SARGE: Follow The Money

If you want to understand where it all goes wrong in politics you must do as “Deep Throat” said in “All the President’s Men”; you must “follow the money. The phrase suggest how you can determine where the beaten path leads (and who’s profited from it) by following the “money trail” left behind in political corruption cases.

In Port Allen, there’s a money trail led to allegations the newly elected mayor sought improper reimbursement for a trip to Washington D.C. to meet and greet Senator Mary Landrieu and make the allegedly advantageous political connections would benefit Port Allen. Senator Landrieu denied any face-to-face meeting with the mayor and described the actual meeting as a social event and not a business meeting as was suggested. The mayor allegedly went to Washington on her brother-in-law’s money and sought reimbursement after the fact. If she’d just paid for the trip out of pocket, there’d be no problem.

Additionally the Mayor hired her brother-in-law ( the same one gave her the money to go to Washington and it was he who was involved in a highly publicized scandal at Southern University) as a paid “Chief of Staff” a position NOT approved by the City Council or defined in the personnel policies of City management. When this employment was challenged, the new “chief of staff” became a “Pro Bono” (unpaid) position and the gentleman appears to be involved in many personal and private personnel administrative matters. It appears there could be a lawsuit for recompense in the future for unpaid wages not paid to this person. We’ll see. Since then there’s been no end to the strife, both political and racial, and the city’s reputation (regional and national) has been critically wounded.

ALL political action is predicated on monetary movement. Economics, not political dogma or ideology, is the driving force behind people’s actions. Success, which equates to power, is measured in the magnitude of monetary acquisition and the ability to influence the powerful person’s environment for his betterment as well as others. The course of the “trickle down” decides the continuity of the powerful person’s position. When the monetary flow stops at the pocket of an individual the resultant consequences can be telling.

Recently there was controversy concerning the treatment of a woman convicted of killing a young woman as a result of a drunk-driving related crash. The accused was given a prison sentence that angered the family of the woman she killed. She was transferred from her home parish to West Baton Rouge where she was incarcerated, but placed in an administrative position allowing her to NOT be dressed daily as a convict but in civilian attire.

None of this is illegal or improper. The Sheriff is fully within his rights to select and employ inmates having special skills as he sees fit. But it could be said to allow the convict to be used in a position stunting the shame and absolving the convict of the stigma of imprisonment is disrespectful of the victim’s memory and the sensibilities her family. It appears, the treatment of the family is morally challenged in that it refuses to recognize a victim’s desire to see “an eye-for-an-eye” being commanded in the sense the punishment should equal the consequences of the crime.

This is the way it goes. The living are handled in a manner suggesting humanity and caring while the dead, and their memory, are paid no more attention than a passing lip-service to the loss. What’s the reason for the selective avoidance of the real issue: should punishment for crimes hurt the convicted or the victim and his family?

Follow the money.

Incarceration costs a lot. Therefore, society in its drive to hold as much as possible in the personal coffers demands convicts be processed and alienated from society as long as it doesn’t cost too much, or for too long. It leads to a judicial triage creating a set of punishments assuring the minimum is spent on any particular convict while assuring all are punished, somewhat. This system can lead to what appears to be favoritism and an abrogation of the rights of the remaining victim or family.

Why did the convict in question serve only 1/3 of her total sentence? It’s because “the states good behavior law says that first-time offenders sentenced to prison without hard labor can have their sentences reduced at a rate of 30 days for every 30 days served in prison” (The Advocate 9-16-2013). The display of humanity offered the convict is touching, but the insult to the surviving family is painful.

But in the following comment offered in response to the copyrighted story (authored by Terry L. Jones) in The Advocate the commenter states the perception of many in the public. And it would appear the commenter believes a less flattering scenario was appreciated. As the commenter quotes published sources taken from the Secretary of State’s website it appears to be less than valued in the indicated facts. The following is an exact replication of what’s on the Advocate’s Website:

Tom Robinson ·  Top Commenter · LSU

Danielle, only if you have a grandaddy that has contributed thousands of dollars to local elected officials. At the Secretary of States website, you can download the contributors to Sheriff Mike Cazes just before Ms. Gosserand served her time in his jail. The top contributors are all employees of Ms. Gosserand’s grandfather, James Moore. Wilber Briley (employed Reliable Production) $2500, Brad Currier (employed Reliable Production) $2500, George Guerin (employed Reliable Production) $2500, Rufus Miller $2500 (employed Reliable Production), $2000 (Delta Land Services) owned by James Moore, and Craig Tullos (employed Reliable Amusements) $1000. Does ANYONE really think all these private individuals who just happen to work for Mr. Moore gave the maximum contribution possible by law out of their own pockets? I got a bridge from St. Francisville to New Roads to sell you!

It’s in this sense you must take the command in the title to this piece. Then you must interpret your findings and how they are to be viewed. Is it the fault of the local judiciary, the local law enforcement and corrections administrators; or is it the fault of the public demanding we incarcerate people for their wrongs committed but want this done for as little cost as possible?

I don’t know but in order to understand the problem, you must “follow the money”.

Thanks for listening.

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