- Elliott Stonecipher
Friday, May 3, 2019 … 11:18 A.M.
For most of my life, this subject triggers a certain memory.
My mother is holding my six- or seven-year-old hand in the auditorium of Barret Elementary School. It is standing room only for “Back-to-School Night.”
That was a huge deal to everyone involved, with our teachers and principal all but revered.
My mother loved her four children’s school just as she did her own “grade school,” Alexander, less than two miles away.
In truth, we “grew up hard,” as some put it. My schools – Barret, Linwood Jr. High and Byrd – along with our Caddo Heights church, contributed mightily to my upbringing.
A generation later my son likewise attended excellent Caddo Parish schools. Along with his college, they delivered him to his career at Microsoft.
My love of these schools was for decades a welcome debt. As a volunteer, I chaired three citizen study committees spanning almost twenty years. I learned much, but toward the end witnessed glaring evidence of unthinkable, to me, corruption.
Now, a mere smattering of schools with great staffs and public support is all that remains of a system parents once cooperated with in preparing our children for successful lives.
Yesterday, as system bosses work to illicitly grab another $88,000,000 of our tax money, a tiny tip of the lawbreaking exposed itself.
By email, a mid-level boss directed employees she supervises to vote “YES” in tomorrow’s tax election. Then, taking one step too many, she wrote this:
“Managers please print out this announcement and have your staff individually sign and scan back to CNP by Friday, May 3, 2019.”
That ending is intimidation: do it … then prove in writing that you did it … or else.
In Louisiana law, intimidating voters – school system employees, in this case – is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, and imprisonment for up to two years, or both. For the first offense.
To some of us, this kind of thing is no surprise, and there is no chance this staffer acted alone. The system’s lawbreaking originates with top bosses, not frightened mid-level bureaucrats.
Such stuff is so pervasive, in fact, that it has spread elsewhere in local government.
Thus, Lynn Cawthorne, an elected member of the Caddo Parish Commission, now awaits a federal trial for stealing a half-million taxpayer dollars from the schools’ Summer Feeding Service Program.
Of crucial importance, Cawthorne was caught among so much lawbreaking for only one reason: a whistleblower near some top school bosses reached out to a couple of social media researchers who then turned to a deputy sheriff and Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street.
So, this newly exposed offense is something of real importance only if a much broader, multi-jurisdictional investigation finally results … and proceeds up, not down.
Too, and literally, this ever-stronger, ever-richer system of failure must be cut-off from as much public money as possible.
Only then do honest employees and school board members have a chance.
Tomorrow’s election is set – rigged, in fact – to do precisely the opposite: hand the same corrupt bosses another tens-of-millions of our dollars.
So, the required next step is obvious: go vote “NO” tomorrow!
Then, and quickly, contact Sheriff Prator, District Attorney Stewart and/or Attorney General Landry and tell them we have had enough. They must stop this.
Before it’s too late, I want to tell my near-94-year-old mother there is a glimmer of hope for her dear Caddo schools.
© 2019 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED