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Friday, June 30, 2006 by Blogger

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow (Can You Imagine Ari Fleischer or Scott McClellan In This Get Up?)

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Widespread Cellular Phone Outage Reported in Central Louisiana

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Breaking Headline News: Fast Food Restaurants Don't Give Us Enough Ketchup Congratulations to my friend Matt Lee for making the news by demonstrating proper condiment usage.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 by Blogger

CenLamar Feature: Ten Under Thirty Part One of a series profiling of the work and service of ten Central Louisianans under the age of thirty. Michael D. Smith Religious Studies scholar, world traveler, humanitarian, Alexandria native. After graduating college in 2005, Michael Smith moved from Houston to New Orleans to help with disaster relief. Next month, Michael, a recent recepient of the Fulbright Scholarship, will travel across the Pacific once again (he spent over a year in Nepal as a college student) in order to conduct research on Newar and Tibetan Buddhism. 1. For those of us who don't know, what exactly is the Fulbright Scholarship?
The scholarship is a prestigious award given by the Department of State's Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs to students and scholars to conduct research in a foreign country, in order to "forward mutual cooperation and understanding between different cultures." It covers tuitions, living, shipping, travel and research expenses, allowing me to completely devote myself to my course of studies.
2. Where and what will you be studying? I am looking into a contemporary sythesis of Newar (the indigenous population of Kathmandu) and Tibetan Buddhism that has been catalyzed by the influx of Tibetan refugees into the Kathmandu Valley since the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959. I will stay in a small new Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the traditional Newar village Chapagaon, a little ways outside of Kathmandu. I'm fascinated by the way both Tibetans and Newars have made great effort to bridge large cultural gaps in language and ritual. 3. Interesting. Yeah. You know, it's nice to see two sects of a religion attempting to reconcile and move forward, rather than killing each other. The road to heaven is no competition, after all! I'd also like to add here that my interest in matters of the spirit was nurtured at Emmanual Baptist Church in Downtown Alexandria. Dr. Larry Taylor and Dr. Lee Weems have continued to be a source of inspiration and deeper knowledge. They share my conviction that truth is the monopoly of no one, and real understanding of one's own beliefs often comes through the lens of others.
4. Is there a particular reason or quality about Nepal that compels you?
Nepal is one of the most diverse places in the world, and cosmopolitan Kathmandu reflects that. Not only is there more than thirty ethnic groups, people from all over the world live and travel through the country. I love meeting someone from a place I've never heard of, and now that English has become an international language, it is not hard to have meaningful exchanges with most people. Not only do I have many Nepali, Indian and Tibetan friends there, I have made some great connections with Mexicans, Australians, Swedes, Germans, Japanese, and South Koreans, to name a few.
5. Talk a little about the cultural differences you've noticed between Alexandria, Louisiana and Kathmandu.
The pace is much slower, kinda like the difference between Alexandria and a northern city. For example, if I meet an acquaintance on the road in Kathmandu, we will stop, chat, and often break for tea. You don't find that relaxed openness very often in the USA. Another example: In Nepal, most mothers don't particularly mind if you play with their small children, even as a stranger. People are just very friendly and trusting. 6. And the similarities. In today's hyperconnected world, especially with the internet, we are seeing the emergence of a global youth culture. I believe that there is more difference today between the old and young than between Asians and Middle Easterners and Westerners. Nepalis our age connect with the same things we do: Bob Marley, Nirvana, Scarface, hashish, weblogs, late night dance parties, garage bands, an appreciation of the world as a unified organism... 7. Talk about the ways in which religion works itself into the every day lives of the Nepali people. Their ancient temples and stories are not considered artifacts or history or museum pieces (like) the way we treat our own religious heritage. Every morning at sunrise millions of Nepali women ring a bell and make offerings of food, water, light, incense and flowers at the same roadside shrine that their mothers and grandmothers have been doing for countless centuries. Theirs is truly a living tradition, and they believe that the divine can manifest itself in anything, including majestic groves of trees, rocks, rivers or crossroads. Every aspect of life points to the sacred; it is the sacred, and worshipped as such. It is actually quite beautiful. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion by merely watching these simple acts of devotion. Hell, I'm tearing up right now thinking about it! 8. Onto another subject. You moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What have you been up to in New Orleans?
In the beginning of December I began cleaning and rebuilding some friends' houses in Midcity, all of whom are organized through the Louisiana Himalayan Association, which is a social work organization that conducts development projects through Tulane University both in New Orleans and Dharamsala India. It has been very difficult at times, but NOLA is still the coolest city in America and the music scene is unrivaled. I've also been doing a lot of gardening; tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, herbs. Anyway, I heard enough people bitching about how few Louisianians were there helping with the effort, how it was all Mexicans and Yankees. Man, I left the Himalayas to come back to Louisiana to help with the effort. I was also quite disappointed that there aren't more people from Alexandria that have moved down for temporary work, volunteering, etc.
9. Have you noticed a lot of positive change? Absolutely. The community has pulled together like never before. Some pre-Katrina tenants have moved back into the houses we've been working on. Like us, many people are rebuilding bigger and better, now that they have the opportunity. It has been slow, and the most progress has been made where individuals work together on a small scale to bring their neighborhoods back. New Orleans is full of energetic youth from all over the country who are ready to create something amazing and progressive from the filth. I think that before the city gets permanantly and completely inundated with water after the sea levels rise from global warming in about 40 years we will truly see a lotus blossom from that swamp mud.
10. What do you think New Orleans will look like in ten years?
That all depends on the next few hurricane seasons, the levees, and the ability for humans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But either way, it will be younger and more progressive. 11. Talk about your observations of Alexandria. I know you only come in every now and then, but certainly, you have a notion of where you want to see Alexandria.
Many people who leave their hometowns do so out of disgust. I love Central Louisiana; after all it is the place that has had the most impact on who I am. I want to see more of the revitalization of downtown that has been going on. I want to see less ugly corporate chains (Checkers, etc.) and more individual locally owned businesses (Cenla Perks, HOJ, Finnigans, etc.). And after seeing a really great performance at the riverfront, I believe it is one of the most underrated venues in the state. Much like the Azalea Trail is one of the most underrated hiking trails in the nation (Backpacker Magazine did an article about this a few years back). But finally, the most important thing is education. I initially left Alexandria because I felt I was at a dead end with what I could learn in the public schools, so I went to LSMSA in Natchitoches. It was one of the best decisions in my life. I mean, look at LC, after all... Thanks Michael. You're certainly going to scare a few people, but hopefully, you'll inspire many more. We appreciate your honesty and optimism.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 by Blogger

KALB: Hypes Judgment Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four
Points of Interest: Mike Small (who seemed all smiles when I passed by him on Jackson Street a few hours ago) relied on the testimony of three expert witnesses to explain how the investigation was botched from the beginning. The evidence was destroyed the next day when the house was razed. The State's "theory" about how the fire spread did not account for how the children died. One witness called this the worst fire investigation he'd ever seen. Another explained that the State's theory about what caused the fire was based on an old wives tale.

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LC Lawsuit Can Go To Trial "In her brief ruling, Swent dismissed some claims for no cause of action and referred others, specifically violation of academic freedom, by-laws and faculty handbook, to the merits."

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Lawson: City Parks Need One Million Dollars In Repairs Immediately

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 by Blogger

Lawlessness in Louisiana From today's New York Times: "One Louisiana Department of Labor clerk, Wayne P. Lawless, has been charged with issuing about 80 fraudulent disaster unemployment benefit cards in exchange for bribes of up to $300 per application. Mr. Lawless, a state contract worker, announced to one man he helped apply for hurricane benefits that he wanted to “get something out of it,” the affidavit said." Wonkette first reported on this "gem." From the Wall Street Journal's law blog: aptronym (n): A name that inadvertently describes its bearer’s occupation. Widely attributed to Franklin P. Adams, aka “F.P.A.,” whose newspaper column, “The Conning Tower,” was popular during the 1920s and 1930s.

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Video: Michele Godard Interviews Charles Frederick Smith Among other things, Ms. Godard asks Councilman Smith about ethics violations and collusion, the Holiday Inn and his role in facilitating the long-term lease, the Corner Office bar and what is discussed behind those doors, and the concept of a mayoral chief of staff.

Monday, June 26, 2006 by Blogger

Pineville Councilman Martin Responds I've been out of town leading worship at a youth conference in Arkansas for over a week so I have a lot of catching up to do both in real life and in reading Lamar’s blog. Let me see if I can address some of the points made here. "We saw that", you commented about the additional 1.3 million in tax revenues and suggested it be put up for a rainy day (my paraphrase.) This additional money is from the 1/2-cent tax that is designated: 70% to employee pay and benefits and 30% to capital improvements. We gave a raise to the employees after the tax was passed, about a month or two before we started collecting it. Our amended 2005-2006 fiscal budget reflects that. So the 70% is going exactly as we promised the citizens. The 30% that goes to capital improvements is currently not being spent as we continue planning for a bond issue to do significant infrastructure improvements. (Elevated water tank, new water wells, new fire station, etc.) I hope we can turn that 30% (roughly 400,000/year) into some big projects that will help meet Pineville’s needs well into the future. Hopefully that answers that point. (But I'll be glad to provide further info or clarification if needed.) You also spoke of "the city councilmen who make $700.00 a month want to give the mayor what amounts to an extra $1,000.00 a month." Let me address this. The article and references to it are the first time I've heard of any discussion of pay raises for the council and mayor. It has not been discussed among the council members or with the mayor, as far as I know. This was a surprise to me. Remember, the article does not reflect action taken by the council, simply comment made at the finance committee meeting by a councilman and a committee member. So it’s far from a done deal. I was not on the council when the last pay raise was voted on (November, 2002) and I appreciate geoff's comment that one pay raise in 4 years is "pretty conservative". But as I expressed to the mayor this morning, I am not in favor of a pay raise for the council at this time. My personal opinion is that salary matters should be handled later in the 4 year term, closer to reelection time, preferably timed to take effect with the new term. As for the mayor's salary, I do think it should be reviewed on a regular basis. As I recall, the recommendation from the committee back in 2002 was for the mayor to make around $70,000 which Mayor Fields turned down. Now four years later, according to the article he is eligible for a salary increase to $61,000. I think Pineville has come a long ways in the past 4 years. The Council position is a part-time position and the pay is reflective of that. The Mayor's position is a full-time position and his pay should reflect the responsibility of overseeing 250+ employees and a multi-million dollar budget. I would be in favor of surveying the salaries of mayors from similarly-sized cities to get an accurate view of what the salary should be. But I am opposed to a salary increase for the council at this time. I don’t know if I’ve answered all the questions but hopefully I’ve addressed the major points. If not, let me know. Now back to catching up from being away for a week. Sincerely, Nathan

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A Response: Why Do We Need a Multiplex "Marina?"

Do we need a multiplex center?

Why do we need a $45 million multiplex center? We have Rapides Coliseum that doesn't generate any revenue.

I agree that the Rapides Coliseum is in bad shape, but the Coliseum offers a different kind of venue than the proposed multiplex center would. It also makes good use of a prime piece of riverfront property, drawing people into our Downtown and showcasing our unique location.

We don't have much going on in Alexandria. No sporting events or anything. Maybe one or two concerts, circus and monster truck shows. The revenue generated by these must have been used to only pay utilities when the building was in use.

"Not much going on" is a matter of perspective. Nowadays, you can hear live music every weekend in Downtown Alexandria, and most of these bands are being drawn in from all over the country. The Aces are back in business, and from what I gather, attendance is encouragingly high. Not to mention that our zoo continues to attract thousands of visitors every month. These are promising signs that our economy could support such a venture.

Also, for the hurricane season in 2005, they complained about the electricity and use of utilities when the evacuees were there. I don't think that it will make things any better with the new multiplex. It will still have utilities that need to be paid.

Hopefully, though, the project will be income-producing.

With $45 million we could fix roads, put dorms on LSU-A's campus, train people who are unemployed so that they can be more productive in the workforce, help those who may be struggling to pay bills or who has to decide whether or not they want to use their money to buy groceries; or to pay for their medication.

The $45 million is being drawn from federal and state sources, not local taxes. LSUA is in the process of building dorms. We shouldn't confuse priorties, because it is possible for us to multi-task. I hope though that, like you said, we'll begin to focus on workforce training.

Some may think that bringing this to Central Louisiana will help generate jobs, but what's going to happen once this building is finished? Most will be back in the same predicament that they were in before.

Self-defeating thinking.

Cowboy Town is another example of why we don't need this $45 million multiplex.

Cowboy Town was a failed project for a number of different reasons, including the fact that it's located practically out of town with little surrounding business infrastructure to support it.

Why not use the money to make Cowboy Town into a bigger Funzone?

Oh man, not another Funzone.

You could have more for the kids and something for the grown-ups.

Last but not least, this money could be used to help those who want to open their own small business.

Again, it's not that simple. Some federal and state programs earmark money for very specific projects. That said, we should seek financing in order to create more programs that encourage and support small businesses, particularly in their infancy.

Alexandria is trying to be like our surrounding (bigger) cities but there is just not enough that goes on here for the things that they are planning to build in the future. What do you think, Cenla?

Mickey Doe Pineville

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Update: Horses Returned to Owners

Sunday, June 25, 2006 by Blogger

Sign of the Times: Crystal Meth Causing Labor Shortage In Cenla

Saturday, June 24, 2006 by Blogger

Pineville Considers Pay Raises for Mayor and City Council Quote of the Day: "He's (Mayor Fields) working for WPA (a Depression-era federal agency) wages," Joe Wolf said.

Friday, June 23, 2006 by Blogger

Breaking News from KALB: Alleged Terrorist Mastermind Lived in Marksville from 2001-2005

Thursday, June 22, 2006 by Blogger

Topic of the Day: The Persian Gulf War (The first one, not the one that's going on right now) Wikipedia, by the way, is an online encyclopedia that is heavily vetted by a veritable world of fact checkers. In a recent study, Wikipedia was found to be more factually reliable than the Encyclopedia Britannica. I say this now, because I anticipate a type of Steven Colbert "truthiness" debate occuring.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 by Blogger

Ten Under Thirty: A CenLamar Feature Throughout the next few months, I will be highlighting the work and service of ten Central Louisianans under the age of thirty. If you have a suggestion for a candidate, please contact me or leave a comment.

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KALB: Michele Godard's Video Blog Currently, it's an archive of the full-length interviews KALB has conducted throughout the past week. Ms. Godard writes:

KALB.com's Video Blog is designed to bring you the whole story... Normal constraints on our broadcast news schedule sometimes limits what we can bring to you over the airwaves. However, many times, there are instances where there is more information and content that we are able to embed in our news broadcast... and we hope our Video Blog will meet those needs. Look for additional capabilities of this video blog as it matures.

Send your comments, questions or suggestions to KALB's News Director, Michele Godard.

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Bringhurst Is Getting A Lot Of Attention Lately Now it needs a little action. TOMPKINS: Encouraging to see quaint local course get attention

Even if it doesn't come before the Alexandria City Council at its meeting tonight, Bringhurst Golf Course will be discussed before the meeting by the Finance Committee.

The ancient par-3 course on Masonic Drive has been without a manager since last month when Jamie Trotter -- the last in a line of Trotters to manage the course the last 50 years -- gave up the family's lease on the course that was built in the late 1920s.

Tom Roese, the greens keeper at the city's Links on the Bayou course, has been temporarily tending to the greens at Bringhurst for no extra pay.

Even though nobody is running the course, some folks continue to play on the coarse layout at no cost.

"Some of the greens are OK," Roese said. "Some are pretty long and some have some disease on 'em. It'll probably take pretty much the rest of the summer to get 'em growing back right."

The city's parks and recreation crew, meanwhile, has been maintaining the rest of the course, and Darren Green, the city's urban forester, has determined some trees on the course need pruning so more sunshine can get through.

A group of several city officials and Booker T. Booze, a BellSouth employee and avid golfer, met Monday afternoon to discuss the Bringhurst course, and another group discussion was held last week, and it included Lamar White Jr., who heads a group that is interested in taking over the management of the course.

"Everyone wants to see the course become more youth-friendly and more retiree-friendly, and become a course where golfers who regular play 18-hole courses like to come to tune up their short games," said city councilman Chuck Fowler, who fondly remembers playing at Bringhurst as a youth.

The course does not drain well. It needs better irrigation and, preferably, lights, which could also benefit the zoo. The clubhouse needs refurbishing or even a new location, and the parking lot needs to be enhanced.

Brewer said the city might consider amending its contract with M Squared, Mike Mitton Management which manages the Links on the Bayou, to include maintenance of the Bringhurst greens, and to ask for proposals from groups interested in managing the course.

"We've gotten one very good proposal," she said of the one from White's group, "but we want to see if there are any others out there."

There has also been talk of getting The First Tee of Central Louisiana involved at Bringhurst, confirmed Lou Dechert, the director of the program based at the Golf Club of Timber Trails. The First Tee's mission is to introduce golf and core values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship to young people of all backgrounds.

Brewer said it's "possible" that the city might work out a contract with a management company within six weeks, but that's probably optimistic, considering the slow pace of government and the need to check every facet of a proposal before agreeing to it.

Even so, the attention being given to the quaint, popular course is encouraging.

"I think good things are coming to Bringhurst," Fowler said. "My compliments to the Trotters. They did a magnificent job for years, but I'm looking forward to the future of that little course."

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Rapides Parish School Board to Review "Braids" Policy I don't have any objection to people wearing braids in their hair; the fact that this is even a point of contention seems funny to me. However, at the same time, if they're going to enact this policy, then they should let the hippy kids and the goth kids wear their hair however they see fit as well. There shouldn't be a double-standard when it comes to hairstyles.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 by Blogger

Charles F. Smith To Announce Candidacy For Mayor

Monday, June 19, 2006 by Blogger

National Guard Ordered to New Orleans

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New Condos Planned on the Red River Well, not actually on the river, on the banks of the river. This seems like a great project. The plans look nice, and I hope it works for them.

Sunday, June 18, 2006 by Blogger

Cenla Antix With An X: A New Blog on Cenla I received an e-mail from a person who calls himself Captain Obvious, a self-described 35-year-old Republican who is interested in moderating an honest discussion on Cenla. Rock on! And brilliant name choice for the blog. I hope it works out. Looks like the Rambler is sinking.

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Follow Up Letter: It's a black and white issue

My name is Misty Williams and I wrote the letter about the hard time my family and I are having in this all-white neighborhood even though my husband is an injured soldier. Thank you for putting my letter out!

Last week after dinner we decided to go for a walk. The kids got on their bikes, I walked the dogs and my husband was helped on his 4-wheeler that was made just for him to accommodate his injury.

It is a small 4-wheeler with all the hand gears on the right side so that he can operate it. He has no movement in his left hand at all! We got about two- blocks away and saw a Marksville police officer. I told my girls to move to the side so he could pass. Well he started yelling for my husband to get over to him. He asked my husband if he was from "across the Bayou." My husband told him that he lived down the street. Our family walk then went bad. He started talking to my husband like he was a dog. He demanded for my husband to get off the 4-wheeler "now!" I told him it would take a second to help him off as he was injured in Iraq and cannot move fast. The officer then said "so!" I was scared he would think my husband was refusing and hurt him. I was very angry at this man! He and I had some words. He towed our 4-wheeler and then gave us a ticket. The ticket was $136.50, and the tow was $40. He left my husband standing in the middle of the road with no cane. He had another officer come who was black but his car was full. The officer who did all this then said he would give my husband a ride. I then said "no I don't know what you would do to him once you get him in your car." I told him how everyone around there rode 4-wheelers, go carts and golf carts daily. That's why we thought it was OK, and that's the only way for my husband to go on walks with the family. We saw everyone else do it, that's why we got one. I told him he only did all this because my husband is black. He said "Oh, here we go." But I know it's true in my heart. If I break the law, I will pay. I don't want to get away with a crime. But please don't talk to my husband like he is trash and assume he came from "across the bayou." We parked our small 4-wheeler that was going slower than a turtle. Drive through my area you will see them flying down my road . And golf carts, well, they are driven more than cars on my road. And to all the neighbors that stood in your yard watching us with the cop that day, pointing, sticking up your nose and looking at us like we were trash -- we were only taking a family walk and doing what you do daily. We were just doing it wearing the wrong color skin, I guess.

Misty Williams, Marksville

Saturday, June 17, 2006 by Blogger

KALB: Delores Brewer's Letter to Ned Randolph

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Documents Reveal Cleco Deal Data

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Alexandria-Born, Pioneering Journalist Champ Clark, Sr. Dies At The Age of 92

Friday, June 16, 2006 by Blogger

Rod Noles On Jackson Street Extension Growth He says people are starting to call this area of town the "financial district."

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Louisiana Speaks: A Plan for Rebuilding

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Two Letters in Today's Paper Highlight Racism This one addresses a white Marksville woman who was being harassed because her husband, who is currently serving in Iraq, is black. And this one is about how police officers (in Oakdale, I presume) handcuffed a black city councilman over an unpaid speeding ticket!

Thursday, June 15, 2006 by Blogger

CenLamar Now Listed On The Dead Pelican

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 by Blogger

Bringhurst Golf Course: A Proposal For Its Future
Earlier today, an anonymous writer on Cenla Antics reported that I had submitted a proposal about rehabilitating Bringhurst Golf Course. I'm not sure who this person is or who their source is, but yes, this is true. Considering that my brother Mark and I have dispersed between thirty and forty copies of our proposal, it's not too surprising that this would sneak its way onto the blogosphere. On May 27, Bob Tompkins of The Town Talk reported that Jamie Trotter decided not to renew his family's lease on the historic Bringhurst Golf Course in Alexandria. Although the Trotter family had kept the lease on Bringhurst for nearly fifty years, Jamie became frustrated with the crime in the area. He felt like it wasn't fun anymore to run the course. The next day, my brother and I were talking about the course's closure with a few friends of ours. Mark and his friends had all learned the game of golf at Bringhurst, and they all expressed a great vision for Bringhurst's future. It wasn't just the crime, they said. It was much more than that. In short time, I was convinced that they had a solid plan, a firm grasp of the course's pros and cons, and an understanding of the operations of a golf course. (Mark has previously worked in other golf courses in Texas and Louisiana). We drafted a short proposal and sent it over to Delores Brewer. Mrs. Brewer also understood the importance of the course. It bills itself as the oldest par three in the country. (While researching the course, we learned that it is actually the third oldest in the country. But it's still the oldest "this" side of the Mississippi River). We were able to retain the services of a reputable grant writer. From the beginning, we agreed to create a nonprofit organization to handle clubhouse management. We never intended on using the course as a way of personally enriching ourselves, and we recognized the challenges of rehabilitating the course as a private enterprise. We also believe that there is a public interest in the future of this course and that it is possible to rely on grants and private donations in order to pay for renovation costs. (It's worth noting that greens maintenance can be handled "in house" by the City of Alexandria. They have already retained the services of a professional greenskeeper at the Links Course, and he was amenable to tackling Bringhurst. Our entire proposal hinges on renovating the clubhouse and reenergizing its business). That said, this is not a done deal, and it will take the support of the community to realize this dream. The City Council will likely have to vote on this issue on July 5th. We hope the community recognizes the value of Bringhurst and supports our efforts. Our plans call for the following: 1. Improved lighting that facilitates night golf. (We spoke with Les Whitt today, and he'd also like to see night lighting at the zoo. If you light the place up at night, it will also help decrease crime). 2. A free wireless internet cafe and lunch/snack bar. 3. Golf club rentals. 4. A complete renovation of the clubhouse. Again, all of this, including renovation expenses, will be funded by private donations and grant money. 5. A putt-putt golf course constructed on the "wasted space" located near the parking lot. 6. 24-hour camera security. 7. An extended deck with tables and chairs. 8. A once-a-week frisbee golf game. 9. Improved signage and curb appeal. 10. Improved parking. 11. Company and charity-sponsored golf tournaments. As far as specific renovations and improvements to the course, the Links Course's greenskeeping services are phenomenal, and they will be able to dramatically improve the teeboxes, the fairways, and the greens. It's also worth noting that we'll be entering into a cooperative agreement with GAEDA in order to attract additional programs to the course, like the First Tee Program. If you have any questions or suggestions, we're all ears.

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Challenging authority is OK

This letter is in response to the May 31 letter in defense of recent actions by Dr. Joe Aguillard, president of Louisiana College. The letter stated that "it ... is cowardly and markedly un-Christian for anyone to publicly admonish a figure of authority whom you are commanded by God to respect."

Does this mean that Christian abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison should not have held their protests against slaveholders? Does this mean a Christian like Martin Luther King Jr. should not have challenged insidious racists like Alabama Gov. George Wallace? And what of Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who actively fought against Adolf Hitler and Nazism? Were all of these Christians cowards? Moreover, Christ never commanded his followers to support authorities without question. In fact, he challenged quite a few himself. Instead, as Christians we have a fundamental responsibility for making sure our leaders uphold the values of justice, compassion and intellectual honesty that Christ embodied. What's happening at Louisiana College has nothing to do with Christianity. It has been -- and continues to be -- about power. Nothing will change at Louisiana College until good Christians open their eyes to the fact that fundamentalism is nothing more than a political movement hiding behind the masks of fear mongering and religious demagoguery. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Bart Marable Austin, Texas

Monday, June 12, 2006 by Blogger

Fascinating Photo of Downtown Alexandria (See, It's Possible to Get People Downtown)

Sunday, June 11, 2006 by Blogger

Finnegan's Wake: The Thinking Man's Pub (And Where LC Professors Secretly Go To Eat, Drink, and Be Merry) Their website features a regularly updated forum, a menu, and a list of upcoming shows.

Friday, June 09, 2006 by Blogger

In Other News: A source tells me that during last night's corporate spelling bee, the two teams from the Town Talk were the first two eliminated. Funny. I kid. I kid. And another reputable source tells me that the recent resignations from Louisiana College represent approximately 370-plus years of academic experience.

by Blogger

Incendiary, Irresponsible, and Interesting: The Alexandria News Weekly's "Coverage" of the Alexandria Housing Authority Audit. Earlier today, a friend of mine directed me toward the new edition of the Alexandria News Weekly, which bills itself as "the black press of America." I've read the Alexandria News Weekly before, and I've found it to be an informative community-oriented paper, typically covering positive issues relating to the African-American community. The latest edition, however, features a cover story entitled "Why Did Mayor Call For Audit of Housing Authority." The article was written by Brian Keith. I do not know Mr. Keith, but I read his story with an objective interest. I've covered the story here on the blog, and it generated quite a bit of feedback. Obviously, all of the facts are not out there, and many of the central players are not talking to the press. However, unlike Mr. Keith, I have spoken to Mrs. Brewer and a source very close to Mrs. McGee. (It is worth noting that Mr. Keith's article did not feature a single quote from anyone from the mayor's office. I believe it was incredibly irresponsible of Mr. Keith to publish this article as a "news story" without first speaking to the mayor's office. Regardless of who you believe, that's just honest journalism). Mr. Keith, if you will allow me to address you directly: your words reach many people. They help inform any entire community. They profess to speak the truth. Do everyone a favor: Trust no one. Be objective. When you quote someone as a source, make sure you research the veracity of their claims. Among other things, your article stated: - George Williams retired from the board due to a conflict of interest with his employment. Your claim is not justified by any source. Perhaps this is due to your sentence construction (It was learned that...) How was it learned? Who told you this? Did Mr. Williams? If so, why didn't you quote directly? - Lazarone resigned from the board because he no longer lives in Alexandria. Again, this may be true, but where's your source? And what is your point? Are you implying that these resignations were not prompted by internal division, but instead, by technicality? If so, why does it matter? Either way, they asked the mayor to investigate. Or do these technicalities somehow lead you to believe that these men are corrupt appointees with a racially-based agenda? Do you think that they were forced to resign and that they became angry and started pointing fingers? If so, what facts lead you to this? If this is true, believe me: it's legitimate news. But as your story stands, it's simply gossip and speculation masquerading as fact. And like it or not, it also seems like your sources are those with their own ax to grind. - You claim that the mayor has absolutely no authority over the Housing Authority EXCEPT to appoint four of its five board members. Well, that IS authority. -You source the lawyer for the housing authority, Ms. Brown, as an objective source. She's the lawyer! Honestly, I don't have anything against Ms. Brown, and I believe that this story, by its nature, requires her contribution. But still, Ms. Brown is the lawyer representing the interests of the housing authority (not exactly an objective source of information regarding an investigation of the housing authority's alleged improprieties). She may be able to shed some light, but it's important to understand that her allegiance is to her client. -You claim that Brewer's bid was for $600,000, Alpha Title's bid was $200,000. You also claim, using the housing authority's lawyer as your source, that because HUD allocations for the project were capped at $150,000, Brewer/McGee's bid went down to $108,000 and Alpha Title's went down to $102,000 - You report that the board approved Alpha Title's proposal because they were from New Orleans and they knew how to relocate people. - But one problem: You also report that Brewer/McGee was certified to relocate people, and Alpha Title was not. - You quote the housing authority's lawyer as saying that Mrs. Brewer attempted to pull political strings by acknowledging her connections to Mayor Randolph. - You claim the reason Mrs. Sanders was awarded the contract is because she had worked with Alpha Title and had done "a great job." - You refuse to acknowledge that there is little difference between Mrs. Brewer's "political connections" (which you specifically reference using the housing authority's lawyer as your source) and Mrs. Sanders' connections to both the city attorney and the housing authority's attorney. Instead, you focus an entire paragraph to Mrs. Brewer's husband's insurance work with the housing authority. You also imply that Mr. Brewer was ripping the housing authority off. Did you talk to Mr. Brewer about this? His phone number is listed in the phone book, Mr. Keith. Look, I'm not trying to defend any certain party. I'm just saying that when you're writing a news story, you should work your sources. Otherwise, you look like someone's pawn. -And now allow me to quote directly: "They ('residents' questioned by Mr. Keith) question why there was no investigation called for during Carrol Lanier's administration when residents complained all the time about the facility being run like 'a modern-day plantation'" "We also talked with people in the community to get their comments about the alleged conflict. Karen Little said, 'The problem is those white folks don't want Black people making any kind of money. They are greedy, and we know they are in a position to manipulate the system. If the lady (Sanders) was on welfare, they would be saying 'get a job' or 'she's lazy,' but she did something on her own. Now they don't want that to happen either!' Another resident of the community, Gerald Glenn, said, 'The problem is that the Black people are not supposed to head anything, and when people like the mayor and Brewer can put doubt in the minds of the public, that's what they will do. All they're trying to do is put doubt in the people's minds about how Black people run business. If the mayor and Brewer want to be right, tell us- in a majority Black city, why does the City of Alexandria spend $160 million a year, and only $400,000 with minorities. This includes white women, so just think what the Blacks really get!'" My commentary: Try not to use these people as the voices of "real" residents, because their statements are not based in reality or fact. They're doing a disservice to the causes of unity and progression by perpetuating racist stereotypes about the agenda of "white people" (as if all white people speak with one voice. And for that matter, your article implies that all "Black people" speak with one voice. C'mon, that's ridiculous). You offer no objective information on these remarks, such as "The City of Alexandria spends $160 million a year on all people, $400,000 of which is specifically earmarked for minorities." (I doubt these are accurate numbers, but you should find out. This is a fairly divisive statement planted at the end of your article). If you're really committed to the future of Alexandria, Mr. Keith, if you really want to serve the cause of unity, then begin to recognize that the future of our community is not shaped by an "us versus them" struggle for power. While it is definitely true that some white people in our community continue to perpetuate racism, most of us, the ones who think and act, understand this "struggle" isn't really about racism; it's about power. And many of us in the community, both black people and white people, recognize that we can wield the greatest power by working together. So let the white racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "blacks taking over" and let the black racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "whites taking over" while the rest of us are out there are forming a dialogue and working together. Mr. Keith, I am looking forward to your follow-up story. Your newspaper claims to speak for an entire community. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does. Your newspaper claims to provide objective information. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does.Again, I repeat: Trust no one. Follow your sources. Get both sides of every story.

by Blogger

Northside Journal: Pineville City Court Clerk Suspended; Several Female Employees Allege Sexual Harassment

by Blogger

Several LC profs leaving over contract dispute Several professors and staff at Louisiana College in Pineville have either resigned recently, not signed a new contract for the upcoming academic year, or were not offered a contract.

The private, Baptist liberal arts college mailed out new contracts on May 16. The deadline for signing and returning them was May 31.

LC President Joe Aguillard said Thursday that he would not comment publicly on the personnel changes.

"Information about faculty and staff members is not public," Aguillard said. "They are private, personnel matters. We are dealing with them appropriately and without any difficulty."

Glenn Sumrall, vice president for academic affairs at LC, said he also would not discuss the contracts.

"Some choose to say a lot, and some choose to say very little. I need to respect that. It's not my place to say a faculty member is leaving one place to go to another," he said.

Both members of the public relations staff, Linda Hutson and Michele Trice, left the college on May 25.

The new contracts include provisions that prohibit drinking in public, and require that employees be Christians and adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Bill Simpson, a professor of history who did not sign his contract and does not have another job, said he "simply refused under the conditions."

Simpson said he refused to sign because of "what has been going on -- the way long-term staff members have been treated."

Another who is leaving is Ted Barnes, chairman of the division of visual and performing arts and a professor of art.

Barnes is going to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. His agreement with OBU was reached May 31, the deadline for signing the LC contract, though Barnes said he wouldn't have signed anyway.

"It is unfortunate," he said. "I don't agree with the philosophy of the administration. I wanted to stay in Central Louisiana."

Doug Rogers, an assistant professor of communications arts, is going to the faculty at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Asked if he would have signed the contract, he said, "Oh God, no, not a chance."

There are roughly 72 faculty members at the college, according to its Web site.

Five of 10 division heads are known to have left. They are Barnes; Thomas Howell, chairman of the Division of History and Political Science; Don Sprowl, chairman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division; Bruce Cofer, interim chair of the Business Division; and Ruth Weinzettle, chairwoman of the Division of Human Behavior.

Alex Ferry, chairman of the Division of Nursing, is one who not only is staying, but said all of his department is staying.

"We're pleased with the students and the quality of the students," Ferry said. "I'm not a Baptist, I'm a Methodist. I'm teaching in a very good Christian program."

Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits LC, said she has received no complaints regarding personnel changes.

"We probably would not question that," she said of the contract requirements. If contracts were changed after they were signed, that would be something different, she said.

Linda Peevy, chairwoman of the Division of Humanities and an English professor, is a former president of the faculty council, which she said has been disbanded.

"The board has completely reorganized. Faculty representation has been greatly reduced," she said.

Of the employees who have left, she called their departure "a great loss."

"I've lost four people. So far we're looking, but nobody has been hired," she said. "I don't know what we will do. We'll have to try to parcel out to our adjuncts."

Her division had 10 faculty members.

Aguillard said the college is moving in a direction to hire the best quality people.

"We are filling our openings with highly credentialed, qualified people -- people who want to teach at a Christian institution," he said.

Originally published June 9, 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 by Blogger

Right On: Millions in tax incentives available for downtown Alexandria businesses The Town Talk

Businesses in downtown Alexandria can qualify for millions in federal tax incentives now that a new tract of the city has been added to the Central Louisiana Business Renewal program.

"We made the application to (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to include downtown Alexandria about a year and a half ago, but we just got approval last month," said Tara Trichel, chief executive officer for the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance.

Officials announced the approval of the application Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.

Deductions include: annual credits of as much as $1,500 per employee for those living in a designated renewal area; as much as $5,000 per new hire and $2,400 per employee for those qualifying under the government's work opportunity program.

As much as $10 million could be deducted for those who are willing to renovate a building downtown for their business. The credits are retroactive to 2002, Trichel said.

The Louisiana Renewal Community is a federal program that provides tax incentives and credits for developing tracts that U.S. Census Bureau data show to include high unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and/or minimum access to business capital.

The government has set aside $42 billion for the program and has identified 40 renewal communities nationwide, including four in Louisiana. In 2005, Louisiana businesses received $48 million in tax relief.

Commercial revitalization deductions, such as those that would be used for renovating downtown businesses, added up to as much as $12 million for individual communities.

Other areas of Alexandria and parts of Cenla already were included in the program, said Heather Urena, executive director for Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District Inc. Kisatchie-Delta is a nonprofit planning and development agency serving eight parishes in Cenla.

"Since downtown Alexandria has no residential area, it had no population or poverty and couldn't qualify," Urena said.

Urena said the government decided to "bend the rules a little" so that downtown Alexandria could be included as a renewal area.

The new tract extends from Eighth Street to the Red River and from the area surrounding Rapides Regional Medical Center to the Cottingham Expressway.

Many other businesses in Cenla are eligible for tax incentives under the program, but many are unaware that their business qualifies, said Leslie Lee, Director of Renewal Communities for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Community Programs.

"This means a lot to the area and a lot to downtown Alexandria. There is a lot of money on the table that could be taken advantage of," she said.

A map of areas in Cenla that qualify for the program is available at www.renewalla.com.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 by Blogger

Sign of the Times: Pineville Man Arrested, Accused of Giving Girl a Hickey

Monday, June 05, 2006 by Blogger

Tomorrow's Date Marks Impending World Doom The Town Talk is asking people to write in and tell them whether or not tomorrow's date, 06-06-06, "bothers them." My answer: Yes. Ann Coulter's new book, titled Godless: The Church of Liberalism, comes out tomorrow. This means she'll be on television all week spitting out the truth about "communism in America." Isn't it funny that she would exploit a Christian belief about the significance of the number 666 in order to help launch and market her new book about a "church?"

Sunday, June 04, 2006 by Blogger

Alexandria Music Project A Smash Hit And Other Reasons To Believe Nightlife Is Returning To Alexandria Last night, the Alexandria Music Project (better known as AMP) put on its first show of the year at the Riverfront Ampitheater. I'm not too good at estimating turnout, but suffice it to say that the show definitely paid for itself. It wasn't your typical rock n' roll show; tables were reserved upfront for those who undoubtedly made greater financial contributions than the rest of us. But despite this stratification in the audience, the overall vibe was positive, and once the obligatory socialization winded down, people began paying attention to the music and letting their guard down. This is how AMP describes itself: "AMP was officially organized in late 2003 as a non-profit corporation whose sole purpose is to bring good live music to central Louisiana. The key word in the last sentence is good. Without getting too deep into the concept of good, it suffices to say that AMP hopes to bring all types and styles of good music to central Louisiana. While good music cannot be explained in words, we can safely say that good music is not another cover version of Mustang Sally. AMP's initial focus is on cutting-edge singer/songwriters performing original music and flying a little under the radar. This may span the gamut from pop, indie rock, jam bands, country, alternative country, funk, soul, R & B, blues, jazz, folk, cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, reggae, african, world beat, fusions and back again to Americana. Nothing is off limits as long as it's good. AMP hosts at least two major events each year, generally in the spring and fall. Please see our Event Listings for details. AMP 301 is set for June 3, 2006. AMP 302 will be held in the fall, but is still in the works, so please check back for details on the date and location. Members receive complimentary or discounted passes to designated AMP events. AMP may host smaller events throughout the year. Funds permitting, Members may also receive a token novelty, like a coozie, coffee mug or somesuchthing. The long-term vision of AMP is to be a self-sustaining catalyst for good live music in central Louisiana by attracting touring musicians, as well as cultivating local musicians in an effort to establish and sustain a vibrant local music scene in central Louisiana. Of course, this all depends on your support as a Member of AMP. So please join us. You have our solemn pledge that a funky good time will be had by all. To learn more about becoming a Member of AMP, visit our Member Sign Up section. For frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ section." Last night, AMP brought in Two Cow Garage from Ohio and The Gourds from Austin, Texas. I'd never heard of Two Cow Garage before, but they played a decent show when you consider what their type of music must sound like to the average, middle-aged Alexandrian. I have, however, heard of The Gourds. I saw them play last year in Houston at the Continental Club. Believe it or not, the show last night at the ampitheater was about a hundred times better than their show in Houston, and the audience here in Alexandria was even given a little treat at the end of the show when The Gourds played a medley of cover songs, beginning with their ever-popular cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." Kudos to Graves Theus and to the vision of those who want to see rock n' roll music in Alexandria. The riverfront ampitheater is truly one of the best venues for music in the American South. It needs a little attention though in order to make it world-class; real seating and real bathroom facilities should be a top priority for our city government. If we were able to upgrade the facility just a little bit, we'd have the ability to attract larger names and bigger crowds. Not to be outdone, on Friday night, the guys over at Finnegan's Wake booked a Canadian band called Enter the Haggis. Enter the Haggis desribes their music as "Celtic fusion," which I guess means that it sounds like Irish rock. Finnegans easily attracted a crowd of 300 or 400 paying customers, and Enter the Haggis gave all of us an amazing show. So, kudos to Gaylen and Shannon for making it happen. Hopefully, this is a sign of the good things still to come.

Saturday, June 03, 2006 by Blogger

Follow-Up: The Largest Child Pornography Bust In US History Happened Right Here in Central Louisiana

by Blogger

The Blogs Have Been A Buzzin' During the past week, this blog has experienced a significant increase in unique visitors and user contributions. We've heard from a number of passionate, informed people who want to see real change affected in Central Louisiana. Keep on keeping on.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 by Blogger

Ethics Laws Probably Not Broken (Any Why Our Ethics Laws Are Ambiguous And Toothless) The deputy general counsel for the Board of Ethics says that the Alexandria Housing Authority is "probably separated enough from city government to preserve ethics lines." Thoughts, comments, concerns.

2. Where and what will you be studying? I am looking into a contemporary sythesis of Newar (the indigenous population of Kathmandu) and Tibetan Buddhism that has been catalyzed by the influx of Tibetan refugees into the Kathmandu Valley since the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959. I will stay in a small new Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the traditional Newar village Chapagaon, a little ways outside of Kathmandu. I'm fascinated by the way both Tibetans and Newars have made great effort to bridge large cultural gaps in language and ritual. 3. Interesting. Yeah. You know, it's nice to see two sects of a religion attempting to reconcile and move forward, rather than killing each other. The road to heaven is no competition, after all! I'd also like to add here that my interest in matters of the spirit was nurtured at Emmanual Baptist Church in Downtown Alexandria. Dr. Larry Taylor and Dr. Lee Weems have continued to be a source of inspiration and deeper knowledge. They share my conviction that truth is the monopoly of no one, and real understanding of one's own beliefs often comes through the lens of others.
4. Is there a particular reason or quality about Nepal that compels you?
Nepal is one of the most diverse places in the world, and cosmopolitan Kathmandu reflects that. Not only is there more than thirty ethnic groups, people from all over the world live and travel through the country. I love meeting someone from a place I've never heard of, and now that English has become an international language, it is not hard to have meaningful exchanges with most people. Not only do I have many Nepali, Indian and Tibetan friends there, I have made some great connections with Mexicans, Australians, Swedes, Germans, Japanese, and South Koreans, to name a few.
5. Talk a little about the cultural differences you've noticed between Alexandria, Louisiana and Kathmandu.
The pace is much slower, kinda like the difference between Alexandria and a northern city. For example, if I meet an acquaintance on the road in Kathmandu, we will stop, chat, and often break for tea. You don't find that relaxed openness very often in the USA. Another example: In Nepal, most mothers don't particularly mind if you play with their small children, even as a stranger. People are just very friendly and trusting. 6. And the similarities. In today's hyperconnected world, especially with the internet, we are seeing the emergence of a global youth culture. I believe that there is more difference today between the old and young than between Asians and Middle Easterners and Westerners. Nepalis our age connect with the same things we do: Bob Marley, Nirvana, Scarface, hashish, weblogs, late night dance parties, garage bands, an appreciation of the world as a unified organism... 7. Talk about the ways in which religion works itself into the every day lives of the Nepali people. Their ancient temples and stories are not considered artifacts or history or museum pieces (like) the way we treat our own religious heritage. Every morning at sunrise millions of Nepali women ring a bell and make offerings of food, water, light, incense and flowers at the same roadside shrine that their mothers and grandmothers have been doing for countless centuries. Theirs is truly a living tradition, and they believe that the divine can manifest itself in anything, including majestic groves of trees, rocks, rivers or crossroads. Every aspect of life points to the sacred; it is the sacred, and worshipped as such. It is actually quite beautiful. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion by merely watching these simple acts of devotion. Hell, I'm tearing up right now thinking about it! 8. Onto another subject. You moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What have you been up to in New Orleans?
In the beginning of December I began cleaning and rebuilding some friends' houses in Midcity, all of whom are organized through the Louisiana Himalayan Association, which is a social work organization that conducts development projects through Tulane University both in New Orleans and Dharamsala India. It has been very difficult at times, but NOLA is still the coolest city in America and the music scene is unrivaled. I've also been doing a lot of gardening; tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, herbs. Anyway, I heard enough people bitching about how few Louisianians were there helping with the effort, how it was all Mexicans and Yankees. Man, I left the Himalayas to come back to Louisiana to help with the effort. I was also quite disappointed that there aren't more people from Alexandria that have moved down for temporary work, volunteering, etc.
9. Have you noticed a lot of positive change? Absolutely. The community has pulled together like never before. Some pre-Katrina tenants have moved back into the houses we've been working on. Like us, many people are rebuilding bigger and better, now that they have the opportunity. It has been slow, and the most progress has been made where individuals work together on a small scale to bring their neighborhoods back. New Orleans is full of energetic youth from all over the country who are ready to create something amazing and progressive from the filth. I think that before the city gets permanantly and completely inundated with water after the sea levels rise from global warming in about 40 years we will truly see a lotus blossom from that swamp mud.
10. What do you think New Orleans will look like in ten years?
That all depends on the next few hurricane seasons, the levees, and the ability for humans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But either way, it will be younger and more progressive. 11. Talk about your observations of Alexandria. I know you only come in every now and then, but certainly, you have a notion of where you want to see Alexandria.
Many people who leave their hometowns do so out of disgust. I love Central Louisiana; after all it is the place that has had the most impact on who I am. I want to see more of the revitalization of downtown that has been going on. I want to see less ugly corporate chains (Checkers, etc.) and more individual locally owned businesses (Cenla Perks, HOJ, Finnigans, etc.). And after seeing a really great performance at the riverfront, I believe it is one of the most underrated venues in the state. Much like the Azalea Trail is one of the most underrated hiking trails in the nation (Backpacker Magazine did an article about this a few years back). But finally, the most important thing is education. I initially left Alexandria because I felt I was at a dead end with what I could learn in the public schools, so I went to LSMSA in Natchitoches. It was one of the best decisions in my life. I mean, look at LC, after all... Thanks Michael. You're certainly going to scare a few people, but hopefully, you'll inspire many more. We appreciate your honesty and optimism.
|W|P|115159372731292908|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 02:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|
Amanda Gutweiler Hypes Released From Jail Today
KALB: Hypes Judgment Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four
Points of Interest: Mike Small (who seemed all smiles when I passed by him on Jackson Street a few hours ago) relied on the testimony of three expert witnesses to explain how the investigation was botched from the beginning. The evidence was destroyed the next day when the house was razed. The State's "theory" about how the fire spread did not account for how the children died. One witness called this the worst fire investigation he'd ever seen. Another explained that the State's theory about what caused the fire was based on an old wives tale.|W|P|115153106047884277|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 08:21:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|LC Lawsuit Can Go To Trial "In her brief ruling, Swent dismissed some claims for no cause of action and referred others, specifically violation of academic freedom, by-laws and faculty handbook, to the merits."

|W|P|115150826917588785|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 06:33:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Lawson: City Parks Need One Million Dollars In Repairs Immediately|W|P|115150168118174945|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/27/2006 03:34:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Lawlessness in Louisiana From today's New York Times: "One Louisiana Department of Labor clerk, Wayne P. Lawless, has been charged with issuing about 80 fraudulent disaster unemployment benefit cards in exchange for bribes of up to $300 per application. Mr. Lawless, a state contract worker, announced to one man he helped apply for hurricane benefits that he wanted to “get something out of it,” the affidavit said." Wonkette first reported on this "gem." From the Wall Street Journal's law blog: aptronym (n): A name that inadvertently describes its bearer’s occupation. Widely attributed to Franklin P. Adams, aka “F.P.A.,” whose newspaper column, “The Conning Tower,” was popular during the 1920s and 1930s.|W|P|115144784681450277|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/27/2006 07:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Video: Michele Godard Interviews Charles Frederick Smith Among other things, Ms. Godard asks Councilman Smith about ethics violations and collusion, the Holiday Inn and his role in facilitating the long-term lease, the Corner Office bar and what is discussed behind those doors, and the concept of a mayoral chief of staff.|W|P|115142042910760433|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 07:13:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Pineville Councilman Martin Responds I've been out of town leading worship at a youth conference in Arkansas for over a week so I have a lot of catching up to do both in real life and in reading Lamar’s blog. Let me see if I can address some of the points made here. "We saw that", you commented about the additional 1.3 million in tax revenues and suggested it be put up for a rainy day (my paraphrase.) This additional money is from the 1/2-cent tax that is designated: 70% to employee pay and benefits and 30% to capital improvements. We gave a raise to the employees after the tax was passed, about a month or two before we started collecting it. Our amended 2005-2006 fiscal budget reflects that. So the 70% is going exactly as we promised the citizens. The 30% that goes to capital improvements is currently not being spent as we continue planning for a bond issue to do significant infrastructure improvements. (Elevated water tank, new water wells, new fire station, etc.) I hope we can turn that 30% (roughly 400,000/year) into some big projects that will help meet Pineville’s needs well into the future. Hopefully that answers that point. (But I'll be glad to provide further info or clarification if needed.) You also spoke of "the city councilmen who make $700.00 a month want to give the mayor what amounts to an extra $1,000.00 a month." Let me address this. The article and references to it are the first time I've heard of any discussion of pay raises for the council and mayor. It has not been discussed among the council members or with the mayor, as far as I know. This was a surprise to me. Remember, the article does not reflect action taken by the council, simply comment made at the finance committee meeting by a councilman and a committee member. So it’s far from a done deal. I was not on the council when the last pay raise was voted on (November, 2002) and I appreciate geoff's comment that one pay raise in 4 years is "pretty conservative". But as I expressed to the mayor this morning, I am not in favor of a pay raise for the council at this time. My personal opinion is that salary matters should be handled later in the 4 year term, closer to reelection time, preferably timed to take effect with the new term. As for the mayor's salary, I do think it should be reviewed on a regular basis. As I recall, the recommendation from the committee back in 2002 was for the mayor to make around $70,000 which Mayor Fields turned down. Now four years later, according to the article he is eligible for a salary increase to $61,000. I think Pineville has come a long ways in the past 4 years. The Council position is a part-time position and the pay is reflective of that. The Mayor's position is a full-time position and his pay should reflect the responsibility of overseeing 250+ employees and a multi-million dollar budget. I would be in favor of surveying the salaries of mayors from similarly-sized cities to get an accurate view of what the salary should be. But I am opposed to a salary increase for the council at this time. I don’t know if I’ve answered all the questions but hopefully I’ve addressed the major points. If not, let me know. Now back to catching up from being away for a week. Sincerely, Nathan|W|P|115137443127280913|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 03:27:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A Response: Why Do We Need a Multiplex "Marina?"

Do we need a multiplex center?

Why do we need a $45 million multiplex center? We have Rapides Coliseum that doesn't generate any revenue.

I agree that the Rapides Coliseum is in bad shape, but the Coliseum offers a different kind of venue than the proposed multiplex center would. It also makes good use of a prime piece of riverfront property, drawing people into our Downtown and showcasing our unique location.

We don't have much going on in Alexandria. No sporting events or anything. Maybe one or two concerts, circus and monster truck shows. The revenue generated by these must have been used to only pay utilities when the building was in use.

"Not much going on" is a matter of perspective. Nowadays, you can hear live music every weekend in Downtown Alexandria, and most of these bands are being drawn in from all over the country. The Aces are back in business, and from what I gather, attendance is encouragingly high. Not to mention that our zoo continues to attract thousands of visitors every month. These are promising signs that our economy could support such a venture.

Also, for the hurricane season in 2005, they complained about the electricity and use of utilities when the evacuees were there. I don't think that it will make things any better with the new multiplex. It will still have utilities that need to be paid.

Hopefully, though, the project will be income-producing.

With $45 million we could fix roads, put dorms on LSU-A's campus, train people who are unemployed so that they can be more productive in the workforce, help those who may be struggling to pay bills or who has to decide whether or not they want to use their money to buy groceries; or to pay for their medication.

The $45 million is being drawn from federal and state sources, not local taxes. LSUA is in the process of building dorms. We shouldn't confuse priorties, because it is possible for us to multi-task. I hope though that, like you said, we'll begin to focus on workforce training.

Some may think that bringing this to Central Louisiana will help generate jobs, but what's going to happen once this building is finished? Most will be back in the same predicament that they were in before.

Self-defeating thinking.

Cowboy Town is another example of why we don't need this $45 million multiplex.

Cowboy Town was a failed project for a number of different reasons, including the fact that it's located practically out of town with little surrounding business infrastructure to support it.

Why not use the money to make Cowboy Town into a bigger Funzone?

Oh man, not another Funzone.

You could have more for the kids and something for the grown-ups.

Last but not least, this money could be used to help those who want to open their own small business.

Again, it's not that simple. Some federal and state programs earmark money for very specific projects. That said, we should seek financing in order to create more programs that encourage and support small businesses, particularly in their infancy.

Alexandria is trying to be like our surrounding (bigger) cities but there is just not enough that goes on here for the things that they are planning to build in the future. What do you think, Cenla?

Mickey Doe Pineville

|W|P|115136209904312744|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 03:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Update: Horses Returned to Owners|W|P|115135995692937672|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/25/2006 09:05:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Sign of the Times: Crystal Meth Causing Labor Shortage In Cenla|W|P|115125158115366287|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/24/2006 11:17:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Pineville Considers Pay Raises for Mayor and City Council Quote of the Day: "He's (Mayor Fields) working for WPA (a Depression-era federal agency) wages," Joe Wolf said.

|W|P|115117329091313785|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/23/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Breaking News from KALB: Alleged Terrorist Mastermind Lived in Marksville from 2001-2005|W|P|115110063390321899|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/22/2006 12:42:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Topic of the Day: The Persian Gulf War (The first one, not the one that's going on right now) Wikipedia, by the way, is an online encyclopedia that is heavily vetted by a veritable world of fact checkers. In a recent study, Wikipedia was found to be more factually reliable than the Encyclopedia Britannica. I say this now, because I anticipate a type of Steven Colbert "truthiness" debate occuring.|W|P|115100549768141088|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 07:33:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Ten Under Thirty: A CenLamar Feature Throughout the next few months, I will be highlighting the work and service of ten Central Louisianans under the age of thirty. If you have a suggestion for a candidate, please contact me or leave a comment.|W|P|115094374369728411|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|KALB: Michele Godard's Video Blog Currently, it's an archive of the full-length interviews KALB has conducted throughout the past week. Ms. Godard writes:

KALB.com's Video Blog is designed to bring you the whole story... Normal constraints on our broadcast news schedule sometimes limits what we can bring to you over the airwaves. However, many times, there are instances where there is more information and content that we are able to embed in our news broadcast... and we hope our Video Blog will meet those needs. Look for additional capabilities of this video blog as it matures.

Send your comments, questions or suggestions to KALB's News Director, Michele Godard.

|W|P|115092788124390672|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 11:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Bringhurst Is Getting A Lot Of Attention Lately Now it needs a little action. TOMPKINS: Encouraging to see quaint local course get attention

Even if it doesn't come before the Alexandria City Council at its meeting tonight, Bringhurst Golf Course will be discussed before the meeting by the Finance Committee.

The ancient par-3 course on Masonic Drive has been without a manager since last month when Jamie Trotter -- the last in a line of Trotters to manage the course the last 50 years -- gave up the family's lease on the course that was built in the late 1920s.

Tom Roese, the greens keeper at the city's Links on the Bayou course, has been temporarily tending to the greens at Bringhurst for no extra pay.

Even though nobody is running the course, some folks continue to play on the coarse layout at no cost.

"Some of the greens are OK," Roese said. "Some are pretty long and some have some disease on 'em. It'll probably take pretty much the rest of the summer to get 'em growing back right."

The city's parks and recreation crew, meanwhile, has been maintaining the rest of the course, and Darren Green, the city's urban forester, has determined some trees on the course need pruning so more sunshine can get through.

A group of several city officials and Booker T. Booze, a BellSouth employee and avid golfer, met Monday afternoon to discuss the Bringhurst course, and another group discussion was held last week, and it included Lamar White Jr., who heads a group that is interested in taking over the management of the course.

"Everyone wants to see the course become more youth-friendly and more retiree-friendly, and become a course where golfers who regular play 18-hole courses like to come to tune up their short games," said city councilman Chuck Fowler, who fondly remembers playing at Bringhurst as a youth.

The course does not drain well. It needs better irrigation and, preferably, lights, which could also benefit the zoo. The clubhouse needs refurbishing or even a new location, and the parking lot needs to be enhanced.

Brewer said the city might consider amending its contract with M Squared, Mike Mitton Management which manages the Links on the Bayou, to include maintenance of the Bringhurst greens, and to ask for proposals from groups interested in managing the course.

"We've gotten one very good proposal," she said of the one from White's group, "but we want to see if there are any others out there."

There has also been talk of getting The First Tee of Central Louisiana involved at Bringhurst, confirmed Lou Dechert, the director of the program based at the Golf Club of Timber Trails. The First Tee's mission is to introduce golf and core values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship to young people of all backgrounds.

Brewer said it's "possible" that the city might work out a contract with a management company within six weeks, but that's probably optimistic, considering the slow pace of government and the need to check every facet of a proposal before agreeing to it.

Even so, the attention being given to the quaint, popular course is encouraging.

"I think good things are coming to Bringhurst," Fowler said. "My compliments to the Trotters. They did a magnificent job for years, but I'm looking forward to the future of that little course."

|W|P|115091420388984274|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 09:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Rapides Parish School Board to Review "Braids" Policy I don't have any objection to people wearing braids in their hair; the fact that this is even a point of contention seems funny to me. However, at the same time, if they're going to enact this policy, then they should let the hippy kids and the goth kids wear their hair however they see fit as well. There shouldn't be a double-standard when it comes to hairstyles.|W|P|115090654431575567|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/20/2006 01:13:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Charles F. Smith To Announce Candidacy For Mayor|W|P|115083445120271853|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/19/2006 03:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|National Guard Ordered to New Orleans|W|P|115075674899834092|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/19/2006 11:46:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|New Condos Planned on the Red River Well, not actually on the river, on the banks of the river. This seems like a great project. The plans look nice, and I hope it works for them. |W|P|115074297387938219|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/18/2006 05:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Cenla Antix With An X: A New Blog on Cenla I received an e-mail from a person who calls himself Captain Obvious, a self-described 35-year-old Republican who is interested in moderating an honest discussion on Cenla. Rock on! And brilliant name choice for the blog. I hope it works out. Looks like the Rambler is sinking.|W|P|115067555821324726|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/18/2006 09:32:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Follow Up Letter: It's a black and white issue

My name is Misty Williams and I wrote the letter about the hard time my family and I are having in this all-white neighborhood even though my husband is an injured soldier. Thank you for putting my letter out!

Last week after dinner we decided to go for a walk. The kids got on their bikes, I walked the dogs and my husband was helped on his 4-wheeler that was made just for him to accommodate his injury.

It is a small 4-wheeler with all the hand gears on the right side so that he can operate it. He has no movement in his left hand at all! We got about two- blocks away and saw a Marksville police officer. I told my girls to move to the side so he could pass. Well he started yelling for my husband to get over to him. He asked my husband if he was from "across the Bayou." My husband told him that he lived down the street. Our family walk then went bad. He started talking to my husband like he was a dog. He demanded for my husband to get off the 4-wheeler "now!" I told him it would take a second to help him off as he was injured in Iraq and cannot move fast. The officer then said "so!" I was scared he would think my husband was refusing and hurt him. I was very angry at this man! He and I had some words. He towed our 4-wheeler and then gave us a ticket. The ticket was $136.50, and the tow was $40. He left my husband standing in the middle of the road with no cane. He had another officer come who was black but his car was full. The officer who did all this then said he would give my husband a ride. I then said "no I don't know what you would do to him once you get him in your car." I told him how everyone around there rode 4-wheelers, go carts and golf carts daily. That's why we thought it was OK, and that's the only way for my husband to go on walks with the family. We saw everyone else do it, that's why we got one. I told him he only did all this because my husband is black. He said "Oh, here we go." But I know it's true in my heart. If I break the law, I will pay. I don't want to get away with a crime. But please don't talk to my husband like he is trash and assume he came from "across the bayou." We parked our small 4-wheeler that was going slower than a turtle. Drive through my area you will see them flying down my road . And golf carts, well, they are driven more than cars on my road. And to all the neighbors that stood in your yard watching us with the cop that day, pointing, sticking up your nose and looking at us like we were trash -- we were only taking a family walk and doing what you do daily. We were just doing it wearing the wrong color skin, I guess.

Misty Williams, Marksville

|W|P|115064845325948266|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 06:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|KALB: Delores Brewer's Letter to Ned Randolph|W|P|115059273249810172|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 12:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Documents Reveal Cleco Deal Data|W|P|115057213235431547|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 12:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Alexandria-Born, Pioneering Journalist Champ Clark, Sr. Dies At The Age of 92|W|P|115057115774696437|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 04:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Rod Noles On Jackson Street Extension Growth He says people are starting to call this area of town the "financial district."|W|P|115049930089438783|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 01:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Louisiana Speaks: A Plan for Rebuilding|W|P|115048845619938098|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 09:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Two Letters in Today's Paper Highlight Racism This one addresses a white Marksville woman who was being harassed because her husband, who is currently serving in Iraq, is black. And this one is about how police officers (in Oakdale, I presume) handcuffed a black city councilman over an unpaid speeding ticket!|W|P|115047761907055580|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/15/2006 11:14:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|CenLamar Now Listed On The Dead Pelican|W|P|115043850453508482|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/14/2006 03:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|
Bringhurst Golf Course: A Proposal For Its Future
Earlier today, an anonymous writer on Cenla Antics reported that I had submitted a proposal about rehabilitating Bringhurst Golf Course. I'm not sure who this person is or who their source is, but yes, this is true. Considering that my brother Mark and I have dispersed between thirty and forty copies of our proposal, it's not too surprising that this would sneak its way onto the blogosphere. On May 27, Bob Tompkins of The Town Talk reported that Jamie Trotter decided not to renew his family's lease on the historic Bringhurst Golf Course in Alexandria. Although the Trotter family had kept the lease on Bringhurst for nearly fifty years, Jamie became frustrated with the crime in the area. He felt like it wasn't fun anymore to run the course. The next day, my brother and I were talking about the course's closure with a few friends of ours. Mark and his friends had all learned the game of golf at Bringhurst, and they all expressed a great vision for Bringhurst's future. It wasn't just the crime, they said. It was much more than that. In short time, I was convinced that they had a solid plan, a firm grasp of the course's pros and cons, and an understanding of the operations of a golf course. (Mark has previously worked in other golf courses in Texas and Louisiana). We drafted a short proposal and sent it over to Delores Brewer. Mrs. Brewer also understood the importance of the course. It bills itself as the oldest par three in the country. (While researching the course, we learned that it is actually the third oldest in the country. But it's still the oldest "this" side of the Mississippi River). We were able to retain the services of a reputable grant writer. From the beginning, we agreed to create a nonprofit organization to handle clubhouse management. We never intended on using the course as a way of personally enriching ourselves, and we recognized the challenges of rehabilitating the course as a private enterprise. We also believe that there is a public interest in the future of this course and that it is possible to rely on grants and private donations in order to pay for renovation costs. (It's worth noting that greens maintenance can be handled "in house" by the City of Alexandria. They have already retained the services of a professional greenskeeper at the Links Course, and he was amenable to tackling Bringhurst. Our entire proposal hinges on renovating the clubhouse and reenergizing its business). That said, this is not a done deal, and it will take the support of the community to realize this dream. The City Council will likely have to vote on this issue on July 5th. We hope the community recognizes the value of Bringhurst and supports our efforts. Our plans call for the following: 1. Improved lighting that facilitates night golf. (We spoke with Les Whitt today, and he'd also like to see night lighting at the zoo. If you light the place up at night, it will also help decrease crime). 2. A free wireless internet cafe and lunch/snack bar. 3. Golf club rentals. 4. A complete renovation of the clubhouse. Again, all of this, including renovation expenses, will be funded by private donations and grant money. 5. A putt-putt golf course constructed on the "wasted space" located near the parking lot. 6. 24-hour camera security. 7. An extended deck with tables and chairs. 8. A once-a-week frisbee golf game. 9. Improved signage and curb appeal. 10. Improved parking. 11. Company and charity-sponsored golf tournaments. As far as specific renovations and improvements to the course, the Links Course's greenskeeping services are phenomenal, and they will be able to dramatically improve the teeboxes, the fairways, and the greens. It's also worth noting that we'll be entering into a cooperative agreement with GAEDA in order to attract additional programs to the course, like the First Tee Program. If you have any questions or suggestions, we're all ears.|W|P|115033092235688607|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/14/2006 02:50:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Challenging authority is OK

This letter is in response to the May 31 letter in defense of recent actions by Dr. Joe Aguillard, president of Louisiana College. The letter stated that "it ... is cowardly and markedly un-Christian for anyone to publicly admonish a figure of authority whom you are commanded by God to respect."

Does this mean that Christian abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison should not have held their protests against slaveholders? Does this mean a Christian like Martin Luther King Jr. should not have challenged insidious racists like Alabama Gov. George Wallace? And what of Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who actively fought against Adolf Hitler and Nazism? Were all of these Christians cowards? Moreover, Christ never commanded his followers to support authorities without question. In fact, he challenged quite a few himself. Instead, as Christians we have a fundamental responsibility for making sure our leaders uphold the values of justice, compassion and intellectual honesty that Christ embodied. What's happening at Louisiana College has nothing to do with Christianity. It has been -- and continues to be -- about power. Nothing will change at Louisiana College until good Christians open their eyes to the fact that fundamentalism is nothing more than a political movement hiding behind the masks of fear mongering and religious demagoguery. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Bart Marable Austin, Texas

|W|P|115032185784489607|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/12/2006 04:58:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Fascinating Photo of Downtown Alexandria (See, It's Possible to Get People Downtown)|W|P|115015680932088776|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/11/2006 02:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Finnegan's Wake: The Thinking Man's Pub (And Where LC Professors Secretly Go To Eat, Drink, and Be Merry) Their website features a regularly updated forum, a menu, and a list of upcoming shows.|W|P|115006242924890618|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 11:32:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|In Other News: A source tells me that during last night's corporate spelling bee, the two teams from the Town Talk were the first two eliminated. Funny. I kid. I kid. And another reputable source tells me that the recent resignations from Louisiana College represent approximately 370-plus years of academic experience.|W|P|114992143876411480|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 09:02:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Incendiary, Irresponsible, and Interesting: The Alexandria News Weekly's "Coverage" of the Alexandria Housing Authority Audit. Earlier today, a friend of mine directed me toward the new edition of the Alexandria News Weekly, which bills itself as "the black press of America." I've read the Alexandria News Weekly before, and I've found it to be an informative community-oriented paper, typically covering positive issues relating to the African-American community. The latest edition, however, features a cover story entitled "Why Did Mayor Call For Audit of Housing Authority." The article was written by Brian Keith. I do not know Mr. Keith, but I read his story with an objective interest. I've covered the story here on the blog, and it generated quite a bit of feedback. Obviously, all of the facts are not out there, and many of the central players are not talking to the press. However, unlike Mr. Keith, I have spoken to Mrs. Brewer and a source very close to Mrs. McGee. (It is worth noting that Mr. Keith's article did not feature a single quote from anyone from the mayor's office. I believe it was incredibly irresponsible of Mr. Keith to publish this article as a "news story" without first speaking to the mayor's office. Regardless of who you believe, that's just honest journalism). Mr. Keith, if you will allow me to address you directly: your words reach many people. They help inform any entire community. They profess to speak the truth. Do everyone a favor: Trust no one. Be objective. When you quote someone as a source, make sure you research the veracity of their claims. Among other things, your article stated: - George Williams retired from the board due to a conflict of interest with his employment. Your claim is not justified by any source. Perhaps this is due to your sentence construction (It was learned that...) How was it learned? Who told you this? Did Mr. Williams? If so, why didn't you quote directly? - Lazarone resigned from the board because he no longer lives in Alexandria. Again, this may be true, but where's your source? And what is your point? Are you implying that these resignations were not prompted by internal division, but instead, by technicality? If so, why does it matter? Either way, they asked the mayor to investigate. Or do these technicalities somehow lead you to believe that these men are corrupt appointees with a racially-based agenda? Do you think that they were forced to resign and that they became angry and started pointing fingers? If so, what facts lead you to this? If this is true, believe me: it's legitimate news. But as your story stands, it's simply gossip and speculation masquerading as fact. And like it or not, it also seems like your sources are those with their own ax to grind. - You claim that the mayor has absolutely no authority over the Housing Authority EXCEPT to appoint four of its five board members. Well, that IS authority. -You source the lawyer for the housing authority, Ms. Brown, as an objective source. She's the lawyer! Honestly, I don't have anything against Ms. Brown, and I believe that this story, by its nature, requires her contribution. But still, Ms. Brown is the lawyer representing the interests of the housing authority (not exactly an objective source of information regarding an investigation of the housing authority's alleged improprieties). She may be able to shed some light, but it's important to understand that her allegiance is to her client. -You claim that Brewer's bid was for $600,000, Alpha Title's bid was $200,000. You also claim, using the housing authority's lawyer as your source, that because HUD allocations for the project were capped at $150,000, Brewer/McGee's bid went down to $108,000 and Alpha Title's went down to $102,000 - You report that the board approved Alpha Title's proposal because they were from New Orleans and they knew how to relocate people. - But one problem: You also report that Brewer/McGee was certified to relocate people, and Alpha Title was not. - You quote the housing authority's lawyer as saying that Mrs. Brewer attempted to pull political strings by acknowledging her connections to Mayor Randolph. - You claim the reason Mrs. Sanders was awarded the contract is because she had worked with Alpha Title and had done "a great job." - You refuse to acknowledge that there is little difference between Mrs. Brewer's "political connections" (which you specifically reference using the housing authority's lawyer as your source) and Mrs. Sanders' connections to both the city attorney and the housing authority's attorney. Instead, you focus an entire paragraph to Mrs. Brewer's husband's insurance work with the housing authority. You also imply that Mr. Brewer was ripping the housing authority off. Did you talk to Mr. Brewer about this? His phone number is listed in the phone book, Mr. Keith. Look, I'm not trying to defend any certain party. I'm just saying that when you're writing a news story, you should work your sources. Otherwise, you look like someone's pawn. -And now allow me to quote directly: "They ('residents' questioned by Mr. Keith) question why there was no investigation called for during Carrol Lanier's administration when residents complained all the time about the facility being run like 'a modern-day plantation'" "We also talked with people in the community to get their comments about the alleged conflict. Karen Little said, 'The problem is those white folks don't want Black people making any kind of money. They are greedy, and we know they are in a position to manipulate the system. If the lady (Sanders) was on welfare, they would be saying 'get a job' or 'she's lazy,' but she did something on her own. Now they don't want that to happen either!' Another resident of the community, Gerald Glenn, said, 'The problem is that the Black people are not supposed to head anything, and when people like the mayor and Brewer can put doubt in the minds of the public, that's what they will do. All they're trying to do is put doubt in the people's minds about how Black people run business. If the mayor and Brewer want to be right, tell us- in a majority Black city, why does the City of Alexandria spend $160 million a year, and only $400,000 with minorities. This includes white women, so just think what the Blacks really get!'" My commentary: Try not to use these people as the voices of "real" residents, because their statements are not based in reality or fact. They're doing a disservice to the causes of unity and progression by perpetuating racist stereotypes about the agenda of "white people" (as if all white people speak with one voice. And for that matter, your article implies that all "Black people" speak with one voice. C'mon, that's ridiculous). You offer no objective information on these remarks, such as "The City of Alexandria spends $160 million a year on all people, $400,000 of which is specifically earmarked for minorities." (I doubt these are accurate numbers, but you should find out. This is a fairly divisive statement planted at the end of your article). If you're really committed to the future of Alexandria, Mr. Keith, if you really want to serve the cause of unity, then begin to recognize that the future of our community is not shaped by an "us versus them" struggle for power. While it is definitely true that some white people in our community continue to perpetuate racism, most of us, the ones who think and act, understand this "struggle" isn't really about racism; it's about power. And many of us in the community, both black people and white people, recognize that we can wield the greatest power by working together. So let the white racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "blacks taking over" and let the black racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "whites taking over" while the rest of us are out there are forming a dialogue and working together. Mr. Keith, I am looking forward to your follow-up story. Your newspaper claims to speak for an entire community. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does. Your newspaper claims to provide objective information. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does.Again, I repeat: Trust no one. Follow your sources. Get both sides of every story.|W|P|114991824641469269|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 10:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Northside Journal: Pineville City Court Clerk Suspended; Several Female Employees Allege Sexual Harassment|W|P|114987303878549215|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 09:13:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Several LC profs leaving over contract dispute Several professors and staff at Louisiana College in Pineville have either resigned recently, not signed a new contract for the upcoming academic year, or were not offered a contract.

The private, Baptist liberal arts college mailed out new contracts on May 16. The deadline for signing and returning them was May 31.

LC President Joe Aguillard said Thursday that he would not comment publicly on the personnel changes.

"Information about faculty and staff members is not public," Aguillard said. "They are private, personnel matters. We are dealing with them appropriately and without any difficulty."

Glenn Sumrall, vice president for academic affairs at LC, said he also would not discuss the contracts.

"Some choose to say a lot, and some choose to say very little. I need to respect that. It's not my place to say a faculty member is leaving one place to go to another," he said.

Both members of the public relations staff, Linda Hutson and Michele Trice, left the college on May 25.

The new contracts include provisions that prohibit drinking in public, and require that employees be Christians and adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Bill Simpson, a professor of history who did not sign his contract and does not have another job, said he "simply refused under the conditions."

Simpson said he refused to sign because of "what has been going on -- the way long-term staff members have been treated."

Another who is leaving is Ted Barnes, chairman of the division of visual and performing arts and a professor of art.

Barnes is going to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. His agreement with OBU was reached May 31, the deadline for signing the LC contract, though Barnes said he wouldn't have signed anyway.

"It is unfortunate," he said. "I don't agree with the philosophy of the administration. I wanted to stay in Central Louisiana."

Doug Rogers, an assistant professor of communications arts, is going to the faculty at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Asked if he would have signed the contract, he said, "Oh God, no, not a chance."

There are roughly 72 faculty members at the college, according to its Web site.

Five of 10 division heads are known to have left. They are Barnes; Thomas Howell, chairman of the Division of History and Political Science; Don Sprowl, chairman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division; Bruce Cofer, interim chair of the Business Division; and Ruth Weinzettle, chairwoman of the Division of Human Behavior.

Alex Ferry, chairman of the Division of Nursing, is one who not only is staying, but said all of his department is staying.

"We're pleased with the students and the quality of the students," Ferry said. "I'm not a Baptist, I'm a Methodist. I'm teaching in a very good Christian program."

Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits LC, said she has received no complaints regarding personnel changes.

"We probably would not question that," she said of the contract requirements. If contracts were changed after they were signed, that would be something different, she said.

Linda Peevy, chairwoman of the Division of Humanities and an English professor, is a former president of the faculty council, which she said has been disbanded.

"The board has completely reorganized. Faculty representation has been greatly reduced," she said.

Of the employees who have left, she called their departure "a great loss."

"I've lost four people. So far we're looking, but nobody has been hired," she said. "I don't know what we will do. We'll have to try to parcel out to our adjuncts."

Her division had 10 faculty members.

Aguillard said the college is moving in a direction to hire the best quality people.

"We are filling our openings with highly credentialed, qualified people -- people who want to teach at a Christian institution," he said.

Originally published June 9, 2006

|W|P|114986986709079586|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/07/2006 09:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Right On: Millions in tax incentives available for downtown Alexandria businesses The Town Talk

Businesses in downtown Alexandria can qualify for millions in federal tax incentives now that a new tract of the city has been added to the Central Louisiana Business Renewal program.

"We made the application to (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to include downtown Alexandria about a year and a half ago, but we just got approval last month," said Tara Trichel, chief executive officer for the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance.

Officials announced the approval of the application Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.

Deductions include: annual credits of as much as $1,500 per employee for those living in a designated renewal area; as much as $5,000 per new hire and $2,400 per employee for those qualifying under the government's work opportunity program.

As much as $10 million could be deducted for those who are willing to renovate a building downtown for their business. The credits are retroactive to 2002, Trichel said.

The Louisiana Renewal Community is a federal program that provides tax incentives and credits for developing tracts that U.S. Census Bureau data show to include high unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and/or minimum access to business capital.

The government has set aside $42 billion for the program and has identified 40 renewal communities nationwide, including four in Louisiana. In 2005, Louisiana businesses received $48 million in tax relief.

Commercial revitalization deductions, such as those that would be used for renovating downtown businesses, added up to as much as $12 million for individual communities.

Other areas of Alexandria and parts of Cenla already were included in the program, said Heather Urena, executive director for Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District Inc. Kisatchie-Delta is a nonprofit planning and development agency serving eight parishes in Cenla.

"Since downtown Alexandria has no residential area, it had no population or poverty and couldn't qualify," Urena said.

Urena said the government decided to "bend the rules a little" so that downtown Alexandria could be included as a renewal area.

The new tract extends from Eighth Street to the Red River and from the area surrounding Rapides Regional Medical Center to the Cottingham Expressway.

Many other businesses in Cenla are eligible for tax incentives under the program, but many are unaware that their business qualifies, said Leslie Lee, Director of Renewal Communities for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Community Programs.

"This means a lot to the area and a lot to downtown Alexandria. There is a lot of money on the table that could be taken advantage of," she said.

A map of areas in Cenla that qualify for the program is available at www.renewalla.com.

|W|P|114973957693031518|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/06/2006 05:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Sign of the Times: Pineville Man Arrested, Accused of Giving Girl a Hickey |W|P|114964082052112844|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/05/2006 12:55:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Tomorrow's Date Marks Impending World Doom The Town Talk is asking people to write in and tell them whether or not tomorrow's date, 06-06-06, "bothers them." My answer: Yes. Ann Coulter's new book, titled Godless: The Church of Liberalism, comes out tomorrow. This means she'll be on television all week spitting out the truth about "communism in America." Isn't it funny that she would exploit a Christian belief about the significance of the number 666 in order to help launch and market her new book about a "church?" |W|P|114953787438644632|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/04/2006 01:25:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Alexandria Music Project A Smash Hit And Other Reasons To Believe Nightlife Is Returning To Alexandria Last night, the Alexandria Music Project (better known as AMP) put on its first show of the year at the Riverfront Ampitheater. I'm not too good at estimating turnout, but suffice it to say that the show definitely paid for itself. It wasn't your typical rock n' roll show; tables were reserved upfront for those who undoubtedly made greater financial contributions than the rest of us. But despite this stratification in the audience, the overall vibe was positive, and once the obligatory socialization winded down, people began paying attention to the music and letting their guard down. This is how AMP describes itself: "AMP was officially organized in late 2003 as a non-profit corporation whose sole purpose is to bring good live music to central Louisiana. The key word in the last sentence is good. Without getting too deep into the concept of good, it suffices to say that AMP hopes to bring all types and styles of good music to central Louisiana. While good music cannot be explained in words, we can safely say that good music is not another cover version of Mustang Sally. AMP's initial focus is on cutting-edge singer/songwriters performing original music and flying a little under the radar. This may span the gamut from pop, indie rock, jam bands, country, alternative country, funk, soul, R & B, blues, jazz, folk, cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, reggae, african, world beat, fusions and back again to Americana. Nothing is off limits as long as it's good. AMP hosts at least two major events each year, generally in the spring and fall. Please see our Event Listings for details. AMP 301 is set for June 3, 2006. AMP 302 will be held in the fall, but is still in the works, so please check back for details on the date and location. Members receive complimentary or discounted passes to designated AMP events. AMP may host smaller events throughout the year. Funds permitting, Members may also receive a token novelty, like a coozie, coffee mug or somesuchthing. The long-term vision of AMP is to be a self-sustaining catalyst for good live music in central Louisiana by attracting touring musicians, as well as cultivating local musicians in an effort to establish and sustain a vibrant local music scene in central Louisiana. Of course, this all depends on your support as a Member of AMP. So please join us. You have our solemn pledge that a funky good time will be had by all. To learn more about becoming a Member of AMP, visit our Member Sign Up section. For frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ section." Last night, AMP brought in Two Cow Garage from Ohio and The Gourds from Austin, Texas. I'd never heard of Two Cow Garage before, but they played a decent show when you consider what their type of music must sound like to the average, middle-aged Alexandrian. I have, however, heard of The Gourds. I saw them play last year in Houston at the Continental Club. Believe it or not, the show last night at the ampitheater was about a hundred times better than their show in Houston, and the audience here in Alexandria was even given a little treat at the end of the show when The Gourds played a medley of cover songs, beginning with their ever-popular cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." Kudos to Graves Theus and to the vision of those who want to see rock n' roll music in Alexandria. The riverfront ampitheater is truly one of the best venues for music in the American South. It needs a little attention though in order to make it world-class; real seating and real bathroom facilities should be a top priority for our city government. If we were able to upgrade the facility just a little bit, we'd have the ability to attract larger names and bigger crowds. Not to be outdone, on Friday night, the guys over at Finnegan's Wake booked a Canadian band called Enter the Haggis. Enter the Haggis desribes their music as "Celtic fusion," which I guess means that it sounds like Irish rock. Finnegans easily attracted a crowd of 300 or 400 paying customers, and Enter the Haggis gave all of us an amazing show. So, kudos to Gaylen and Shannon for making it happen. Hopefully, this is a sign of the good things still to come. |W|P|114945389086440564|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/03/2006 01:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Follow-Up: The Largest Child Pornography Bust In US History Happened Right Here in Central Louisiana |W|P|114936736615617138|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/03/2006 11:39:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|The Blogs Have Been A Buzzin' During the past week, this blog has experienced a significant increase in unique visitors and user contributions. We've heard from a number of passionate, informed people who want to see real change affected in Central Louisiana. Keep on keeping on.|W|P|114936034258856654|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/01/2006 09:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Ethics Laws Probably Not Broken (Any Why Our Ethics Laws Are Ambiguous And Toothless) The deputy general counsel for the Board of Ethics says that the Alexandria Housing Authority is "probably separated enough from city government to preserve ethics lines." Thoughts, comments, concerns.|W|P|114917878584635280|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->
2. Where and what will you be studying? I am looking into a contemporary sythesis of Newar (the indigenous population of Kathmandu) and Tibetan Buddhism that has been catalyzed by the influx of Tibetan refugees into the Kathmandu Valley since the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959. I will stay in a small new Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the traditional Newar village Chapagaon, a little ways outside of Kathmandu. I'm fascinated by the way both Tibetans and Newars have made great effort to bridge large cultural gaps in language and ritual. 3. Interesting. Yeah. You know, it's nice to see two sects of a religion attempting to reconcile and move forward, rather than killing each other. The road to heaven is no competition, after all! I'd also like to add here that my interest in matters of the spirit was nurtured at Emmanual Baptist Church in Downtown Alexandria. Dr. Larry Taylor and Dr. Lee Weems have continued to be a source of inspiration and deeper knowledge. They share my conviction that truth is the monopoly of no one, and real understanding of one's own beliefs often comes through the lens of others.
4. Is there a particular reason or quality about Nepal that compels you?
Nepal is one of the most diverse places in the world, and cosmopolitan Kathmandu reflects that. Not only is there more than thirty ethnic groups, people from all over the world live and travel through the country. I love meeting someone from a place I've never heard of, and now that English has become an international language, it is not hard to have meaningful exchanges with most people. Not only do I have many Nepali, Indian and Tibetan friends there, I have made some great connections with Mexicans, Australians, Swedes, Germans, Japanese, and South Koreans, to name a few.
5. Talk a little about the cultural differences you've noticed between Alexandria, Louisiana and Kathmandu.
The pace is much slower, kinda like the difference between Alexandria and a northern city. For example, if I meet an acquaintance on the road in Kathmandu, we will stop, chat, and often break for tea. You don't find that relaxed openness very often in the USA. Another example: In Nepal, most mothers don't particularly mind if you play with their small children, even as a stranger. People are just very friendly and trusting. 6. And the similarities. In today's hyperconnected world, especially with the internet, we are seeing the emergence of a global youth culture. I believe that there is more difference today between the old and young than between Asians and Middle Easterners and Westerners. Nepalis our age connect with the same things we do: Bob Marley, Nirvana, Scarface, hashish, weblogs, late night dance parties, garage bands, an appreciation of the world as a unified organism... 7. Talk about the ways in which religion works itself into the every day lives of the Nepali people. Their ancient temples and stories are not considered artifacts or history or museum pieces (like) the way we treat our own religious heritage. Every morning at sunrise millions of Nepali women ring a bell and make offerings of food, water, light, incense and flowers at the same roadside shrine that their mothers and grandmothers have been doing for countless centuries. Theirs is truly a living tradition, and they believe that the divine can manifest itself in anything, including majestic groves of trees, rocks, rivers or crossroads. Every aspect of life points to the sacred; it is the sacred, and worshipped as such. It is actually quite beautiful. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion by merely watching these simple acts of devotion. Hell, I'm tearing up right now thinking about it! 8. Onto another subject. You moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What have you been up to in New Orleans?
In the beginning of December I began cleaning and rebuilding some friends' houses in Midcity, all of whom are organized through the Louisiana Himalayan Association, which is a social work organization that conducts development projects through Tulane University both in New Orleans and Dharamsala India. It has been very difficult at times, but NOLA is still the coolest city in America and the music scene is unrivaled. I've also been doing a lot of gardening; tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, herbs. Anyway, I heard enough people bitching about how few Louisianians were there helping with the effort, how it was all Mexicans and Yankees. Man, I left the Himalayas to come back to Louisiana to help with the effort. I was also quite disappointed that there aren't more people from Alexandria that have moved down for temporary work, volunteering, etc.
9. Have you noticed a lot of positive change? Absolutely. The community has pulled together like never before. Some pre-Katrina tenants have moved back into the houses we've been working on. Like us, many people are rebuilding bigger and better, now that they have the opportunity. It has been slow, and the most progress has been made where individuals work together on a small scale to bring their neighborhoods back. New Orleans is full of energetic youth from all over the country who are ready to create something amazing and progressive from the filth. I think that before the city gets permanantly and completely inundated with water after the sea levels rise from global warming in about 40 years we will truly see a lotus blossom from that swamp mud.
10. What do you think New Orleans will look like in ten years?
That all depends on the next few hurricane seasons, the levees, and the ability for humans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But either way, it will be younger and more progressive. 11. Talk about your observations of Alexandria. I know you only come in every now and then, but certainly, you have a notion of where you want to see Alexandria.
Many people who leave their hometowns do so out of disgust. I love Central Louisiana; after all it is the place that has had the most impact on who I am. I want to see more of the revitalization of downtown that has been going on. I want to see less ugly corporate chains (Checkers, etc.) and more individual locally owned businesses (Cenla Perks, HOJ, Finnigans, etc.). And after seeing a really great performance at the riverfront, I believe it is one of the most underrated venues in the state. Much like the Azalea Trail is one of the most underrated hiking trails in the nation (Backpacker Magazine did an article about this a few years back). But finally, the most important thing is education. I initially left Alexandria because I felt I was at a dead end with what I could learn in the public schools, so I went to LSMSA in Natchitoches. It was one of the best decisions in my life. I mean, look at LC, after all... Thanks Michael. You're certainly going to scare a few people, but hopefully, you'll inspire many more. We appreciate your honesty and optimism.
|W|P|115159372731292908|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 02:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|
KALB: Hypes Judgment Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four
Points of Interest: Mike Small (who seemed all smiles when I passed by him on Jackson Street a few hours ago) relied on the testimony of three expert witnesses to explain how the investigation was botched from the beginning. The evidence was destroyed the next day when the house was razed. The State's "theory" about how the fire spread did not account for how the children died. One witness called this the worst fire investigation he'd ever seen. Another explained that the State's theory about what caused the fire was based on an old wives tale.|W|P|115153106047884277|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 08:21:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|LC Lawsuit Can Go To Trial "In her brief ruling, Swent dismissed some claims for no cause of action and referred others, specifically violation of academic freedom, by-laws and faculty handbook, to the merits."

|W|P|115150826917588785|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 06:33:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Lawson: City Parks Need One Million Dollars In Repairs Immediately|W|P|115150168118174945|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/27/2006 03:34:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Lawlessness in Louisiana From today's New York Times: "One Louisiana Department of Labor clerk, Wayne P. Lawless, has been charged with issuing about 80 fraudulent disaster unemployment benefit cards in exchange for bribes of up to $300 per application. Mr. Lawless, a state contract worker, announced to one man he helped apply for hurricane benefits that he wanted to “get something out of it,” the affidavit said." Wonkette first reported on this "gem." From the Wall Street Journal's law blog: aptronym (n): A name that inadvertently describes its bearer’s occupation. Widely attributed to Franklin P. Adams, aka “F.P.A.,” whose newspaper column, “The Conning Tower,” was popular during the 1920s and 1930s.|W|P|115144784681450277|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/27/2006 07:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Video: Michele Godard Interviews Charles Frederick Smith Among other things, Ms. Godard asks Councilman Smith about ethics violations and collusion, the Holiday Inn and his role in facilitating the long-term lease, the Corner Office bar and what is discussed behind those doors, and the concept of a mayoral chief of staff.|W|P|115142042910760433|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 07:13:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Pineville Councilman Martin Responds I've been out of town leading worship at a youth conference in Arkansas for over a week so I have a lot of catching up to do both in real life and in reading Lamar’s blog. Let me see if I can address some of the points made here. "We saw that", you commented about the additional 1.3 million in tax revenues and suggested it be put up for a rainy day (my paraphrase.) This additional money is from the 1/2-cent tax that is designated: 70% to employee pay and benefits and 30% to capital improvements. We gave a raise to the employees after the tax was passed, about a month or two before we started collecting it. Our amended 2005-2006 fiscal budget reflects that. So the 70% is going exactly as we promised the citizens. The 30% that goes to capital improvements is currently not being spent as we continue planning for a bond issue to do significant infrastructure improvements. (Elevated water tank, new water wells, new fire station, etc.) I hope we can turn that 30% (roughly 400,000/year) into some big projects that will help meet Pineville’s needs well into the future. Hopefully that answers that point. (But I'll be glad to provide further info or clarification if needed.) You also spoke of "the city councilmen who make $700.00 a month want to give the mayor what amounts to an extra $1,000.00 a month." Let me address this. The article and references to it are the first time I've heard of any discussion of pay raises for the council and mayor. It has not been discussed among the council members or with the mayor, as far as I know. This was a surprise to me. Remember, the article does not reflect action taken by the council, simply comment made at the finance committee meeting by a councilman and a committee member. So it’s far from a done deal. I was not on the council when the last pay raise was voted on (November, 2002) and I appreciate geoff's comment that one pay raise in 4 years is "pretty conservative". But as I expressed to the mayor this morning, I am not in favor of a pay raise for the council at this time. My personal opinion is that salary matters should be handled later in the 4 year term, closer to reelection time, preferably timed to take effect with the new term. As for the mayor's salary, I do think it should be reviewed on a regular basis. As I recall, the recommendation from the committee back in 2002 was for the mayor to make around $70,000 which Mayor Fields turned down. Now four years later, according to the article he is eligible for a salary increase to $61,000. I think Pineville has come a long ways in the past 4 years. The Council position is a part-time position and the pay is reflective of that. The Mayor's position is a full-time position and his pay should reflect the responsibility of overseeing 250+ employees and a multi-million dollar budget. I would be in favor of surveying the salaries of mayors from similarly-sized cities to get an accurate view of what the salary should be. But I am opposed to a salary increase for the council at this time. I don’t know if I’ve answered all the questions but hopefully I’ve addressed the major points. If not, let me know. Now back to catching up from being away for a week. Sincerely, Nathan|W|P|115137443127280913|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 03:27:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A Response: Why Do We Need a Multiplex "Marina?"

Do we need a multiplex center?

Why do we need a $45 million multiplex center? We have Rapides Coliseum that doesn't generate any revenue.

I agree that the Rapides Coliseum is in bad shape, but the Coliseum offers a different kind of venue than the proposed multiplex center would. It also makes good use of a prime piece of riverfront property, drawing people into our Downtown and showcasing our unique location.

We don't have much going on in Alexandria. No sporting events or anything. Maybe one or two concerts, circus and monster truck shows. The revenue generated by these must have been used to only pay utilities when the building was in use.

"Not much going on" is a matter of perspective. Nowadays, you can hear live music every weekend in Downtown Alexandria, and most of these bands are being drawn in from all over the country. The Aces are back in business, and from what I gather, attendance is encouragingly high. Not to mention that our zoo continues to attract thousands of visitors every month. These are promising signs that our economy could support such a venture.

Also, for the hurricane season in 2005, they complained about the electricity and use of utilities when the evacuees were there. I don't think that it will make things any better with the new multiplex. It will still have utilities that need to be paid.

Hopefully, though, the project will be income-producing.

With $45 million we could fix roads, put dorms on LSU-A's campus, train people who are unemployed so that they can be more productive in the workforce, help those who may be struggling to pay bills or who has to decide whether or not they want to use their money to buy groceries; or to pay for their medication.

The $45 million is being drawn from federal and state sources, not local taxes. LSUA is in the process of building dorms. We shouldn't confuse priorties, because it is possible for us to multi-task. I hope though that, like you said, we'll begin to focus on workforce training.

Some may think that bringing this to Central Louisiana will help generate jobs, but what's going to happen once this building is finished? Most will be back in the same predicament that they were in before.

Self-defeating thinking.

Cowboy Town is another example of why we don't need this $45 million multiplex.

Cowboy Town was a failed project for a number of different reasons, including the fact that it's located practically out of town with little surrounding business infrastructure to support it.

Why not use the money to make Cowboy Town into a bigger Funzone?

Oh man, not another Funzone.

You could have more for the kids and something for the grown-ups.

Last but not least, this money could be used to help those who want to open their own small business.

Again, it's not that simple. Some federal and state programs earmark money for very specific projects. That said, we should seek financing in order to create more programs that encourage and support small businesses, particularly in their infancy.

Alexandria is trying to be like our surrounding (bigger) cities but there is just not enough that goes on here for the things that they are planning to build in the future. What do you think, Cenla?

Mickey Doe Pineville

|W|P|115136209904312744|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 03:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Update: Horses Returned to Owners|W|P|115135995692937672|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/25/2006 09:05:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Sign of the Times: Crystal Meth Causing Labor Shortage In Cenla|W|P|115125158115366287|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/24/2006 11:17:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Pineville Considers Pay Raises for Mayor and City Council Quote of the Day: "He's (Mayor Fields) working for WPA (a Depression-era federal agency) wages," Joe Wolf said.

|W|P|115117329091313785|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/23/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Breaking News from KALB: Alleged Terrorist Mastermind Lived in Marksville from 2001-2005|W|P|115110063390321899|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/22/2006 12:42:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Topic of the Day: The Persian Gulf War (The first one, not the one that's going on right now) Wikipedia, by the way, is an online encyclopedia that is heavily vetted by a veritable world of fact checkers. In a recent study, Wikipedia was found to be more factually reliable than the Encyclopedia Britannica. I say this now, because I anticipate a type of Steven Colbert "truthiness" debate occuring.|W|P|115100549768141088|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 07:33:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Ten Under Thirty: A CenLamar Feature Throughout the next few months, I will be highlighting the work and service of ten Central Louisianans under the age of thirty. If you have a suggestion for a candidate, please contact me or leave a comment.|W|P|115094374369728411|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|KALB: Michele Godard's Video Blog Currently, it's an archive of the full-length interviews KALB has conducted throughout the past week. Ms. Godard writes:

KALB.com's Video Blog is designed to bring you the whole story... Normal constraints on our broadcast news schedule sometimes limits what we can bring to you over the airwaves. However, many times, there are instances where there is more information and content that we are able to embed in our news broadcast... and we hope our Video Blog will meet those needs. Look for additional capabilities of this video blog as it matures.

Send your comments, questions or suggestions to KALB's News Director, Michele Godard.

|W|P|115092788124390672|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 11:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Bringhurst Is Getting A Lot Of Attention Lately Now it needs a little action. TOMPKINS: Encouraging to see quaint local course get attention

Even if it doesn't come before the Alexandria City Council at its meeting tonight, Bringhurst Golf Course will be discussed before the meeting by the Finance Committee.

The ancient par-3 course on Masonic Drive has been without a manager since last month when Jamie Trotter -- the last in a line of Trotters to manage the course the last 50 years -- gave up the family's lease on the course that was built in the late 1920s.

Tom Roese, the greens keeper at the city's Links on the Bayou course, has been temporarily tending to the greens at Bringhurst for no extra pay.

Even though nobody is running the course, some folks continue to play on the coarse layout at no cost.

"Some of the greens are OK," Roese said. "Some are pretty long and some have some disease on 'em. It'll probably take pretty much the rest of the summer to get 'em growing back right."

The city's parks and recreation crew, meanwhile, has been maintaining the rest of the course, and Darren Green, the city's urban forester, has determined some trees on the course need pruning so more sunshine can get through.

A group of several city officials and Booker T. Booze, a BellSouth employee and avid golfer, met Monday afternoon to discuss the Bringhurst course, and another group discussion was held last week, and it included Lamar White Jr., who heads a group that is interested in taking over the management of the course.

"Everyone wants to see the course become more youth-friendly and more retiree-friendly, and become a course where golfers who regular play 18-hole courses like to come to tune up their short games," said city councilman Chuck Fowler, who fondly remembers playing at Bringhurst as a youth.

The course does not drain well. It needs better irrigation and, preferably, lights, which could also benefit the zoo. The clubhouse needs refurbishing or even a new location, and the parking lot needs to be enhanced.

Brewer said the city might consider amending its contract with M Squared, Mike Mitton Management which manages the Links on the Bayou, to include maintenance of the Bringhurst greens, and to ask for proposals from groups interested in managing the course.

"We've gotten one very good proposal," she said of the one from White's group, "but we want to see if there are any others out there."

There has also been talk of getting The First Tee of Central Louisiana involved at Bringhurst, confirmed Lou Dechert, the director of the program based at the Golf Club of Timber Trails. The First Tee's mission is to introduce golf and core values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship to young people of all backgrounds.

Brewer said it's "possible" that the city might work out a contract with a management company within six weeks, but that's probably optimistic, considering the slow pace of government and the need to check every facet of a proposal before agreeing to it.

Even so, the attention being given to the quaint, popular course is encouraging.

"I think good things are coming to Bringhurst," Fowler said. "My compliments to the Trotters. They did a magnificent job for years, but I'm looking forward to the future of that little course."

|W|P|115091420388984274|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 09:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Rapides Parish School Board to Review "Braids" Policy I don't have any objection to people wearing braids in their hair; the fact that this is even a point of contention seems funny to me. However, at the same time, if they're going to enact this policy, then they should let the hippy kids and the goth kids wear their hair however they see fit as well. There shouldn't be a double-standard when it comes to hairstyles.|W|P|115090654431575567|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/20/2006 01:13:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Charles F. Smith To Announce Candidacy For Mayor|W|P|115083445120271853|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/19/2006 03:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|National Guard Ordered to New Orleans|W|P|115075674899834092|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/19/2006 11:46:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|New Condos Planned on the Red River Well, not actually on the river, on the banks of the river. This seems like a great project. The plans look nice, and I hope it works for them. |W|P|115074297387938219|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/18/2006 05:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Cenla Antix With An X: A New Blog on Cenla I received an e-mail from a person who calls himself Captain Obvious, a self-described 35-year-old Republican who is interested in moderating an honest discussion on Cenla. Rock on! And brilliant name choice for the blog. I hope it works out. Looks like the Rambler is sinking.|W|P|115067555821324726|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/18/2006 09:32:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Follow Up Letter: It's a black and white issue

My name is Misty Williams and I wrote the letter about the hard time my family and I are having in this all-white neighborhood even though my husband is an injured soldier. Thank you for putting my letter out!

Last week after dinner we decided to go for a walk. The kids got on their bikes, I walked the dogs and my husband was helped on his 4-wheeler that was made just for him to accommodate his injury.

It is a small 4-wheeler with all the hand gears on the right side so that he can operate it. He has no movement in his left hand at all! We got about two- blocks away and saw a Marksville police officer. I told my girls to move to the side so he could pass. Well he started yelling for my husband to get over to him. He asked my husband if he was from "across the Bayou." My husband told him that he lived down the street. Our family walk then went bad. He started talking to my husband like he was a dog. He demanded for my husband to get off the 4-wheeler "now!" I told him it would take a second to help him off as he was injured in Iraq and cannot move fast. The officer then said "so!" I was scared he would think my husband was refusing and hurt him. I was very angry at this man! He and I had some words. He towed our 4-wheeler and then gave us a ticket. The ticket was $136.50, and the tow was $40. He left my husband standing in the middle of the road with no cane. He had another officer come who was black but his car was full. The officer who did all this then said he would give my husband a ride. I then said "no I don't know what you would do to him once you get him in your car." I told him how everyone around there rode 4-wheelers, go carts and golf carts daily. That's why we thought it was OK, and that's the only way for my husband to go on walks with the family. We saw everyone else do it, that's why we got one. I told him he only did all this because my husband is black. He said "Oh, here we go." But I know it's true in my heart. If I break the law, I will pay. I don't want to get away with a crime. But please don't talk to my husband like he is trash and assume he came from "across the bayou." We parked our small 4-wheeler that was going slower than a turtle. Drive through my area you will see them flying down my road . And golf carts, well, they are driven more than cars on my road. And to all the neighbors that stood in your yard watching us with the cop that day, pointing, sticking up your nose and looking at us like we were trash -- we were only taking a family walk and doing what you do daily. We were just doing it wearing the wrong color skin, I guess.

Misty Williams, Marksville

|W|P|115064845325948266|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 06:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|KALB: Delores Brewer's Letter to Ned Randolph|W|P|115059273249810172|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 12:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Documents Reveal Cleco Deal Data|W|P|115057213235431547|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 12:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Alexandria-Born, Pioneering Journalist Champ Clark, Sr. Dies At The Age of 92|W|P|115057115774696437|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 04:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Rod Noles On Jackson Street Extension Growth He says people are starting to call this area of town the "financial district."|W|P|115049930089438783|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 01:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Louisiana Speaks: A Plan for Rebuilding|W|P|115048845619938098|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 09:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Two Letters in Today's Paper Highlight Racism This one addresses a white Marksville woman who was being harassed because her husband, who is currently serving in Iraq, is black. And this one is about how police officers (in Oakdale, I presume) handcuffed a black city councilman over an unpaid speeding ticket!|W|P|115047761907055580|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/15/2006 11:14:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|CenLamar Now Listed On The Dead Pelican|W|P|115043850453508482|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/14/2006 03:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|
Bringhurst Golf Course: A Proposal For Its Future
Earlier today, an anonymous writer on Cenla Antics reported that I had submitted a proposal about rehabilitating Bringhurst Golf Course. I'm not sure who this person is or who their source is, but yes, this is true. Considering that my brother Mark and I have dispersed between thirty and forty copies of our proposal, it's not too surprising that this would sneak its way onto the blogosphere. On May 27, Bob Tompkins of The Town Talk reported that Jamie Trotter decided not to renew his family's lease on the historic Bringhurst Golf Course in Alexandria. Although the Trotter family had kept the lease on Bringhurst for nearly fifty years, Jamie became frustrated with the crime in the area. He felt like it wasn't fun anymore to run the course. The next day, my brother and I were talking about the course's closure with a few friends of ours. Mark and his friends had all learned the game of golf at Bringhurst, and they all expressed a great vision for Bringhurst's future. It wasn't just the crime, they said. It was much more than that. In short time, I was convinced that they had a solid plan, a firm grasp of the course's pros and cons, and an understanding of the operations of a golf course. (Mark has previously worked in other golf courses in Texas and Louisiana). We drafted a short proposal and sent it over to Delores Brewer. Mrs. Brewer also understood the importance of the course. It bills itself as the oldest par three in the country. (While researching the course, we learned that it is actually the third oldest in the country. But it's still the oldest "this" side of the Mississippi River). We were able to retain the services of a reputable grant writer. From the beginning, we agreed to create a nonprofit organization to handle clubhouse management. We never intended on using the course as a way of personally enriching ourselves, and we recognized the challenges of rehabilitating the course as a private enterprise. We also believe that there is a public interest in the future of this course and that it is possible to rely on grants and private donations in order to pay for renovation costs. (It's worth noting that greens maintenance can be handled "in house" by the City of Alexandria. They have already retained the services of a professional greenskeeper at the Links Course, and he was amenable to tackling Bringhurst. Our entire proposal hinges on renovating the clubhouse and reenergizing its business). That said, this is not a done deal, and it will take the support of the community to realize this dream. The City Council will likely have to vote on this issue on July 5th. We hope the community recognizes the value of Bringhurst and supports our efforts. Our plans call for the following: 1. Improved lighting that facilitates night golf. (We spoke with Les Whitt today, and he'd also like to see night lighting at the zoo. If you light the place up at night, it will also help decrease crime). 2. A free wireless internet cafe and lunch/snack bar. 3. Golf club rentals. 4. A complete renovation of the clubhouse. Again, all of this, including renovation expenses, will be funded by private donations and grant money. 5. A putt-putt golf course constructed on the "wasted space" located near the parking lot. 6. 24-hour camera security. 7. An extended deck with tables and chairs. 8. A once-a-week frisbee golf game. 9. Improved signage and curb appeal. 10. Improved parking. 11. Company and charity-sponsored golf tournaments. As far as specific renovations and improvements to the course, the Links Course's greenskeeping services are phenomenal, and they will be able to dramatically improve the teeboxes, the fairways, and the greens. It's also worth noting that we'll be entering into a cooperative agreement with GAEDA in order to attract additional programs to the course, like the First Tee Program. If you have any questions or suggestions, we're all ears.|W|P|115033092235688607|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/14/2006 02:50:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Challenging authority is OK

This letter is in response to the May 31 letter in defense of recent actions by Dr. Joe Aguillard, president of Louisiana College. The letter stated that "it ... is cowardly and markedly un-Christian for anyone to publicly admonish a figure of authority whom you are commanded by God to respect."

Does this mean that Christian abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison should not have held their protests against slaveholders? Does this mean a Christian like Martin Luther King Jr. should not have challenged insidious racists like Alabama Gov. George Wallace? And what of Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who actively fought against Adolf Hitler and Nazism? Were all of these Christians cowards? Moreover, Christ never commanded his followers to support authorities without question. In fact, he challenged quite a few himself. Instead, as Christians we have a fundamental responsibility for making sure our leaders uphold the values of justice, compassion and intellectual honesty that Christ embodied. What's happening at Louisiana College has nothing to do with Christianity. It has been -- and continues to be -- about power. Nothing will change at Louisiana College until good Christians open their eyes to the fact that fundamentalism is nothing more than a political movement hiding behind the masks of fear mongering and religious demagoguery. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Bart Marable Austin, Texas

|W|P|115032185784489607|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/12/2006 04:58:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Fascinating Photo of Downtown Alexandria (See, It's Possible to Get People Downtown)|W|P|115015680932088776|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/11/2006 02:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Finnegan's Wake: The Thinking Man's Pub (And Where LC Professors Secretly Go To Eat, Drink, and Be Merry) Their website features a regularly updated forum, a menu, and a list of upcoming shows.|W|P|115006242924890618|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 11:32:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|In Other News: A source tells me that during last night's corporate spelling bee, the two teams from the Town Talk were the first two eliminated. Funny. I kid. I kid. And another reputable source tells me that the recent resignations from Louisiana College represent approximately 370-plus years of academic experience.|W|P|114992143876411480|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 09:02:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Incendiary, Irresponsible, and Interesting: The Alexandria News Weekly's "Coverage" of the Alexandria Housing Authority Audit. Earlier today, a friend of mine directed me toward the new edition of the Alexandria News Weekly, which bills itself as "the black press of America." I've read the Alexandria News Weekly before, and I've found it to be an informative community-oriented paper, typically covering positive issues relating to the African-American community. The latest edition, however, features a cover story entitled "Why Did Mayor Call For Audit of Housing Authority." The article was written by Brian Keith. I do not know Mr. Keith, but I read his story with an objective interest. I've covered the story here on the blog, and it generated quite a bit of feedback. Obviously, all of the facts are not out there, and many of the central players are not talking to the press. However, unlike Mr. Keith, I have spoken to Mrs. Brewer and a source very close to Mrs. McGee. (It is worth noting that Mr. Keith's article did not feature a single quote from anyone from the mayor's office. I believe it was incredibly irresponsible of Mr. Keith to publish this article as a "news story" without first speaking to the mayor's office. Regardless of who you believe, that's just honest journalism). Mr. Keith, if you will allow me to address you directly: your words reach many people. They help inform any entire community. They profess to speak the truth. Do everyone a favor: Trust no one. Be objective. When you quote someone as a source, make sure you research the veracity of their claims. Among other things, your article stated: - George Williams retired from the board due to a conflict of interest with his employment. Your claim is not justified by any source. Perhaps this is due to your sentence construction (It was learned that...) How was it learned? Who told you this? Did Mr. Williams? If so, why didn't you quote directly? - Lazarone resigned from the board because he no longer lives in Alexandria. Again, this may be true, but where's your source? And what is your point? Are you implying that these resignations were not prompted by internal division, but instead, by technicality? If so, why does it matter? Either way, they asked the mayor to investigate. Or do these technicalities somehow lead you to believe that these men are corrupt appointees with a racially-based agenda? Do you think that they were forced to resign and that they became angry and started pointing fingers? If so, what facts lead you to this? If this is true, believe me: it's legitimate news. But as your story stands, it's simply gossip and speculation masquerading as fact. And like it or not, it also seems like your sources are those with their own ax to grind. - You claim that the mayor has absolutely no authority over the Housing Authority EXCEPT to appoint four of its five board members. Well, that IS authority. -You source the lawyer for the housing authority, Ms. Brown, as an objective source. She's the lawyer! Honestly, I don't have anything against Ms. Brown, and I believe that this story, by its nature, requires her contribution. But still, Ms. Brown is the lawyer representing the interests of the housing authority (not exactly an objective source of information regarding an investigation of the housing authority's alleged improprieties). She may be able to shed some light, but it's important to understand that her allegiance is to her client. -You claim that Brewer's bid was for $600,000, Alpha Title's bid was $200,000. You also claim, using the housing authority's lawyer as your source, that because HUD allocations for the project were capped at $150,000, Brewer/McGee's bid went down to $108,000 and Alpha Title's went down to $102,000 - You report that the board approved Alpha Title's proposal because they were from New Orleans and they knew how to relocate people. - But one problem: You also report that Brewer/McGee was certified to relocate people, and Alpha Title was not. - You quote the housing authority's lawyer as saying that Mrs. Brewer attempted to pull political strings by acknowledging her connections to Mayor Randolph. - You claim the reason Mrs. Sanders was awarded the contract is because she had worked with Alpha Title and had done "a great job." - You refuse to acknowledge that there is little difference between Mrs. Brewer's "political connections" (which you specifically reference using the housing authority's lawyer as your source) and Mrs. Sanders' connections to both the city attorney and the housing authority's attorney. Instead, you focus an entire paragraph to Mrs. Brewer's husband's insurance work with the housing authority. You also imply that Mr. Brewer was ripping the housing authority off. Did you talk to Mr. Brewer about this? His phone number is listed in the phone book, Mr. Keith. Look, I'm not trying to defend any certain party. I'm just saying that when you're writing a news story, you should work your sources. Otherwise, you look like someone's pawn. -And now allow me to quote directly: "They ('residents' questioned by Mr. Keith) question why there was no investigation called for during Carrol Lanier's administration when residents complained all the time about the facility being run like 'a modern-day plantation'" "We also talked with people in the community to get their comments about the alleged conflict. Karen Little said, 'The problem is those white folks don't want Black people making any kind of money. They are greedy, and we know they are in a position to manipulate the system. If the lady (Sanders) was on welfare, they would be saying 'get a job' or 'she's lazy,' but she did something on her own. Now they don't want that to happen either!' Another resident of the community, Gerald Glenn, said, 'The problem is that the Black people are not supposed to head anything, and when people like the mayor and Brewer can put doubt in the minds of the public, that's what they will do. All they're trying to do is put doubt in the people's minds about how Black people run business. If the mayor and Brewer want to be right, tell us- in a majority Black city, why does the City of Alexandria spend $160 million a year, and only $400,000 with minorities. This includes white women, so just think what the Blacks really get!'" My commentary: Try not to use these people as the voices of "real" residents, because their statements are not based in reality or fact. They're doing a disservice to the causes of unity and progression by perpetuating racist stereotypes about the agenda of "white people" (as if all white people speak with one voice. And for that matter, your article implies that all "Black people" speak with one voice. C'mon, that's ridiculous). You offer no objective information on these remarks, such as "The City of Alexandria spends $160 million a year on all people, $400,000 of which is specifically earmarked for minorities." (I doubt these are accurate numbers, but you should find out. This is a fairly divisive statement planted at the end of your article). If you're really committed to the future of Alexandria, Mr. Keith, if you really want to serve the cause of unity, then begin to recognize that the future of our community is not shaped by an "us versus them" struggle for power. While it is definitely true that some white people in our community continue to perpetuate racism, most of us, the ones who think and act, understand this "struggle" isn't really about racism; it's about power. And many of us in the community, both black people and white people, recognize that we can wield the greatest power by working together. So let the white racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "blacks taking over" and let the black racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "whites taking over" while the rest of us are out there are forming a dialogue and working together. Mr. Keith, I am looking forward to your follow-up story. Your newspaper claims to speak for an entire community. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does. Your newspaper claims to provide objective information. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does.Again, I repeat: Trust no one. Follow your sources. Get both sides of every story.|W|P|114991824641469269|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 10:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Northside Journal: Pineville City Court Clerk Suspended; Several Female Employees Allege Sexual Harassment|W|P|114987303878549215|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 09:13:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Several LC profs leaving over contract dispute Several professors and staff at Louisiana College in Pineville have either resigned recently, not signed a new contract for the upcoming academic year, or were not offered a contract.

The private, Baptist liberal arts college mailed out new contracts on May 16. The deadline for signing and returning them was May 31.

LC President Joe Aguillard said Thursday that he would not comment publicly on the personnel changes.

"Information about faculty and staff members is not public," Aguillard said. "They are private, personnel matters. We are dealing with them appropriately and without any difficulty."

Glenn Sumrall, vice president for academic affairs at LC, said he also would not discuss the contracts.

"Some choose to say a lot, and some choose to say very little. I need to respect that. It's not my place to say a faculty member is leaving one place to go to another," he said.

Both members of the public relations staff, Linda Hutson and Michele Trice, left the college on May 25.

The new contracts include provisions that prohibit drinking in public, and require that employees be Christians and adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Bill Simpson, a professor of history who did not sign his contract and does not have another job, said he "simply refused under the conditions."

Simpson said he refused to sign because of "what has been going on -- the way long-term staff members have been treated."

Another who is leaving is Ted Barnes, chairman of the division of visual and performing arts and a professor of art.

Barnes is going to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. His agreement with OBU was reached May 31, the deadline for signing the LC contract, though Barnes said he wouldn't have signed anyway.

"It is unfortunate," he said. "I don't agree with the philosophy of the administration. I wanted to stay in Central Louisiana."

Doug Rogers, an assistant professor of communications arts, is going to the faculty at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Asked if he would have signed the contract, he said, "Oh God, no, not a chance."

There are roughly 72 faculty members at the college, according to its Web site.

Five of 10 division heads are known to have left. They are Barnes; Thomas Howell, chairman of the Division of History and Political Science; Don Sprowl, chairman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division; Bruce Cofer, interim chair of the Business Division; and Ruth Weinzettle, chairwoman of the Division of Human Behavior.

Alex Ferry, chairman of the Division of Nursing, is one who not only is staying, but said all of his department is staying.

"We're pleased with the students and the quality of the students," Ferry said. "I'm not a Baptist, I'm a Methodist. I'm teaching in a very good Christian program."

Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits LC, said she has received no complaints regarding personnel changes.

"We probably would not question that," she said of the contract requirements. If contracts were changed after they were signed, that would be something different, she said.

Linda Peevy, chairwoman of the Division of Humanities and an English professor, is a former president of the faculty council, which she said has been disbanded.

"The board has completely reorganized. Faculty representation has been greatly reduced," she said.

Of the employees who have left, she called their departure "a great loss."

"I've lost four people. So far we're looking, but nobody has been hired," she said. "I don't know what we will do. We'll have to try to parcel out to our adjuncts."

Her division had 10 faculty members.

Aguillard said the college is moving in a direction to hire the best quality people.

"We are filling our openings with highly credentialed, qualified people -- people who want to teach at a Christian institution," he said.

Originally published June 9, 2006

|W|P|114986986709079586|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/07/2006 09:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Right On: Millions in tax incentives available for downtown Alexandria businesses The Town Talk

Businesses in downtown Alexandria can qualify for millions in federal tax incentives now that a new tract of the city has been added to the Central Louisiana Business Renewal program.

"We made the application to (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to include downtown Alexandria about a year and a half ago, but we just got approval last month," said Tara Trichel, chief executive officer for the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance.

Officials announced the approval of the application Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.

Deductions include: annual credits of as much as $1,500 per employee for those living in a designated renewal area; as much as $5,000 per new hire and $2,400 per employee for those qualifying under the government's work opportunity program.

As much as $10 million could be deducted for those who are willing to renovate a building downtown for their business. The credits are retroactive to 2002, Trichel said.

The Louisiana Renewal Community is a federal program that provides tax incentives and credits for developing tracts that U.S. Census Bureau data show to include high unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and/or minimum access to business capital.

The government has set aside $42 billion for the program and has identified 40 renewal communities nationwide, including four in Louisiana. In 2005, Louisiana businesses received $48 million in tax relief.

Commercial revitalization deductions, such as those that would be used for renovating downtown businesses, added up to as much as $12 million for individual communities.

Other areas of Alexandria and parts of Cenla already were included in the program, said Heather Urena, executive director for Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District Inc. Kisatchie-Delta is a nonprofit planning and development agency serving eight parishes in Cenla.

"Since downtown Alexandria has no residential area, it had no population or poverty and couldn't qualify," Urena said.

Urena said the government decided to "bend the rules a little" so that downtown Alexandria could be included as a renewal area.

The new tract extends from Eighth Street to the Red River and from the area surrounding Rapides Regional Medical Center to the Cottingham Expressway.

Many other businesses in Cenla are eligible for tax incentives under the program, but many are unaware that their business qualifies, said Leslie Lee, Director of Renewal Communities for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Community Programs.

"This means a lot to the area and a lot to downtown Alexandria. There is a lot of money on the table that could be taken advantage of," she said.

A map of areas in Cenla that qualify for the program is available at www.renewalla.com.

|W|P|114973957693031518|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/06/2006 05:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Sign of the Times: Pineville Man Arrested, Accused of Giving Girl a Hickey |W|P|114964082052112844|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/05/2006 12:55:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Tomorrow's Date Marks Impending World Doom The Town Talk is asking people to write in and tell them whether or not tomorrow's date, 06-06-06, "bothers them." My answer: Yes. Ann Coulter's new book, titled Godless: The Church of Liberalism, comes out tomorrow. This means she'll be on television all week spitting out the truth about "communism in America." Isn't it funny that she would exploit a Christian belief about the significance of the number 666 in order to help launch and market her new book about a "church?" |W|P|114953787438644632|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/04/2006 01:25:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Alexandria Music Project A Smash Hit And Other Reasons To Believe Nightlife Is Returning To Alexandria Last night, the Alexandria Music Project (better known as AMP) put on its first show of the year at the Riverfront Ampitheater. I'm not too good at estimating turnout, but suffice it to say that the show definitely paid for itself. It wasn't your typical rock n' roll show; tables were reserved upfront for those who undoubtedly made greater financial contributions than the rest of us. But despite this stratification in the audience, the overall vibe was positive, and once the obligatory socialization winded down, people began paying attention to the music and letting their guard down. This is how AMP describes itself: "AMP was officially organized in late 2003 as a non-profit corporation whose sole purpose is to bring good live music to central Louisiana. The key word in the last sentence is good. Without getting too deep into the concept of good, it suffices to say that AMP hopes to bring all types and styles of good music to central Louisiana. While good music cannot be explained in words, we can safely say that good music is not another cover version of Mustang Sally. AMP's initial focus is on cutting-edge singer/songwriters performing original music and flying a little under the radar. This may span the gamut from pop, indie rock, jam bands, country, alternative country, funk, soul, R & B, blues, jazz, folk, cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, reggae, african, world beat, fusions and back again to Americana. Nothing is off limits as long as it's good. AMP hosts at least two major events each year, generally in the spring and fall. Please see our Event Listings for details. AMP 301 is set for June 3, 2006. AMP 302 will be held in the fall, but is still in the works, so please check back for details on the date and location. Members receive complimentary or discounted passes to designated AMP events. AMP may host smaller events throughout the year. Funds permitting, Members may also receive a token novelty, like a coozie, coffee mug or somesuchthing. The long-term vision of AMP is to be a self-sustaining catalyst for good live music in central Louisiana by attracting touring musicians, as well as cultivating local musicians in an effort to establish and sustain a vibrant local music scene in central Louisiana. Of course, this all depends on your support as a Member of AMP. So please join us. You have our solemn pledge that a funky good time will be had by all. To learn more about becoming a Member of AMP, visit our Member Sign Up section. For frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ section." Last night, AMP brought in Two Cow Garage from Ohio and The Gourds from Austin, Texas. I'd never heard of Two Cow Garage before, but they played a decent show when you consider what their type of music must sound like to the average, middle-aged Alexandrian. I have, however, heard of The Gourds. I saw them play last year in Houston at the Continental Club. Believe it or not, the show last night at the ampitheater was about a hundred times better than their show in Houston, and the audience here in Alexandria was even given a little treat at the end of the show when The Gourds played a medley of cover songs, beginning with their ever-popular cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." Kudos to Graves Theus and to the vision of those who want to see rock n' roll music in Alexandria. The riverfront ampitheater is truly one of the best venues for music in the American South. It needs a little attention though in order to make it world-class; real seating and real bathroom facilities should be a top priority for our city government. If we were able to upgrade the facility just a little bit, we'd have the ability to attract larger names and bigger crowds. Not to be outdone, on Friday night, the guys over at Finnegan's Wake booked a Canadian band called Enter the Haggis. Enter the Haggis desribes their music as "Celtic fusion," which I guess means that it sounds like Irish rock. Finnegans easily attracted a crowd of 300 or 400 paying customers, and Enter the Haggis gave all of us an amazing show. So, kudos to Gaylen and Shannon for making it happen. Hopefully, this is a sign of the good things still to come. |W|P|114945389086440564|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/03/2006 01:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Follow-Up: The Largest Child Pornography Bust In US History Happened Right Here in Central Louisiana |W|P|114936736615617138|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/03/2006 11:39:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|The Blogs Have Been A Buzzin' During the past week, this blog has experienced a significant increase in unique visitors and user contributions. We've heard from a number of passionate, informed people who want to see real change affected in Central Louisiana. Keep on keeping on.|W|P|114936034258856654|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/01/2006 09:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Ethics Laws Probably Not Broken (Any Why Our Ethics Laws Are Ambiguous And Toothless) The deputy general counsel for the Board of Ethics says that the Alexandria Housing Authority is "probably separated enough from city government to preserve ethics lines." Thoughts, comments, concerns.|W|P|114917878584635280|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->
2. Where and what will you be studying? I am looking into a contemporary sythesis of Newar (the indigenous population of Kathmandu) and Tibetan Buddhism that has been catalyzed by the influx of Tibetan refugees into the Kathmandu Valley since the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959. I will stay in a small new Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the traditional Newar village Chapagaon, a little ways outside of Kathmandu. I'm fascinated by the way both Tibetans and Newars have made great effort to bridge large cultural gaps in language and ritual. 3. Interesting. Yeah. You know, it's nice to see two sects of a religion attempting to reconcile and move forward, rather than killing each other. The road to heaven is no competition, after all! I'd also like to add here that my interest in matters of the spirit was nurtured at Emmanual Baptist Church in Downtown Alexandria. Dr. Larry Taylor and Dr. Lee Weems have continued to be a source of inspiration and deeper knowledge. They share my conviction that truth is the monopoly of no one, and real understanding of one's own beliefs often comes through the lens of others.
4. Is there a particular reason or quality about Nepal that compels you?
Nepal is one of the most diverse places in the world, and cosmopolitan Kathmandu reflects that. Not only is there more than thirty ethnic groups, people from all over the world live and travel through the country. I love meeting someone from a place I've never heard of, and now that English has become an international language, it is not hard to have meaningful exchanges with most people. Not only do I have many Nepali, Indian and Tibetan friends there, I have made some great connections with Mexicans, Australians, Swedes, Germans, Japanese, and South Koreans, to name a few.
5. Talk a little about the cultural differences you've noticed between Alexandria, Louisiana and Kathmandu.
The pace is much slower, kinda like the difference between Alexandria and a northern city. For example, if I meet an acquaintance on the road in Kathmandu, we will stop, chat, and often break for tea. You don't find that relaxed openness very often in the USA. Another example: In Nepal, most mothers don't particularly mind if you play with their small children, even as a stranger. People are just very friendly and trusting. 6. And the similarities. In today's hyperconnected world, especially with the internet, we are seeing the emergence of a global youth culture. I believe that there is more difference today between the old and young than between Asians and Middle Easterners and Westerners. Nepalis our age connect with the same things we do: Bob Marley, Nirvana, Scarface, hashish, weblogs, late night dance parties, garage bands, an appreciation of the world as a unified organism... 7. Talk about the ways in which religion works itself into the every day lives of the Nepali people. Their ancient temples and stories are not considered artifacts or history or museum pieces (like) the way we treat our own religious heritage. Every morning at sunrise millions of Nepali women ring a bell and make offerings of food, water, light, incense and flowers at the same roadside shrine that their mothers and grandmothers have been doing for countless centuries. Theirs is truly a living tradition, and they believe that the divine can manifest itself in anything, including majestic groves of trees, rocks, rivers or crossroads. Every aspect of life points to the sacred; it is the sacred, and worshipped as such. It is actually quite beautiful. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion by merely watching these simple acts of devotion. Hell, I'm tearing up right now thinking about it! 8. Onto another subject. You moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What have you been up to in New Orleans?
In the beginning of December I began cleaning and rebuilding some friends' houses in Midcity, all of whom are organized through the Louisiana Himalayan Association, which is a social work organization that conducts development projects through Tulane University both in New Orleans and Dharamsala India. It has been very difficult at times, but NOLA is still the coolest city in America and the music scene is unrivaled. I've also been doing a lot of gardening; tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, herbs. Anyway, I heard enough people bitching about how few Louisianians were there helping with the effort, how it was all Mexicans and Yankees. Man, I left the Himalayas to come back to Louisiana to help with the effort. I was also quite disappointed that there aren't more people from Alexandria that have moved down for temporary work, volunteering, etc.
9. Have you noticed a lot of positive change? Absolutely. The community has pulled together like never before. Some pre-Katrina tenants have moved back into the houses we've been working on. Like us, many people are rebuilding bigger and better, now that they have the opportunity. It has been slow, and the most progress has been made where individuals work together on a small scale to bring their neighborhoods back. New Orleans is full of energetic youth from all over the country who are ready to create something amazing and progressive from the filth. I think that before the city gets permanantly and completely inundated with water after the sea levels rise from global warming in about 40 years we will truly see a lotus blossom from that swamp mud.
10. What do you think New Orleans will look like in ten years?
That all depends on the next few hurricane seasons, the levees, and the ability for humans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But either way, it will be younger and more progressive. 11. Talk about your observations of Alexandria. I know you only come in every now and then, but certainly, you have a notion of where you want to see Alexandria.
Many people who leave their hometowns do so out of disgust. I love Central Louisiana; after all it is the place that has had the most impact on who I am. I want to see more of the revitalization of downtown that has been going on. I want to see less ugly corporate chains (Checkers, etc.) and more individual locally owned businesses (Cenla Perks, HOJ, Finnigans, etc.). And after seeing a really great performance at the riverfront, I believe it is one of the most underrated venues in the state. Much like the Azalea Trail is one of the most underrated hiking trails in the nation (Backpacker Magazine did an article about this a few years back). But finally, the most important thing is education. I initially left Alexandria because I felt I was at a dead end with what I could learn in the public schools, so I went to LSMSA in Natchitoches. It was one of the best decisions in my life. I mean, look at LC, after all... Thanks Michael. You're certainly going to scare a few people, but hopefully, you'll inspire many more. We appreciate your honesty and optimism.
|W|P|115159372731292908|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 02:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|
KALB: Hypes Judgment Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four
Points of Interest: Mike Small (who seemed all smiles when I passed by him on Jackson Street a few hours ago) relied on the testimony of three expert witnesses to explain how the investigation was botched from the beginning. The evidence was destroyed the next day when the house was razed. The State's "theory" about how the fire spread did not account for how the children died. One witness called this the worst fire investigation he'd ever seen. Another explained that the State's theory about what caused the fire was based on an old wives tale.|W|P|115153106047884277|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 08:21:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|LC Lawsuit Can Go To Trial "In her brief ruling, Swent dismissed some claims for no cause of action and referred others, specifically violation of academic freedom, by-laws and faculty handbook, to the merits."

|W|P|115150826917588785|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/28/2006 06:33:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Lawson: City Parks Need One Million Dollars In Repairs Immediately|W|P|115150168118174945|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/27/2006 03:34:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Lawlessness in Louisiana From today's New York Times: "One Louisiana Department of Labor clerk, Wayne P. Lawless, has been charged with issuing about 80 fraudulent disaster unemployment benefit cards in exchange for bribes of up to $300 per application. Mr. Lawless, a state contract worker, announced to one man he helped apply for hurricane benefits that he wanted to “get something out of it,” the affidavit said." Wonkette first reported on this "gem." From the Wall Street Journal's law blog: aptronym (n): A name that inadvertently describes its bearer’s occupation. Widely attributed to Franklin P. Adams, aka “F.P.A.,” whose newspaper column, “The Conning Tower,” was popular during the 1920s and 1930s.|W|P|115144784681450277|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/27/2006 07:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Video: Michele Godard Interviews Charles Frederick Smith Among other things, Ms. Godard asks Councilman Smith about ethics violations and collusion, the Holiday Inn and his role in facilitating the long-term lease, the Corner Office bar and what is discussed behind those doors, and the concept of a mayoral chief of staff.|W|P|115142042910760433|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 07:13:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Pineville Councilman Martin Responds I've been out of town leading worship at a youth conference in Arkansas for over a week so I have a lot of catching up to do both in real life and in reading Lamar’s blog. Let me see if I can address some of the points made here. "We saw that", you commented about the additional 1.3 million in tax revenues and suggested it be put up for a rainy day (my paraphrase.) This additional money is from the 1/2-cent tax that is designated: 70% to employee pay and benefits and 30% to capital improvements. We gave a raise to the employees after the tax was passed, about a month or two before we started collecting it. Our amended 2005-2006 fiscal budget reflects that. So the 70% is going exactly as we promised the citizens. The 30% that goes to capital improvements is currently not being spent as we continue planning for a bond issue to do significant infrastructure improvements. (Elevated water tank, new water wells, new fire station, etc.) I hope we can turn that 30% (roughly 400,000/year) into some big projects that will help meet Pineville’s needs well into the future. Hopefully that answers that point. (But I'll be glad to provide further info or clarification if needed.) You also spoke of "the city councilmen who make $700.00 a month want to give the mayor what amounts to an extra $1,000.00 a month." Let me address this. The article and references to it are the first time I've heard of any discussion of pay raises for the council and mayor. It has not been discussed among the council members or with the mayor, as far as I know. This was a surprise to me. Remember, the article does not reflect action taken by the council, simply comment made at the finance committee meeting by a councilman and a committee member. So it’s far from a done deal. I was not on the council when the last pay raise was voted on (November, 2002) and I appreciate geoff's comment that one pay raise in 4 years is "pretty conservative". But as I expressed to the mayor this morning, I am not in favor of a pay raise for the council at this time. My personal opinion is that salary matters should be handled later in the 4 year term, closer to reelection time, preferably timed to take effect with the new term. As for the mayor's salary, I do think it should be reviewed on a regular basis. As I recall, the recommendation from the committee back in 2002 was for the mayor to make around $70,000 which Mayor Fields turned down. Now four years later, according to the article he is eligible for a salary increase to $61,000. I think Pineville has come a long ways in the past 4 years. The Council position is a part-time position and the pay is reflective of that. The Mayor's position is a full-time position and his pay should reflect the responsibility of overseeing 250+ employees and a multi-million dollar budget. I would be in favor of surveying the salaries of mayors from similarly-sized cities to get an accurate view of what the salary should be. But I am opposed to a salary increase for the council at this time. I don’t know if I’ve answered all the questions but hopefully I’ve addressed the major points. If not, let me know. Now back to catching up from being away for a week. Sincerely, Nathan|W|P|115137443127280913|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 03:27:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A Response: Why Do We Need a Multiplex "Marina?"

Do we need a multiplex center?

Why do we need a $45 million multiplex center? We have Rapides Coliseum that doesn't generate any revenue.

I agree that the Rapides Coliseum is in bad shape, but the Coliseum offers a different kind of venue than the proposed multiplex center would. It also makes good use of a prime piece of riverfront property, drawing people into our Downtown and showcasing our unique location.

We don't have much going on in Alexandria. No sporting events or anything. Maybe one or two concerts, circus and monster truck shows. The revenue generated by these must have been used to only pay utilities when the building was in use.

"Not much going on" is a matter of perspective. Nowadays, you can hear live music every weekend in Downtown Alexandria, and most of these bands are being drawn in from all over the country. The Aces are back in business, and from what I gather, attendance is encouragingly high. Not to mention that our zoo continues to attract thousands of visitors every month. These are promising signs that our economy could support such a venture.

Also, for the hurricane season in 2005, they complained about the electricity and use of utilities when the evacuees were there. I don't think that it will make things any better with the new multiplex. It will still have utilities that need to be paid.

Hopefully, though, the project will be income-producing.

With $45 million we could fix roads, put dorms on LSU-A's campus, train people who are unemployed so that they can be more productive in the workforce, help those who may be struggling to pay bills or who has to decide whether or not they want to use their money to buy groceries; or to pay for their medication.

The $45 million is being drawn from federal and state sources, not local taxes. LSUA is in the process of building dorms. We shouldn't confuse priorties, because it is possible for us to multi-task. I hope though that, like you said, we'll begin to focus on workforce training.

Some may think that bringing this to Central Louisiana will help generate jobs, but what's going to happen once this building is finished? Most will be back in the same predicament that they were in before.

Self-defeating thinking.

Cowboy Town is another example of why we don't need this $45 million multiplex.

Cowboy Town was a failed project for a number of different reasons, including the fact that it's located practically out of town with little surrounding business infrastructure to support it.

Why not use the money to make Cowboy Town into a bigger Funzone?

Oh man, not another Funzone.

You could have more for the kids and something for the grown-ups.

Last but not least, this money could be used to help those who want to open their own small business.

Again, it's not that simple. Some federal and state programs earmark money for very specific projects. That said, we should seek financing in order to create more programs that encourage and support small businesses, particularly in their infancy.

Alexandria is trying to be like our surrounding (bigger) cities but there is just not enough that goes on here for the things that they are planning to build in the future. What do you think, Cenla?

Mickey Doe Pineville

|W|P|115136209904312744|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/26/2006 03:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Update: Horses Returned to Owners|W|P|115135995692937672|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/25/2006 09:05:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Sign of the Times: Crystal Meth Causing Labor Shortage In Cenla|W|P|115125158115366287|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/24/2006 11:17:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Pineville Considers Pay Raises for Mayor and City Council Quote of the Day: "He's (Mayor Fields) working for WPA (a Depression-era federal agency) wages," Joe Wolf said.

|W|P|115117329091313785|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/23/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Breaking News from KALB: Alleged Terrorist Mastermind Lived in Marksville from 2001-2005|W|P|115110063390321899|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/22/2006 12:42:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Topic of the Day: The Persian Gulf War (The first one, not the one that's going on right now) Wikipedia, by the way, is an online encyclopedia that is heavily vetted by a veritable world of fact checkers. In a recent study, Wikipedia was found to be more factually reliable than the Encyclopedia Britannica. I say this now, because I anticipate a type of Steven Colbert "truthiness" debate occuring.|W|P|115100549768141088|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 07:33:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Ten Under Thirty: A CenLamar Feature Throughout the next few months, I will be highlighting the work and service of ten Central Louisianans under the age of thirty. If you have a suggestion for a candidate, please contact me or leave a comment.|W|P|115094374369728411|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|KALB: Michele Godard's Video Blog Currently, it's an archive of the full-length interviews KALB has conducted throughout the past week. Ms. Godard writes:

KALB.com's Video Blog is designed to bring you the whole story... Normal constraints on our broadcast news schedule sometimes limits what we can bring to you over the airwaves. However, many times, there are instances where there is more information and content that we are able to embed in our news broadcast... and we hope our Video Blog will meet those needs. Look for additional capabilities of this video blog as it matures.

Send your comments, questions or suggestions to KALB's News Director, Michele Godard.

|W|P|115092788124390672|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 11:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Bringhurst Is Getting A Lot Of Attention Lately Now it needs a little action. TOMPKINS: Encouraging to see quaint local course get attention

Even if it doesn't come before the Alexandria City Council at its meeting tonight, Bringhurst Golf Course will be discussed before the meeting by the Finance Committee.

The ancient par-3 course on Masonic Drive has been without a manager since last month when Jamie Trotter -- the last in a line of Trotters to manage the course the last 50 years -- gave up the family's lease on the course that was built in the late 1920s.

Tom Roese, the greens keeper at the city's Links on the Bayou course, has been temporarily tending to the greens at Bringhurst for no extra pay.

Even though nobody is running the course, some folks continue to play on the coarse layout at no cost.

"Some of the greens are OK," Roese said. "Some are pretty long and some have some disease on 'em. It'll probably take pretty much the rest of the summer to get 'em growing back right."

The city's parks and recreation crew, meanwhile, has been maintaining the rest of the course, and Darren Green, the city's urban forester, has determined some trees on the course need pruning so more sunshine can get through.

A group of several city officials and Booker T. Booze, a BellSouth employee and avid golfer, met Monday afternoon to discuss the Bringhurst course, and another group discussion was held last week, and it included Lamar White Jr., who heads a group that is interested in taking over the management of the course.

"Everyone wants to see the course become more youth-friendly and more retiree-friendly, and become a course where golfers who regular play 18-hole courses like to come to tune up their short games," said city councilman Chuck Fowler, who fondly remembers playing at Bringhurst as a youth.

The course does not drain well. It needs better irrigation and, preferably, lights, which could also benefit the zoo. The clubhouse needs refurbishing or even a new location, and the parking lot needs to be enhanced.

Brewer said the city might consider amending its contract with M Squared, Mike Mitton Management which manages the Links on the Bayou, to include maintenance of the Bringhurst greens, and to ask for proposals from groups interested in managing the course.

"We've gotten one very good proposal," she said of the one from White's group, "but we want to see if there are any others out there."

There has also been talk of getting The First Tee of Central Louisiana involved at Bringhurst, confirmed Lou Dechert, the director of the program based at the Golf Club of Timber Trails. The First Tee's mission is to introduce golf and core values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship to young people of all backgrounds.

Brewer said it's "possible" that the city might work out a contract with a management company within six weeks, but that's probably optimistic, considering the slow pace of government and the need to check every facet of a proposal before agreeing to it.

Even so, the attention being given to the quaint, popular course is encouraging.

"I think good things are coming to Bringhurst," Fowler said. "My compliments to the Trotters. They did a magnificent job for years, but I'm looking forward to the future of that little course."

|W|P|115091420388984274|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/21/2006 09:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Rapides Parish School Board to Review "Braids" Policy I don't have any objection to people wearing braids in their hair; the fact that this is even a point of contention seems funny to me. However, at the same time, if they're going to enact this policy, then they should let the hippy kids and the goth kids wear their hair however they see fit as well. There shouldn't be a double-standard when it comes to hairstyles.|W|P|115090654431575567|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/20/2006 01:13:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Charles F. Smith To Announce Candidacy For Mayor|W|P|115083445120271853|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/19/2006 03:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|National Guard Ordered to New Orleans|W|P|115075674899834092|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/19/2006 11:46:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|New Condos Planned on the Red River Well, not actually on the river, on the banks of the river. This seems like a great project. The plans look nice, and I hope it works for them. |W|P|115074297387938219|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/18/2006 05:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Cenla Antix With An X: A New Blog on Cenla I received an e-mail from a person who calls himself Captain Obvious, a self-described 35-year-old Republican who is interested in moderating an honest discussion on Cenla. Rock on! And brilliant name choice for the blog. I hope it works out. Looks like the Rambler is sinking.|W|P|115067555821324726|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/18/2006 09:32:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Follow Up Letter: It's a black and white issue

My name is Misty Williams and I wrote the letter about the hard time my family and I are having in this all-white neighborhood even though my husband is an injured soldier. Thank you for putting my letter out!

Last week after dinner we decided to go for a walk. The kids got on their bikes, I walked the dogs and my husband was helped on his 4-wheeler that was made just for him to accommodate his injury.

It is a small 4-wheeler with all the hand gears on the right side so that he can operate it. He has no movement in his left hand at all! We got about two- blocks away and saw a Marksville police officer. I told my girls to move to the side so he could pass. Well he started yelling for my husband to get over to him. He asked my husband if he was from "across the Bayou." My husband told him that he lived down the street. Our family walk then went bad. He started talking to my husband like he was a dog. He demanded for my husband to get off the 4-wheeler "now!" I told him it would take a second to help him off as he was injured in Iraq and cannot move fast. The officer then said "so!" I was scared he would think my husband was refusing and hurt him. I was very angry at this man! He and I had some words. He towed our 4-wheeler and then gave us a ticket. The ticket was $136.50, and the tow was $40. He left my husband standing in the middle of the road with no cane. He had another officer come who was black but his car was full. The officer who did all this then said he would give my husband a ride. I then said "no I don't know what you would do to him once you get him in your car." I told him how everyone around there rode 4-wheelers, go carts and golf carts daily. That's why we thought it was OK, and that's the only way for my husband to go on walks with the family. We saw everyone else do it, that's why we got one. I told him he only did all this because my husband is black. He said "Oh, here we go." But I know it's true in my heart. If I break the law, I will pay. I don't want to get away with a crime. But please don't talk to my husband like he is trash and assume he came from "across the bayou." We parked our small 4-wheeler that was going slower than a turtle. Drive through my area you will see them flying down my road . And golf carts, well, they are driven more than cars on my road. And to all the neighbors that stood in your yard watching us with the cop that day, pointing, sticking up your nose and looking at us like we were trash -- we were only taking a family walk and doing what you do daily. We were just doing it wearing the wrong color skin, I guess.

Misty Williams, Marksville

|W|P|115064845325948266|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 06:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|KALB: Delores Brewer's Letter to Ned Randolph|W|P|115059273249810172|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 12:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Documents Reveal Cleco Deal Data|W|P|115057213235431547|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/17/2006 12:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Alexandria-Born, Pioneering Journalist Champ Clark, Sr. Dies At The Age of 92|W|P|115057115774696437|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 04:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Rod Noles On Jackson Street Extension Growth He says people are starting to call this area of town the "financial district."|W|P|115049930089438783|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 01:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Louisiana Speaks: A Plan for Rebuilding|W|P|115048845619938098|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/16/2006 09:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Two Letters in Today's Paper Highlight Racism This one addresses a white Marksville woman who was being harassed because her husband, who is currently serving in Iraq, is black. And this one is about how police officers (in Oakdale, I presume) handcuffed a black city councilman over an unpaid speeding ticket!|W|P|115047761907055580|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/15/2006 11:14:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|CenLamar Now Listed On The Dead Pelican|W|P|115043850453508482|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/14/2006 03:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|
Bringhurst Golf Course: A Proposal For Its Future
Earlier today, an anonymous writer on Cenla Antics reported that I had submitted a proposal about rehabilitating Bringhurst Golf Course. I'm not sure who this person is or who their source is, but yes, this is true. Considering that my brother Mark and I have dispersed between thirty and forty copies of our proposal, it's not too surprising that this would sneak its way onto the blogosphere. On May 27, Bob Tompkins of The Town Talk reported that Jamie Trotter decided not to renew his family's lease on the historic Bringhurst Golf Course in Alexandria. Although the Trotter family had kept the lease on Bringhurst for nearly fifty years, Jamie became frustrated with the crime in the area. He felt like it wasn't fun anymore to run the course. The next day, my brother and I were talking about the course's closure with a few friends of ours. Mark and his friends had all learned the game of golf at Bringhurst, and they all expressed a great vision for Bringhurst's future. It wasn't just the crime, they said. It was much more than that. In short time, I was convinced that they had a solid plan, a firm grasp of the course's pros and cons, and an understanding of the operations of a golf course. (Mark has previously worked in other golf courses in Texas and Louisiana). We drafted a short proposal and sent it over to Delores Brewer. Mrs. Brewer also understood the importance of the course. It bills itself as the oldest par three in the country. (While researching the course, we learned that it is actually the third oldest in the country. But it's still the oldest "this" side of the Mississippi River). We were able to retain the services of a reputable grant writer. From the beginning, we agreed to create a nonprofit organization to handle clubhouse management. We never intended on using the course as a way of personally enriching ourselves, and we recognized the challenges of rehabilitating the course as a private enterprise. We also believe that there is a public interest in the future of this course and that it is possible to rely on grants and private donations in order to pay for renovation costs. (It's worth noting that greens maintenance can be handled "in house" by the City of Alexandria. They have already retained the services of a professional greenskeeper at the Links Course, and he was amenable to tackling Bringhurst. Our entire proposal hinges on renovating the clubhouse and reenergizing its business). That said, this is not a done deal, and it will take the support of the community to realize this dream. The City Council will likely have to vote on this issue on July 5th. We hope the community recognizes the value of Bringhurst and supports our efforts. Our plans call for the following: 1. Improved lighting that facilitates night golf. (We spoke with Les Whitt today, and he'd also like to see night lighting at the zoo. If you light the place up at night, it will also help decrease crime). 2. A free wireless internet cafe and lunch/snack bar. 3. Golf club rentals. 4. A complete renovation of the clubhouse. Again, all of this, including renovation expenses, will be funded by private donations and grant money. 5. A putt-putt golf course constructed on the "wasted space" located near the parking lot. 6. 24-hour camera security. 7. An extended deck with tables and chairs. 8. A once-a-week frisbee golf game. 9. Improved signage and curb appeal. 10. Improved parking. 11. Company and charity-sponsored golf tournaments. As far as specific renovations and improvements to the course, the Links Course's greenskeeping services are phenomenal, and they will be able to dramatically improve the teeboxes, the fairways, and the greens. It's also worth noting that we'll be entering into a cooperative agreement with GAEDA in order to attract additional programs to the course, like the First Tee Program. If you have any questions or suggestions, we're all ears.|W|P|115033092235688607|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/14/2006 02:50:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Challenging authority is OK

This letter is in response to the May 31 letter in defense of recent actions by Dr. Joe Aguillard, president of Louisiana College. The letter stated that "it ... is cowardly and markedly un-Christian for anyone to publicly admonish a figure of authority whom you are commanded by God to respect."

Does this mean that Christian abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison should not have held their protests against slaveholders? Does this mean a Christian like Martin Luther King Jr. should not have challenged insidious racists like Alabama Gov. George Wallace? And what of Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who actively fought against Adolf Hitler and Nazism? Were all of these Christians cowards? Moreover, Christ never commanded his followers to support authorities without question. In fact, he challenged quite a few himself. Instead, as Christians we have a fundamental responsibility for making sure our leaders uphold the values of justice, compassion and intellectual honesty that Christ embodied. What's happening at Louisiana College has nothing to do with Christianity. It has been -- and continues to be -- about power. Nothing will change at Louisiana College until good Christians open their eyes to the fact that fundamentalism is nothing more than a political movement hiding behind the masks of fear mongering and religious demagoguery. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Bart Marable Austin, Texas

|W|P|115032185784489607|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/12/2006 04:58:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Fascinating Photo of Downtown Alexandria (See, It's Possible to Get People Downtown)|W|P|115015680932088776|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/11/2006 02:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Finnegan's Wake: The Thinking Man's Pub (And Where LC Professors Secretly Go To Eat, Drink, and Be Merry) Their website features a regularly updated forum, a menu, and a list of upcoming shows.|W|P|115006242924890618|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 11:32:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|In Other News: A source tells me that during last night's corporate spelling bee, the two teams from the Town Talk were the first two eliminated. Funny. I kid. I kid. And another reputable source tells me that the recent resignations from Louisiana College represent approximately 370-plus years of academic experience.|W|P|114992143876411480|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 09:02:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Incendiary, Irresponsible, and Interesting: The Alexandria News Weekly's "Coverage" of the Alexandria Housing Authority Audit. Earlier today, a friend of mine directed me toward the new edition of the Alexandria News Weekly, which bills itself as "the black press of America." I've read the Alexandria News Weekly before, and I've found it to be an informative community-oriented paper, typically covering positive issues relating to the African-American community. The latest edition, however, features a cover story entitled "Why Did Mayor Call For Audit of Housing Authority." The article was written by Brian Keith. I do not know Mr. Keith, but I read his story with an objective interest. I've covered the story here on the blog, and it generated quite a bit of feedback. Obviously, all of the facts are not out there, and many of the central players are not talking to the press. However, unlike Mr. Keith, I have spoken to Mrs. Brewer and a source very close to Mrs. McGee. (It is worth noting that Mr. Keith's article did not feature a single quote from anyone from the mayor's office. I believe it was incredibly irresponsible of Mr. Keith to publish this article as a "news story" without first speaking to the mayor's office. Regardless of who you believe, that's just honest journalism). Mr. Keith, if you will allow me to address you directly: your words reach many people. They help inform any entire community. They profess to speak the truth. Do everyone a favor: Trust no one. Be objective. When you quote someone as a source, make sure you research the veracity of their claims. Among other things, your article stated: - George Williams retired from the board due to a conflict of interest with his employment. Your claim is not justified by any source. Perhaps this is due to your sentence construction (It was learned that...) How was it learned? Who told you this? Did Mr. Williams? If so, why didn't you quote directly? - Lazarone resigned from the board because he no longer lives in Alexandria. Again, this may be true, but where's your source? And what is your point? Are you implying that these resignations were not prompted by internal division, but instead, by technicality? If so, why does it matter? Either way, they asked the mayor to investigate. Or do these technicalities somehow lead you to believe that these men are corrupt appointees with a racially-based agenda? Do you think that they were forced to resign and that they became angry and started pointing fingers? If so, what facts lead you to this? If this is true, believe me: it's legitimate news. But as your story stands, it's simply gossip and speculation masquerading as fact. And like it or not, it also seems like your sources are those with their own ax to grind. - You claim that the mayor has absolutely no authority over the Housing Authority EXCEPT to appoint four of its five board members. Well, that IS authority. -You source the lawyer for the housing authority, Ms. Brown, as an objective source. She's the lawyer! Honestly, I don't have anything against Ms. Brown, and I believe that this story, by its nature, requires her contribution. But still, Ms. Brown is the lawyer representing the interests of the housing authority (not exactly an objective source of information regarding an investigation of the housing authority's alleged improprieties). She may be able to shed some light, but it's important to understand that her allegiance is to her client. -You claim that Brewer's bid was for $600,000, Alpha Title's bid was $200,000. You also claim, using the housing authority's lawyer as your source, that because HUD allocations for the project were capped at $150,000, Brewer/McGee's bid went down to $108,000 and Alpha Title's went down to $102,000 - You report that the board approved Alpha Title's proposal because they were from New Orleans and they knew how to relocate people. - But one problem: You also report that Brewer/McGee was certified to relocate people, and Alpha Title was not. - You quote the housing authority's lawyer as saying that Mrs. Brewer attempted to pull political strings by acknowledging her connections to Mayor Randolph. - You claim the reason Mrs. Sanders was awarded the contract is because she had worked with Alpha Title and had done "a great job." - You refuse to acknowledge that there is little difference between Mrs. Brewer's "political connections" (which you specifically reference using the housing authority's lawyer as your source) and Mrs. Sanders' connections to both the city attorney and the housing authority's attorney. Instead, you focus an entire paragraph to Mrs. Brewer's husband's insurance work with the housing authority. You also imply that Mr. Brewer was ripping the housing authority off. Did you talk to Mr. Brewer about this? His phone number is listed in the phone book, Mr. Keith. Look, I'm not trying to defend any certain party. I'm just saying that when you're writing a news story, you should work your sources. Otherwise, you look like someone's pawn. -And now allow me to quote directly: "They ('residents' questioned by Mr. Keith) question why there was no investigation called for during Carrol Lanier's administration when residents complained all the time about the facility being run like 'a modern-day plantation'" "We also talked with people in the community to get their comments about the alleged conflict. Karen Little said, 'The problem is those white folks don't want Black people making any kind of money. They are greedy, and we know they are in a position to manipulate the system. If the lady (Sanders) was on welfare, they would be saying 'get a job' or 'she's lazy,' but she did something on her own. Now they don't want that to happen either!' Another resident of the community, Gerald Glenn, said, 'The problem is that the Black people are not supposed to head anything, and when people like the mayor and Brewer can put doubt in the minds of the public, that's what they will do. All they're trying to do is put doubt in the people's minds about how Black people run business. If the mayor and Brewer want to be right, tell us- in a majority Black city, why does the City of Alexandria spend $160 million a year, and only $400,000 with minorities. This includes white women, so just think what the Blacks really get!'" My commentary: Try not to use these people as the voices of "real" residents, because their statements are not based in reality or fact. They're doing a disservice to the causes of unity and progression by perpetuating racist stereotypes about the agenda of "white people" (as if all white people speak with one voice. And for that matter, your article implies that all "Black people" speak with one voice. C'mon, that's ridiculous). You offer no objective information on these remarks, such as "The City of Alexandria spends $160 million a year on all people, $400,000 of which is specifically earmarked for minorities." (I doubt these are accurate numbers, but you should find out. This is a fairly divisive statement planted at the end of your article). If you're really committed to the future of Alexandria, Mr. Keith, if you really want to serve the cause of unity, then begin to recognize that the future of our community is not shaped by an "us versus them" struggle for power. While it is definitely true that some white people in our community continue to perpetuate racism, most of us, the ones who think and act, understand this "struggle" isn't really about racism; it's about power. And many of us in the community, both black people and white people, recognize that we can wield the greatest power by working together. So let the white racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "blacks taking over" and let the black racist types stand in the sidelines and whine about "whites taking over" while the rest of us are out there are forming a dialogue and working together. Mr. Keith, I am looking forward to your follow-up story. Your newspaper claims to speak for an entire community. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does. Your newspaper claims to provide objective information. Based on your latest article, I don't think it does.Again, I repeat: Trust no one. Follow your sources. Get both sides of every story.|W|P|114991824641469269|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 10:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Northside Journal: Pineville City Court Clerk Suspended; Several Female Employees Allege Sexual Harassment|W|P|114987303878549215|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/09/2006 09:13:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Several LC profs leaving over contract dispute Several professors and staff at Louisiana College in Pineville have either resigned recently, not signed a new contract for the upcoming academic year, or were not offered a contract.

The private, Baptist liberal arts college mailed out new contracts on May 16. The deadline for signing and returning them was May 31.

LC President Joe Aguillard said Thursday that he would not comment publicly on the personnel changes.

"Information about faculty and staff members is not public," Aguillard said. "They are private, personnel matters. We are dealing with them appropriately and without any difficulty."

Glenn Sumrall, vice president for academic affairs at LC, said he also would not discuss the contracts.

"Some choose to say a lot, and some choose to say very little. I need to respect that. It's not my place to say a faculty member is leaving one place to go to another," he said.

Both members of the public relations staff, Linda Hutson and Michele Trice, left the college on May 25.

The new contracts include provisions that prohibit drinking in public, and require that employees be Christians and adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Bill Simpson, a professor of history who did not sign his contract and does not have another job, said he "simply refused under the conditions."

Simpson said he refused to sign because of "what has been going on -- the way long-term staff members have been treated."

Another who is leaving is Ted Barnes, chairman of the division of visual and performing arts and a professor of art.

Barnes is going to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. His agreement with OBU was reached May 31, the deadline for signing the LC contract, though Barnes said he wouldn't have signed anyway.

"It is unfortunate," he said. "I don't agree with the philosophy of the administration. I wanted to stay in Central Louisiana."

Doug Rogers, an assistant professor of communications arts, is going to the faculty at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Asked if he would have signed the contract, he said, "Oh God, no, not a chance."

There are roughly 72 faculty members at the college, according to its Web site.

Five of 10 division heads are known to have left. They are Barnes; Thomas Howell, chairman of the Division of History and Political Science; Don Sprowl, chairman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division; Bruce Cofer, interim chair of the Business Division; and Ruth Weinzettle, chairwoman of the Division of Human Behavior.

Alex Ferry, chairman of the Division of Nursing, is one who not only is staying, but said all of his department is staying.

"We're pleased with the students and the quality of the students," Ferry said. "I'm not a Baptist, I'm a Methodist. I'm teaching in a very good Christian program."

Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits LC, said she has received no complaints regarding personnel changes.

"We probably would not question that," she said of the contract requirements. If contracts were changed after they were signed, that would be something different, she said.

Linda Peevy, chairwoman of the Division of Humanities and an English professor, is a former president of the faculty council, which she said has been disbanded.

"The board has completely reorganized. Faculty representation has been greatly reduced," she said.

Of the employees who have left, she called their departure "a great loss."

"I've lost four people. So far we're looking, but nobody has been hired," she said. "I don't know what we will do. We'll have to try to parcel out to our adjuncts."

Her division had 10 faculty members.

Aguillard said the college is moving in a direction to hire the best quality people.

"We are filling our openings with highly credentialed, qualified people -- people who want to teach at a Christian institution," he said.

Originally published June 9, 2006

|W|P|114986986709079586|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/07/2006 09:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Right On: Millions in tax incentives available for downtown Alexandria businesses The Town Talk

Businesses in downtown Alexandria can qualify for millions in federal tax incentives now that a new tract of the city has been added to the Central Louisiana Business Renewal program.

"We made the application to (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to include downtown Alexandria about a year and a half ago, but we just got approval last month," said Tara Trichel, chief executive officer for the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance.

Officials announced the approval of the application Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.

Deductions include: annual credits of as much as $1,500 per employee for those living in a designated renewal area; as much as $5,000 per new hire and $2,400 per employee for those qualifying under the government's work opportunity program.

As much as $10 million could be deducted for those who are willing to renovate a building downtown for their business. The credits are retroactive to 2002, Trichel said.

The Louisiana Renewal Community is a federal program that provides tax incentives and credits for developing tracts that U.S. Census Bureau data show to include high unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and/or minimum access to business capital.

The government has set aside $42 billion for the program and has identified 40 renewal communities nationwide, including four in Louisiana. In 2005, Louisiana businesses received $48 million in tax relief.

Commercial revitalization deductions, such as those that would be used for renovating downtown businesses, added up to as much as $12 million for individual communities.

Other areas of Alexandria and parts of Cenla already were included in the program, said Heather Urena, executive director for Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District Inc. Kisatchie-Delta is a nonprofit planning and development agency serving eight parishes in Cenla.

"Since downtown Alexandria has no residential area, it had no population or poverty and couldn't qualify," Urena said.

Urena said the government decided to "bend the rules a little" so that downtown Alexandria could be included as a renewal area.

The new tract extends from Eighth Street to the Red River and from the area surrounding Rapides Regional Medical Center to the Cottingham Expressway.

Many other businesses in Cenla are eligible for tax incentives under the program, but many are unaware that their business qualifies, said Leslie Lee, Director of Renewal Communities for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Community Programs.

"This means a lot to the area and a lot to downtown Alexandria. There is a lot of money on the table that could be taken advantage of," she said.

A map of areas in Cenla that qualify for the program is available at www.renewalla.com.

|W|P|114973957693031518|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/06/2006 05:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Sign of the Times: Pineville Man Arrested, Accused of Giving Girl a Hickey |W|P|114964082052112844|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/05/2006 12:55:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Tomorrow's Date Marks Impending World Doom The Town Talk is asking people to write in and tell them whether or not tomorrow's date, 06-06-06, "bothers them." My answer: Yes. Ann Coulter's new book, titled Godless: The Church of Liberalism, comes out tomorrow. This means she'll be on television all week spitting out the truth about "communism in America." Isn't it funny that she would exploit a Christian belief about the significance of the number 666 in order to help launch and market her new book about a "church?" |W|P|114953787438644632|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/04/2006 01:25:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Alexandria Music Project A Smash Hit And Other Reasons To Believe Nightlife Is Returning To Alexandria Last night, the Alexandria Music Project (better known as AMP) put on its first show of the year at the Riverfront Ampitheater. I'm not too good at estimating turnout, but suffice it to say that the show definitely paid for itself. It wasn't your typical rock n' roll show; tables were reserved upfront for those who undoubtedly made greater financial contributions than the rest of us. But despite this stratification in the audience, the overall vibe was positive, and once the obligatory socialization winded down, people began paying attention to the music and letting their guard down. This is how AMP describes itself: "AMP was officially organized in late 2003 as a non-profit corporation whose sole purpose is to bring good live music to central Louisiana. The key word in the last sentence is good. Without getting too deep into the concept of good, it suffices to say that AMP hopes to bring all types and styles of good music to central Louisiana. While good music cannot be explained in words, we can safely say that good music is not another cover version of Mustang Sally. AMP's initial focus is on cutting-edge singer/songwriters performing original music and flying a little under the radar. This may span the gamut from pop, indie rock, jam bands, country, alternative country, funk, soul, R & B, blues, jazz, folk, cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, reggae, african, world beat, fusions and back again to Americana. Nothing is off limits as long as it's good. AMP hosts at least two major events each year, generally in the spring and fall. Please see our Event Listings for details. AMP 301 is set for June 3, 2006. AMP 302 will be held in the fall, but is still in the works, so please check back for details on the date and location. Members receive complimentary or discounted passes to designated AMP events. AMP may host smaller events throughout the year. Funds permitting, Members may also receive a token novelty, like a coozie, coffee mug or somesuchthing. The long-term vision of AMP is to be a self-sustaining catalyst for good live music in central Louisiana by attracting touring musicians, as well as cultivating local musicians in an effort to establish and sustain a vibrant local music scene in central Louisiana. Of course, this all depends on your support as a Member of AMP. So please join us. You have our solemn pledge that a funky good time will be had by all. To learn more about becoming a Member of AMP, visit our Member Sign Up section. For frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ section." Last night, AMP brought in Two Cow Garage from Ohio and The Gourds from Austin, Texas. I'd never heard of Two Cow Garage before, but they played a decent show when you consider what their type of music must sound like to the average, middle-aged Alexandrian. I have, however, heard of The Gourds. I saw them play last year in Houston at the Continental Club. Believe it or not, the show last night at the ampitheater was about a hundred times better than their show in Houston, and the audience here in Alexandria was even given a little treat at the end of the show when The Gourds played a medley of cover songs, beginning with their ever-popular cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." Kudos to Graves Theus and to the vision of those who want to see rock n' roll music in Alexandria. The riverfront ampitheater is truly one of the best venues for music in the American South. It needs a little attention though in order to make it world-class; real seating and real bathroom facilities should be a top priority for our city government. If we were able to upgrade the facility just a little bit, we'd have the ability to attract larger names and bigger crowds. Not to be outdone, on Friday night, the guys over at Finnegan's Wake booked a Canadian band called Enter the Haggis. Enter the Haggis desribes their music as "Celtic fusion," which I guess means that it sounds like Irish rock. Finnegans easily attracted a crowd of 300 or 400 paying customers, and Enter the Haggis gave all of us an amazing show. So, kudos to Gaylen and Shannon for making it happen. Hopefully, this is a sign of the good things still to come. |W|P|114945389086440564|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/03/2006 01:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Follow-Up: The Largest Child Pornography Bust In US History Happened Right Here in Central Louisiana |W|P|114936736615617138|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/03/2006 11:39:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|The Blogs Have Been A Buzzin' During the past week, this blog has experienced a significant increase in unique visitors and user contributions. We've heard from a number of passionate, informed people who want to see real change affected in Central Louisiana. Keep on keeping on.|W|P|114936034258856654|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com6/01/2006 09:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|Ethics Laws Probably Not Broken (Any Why Our Ethics Laws Are Ambiguous And Toothless) The deputy general counsel for the Board of Ethics says that the Alexandria Housing Authority is "probably separated enough from city government to preserve ethics lines." Thoughts, comments, concerns.|W|P|114917878584635280|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->