Sunday, April 27, 2008



Saying that he personally has a problem with parish government spending more than $10,000 on any proposal without public input, St. Mary Parish Councilman Glen Hidalgo suggested the council appoint a committee to amend the parish charter with a proposal that would require them to hold public hearings before making any such fiscal decision.

Citing a recent decision by the parish council to hire former State Rep. Jack Smith as their new capitol liaison with an initial salary of $50,000, Hidalgo said, “It’s OK to give a recreation department $2,000 or $3,000 here and there, but to offer this job position at $50,000, to be paid for with public money, without the public input, is wrong. Taxpayers include the elderly, and many others who are on fixed incomes.”

“It’s time to look at bringing the charter up from 1983 to 2008 standards,” Hidalgo said. “I ask the council to discuss the idea of appointing a representative from each of their districts to study the charter, and to gain public input.”

Councilman Logan Fromenthal agreed, “This should have been done years ago.” So did

Councilman Albert Foulcard, “I’m glad you brought this up. It’s a great example of good government in action.”

Councilman (Rev) Craig Matthews agreed, calling the idea, “wise.” However, he cautioned the councilman to choose someone who “…will be mindful of all decisions that will best represent the whole district and the parish…while not getting too bogged down in the public process.”

Councilman Kevin Voisin said amending the parish charter would require parish wide voter approval. He suggested that the matter be discussed as soon as possible, “so that it can be placed on a ballot like the Presidential Election this fall.”

Voisin said in order for that to happen, the Secretary of State’s office must be notified by Sept 18. He said before that happens, the ordinance changing the charter would have be posted for at least 20 days, in order for any public opposition to be received.

In a related matter, former St. Mary Parish Councilman Peter Soprano appeared before the Council, to address his actions at the last Parish Council, after former State Rep. Jack Smith refused the Capitol Liaison job offer from the parish leaders.

As Smith left the podium, he recommended the council offer the job to Soprano, as the “legislature needs a good laugh every now and then.”

In reply, Soprano shouted from the audience, “Real cute Jack. Real cute. Now won’t you say that to me in the street, so I can slap the s*** out of you.”

At the April 23rd Council meeting in Franklin, Soprano apologized saying, “I guess when you get into a p-ing match with skunk, you stink. And I really stunk at that meeting.”

In other business, Parish Chief Administrative Officer Heny “Bo” LaGrange announced that FEMA will be holding an open house May 6, to unveil preliminary parish wide flood maps. The meeting will open to the public from 2 to 8pm, at the Patterson Civic Center, 116 Cotton Road. LaGrange said local officials and specialists will be on hand to answer questions ranging from flood risks, to whether or not flood insurance is required in some areas.

Also in another matter, LaGrange said the parish has submitted a $148,000 grant to the State Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Division of Outdoor Recreation, for improvements to public parks in Centerville and Sorrell. He said if the parish receives the grant, one of the requirements is that they match it with an additional $148,000.

Monday, April 21, 2008

e-mail letter from actor/tv producer Michael Moore

My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) ...
by Michael Moore

April 21st, 2008

I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting.

I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.
It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Michael Moore

Sunday, April 20, 2008


By: Howard J. Castay, Jr.

City leaders have agreed to ask the State Bond Commission for $2.3 million to repair their 40 year old water plant – a move City Mayor Raymond Harris said will be a first in the history of the facility, but also a move that comes in the wake of a report issued 40 months ago from a state public health inspector, which indicates a poor water disinfection, among other items.

The City of Franklin supplies water to 3,100 paying customers, which benefits roughly 9,000 people, Harris said.

“Blame it on a lack of funds more than anything,” Harris said, who is beginning his first full-term in office as Mayor of the St. Mary Parish governmental seat.

Harris replaced long-time Franklin Mayor Sam Jones, who left office to take a cabinet job with former Gov. Kathleen Blanco around 2004. Jones won an election this past November, to become Louisiana State Representative-District 50, for the Franklin and Jeanerette areas, along with Berwick, Bayou Vista, Patterson, and Stephensville.

On April 15, Harris said the Franklin City Council agreed to a $2.3 million, 30 year bond issue, to borrow the money from state government, at a rate of 3.9 percent. He said final approval rests with the State Bond Commission, before the improvements can begin.

“I really don’t know whether or not if this facility has ever been upgraded,” Harris said.

The mayor pointed to a report dated Oct 18, 2004, which listed 17 violations connected with the plant, which is located across Bayou Teche and west of the Eastwood Subdivision. The report was written in letter form, signed by District 1 State Office of Public Health Regional Engineer, John G. Williams.

Dr. Gary Wiltz, Chief Medical and Executive Officer of Teche Action Clinic in Franklin, said that while the violations are of concern and its needs a must, “The city water, for the most part , is safe.”

However, Wiltz said the age of the city’s water pipes, not only in Franklin but in Charenton as well, should have been placed as a priority years ago, even with help from the Parish Council.

“When I arrived in the area in the mid 70’s, there was no sewerage in some areas. We had to get a grant in order for proper sewerage to be installed,” Wiltz said. "I know of some instances, right now, where someone in Charenton is turning on the water faucet in their kitchen, and the water pouring out is somewhat brown in color.”

“The infrastructure of both areas is poor, and we need to get the funds in here to take care of it,” Wiltz said.

Harris said to his knowledge, maybe one or two violations were corrected but, “frankly, that’s why we’re overhauling the entire plant, to correct these problems.”

The State Office of Public Health cited these items as violations inside the Franklin water plant, in October of 2004, which to Harris’ knowledge for the most part, still exist:

*"The facility failed to submit plans and specifications for changes made to the point of disinfection.”

*The plant’s individual filter instrumentation…” is inoperable.”

*The water treatment process is “compromised” due to corrosion.

*In some instances, “complete refurbishment may require that a unit be shut down…cathodic protection systems should also be considered to reduce or inhibit future corrosion of metal exposed to water or oil.”

*”Filter valves “are not being maintained and have exceeded their design life…The poor condition of the filter valves is adversely affecting the functioning of the filter treatment process”

*Improper weighing scales for chlorine.

*”This public water system is not being operated by a person whose competency has been duly certified by the state health officer for the type of facility and the population it serves.”

*Respiratory protection equipmen had not been provided in the event of a chlorine gas leak.

*No stand-by tanks provided for chlorine.

*No risk management program in place for using toxic or flammable substances at the plant, like chlorine.

*No chlorine leak repair kits visible, in the event of a chlorine leak emergency.

*Piping in the plant and the intake plumbing station are “generally in poor condition with respect to corrosion and paint.”

The report states, “Unit packages of PVC pipe, stored at the plant’s yard next to the above ground storage tank, are located directly on the ground surface in areas that are observed to be periodically flooded. Recommended actions to correct this violation include…When long term storage with exposure to direct sunlight is unavoidable, PVC pipe should be covered with an opaque material while permitting adequate air circulation above and around the pipe as required to prevent excessive heat accumulation.”

The report also includes this paragraph: “Water suppliers shall be responsible to insure the protection of the water supply system from potential contamination from certain of their customers through containment practices…as directed by the State Health Officer.”