Chris Paige Wagers his Credibility at Parish Council Meeting

By J. R. “Randy” Stelly/Opinion

StellySmall

After watching the Parish Council meeting, I made the following observations:

Observation No. 1 – Chris Paige clearly thinks that you are stupid, that you don’t know how to read and that you can’t understand simple math.  It is either that or Mr. Paige is a liar. I prefer to believe the latter! The most egregious lie of the night, which he couched as a wager, was that there are two people on Parish payroll whose salaries combined exceed 2 million dollars!  I’m sorry, but anyone with even half a lick of sense should recognize that statement for the lie that it is. Even the good folks who seem determined to destroy our Parish by going back to a police jury form of government aren’t so gullible as to believe that lie!  If you add up ALL of the salaries for the departments that the Parish Government has control over, you get $2,138,962!!  And that includes the salaries for the Parish President and the Council members!

Parish Council  $        30,000.00
Parish President, Council Clerk, Executive Assistant, Parish Treasurer,
Purchasing Agent, HR/Coordinator, Accounts Payable Clerk
 $      351,035.00
Highway Department  $      729,942.00
Solid Waste Department  $      590,532.00
Government Buildings  $      147,291.00
Health Department  $      212,085.00
Planning & Zoning  $        78,077.00
TOTAL   $   2,138,962.00

2018 NPG Budget Submissions

Mr. Paige, I’ll gladly take you up on that bet!

Observation No. 2 – The good folks who live on rural roads have selective memories where the condition of their roads are concerned. Go back and read the minutes of old police jury meetings to refresh your memory if you must, but the roads in Natchitoches Parish have been deteriorating for over 30 years now!

Under the police jury form of government, there was a Highway Steering Committee. The Committee was comprised of Police Jurors who were responsible for studying “any issue, matter or proposal relating to the operation of the Parish Highway department and/or the Parish road system prior to same being acted upon by the police jury as a corporate body.”

Parish of Natchitoches, LA Code of Ordinances – 2-9

At its June 18, 2012 meeting, the police jury, upon recommendation of the Steering Committee, voted to cancel all previous backlog Work Requests at the Parish Highway Department for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011!!! At that same meeting, Juror John Salter, who was the Parish Manager over the highway department, stated that “putting down gravel was about all the Jury could do in such a short time.”

May 21 2012

THE ONLY THING THAT IS GOING TO FIX OUR ROADS IS MONEY!!!

Notice of Agenda

Agenda – 12.06.18

June 18 2012 Meeting

Observation #3 – Another task of the Highway Steering Committee was the “approval for employment of persons recommended by the Director of Public Works for employment…”

The Parish employee who complained to the Council of being treated unfairly by the Parish Government started working for the police jury on June 18, 2012. Her recommendation for hiring wasn’t voted on and approved until the Council meeting was held at 4:00 p.m. that same day. The position she was hired for was not advertised and the highway department already had a secretary on staff. Why did the police jury find it necessary to create a job for this particular person? Could it be that Patsy Ward Hoover created the position for her? After all, the employee has been seen riding in the same vehicle as Mrs. Hoover in recent weeks and Mrs. Hoover, who was receiving an additional $400/month in pay, was the Assistant Parish Manager of the highway department at the time the employee was hired. If that is the case, Mrs. Hoover violated the Parish Code of Ordinances by using her position as a manager over the highway department and as a police juror to influence the Steering Committee’s selection and hiring of this particular person.

It’s time for the residents of this Parish to realize that people like Chris Paige, who is term-limited under the Home Rule Charter, only have use for us if we can help advance their personal agenda! It’s time to wake up and get educated!

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

The Right Coach

JPCIII

Joe Cunningham, III

In teaching, you get asked to do a lot of things and you get to volunteer to do a lot of things. Here recently, I was asked if I wanted to help with my school’s basketball team. Given how much I like a lot of the kids on both the high school and middle school boys teams and, given how much I enjoy spending time with the coaches of those teams, I jumped at the opportunity.

The reason I enjoy hanging out with the coaches at my school is because there is something you can learn watching how different coaches approach the sport they are involved in. I’ve seen a lot of coaches both through various jobs in journalism and my job as a teacher. The best coaches, inevitably, are the ones who do three things and do them sometimes at the expense of victory.

The first thing every good coach does is establish a relationship with a player that goes beyond just being a coach. He or she is involved with your education, making sure you are focusing on your grades and communicating with both your parents and your teachers when there is a problem. They are as much a teacher as a coach, making sure you are getting the important things done before you step onto the court. If a player isn’t taking care of his grades, a good coach won’t try to get the grade fixed, but will keep them off the court in order to motivate them.

A good coach isn’t just a player’s coach when it comes to a sport, but when it comes to life. Teaching the kids not just how to shoot a basketball or carry a football down the field isn’t enough. They also teach life skills. One of the most interesting things about my school’s team is that all the kids are talented, but none of them are the type of person whose attitude stinks but you keep around because they are so good.

I’ve worked with several of our school’s athletes in studying for tests, editing papers, and just giving them a place to work quietly after school, and in interacting with them, it’s very obvious each of them is determined to succeed outside of the court or field. This is a testament to the coaching staff we have at our school, as well as schools across the state.

The final thing that good coaches do is make sacrifices when the situation calls for it. If an athlete has a poor grade or a bad attitude, then a good coach will bench them no matter how good they are. It could lead to a loss if you have to bench your best player, but this makes it clear to athletes that being good at sports can be a temporary part of life, but being a successful person can last a lifetime. The right coaching is focused entirely on making a kid a better person.

If a coach does all of this, then the final product (whether it’s a season of wins or losses) will be kids who are prepared to handle life, not just handle a ball.

Ponderings with Doug – December 18, 2015

dougthumbSunday I was preaching. For some reason, which eludes me now, I made reference to seeing a truck on the Interstate. It was a very specific truck which I followed all the way to Alexandria. I was in hopes the truck would exit in Alexandria and I could continue my pursuit. The truck was a Blue Bell ice cream truck.

I have missed Blue Bell for all these weeks. I had friends who had stored up the ice cream and even they had run out of their private supply of Blue Bell. One of the important Christmas traditions around my house involves Blue Bell Peppermint Ice cream. I am still hoping the tradition will happen this year.

There have been whispers of a map that reveals when various regions of the southern United States will be supplied with the heavenly ice cream treat. I have consulted the maps.

I followed the truck in hopes that there was some early distribution of the holy ice cream. No such luck. That truck blew through Alexandria completely.

For some reason this seemed germane to the sermon on Sunday. Actually it works for this article too. We are living in that anticipation time. I am waiting for Blue Bell to arrive in the grocery stores of Natchitoches.

Children are awaiting the arrival of Santa and the goodies he will bring. Adults are awaiting the arrival of Christmas family guests especially those grandchildren. Methodist preachers are anticipating Christmas Eve services at five and seven, because the church is filled with Children of God bathed in candlelight. The world is awaiting redemption. The only way things will get better in our world is Jesus. Jesus living in the lives of His children. Jesus returning to bring history to a conclusion. We are told that even creation is groaning for the day of redemption. Jesus is the antidote to the darkness in our world.

We are all waiting on something.

So the Blue Bell ice cream truck reminded me of anticipation and I mentioned following it in the sermon on Sunday. When the sermon was over, we had a couple of worship songs before the benediction. As we were singing a little boy walked down the aisle and stood beside me. He had a question.

“Preacher, do you know when the Blue Bell ice cream truck is coming here?” It was the best part of a really great Sunday morning.

That is a great theological question. It is a question of anticipation and hope. Are you feeling anticipation and hope? Is the excitement of Christmas anticipation building for you?

The Blue Bell ice cream truck will be in Natchitoches on December 21st.

Merry Christmas.

Bedgood’s Bravado

DennisColemanThe Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Dennis Coleman. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Coleman and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

I noticed that Parish Councilman Rodney Bedgood has gotten placed on the Agenda for the upcoming Council meeting consideration for a pay raise for the Council members. Really? Is this the same group that has sat on their collective hands for the past four years; not a single member of the Council had the intestinal fortitude to offer real suggestions to be considered for the improvement of the roads of the Parish. And is this the same Mr. Bedgood who sought and was recently re-elected to this job? I do remember Mr. Bedgood for his antics at one Council meeting. It seems he had some photographs that he was sharing with the other members…jumping around from person to person pointing out that his constituents had to drive on these roads… Oh, not to forget, the reason for Mr. Bedgood’s animated behavior — it was being considered to pay a private land owner to pick up litter around a dumpsite which was located on his property. THE COUNCIL VOTED NOT TO DO THAT.

We all hear and grow tired of hearing about the ‘records’ of those elected to public office. The issue here begs the question, “What has the Council accomplished?” More importantly, what has been done that would bring an improvement to the worn out roads of Natchitoches Parish? Have the accomplishments of the Council been so numerous that the citizenry feels compelled to pay more for their service? Hardly.

I have no idea what the pay should be, but I would suggest that, based on the past and current performance, that a method of ‘repayment’ should be made available for those on the current Council. The citizens of Natchitoches Parish have for too long been underserved by those elected to serve. A little more than four years ago, it was voted that the Home Rule Charter be adopted, replacing a century or more of the former police jury. That was progress, but some on the current Council seem unashamed to hinder that progress in any way possible. The very idea of a pay raise should have been repressed by anyone with a conscience. Could that be…?

David Vitter is Going to Win

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

David Vitter is going to win. I don’t say this as a partisan commentator. I don’t say this as a David Vitter supporter. I don’t even say this out of the sheer dislike for John Bel Edwards that I have. I say it as a matter of objective fact.

In just over a week, we as a state will be voting on our next governor. And by “we,” I of course mean the 40 or so percent who actually show up to the polls. In the primary, we had a statewide turnout of 38.5 percent of registered voters in the most important statewide race of the cycle. This is an off-year election – even with a gubernatorial race, there is going to be a low turnout.

The first reason why David Vitter is going to win is because Louisiana is a red state. At the end of the day, no matter what you say about Vitter’s sordid past, the fact is Louisiana doesn’t care about it so much that they will go out and vote Edwards – they’ll stay home. That’s the risk that Edwards runs with his negative ads. He’s not going to make people turn out, he’s going to make them stay home. More voters works in Edwards’ favor, but fewer voters means he’ll be watching a bunch of older, white Republican men go to the polls to keep someone like him from winning.

The second reason Vitter is going to win is because everyone has it so set in their mind Edwards is going to win based on polling. In Kentucky, a similar situation was brewing just a few weeks ago. Every poll had Matt Bevin, the Republican, down at least four points and set to lose the race. Every poll showed it, every pundit said he ran an awful campaign.

He won by eight points.

The methodologies being used in a lot of these polls are estimating a higher than should really be expected Democratic – and black – turnout. The numbers seem to me to be based on the idea that 2014 is a good baseline for turnout, when in reality, the baseline data from the 2014 year is an anomaly. We had a highly-publicized Senate race that would decide the fate of the U.S. Senate control. More people turned out for that than will likely turn out for this one.

And, speaking of black turnout, that’s another piece of the puzzle. Edwards is not going to get them out to vote in many areas of the state. He just skipped out on a black issues forum at Southern University out of fear of both confronting Vitter and fear of scaring white voters. It doesn’t matter that he’s done speaking events at Southern before, this was a candidates forum, with statewide candidates from several races appearing in order to talk about the issues. The top Democratic candidate in the state decided not to show.

The main reason I dislike Edwards is because of his opposition to school choice. Education is going to be the next great civil rights battle we fight as both a state and a nation, and Louisiana is going to be on the front line in that battle. School choice is the most effective way to get good kids out of failing schools, and Edwards opposes it. That is the final reason he is going to lose.

If I had to guess, I’d say it would be a close race. Vitter wins, maybe 52/48 and becomes the next governor. For better or worse.

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.

Quote Of The Day, November 11, 2015 – Joe Cunningham, III

From The Hayride & Fox Business Channel

Quote of the Day JC

“The best part of the night last night for literally every American was Donald Trump telling John Kasich to be quiet and let Jeb Bush speak.”

– Joe Cunningham, on the Fox Business Channel GOP debate.

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, contributor to the Natchitoches Parish Journal and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.

Vitter slung mud first! Edwards responds.

The choice for governor couldn’t be more clear: John Bel Edwards, who answered our country’s call and served as a Ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division, or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute’s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.

Dardenne’s Betrayal

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

In the gubernatorial race here in Louisiana, Jay Dardenne has made a risky move, and it is one that will make or break his political career in Louisiana. He has endorsed the liberal Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards.

I’m no fan of Vitter’s past. A lot of people aren’t. I wasn’t particularly enthused by the campaign. A lot of people weren’t. But for Dardenne to call himself a conservative (all sorts of data points to the contrary, mind you) and support Edwards shows exactly the kind of man he is.

He is incredibly bitter about how this race turned out. He was third among Republican candidates, fourth overall, in the October election. The barbs between those two during the primary were sharp and vicious. It’s no shock that Dardenne wouldn’t endorse Vitter – in fact, during a debate, he said he wouldn’t endorse anyone during the runoff. But for him to jump on board with the Democratic candidate leaves you wondering just how bad things were.

Right now, there’s speculation that Dardenne is aiming for or has been promised the top policy job for Edwards. The Commissioner of Administration gig is an immensely powerful one. And it pays very well.  There is also speculation that he told Vitter he’d endorse him if he got that job in a Vitter administration, and Vitter gave him a very forceful “No.”

This doesn’t bode well for Vitter, but it’s not necessarily going to lock in an Edwards victory, either. Edwards is going to have to find a new line of attack on Vitter, because previous statewide elections have shown that the state doesn’t seem to care much for his sordid past. Still, Vitter’s biggest challenge will be to re-connect in a meaningful way with Republican voters in the state.

Edwards, meanwhile, will have to work harder to convince people he really is a social conservative, and he’s going to have to explain why his voting record in the legislature is decidedly not conservative.

But, Dardenne? He had better hope that Vitter loses. Louisiana’s GOP hasn’t had strong leadership in recent years, but Vitter will consolidate power, exercise an iron grip, and probably set fire to Dardenne’s career if he wins.

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.

Ponderings with Doug – November 6, 2015

dougthumbDo you know what it means to stand in the gap?

In several places, Parker Palmer tells the story of John Woolman(1720–1772), a Quaker who livedin colonial New Jersey. His story is of special interest because Quakers—who believe that majority rule is a form of violence—have always madedecisions by consensus, and the decision at stake in Woolman’s story wasone of immense moral urgency.

A tailor by trade, Woolman lived among Quaker farmers and merchants whose religious beliefs held all human beings equal in the eyes ofthe politics of the brokenheartedGod but whose affluence depended heavily on slave labor. Woolman received “a revelation from God” that slavery was a moral abominationand that Quakers should set their slaves free. He took his concern to his Meeting, asking Friends to “test his leading.” Two things soon became clear: Woolman’s personal integrity was beyond doubt, but many Friends remained unwilling to free their slaves. Because they were committed to a decision making process that prohibited voting and majority rule, the Meeting was unable to lay the issues down. For as long as the “sense of the Meeting” was divided on matters involving God’s will, they had to keep talking and praying until unity was achieved.

For twenty years, at greatpersonal cost, Woolman devoted himself to sharing this revelation withmembers of his religious community, “walking his talk” with every step.When he visited a remote farmhouse to speak of his conviction, he wouldfast rather than eat a meal prepared or served by slaves. When he discovered that he had inadvertently benefited from a slave’s labor, he would insist on paying that person.

Woolman’s message was not always well received by his fellow Quakers,who were, and are, as adept as anyone at contradicting their own beliefs.In the words of a self-satirizing Quaker quip, “We came to this countryto do good and ended up doing well.” Woolman’s message, if embraced,would require the comfortable Quaker gentry to make a considerable financial sacrifice.

John Woolman held a terrible tension as he traveled from town totown, farm to farm, meeting to meeting, speaking his truth and standingin the gap between the Quaker vision of “that of God in every person”and the reality of Quaker slaveholding. But hold the tension he did, fortwo decades, until the Quaker community reached consensus that it wascalled to free all of its slaves.On one level, this is the story of a Christian community that embracedevil and clung to it far too long. Yet the Quakers were the first religiouscommunity in this country to free their slaves, fully eighty years beforethe Civil War. In 1783, the Quaker community petitioned the Congressof the United States to correct the “complicated evils” and “unrighteouscommerce” created by the enslavement of human beings. And from1827 onward, Quakers played a key role in developing the UndergroundRailroad.

Quakers took a stand against slavery early in American history partlybecause one man, John Woolman, was willing and able to hold the tension between belief and practice. But it is important to note that the entireQuaker community was willing and able to hold that tension until itsmembers were opened to a way of life congruent with their deepest convictions. They refused to resolve the tension prematurely either by throwing Woolman out or by taking a vote and allowing the slavery-approvingmajority to have its way. Instead, they allowed the tension between visionand reality to break their individual and collective hearts open to justice,truth, and love.

The answers and solutions to the problems in our State might just come from Amite, Louisiana… John Bel Edwards.

JohnBelEdwards

John Bel Edwards was born a leader! Whether quarterbacking the Amite High School football team, commanding a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division, serving as a lector at St. Helena Catholic Church or unifying Republicans and Democrats on issues that matter most to Louisiana families and businesses, John Bel has always been out front leading the charge.

Please vote on November 21, 2015… it’s very important to our children, grandchildren and to the State of Louisiana we call home.

“I can’t imagine living in a state with David Vitter as Governor”
                                                                               … J. Q.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from J.Q.  Collectif.  The views and opinions expressed are those of writer and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or opinion for consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

The Greatest of Clown Shows

GOP Debate on CNBC

If you watched the Republican debate on Wednesday night, you were treated to one of the greatest dumpster fires of all time live on television. I mean, chances are you didn’t watch it – it only drew 14 million viewers, way down from the other two Republican debates – because it was on CNBC, which I guess very few people still know exists.

Still, there were plenty of good things to come out of the debate. First, there were arguably three winners. Ted Cruz landed solid hits on the media thanks to the trainwreck of a moderating panel (we’ll get to that shortly). Marco Rubio beat the living snot (verbally) out of Jeb Bush. And Ben Carson didn’t screw up, which very likely leaves him as the frontrunner for the time being.

Cruz’s shot at the media came after a series of non-serious questions aimed at increasing hostility between the candidates. It backfired, and the moderators ended up breaking the first rule of journalism: Never make yourself part of the story. Cruz killed it with just one response, too. “This is why the American public doesn’t trust the media.”

Jeb Bush and his campaign has been telegraphing for a week that they were going to hit Marco Rubio on his lack of voting in the Senate. The moment the moderator brings it up, Rubio knocks it down. Then Jeb chimes in, and Rubio tells him basically that whoever on his campaign told him to say that gave him bad advice. Jeb’s night was ruined.

One of the moderators, John Harwood, is a known Democratic activist and has defended Hillary Clinton on multiple occasions. It was entirely forseeable that this would be a trainwreck. The only person who appears to have been blindsided is Reince Preibus, the chairman of the GOP, who blasted the event afterward. I am of the belief that Preibus, despite the trashing he’s getting, is one of the luckiest men on the planet.

Harwood and the other moderators walked into the make-up room at CNBC and said “We want to appear as the Republicans see us.” So, the make-up artist painted them up as clowns and sent them on their way. They reinforced the conservative idea that the media is out to get them, and it played very well with the base – people in the debate crowd booed on live television. CNBC did the Republicans a huge favor, giving virtually all the candidates at the adult table some great soundbites.

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.

Ponderings with Doug – October 30, 2015

dougthumb

I spent two days interviewing Methodist ministers. In the Methodist church, while God might call them to ministry, our Board of Ordained Ministry credentials them. On a regular basis these ministers in the process toward ordination appear before various committees to talk about their ministry. I can give you a list of the really good ones who appeared before our committee. The other folks were “coming along” and we could see improvement. So what do you do after listening to the third minister of the afternoon?

I confess that I glazed over and my mind wandered. I made a list of all the things I needed to get done. I thought through the supper menu for the week. I made vacation plans for the future. Now I know what is going on in your head when you get that far away look on Sunday morning! This interview adventure reminded me to shorten my sermons! If you are looking for a short sermon, I will have one for you this Sunday.

One of the thoughts I had was a memory.

Our eldest child, Allison is an attorney in Baton Rouge. I have lost every argument with her since she was in the ninth grade. We have kept all of her “Memos to my Parents.” To the extent possible, she breezed through law school and passed the bar a week after we took a Caribbean cruise. I can tell you she was not studying on the cruise. She does some kind of real estate law that I really don’t understand but it is second nature to her. She is a very gifted young lady.

When she was in elementary school we took Allison to be tested for those “gifted classes.” Allison was a very smart child and wanted her to have the best education possible. We knew almost immediately that Allison did not pass the gifted student test. As with most failed testing experiences it boiled down to one question. The question the kept Allison from entering a gifted program was, “What is the purpose of a postage stamp?” Allison answered, “The purpose of a postage stamp is to decorate the envelope.”

I think that was a good third grade answer, albeit an incorrect answer. It kept her out of the gifted program. But it seems that even as an attorney, Allison approaches some legal matters in unique ways.

I wonder how a third grader would answer the stamp question today. I’m not sure many of them would grasp the concept of an envelope. They would inform you that email requires no envelope, thus the decorative stamp would be superfluous. We would look silly asking the question in the first place. As our culture changes traditions we understand are mysterious to our children and grandchildren.

We are entering the holiday season where traditions abound. Some of our traditions are solemn and holy. Some of our traditions are just plain silly and no one has called us on them. Whatever your tradition, have you shared the story with your family? Do they know the why behind the what? Do you?

The church is entering our great story telling time. It is the story of the Creator of the universe being born in a barn with teenagers for parents. You could not make up a stranger story if you tried. It is the story of one named Jesus who came down to lift us up. I thought I should remind you before you started unpacking your holiday traditions.