people who really want to make a difference here? After all, if Mr. Dean is truly such a terrible person, why would he invest so much of his own money on the hotel? Honestly. I suspect that there is a lot to this story that will never be reported, primarily because Mr. Dean's business records are proprietary, and he has the right to keep them private. But I also feel like he's been painted unfairly. And if we're really going to get somewhere in our discussions about the future of our city and the future of our downtown, we should probably address the real reasons why it's almost impossible to run a profitable business downtown. I can't know this for sure, but I suspect that Mr. Dean's demolition request was just a political manuever. I suspect that Mr. Dean would never really consider demolition, but that it was his way of reminding our government that he owned the hotel, not them. Oh... and what of the stories about how he "raped" the hotel of its fixtures? It seems to me that he removed the fixtures most prone to vandalism (the stained glass and the chandeliers). From what I understand, any trade fixtures removed from the hotel (that is considered a part of the hotel's trade) must be returned. If you owned a hotel and you had to close it because it wasn't making any money, wouldn't it be smart to remove some of the hotel's valuable fixtures while it's vacant? One of the reasons for the one-sidedness of this whole story is that Dean doesn't talk to the press. We hear the city's side of the story, but we never hear his. And it's his right to stay silent. I have never personally met Mr. Dean, but I have a strong feeling that he could give a great testimonial on the woes of doing big business in Alexandria. What is the solution to all of this? I think Martin Johnson was right when he said our community needs unity. Number one. We also need full transparency from our government. We need a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. And we need to ensure that businesses who invest in our community are not afraid of working with our government.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 by Blogger

Another Rebuttal to the Notion that Hollywood Isn't Interested in Marketing Christian Films "

There's also money. The literary world has been reaping profits for decades with religious fare. The biblical "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, for example, have racked up sales of more than $650 million and spawned four movies.

But it wasn't until "Passion" arrived in theaters in February 2004 that major studios saw their own stairway to financial heaven.

Before Mel Gibson's telling of the Crucifixion, "we all knew we had a lot to learn about this market, which was obviously underserved," says Steve Feldstein of 20th Century Fox's new division, Fox Faith.

The department markets the studio's DVDs and feature films to hundreds of pastors nationwide. The studio offers churches trailers, posters and even Bible study guides for its Christian-based home videos.

As "Passion" marched to more than $370 million in North America, "it gave us all our MBA's pretty quickly," Feldstein says. Executives discovered that a thumbs-up from a pastor could go further than from a film critic and that word of mouth spreads pretty quickly in a church, he says. "For many families, church isn't just somewhere you go to pray," he says. "It's a social venue. There's more opportunity for discussion of things beyond just faith.""

See, the funny thing about this discussion is that it proves, to me at least, how fundamentalists spin the facts in order to make religion seem more oppressed and denigrated than it really is.

Friday, April 14, 2006 by Blogger

Liberals taking over Natchitoches? Have you been to Natchitoches recently? It's rockin'!

If the anti-religious, anti-conservative musings of Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw represent the prevailing philosophy of Natchitoches Parish, Alexandria is on the verge of being toppled as Central Louisiana's capital of liberalism. I love this fundamentalist device: If you write anything that criticizes (or even analyzes) their worldview, you're suddenly anti-religious. It's as if this writer myopically believes her religion is the only religion in the world.

Also, this is a really weak argument: IF Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw REPRESENT a "prevailing" PHILOSOPHY, then Alexandria is on the VERGE of being toppled?? What?? And if they don't represent the prevailing philosophy, then your entire letter is for naught.

Shaw attacked a conservative who expressed an opinion in these pages concerning the release of the new movie "The Da Vinci Code." He decried another writer who praised a conservative columnist, stating that what one means when one says "that another has 'common sense' is that the other holds the same opinions and world view as the speaker." Decried? Attacked? And look: You're saying the same thing that Mr. Shaw was decrying. Your concept of common sense is also tied into your worldview. Shaw's naïve version of an America where the absolute freedom of expression and the unbridled exchange of ideas flourish indicates that the status quo in the public square makes "sense" to him because it represents his own world view. There is no equality in Hollywood. The individual consumer is not driving the market place. Despite the fact that "The Passion of the Christ" has been seen by more people than all of the liberal, preachy films nominated for the Academy Award for best picture combined, there will be no glut of pro-religious movies next year. No matter that "The Chronicles of Narnia" will out-perform the R-rated barrage of movies dumped onto the American consumer; there will be no rush to produce wholesome, family-friendly films. Now, we move onto the Hollywood argument, and you defeat yourself here. You're telling us that the individual consumer doesn't "drive" the market place. AND THEN you're reminding us that two of the most successful movies in the past three years are Christian-themed. Thanks. I suppose that these major studio, world-wide releases that have collectively grossed BILLIONS of dollars represent the "good" part of Hollywood... and have nothing to do with its acknowledgment of the profitability of Christian stories. Same thing with those LifeWay stores. And the Trinity Broadcasting Network. They're GOOD capitalists who play by the EXACT same rules in the EXACT same markets the bad capitalists play in.

Like an unruly tyrant, Hollywood dictates what America is allowed to choose for entertainment. Movie producers have the right to produce films that represent their world view if they desire, but, by the same token, movie theater owners should have the right to show the films they choose as well. They should not be obligated to demonstrate what some would consider "neutrality" when the producers are certainly not responding to the desires of the American people. There is nothing wrong with conservatives expressing their ideas, just as liberals like Mr. Shaw are allowed to do, in an attempt to sway public opinion.

Conservatives control the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and the Congress. Conservatives own major news networks and entertainment companies. And yet you somehow believe that conservatives don't have the opportunity to express their opinion. WHAT? WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE ON? Instead of attacking specific Christians, Richard Taylor went right to the source, calling the divine writings of the Bible "barbaric theology." Atheists use the same tactic, pointing to the dark moments in history when men destroyed one another in the name of religion. Is this a fair assessment of Mr. Taylor's argument? These anti-Bible "experts" never give the statistics of how many murders never took place because of the moral foundation, given to men through religious belief, which prevents us from acting on our hatred, anger and wicked desires. Western Civilization is built upon the holy Bible, which states "Thou shall not kill." What sort of liberal brew are they drinking in Natchitoches these days? Let's hear from some conservatives over there, if there are any left. Statistics on how many murders NEVER took place? Whhhaaaa??? Are you kidding me? How could that possibly be quantifiable? They may be drinking a liberal brew, ma'am, but you're the one who seems completely drunk.

Eddie Thompson, Jena

by Blogger

In From the Night: Premiering Sunday, April 23 on CBS. Five years ago, I enrolled in a personal essay class at Rice University. The instructor, Dr. Marsha Recknagel was a Louisiana native, and at the time, Dr. Recknagel was finishing her memoir, If Nights Could Talk. The memoir recounts Recknagel's strained relationship with her family and the experience of adopting her sixteen year old nephew, Jamie. Jamie shuffled through schools and hospitals before finally landing on Marsha's doorstep in Houston. It's a fantastic book, and it has received numerous accolades and awards, including an LA Times Notable Book of the Year award. Marsha was also on the shortlist for the Penn/Faulkner award. Next week, the movie, starring Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Hardin, will premiere on CBS, and I am attempting to spread the good news. Watch it! Get the family together! Tell them that the movie is about someone from Louisiana! In fact, the whole family is from Louisiana! Shreveport, to be precise. Marsha is one of my best friends in the world, and until recently, she's been reluctant to tell people that this movie is about her. But she's finally giving the okay... and I promised her I'd help promote it. If anyone has any questions for Marsha, feel free to send them to me... and I'll forward them over to her. It's really rare that someone you know has a movie made about their life. It's even more rare when this someone is your mentor and one of your best friends. Almost every word of the movie is lifted directly from the pages of her book. I promise: You won't be disappointed.

by Blogger

I sent this to the TT for publication: About a month ago, I stumbled across a veritable gold mine of information and news on Central Louisiana, a blog that called itself “Cenla Antics.” Although the blog had been in operation since October of 2005, its existence was only known to a handful of people, most of whom contributed to the site regularly and anonymously. The blog covered a variety of issues, and I found that it served as an interestering cultural and political barometer. It also became obvious to me that many of these anonymous contributors were people with an inside knowledge of local government. I suspect that there are even local government officials who anonymously contributed to this blog. Although I found it frustrating that the vast majority of contributors cloaked themselves in anonymity, it was hard for me to ignore the wealth of insight they provided. I decided to join in the discussion, using my real name and expressing my real opinions. As a result, I received a fair amount of attention. When I questioned why most people chose to remain anonymous, one blogger who calls himself “Civil Sentient” said, “You should know that people that work in government cannot speak their mind on open forums without a very real danger of loosing their jobs.” In other words, the individuals with the most insight into the innerworkings of our local government cannot openly express their experience without fear of reprisal. There are countless stories that The Town Talk could publish, if it only had a legitmate source who would go on the record. Indeed, I have learned, throughout the past month, that most of us in Central Louisiana are woefully uninformed about the true nature of our government and the ways in which government develops lucrative partnerships witth private industry. Often, these partnerships are not in the best interest of the community; they exist solely to funnel tax dollars to private citizens connected by friendship or family to government officials. In Louisiana, this system of entitlement is known as “the good ol’ boy network,” and we have been conditioned to accept this as a basic fact of government. However, this dynamic is the definition of government corruption, and it should be the responsibility of the press to expose these violations of the public trust, regardless of who is in power. The Town Talk should be actively pursuing sources with this inside information, exchanging their testimony with the promise of anonymity. This is standard practice for newspapers in larger cities, and there is no reason it would not be effective in Central Louisiana. After all, most of these people are already speaking their mind in the blogosphere. I decided to create my own blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com, in order to give myself a venue to express my personal take on the news. Currently, my blog receives between 100 and 150 unique visits per day, and this, I believe, is a testament to the number of people who are actively engaged in our community. My blog has allowed me to learn information that I would otherwise never know, and it has awakened a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope for the future of our community. I believe in the old adage, “The truth shall set you free,” and I know that there are good, honest people serving our community who are repulsed by the good ol’ boy mentality. There are a handful of blogs that focus on Central Louisiana, and I encourage readers of The Town Talk to peruse these sites: cenlaantics.blogspot.com, cenlarambler.blogspot.com, wesawthat.blogspot.com, and of course, my personal blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com.

Thursday, April 13, 2006 by Blogger

Dear Readers, I have created an alternative to the Cenla Antics blog that allows easy navigation and a quick download. The discussion will be unmoderated, and bloggers can categorize their entries by subject matter. Check out cenlarambler.blogspot.com and make it your new home. cenlarambler.blogspot.com That's cenlarambler.blogspot.com Let's talk, Lamar

by Blogger

I'm sure we all want to know more about this Cleco energy trader who is suing for wrongful termination. From the TT: "John Curley, who has been in a wheelchair since he was 18, alleges in a lawsuit filed in 9th Judicial District Court that Cleco orchestrated a series of humiliations designed to force him to quit." This series of humiliations allegedly includes an illegal trade order from a supervisor. In the meantime, here's a year old story about Louisiana College. Just reminding everyone how lopsided this truly is. For those of you who think the opposition comes from the "extreme left," consider this:

PINEVILLE, La. (ABP) - Trustees of embattled Louisiana College will meet Jan. 17 to try again to elect a president, but they likely will be sued to prevent him from taking office. Aguillard's opinion that this is a "sacred calling" makes me wonder if he also believes he's being "persecuted" because of his beliefs. It's a great rhetorical position, because, like I said earlier, it allows one to feel like they are both the victor and the victim.

Joe Aguillard, 47, a conservative professor and chair of the education division at the Louisiana Baptist school, will be nominated as president Jan. 17, trustee chair Timothy Johnson announced Jan. 6. One year and three months later, this calling finally became a reality.

Critics say Aguillard's nomination - and likely election - are in violation of the school's bylaws because the committee nominating him was illegally appointed. A group of school alumni and supporters plan to file a lawsuit Jan. 11 to stop the election.

The committee was ILLEGALLY appointed. Sure, they make their own laws as they feel necessary, but it is important to point out that this Board of Trustees are perhaps more controversial than Aguillard. Meanwhile, the college's faculty voted 53-12 to oppose the nomination of Aguillard, their faculty colleague, to become president. You read that correctly. 53 to 12! That's an OVERWHELMING majority. I suppose the Board, due to their direct connection to God and His Divine Plan, care very little for the democratic process or the opinions of the men and women who have built their careers around Louisiana College.

The school has been in turmoil for more than a year after fundamentalists gained control of the trustee board. After a dispute over textbook and faculty-election policies, the college's president, chief academic administrator and trustee chair resigned. Remember this absolutely insane story? They BANNED Ernest Gaines's "A Lesson Before Dying" and Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled." Remember? These people are dangerously ignorant.

In December the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the college on probation - one step short of withdrawing accreditation - for violating the association's standards for academic freedom and proper governance, saying trustees were unduly influenced by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship. Someone wrote in and said that LC was no longer in jeopardy of losing accreditation. I have news for you: Yes it is. It's obvious these people have no concept of academic freedom. (Look at today's story in the TT). They may have been taken off of probation, but that doesn't mean it can't happen again.

The crisis deepened after Texas educator Malcolm Yarnell suddenly withdrew as president Nov. 23 - two months after his election but before taking office - citing "governance issues." I'm interested in knowing more about these "governance issues."

The search committee wanted to nominate as president Stan Norman, a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who had been the committee's second choice. But trustee officers, who reportedly preferred Aguillard, responded by trying to expand the search committee to add more conservatives or dismiss the original committee. Wow! The Trustees didn't care who the Search Committee selected; they had their man... and if you second guessed them, well, you were second guessing the WILL OF GOD.

Aguillard supporters say the original committee's power expired when Yarnell was elected president. But members of the original committee insist no contract was ever signed with Yarnell and the bylaws require them to remain in place until a president is hired. Either way, it's a technicality, and Aguillard was not the first choice of the search committee or the faculty. I'm not really sure why he wants the gig so much.

Trustee leaders held a press conference Jan. 6 to announce the trustee board will vote on Aguillard, an LC education professor for the past four years and former school board superintendent.

"The board has placed his name for nomination and it was referred to a special committee charged with bringing his name back before the board for a full up or down vote," trustee chair Johnson said in a prepared statement. "This is not a circumvention of the process but rather a part of the process afforded the board in our bylaws." No, it's a circumvention and an abuse of power in an attempt to squash dissent. It's OBVIOUS.

Johnson said he sought an opinion from the parliamentarian of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which appoints trustees. "In his opinion, and according to Robert's Rules [of Order], this [special] committee is valid, was duly formed, and is appropriately charged with bringing Dr. Aguillard's name before the board - with or without recommendation," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been prepared and a temporary restraining order will be requested to block the Jan. 17 election, Stan Lott of Pineville, a retiring professor at Louisiana College, told Associated Baptist Press.

According to Lott, former vice president for academic affairs, an attorney who serves on the board said the trustees violated their own bylaws by dismissing the original committee. "Once [the board] specifies who is on the search committee, it is to stay in place until a president is found," Lott said. That's exactly right. You can't just appoint an independent committee and then refuse to hold up your end of the agreement. Those people wasted all of that time and energy for nothing. Yet another example of how these people don't understand academic freedom.

Lott said he met with a group of attorneys to discuss legal action. "We decided the only recourse left for people concerned about the college is through the courts."

Lott said the group, which is enlisting other plaintiffs, hopes to file the suit by Jan. 11, alleging the trustees have caused "irreparable damage to the school." I really hope this damage is not irreparable.

"Even conservatives [among Louisiana Baptists] are really disturbed by what these Taliban trustees are doing," Lott said. "They are continuing to recklessly ignore accreditation, and if it continues, they will have accreditation withdrawn."

Trustee chair Johnson defended the board's action and called Aguillard "a top-notch educator who is theologically sound." He added the professor is "a man of integrity, internationally recognized scholarship, sterling character and unequaled leadership." Remind me again: When was Dr. Aguillard's scholarship recognized INTERNATIONALLY?

Lott disagreed. "He has neither the education nor the experience to serve as president of Louisiana College. He is a fundamentalist to the core." Yeah. Four years as a professor and sixteen years in one of the worst public school districts in the country does not impress me.

Aguillard, a Louisiana native, received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana College, two master's degrees from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., and a doctorate of education from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

He held a number of administrative positions with the Beauregard Parish School Board between 1984 and 2000, rising eventually to superintendent, before taking his current position with Louisiana College.

by Blogger

by Blogger

One of the Reasons Why LC Won't Be the "Best Liberal Arts School in the State:" The Biography of Centenary College's President, Kenneth Schwab: Appointed the 28th President of Centenary College in 1991, Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab is also a tenured professor in the Department of Education. He and his wife, Pat, have three sons (Kempten, Carlton, and Christopher) who have all played soccer and helped raise the family's two Jack Russell Terriers. He comes most recently from the University of South Carolina where he served as Executive Vice President for Administration. Dr. Schwab hails originally from Indiana where he received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1969. He then earned his master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1972 and his doctorate in higher education administration at Indiana University in 1978. Dr. Pat Schwab received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and then studied developmental and remedial reading at the University of Southern Mississippi, receiving her doctorate in curriculum and instruction there in 1971. She has taught education courses, served in university administration, published on the craft of reading, and worked in curriculum development for 25 years. A faithful contributor to the college community, Pat Schwab has actively supported Centenary as well. Dr. Schwab teaches a course at Centenary every year while supervising student teachers in Caddo and Bossier Parishes. She also hosts receptions and other occasions often at the Schwab home, including dinners each fall for all new first-year Centenary students. Under President Schwab’s leadership at Centenary, The Vision for the Future comprehensive campaign raised over $100 million for the college. This amount exceeded the original target by $30 million, enabling residence hall, fitness center, athletic facilities, and arts complex renovations. Involvement with Centenary students has been integral to President Schwab throughout his tenure here. Centenary’s First-Year Experience program saw him as an instructor during Spring 2003 when he team-taught Aristotle and water management, among other topics. He also recently traveled with the internationally renowned Centenary College Choir to Europe, Brazil, and South Africa. A recent participant in the Salzburg Seminar sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Chair of the Associated Colleges of the South Board of Directors, Dr. Schwab has also published a book, numerous articles, and several institutional planning documents regarding presidential leadership and transformational change. Dr. Schwab serves on the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana Board and AmSouth Bank’s Shreveport-Bossier Advisory Board. Dr. Schwab also maintains membership in Omicron Delta Kappa and actively participates on Centenary’s behalf in many other local and national organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.

by Blogger

Reposted comment for clarification purposes: To the LC professor: What are you talking about? Slanderous ramblings? SLANDEROUS? With all due respect, sir or madam, do you know the meaning of the word slander or are you simply hyperbolizing in order to make your point? That is a serious accusation. Where, I ask, did I committ the crime of slander? Professor, you should know that there is a difference between satire and slander. I do not know the man personally, and I am not attempting to make a value judgment of his character. I am simply reading what has been supplied to me, and these are the facts:1. Dr. Aguillard's "doctorate" degree is in organizational leadership and diversity training.2. His belief that this position is a "sacred calling" precludes any argument against him. It puts those who do not agree with him in a morally indefensible situation.3. THESE ARE HIS WORDS! I didn't make this up. 4. His C.V. (or at least the summary of it) does very little to address how and why he is the most qualified person to steward a liberal arts college.5. His three-fold concept of the academy and his magical treasure chest musings are antithetical to the concept of the academy. The academy is founded on the concept of the OPEN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. If a college and its dean purport to change the basic underpinnings of the academy, they are announcing a paradigm shift in their pedagogy. I am sorry that you lost confidence in me, but I don't require the confidence of an apologetic LC professor who stands idly by while his school is overtaken by religious fundamentalists. If I can't use a man's words and his experience as a guidepost for WHO he is, then what can I use? By the way, go ahead and say what you want to about my family and its vices. I promise you: You wouldn't be the first person to judge my family on a public forum. (By the way, that's another thing that gets me. I NEVER said anything negative about his family. He is in a leadership position and deserves the full scrutiny of the public. Also, I OBVIOUSLY care deeply about the future of LC. Why else would I waste my energy and expose myself to attack from those entrenched in his administration?)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 by Blogger

"Unchanging Foundations in Changing Times" The Inauguration of President Joe Aguillard. Lifted from the pages of the program: President Joe Aguillard In January of 2005, Dr. Joe Aguillard was named Louisiana College's eighth president by the Board of Trustees. He assumed the duties of the office immediately and has been working tirelessly for his alma mater ever since. It sure seems like it took a long time to finally make this official. Perhaps this has something to do with that lawsuit. He is only the second alumnus of Louisiana College to serve as the school's president, following in the footsteps of the late Dr. G. Earl Guinn. I don't know who Dr. Guinn was, but I'm not sure Dr. Aguillard is following in anyone's footsteps. He seems to be blazing his own trail. Dr. Aguillard has been on faculty at Louisiana College since 2000, but his personal history with the College is a long and storied one. Both of Aguillard's parents attended Louisiana College and met at the liberal arts school. He and his wife met at Louisiana College, and all three of their daughters have attended their parent's alma mater. That TOTALLY makes him qualified! "My ties are very deep and very entwined with Louisiana College," Dr. Aguillard says. "The position is a sacred calling for me, and I will make decisions and guard my actions knowing that my work here is far beyond a career move." A sacred calling??? So God called him up and told him to become the Dean of LC? So God= The LC Board of Trustees? Holding an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Aguillard and also holds two McNeese State University master's degrees and his bachelor's degree from Louisiana College. Prior to joining the Louisiana College faculty, he was the Superintendent of Schools of Beauregard Parish. Let's do a little fact finding. What, you ask, is an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University? From the program's website:

The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program has been created to assist adult learners to meet both current and future leadership challenges facing their organizations. This program has been designed to address the needs of practitioners by linking theory to the best practices of leadership. The program is based on the conviction that contemporary leaders must learn to lead the change process so that services are effectively and efficiently delivered to an increasingly diverse population. Essentially, leaders must learn to lead change in the context of a turbulent economy and a rapidly developing technology for the 21st century.

The primary audience of this program will be individuals with background in human services, human resources, staff developers/trainers, military personnel, middle managers.

And the requirements of the degree are as follows:

Students must fulfill the following graduation requirements. 1. Attend Doctoral Student Orientation at NSU 2. Attend Summer Conference within the first year of admission into the program (required for all students entering as of fall 2004). 3. Attend and pass all core courses (30 credits) 4. Attend and pass all specialization courses (18 credits) - Please see the important announcement regarding the sunset of the DOL program. 5. Attend and pass all research courses (9 credits - Please see the important announcement regarding the phasing out of ARO courses.) 6. Successfully complete: -The applied dissertation seminar 1: concept paper (2 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 2: proposal (4 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 3: report (3 credits) 7. Be current in all tuition, fees, and miscellaneous charges (including books).

Total requirements: 66 credit hours (all requirements must be completed within five years from the date of the beginning of the term of entry).

Let me get this straight: They're calling this guy a doctor because he attended a FIVE YEAR LONG program for "adult" professionals (also known as "distance" or "continued" learning) who need leadership training because of the fast-paced world of "technology." Oh, and the guy got to learn what it is like to live in a world with a "diverse population."

How is he the most qualified person in the world? Did they even attempt to search for a dean? Or did they just promote another good ol' boy?

"Louisiana College stands in a unique position as an academic and spiritual 'Louisiana Treasure,'" Dr. Aguillard says. "With the full support of our alumni and Southern Baptist churches, our beloved LC will continue to grow in value as a gleaming treasure chest of opportunity for our children." Louisiana treasure? Treasure chest? Where's the rainbow? Dr. Aguillard has always a strong rapport with the student body. In 2004, he was named Professor of the Year, an award voted on by the student body at large. Look: Proof that students LOVE him. The Teacher Education Department, under Dr. Aguillard's leadership, received consistently high marks from the Louisiana Board of Regents, among others, and led the nation in percentage growth. He led a group of Louisiana College students in researching and writing the curriculum for the Heart of Spain art exhibit at the Alexandria Museum of Art in 2003. The curriculum was used by teachers and students throughout the world. This is just ridiculous. His claim to fame is assisting students in writing a curriculum for the Heart of Spain exhibit? Are you kidding me? His Teacher Education Department faculty adopted a conceptual framework relating to their Christian worldview that follows the Scripture, Ecclesiastes 4:12, which reads, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." The Department uses this conceptual framework to describe a dynamic educator. This framework encompasses Christian service, mastery of subject matter, and the attributes of a practioner teacher. Of the "three strands," two include being a Christian. "The greatest strength that Louisiana College has is that we are unashamed to declare that all power in heaven and earth lies with Jesus Christ," Dr. Aguillard says. "As we are able to plug into that power, there is nothing too hard to do or accomplish." Everyone knows that in order to be admitted into LC, students MUST declare their allegiance to Jesus Christ. It's just like every other "liberal arts" college in the world. "Education in the truest sense is none other than the development of the image of God that is planted in every human being," Dr. Aguillard says. I think Socrates said the same thing. Or was it Plato? No, no, no, it was David Koresh. Dr. Aguillard says he envisions a Louisiana College with higher enrollment, financial stability, academic excellence, and Biblical values. "This will be the greatest liberal arts college the state has ever seen," he says. I literally laughed out loud the first time I read this. Dr. Aguillard and his wife, Judy, have three daughters, Jill Reid, Julie, and Jodi. Jill's husband, Will Reid, is also an LC alumnus. Rock.

2. What is the number one problem facing Alexandria?
3. What is the single greatest accomplishment of the current City Council?
4. What is the biggest failure of the current City Council?
5. Recently, it was reported that Alexandria is suffering from a lack of skilled workers. What measures will you propose in order to solve this labor problem?
6. How will you (do you) balance your professional career with a political career?
7. It is also well-known that Alexandria suffers from a lack of affordable housing. What measures will you propose in order to solve this housing problem?
8. What is your vision for Downtown Alexandria?
9.There are many people here in Alexandria who must make a choice between paying their utility bill and paying their rent. How do you plan on solving the utilities crisis in Alexandria?
10. Why are you running for office?
11. What will you do differently?
12. What can our community do in order to ensure that Lower Third and South Alexandria are safe and clean?
13. If the city was suddenly awarded with $1 billion, how would you spend that money?
14. Who is your favorite musical artist?
15. Who is your political role model?
|W|P|114593155143152493|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/24/2006 03:46:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Upcoming: Questions and Answers with Councilman Myron Lawson and Dr. Alex Slatkin. Stay tuned for more information.|W|P|114591888146582037|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 02:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Reminder: Set your TiVo! "In From the Night," a movie based on the life of Louisiana writer and friend of mine, Marsha Recknagel, will be on CBS tonight at 8PM CST.|W|P|114582907569569155|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 01:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|More Evidence to Suggest We're All Insane in Central Louisiana (Or What Happens In The Country When An Escaped Murderer Is On The Run) The article that accompanied this picture also mentioned the use of heavy appliances as a way of securing property.|W|P|114582497252433234|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 10:36:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Three Cheers for Four Corners: Last night, Alex 1805, the new blues and jazz lounge located on the corner of 3rd and Desoto in Downtown Alexandria, held its first annual Caribbean Nights block party. From an anonymous writer in Cenla Antics: "Let's roll said...

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to whether or not Alexandria can be the shining city on a hill, you needed to be at the corner of 3rd and Desoto last night. I, for one, have gone from cautiously optimistic to frankly excited. We really are worth saving. Think about it."

Seriously, this is not an understatement. The turnout was amazing. Horatio promised free admission for people wearing white linen, and so everyone was decked out, including yours truly. I don't think I have ever seen an event quite like this here in Alexandria. Great music. Great food. I'm not sure how many people were there, but I'd guess that there were several hundred in and out throughout the night.

It not only proves that Alexandria can be the "shining city on a hill;" it was also an incredible display of unity for our city.

The Town Talk ran a great story about the success of the Arna Bontemps Jazz Concert... if they had only stuck around for a few more hours, they would have had the REAL story of the day: Downtown's coming back.

Now if we can just convince Horatio to run for office....

|W|P|114581469132407439|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/21/2006 11:45:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Michael D. Smith, born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana, was awarded with the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Michael writes, "The commission has decided to grant me the funding to observe contemparary synthesis in Newari and Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmadu Valley. I am humbled by the immense opportunity this affords me, and hope that it be of benefit to all." Congratulations to my friend Michael. We're all very proud of you back home, and we wish you an auspicious journey.|W|P|114568878515059516|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/21/2006 11:17:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Two unrelated issues: Louisiana College and Everett Hobbs. Louisiana College recently awarded Thomas Howell with the Professor of the Year Award (or whatever it is that they call it). The award is voted on by the student body, a majority of whom seem to think that Howell is the best damn professor they have. It's ashame that the Trustees are religious fundamentalists intent on making everyone conform to their narrow perception of the world. LC's Christian Commitment: "Administrators, faculty, and staff at Louisiana College will be persons who, in addition to other contractual obligations: 1. have received Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior, God, and King and personally affirm that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man, the Savior whose sacrificial death is the only means of forgiveness of sin, the King who rules over their lives and is making them righteous through His Spirit and His Word. 2. can articulate their faith in Christ to others, 3. are members of a local Christian church, faithfully worshipping Christ and serving Him through the church..." Then there's a phrase about being Christ-like with your every move and another one about abstaining from alcohol (just like Christ, the guy who turned water into wine). There's a statement about making sure your scholarship isn't "contrary" to their Southern Baptist manifesto. I think you get the idea. LC is now one of the worst colleges to teach at in the country. Professors are discouraged from practicing any lifestyle other than the one prescribed by the school (even when they're off-campus), and they're told what to think and what to teach their students. Why don't they just hand students a copy of the Bible and a copy of this Southern Baptist Mission 2000 manifesto, make them read it, give them a quiz on it after a few weeks, and then confer them with a degree? What's the point of taking a class like Biology or Philosophy or World Religion when professors are told to reduce everything down to Bible-talk? Next story: The funniest thing about that Everett Hobbs story was the C.F. Smith, Jr. quote: "I'm not saying nothing about that. I'm staying out of that. That's Everett," Smith said. "Those councilmen, they're elected," and they "have their say-so." So if he's NOT saying NOTHING about it, does that mean that he IS saying SOMETHING? Well, actually, he is saying something. He's saying that elected councilmen can have their say-so. I was probably wrong last night when I said "What was he thinking?" I don't think anyone gets "set-up" for a front page story. That said, I don't think Ned's going to step down... and I think Hobbs probably knows this... and I think this was a lame political manuever that can only serve to divide people even more... and for that reason, I hope that Mr. Hobbs will reconsider his statement and perhaps issue a retraction to his constituents. As if that could ever happen. If anything, the story proves how power hungry Councilman Hobbs and his cohorts truly are... to disparage a retiring mayor who has served with distinction for twenty years, to make claims on his mental capacity (and I know this isn't exactly breaking news)... but geez, couldn't this guy have a little dignity? One more remark: Yesterday, I went back and reread some of the letters and statements people made toward me after I first posted on Cenla Antics. Man, some of those people were REALLY mean, and I didn't even notice it at the time. I mean, I talked about it. But I never realized the extent of the anger. That said, thank you to WeSawThat, Scarlett, and Civil Sentient for being supportive. We're very fortunate to have smart people engaged in this discussion, and even if we don't all agree on the issues, at least you all have enough respect and integrity not to make things personal. Kudos. |W|P|114564554537996937|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 09:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Today, We Mourn A Great American George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr

Services for George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr. will be at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21, 2006, in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church with Rev. Msgr. Ronald Hoppe and Rev. Dan O'Connor officiating. Interment will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Pineville under the direction of John Kramer & Son. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr., 56, of Alexandria, died Monday, April 17, 2006, in his residence. He was born September 29, 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Gonzaga, Spokane, Washington with a Masters in Communications. He entered the field of journalism and later the field of television. In March 24, 2001 he received a lifetime membership in the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He also received the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to the Journalism profession, April 18, 2005. Don was preceded in death by his father, George Donald Fitzpatrick and his mother, Patricia Regan Fitzpatrick; paternal grandparents, George Bernard Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Anne Dressler Fitzpatrick and maternal grandparents John F. Regan and Rose Oldham Regan. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr, is survived by: his sisters, Erin Rhodes and her husband, John of Alexandria, LA; Betsy Belgard of Pineville, LA; his brother, Sean Fitzpatrick and wife Kim of Deville, LA and ten nieces and nephews. Friends are asked to call from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2006 and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at John Kramer & Son. A Christian Wake service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home. Pallbearers will be Mark Rosenthal, Thomas Swift, Freddy Revels, John Bowling, Michael Hall, and David Hall.

Don was a member of my extended family, a rare voice of reason in my family's discussion of politics, and a charming, intelligent spirit who challenged those around him to seriously think about their lives. I last met with him three months ago, and he was brilliant.

It never ceased to amaze me that people like Don lived and worked in our community.

From Broadcasting and Cable:

TV Headhunter, Blogger Fitzpatrick Dies

Don Fitzpatrick, once one of TV's top headhunters and perhaps the industry's first blogger, died over the weekend. A longtime friend, Scott Tallal, says Fitzpatrick was found dead in his Alexandria, La. home shortly after being treated for intestinal bleeding at a local hospital.

Fitzpartrick's primary business was as a recruiter for local-TV news talent. Based in San Franciso, Don Fitzpatrick Associates (DFA) was pivotal in helping TV journalists land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks. "Don guided the careers of thousands of people in the industry," says Tallal, president of research firm Insite Media Research.

Tallal recalled Fitzpatrick's earliest days as a headhunter trying to build a tape library of talent from TV stations. Fitzpatrick outfitted an RV with 3/4-inch video recorders and would drive around the country, stopping in at a market to tape the newscasts of all the stations, then moving on to the next. The tapes would be copied and edited so clients could be sent a sample of, say, 20 female anchors.

Fitzpatrick was also blogging on TV years before it became a verb, and indeed years before there was a World Wide Web. In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and a forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Each day, he would digest articles on TV from various newspapers and magazines around the country, focusing primarily on stations. Later, the project morphed to the Web and became TvSpy.com. Fitzpatrick sold TVSpy to job Web site The Vault and closed DFA in 1999.

“Don Fitzpatrick was a friend to so many of us in the industry and will be sorely missed,” said Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran. “His knowledge of the industry was encyclopedic, and he shared his insights generously. All of us at RTNDA will miss him very much.”

RTNDA gave Fitzpatrick its John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for service to the industry. Fitzpatrick’s funeral will be in Alexandria, said RTNDA, tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 21.

Previous winners of the John F. Hogan:

  • 1959 Frank Stanton
  • 1962 David Sarnoff
  • 1963 Mitchell Charnley
  • 1964 Robert Kintner
  • 1967 Ted Yates
  • 1971 Charlie Edwards
  • 1974 Gordon Sinclair
  • 1978 Barney Oldfield
  • 1979 Rob Downey
  • 1980 John Salisbury
  • 1981 Len Allen
  • 1983 Sig Mickelson
  • 1984 Paul Davis
  • 1985 Ron Laidlaw
  • 1986 Robert Byrd, Mark Fowler
  • 1987 Malvin Goode, J. Laurent Scharff
  • 1988 Vernon Stone
  • 1989 Gordon Manning, Dick Yoakam
  • 1991 Brian Lamb, Ed Godfrey, Bob Packwood, John Spain
  • 1992 Terry Anderson
  • 1996 Sherlee Barish
  • 1997 Walter Cronkite
  • 1999 Hugh Downs
  • 2000 Stanley S. Hubbard, Jack Shelley
  • 2005 Don Fitzpatrick
|W|P|114559596360089598|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 07:48:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Broken News: "Hobbs Says Randoph Should Retire"... Or "Hobbs Gossips About Mayor's Mental Capacity"... Or "Hobbs Shoots Himself In Foot By Making Divisive, Inappropriate, and Unsubstantied Remark About Retiring Mayor"... Or "This Is The Reason People Do Not Consider Councilman Everett Hobbs To Be An Honest Man"... Or "What The Hell Was Hobbs Thinking? Didn't He Realize Who He Was Talking To? I Mean, Seriously, Didn't Hobbs Realize This Would Be In The Paper? Didn't He Understand They'd Report His Remarks As 'Breaking News?' Didn't He Recognize That He Had No Factual Claim With Which To Back Up His Incendiary Statement?" Billy Gunn writes:

Alexandria Councilman Everett Hobbs says Mayor Ned Randolph should consider resigning the office he has held since 1986.

“If the mayor can’t perform his duties, he needs to step down,” Hobbs said, alluding to an illness he said Randolph might have that prevents him from fulfilling his mayoral duties. Randolph, who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a sixth term, denied today that he suffers from or has been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. “No, absolutely not,” said Randolph, who will relinquish his office in December after the election this fall. He said he would not resign. Hobbs’ comments today, made in a telephone interview with The Town Talk, followed allegations he made at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, where he said three aides close to Randolph were making the decisions, not the mayor.

For more on this story, please see Thursday's Town Talk or visit this Web site Thursday.

Lamar, for one, can't wait for the full story.|W|P|114558854570198426|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 05:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Revision: The "New" New TT Column:

In early March, I discovered a veritable gold mine of news and information about Central Louisiana, a weblog that calls itself "Cenla Antics." A weblog or "blog" is essentially an online message board, typically constructed around a certain theme. In the case of Cenla Antics, people are encouraged to contribute anonymously. The title page reads, "Welcome to the Central Louisiana political revelations blog! Good or bad, Democrat, Republican, or Independent... all of the information we as concerned citizens need to know. One way to get it off your chest-- Anonymously!"

I recognize the benefits of posting your opinion anonymously. Cenla Antics currently has around 2,700 anonymously contributed entries. In many cases, anonymity allows people to reveal much more information than they normally would or could. Indeed, Cenla Antics is undoubtedly heavily populated with government employees and local government officials, and often, the information they reveal is sensitive. Anonymity allows them to ability to inform the public without jeopardizing their job. However, there are also numerous problems with this anonymous content. Much of it is petty, unsubstantiated, and mean-spirited gossip. There are also several instances of blatant political maneuvering and misinformation spun as fact.

After reading some particularly vicious and patently false statements about a certain local government official, I decided to address the Cenla Antics community. In doing so, I purposely broke the golden rule: I used my real name. Within an hour, responses began pouring in. The first response was from former City Councilman Rick Ranson, who also decided to break the rules and use his real name. Immediately, I realized that this blog is monitored by more people than I thought it was, and no doubt, many people in government use the blog as a legitimate source of information.

Throughout the next few days, I received a number of e-mails encouraging me to continue openly expressing my opinion. I also received an equal number of letters warning me about the perils of public exposure. I needed to consider my family, they said, and my business. People can be ruthless, especially when they're hiding under the cover of anonymity. There is no need to rehash some of the most egregious comments I received, but suffice it to say, Central Louisiana politics can be very volatile. Thankfully, I have learned to develop a thick skin, and I understand that personal attacks are the weapons of the pathetic. But the entire experience taught me something about Central Louisiana politics: It's much more entertaining when the real issue is obscured by gossip, innuendo, and long-winded rants on racism, religion, and morality. We hardly allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and engage the real issues, because we're either too distracted by personal politics or too hung-up debating issues of which we have very little control.

Last week, in an interview with The Town Talk, Martin Johnson said that our community needs "unity." Unity isn't just an abstraction or a hollow rhetorical device; it's real. Alexandria must look itself in the mirror, because we're currently suffering from an identity crisis.

Many people in our community have a tendency to separate issues along racial lines and political party lines. This, I believe, is a dangerously reductionistic worldview, and it hinders any progress that we could make. Alexandria is not just black and white, Republican and Democrat, Protestant and Catholic. We're quickly becoming a very diverse community, and although some people may not like this concept, it's a foregone conclusion. If you're not comfortable living around people of a different skin color or a different religious faith, you probably shouldn't be living in a city of over 50,000 people. At the same time, if politicians continue to rely on racially-charged rhetoric as a way of "bringing people together," then we're likely to be even more divided in the future.

I have this dream of real leadership in Alexandria. This is what it looks like: An intelligent, thoughtful mayor who understands how to build consensus and set realistic priorities (We may never realize how incredibly fortunate we were to have Mayor Randolph, an Ivy-League educated lawyer, at our city's helm for so many years) and a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. One possible solution to the conflicts of interest that continually plague members of our City Council is to make the position a full-time job. We're currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to do the research and the work that our City Council could perform if its members weren't beholden to their own personal business interests. Often, these consultants (in whatever form they may take) are business partners, relatives, or friends of Council members, and it's difficult for the public to accept that the Council is always fair with their determination of the best available candidate. Those of us who are paying close attention know that members of our Council, through both official and unofficial channels, have repeatedly appointed and nominated unqualified individuals into positions of importance. It's critical to note that this isn't anything new, and frankly, it has little to do with the individual members of the Council. The problem is with the way our government is organized.

I hope that every reader of The Town Talk will visit the Cenla Antics blog, located at cenlaantics.blogspot.com. Readers should also be aware of another Cenla political blog, Cenla Rambler, located at cenlarambler.blogspot.com . This is an election year, and it must be the responsibility of every citizen to stay informed of the issues. We must pay close attention to the daily news; sometimes the small decisions that are buried in the news end up making a huge impact on our daily lives. We must demand a real, substantive conversation about this election. We must hold our public officials accountable for their mistakes, and we must commend them for their accomplishments. We must recognize and embrace our diversity as a community, and we must reject any suggestion that our city "should" be run by a particular race. We must look forward to our future, and we must learn from the mistakes of our past. Finally, we must realize that Alexandria is not the quaint, small community that it once was and that any attempt to "return" to this era is ultimately futile. Alexandria is growing and expanding, and for this reason, we need intelligent, ethical, and compassionate leadership. We need individuals who are driven to serve because they want to improve their community, not their own bankroll. The best way to bring about unity, I believe, is by discussing our differences in an honest way. Let's take that first step.

|W|P|114557801718888108|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 07:47:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Occasionally, I like to read these reader's write debates between Christians and atheists, and today's TT features yet another installment of this neverending back and forth. At issue is an article that TT published a few weeks ago about a Harvard study that said prayer wasn't scientifically provable. The study refuted the findings of a seriously flawed Columbia University, which said prayer had an 11% success rate (basically something that ridiculous). Anyway, this guy, Gray Easterling, wrote into complain about how secular the TT is and how it should have never published that story and how the story served no purpose other than to insult the faithful. Blah. Take it like a man, I say. As Mr. Shaw's letter pointed out today, the TT publishes PLENTY of religion-friendly stories. Heck, they even have a Religion Section on Sundays. It's not as if the religious voice is being censored. Geez. The truth is that the story was not the TT's. It was an international news item that was featured in almost all of the major national newspapers and all of the major cable news networks. I think it was an important story, because, at the very least, it has the possibility of convincing one person to seek medical care for an illness or ailment instead of relying solely on prayer.|W|P|114554508150513318|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/19/2006 11:19:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Mr. Aymond made a couple of follow-up remarks on Cenla Antics, one in which he admitted to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan for three months back in the late 70s. Whoa. Interesting backstory to this whole thing. But still, Mr. Aymond's right: That has nothing to do with the current case. I, for one, am interested to hear these tapes, because, if they're as damning as Aymond claims, then this could expose a little cover-up going on across the river. Someone else said this today: "Anonymous said...

I've been thinking alot lately about the two elitist republican candidates in the mayor's race. Everytime I pull up to a gas station I think damn why do some people, a minority thank God, want to put one of these republicans in the mayor's seat? The prosperity in Rapides is no thanks to repubs., but the price of gasoline is directly related."

Yes, everyone knows that a good Democrat mayor would be able to fly over to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Dubai and convince them to lower the price of gasoline in Rapides Parish.

Are you serious? I'm a liberal (SHOCK), and even I recognize that you can't blame our LOCAL politicians on the price of GASOLINE. Plus, party lines hardly matter on the local level. If you really want to blame a Republican, blame the President.

If that's what your party's platform ("Don't elect a Republican mayor! They're in control of gas prices!"), then you're dangerously ignorant.

|W|P|114547165587861930|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 07:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|An Editor's Copy of "Anonymous" Greg Aymond's Entry in Cenla Antics: (Disclaimer: I don't know Mr. Aymond, and I don't know the reasons I should care about this case. I'm sorry. I just couldn't help myself). Anonymous said...

I am Greg Aymond that everyone seems to have an opinion of. I am the Greg Aymond of which everyone seems to have an opinion. I sued Rich Dupre for slander, based 2 (two)separate and distinct acts of slander. First(,)he told a fellow board metting meeting thing I allegedly said in a meeting with Rich, in order to influence him to vote against me that morning. Not following you, Greg. He told a meeting board "thing"? What is a meeting board thing? The meeting never took place, as can be heard from my recording of my telephone conversation with Rich. Do you record all of your telephone conversations? Lawyers, gotta love 'em. Additionally, you can hear on that tape Rich Dupree (...you can hear Rich Dupree on that tape) telling me that my termination was political and in relation to the Roy Hebron matter, and had no reflections upon my legal ability. Almost a run-on sentence. No comma necessary. Yet approximately 2 (two) weeks later, he stated, also on tape and to a crowd of people, that my termination had nothing to do with Roy Hebron and that it was due to a lack of confidence in my legal abilities. You can also hear Dupree on tape, however, requesting that I continue to handle the ongoing litigation for the Water District. The Water District has, thus far, provided Dupree with legal defense in my lawsuit, although he had been removed from the Water Board by the Police Jury before the suit had been filed. Additionally, after the suit was filed, Pineville City Attorney, Jimmy Fairclothe, (Is this the correct spelling?) send (sent)me a letter denying me contact with the witness, Thurman Kelly of Pineville. With all due respect, there has to be something you're not telling the reader. Try revealing something about the narrator. Additionally, the Waterworks attorney, Greg Jones, posted memos to the Water District staff they they (that they)could not diiscuss (discuss) the Dupree case with me. When the 971 motion was filed by Dupree, it immediately stops the taking of depositions and requires the submission of affidavits. As there was no way I could obtain affidavits from the witnesses, (no comma necessary) and much of the evidence is on recorded tapes and in documents only available from the Waterworks, I filed a motion for discovery, as is allowed by 971. Wordy. Try splitting this sentence into two sentences.Article 971 states that there is to be an evidentiary hearing on that discovery motion. However, after sending subpoenas out for a showing of how I had been denied the ability to obtain affidavits, (no comma necessary) and Mr. Jones admitting to Judge Jackson in chambers that he had so instructed the waterworks employees, Judge Jackson dismissed my entirte (entire) case, and without granting me the hearing required by 971. I was also ordered to pay the attorney fees of Dupree and all court costs. To clarify, there has never been a hearing on the merits of my claims. No court of law has ever heard the Dupree tapes. Is it possible that these tapes were recorded illegally? I'm missing a part of the story here. Explain to your reader why the law is in your favor. There was a 3 (All numbers under 100 should be spelled in letters; three) judge panel on the court of appeal (proper noun) who decided the appeal, in a 2 (two) to 1 (one) split. Based upon the strong dissent in my favor, a (scratch the lonely a) I am considering requesting a re-hearing (one word, rehearing)before the entire appellate court. Depending upon that outcome, I will consider applying for writs to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Several things one should consider are: Why haven't any of the people I have been reporting for wrongdoing sued me? Perhaps because they know truth is an absolute defense. Perhaps they're not threatened by you and don't want anything from you. The narrator should extend more empathy toward his advisary in order to make the story more believable. As an attorney for 20 (twenty)years, I am careful in saying only what I can prove. Additionally, why is someone allegedly honest (Honest should be in quotations. Otherwise the sentence reads like, "...allegedly honest working) working so hard to stop a court of law from hearing his own words captured on tape? Do I have an ongoing vendetta? Yes I do. I will continue to vigorously work to expose lawbreakers and public officials who act contrary to serving the public. (The public? What does this case really have to do with the public?)As to the Anonomous (Anonymous) writer who said such bitter things against me here, I suspect that is Waterboard member Roger Toney, as he has never learned that my surname has no "s" on the end. (You better hope you're right Mr. Aymond. Otherwise you may have just committed libel).Keep in mind, if it is, Roger, (,if it is Roger,) as have other Board members, has already been found to be unethical by the State Ethics Board. Anyone who doesn't belive (believe) me, feel free to contact my office to hear and see the truth. Just direct the reader to a website. It'd make you much more believable.I personally do not understand how any American citizen can support witholding (withholding) evidence and the truth. Thank you. No, thank you.

|W|P|114541574473748082|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 06:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|The Number One Reason People Do Not Pay Their Rent: Their Utility Bill. And many of these people (the honest ones) can either pay for power and try to convince their landlord to give them an extension on rent or pay their rent and hope the city doesn't cut off their power. Property Managers (and/or "Landlords") can only give residents a certain amount of time before they have to file for eviction. I've been to a few of these proceedings, and suffice it to say, the city probably makes a good bit of money on eviction cases (or someone does). What does this mean? In many cases, the high price of utilities is causing people to lose their homes. (You could attempt to argue that it's the "high" price of rent, but that'd be totally bogus in Alexandria, where rents haven't significantly increased in at least eight years. In fact, Alexandria is probably way below market, considering the current demand is substantially higher than our supply). The city may have ways of solving this problem in the future, but the damage that has already been done is irreparable. They should focus on cutting energy costs however than can and increasing efficiency; then, we could pass the savings back to the consumer. But for now, a utility bill is a utility bill, and if it's not paid, your power is turned off. We don't need to refund. We need to reduce.|W|P|114541121555319187|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 09:49:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Score One for the Town Talk! In today's issue, the paper slams the Pineville City Council for endorsing H.B. 8, a ridiculous piece of legislation that whines about spending advertisement money with certain newspapers in certain communities. There are a number of problems with this stupid bill (and it doesn't surprise me that our elected officials here in Alexandria endorsed the bill without checking the facts). From the article: "

The truth is that legal advertising -- "the legals," as they are known -- are state-mandated public notices that tell taxpayers all kinds of things that are important to them, their families, their neighbors and their future, such as:

 When the school board will vote on a plan to change the attendance zone for the schools your children attend.

 How much you'll be on the hook for if a town, airport authority or sewer district borrows millions to build the flavor-of-the-day project.

 Whether a planning commission will rezeone the property next to your house so someone can build a ... well, we'll let you fill in the blank.

The truth is that there are sound reasons why state law requires government bodies to publish notices about the public's business where people can find them easily and where a third party can prove that the notices were, in fact, published.

That place, historically and appropriately, has been in a community's daily newspaper. In this case, that means The Town Talk."

This seems like dirty politics, and I think they're underestimating the Town Talk's ability to shift opinion.

Keep up the good work.

|W|P|114538211783717332|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/16/2006 12:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Dean's Side of the Story (Or Step Into His Shoes For Just a Second): Disclaimer: My thoughts on the Hotel Bentley are based on personal encounters and conversations with members of local government, local business leaders, and associates and employees of Bob Dean Classic Properties. Don't read too much into this. I am not aware of any deal or offer on the hotel; I simply asked questions. (Anyone who wants to can find the e-mail addresses of the central players). In 1997, Bob Dean purchased the Hotel Bentley from an investment group in Baton Rouge. Dean, who was born and raised in Alexandria, wanted to own the hotel for sentimental reasons. His real estate portfolio includes some of the largest and most expensive commercial and residential buildings in Louisiana, and the Bentley was just another purchase. To those who have heard rumors about Mr. Dean's alleged financial troubles, visit his website for a sampling of his real estate holdings. It's very common for people who own a lot of real estate to constantly buy and sell property, and it often has little to do with their finances; it's just the way they like to play the real estate game. Mr. Dean is apparently very passionate about restoring historic property, and after he purchased the Bentley, he spent a considerable amount of money on cosmetic repairs and embellishments. Dean, like many people who invest in downtowns, was given many incentives by the government, on both the local and the federal levels. He was also encouraged by promises of convention business; he was told that the city would be increasing the number and variety of conventions. In the hotel business, you can't magically create guests; you're reliant on the city to attract visitors. The city's ability to attract conventions has a direct correlation to the profitability of your business. Dean bought the hotel in 1997, and if you recall, the city was spending a lot of money and time on downtown revitalization. We were talking a good game. There was even a downtown plan that was enacted. But soon, a new City Council was elected, and well, their practices and modus operandi are well documented already (though we could always use more information). In the words of one prominent local businessperson, "People are afraid of the Bentley because the owner must be beholden to the City Council for tax incentives in exchange of under the table kickbacks." Nowhere is this most evident than with the hotel across the street from the Bentley, the Holiday Inn. Real estate investors often have to play the political game, but there is an "Alexandria way of doing things," as it has been described to me from successful developers throughout the state. In other words, there seem to be groups or factions of people who have laid claim to certain areas of town, downtown being one of them, and if you plan on building, restoring, or developing in Alexandria, you have to be sure to include certain people in on the deal. This isn't necessarily "illegal;" most of the time, certain individuals filter their "investments" through secondary and tertiary means. But it's definitely not lucrative. It means that an historic hotel, like the Bentley, will continually struggle, because too many people somehow feel entitled to the hotel's profits. Bob Dean acted alone. He bought the hotel, and in doing so, he supplied 125 jobs to the local economy. He was an outsider. Although he is originally from Alexandria, he lives and works in Baton Rouge. When the hotel shut its doors, our immediate inclination as a community was to blame the owner and the management. But what if it's not the fault of ownership or management? What if our community and our government are to blame? What if the "Alexandria way of doing things" creates an impossible situation for people who really want to make a difference here? After all, if Mr. Dean is truly such a terrible person, why would he invest so much of his own money on the hotel? Honestly. I suspect that there is a lot to this story that will never be reported, primarily because Mr. Dean's business records are proprietary, and he has the right to keep them private. But I also feel like he's been painted unfairly. And if we're really going to get somewhere in our discussions about the future of our city and the future of our downtown, we should probably address the real reasons why it's almost impossible to run a profitable business downtown. I can't know this for sure, but I suspect that Mr. Dean's demolition request was just a political manuever. I suspect that Mr. Dean would never really consider demolition, but that it was his way of reminding our government that he owned the hotel, not them. Oh... and what of the stories about how he "raped" the hotel of its fixtures? It seems to me that he removed the fixtures most prone to vandalism (the stained glass and the chandeliers). From what I understand, any trade fixtures removed from the hotel (that is considered a part of the hotel's trade) must be returned. If you owned a hotel and you had to close it because it wasn't making any money, wouldn't it be smart to remove some of the hotel's valuable fixtures while it's vacant? One of the reasons for the one-sidedness of this whole story is that Dean doesn't talk to the press. We hear the city's side of the story, but we never hear his. And it's his right to stay silent. I have never personally met Mr. Dean, but I have a strong feeling that he could give a great testimonial on the woes of doing big business in Alexandria. What is the solution to all of this? I think Martin Johnson was right when he said our community needs unity. Number one. We also need full transparency from our government. We need a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. And we need to ensure that businesses who invest in our community are not afraid of working with our government.|W|P|114522026417311392|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/15/2006 04:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Another Rebuttal to the Notion that Hollywood Isn't Interested in Marketing Christian Films "

There's also money. The literary world has been reaping profits for decades with religious fare. The biblical "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, for example, have racked up sales of more than $650 million and spawned four movies.

But it wasn't until "Passion" arrived in theaters in February 2004 that major studios saw their own stairway to financial heaven.

Before Mel Gibson's telling of the Crucifixion, "we all knew we had a lot to learn about this market, which was obviously underserved," says Steve Feldstein of 20th Century Fox's new division, Fox Faith.

The department markets the studio's DVDs and feature films to hundreds of pastors nationwide. The studio offers churches trailers, posters and even Bible study guides for its Christian-based home videos.

As "Passion" marched to more than $370 million in North America, "it gave us all our MBA's pretty quickly," Feldstein says. Executives discovered that a thumbs-up from a pastor could go further than from a film critic and that word of mouth spreads pretty quickly in a church, he says. "For many families, church isn't just somewhere you go to pray," he says. "It's a social venue. There's more opportunity for discussion of things beyond just faith.""

See, the funny thing about this discussion is that it proves, to me at least, how fundamentalists spin the facts in order to make religion seem more oppressed and denigrated than it really is.

|W|P|114514343387000242|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 04:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Liberals taking over Natchitoches? Have you been to Natchitoches recently? It's rockin'!

If the anti-religious, anti-conservative musings of Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw represent the prevailing philosophy of Natchitoches Parish, Alexandria is on the verge of being toppled as Central Louisiana's capital of liberalism. I love this fundamentalist device: If you write anything that criticizes (or even analyzes) their worldview, you're suddenly anti-religious. It's as if this writer myopically believes her religion is the only religion in the world.

Also, this is a really weak argument: IF Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw REPRESENT a "prevailing" PHILOSOPHY, then Alexandria is on the VERGE of being toppled?? What?? And if they don't represent the prevailing philosophy, then your entire letter is for naught.

Shaw attacked a conservative who expressed an opinion in these pages concerning the release of the new movie "The Da Vinci Code." He decried another writer who praised a conservative columnist, stating that what one means when one says "that another has 'common sense' is that the other holds the same opinions and world view as the speaker." Decried? Attacked? And look: You're saying the same thing that Mr. Shaw was decrying. Your concept of common sense is also tied into your worldview. Shaw's naïve version of an America where the absolute freedom of expression and the unbridled exchange of ideas flourish indicates that the status quo in the public square makes "sense" to him because it represents his own world view. There is no equality in Hollywood. The individual consumer is not driving the market place. Despite the fact that "The Passion of the Christ" has been seen by more people than all of the liberal, preachy films nominated for the Academy Award for best picture combined, there will be no glut of pro-religious movies next year. No matter that "The Chronicles of Narnia" will out-perform the R-rated barrage of movies dumped onto the American consumer; there will be no rush to produce wholesome, family-friendly films. Now, we move onto the Hollywood argument, and you defeat yourself here. You're telling us that the individual consumer doesn't "drive" the market place. AND THEN you're reminding us that two of the most successful movies in the past three years are Christian-themed. Thanks. I suppose that these major studio, world-wide releases that have collectively grossed BILLIONS of dollars represent the "good" part of Hollywood... and have nothing to do with its acknowledgment of the profitability of Christian stories. Same thing with those LifeWay stores. And the Trinity Broadcasting Network. They're GOOD capitalists who play by the EXACT same rules in the EXACT same markets the bad capitalists play in.

Like an unruly tyrant, Hollywood dictates what America is allowed to choose for entertainment. Movie producers have the right to produce films that represent their world view if they desire, but, by the same token, movie theater owners should have the right to show the films they choose as well. They should not be obligated to demonstrate what some would consider "neutrality" when the producers are certainly not responding to the desires of the American people. There is nothing wrong with conservatives expressing their ideas, just as liberals like Mr. Shaw are allowed to do, in an attempt to sway public opinion.

Conservatives control the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and the Congress. Conservatives own major news networks and entertainment companies. And yet you somehow believe that conservatives don't have the opportunity to express their opinion. WHAT? WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE ON? Instead of attacking specific Christians, Richard Taylor went right to the source, calling the divine writings of the Bible "barbaric theology." Atheists use the same tactic, pointing to the dark moments in history when men destroyed one another in the name of religion. Is this a fair assessment of Mr. Taylor's argument? These anti-Bible "experts" never give the statistics of how many murders never took place because of the moral foundation, given to men through religious belief, which prevents us from acting on our hatred, anger and wicked desires. Western Civilization is built upon the holy Bible, which states "Thou shall not kill." What sort of liberal brew are they drinking in Natchitoches these days? Let's hear from some conservatives over there, if there are any left. Statistics on how many murders NEVER took place? Whhhaaaa??? Are you kidding me? How could that possibly be quantifiable? They may be drinking a liberal brew, ma'am, but you're the one who seems completely drunk.

Eddie Thompson, Jena

|W|P|114505869487019863|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 03:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| In From the Night: Premiering Sunday, April 23 on CBS. Five years ago, I enrolled in a personal essay class at Rice University. The instructor, Dr. Marsha Recknagel was a Louisiana native, and at the time, Dr. Recknagel was finishing her memoir, If Nights Could Talk. The memoir recounts Recknagel's strained relationship with her family and the experience of adopting her sixteen year old nephew, Jamie. Jamie shuffled through schools and hospitals before finally landing on Marsha's doorstep in Houston. It's a fantastic book, and it has received numerous accolades and awards, including an LA Times Notable Book of the Year award. Marsha was also on the shortlist for the Penn/Faulkner award. Next week, the movie, starring Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Hardin, will premiere on CBS, and I am attempting to spread the good news. Watch it! Get the family together! Tell them that the movie is about someone from Louisiana! In fact, the whole family is from Louisiana! Shreveport, to be precise. Marsha is one of my best friends in the world, and until recently, she's been reluctant to tell people that this movie is about her. But she's finally giving the okay... and I promised her I'd help promote it. If anyone has any questions for Marsha, feel free to send them to me... and I'll forward them over to her. It's really rare that someone you know has a movie made about their life. It's even more rare when this someone is your mentor and one of your best friends. Almost every word of the movie is lifted directly from the pages of her book. I promise: You won't be disappointed. |W|P|114505379624847564|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 01:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I sent this to the TT for publication: About a month ago, I stumbled across a veritable gold mine of information and news on Central Louisiana, a blog that called itself “Cenla Antics.” Although the blog had been in operation since October of 2005, its existence was only known to a handful of people, most of whom contributed to the site regularly and anonymously. The blog covered a variety of issues, and I found that it served as an interestering cultural and political barometer. It also became obvious to me that many of these anonymous contributors were people with an inside knowledge of local government. I suspect that there are even local government officials who anonymously contributed to this blog. Although I found it frustrating that the vast majority of contributors cloaked themselves in anonymity, it was hard for me to ignore the wealth of insight they provided. I decided to join in the discussion, using my real name and expressing my real opinions. As a result, I received a fair amount of attention. When I questioned why most people chose to remain anonymous, one blogger who calls himself “Civil Sentient” said, “You should know that people that work in government cannot speak their mind on open forums without a very real danger of loosing their jobs.” In other words, the individuals with the most insight into the innerworkings of our local government cannot openly express their experience without fear of reprisal. There are countless stories that The Town Talk could publish, if it only had a legitmate source who would go on the record. Indeed, I have learned, throughout the past month, that most of us in Central Louisiana are woefully uninformed about the true nature of our government and the ways in which government develops lucrative partnerships witth private industry. Often, these partnerships are not in the best interest of the community; they exist solely to funnel tax dollars to private citizens connected by friendship or family to government officials. In Louisiana, this system of entitlement is known as “the good ol’ boy network,” and we have been conditioned to accept this as a basic fact of government. However, this dynamic is the definition of government corruption, and it should be the responsibility of the press to expose these violations of the public trust, regardless of who is in power. The Town Talk should be actively pursuing sources with this inside information, exchanging their testimony with the promise of anonymity. This is standard practice for newspapers in larger cities, and there is no reason it would not be effective in Central Louisiana. After all, most of these people are already speaking their mind in the blogosphere. I decided to create my own blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com, in order to give myself a venue to express my personal take on the news. Currently, my blog receives between 100 and 150 unique visits per day, and this, I believe, is a testament to the number of people who are actively engaged in our community. My blog has allowed me to learn information that I would otherwise never know, and it has awakened a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope for the future of our community. I believe in the old adage, “The truth shall set you free,” and I know that there are good, honest people serving our community who are repulsed by the good ol’ boy mentality. There are a handful of blogs that focus on Central Louisiana, and I encourage readers of The Town Talk to peruse these sites: cenlaantics.blogspot.com, cenlarambler.blogspot.com, wesawthat.blogspot.com, and of course, my personal blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com.|W|P|114504530241822954|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 08:23:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Dear Readers, I have created an alternative to the Cenla Antics blog that allows easy navigation and a quick download. The discussion will be unmoderated, and bloggers can categorize their entries by subject matter. Check out cenlarambler.blogspot.com and make it your new home. cenlarambler.blogspot.com That's cenlarambler.blogspot.com Let's talk, Lamar|W|P|114498524437754707|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 04:14:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I'm sure we all want to know more about this Cleco energy trader who is suing for wrongful termination. From the TT: "John Curley, who has been in a wheelchair since he was 18, alleges in a lawsuit filed in 9th Judicial District Court that Cleco orchestrated a series of humiliations designed to force him to quit." This series of humiliations allegedly includes an illegal trade order from a supervisor. In the meantime, here's a year old story about Louisiana College. Just reminding everyone how lopsided this truly is. For those of you who think the opposition comes from the "extreme left," consider this:

PINEVILLE, La. (ABP) - Trustees of embattled Louisiana College will meet Jan. 17 to try again to elect a president, but they likely will be sued to prevent him from taking office. Aguillard's opinion that this is a "sacred calling" makes me wonder if he also believes he's being "persecuted" because of his beliefs. It's a great rhetorical position, because, like I said earlier, it allows one to feel like they are both the victor and the victim.

Joe Aguillard, 47, a conservative professor and chair of the education division at the Louisiana Baptist school, will be nominated as president Jan. 17, trustee chair Timothy Johnson announced Jan. 6. One year and three months later, this calling finally became a reality.

Critics say Aguillard's nomination - and likely election - are in violation of the school's bylaws because the committee nominating him was illegally appointed. A group of school alumni and supporters plan to file a lawsuit Jan. 11 to stop the election.

The committee was ILLEGALLY appointed. Sure, they make their own laws as they feel necessary, but it is important to point out that this Board of Trustees are perhaps more controversial than Aguillard. Meanwhile, the college's faculty voted 53-12 to oppose the nomination of Aguillard, their faculty colleague, to become president. You read that correctly. 53 to 12! That's an OVERWHELMING majority. I suppose the Board, due to their direct connection to God and His Divine Plan, care very little for the democratic process or the opinions of the men and women who have built their careers around Louisiana College.

The school has been in turmoil for more than a year after fundamentalists gained control of the trustee board. After a dispute over textbook and faculty-election policies, the college's president, chief academic administrator and trustee chair resigned. Remember this absolutely insane story? They BANNED Ernest Gaines's "A Lesson Before Dying" and Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled." Remember? These people are dangerously ignorant.

In December the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the college on probation - one step short of withdrawing accreditation - for violating the association's standards for academic freedom and proper governance, saying trustees were unduly influenced by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship. Someone wrote in and said that LC was no longer in jeopardy of losing accreditation. I have news for you: Yes it is. It's obvious these people have no concept of academic freedom. (Look at today's story in the TT). They may have been taken off of probation, but that doesn't mean it can't happen again.

The crisis deepened after Texas educator Malcolm Yarnell suddenly withdrew as president Nov. 23 - two months after his election but before taking office - citing "governance issues." I'm interested in knowing more about these "governance issues."

The search committee wanted to nominate as president Stan Norman, a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who had been the committee's second choice. But trustee officers, who reportedly preferred Aguillard, responded by trying to expand the search committee to add more conservatives or dismiss the original committee. Wow! The Trustees didn't care who the Search Committee selected; they had their man... and if you second guessed them, well, you were second guessing the WILL OF GOD.

Aguillard supporters say the original committee's power expired when Yarnell was elected president. But members of the original committee insist no contract was ever signed with Yarnell and the bylaws require them to remain in place until a president is hired. Either way, it's a technicality, and Aguillard was not the first choice of the search committee or the faculty. I'm not really sure why he wants the gig so much.

Trustee leaders held a press conference Jan. 6 to announce the trustee board will vote on Aguillard, an LC education professor for the past four years and former school board superintendent.

"The board has placed his name for nomination and it was referred to a special committee charged with bringing his name back before the board for a full up or down vote," trustee chair Johnson said in a prepared statement. "This is not a circumvention of the process but rather a part of the process afforded the board in our bylaws." No, it's a circumvention and an abuse of power in an attempt to squash dissent. It's OBVIOUS.

Johnson said he sought an opinion from the parliamentarian of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which appoints trustees. "In his opinion, and according to Robert's Rules [of Order], this [special] committee is valid, was duly formed, and is appropriately charged with bringing Dr. Aguillard's name before the board - with or without recommendation," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been prepared and a temporary restraining order will be requested to block the Jan. 17 election, Stan Lott of Pineville, a retiring professor at Louisiana College, told Associated Baptist Press.

According to Lott, former vice president for academic affairs, an attorney who serves on the board said the trustees violated their own bylaws by dismissing the original committee. "Once [the board] specifies who is on the search committee, it is to stay in place until a president is found," Lott said. That's exactly right. You can't just appoint an independent committee and then refuse to hold up your end of the agreement. Those people wasted all of that time and energy for nothing. Yet another example of how these people don't understand academic freedom.

Lott said he met with a group of attorneys to discuss legal action. "We decided the only recourse left for people concerned about the college is through the courts."

Lott said the group, which is enlisting other plaintiffs, hopes to file the suit by Jan. 11, alleging the trustees have caused "irreparable damage to the school." I really hope this damage is not irreparable.

"Even conservatives [among Louisiana Baptists] are really disturbed by what these Taliban trustees are doing," Lott said. "They are continuing to recklessly ignore accreditation, and if it continues, they will have accreditation withdrawn."

Trustee chair Johnson defended the board's action and called Aguillard "a top-notch educator who is theologically sound." He added the professor is "a man of integrity, internationally recognized scholarship, sterling character and unequaled leadership." Remind me again: When was Dr. Aguillard's scholarship recognized INTERNATIONALLY?

Lott disagreed. "He has neither the education nor the experience to serve as president of Louisiana College. He is a fundamentalist to the core." Yeah. Four years as a professor and sixteen years in one of the worst public school districts in the country does not impress me.

Aguillard, a Louisiana native, received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana College, two master's degrees from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., and a doctorate of education from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

He held a number of administrative positions with the Beauregard Parish School Board between 1984 and 2000, rising eventually to superintendent, before taking his current position with Louisiana College.

|W|P|114497300111485763|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P||W|P|114494625811803387|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|One of the Reasons Why LC Won't Be the "Best Liberal Arts School in the State:" The Biography of Centenary College's President, Kenneth Schwab: Appointed the 28th President of Centenary College in 1991, Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab is also a tenured professor in the Department of Education. He and his wife, Pat, have three sons (Kempten, Carlton, and Christopher) who have all played soccer and helped raise the family's two Jack Russell Terriers. He comes most recently from the University of South Carolina where he served as Executive Vice President for Administration. Dr. Schwab hails originally from Indiana where he received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1969. He then earned his master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1972 and his doctorate in higher education administration at Indiana University in 1978. Dr. Pat Schwab received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and then studied developmental and remedial reading at the University of Southern Mississippi, receiving her doctorate in curriculum and instruction there in 1971. She has taught education courses, served in university administration, published on the craft of reading, and worked in curriculum development for 25 years. A faithful contributor to the college community, Pat Schwab has actively supported Centenary as well. Dr. Schwab teaches a course at Centenary every year while supervising student teachers in Caddo and Bossier Parishes. She also hosts receptions and other occasions often at the Schwab home, including dinners each fall for all new first-year Centenary students. Under President Schwab’s leadership at Centenary, The Vision for the Future comprehensive campaign raised over $100 million for the college. This amount exceeded the original target by $30 million, enabling residence hall, fitness center, athletic facilities, and arts complex renovations. Involvement with Centenary students has been integral to President Schwab throughout his tenure here. Centenary’s First-Year Experience program saw him as an instructor during Spring 2003 when he team-taught Aristotle and water management, among other topics. He also recently traveled with the internationally renowned Centenary College Choir to Europe, Brazil, and South Africa. A recent participant in the Salzburg Seminar sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Chair of the Associated Colleges of the South Board of Directors, Dr. Schwab has also published a book, numerous articles, and several institutional planning documents regarding presidential leadership and transformational change. Dr. Schwab serves on the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana Board and AmSouth Bank’s Shreveport-Bossier Advisory Board. Dr. Schwab also maintains membership in Omicron Delta Kappa and actively participates on Centenary’s behalf in many other local and national organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.|W|P|114494619095869345|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:27:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Reposted comment for clarification purposes: To the LC professor: What are you talking about? Slanderous ramblings? SLANDEROUS? With all due respect, sir or madam, do you know the meaning of the word slander or are you simply hyperbolizing in order to make your point? That is a serious accusation. Where, I ask, did I committ the crime of slander? Professor, you should know that there is a difference between satire and slander. I do not know the man personally, and I am not attempting to make a value judgment of his character. I am simply reading what has been supplied to me, and these are the facts:1. Dr. Aguillard's "doctorate" degree is in organizational leadership and diversity training.2. His belief that this position is a "sacred calling" precludes any argument against him. It puts those who do not agree with him in a morally indefensible situation.3. THESE ARE HIS WORDS! I didn't make this up. 4. His C.V. (or at least the summary of it) does very little to address how and why he is the most qualified person to steward a liberal arts college.5. His three-fold concept of the academy and his magical treasure chest musings are antithetical to the concept of the academy. The academy is founded on the concept of the OPEN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. If a college and its dean purport to change the basic underpinnings of the academy, they are announcing a paradigm shift in their pedagogy. I am sorry that you lost confidence in me, but I don't require the confidence of an apologetic LC professor who stands idly by while his school is overtaken by religious fundamentalists. If I can't use a man's words and his experience as a guidepost for WHO he is, then what can I use? By the way, go ahead and say what you want to about my family and its vices. I promise you: You wouldn't be the first person to judge my family on a public forum. (By the way, that's another thing that gets me. I NEVER said anything negative about his family. He is in a leadership position and deserves the full scrutiny of the public. Also, I OBVIOUSLY care deeply about the future of LC. Why else would I waste my energy and expose myself to attack from those entrenched in his administration?)|W|P|114494572540499030|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/12/2006 07:08:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|"Unchanging Foundations in Changing Times" The Inauguration of President Joe Aguillard. Lifted from the pages of the program: President Joe Aguillard In January of 2005, Dr. Joe Aguillard was named Louisiana College's eighth president by the Board of Trustees. He assumed the duties of the office immediately and has been working tirelessly for his alma mater ever since. It sure seems like it took a long time to finally make this official. Perhaps this has something to do with that lawsuit. He is only the second alumnus of Louisiana College to serve as the school's president, following in the footsteps of the late Dr. G. Earl Guinn. I don't know who Dr. Guinn was, but I'm not sure Dr. Aguillard is following in anyone's footsteps. He seems to be blazing his own trail. Dr. Aguillard has been on faculty at Louisiana College since 2000, but his personal history with the College is a long and storied one. Both of Aguillard's parents attended Louisiana College and met at the liberal arts school. He and his wife met at Louisiana College, and all three of their daughters have attended their parent's alma mater. That TOTALLY makes him qualified! "My ties are very deep and very entwined with Louisiana College," Dr. Aguillard says. "The position is a sacred calling for me, and I will make decisions and guard my actions knowing that my work here is far beyond a career move." A sacred calling??? So God called him up and told him to become the Dean of LC? So God= The LC Board of Trustees? Holding an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Aguillard and also holds two McNeese State University master's degrees and his bachelor's degree from Louisiana College. Prior to joining the Louisiana College faculty, he was the Superintendent of Schools of Beauregard Parish. Let's do a little fact finding. What, you ask, is an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University? From the program's website:

The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program has been created to assist adult learners to meet both current and future leadership challenges facing their organizations. This program has been designed to address the needs of practitioners by linking theory to the best practices of leadership. The program is based on the conviction that contemporary leaders must learn to lead the change process so that services are effectively and efficiently delivered to an increasingly diverse population. Essentially, leaders must learn to lead change in the context of a turbulent economy and a rapidly developing technology for the 21st century.

The primary audience of this program will be individuals with background in human services, human resources, staff developers/trainers, military personnel, middle managers.

And the requirements of the degree are as follows:

Students must fulfill the following graduation requirements. 1. Attend Doctoral Student Orientation at NSU 2. Attend Summer Conference within the first year of admission into the program (required for all students entering as of fall 2004). 3. Attend and pass all core courses (30 credits) 4. Attend and pass all specialization courses (18 credits) - Please see the important announcement regarding the sunset of the DOL program. 5. Attend and pass all research courses (9 credits - Please see the important announcement regarding the phasing out of ARO courses.) 6. Successfully complete: -The applied dissertation seminar 1: concept paper (2 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 2: proposal (4 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 3: report (3 credits) 7. Be current in all tuition, fees, and miscellaneous charges (including books).

Total requirements: 66 credit hours (all requirements must be completed within five years from the date of the beginning of the term of entry).

Let me get this straight: They're calling this guy a doctor because he attended a FIVE YEAR LONG program for "adult" professionals (also known as "distance" or "continued" learning) who need leadership training because of the fast-paced world of "technology." Oh, and the guy got to learn what it is like to live in a world with a "diverse population."

How is he the most qualified person in the world? Did they even attempt to search for a dean? Or did they just promote another good ol' boy?

"Louisiana College stands in a unique position as an academic and spiritual 'Louisiana Treasure,'" Dr. Aguillard says. "With the full support of our alumni and Southern Baptist churches, our beloved LC will continue to grow in value as a gleaming treasure chest of opportunity for our children." Louisiana treasure? Treasure chest? Where's the rainbow? Dr. Aguillard has always a strong rapport with the student body. In 2004, he was named Professor of the Year, an award voted on by the student body at large. Look: Proof that students LOVE him. The Teacher Education Department, under Dr. Aguillard's leadership, received consistently high marks from the Louisiana Board of Regents, among others, and led the nation in percentage growth. He led a group of Louisiana College students in researching and writing the curriculum for the Heart of Spain art exhibit at the Alexandria Museum of Art in 2003. The curriculum was used by teachers and students throughout the world. This is just ridiculous. His claim to fame is assisting students in writing a curriculum for the Heart of Spain exhibit? Are you kidding me? His Teacher Education Department faculty adopted a conceptual framework relating to their Christian worldview that follows the Scripture, Ecclesiastes 4:12, which reads, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." The Department uses this conceptual framework to describe a dynamic educator. This framework encompasses Christian service, mastery of subject matter, and the attributes of a practioner teacher. Of the "three strands," two include being a Christian. "The greatest strength that Louisiana College has is that we are unashamed to declare that all power in heaven and earth lies with Jesus Christ," Dr. Aguillard says. "As we are able to plug into that power, there is nothing too hard to do or accomplish." Everyone knows that in order to be admitted into LC, students MUST declare their allegiance to Jesus Christ. It's just like every other "liberal arts" college in the world. "Education in the truest sense is none other than the development of the image of God that is planted in every human being," Dr. Aguillard says. I think Socrates said the same thing. Or was it Plato? No, no, no, it was David Koresh. Dr. Aguillard says he envisions a Louisiana College with higher enrollment, financial stability, academic excellence, and Biblical values. "This will be the greatest liberal arts college the state has ever seen," he says. I literally laughed out loud the first time I read this. Dr. Aguillard and his wife, Judy, have three daughters, Jill Reid, Julie, and Jodi. Jill's husband, Will Reid, is also an LC alumnus. Rock.|W|P|114489535173584417|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->
2. What is the number one problem facing Alexandria?
3. What is the single greatest accomplishment of the current City Council?
4. What is the biggest failure of the current City Council?
5. Recently, it was reported that Alexandria is suffering from a lack of skilled workers. What measures will you propose in order to solve this labor problem?
6. How will you (do you) balance your professional career with a political career?
7. It is also well-known that Alexandria suffers from a lack of affordable housing. What measures will you propose in order to solve this housing problem?
8. What is your vision for Downtown Alexandria?
9.There are many people here in Alexandria who must make a choice between paying their utility bill and paying their rent. How do you plan on solving the utilities crisis in Alexandria?
10. Why are you running for office?
11. What will you do differently?
12. What can our community do in order to ensure that Lower Third and South Alexandria are safe and clean?
13. If the city was suddenly awarded with $1 billion, how would you spend that money?
14. Who is your favorite musical artist?
15. Who is your political role model?
|W|P|114593155143152493|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/24/2006 03:46:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Upcoming: Questions and Answers with Councilman Myron Lawson and Dr. Alex Slatkin. Stay tuned for more information.|W|P|114591888146582037|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 02:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Reminder: Set your TiVo! "In From the Night," a movie based on the life of Louisiana writer and friend of mine, Marsha Recknagel, will be on CBS tonight at 8PM CST.|W|P|114582907569569155|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 01:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|More Evidence to Suggest We're All Insane in Central Louisiana (Or What Happens In The Country When An Escaped Murderer Is On The Run) The article that accompanied this picture also mentioned the use of heavy appliances as a way of securing property.|W|P|114582497252433234|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 10:36:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Three Cheers for Four Corners: Last night, Alex 1805, the new blues and jazz lounge located on the corner of 3rd and Desoto in Downtown Alexandria, held its first annual Caribbean Nights block party. From an anonymous writer in Cenla Antics: "Let's roll said...

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to whether or not Alexandria can be the shining city on a hill, you needed to be at the corner of 3rd and Desoto last night. I, for one, have gone from cautiously optimistic to frankly excited. We really are worth saving. Think about it."

Seriously, this is not an understatement. The turnout was amazing. Horatio promised free admission for people wearing white linen, and so everyone was decked out, including yours truly. I don't think I have ever seen an event quite like this here in Alexandria. Great music. Great food. I'm not sure how many people were there, but I'd guess that there were several hundred in and out throughout the night.

It not only proves that Alexandria can be the "shining city on a hill;" it was also an incredible display of unity for our city.

The Town Talk ran a great story about the success of the Arna Bontemps Jazz Concert... if they had only stuck around for a few more hours, they would have had the REAL story of the day: Downtown's coming back.

Now if we can just convince Horatio to run for office....

|W|P|114581469132407439|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/21/2006 11:45:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Michael D. Smith, born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana, was awarded with the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Michael writes, "The commission has decided to grant me the funding to observe contemparary synthesis in Newari and Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmadu Valley. I am humbled by the immense opportunity this affords me, and hope that it be of benefit to all." Congratulations to my friend Michael. We're all very proud of you back home, and we wish you an auspicious journey.|W|P|114568878515059516|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/21/2006 11:17:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Two unrelated issues: Louisiana College and Everett Hobbs. Louisiana College recently awarded Thomas Howell with the Professor of the Year Award (or whatever it is that they call it). The award is voted on by the student body, a majority of whom seem to think that Howell is the best damn professor they have. It's ashame that the Trustees are religious fundamentalists intent on making everyone conform to their narrow perception of the world. LC's Christian Commitment: "Administrators, faculty, and staff at Louisiana College will be persons who, in addition to other contractual obligations: 1. have received Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior, God, and King and personally affirm that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man, the Savior whose sacrificial death is the only means of forgiveness of sin, the King who rules over their lives and is making them righteous through His Spirit and His Word. 2. can articulate their faith in Christ to others, 3. are members of a local Christian church, faithfully worshipping Christ and serving Him through the church..." Then there's a phrase about being Christ-like with your every move and another one about abstaining from alcohol (just like Christ, the guy who turned water into wine). There's a statement about making sure your scholarship isn't "contrary" to their Southern Baptist manifesto. I think you get the idea. LC is now one of the worst colleges to teach at in the country. Professors are discouraged from practicing any lifestyle other than the one prescribed by the school (even when they're off-campus), and they're told what to think and what to teach their students. Why don't they just hand students a copy of the Bible and a copy of this Southern Baptist Mission 2000 manifesto, make them read it, give them a quiz on it after a few weeks, and then confer them with a degree? What's the point of taking a class like Biology or Philosophy or World Religion when professors are told to reduce everything down to Bible-talk? Next story: The funniest thing about that Everett Hobbs story was the C.F. Smith, Jr. quote: "I'm not saying nothing about that. I'm staying out of that. That's Everett," Smith said. "Those councilmen, they're elected," and they "have their say-so." So if he's NOT saying NOTHING about it, does that mean that he IS saying SOMETHING? Well, actually, he is saying something. He's saying that elected councilmen can have their say-so. I was probably wrong last night when I said "What was he thinking?" I don't think anyone gets "set-up" for a front page story. That said, I don't think Ned's going to step down... and I think Hobbs probably knows this... and I think this was a lame political manuever that can only serve to divide people even more... and for that reason, I hope that Mr. Hobbs will reconsider his statement and perhaps issue a retraction to his constituents. As if that could ever happen. If anything, the story proves how power hungry Councilman Hobbs and his cohorts truly are... to disparage a retiring mayor who has served with distinction for twenty years, to make claims on his mental capacity (and I know this isn't exactly breaking news)... but geez, couldn't this guy have a little dignity? One more remark: Yesterday, I went back and reread some of the letters and statements people made toward me after I first posted on Cenla Antics. Man, some of those people were REALLY mean, and I didn't even notice it at the time. I mean, I talked about it. But I never realized the extent of the anger. That said, thank you to WeSawThat, Scarlett, and Civil Sentient for being supportive. We're very fortunate to have smart people engaged in this discussion, and even if we don't all agree on the issues, at least you all have enough respect and integrity not to make things personal. Kudos. |W|P|114564554537996937|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 09:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Today, We Mourn A Great American George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr

Services for George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr. will be at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21, 2006, in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church with Rev. Msgr. Ronald Hoppe and Rev. Dan O'Connor officiating. Interment will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Pineville under the direction of John Kramer & Son. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr., 56, of Alexandria, died Monday, April 17, 2006, in his residence. He was born September 29, 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Gonzaga, Spokane, Washington with a Masters in Communications. He entered the field of journalism and later the field of television. In March 24, 2001 he received a lifetime membership in the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He also received the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to the Journalism profession, April 18, 2005. Don was preceded in death by his father, George Donald Fitzpatrick and his mother, Patricia Regan Fitzpatrick; paternal grandparents, George Bernard Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Anne Dressler Fitzpatrick and maternal grandparents John F. Regan and Rose Oldham Regan. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr, is survived by: his sisters, Erin Rhodes and her husband, John of Alexandria, LA; Betsy Belgard of Pineville, LA; his brother, Sean Fitzpatrick and wife Kim of Deville, LA and ten nieces and nephews. Friends are asked to call from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2006 and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at John Kramer & Son. A Christian Wake service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home. Pallbearers will be Mark Rosenthal, Thomas Swift, Freddy Revels, John Bowling, Michael Hall, and David Hall.

Don was a member of my extended family, a rare voice of reason in my family's discussion of politics, and a charming, intelligent spirit who challenged those around him to seriously think about their lives. I last met with him three months ago, and he was brilliant.

It never ceased to amaze me that people like Don lived and worked in our community.

From Broadcasting and Cable:

TV Headhunter, Blogger Fitzpatrick Dies

Don Fitzpatrick, once one of TV's top headhunters and perhaps the industry's first blogger, died over the weekend. A longtime friend, Scott Tallal, says Fitzpatrick was found dead in his Alexandria, La. home shortly after being treated for intestinal bleeding at a local hospital.

Fitzpartrick's primary business was as a recruiter for local-TV news talent. Based in San Franciso, Don Fitzpatrick Associates (DFA) was pivotal in helping TV journalists land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks. "Don guided the careers of thousands of people in the industry," says Tallal, president of research firm Insite Media Research.

Tallal recalled Fitzpatrick's earliest days as a headhunter trying to build a tape library of talent from TV stations. Fitzpatrick outfitted an RV with 3/4-inch video recorders and would drive around the country, stopping in at a market to tape the newscasts of all the stations, then moving on to the next. The tapes would be copied and edited so clients could be sent a sample of, say, 20 female anchors.

Fitzpatrick was also blogging on TV years before it became a verb, and indeed years before there was a World Wide Web. In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and a forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Each day, he would digest articles on TV from various newspapers and magazines around the country, focusing primarily on stations. Later, the project morphed to the Web and became TvSpy.com. Fitzpatrick sold TVSpy to job Web site The Vault and closed DFA in 1999.

“Don Fitzpatrick was a friend to so many of us in the industry and will be sorely missed,” said Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran. “His knowledge of the industry was encyclopedic, and he shared his insights generously. All of us at RTNDA will miss him very much.”

RTNDA gave Fitzpatrick its John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for service to the industry. Fitzpatrick’s funeral will be in Alexandria, said RTNDA, tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 21.

Previous winners of the John F. Hogan:

  • 1959 Frank Stanton
  • 1962 David Sarnoff
  • 1963 Mitchell Charnley
  • 1964 Robert Kintner
  • 1967 Ted Yates
  • 1971 Charlie Edwards
  • 1974 Gordon Sinclair
  • 1978 Barney Oldfield
  • 1979 Rob Downey
  • 1980 John Salisbury
  • 1981 Len Allen
  • 1983 Sig Mickelson
  • 1984 Paul Davis
  • 1985 Ron Laidlaw
  • 1986 Robert Byrd, Mark Fowler
  • 1987 Malvin Goode, J. Laurent Scharff
  • 1988 Vernon Stone
  • 1989 Gordon Manning, Dick Yoakam
  • 1991 Brian Lamb, Ed Godfrey, Bob Packwood, John Spain
  • 1992 Terry Anderson
  • 1996 Sherlee Barish
  • 1997 Walter Cronkite
  • 1999 Hugh Downs
  • 2000 Stanley S. Hubbard, Jack Shelley
  • 2005 Don Fitzpatrick
|W|P|114559596360089598|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 07:48:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Broken News: "Hobbs Says Randoph Should Retire"... Or "Hobbs Gossips About Mayor's Mental Capacity"... Or "Hobbs Shoots Himself In Foot By Making Divisive, Inappropriate, and Unsubstantied Remark About Retiring Mayor"... Or "This Is The Reason People Do Not Consider Councilman Everett Hobbs To Be An Honest Man"... Or "What The Hell Was Hobbs Thinking? Didn't He Realize Who He Was Talking To? I Mean, Seriously, Didn't Hobbs Realize This Would Be In The Paper? Didn't He Understand They'd Report His Remarks As 'Breaking News?' Didn't He Recognize That He Had No Factual Claim With Which To Back Up His Incendiary Statement?" Billy Gunn writes:

Alexandria Councilman Everett Hobbs says Mayor Ned Randolph should consider resigning the office he has held since 1986.

“If the mayor can’t perform his duties, he needs to step down,” Hobbs said, alluding to an illness he said Randolph might have that prevents him from fulfilling his mayoral duties. Randolph, who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a sixth term, denied today that he suffers from or has been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. “No, absolutely not,” said Randolph, who will relinquish his office in December after the election this fall. He said he would not resign. Hobbs’ comments today, made in a telephone interview with The Town Talk, followed allegations he made at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, where he said three aides close to Randolph were making the decisions, not the mayor.

For more on this story, please see Thursday's Town Talk or visit this Web site Thursday.

Lamar, for one, can't wait for the full story.|W|P|114558854570198426|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 05:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Revision: The "New" New TT Column:

In early March, I discovered a veritable gold mine of news and information about Central Louisiana, a weblog that calls itself "Cenla Antics." A weblog or "blog" is essentially an online message board, typically constructed around a certain theme. In the case of Cenla Antics, people are encouraged to contribute anonymously. The title page reads, "Welcome to the Central Louisiana political revelations blog! Good or bad, Democrat, Republican, or Independent... all of the information we as concerned citizens need to know. One way to get it off your chest-- Anonymously!"

I recognize the benefits of posting your opinion anonymously. Cenla Antics currently has around 2,700 anonymously contributed entries. In many cases, anonymity allows people to reveal much more information than they normally would or could. Indeed, Cenla Antics is undoubtedly heavily populated with government employees and local government officials, and often, the information they reveal is sensitive. Anonymity allows them to ability to inform the public without jeopardizing their job. However, there are also numerous problems with this anonymous content. Much of it is petty, unsubstantiated, and mean-spirited gossip. There are also several instances of blatant political maneuvering and misinformation spun as fact.

After reading some particularly vicious and patently false statements about a certain local government official, I decided to address the Cenla Antics community. In doing so, I purposely broke the golden rule: I used my real name. Within an hour, responses began pouring in. The first response was from former City Councilman Rick Ranson, who also decided to break the rules and use his real name. Immediately, I realized that this blog is monitored by more people than I thought it was, and no doubt, many people in government use the blog as a legitimate source of information.

Throughout the next few days, I received a number of e-mails encouraging me to continue openly expressing my opinion. I also received an equal number of letters warning me about the perils of public exposure. I needed to consider my family, they said, and my business. People can be ruthless, especially when they're hiding under the cover of anonymity. There is no need to rehash some of the most egregious comments I received, but suffice it to say, Central Louisiana politics can be very volatile. Thankfully, I have learned to develop a thick skin, and I understand that personal attacks are the weapons of the pathetic. But the entire experience taught me something about Central Louisiana politics: It's much more entertaining when the real issue is obscured by gossip, innuendo, and long-winded rants on racism, religion, and morality. We hardly allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and engage the real issues, because we're either too distracted by personal politics or too hung-up debating issues of which we have very little control.

Last week, in an interview with The Town Talk, Martin Johnson said that our community needs "unity." Unity isn't just an abstraction or a hollow rhetorical device; it's real. Alexandria must look itself in the mirror, because we're currently suffering from an identity crisis.

Many people in our community have a tendency to separate issues along racial lines and political party lines. This, I believe, is a dangerously reductionistic worldview, and it hinders any progress that we could make. Alexandria is not just black and white, Republican and Democrat, Protestant and Catholic. We're quickly becoming a very diverse community, and although some people may not like this concept, it's a foregone conclusion. If you're not comfortable living around people of a different skin color or a different religious faith, you probably shouldn't be living in a city of over 50,000 people. At the same time, if politicians continue to rely on racially-charged rhetoric as a way of "bringing people together," then we're likely to be even more divided in the future.

I have this dream of real leadership in Alexandria. This is what it looks like: An intelligent, thoughtful mayor who understands how to build consensus and set realistic priorities (We may never realize how incredibly fortunate we were to have Mayor Randolph, an Ivy-League educated lawyer, at our city's helm for so many years) and a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. One possible solution to the conflicts of interest that continually plague members of our City Council is to make the position a full-time job. We're currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to do the research and the work that our City Council could perform if its members weren't beholden to their own personal business interests. Often, these consultants (in whatever form they may take) are business partners, relatives, or friends of Council members, and it's difficult for the public to accept that the Council is always fair with their determination of the best available candidate. Those of us who are paying close attention know that members of our Council, through both official and unofficial channels, have repeatedly appointed and nominated unqualified individuals into positions of importance. It's critical to note that this isn't anything new, and frankly, it has little to do with the individual members of the Council. The problem is with the way our government is organized.

I hope that every reader of The Town Talk will visit the Cenla Antics blog, located at cenlaantics.blogspot.com. Readers should also be aware of another Cenla political blog, Cenla Rambler, located at cenlarambler.blogspot.com . This is an election year, and it must be the responsibility of every citizen to stay informed of the issues. We must pay close attention to the daily news; sometimes the small decisions that are buried in the news end up making a huge impact on our daily lives. We must demand a real, substantive conversation about this election. We must hold our public officials accountable for their mistakes, and we must commend them for their accomplishments. We must recognize and embrace our diversity as a community, and we must reject any suggestion that our city "should" be run by a particular race. We must look forward to our future, and we must learn from the mistakes of our past. Finally, we must realize that Alexandria is not the quaint, small community that it once was and that any attempt to "return" to this era is ultimately futile. Alexandria is growing and expanding, and for this reason, we need intelligent, ethical, and compassionate leadership. We need individuals who are driven to serve because they want to improve their community, not their own bankroll. The best way to bring about unity, I believe, is by discussing our differences in an honest way. Let's take that first step.

|W|P|114557801718888108|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 07:47:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Occasionally, I like to read these reader's write debates between Christians and atheists, and today's TT features yet another installment of this neverending back and forth. At issue is an article that TT published a few weeks ago about a Harvard study that said prayer wasn't scientifically provable. The study refuted the findings of a seriously flawed Columbia University, which said prayer had an 11% success rate (basically something that ridiculous). Anyway, this guy, Gray Easterling, wrote into complain about how secular the TT is and how it should have never published that story and how the story served no purpose other than to insult the faithful. Blah. Take it like a man, I say. As Mr. Shaw's letter pointed out today, the TT publishes PLENTY of religion-friendly stories. Heck, they even have a Religion Section on Sundays. It's not as if the religious voice is being censored. Geez. The truth is that the story was not the TT's. It was an international news item that was featured in almost all of the major national newspapers and all of the major cable news networks. I think it was an important story, because, at the very least, it has the possibility of convincing one person to seek medical care for an illness or ailment instead of relying solely on prayer.|W|P|114554508150513318|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/19/2006 11:19:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Mr. Aymond made a couple of follow-up remarks on Cenla Antics, one in which he admitted to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan for three months back in the late 70s. Whoa. Interesting backstory to this whole thing. But still, Mr. Aymond's right: That has nothing to do with the current case. I, for one, am interested to hear these tapes, because, if they're as damning as Aymond claims, then this could expose a little cover-up going on across the river. Someone else said this today: "Anonymous said...

I've been thinking alot lately about the two elitist republican candidates in the mayor's race. Everytime I pull up to a gas station I think damn why do some people, a minority thank God, want to put one of these republicans in the mayor's seat? The prosperity in Rapides is no thanks to repubs., but the price of gasoline is directly related."

Yes, everyone knows that a good Democrat mayor would be able to fly over to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Dubai and convince them to lower the price of gasoline in Rapides Parish.

Are you serious? I'm a liberal (SHOCK), and even I recognize that you can't blame our LOCAL politicians on the price of GASOLINE. Plus, party lines hardly matter on the local level. If you really want to blame a Republican, blame the President.

If that's what your party's platform ("Don't elect a Republican mayor! They're in control of gas prices!"), then you're dangerously ignorant.

|W|P|114547165587861930|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 07:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|An Editor's Copy of "Anonymous" Greg Aymond's Entry in Cenla Antics: (Disclaimer: I don't know Mr. Aymond, and I don't know the reasons I should care about this case. I'm sorry. I just couldn't help myself). Anonymous said...

I am Greg Aymond that everyone seems to have an opinion of. I am the Greg Aymond of which everyone seems to have an opinion. I sued Rich Dupre for slander, based 2 (two)separate and distinct acts of slander. First(,)he told a fellow board metting meeting thing I allegedly said in a meeting with Rich, in order to influence him to vote against me that morning. Not following you, Greg. He told a meeting board "thing"? What is a meeting board thing? The meeting never took place, as can be heard from my recording of my telephone conversation with Rich. Do you record all of your telephone conversations? Lawyers, gotta love 'em. Additionally, you can hear on that tape Rich Dupree (...you can hear Rich Dupree on that tape) telling me that my termination was political and in relation to the Roy Hebron matter, and had no reflections upon my legal ability. Almost a run-on sentence. No comma necessary. Yet approximately 2 (two) weeks later, he stated, also on tape and to a crowd of people, that my termination had nothing to do with Roy Hebron and that it was due to a lack of confidence in my legal abilities. You can also hear Dupree on tape, however, requesting that I continue to handle the ongoing litigation for the Water District. The Water District has, thus far, provided Dupree with legal defense in my lawsuit, although he had been removed from the Water Board by the Police Jury before the suit had been filed. Additionally, after the suit was filed, Pineville City Attorney, Jimmy Fairclothe, (Is this the correct spelling?) send (sent)me a letter denying me contact with the witness, Thurman Kelly of Pineville. With all due respect, there has to be something you're not telling the reader. Try revealing something about the narrator. Additionally, the Waterworks attorney, Greg Jones, posted memos to the Water District staff they they (that they)could not diiscuss (discuss) the Dupree case with me. When the 971 motion was filed by Dupree, it immediately stops the taking of depositions and requires the submission of affidavits. As there was no way I could obtain affidavits from the witnesses, (no comma necessary) and much of the evidence is on recorded tapes and in documents only available from the Waterworks, I filed a motion for discovery, as is allowed by 971. Wordy. Try splitting this sentence into two sentences.Article 971 states that there is to be an evidentiary hearing on that discovery motion. However, after sending subpoenas out for a showing of how I had been denied the ability to obtain affidavits, (no comma necessary) and Mr. Jones admitting to Judge Jackson in chambers that he had so instructed the waterworks employees, Judge Jackson dismissed my entirte (entire) case, and without granting me the hearing required by 971. I was also ordered to pay the attorney fees of Dupree and all court costs. To clarify, there has never been a hearing on the merits of my claims. No court of law has ever heard the Dupree tapes. Is it possible that these tapes were recorded illegally? I'm missing a part of the story here. Explain to your reader why the law is in your favor. There was a 3 (All numbers under 100 should be spelled in letters; three) judge panel on the court of appeal (proper noun) who decided the appeal, in a 2 (two) to 1 (one) split. Based upon the strong dissent in my favor, a (scratch the lonely a) I am considering requesting a re-hearing (one word, rehearing)before the entire appellate court. Depending upon that outcome, I will consider applying for writs to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Several things one should consider are: Why haven't any of the people I have been reporting for wrongdoing sued me? Perhaps because they know truth is an absolute defense. Perhaps they're not threatened by you and don't want anything from you. The narrator should extend more empathy toward his advisary in order to make the story more believable. As an attorney for 20 (twenty)years, I am careful in saying only what I can prove. Additionally, why is someone allegedly honest (Honest should be in quotations. Otherwise the sentence reads like, "...allegedly honest working) working so hard to stop a court of law from hearing his own words captured on tape? Do I have an ongoing vendetta? Yes I do. I will continue to vigorously work to expose lawbreakers and public officials who act contrary to serving the public. (The public? What does this case really have to do with the public?)As to the Anonomous (Anonymous) writer who said such bitter things against me here, I suspect that is Waterboard member Roger Toney, as he has never learned that my surname has no "s" on the end. (You better hope you're right Mr. Aymond. Otherwise you may have just committed libel).Keep in mind, if it is, Roger, (,if it is Roger,) as have other Board members, has already been found to be unethical by the State Ethics Board. Anyone who doesn't belive (believe) me, feel free to contact my office to hear and see the truth. Just direct the reader to a website. It'd make you much more believable.I personally do not understand how any American citizen can support witholding (withholding) evidence and the truth. Thank you. No, thank you.

|W|P|114541574473748082|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 06:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|The Number One Reason People Do Not Pay Their Rent: Their Utility Bill. And many of these people (the honest ones) can either pay for power and try to convince their landlord to give them an extension on rent or pay their rent and hope the city doesn't cut off their power. Property Managers (and/or "Landlords") can only give residents a certain amount of time before they have to file for eviction. I've been to a few of these proceedings, and suffice it to say, the city probably makes a good bit of money on eviction cases (or someone does). What does this mean? In many cases, the high price of utilities is causing people to lose their homes. (You could attempt to argue that it's the "high" price of rent, but that'd be totally bogus in Alexandria, where rents haven't significantly increased in at least eight years. In fact, Alexandria is probably way below market, considering the current demand is substantially higher than our supply). The city may have ways of solving this problem in the future, but the damage that has already been done is irreparable. They should focus on cutting energy costs however than can and increasing efficiency; then, we could pass the savings back to the consumer. But for now, a utility bill is a utility bill, and if it's not paid, your power is turned off. We don't need to refund. We need to reduce.|W|P|114541121555319187|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 09:49:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Score One for the Town Talk! In today's issue, the paper slams the Pineville City Council for endorsing H.B. 8, a ridiculous piece of legislation that whines about spending advertisement money with certain newspapers in certain communities. There are a number of problems with this stupid bill (and it doesn't surprise me that our elected officials here in Alexandria endorsed the bill without checking the facts). From the article: "

The truth is that legal advertising -- "the legals," as they are known -- are state-mandated public notices that tell taxpayers all kinds of things that are important to them, their families, their neighbors and their future, such as:

 When the school board will vote on a plan to change the attendance zone for the schools your children attend.

 How much you'll be on the hook for if a town, airport authority or sewer district borrows millions to build the flavor-of-the-day project.

 Whether a planning commission will rezeone the property next to your house so someone can build a ... well, we'll let you fill in the blank.

The truth is that there are sound reasons why state law requires government bodies to publish notices about the public's business where people can find them easily and where a third party can prove that the notices were, in fact, published.

That place, historically and appropriately, has been in a community's daily newspaper. In this case, that means The Town Talk."

This seems like dirty politics, and I think they're underestimating the Town Talk's ability to shift opinion.

Keep up the good work.

|W|P|114538211783717332|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/16/2006 12:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Dean's Side of the Story (Or Step Into His Shoes For Just a Second): Disclaimer: My thoughts on the Hotel Bentley are based on personal encounters and conversations with members of local government, local business leaders, and associates and employees of Bob Dean Classic Properties. Don't read too much into this. I am not aware of any deal or offer on the hotel; I simply asked questions. (Anyone who wants to can find the e-mail addresses of the central players). In 1997, Bob Dean purchased the Hotel Bentley from an investment group in Baton Rouge. Dean, who was born and raised in Alexandria, wanted to own the hotel for sentimental reasons. His real estate portfolio includes some of the largest and most expensive commercial and residential buildings in Louisiana, and the Bentley was just another purchase. To those who have heard rumors about Mr. Dean's alleged financial troubles, visit his website for a sampling of his real estate holdings. It's very common for people who own a lot of real estate to constantly buy and sell property, and it often has little to do with their finances; it's just the way they like to play the real estate game. Mr. Dean is apparently very passionate about restoring historic property, and after he purchased the Bentley, he spent a considerable amount of money on cosmetic repairs and embellishments. Dean, like many people who invest in downtowns, was given many incentives by the government, on both the local and the federal levels. He was also encouraged by promises of convention business; he was told that the city would be increasing the number and variety of conventions. In the hotel business, you can't magically create guests; you're reliant on the city to attract visitors. The city's ability to attract conventions has a direct correlation to the profitability of your business. Dean bought the hotel in 1997, and if you recall, the city was spending a lot of money and time on downtown revitalization. We were talking a good game. There was even a downtown plan that was enacted. But soon, a new City Council was elected, and well, their practices and modus operandi are well documented already (though we could always use more information). In the words of one prominent local businessperson, "People are afraid of the Bentley because the owner must be beholden to the City Council for tax incentives in exchange of under the table kickbacks." Nowhere is this most evident than with the hotel across the street from the Bentley, the Holiday Inn. Real estate investors often have to play the political game, but there is an "Alexandria way of doing things," as it has been described to me from successful developers throughout the state. In other words, there seem to be groups or factions of people who have laid claim to certain areas of town, downtown being one of them, and if you plan on building, restoring, or developing in Alexandria, you have to be sure to include certain people in on the deal. This isn't necessarily "illegal;" most of the time, certain individuals filter their "investments" through secondary and tertiary means. But it's definitely not lucrative. It means that an historic hotel, like the Bentley, will continually struggle, because too many people somehow feel entitled to the hotel's profits. Bob Dean acted alone. He bought the hotel, and in doing so, he supplied 125 jobs to the local economy. He was an outsider. Although he is originally from Alexandria, he lives and works in Baton Rouge. When the hotel shut its doors, our immediate inclination as a community was to blame the owner and the management. But what if it's not the fault of ownership or management? What if our community and our government are to blame? What if the "Alexandria way of doing things" creates an impossible situation for people who really want to make a difference here? After all, if Mr. Dean is truly such a terrible person, why would he invest so much of his own money on the hotel? Honestly. I suspect that there is a lot to this story that will never be reported, primarily because Mr. Dean's business records are proprietary, and he has the right to keep them private. But I also feel like he's been painted unfairly. And if we're really going to get somewhere in our discussions about the future of our city and the future of our downtown, we should probably address the real reasons why it's almost impossible to run a profitable business downtown. I can't know this for sure, but I suspect that Mr. Dean's demolition request was just a political manuever. I suspect that Mr. Dean would never really consider demolition, but that it was his way of reminding our government that he owned the hotel, not them. Oh... and what of the stories about how he "raped" the hotel of its fixtures? It seems to me that he removed the fixtures most prone to vandalism (the stained glass and the chandeliers). From what I understand, any trade fixtures removed from the hotel (that is considered a part of the hotel's trade) must be returned. If you owned a hotel and you had to close it because it wasn't making any money, wouldn't it be smart to remove some of the hotel's valuable fixtures while it's vacant? One of the reasons for the one-sidedness of this whole story is that Dean doesn't talk to the press. We hear the city's side of the story, but we never hear his. And it's his right to stay silent. I have never personally met Mr. Dean, but I have a strong feeling that he could give a great testimonial on the woes of doing big business in Alexandria. What is the solution to all of this? I think Martin Johnson was right when he said our community needs unity. Number one. We also need full transparency from our government. We need a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. And we need to ensure that businesses who invest in our community are not afraid of working with our government.|W|P|114522026417311392|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/15/2006 04:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Another Rebuttal to the Notion that Hollywood Isn't Interested in Marketing Christian Films "

There's also money. The literary world has been reaping profits for decades with religious fare. The biblical "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, for example, have racked up sales of more than $650 million and spawned four movies.

But it wasn't until "Passion" arrived in theaters in February 2004 that major studios saw their own stairway to financial heaven.

Before Mel Gibson's telling of the Crucifixion, "we all knew we had a lot to learn about this market, which was obviously underserved," says Steve Feldstein of 20th Century Fox's new division, Fox Faith.

The department markets the studio's DVDs and feature films to hundreds of pastors nationwide. The studio offers churches trailers, posters and even Bible study guides for its Christian-based home videos.

As "Passion" marched to more than $370 million in North America, "it gave us all our MBA's pretty quickly," Feldstein says. Executives discovered that a thumbs-up from a pastor could go further than from a film critic and that word of mouth spreads pretty quickly in a church, he says. "For many families, church isn't just somewhere you go to pray," he says. "It's a social venue. There's more opportunity for discussion of things beyond just faith.""

See, the funny thing about this discussion is that it proves, to me at least, how fundamentalists spin the facts in order to make religion seem more oppressed and denigrated than it really is.

|W|P|114514343387000242|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 04:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Liberals taking over Natchitoches? Have you been to Natchitoches recently? It's rockin'!

If the anti-religious, anti-conservative musings of Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw represent the prevailing philosophy of Natchitoches Parish, Alexandria is on the verge of being toppled as Central Louisiana's capital of liberalism. I love this fundamentalist device: If you write anything that criticizes (or even analyzes) their worldview, you're suddenly anti-religious. It's as if this writer myopically believes her religion is the only religion in the world.

Also, this is a really weak argument: IF Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw REPRESENT a "prevailing" PHILOSOPHY, then Alexandria is on the VERGE of being toppled?? What?? And if they don't represent the prevailing philosophy, then your entire letter is for naught.

Shaw attacked a conservative who expressed an opinion in these pages concerning the release of the new movie "The Da Vinci Code." He decried another writer who praised a conservative columnist, stating that what one means when one says "that another has 'common sense' is that the other holds the same opinions and world view as the speaker." Decried? Attacked? And look: You're saying the same thing that Mr. Shaw was decrying. Your concept of common sense is also tied into your worldview. Shaw's naïve version of an America where the absolute freedom of expression and the unbridled exchange of ideas flourish indicates that the status quo in the public square makes "sense" to him because it represents his own world view. There is no equality in Hollywood. The individual consumer is not driving the market place. Despite the fact that "The Passion of the Christ" has been seen by more people than all of the liberal, preachy films nominated for the Academy Award for best picture combined, there will be no glut of pro-religious movies next year. No matter that "The Chronicles of Narnia" will out-perform the R-rated barrage of movies dumped onto the American consumer; there will be no rush to produce wholesome, family-friendly films. Now, we move onto the Hollywood argument, and you defeat yourself here. You're telling us that the individual consumer doesn't "drive" the market place. AND THEN you're reminding us that two of the most successful movies in the past three years are Christian-themed. Thanks. I suppose that these major studio, world-wide releases that have collectively grossed BILLIONS of dollars represent the "good" part of Hollywood... and have nothing to do with its acknowledgment of the profitability of Christian stories. Same thing with those LifeWay stores. And the Trinity Broadcasting Network. They're GOOD capitalists who play by the EXACT same rules in the EXACT same markets the bad capitalists play in.

Like an unruly tyrant, Hollywood dictates what America is allowed to choose for entertainment. Movie producers have the right to produce films that represent their world view if they desire, but, by the same token, movie theater owners should have the right to show the films they choose as well. They should not be obligated to demonstrate what some would consider "neutrality" when the producers are certainly not responding to the desires of the American people. There is nothing wrong with conservatives expressing their ideas, just as liberals like Mr. Shaw are allowed to do, in an attempt to sway public opinion.

Conservatives control the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and the Congress. Conservatives own major news networks and entertainment companies. And yet you somehow believe that conservatives don't have the opportunity to express their opinion. WHAT? WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE ON? Instead of attacking specific Christians, Richard Taylor went right to the source, calling the divine writings of the Bible "barbaric theology." Atheists use the same tactic, pointing to the dark moments in history when men destroyed one another in the name of religion. Is this a fair assessment of Mr. Taylor's argument? These anti-Bible "experts" never give the statistics of how many murders never took place because of the moral foundation, given to men through religious belief, which prevents us from acting on our hatred, anger and wicked desires. Western Civilization is built upon the holy Bible, which states "Thou shall not kill." What sort of liberal brew are they drinking in Natchitoches these days? Let's hear from some conservatives over there, if there are any left. Statistics on how many murders NEVER took place? Whhhaaaa??? Are you kidding me? How could that possibly be quantifiable? They may be drinking a liberal brew, ma'am, but you're the one who seems completely drunk.

Eddie Thompson, Jena

|W|P|114505869487019863|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 03:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| In From the Night: Premiering Sunday, April 23 on CBS. Five years ago, I enrolled in a personal essay class at Rice University. The instructor, Dr. Marsha Recknagel was a Louisiana native, and at the time, Dr. Recknagel was finishing her memoir, If Nights Could Talk. The memoir recounts Recknagel's strained relationship with her family and the experience of adopting her sixteen year old nephew, Jamie. Jamie shuffled through schools and hospitals before finally landing on Marsha's doorstep in Houston. It's a fantastic book, and it has received numerous accolades and awards, including an LA Times Notable Book of the Year award. Marsha was also on the shortlist for the Penn/Faulkner award. Next week, the movie, starring Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Hardin, will premiere on CBS, and I am attempting to spread the good news. Watch it! Get the family together! Tell them that the movie is about someone from Louisiana! In fact, the whole family is from Louisiana! Shreveport, to be precise. Marsha is one of my best friends in the world, and until recently, she's been reluctant to tell people that this movie is about her. But she's finally giving the okay... and I promised her I'd help promote it. If anyone has any questions for Marsha, feel free to send them to me... and I'll forward them over to her. It's really rare that someone you know has a movie made about their life. It's even more rare when this someone is your mentor and one of your best friends. Almost every word of the movie is lifted directly from the pages of her book. I promise: You won't be disappointed. |W|P|114505379624847564|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 01:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I sent this to the TT for publication: About a month ago, I stumbled across a veritable gold mine of information and news on Central Louisiana, a blog that called itself “Cenla Antics.” Although the blog had been in operation since October of 2005, its existence was only known to a handful of people, most of whom contributed to the site regularly and anonymously. The blog covered a variety of issues, and I found that it served as an interestering cultural and political barometer. It also became obvious to me that many of these anonymous contributors were people with an inside knowledge of local government. I suspect that there are even local government officials who anonymously contributed to this blog. Although I found it frustrating that the vast majority of contributors cloaked themselves in anonymity, it was hard for me to ignore the wealth of insight they provided. I decided to join in the discussion, using my real name and expressing my real opinions. As a result, I received a fair amount of attention. When I questioned why most people chose to remain anonymous, one blogger who calls himself “Civil Sentient” said, “You should know that people that work in government cannot speak their mind on open forums without a very real danger of loosing their jobs.” In other words, the individuals with the most insight into the innerworkings of our local government cannot openly express their experience without fear of reprisal. There are countless stories that The Town Talk could publish, if it only had a legitmate source who would go on the record. Indeed, I have learned, throughout the past month, that most of us in Central Louisiana are woefully uninformed about the true nature of our government and the ways in which government develops lucrative partnerships witth private industry. Often, these partnerships are not in the best interest of the community; they exist solely to funnel tax dollars to private citizens connected by friendship or family to government officials. In Louisiana, this system of entitlement is known as “the good ol’ boy network,” and we have been conditioned to accept this as a basic fact of government. However, this dynamic is the definition of government corruption, and it should be the responsibility of the press to expose these violations of the public trust, regardless of who is in power. The Town Talk should be actively pursuing sources with this inside information, exchanging their testimony with the promise of anonymity. This is standard practice for newspapers in larger cities, and there is no reason it would not be effective in Central Louisiana. After all, most of these people are already speaking their mind in the blogosphere. I decided to create my own blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com, in order to give myself a venue to express my personal take on the news. Currently, my blog receives between 100 and 150 unique visits per day, and this, I believe, is a testament to the number of people who are actively engaged in our community. My blog has allowed me to learn information that I would otherwise never know, and it has awakened a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope for the future of our community. I believe in the old adage, “The truth shall set you free,” and I know that there are good, honest people serving our community who are repulsed by the good ol’ boy mentality. There are a handful of blogs that focus on Central Louisiana, and I encourage readers of The Town Talk to peruse these sites: cenlaantics.blogspot.com, cenlarambler.blogspot.com, wesawthat.blogspot.com, and of course, my personal blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com.|W|P|114504530241822954|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 08:23:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Dear Readers, I have created an alternative to the Cenla Antics blog that allows easy navigation and a quick download. The discussion will be unmoderated, and bloggers can categorize their entries by subject matter. Check out cenlarambler.blogspot.com and make it your new home. cenlarambler.blogspot.com That's cenlarambler.blogspot.com Let's talk, Lamar|W|P|114498524437754707|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 04:14:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I'm sure we all want to know more about this Cleco energy trader who is suing for wrongful termination. From the TT: "John Curley, who has been in a wheelchair since he was 18, alleges in a lawsuit filed in 9th Judicial District Court that Cleco orchestrated a series of humiliations designed to force him to quit." This series of humiliations allegedly includes an illegal trade order from a supervisor. In the meantime, here's a year old story about Louisiana College. Just reminding everyone how lopsided this truly is. For those of you who think the opposition comes from the "extreme left," consider this:

PINEVILLE, La. (ABP) - Trustees of embattled Louisiana College will meet Jan. 17 to try again to elect a president, but they likely will be sued to prevent him from taking office. Aguillard's opinion that this is a "sacred calling" makes me wonder if he also believes he's being "persecuted" because of his beliefs. It's a great rhetorical position, because, like I said earlier, it allows one to feel like they are both the victor and the victim.

Joe Aguillard, 47, a conservative professor and chair of the education division at the Louisiana Baptist school, will be nominated as president Jan. 17, trustee chair Timothy Johnson announced Jan. 6. One year and three months later, this calling finally became a reality.

Critics say Aguillard's nomination - and likely election - are in violation of the school's bylaws because the committee nominating him was illegally appointed. A group of school alumni and supporters plan to file a lawsuit Jan. 11 to stop the election.

The committee was ILLEGALLY appointed. Sure, they make their own laws as they feel necessary, but it is important to point out that this Board of Trustees are perhaps more controversial than Aguillard. Meanwhile, the college's faculty voted 53-12 to oppose the nomination of Aguillard, their faculty colleague, to become president. You read that correctly. 53 to 12! That's an OVERWHELMING majority. I suppose the Board, due to their direct connection to God and His Divine Plan, care very little for the democratic process or the opinions of the men and women who have built their careers around Louisiana College.

The school has been in turmoil for more than a year after fundamentalists gained control of the trustee board. After a dispute over textbook and faculty-election policies, the college's president, chief academic administrator and trustee chair resigned. Remember this absolutely insane story? They BANNED Ernest Gaines's "A Lesson Before Dying" and Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled." Remember? These people are dangerously ignorant.

In December the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the college on probation - one step short of withdrawing accreditation - for violating the association's standards for academic freedom and proper governance, saying trustees were unduly influenced by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship. Someone wrote in and said that LC was no longer in jeopardy of losing accreditation. I have news for you: Yes it is. It's obvious these people have no concept of academic freedom. (Look at today's story in the TT). They may have been taken off of probation, but that doesn't mean it can't happen again.

The crisis deepened after Texas educator Malcolm Yarnell suddenly withdrew as president Nov. 23 - two months after his election but before taking office - citing "governance issues." I'm interested in knowing more about these "governance issues."

The search committee wanted to nominate as president Stan Norman, a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who had been the committee's second choice. But trustee officers, who reportedly preferred Aguillard, responded by trying to expand the search committee to add more conservatives or dismiss the original committee. Wow! The Trustees didn't care who the Search Committee selected; they had their man... and if you second guessed them, well, you were second guessing the WILL OF GOD.

Aguillard supporters say the original committee's power expired when Yarnell was elected president. But members of the original committee insist no contract was ever signed with Yarnell and the bylaws require them to remain in place until a president is hired. Either way, it's a technicality, and Aguillard was not the first choice of the search committee or the faculty. I'm not really sure why he wants the gig so much.

Trustee leaders held a press conference Jan. 6 to announce the trustee board will vote on Aguillard, an LC education professor for the past four years and former school board superintendent.

"The board has placed his name for nomination and it was referred to a special committee charged with bringing his name back before the board for a full up or down vote," trustee chair Johnson said in a prepared statement. "This is not a circumvention of the process but rather a part of the process afforded the board in our bylaws." No, it's a circumvention and an abuse of power in an attempt to squash dissent. It's OBVIOUS.

Johnson said he sought an opinion from the parliamentarian of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which appoints trustees. "In his opinion, and according to Robert's Rules [of Order], this [special] committee is valid, was duly formed, and is appropriately charged with bringing Dr. Aguillard's name before the board - with or without recommendation," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been prepared and a temporary restraining order will be requested to block the Jan. 17 election, Stan Lott of Pineville, a retiring professor at Louisiana College, told Associated Baptist Press.

According to Lott, former vice president for academic affairs, an attorney who serves on the board said the trustees violated their own bylaws by dismissing the original committee. "Once [the board] specifies who is on the search committee, it is to stay in place until a president is found," Lott said. That's exactly right. You can't just appoint an independent committee and then refuse to hold up your end of the agreement. Those people wasted all of that time and energy for nothing. Yet another example of how these people don't understand academic freedom.

Lott said he met with a group of attorneys to discuss legal action. "We decided the only recourse left for people concerned about the college is through the courts."

Lott said the group, which is enlisting other plaintiffs, hopes to file the suit by Jan. 11, alleging the trustees have caused "irreparable damage to the school." I really hope this damage is not irreparable.

"Even conservatives [among Louisiana Baptists] are really disturbed by what these Taliban trustees are doing," Lott said. "They are continuing to recklessly ignore accreditation, and if it continues, they will have accreditation withdrawn."

Trustee chair Johnson defended the board's action and called Aguillard "a top-notch educator who is theologically sound." He added the professor is "a man of integrity, internationally recognized scholarship, sterling character and unequaled leadership." Remind me again: When was Dr. Aguillard's scholarship recognized INTERNATIONALLY?

Lott disagreed. "He has neither the education nor the experience to serve as president of Louisiana College. He is a fundamentalist to the core." Yeah. Four years as a professor and sixteen years in one of the worst public school districts in the country does not impress me.

Aguillard, a Louisiana native, received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana College, two master's degrees from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., and a doctorate of education from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

He held a number of administrative positions with the Beauregard Parish School Board between 1984 and 2000, rising eventually to superintendent, before taking his current position with Louisiana College.

|W|P|114497300111485763|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P||W|P|114494625811803387|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|One of the Reasons Why LC Won't Be the "Best Liberal Arts School in the State:" The Biography of Centenary College's President, Kenneth Schwab: Appointed the 28th President of Centenary College in 1991, Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab is also a tenured professor in the Department of Education. He and his wife, Pat, have three sons (Kempten, Carlton, and Christopher) who have all played soccer and helped raise the family's two Jack Russell Terriers. He comes most recently from the University of South Carolina where he served as Executive Vice President for Administration. Dr. Schwab hails originally from Indiana where he received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1969. He then earned his master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1972 and his doctorate in higher education administration at Indiana University in 1978. Dr. Pat Schwab received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and then studied developmental and remedial reading at the University of Southern Mississippi, receiving her doctorate in curriculum and instruction there in 1971. She has taught education courses, served in university administration, published on the craft of reading, and worked in curriculum development for 25 years. A faithful contributor to the college community, Pat Schwab has actively supported Centenary as well. Dr. Schwab teaches a course at Centenary every year while supervising student teachers in Caddo and Bossier Parishes. She also hosts receptions and other occasions often at the Schwab home, including dinners each fall for all new first-year Centenary students. Under President Schwab’s leadership at Centenary, The Vision for the Future comprehensive campaign raised over $100 million for the college. This amount exceeded the original target by $30 million, enabling residence hall, fitness center, athletic facilities, and arts complex renovations. Involvement with Centenary students has been integral to President Schwab throughout his tenure here. Centenary’s First-Year Experience program saw him as an instructor during Spring 2003 when he team-taught Aristotle and water management, among other topics. He also recently traveled with the internationally renowned Centenary College Choir to Europe, Brazil, and South Africa. A recent participant in the Salzburg Seminar sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Chair of the Associated Colleges of the South Board of Directors, Dr. Schwab has also published a book, numerous articles, and several institutional planning documents regarding presidential leadership and transformational change. Dr. Schwab serves on the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana Board and AmSouth Bank’s Shreveport-Bossier Advisory Board. Dr. Schwab also maintains membership in Omicron Delta Kappa and actively participates on Centenary’s behalf in many other local and national organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.|W|P|114494619095869345|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:27:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Reposted comment for clarification purposes: To the LC professor: What are you talking about? Slanderous ramblings? SLANDEROUS? With all due respect, sir or madam, do you know the meaning of the word slander or are you simply hyperbolizing in order to make your point? That is a serious accusation. Where, I ask, did I committ the crime of slander? Professor, you should know that there is a difference between satire and slander. I do not know the man personally, and I am not attempting to make a value judgment of his character. I am simply reading what has been supplied to me, and these are the facts:1. Dr. Aguillard's "doctorate" degree is in organizational leadership and diversity training.2. His belief that this position is a "sacred calling" precludes any argument against him. It puts those who do not agree with him in a morally indefensible situation.3. THESE ARE HIS WORDS! I didn't make this up. 4. His C.V. (or at least the summary of it) does very little to address how and why he is the most qualified person to steward a liberal arts college.5. His three-fold concept of the academy and his magical treasure chest musings are antithetical to the concept of the academy. The academy is founded on the concept of the OPEN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. If a college and its dean purport to change the basic underpinnings of the academy, they are announcing a paradigm shift in their pedagogy. I am sorry that you lost confidence in me, but I don't require the confidence of an apologetic LC professor who stands idly by while his school is overtaken by religious fundamentalists. If I can't use a man's words and his experience as a guidepost for WHO he is, then what can I use? By the way, go ahead and say what you want to about my family and its vices. I promise you: You wouldn't be the first person to judge my family on a public forum. (By the way, that's another thing that gets me. I NEVER said anything negative about his family. He is in a leadership position and deserves the full scrutiny of the public. Also, I OBVIOUSLY care deeply about the future of LC. Why else would I waste my energy and expose myself to attack from those entrenched in his administration?)|W|P|114494572540499030|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/12/2006 07:08:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|"Unchanging Foundations in Changing Times" The Inauguration of President Joe Aguillard. Lifted from the pages of the program: President Joe Aguillard In January of 2005, Dr. Joe Aguillard was named Louisiana College's eighth president by the Board of Trustees. He assumed the duties of the office immediately and has been working tirelessly for his alma mater ever since. It sure seems like it took a long time to finally make this official. Perhaps this has something to do with that lawsuit. He is only the second alumnus of Louisiana College to serve as the school's president, following in the footsteps of the late Dr. G. Earl Guinn. I don't know who Dr. Guinn was, but I'm not sure Dr. Aguillard is following in anyone's footsteps. He seems to be blazing his own trail. Dr. Aguillard has been on faculty at Louisiana College since 2000, but his personal history with the College is a long and storied one. Both of Aguillard's parents attended Louisiana College and met at the liberal arts school. He and his wife met at Louisiana College, and all three of their daughters have attended their parent's alma mater. That TOTALLY makes him qualified! "My ties are very deep and very entwined with Louisiana College," Dr. Aguillard says. "The position is a sacred calling for me, and I will make decisions and guard my actions knowing that my work here is far beyond a career move." A sacred calling??? So God called him up and told him to become the Dean of LC? So God= The LC Board of Trustees? Holding an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Aguillard and also holds two McNeese State University master's degrees and his bachelor's degree from Louisiana College. Prior to joining the Louisiana College faculty, he was the Superintendent of Schools of Beauregard Parish. Let's do a little fact finding. What, you ask, is an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University? From the program's website:

The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program has been created to assist adult learners to meet both current and future leadership challenges facing their organizations. This program has been designed to address the needs of practitioners by linking theory to the best practices of leadership. The program is based on the conviction that contemporary leaders must learn to lead the change process so that services are effectively and efficiently delivered to an increasingly diverse population. Essentially, leaders must learn to lead change in the context of a turbulent economy and a rapidly developing technology for the 21st century.

The primary audience of this program will be individuals with background in human services, human resources, staff developers/trainers, military personnel, middle managers.

And the requirements of the degree are as follows:

Students must fulfill the following graduation requirements. 1. Attend Doctoral Student Orientation at NSU 2. Attend Summer Conference within the first year of admission into the program (required for all students entering as of fall 2004). 3. Attend and pass all core courses (30 credits) 4. Attend and pass all specialization courses (18 credits) - Please see the important announcement regarding the sunset of the DOL program. 5. Attend and pass all research courses (9 credits - Please see the important announcement regarding the phasing out of ARO courses.) 6. Successfully complete: -The applied dissertation seminar 1: concept paper (2 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 2: proposal (4 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 3: report (3 credits) 7. Be current in all tuition, fees, and miscellaneous charges (including books).

Total requirements: 66 credit hours (all requirements must be completed within five years from the date of the beginning of the term of entry).

Let me get this straight: They're calling this guy a doctor because he attended a FIVE YEAR LONG program for "adult" professionals (also known as "distance" or "continued" learning) who need leadership training because of the fast-paced world of "technology." Oh, and the guy got to learn what it is like to live in a world with a "diverse population."

How is he the most qualified person in the world? Did they even attempt to search for a dean? Or did they just promote another good ol' boy?

"Louisiana College stands in a unique position as an academic and spiritual 'Louisiana Treasure,'" Dr. Aguillard says. "With the full support of our alumni and Southern Baptist churches, our beloved LC will continue to grow in value as a gleaming treasure chest of opportunity for our children." Louisiana treasure? Treasure chest? Where's the rainbow? Dr. Aguillard has always a strong rapport with the student body. In 2004, he was named Professor of the Year, an award voted on by the student body at large. Look: Proof that students LOVE him. The Teacher Education Department, under Dr. Aguillard's leadership, received consistently high marks from the Louisiana Board of Regents, among others, and led the nation in percentage growth. He led a group of Louisiana College students in researching and writing the curriculum for the Heart of Spain art exhibit at the Alexandria Museum of Art in 2003. The curriculum was used by teachers and students throughout the world. This is just ridiculous. His claim to fame is assisting students in writing a curriculum for the Heart of Spain exhibit? Are you kidding me? His Teacher Education Department faculty adopted a conceptual framework relating to their Christian worldview that follows the Scripture, Ecclesiastes 4:12, which reads, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." The Department uses this conceptual framework to describe a dynamic educator. This framework encompasses Christian service, mastery of subject matter, and the attributes of a practioner teacher. Of the "three strands," two include being a Christian. "The greatest strength that Louisiana College has is that we are unashamed to declare that all power in heaven and earth lies with Jesus Christ," Dr. Aguillard says. "As we are able to plug into that power, there is nothing too hard to do or accomplish." Everyone knows that in order to be admitted into LC, students MUST declare their allegiance to Jesus Christ. It's just like every other "liberal arts" college in the world. "Education in the truest sense is none other than the development of the image of God that is planted in every human being," Dr. Aguillard says. I think Socrates said the same thing. Or was it Plato? No, no, no, it was David Koresh. Dr. Aguillard says he envisions a Louisiana College with higher enrollment, financial stability, academic excellence, and Biblical values. "This will be the greatest liberal arts college the state has ever seen," he says. I literally laughed out loud the first time I read this. Dr. Aguillard and his wife, Judy, have three daughters, Jill Reid, Julie, and Jodi. Jill's husband, Will Reid, is also an LC alumnus. Rock.|W|P|114489535173584417|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->
2. What is the number one problem facing Alexandria?
3. What is the single greatest accomplishment of the current City Council?
4. What is the biggest failure of the current City Council?
5. Recently, it was reported that Alexandria is suffering from a lack of skilled workers. What measures will you propose in order to solve this labor problem?
6. How will you (do you) balance your professional career with a political career?
7. It is also well-known that Alexandria suffers from a lack of affordable housing. What measures will you propose in order to solve this housing problem?
8. What is your vision for Downtown Alexandria?
9.There are many people here in Alexandria who must make a choice between paying their utility bill and paying their rent. How do you plan on solving the utilities crisis in Alexandria?
10. Why are you running for office?
11. What will you do differently?
12. What can our community do in order to ensure that Lower Third and South Alexandria are safe and clean?
13. If the city was suddenly awarded with $1 billion, how would you spend that money?
14. Who is your favorite musical artist?
15. Who is your political role model?
|W|P|114593155143152493|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/24/2006 03:46:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Upcoming: Questions and Answers with Councilman Myron Lawson and Dr. Alex Slatkin. Stay tuned for more information.|W|P|114591888146582037|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 02:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Reminder: Set your TiVo! "In From the Night," a movie based on the life of Louisiana writer and friend of mine, Marsha Recknagel, will be on CBS tonight at 8PM CST.|W|P|114582907569569155|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 01:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|More Evidence to Suggest We're All Insane in Central Louisiana (Or What Happens In The Country When An Escaped Murderer Is On The Run) The article that accompanied this picture also mentioned the use of heavy appliances as a way of securing property.|W|P|114582497252433234|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/23/2006 10:36:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Three Cheers for Four Corners: Last night, Alex 1805, the new blues and jazz lounge located on the corner of 3rd and Desoto in Downtown Alexandria, held its first annual Caribbean Nights block party. From an anonymous writer in Cenla Antics: "Let's roll said...

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to whether or not Alexandria can be the shining city on a hill, you needed to be at the corner of 3rd and Desoto last night. I, for one, have gone from cautiously optimistic to frankly excited. We really are worth saving. Think about it."

Seriously, this is not an understatement. The turnout was amazing. Horatio promised free admission for people wearing white linen, and so everyone was decked out, including yours truly. I don't think I have ever seen an event quite like this here in Alexandria. Great music. Great food. I'm not sure how many people were there, but I'd guess that there were several hundred in and out throughout the night.

It not only proves that Alexandria can be the "shining city on a hill;" it was also an incredible display of unity for our city.

The Town Talk ran a great story about the success of the Arna Bontemps Jazz Concert... if they had only stuck around for a few more hours, they would have had the REAL story of the day: Downtown's coming back.

Now if we can just convince Horatio to run for office....

|W|P|114581469132407439|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/21/2006 11:45:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Michael D. Smith, born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana, was awarded with the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Michael writes, "The commission has decided to grant me the funding to observe contemparary synthesis in Newari and Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmadu Valley. I am humbled by the immense opportunity this affords me, and hope that it be of benefit to all." Congratulations to my friend Michael. We're all very proud of you back home, and we wish you an auspicious journey.|W|P|114568878515059516|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/21/2006 11:17:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Two unrelated issues: Louisiana College and Everett Hobbs. Louisiana College recently awarded Thomas Howell with the Professor of the Year Award (or whatever it is that they call it). The award is voted on by the student body, a majority of whom seem to think that Howell is the best damn professor they have. It's ashame that the Trustees are religious fundamentalists intent on making everyone conform to their narrow perception of the world. LC's Christian Commitment: "Administrators, faculty, and staff at Louisiana College will be persons who, in addition to other contractual obligations: 1. have received Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior, God, and King and personally affirm that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man, the Savior whose sacrificial death is the only means of forgiveness of sin, the King who rules over their lives and is making them righteous through His Spirit and His Word. 2. can articulate their faith in Christ to others, 3. are members of a local Christian church, faithfully worshipping Christ and serving Him through the church..." Then there's a phrase about being Christ-like with your every move and another one about abstaining from alcohol (just like Christ, the guy who turned water into wine). There's a statement about making sure your scholarship isn't "contrary" to their Southern Baptist manifesto. I think you get the idea. LC is now one of the worst colleges to teach at in the country. Professors are discouraged from practicing any lifestyle other than the one prescribed by the school (even when they're off-campus), and they're told what to think and what to teach their students. Why don't they just hand students a copy of the Bible and a copy of this Southern Baptist Mission 2000 manifesto, make them read it, give them a quiz on it after a few weeks, and then confer them with a degree? What's the point of taking a class like Biology or Philosophy or World Religion when professors are told to reduce everything down to Bible-talk? Next story: The funniest thing about that Everett Hobbs story was the C.F. Smith, Jr. quote: "I'm not saying nothing about that. I'm staying out of that. That's Everett," Smith said. "Those councilmen, they're elected," and they "have their say-so." So if he's NOT saying NOTHING about it, does that mean that he IS saying SOMETHING? Well, actually, he is saying something. He's saying that elected councilmen can have their say-so. I was probably wrong last night when I said "What was he thinking?" I don't think anyone gets "set-up" for a front page story. That said, I don't think Ned's going to step down... and I think Hobbs probably knows this... and I think this was a lame political manuever that can only serve to divide people even more... and for that reason, I hope that Mr. Hobbs will reconsider his statement and perhaps issue a retraction to his constituents. As if that could ever happen. If anything, the story proves how power hungry Councilman Hobbs and his cohorts truly are... to disparage a retiring mayor who has served with distinction for twenty years, to make claims on his mental capacity (and I know this isn't exactly breaking news)... but geez, couldn't this guy have a little dignity? One more remark: Yesterday, I went back and reread some of the letters and statements people made toward me after I first posted on Cenla Antics. Man, some of those people were REALLY mean, and I didn't even notice it at the time. I mean, I talked about it. But I never realized the extent of the anger. That said, thank you to WeSawThat, Scarlett, and Civil Sentient for being supportive. We're very fortunate to have smart people engaged in this discussion, and even if we don't all agree on the issues, at least you all have enough respect and integrity not to make things personal. Kudos. |W|P|114564554537996937|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 09:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Today, We Mourn A Great American George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr

Services for George Donald Fitzpatrick, Jr. will be at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21, 2006, in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church with Rev. Msgr. Ronald Hoppe and Rev. Dan O'Connor officiating. Interment will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Pineville under the direction of John Kramer & Son. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr., 56, of Alexandria, died Monday, April 17, 2006, in his residence. He was born September 29, 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Gonzaga, Spokane, Washington with a Masters in Communications. He entered the field of journalism and later the field of television. In March 24, 2001 he received a lifetime membership in the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He also received the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to the Journalism profession, April 18, 2005. Don was preceded in death by his father, George Donald Fitzpatrick and his mother, Patricia Regan Fitzpatrick; paternal grandparents, George Bernard Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Anne Dressler Fitzpatrick and maternal grandparents John F. Regan and Rose Oldham Regan. Don Fitzpatrick, Jr, is survived by: his sisters, Erin Rhodes and her husband, John of Alexandria, LA; Betsy Belgard of Pineville, LA; his brother, Sean Fitzpatrick and wife Kim of Deville, LA and ten nieces and nephews. Friends are asked to call from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2006 and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at John Kramer & Son. A Christian Wake service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home. Pallbearers will be Mark Rosenthal, Thomas Swift, Freddy Revels, John Bowling, Michael Hall, and David Hall.

Don was a member of my extended family, a rare voice of reason in my family's discussion of politics, and a charming, intelligent spirit who challenged those around him to seriously think about their lives. I last met with him three months ago, and he was brilliant.

It never ceased to amaze me that people like Don lived and worked in our community.

From Broadcasting and Cable:

TV Headhunter, Blogger Fitzpatrick Dies

Don Fitzpatrick, once one of TV's top headhunters and perhaps the industry's first blogger, died over the weekend. A longtime friend, Scott Tallal, says Fitzpatrick was found dead in his Alexandria, La. home shortly after being treated for intestinal bleeding at a local hospital.

Fitzpartrick's primary business was as a recruiter for local-TV news talent. Based in San Franciso, Don Fitzpatrick Associates (DFA) was pivotal in helping TV journalists land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks. "Don guided the careers of thousands of people in the industry," says Tallal, president of research firm Insite Media Research.

Tallal recalled Fitzpatrick's earliest days as a headhunter trying to build a tape library of talent from TV stations. Fitzpatrick outfitted an RV with 3/4-inch video recorders and would drive around the country, stopping in at a market to tape the newscasts of all the stations, then moving on to the next. The tapes would be copied and edited so clients could be sent a sample of, say, 20 female anchors.

Fitzpatrick was also blogging on TV years before it became a verb, and indeed years before there was a World Wide Web. In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and a forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Each day, he would digest articles on TV from various newspapers and magazines around the country, focusing primarily on stations. Later, the project morphed to the Web and became TvSpy.com. Fitzpatrick sold TVSpy to job Web site The Vault and closed DFA in 1999.

“Don Fitzpatrick was a friend to so many of us in the industry and will be sorely missed,” said Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran. “His knowledge of the industry was encyclopedic, and he shared his insights generously. All of us at RTNDA will miss him very much.”

RTNDA gave Fitzpatrick its John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for service to the industry. Fitzpatrick’s funeral will be in Alexandria, said RTNDA, tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 21.

Previous winners of the John F. Hogan:

  • 1959 Frank Stanton
  • 1962 David Sarnoff
  • 1963 Mitchell Charnley
  • 1964 Robert Kintner
  • 1967 Ted Yates
  • 1971 Charlie Edwards
  • 1974 Gordon Sinclair
  • 1978 Barney Oldfield
  • 1979 Rob Downey
  • 1980 John Salisbury
  • 1981 Len Allen
  • 1983 Sig Mickelson
  • 1984 Paul Davis
  • 1985 Ron Laidlaw
  • 1986 Robert Byrd, Mark Fowler
  • 1987 Malvin Goode, J. Laurent Scharff
  • 1988 Vernon Stone
  • 1989 Gordon Manning, Dick Yoakam
  • 1991 Brian Lamb, Ed Godfrey, Bob Packwood, John Spain
  • 1992 Terry Anderson
  • 1996 Sherlee Barish
  • 1997 Walter Cronkite
  • 1999 Hugh Downs
  • 2000 Stanley S. Hubbard, Jack Shelley
  • 2005 Don Fitzpatrick
|W|P|114559596360089598|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 07:48:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Broken News: "Hobbs Says Randoph Should Retire"... Or "Hobbs Gossips About Mayor's Mental Capacity"... Or "Hobbs Shoots Himself In Foot By Making Divisive, Inappropriate, and Unsubstantied Remark About Retiring Mayor"... Or "This Is The Reason People Do Not Consider Councilman Everett Hobbs To Be An Honest Man"... Or "What The Hell Was Hobbs Thinking? Didn't He Realize Who He Was Talking To? I Mean, Seriously, Didn't Hobbs Realize This Would Be In The Paper? Didn't He Understand They'd Report His Remarks As 'Breaking News?' Didn't He Recognize That He Had No Factual Claim With Which To Back Up His Incendiary Statement?" Billy Gunn writes:

Alexandria Councilman Everett Hobbs says Mayor Ned Randolph should consider resigning the office he has held since 1986.

“If the mayor can’t perform his duties, he needs to step down,” Hobbs said, alluding to an illness he said Randolph might have that prevents him from fulfilling his mayoral duties. Randolph, who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a sixth term, denied today that he suffers from or has been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. “No, absolutely not,” said Randolph, who will relinquish his office in December after the election this fall. He said he would not resign. Hobbs’ comments today, made in a telephone interview with The Town Talk, followed allegations he made at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, where he said three aides close to Randolph were making the decisions, not the mayor.

For more on this story, please see Thursday's Town Talk or visit this Web site Thursday.

Lamar, for one, can't wait for the full story.|W|P|114558854570198426|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 05:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Revision: The "New" New TT Column:

In early March, I discovered a veritable gold mine of news and information about Central Louisiana, a weblog that calls itself "Cenla Antics." A weblog or "blog" is essentially an online message board, typically constructed around a certain theme. In the case of Cenla Antics, people are encouraged to contribute anonymously. The title page reads, "Welcome to the Central Louisiana political revelations blog! Good or bad, Democrat, Republican, or Independent... all of the information we as concerned citizens need to know. One way to get it off your chest-- Anonymously!"

I recognize the benefits of posting your opinion anonymously. Cenla Antics currently has around 2,700 anonymously contributed entries. In many cases, anonymity allows people to reveal much more information than they normally would or could. Indeed, Cenla Antics is undoubtedly heavily populated with government employees and local government officials, and often, the information they reveal is sensitive. Anonymity allows them to ability to inform the public without jeopardizing their job. However, there are also numerous problems with this anonymous content. Much of it is petty, unsubstantiated, and mean-spirited gossip. There are also several instances of blatant political maneuvering and misinformation spun as fact.

After reading some particularly vicious and patently false statements about a certain local government official, I decided to address the Cenla Antics community. In doing so, I purposely broke the golden rule: I used my real name. Within an hour, responses began pouring in. The first response was from former City Councilman Rick Ranson, who also decided to break the rules and use his real name. Immediately, I realized that this blog is monitored by more people than I thought it was, and no doubt, many people in government use the blog as a legitimate source of information.

Throughout the next few days, I received a number of e-mails encouraging me to continue openly expressing my opinion. I also received an equal number of letters warning me about the perils of public exposure. I needed to consider my family, they said, and my business. People can be ruthless, especially when they're hiding under the cover of anonymity. There is no need to rehash some of the most egregious comments I received, but suffice it to say, Central Louisiana politics can be very volatile. Thankfully, I have learned to develop a thick skin, and I understand that personal attacks are the weapons of the pathetic. But the entire experience taught me something about Central Louisiana politics: It's much more entertaining when the real issue is obscured by gossip, innuendo, and long-winded rants on racism, religion, and morality. We hardly allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and engage the real issues, because we're either too distracted by personal politics or too hung-up debating issues of which we have very little control.

Last week, in an interview with The Town Talk, Martin Johnson said that our community needs "unity." Unity isn't just an abstraction or a hollow rhetorical device; it's real. Alexandria must look itself in the mirror, because we're currently suffering from an identity crisis.

Many people in our community have a tendency to separate issues along racial lines and political party lines. This, I believe, is a dangerously reductionistic worldview, and it hinders any progress that we could make. Alexandria is not just black and white, Republican and Democrat, Protestant and Catholic. We're quickly becoming a very diverse community, and although some people may not like this concept, it's a foregone conclusion. If you're not comfortable living around people of a different skin color or a different religious faith, you probably shouldn't be living in a city of over 50,000 people. At the same time, if politicians continue to rely on racially-charged rhetoric as a way of "bringing people together," then we're likely to be even more divided in the future.

I have this dream of real leadership in Alexandria. This is what it looks like: An intelligent, thoughtful mayor who understands how to build consensus and set realistic priorities (We may never realize how incredibly fortunate we were to have Mayor Randolph, an Ivy-League educated lawyer, at our city's helm for so many years) and a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. One possible solution to the conflicts of interest that continually plague members of our City Council is to make the position a full-time job. We're currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to do the research and the work that our City Council could perform if its members weren't beholden to their own personal business interests. Often, these consultants (in whatever form they may take) are business partners, relatives, or friends of Council members, and it's difficult for the public to accept that the Council is always fair with their determination of the best available candidate. Those of us who are paying close attention know that members of our Council, through both official and unofficial channels, have repeatedly appointed and nominated unqualified individuals into positions of importance. It's critical to note that this isn't anything new, and frankly, it has little to do with the individual members of the Council. The problem is with the way our government is organized.

I hope that every reader of The Town Talk will visit the Cenla Antics blog, located at cenlaantics.blogspot.com. Readers should also be aware of another Cenla political blog, Cenla Rambler, located at cenlarambler.blogspot.com . This is an election year, and it must be the responsibility of every citizen to stay informed of the issues. We must pay close attention to the daily news; sometimes the small decisions that are buried in the news end up making a huge impact on our daily lives. We must demand a real, substantive conversation about this election. We must hold our public officials accountable for their mistakes, and we must commend them for their accomplishments. We must recognize and embrace our diversity as a community, and we must reject any suggestion that our city "should" be run by a particular race. We must look forward to our future, and we must learn from the mistakes of our past. Finally, we must realize that Alexandria is not the quaint, small community that it once was and that any attempt to "return" to this era is ultimately futile. Alexandria is growing and expanding, and for this reason, we need intelligent, ethical, and compassionate leadership. We need individuals who are driven to serve because they want to improve their community, not their own bankroll. The best way to bring about unity, I believe, is by discussing our differences in an honest way. Let's take that first step.

|W|P|114557801718888108|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/20/2006 07:47:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Occasionally, I like to read these reader's write debates between Christians and atheists, and today's TT features yet another installment of this neverending back and forth. At issue is an article that TT published a few weeks ago about a Harvard study that said prayer wasn't scientifically provable. The study refuted the findings of a seriously flawed Columbia University, which said prayer had an 11% success rate (basically something that ridiculous). Anyway, this guy, Gray Easterling, wrote into complain about how secular the TT is and how it should have never published that story and how the story served no purpose other than to insult the faithful. Blah. Take it like a man, I say. As Mr. Shaw's letter pointed out today, the TT publishes PLENTY of religion-friendly stories. Heck, they even have a Religion Section on Sundays. It's not as if the religious voice is being censored. Geez. The truth is that the story was not the TT's. It was an international news item that was featured in almost all of the major national newspapers and all of the major cable news networks. I think it was an important story, because, at the very least, it has the possibility of convincing one person to seek medical care for an illness or ailment instead of relying solely on prayer.|W|P|114554508150513318|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/19/2006 11:19:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Mr. Aymond made a couple of follow-up remarks on Cenla Antics, one in which he admitted to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan for three months back in the late 70s. Whoa. Interesting backstory to this whole thing. But still, Mr. Aymond's right: That has nothing to do with the current case. I, for one, am interested to hear these tapes, because, if they're as damning as Aymond claims, then this could expose a little cover-up going on across the river. Someone else said this today: "Anonymous said...

I've been thinking alot lately about the two elitist republican candidates in the mayor's race. Everytime I pull up to a gas station I think damn why do some people, a minority thank God, want to put one of these republicans in the mayor's seat? The prosperity in Rapides is no thanks to repubs., but the price of gasoline is directly related."

Yes, everyone knows that a good Democrat mayor would be able to fly over to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Dubai and convince them to lower the price of gasoline in Rapides Parish.

Are you serious? I'm a liberal (SHOCK), and even I recognize that you can't blame our LOCAL politicians on the price of GASOLINE. Plus, party lines hardly matter on the local level. If you really want to blame a Republican, blame the President.

If that's what your party's platform ("Don't elect a Republican mayor! They're in control of gas prices!"), then you're dangerously ignorant.

|W|P|114547165587861930|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 07:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|An Editor's Copy of "Anonymous" Greg Aymond's Entry in Cenla Antics: (Disclaimer: I don't know Mr. Aymond, and I don't know the reasons I should care about this case. I'm sorry. I just couldn't help myself). Anonymous said...

I am Greg Aymond that everyone seems to have an opinion of. I am the Greg Aymond of which everyone seems to have an opinion. I sued Rich Dupre for slander, based 2 (two)separate and distinct acts of slander. First(,)he told a fellow board metting meeting thing I allegedly said in a meeting with Rich, in order to influence him to vote against me that morning. Not following you, Greg. He told a meeting board "thing"? What is a meeting board thing? The meeting never took place, as can be heard from my recording of my telephone conversation with Rich. Do you record all of your telephone conversations? Lawyers, gotta love 'em. Additionally, you can hear on that tape Rich Dupree (...you can hear Rich Dupree on that tape) telling me that my termination was political and in relation to the Roy Hebron matter, and had no reflections upon my legal ability. Almost a run-on sentence. No comma necessary. Yet approximately 2 (two) weeks later, he stated, also on tape and to a crowd of people, that my termination had nothing to do with Roy Hebron and that it was due to a lack of confidence in my legal abilities. You can also hear Dupree on tape, however, requesting that I continue to handle the ongoing litigation for the Water District. The Water District has, thus far, provided Dupree with legal defense in my lawsuit, although he had been removed from the Water Board by the Police Jury before the suit had been filed. Additionally, after the suit was filed, Pineville City Attorney, Jimmy Fairclothe, (Is this the correct spelling?) send (sent)me a letter denying me contact with the witness, Thurman Kelly of Pineville. With all due respect, there has to be something you're not telling the reader. Try revealing something about the narrator. Additionally, the Waterworks attorney, Greg Jones, posted memos to the Water District staff they they (that they)could not diiscuss (discuss) the Dupree case with me. When the 971 motion was filed by Dupree, it immediately stops the taking of depositions and requires the submission of affidavits. As there was no way I could obtain affidavits from the witnesses, (no comma necessary) and much of the evidence is on recorded tapes and in documents only available from the Waterworks, I filed a motion for discovery, as is allowed by 971. Wordy. Try splitting this sentence into two sentences.Article 971 states that there is to be an evidentiary hearing on that discovery motion. However, after sending subpoenas out for a showing of how I had been denied the ability to obtain affidavits, (no comma necessary) and Mr. Jones admitting to Judge Jackson in chambers that he had so instructed the waterworks employees, Judge Jackson dismissed my entirte (entire) case, and without granting me the hearing required by 971. I was also ordered to pay the attorney fees of Dupree and all court costs. To clarify, there has never been a hearing on the merits of my claims. No court of law has ever heard the Dupree tapes. Is it possible that these tapes were recorded illegally? I'm missing a part of the story here. Explain to your reader why the law is in your favor. There was a 3 (All numbers under 100 should be spelled in letters; three) judge panel on the court of appeal (proper noun) who decided the appeal, in a 2 (two) to 1 (one) split. Based upon the strong dissent in my favor, a (scratch the lonely a) I am considering requesting a re-hearing (one word, rehearing)before the entire appellate court. Depending upon that outcome, I will consider applying for writs to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Several things one should consider are: Why haven't any of the people I have been reporting for wrongdoing sued me? Perhaps because they know truth is an absolute defense. Perhaps they're not threatened by you and don't want anything from you. The narrator should extend more empathy toward his advisary in order to make the story more believable. As an attorney for 20 (twenty)years, I am careful in saying only what I can prove. Additionally, why is someone allegedly honest (Honest should be in quotations. Otherwise the sentence reads like, "...allegedly honest working) working so hard to stop a court of law from hearing his own words captured on tape? Do I have an ongoing vendetta? Yes I do. I will continue to vigorously work to expose lawbreakers and public officials who act contrary to serving the public. (The public? What does this case really have to do with the public?)As to the Anonomous (Anonymous) writer who said such bitter things against me here, I suspect that is Waterboard member Roger Toney, as he has never learned that my surname has no "s" on the end. (You better hope you're right Mr. Aymond. Otherwise you may have just committed libel).Keep in mind, if it is, Roger, (,if it is Roger,) as have other Board members, has already been found to be unethical by the State Ethics Board. Anyone who doesn't belive (believe) me, feel free to contact my office to hear and see the truth. Just direct the reader to a website. It'd make you much more believable.I personally do not understand how any American citizen can support witholding (withholding) evidence and the truth. Thank you. No, thank you.

|W|P|114541574473748082|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 06:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|The Number One Reason People Do Not Pay Their Rent: Their Utility Bill. And many of these people (the honest ones) can either pay for power and try to convince their landlord to give them an extension on rent or pay their rent and hope the city doesn't cut off their power. Property Managers (and/or "Landlords") can only give residents a certain amount of time before they have to file for eviction. I've been to a few of these proceedings, and suffice it to say, the city probably makes a good bit of money on eviction cases (or someone does). What does this mean? In many cases, the high price of utilities is causing people to lose their homes. (You could attempt to argue that it's the "high" price of rent, but that'd be totally bogus in Alexandria, where rents haven't significantly increased in at least eight years. In fact, Alexandria is probably way below market, considering the current demand is substantially higher than our supply). The city may have ways of solving this problem in the future, but the damage that has already been done is irreparable. They should focus on cutting energy costs however than can and increasing efficiency; then, we could pass the savings back to the consumer. But for now, a utility bill is a utility bill, and if it's not paid, your power is turned off. We don't need to refund. We need to reduce.|W|P|114541121555319187|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/18/2006 09:49:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Score One for the Town Talk! In today's issue, the paper slams the Pineville City Council for endorsing H.B. 8, a ridiculous piece of legislation that whines about spending advertisement money with certain newspapers in certain communities. There are a number of problems with this stupid bill (and it doesn't surprise me that our elected officials here in Alexandria endorsed the bill without checking the facts). From the article: "

The truth is that legal advertising -- "the legals," as they are known -- are state-mandated public notices that tell taxpayers all kinds of things that are important to them, their families, their neighbors and their future, such as:

 When the school board will vote on a plan to change the attendance zone for the schools your children attend.

 How much you'll be on the hook for if a town, airport authority or sewer district borrows millions to build the flavor-of-the-day project.

 Whether a planning commission will rezeone the property next to your house so someone can build a ... well, we'll let you fill in the blank.

The truth is that there are sound reasons why state law requires government bodies to publish notices about the public's business where people can find them easily and where a third party can prove that the notices were, in fact, published.

That place, historically and appropriately, has been in a community's daily newspaper. In this case, that means The Town Talk."

This seems like dirty politics, and I think they're underestimating the Town Talk's ability to shift opinion.

Keep up the good work.

|W|P|114538211783717332|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/16/2006 12:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Dean's Side of the Story (Or Step Into His Shoes For Just a Second): Disclaimer: My thoughts on the Hotel Bentley are based on personal encounters and conversations with members of local government, local business leaders, and associates and employees of Bob Dean Classic Properties. Don't read too much into this. I am not aware of any deal or offer on the hotel; I simply asked questions. (Anyone who wants to can find the e-mail addresses of the central players). In 1997, Bob Dean purchased the Hotel Bentley from an investment group in Baton Rouge. Dean, who was born and raised in Alexandria, wanted to own the hotel for sentimental reasons. His real estate portfolio includes some of the largest and most expensive commercial and residential buildings in Louisiana, and the Bentley was just another purchase. To those who have heard rumors about Mr. Dean's alleged financial troubles, visit his website for a sampling of his real estate holdings. It's very common for people who own a lot of real estate to constantly buy and sell property, and it often has little to do with their finances; it's just the way they like to play the real estate game. Mr. Dean is apparently very passionate about restoring historic property, and after he purchased the Bentley, he spent a considerable amount of money on cosmetic repairs and embellishments. Dean, like many people who invest in downtowns, was given many incentives by the government, on both the local and the federal levels. He was also encouraged by promises of convention business; he was told that the city would be increasing the number and variety of conventions. In the hotel business, you can't magically create guests; you're reliant on the city to attract visitors. The city's ability to attract conventions has a direct correlation to the profitability of your business. Dean bought the hotel in 1997, and if you recall, the city was spending a lot of money and time on downtown revitalization. We were talking a good game. There was even a downtown plan that was enacted. But soon, a new City Council was elected, and well, their practices and modus operandi are well documented already (though we could always use more information). In the words of one prominent local businessperson, "People are afraid of the Bentley because the owner must be beholden to the City Council for tax incentives in exchange of under the table kickbacks." Nowhere is this most evident than with the hotel across the street from the Bentley, the Holiday Inn. Real estate investors often have to play the political game, but there is an "Alexandria way of doing things," as it has been described to me from successful developers throughout the state. In other words, there seem to be groups or factions of people who have laid claim to certain areas of town, downtown being one of them, and if you plan on building, restoring, or developing in Alexandria, you have to be sure to include certain people in on the deal. This isn't necessarily "illegal;" most of the time, certain individuals filter their "investments" through secondary and tertiary means. But it's definitely not lucrative. It means that an historic hotel, like the Bentley, will continually struggle, because too many people somehow feel entitled to the hotel's profits. Bob Dean acted alone. He bought the hotel, and in doing so, he supplied 125 jobs to the local economy. He was an outsider. Although he is originally from Alexandria, he lives and works in Baton Rouge. When the hotel shut its doors, our immediate inclination as a community was to blame the owner and the management. But what if it's not the fault of ownership or management? What if our community and our government are to blame? What if the "Alexandria way of doing things" creates an impossible situation for people who really want to make a difference here? After all, if Mr. Dean is truly such a terrible person, why would he invest so much of his own money on the hotel? Honestly. I suspect that there is a lot to this story that will never be reported, primarily because Mr. Dean's business records are proprietary, and he has the right to keep them private. But I also feel like he's been painted unfairly. And if we're really going to get somewhere in our discussions about the future of our city and the future of our downtown, we should probably address the real reasons why it's almost impossible to run a profitable business downtown. I can't know this for sure, but I suspect that Mr. Dean's demolition request was just a political manuever. I suspect that Mr. Dean would never really consider demolition, but that it was his way of reminding our government that he owned the hotel, not them. Oh... and what of the stories about how he "raped" the hotel of its fixtures? It seems to me that he removed the fixtures most prone to vandalism (the stained glass and the chandeliers). From what I understand, any trade fixtures removed from the hotel (that is considered a part of the hotel's trade) must be returned. If you owned a hotel and you had to close it because it wasn't making any money, wouldn't it be smart to remove some of the hotel's valuable fixtures while it's vacant? One of the reasons for the one-sidedness of this whole story is that Dean doesn't talk to the press. We hear the city's side of the story, but we never hear his. And it's his right to stay silent. I have never personally met Mr. Dean, but I have a strong feeling that he could give a great testimonial on the woes of doing big business in Alexandria. What is the solution to all of this? I think Martin Johnson was right when he said our community needs unity. Number one. We also need full transparency from our government. We need a City Council who is in business for the city, not for themselves. And we need to ensure that businesses who invest in our community are not afraid of working with our government.|W|P|114522026417311392|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/15/2006 04:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Another Rebuttal to the Notion that Hollywood Isn't Interested in Marketing Christian Films "

There's also money. The literary world has been reaping profits for decades with religious fare. The biblical "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, for example, have racked up sales of more than $650 million and spawned four movies.

But it wasn't until "Passion" arrived in theaters in February 2004 that major studios saw their own stairway to financial heaven.

Before Mel Gibson's telling of the Crucifixion, "we all knew we had a lot to learn about this market, which was obviously underserved," says Steve Feldstein of 20th Century Fox's new division, Fox Faith.

The department markets the studio's DVDs and feature films to hundreds of pastors nationwide. The studio offers churches trailers, posters and even Bible study guides for its Christian-based home videos.

As "Passion" marched to more than $370 million in North America, "it gave us all our MBA's pretty quickly," Feldstein says. Executives discovered that a thumbs-up from a pastor could go further than from a film critic and that word of mouth spreads pretty quickly in a church, he says. "For many families, church isn't just somewhere you go to pray," he says. "It's a social venue. There's more opportunity for discussion of things beyond just faith.""

See, the funny thing about this discussion is that it proves, to me at least, how fundamentalists spin the facts in order to make religion seem more oppressed and denigrated than it really is.

|W|P|114514343387000242|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 04:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Liberals taking over Natchitoches? Have you been to Natchitoches recently? It's rockin'!

If the anti-religious, anti-conservative musings of Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw represent the prevailing philosophy of Natchitoches Parish, Alexandria is on the verge of being toppled as Central Louisiana's capital of liberalism. I love this fundamentalist device: If you write anything that criticizes (or even analyzes) their worldview, you're suddenly anti-religious. It's as if this writer myopically believes her religion is the only religion in the world.

Also, this is a really weak argument: IF Richard Taylor and Bill Shaw REPRESENT a "prevailing" PHILOSOPHY, then Alexandria is on the VERGE of being toppled?? What?? And if they don't represent the prevailing philosophy, then your entire letter is for naught.

Shaw attacked a conservative who expressed an opinion in these pages concerning the release of the new movie "The Da Vinci Code." He decried another writer who praised a conservative columnist, stating that what one means when one says "that another has 'common sense' is that the other holds the same opinions and world view as the speaker." Decried? Attacked? And look: You're saying the same thing that Mr. Shaw was decrying. Your concept of common sense is also tied into your worldview. Shaw's naïve version of an America where the absolute freedom of expression and the unbridled exchange of ideas flourish indicates that the status quo in the public square makes "sense" to him because it represents his own world view. There is no equality in Hollywood. The individual consumer is not driving the market place. Despite the fact that "The Passion of the Christ" has been seen by more people than all of the liberal, preachy films nominated for the Academy Award for best picture combined, there will be no glut of pro-religious movies next year. No matter that "The Chronicles of Narnia" will out-perform the R-rated barrage of movies dumped onto the American consumer; there will be no rush to produce wholesome, family-friendly films. Now, we move onto the Hollywood argument, and you defeat yourself here. You're telling us that the individual consumer doesn't "drive" the market place. AND THEN you're reminding us that two of the most successful movies in the past three years are Christian-themed. Thanks. I suppose that these major studio, world-wide releases that have collectively grossed BILLIONS of dollars represent the "good" part of Hollywood... and have nothing to do with its acknowledgment of the profitability of Christian stories. Same thing with those LifeWay stores. And the Trinity Broadcasting Network. They're GOOD capitalists who play by the EXACT same rules in the EXACT same markets the bad capitalists play in.

Like an unruly tyrant, Hollywood dictates what America is allowed to choose for entertainment. Movie producers have the right to produce films that represent their world view if they desire, but, by the same token, movie theater owners should have the right to show the films they choose as well. They should not be obligated to demonstrate what some would consider "neutrality" when the producers are certainly not responding to the desires of the American people. There is nothing wrong with conservatives expressing their ideas, just as liberals like Mr. Shaw are allowed to do, in an attempt to sway public opinion.

Conservatives control the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and the Congress. Conservatives own major news networks and entertainment companies. And yet you somehow believe that conservatives don't have the opportunity to express their opinion. WHAT? WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE ON? Instead of attacking specific Christians, Richard Taylor went right to the source, calling the divine writings of the Bible "barbaric theology." Atheists use the same tactic, pointing to the dark moments in history when men destroyed one another in the name of religion. Is this a fair assessment of Mr. Taylor's argument? These anti-Bible "experts" never give the statistics of how many murders never took place because of the moral foundation, given to men through religious belief, which prevents us from acting on our hatred, anger and wicked desires. Western Civilization is built upon the holy Bible, which states "Thou shall not kill." What sort of liberal brew are they drinking in Natchitoches these days? Let's hear from some conservatives over there, if there are any left. Statistics on how many murders NEVER took place? Whhhaaaa??? Are you kidding me? How could that possibly be quantifiable? They may be drinking a liberal brew, ma'am, but you're the one who seems completely drunk.

Eddie Thompson, Jena

|W|P|114505869487019863|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 03:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| In From the Night: Premiering Sunday, April 23 on CBS. Five years ago, I enrolled in a personal essay class at Rice University. The instructor, Dr. Marsha Recknagel was a Louisiana native, and at the time, Dr. Recknagel was finishing her memoir, If Nights Could Talk. The memoir recounts Recknagel's strained relationship with her family and the experience of adopting her sixteen year old nephew, Jamie. Jamie shuffled through schools and hospitals before finally landing on Marsha's doorstep in Houston. It's a fantastic book, and it has received numerous accolades and awards, including an LA Times Notable Book of the Year award. Marsha was also on the shortlist for the Penn/Faulkner award. Next week, the movie, starring Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Hardin, will premiere on CBS, and I am attempting to spread the good news. Watch it! Get the family together! Tell them that the movie is about someone from Louisiana! In fact, the whole family is from Louisiana! Shreveport, to be precise. Marsha is one of my best friends in the world, and until recently, she's been reluctant to tell people that this movie is about her. But she's finally giving the okay... and I promised her I'd help promote it. If anyone has any questions for Marsha, feel free to send them to me... and I'll forward them over to her. It's really rare that someone you know has a movie made about their life. It's even more rare when this someone is your mentor and one of your best friends. Almost every word of the movie is lifted directly from the pages of her book. I promise: You won't be disappointed. |W|P|114505379624847564|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/14/2006 01:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I sent this to the TT for publication: About a month ago, I stumbled across a veritable gold mine of information and news on Central Louisiana, a blog that called itself “Cenla Antics.” Although the blog had been in operation since October of 2005, its existence was only known to a handful of people, most of whom contributed to the site regularly and anonymously. The blog covered a variety of issues, and I found that it served as an interestering cultural and political barometer. It also became obvious to me that many of these anonymous contributors were people with an inside knowledge of local government. I suspect that there are even local government officials who anonymously contributed to this blog. Although I found it frustrating that the vast majority of contributors cloaked themselves in anonymity, it was hard for me to ignore the wealth of insight they provided. I decided to join in the discussion, using my real name and expressing my real opinions. As a result, I received a fair amount of attention. When I questioned why most people chose to remain anonymous, one blogger who calls himself “Civil Sentient” said, “You should know that people that work in government cannot speak their mind on open forums without a very real danger of loosing their jobs.” In other words, the individuals with the most insight into the innerworkings of our local government cannot openly express their experience without fear of reprisal. There are countless stories that The Town Talk could publish, if it only had a legitmate source who would go on the record. Indeed, I have learned, throughout the past month, that most of us in Central Louisiana are woefully uninformed about the true nature of our government and the ways in which government develops lucrative partnerships witth private industry. Often, these partnerships are not in the best interest of the community; they exist solely to funnel tax dollars to private citizens connected by friendship or family to government officials. In Louisiana, this system of entitlement is known as “the good ol’ boy network,” and we have been conditioned to accept this as a basic fact of government. However, this dynamic is the definition of government corruption, and it should be the responsibility of the press to expose these violations of the public trust, regardless of who is in power. The Town Talk should be actively pursuing sources with this inside information, exchanging their testimony with the promise of anonymity. This is standard practice for newspapers in larger cities, and there is no reason it would not be effective in Central Louisiana. After all, most of these people are already speaking their mind in the blogosphere. I decided to create my own blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com, in order to give myself a venue to express my personal take on the news. Currently, my blog receives between 100 and 150 unique visits per day, and this, I believe, is a testament to the number of people who are actively engaged in our community. My blog has allowed me to learn information that I would otherwise never know, and it has awakened a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope for the future of our community. I believe in the old adage, “The truth shall set you free,” and I know that there are good, honest people serving our community who are repulsed by the good ol’ boy mentality. There are a handful of blogs that focus on Central Louisiana, and I encourage readers of The Town Talk to peruse these sites: cenlaantics.blogspot.com, cenlarambler.blogspot.com, wesawthat.blogspot.com, and of course, my personal blog, cenlamar.blogspot.com.|W|P|114504530241822954|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 08:23:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Dear Readers, I have created an alternative to the Cenla Antics blog that allows easy navigation and a quick download. The discussion will be unmoderated, and bloggers can categorize their entries by subject matter. Check out cenlarambler.blogspot.com and make it your new home. cenlarambler.blogspot.com That's cenlarambler.blogspot.com Let's talk, Lamar|W|P|114498524437754707|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 04:14:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I'm sure we all want to know more about this Cleco energy trader who is suing for wrongful termination. From the TT: "John Curley, who has been in a wheelchair since he was 18, alleges in a lawsuit filed in 9th Judicial District Court that Cleco orchestrated a series of humiliations designed to force him to quit." This series of humiliations allegedly includes an illegal trade order from a supervisor. In the meantime, here's a year old story about Louisiana College. Just reminding everyone how lopsided this truly is. For those of you who think the opposition comes from the "extreme left," consider this:

PINEVILLE, La. (ABP) - Trustees of embattled Louisiana College will meet Jan. 17 to try again to elect a president, but they likely will be sued to prevent him from taking office. Aguillard's opinion that this is a "sacred calling" makes me wonder if he also believes he's being "persecuted" because of his beliefs. It's a great rhetorical position, because, like I said earlier, it allows one to feel like they are both the victor and the victim.

Joe Aguillard, 47, a conservative professor and chair of the education division at the Louisiana Baptist school, will be nominated as president Jan. 17, trustee chair Timothy Johnson announced Jan. 6. One year and three months later, this calling finally became a reality.

Critics say Aguillard's nomination - and likely election - are in violation of the school's bylaws because the committee nominating him was illegally appointed. A group of school alumni and supporters plan to file a lawsuit Jan. 11 to stop the election.

The committee was ILLEGALLY appointed. Sure, they make their own laws as they feel necessary, but it is important to point out that this Board of Trustees are perhaps more controversial than Aguillard. Meanwhile, the college's faculty voted 53-12 to oppose the nomination of Aguillard, their faculty colleague, to become president. You read that correctly. 53 to 12! That's an OVERWHELMING majority. I suppose the Board, due to their direct connection to God and His Divine Plan, care very little for the democratic process or the opinions of the men and women who have built their careers around Louisiana College.

The school has been in turmoil for more than a year after fundamentalists gained control of the trustee board. After a dispute over textbook and faculty-election policies, the college's president, chief academic administrator and trustee chair resigned. Remember this absolutely insane story? They BANNED Ernest Gaines's "A Lesson Before Dying" and Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled." Remember? These people are dangerously ignorant.

In December the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the college on probation - one step short of withdrawing accreditation - for violating the association's standards for academic freedom and proper governance, saying trustees were unduly influenced by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship. Someone wrote in and said that LC was no longer in jeopardy of losing accreditation. I have news for you: Yes it is. It's obvious these people have no concept of academic freedom. (Look at today's story in the TT). They may have been taken off of probation, but that doesn't mean it can't happen again.

The crisis deepened after Texas educator Malcolm Yarnell suddenly withdrew as president Nov. 23 - two months after his election but before taking office - citing "governance issues." I'm interested in knowing more about these "governance issues."

The search committee wanted to nominate as president Stan Norman, a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who had been the committee's second choice. But trustee officers, who reportedly preferred Aguillard, responded by trying to expand the search committee to add more conservatives or dismiss the original committee. Wow! The Trustees didn't care who the Search Committee selected; they had their man... and if you second guessed them, well, you were second guessing the WILL OF GOD.

Aguillard supporters say the original committee's power expired when Yarnell was elected president. But members of the original committee insist no contract was ever signed with Yarnell and the bylaws require them to remain in place until a president is hired. Either way, it's a technicality, and Aguillard was not the first choice of the search committee or the faculty. I'm not really sure why he wants the gig so much.

Trustee leaders held a press conference Jan. 6 to announce the trustee board will vote on Aguillard, an LC education professor for the past four years and former school board superintendent.

"The board has placed his name for nomination and it was referred to a special committee charged with bringing his name back before the board for a full up or down vote," trustee chair Johnson said in a prepared statement. "This is not a circumvention of the process but rather a part of the process afforded the board in our bylaws." No, it's a circumvention and an abuse of power in an attempt to squash dissent. It's OBVIOUS.

Johnson said he sought an opinion from the parliamentarian of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which appoints trustees. "In his opinion, and according to Robert's Rules [of Order], this [special] committee is valid, was duly formed, and is appropriately charged with bringing Dr. Aguillard's name before the board - with or without recommendation," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been prepared and a temporary restraining order will be requested to block the Jan. 17 election, Stan Lott of Pineville, a retiring professor at Louisiana College, told Associated Baptist Press.

According to Lott, former vice president for academic affairs, an attorney who serves on the board said the trustees violated their own bylaws by dismissing the original committee. "Once [the board] specifies who is on the search committee, it is to stay in place until a president is found," Lott said. That's exactly right. You can't just appoint an independent committee and then refuse to hold up your end of the agreement. Those people wasted all of that time and energy for nothing. Yet another example of how these people don't understand academic freedom.

Lott said he met with a group of attorneys to discuss legal action. "We decided the only recourse left for people concerned about the college is through the courts."

Lott said the group, which is enlisting other plaintiffs, hopes to file the suit by Jan. 11, alleging the trustees have caused "irreparable damage to the school." I really hope this damage is not irreparable.

"Even conservatives [among Louisiana Baptists] are really disturbed by what these Taliban trustees are doing," Lott said. "They are continuing to recklessly ignore accreditation, and if it continues, they will have accreditation withdrawn."

Trustee chair Johnson defended the board's action and called Aguillard "a top-notch educator who is theologically sound." He added the professor is "a man of integrity, internationally recognized scholarship, sterling character and unequaled leadership." Remind me again: When was Dr. Aguillard's scholarship recognized INTERNATIONALLY?

Lott disagreed. "He has neither the education nor the experience to serve as president of Louisiana College. He is a fundamentalist to the core." Yeah. Four years as a professor and sixteen years in one of the worst public school districts in the country does not impress me.

Aguillard, a Louisiana native, received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana College, two master's degrees from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., and a doctorate of education from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

He held a number of administrative positions with the Beauregard Parish School Board between 1984 and 2000, rising eventually to superintendent, before taking his current position with Louisiana College.

|W|P|114497300111485763|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P||W|P|114494625811803387|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|One of the Reasons Why LC Won't Be the "Best Liberal Arts School in the State:" The Biography of Centenary College's President, Kenneth Schwab: Appointed the 28th President of Centenary College in 1991, Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab is also a tenured professor in the Department of Education. He and his wife, Pat, have three sons (Kempten, Carlton, and Christopher) who have all played soccer and helped raise the family's two Jack Russell Terriers. He comes most recently from the University of South Carolina where he served as Executive Vice President for Administration. Dr. Schwab hails originally from Indiana where he received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1969. He then earned his master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1972 and his doctorate in higher education administration at Indiana University in 1978. Dr. Pat Schwab received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and then studied developmental and remedial reading at the University of Southern Mississippi, receiving her doctorate in curriculum and instruction there in 1971. She has taught education courses, served in university administration, published on the craft of reading, and worked in curriculum development for 25 years. A faithful contributor to the college community, Pat Schwab has actively supported Centenary as well. Dr. Schwab teaches a course at Centenary every year while supervising student teachers in Caddo and Bossier Parishes. She also hosts receptions and other occasions often at the Schwab home, including dinners each fall for all new first-year Centenary students. Under President Schwab’s leadership at Centenary, The Vision for the Future comprehensive campaign raised over $100 million for the college. This amount exceeded the original target by $30 million, enabling residence hall, fitness center, athletic facilities, and arts complex renovations. Involvement with Centenary students has been integral to President Schwab throughout his tenure here. Centenary’s First-Year Experience program saw him as an instructor during Spring 2003 when he team-taught Aristotle and water management, among other topics. He also recently traveled with the internationally renowned Centenary College Choir to Europe, Brazil, and South Africa. A recent participant in the Salzburg Seminar sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Chair of the Associated Colleges of the South Board of Directors, Dr. Schwab has also published a book, numerous articles, and several institutional planning documents regarding presidential leadership and transformational change. Dr. Schwab serves on the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana Board and AmSouth Bank’s Shreveport-Bossier Advisory Board. Dr. Schwab also maintains membership in Omicron Delta Kappa and actively participates on Centenary’s behalf in many other local and national organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.|W|P|114494619095869345|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/13/2006 09:27:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Reposted comment for clarification purposes: To the LC professor: What are you talking about? Slanderous ramblings? SLANDEROUS? With all due respect, sir or madam, do you know the meaning of the word slander or are you simply hyperbolizing in order to make your point? That is a serious accusation. Where, I ask, did I committ the crime of slander? Professor, you should know that there is a difference between satire and slander. I do not know the man personally, and I am not attempting to make a value judgment of his character. I am simply reading what has been supplied to me, and these are the facts:1. Dr. Aguillard's "doctorate" degree is in organizational leadership and diversity training.2. His belief that this position is a "sacred calling" precludes any argument against him. It puts those who do not agree with him in a morally indefensible situation.3. THESE ARE HIS WORDS! I didn't make this up. 4. His C.V. (or at least the summary of it) does very little to address how and why he is the most qualified person to steward a liberal arts college.5. His three-fold concept of the academy and his magical treasure chest musings are antithetical to the concept of the academy. The academy is founded on the concept of the OPEN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. If a college and its dean purport to change the basic underpinnings of the academy, they are announcing a paradigm shift in their pedagogy. I am sorry that you lost confidence in me, but I don't require the confidence of an apologetic LC professor who stands idly by while his school is overtaken by religious fundamentalists. If I can't use a man's words and his experience as a guidepost for WHO he is, then what can I use? By the way, go ahead and say what you want to about my family and its vices. I promise you: You wouldn't be the first person to judge my family on a public forum. (By the way, that's another thing that gets me. I NEVER said anything negative about his family. He is in a leadership position and deserves the full scrutiny of the public. Also, I OBVIOUSLY care deeply about the future of LC. Why else would I waste my energy and expose myself to attack from those entrenched in his administration?)|W|P|114494572540499030|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com4/12/2006 07:08:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|"Unchanging Foundations in Changing Times" The Inauguration of President Joe Aguillard. Lifted from the pages of the program: President Joe Aguillard In January of 2005, Dr. Joe Aguillard was named Louisiana College's eighth president by the Board of Trustees. He assumed the duties of the office immediately and has been working tirelessly for his alma mater ever since. It sure seems like it took a long time to finally make this official. Perhaps this has something to do with that lawsuit. He is only the second alumnus of Louisiana College to serve as the school's president, following in the footsteps of the late Dr. G. Earl Guinn. I don't know who Dr. Guinn was, but I'm not sure Dr. Aguillard is following in anyone's footsteps. He seems to be blazing his own trail. Dr. Aguillard has been on faculty at Louisiana College since 2000, but his personal history with the College is a long and storied one. Both of Aguillard's parents attended Louisiana College and met at the liberal arts school. He and his wife met at Louisiana College, and all three of their daughters have attended their parent's alma mater. That TOTALLY makes him qualified! "My ties are very deep and very entwined with Louisiana College," Dr. Aguillard says. "The position is a sacred calling for me, and I will make decisions and guard my actions knowing that my work here is far beyond a career move." A sacred calling??? So God called him up and told him to become the Dean of LC? So God= The LC Board of Trustees? Holding an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Aguillard and also holds two McNeese State University master's degrees and his bachelor's degree from Louisiana College. Prior to joining the Louisiana College faculty, he was the Superintendent of Schools of Beauregard Parish. Let's do a little fact finding. What, you ask, is an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University? From the program's website:

The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program has been created to assist adult learners to meet both current and future leadership challenges facing their organizations. This program has been designed to address the needs of practitioners by linking theory to the best practices of leadership. The program is based on the conviction that contemporary leaders must learn to lead the change process so that services are effectively and efficiently delivered to an increasingly diverse population. Essentially, leaders must learn to lead change in the context of a turbulent economy and a rapidly developing technology for the 21st century.

The primary audience of this program will be individuals with background in human services, human resources, staff developers/trainers, military personnel, middle managers.

And the requirements of the degree are as follows:

Students must fulfill the following graduation requirements. 1. Attend Doctoral Student Orientation at NSU 2. Attend Summer Conference within the first year of admission into the program (required for all students entering as of fall 2004). 3. Attend and pass all core courses (30 credits) 4. Attend and pass all specialization courses (18 credits) - Please see the important announcement regarding the sunset of the DOL program. 5. Attend and pass all research courses (9 credits - Please see the important announcement regarding the phasing out of ARO courses.) 6. Successfully complete: -The applied dissertation seminar 1: concept paper (2 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 2: proposal (4 credits) -The applied dissertation seminar 3: report (3 credits) 7. Be current in all tuition, fees, and miscellaneous charges (including books).

Total requirements: 66 credit hours (all requirements must be completed within five years from the date of the beginning of the term of entry).

Let me get this straight: They're calling this guy a doctor because he attended a FIVE YEAR LONG program for "adult" professionals (also known as "distance" or "continued" learning) who need leadership training because of the fast-paced world of "technology." Oh, and the guy got to learn what it is like to live in a world with a "diverse population."

How is he the most qualified person in the world? Did they even attempt to search for a dean? Or did they just promote another good ol' boy?

"Louisiana College stands in a unique position as an academic and spiritual 'Louisiana Treasure,'" Dr. Aguillard says. "With the full support of our alumni and Southern Baptist churches, our beloved LC will continue to grow in value as a gleaming treasure chest of opportunity for our children." Louisiana treasure? Treasure chest? Where's the rainbow? Dr. Aguillard has always a strong rapport with the student body. In 2004, he was named Professor of the Year, an award voted on by the student body at large. Look: Proof that students LOVE him. The Teacher Education Department, under Dr. Aguillard's leadership, received consistently high marks from the Louisiana Board of Regents, among others, and led the nation in percentage growth. He led a group of Louisiana College students in researching and writing the curriculum for the Heart of Spain art exhibit at the Alexandria Museum of Art in 2003. The curriculum was used by teachers and students throughout the world. This is just ridiculous. His claim to fame is assisting students in writing a curriculum for the Heart of Spain exhibit? Are you kidding me? His Teacher Education Department faculty adopted a conceptual framework relating to their Christian worldview that follows the Scripture, Ecclesiastes 4:12, which reads, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." The Department uses this conceptual framework to describe a dynamic educator. This framework encompasses Christian service, mastery of subject matter, and the attributes of a practioner teacher. Of the "three strands," two include being a Christian. "The greatest strength that Louisiana College has is that we are unashamed to declare that all power in heaven and earth lies with Jesus Christ," Dr. Aguillard says. "As we are able to plug into that power, there is nothing too hard to do or accomplish." Everyone knows that in order to be admitted into LC, students MUST declare their allegiance to Jesus Christ. It's just like every other "liberal arts" college in the world. "Education in the truest sense is none other than the development of the image of God that is planted in every human being," Dr. Aguillard says. I think Socrates said the same thing. Or was it Plato? No, no, no, it was David Koresh. Dr. Aguillard says he envisions a Louisiana College with higher enrollment, financial stability, academic excellence, and Biblical values. "This will be the greatest liberal arts college the state has ever seen," he says. I literally laughed out loud the first time I read this. Dr. Aguillard and his wife, Judy, have three daughters, Jill Reid, Julie, and Jodi. Jill's husband, Will Reid, is also an LC alumnus. Rock.|W|P|114489535173584417|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->