Even as AP reports May 20 Davis/Belton meeting subject of Federal investigation, Louisiana Gov. Edwards says media reports of State Police cover-up are “overblown or just false.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

Appearing on Wednesday’s (September 15, 2021) “Ask the Governor” Jim Engster show and as reported thereafter by The Louisiana Illuminator the next day (Thursday, September 16, 2021), Gov. Edwards strongly downplayed any cover-up by Louisiana State Police (LSP) regarding the May 10, 2019 in-custody death of Ronald Greene.  Edwards even appeared to spar with Engster over Engster’s statement that the initial cause of death reported by LSP (that it was a vehicle accident) was “a falsehood.”  Rarely will one ever find a host of a broadcast more Edwards-friendly than Engster, so let’s listen in on the segment where they discussed Greene’s death and any potential LSP cover-up with special focus near the end with Edwards saying he doesn’t want to “quibble” with Engster over the cause of Greene’s death:


Engster and Edwards discuss any LSP cover-up entailing Ronald Greene’s death on Wednesday’s (September 15, 2021) “Ask the Governor” Jim Engster show.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at a few segments of that Louisiana Illuminator feature which augment the above Engster segment:

In an interview with the Illuminator, Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Louisiana police watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the governor is not privy to the details of those inquiries.

“The information that he is getting is probably coming from the State Police, which is the subject of the investigation,” Goyeneche said. “My advice to the public is to take what the governor is saying with a few grains of salt.”

State Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), who serves as chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus — a close ally of Edwards — said he was disappointed to hear the governor downplayed a cover-up in the case.

“It’s clear everywhere else across the state that the State Police did everything to try to conceal and hide the truth,” James said.

James said the cover-up allegations didn’t just arise when the agency withheld videos from the public. Troopers told Greene’s family that he died on impact in the wreck, concealed body-camera footage and lied to internal affairs investigators, he said.

In an attempt to regain public trust in the agency, State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis held a press conference last week to highlight some police reforms.

But James said he has zero confidence in the agency.

“I’m very disappointed that the governor doesn’t see this as a cover-up,” James said. “Ray Charles could have seen this is a cover-up. It’s glaring.”

Also breaking this week, our subscribers may recall us calling upon LSP Col. Lamar Davis at a September 10, 2021 hastily-arranged press conference to “clear the air” regarding a controversial meeting between him, Union Parish District Attorney John Belton, LSP Lt. Col. Doug Cain, LSP Lt. Col. Chavez Cammon, LSP’s then-chief Legal Counsel Faye Morrison, Belton’s chief assistant, and one other member of Belton’s staff.  Let’s provide video again of Davis’ response to our question:


LSP Col. Davis responds to Burns’ question on the accuracy of the AP report stating that he tried to convince DA John Belton that LSP troopers’ actions in the arrest of Ronald Greene were “justified.”

Last week, the AP doubled-down on its prior report when it published this feature on Davis’ press conference on Friday, September 10, 2021 in stating that the meeting itself “has become the subject of a Federal investigation into possible obstruction of justice.”  From the feature:

Davis also sought to play down a meeting on May 20 — the day after AP published graphic footage of Greene’s death — in which state police brass traveled to Ruston to review the long-concealed body camera video with John Belton, the Union Parish district attorney. Belton became so concerned with the circumstances of Greene’s death two years ago that he referred the case to federal authorities, who began a civil rights investigation.

The command staff made the case during the meeting that the troopers’ actions had been justified during Greene’s arrest, according to several people familiar with the meeting, which itself has become the subject of a federal investigation into possible obstruction of justice. But Davis on Friday insisted he had not asked Belton “or any other official to not pursue charges on any of my employees” in Greene’s death.

“I would never do that,” Davis said. “I have never done that.”

Things appear to be getting interesting for sure.  We’ll wrap this feature up by fulfilling the desires of some of our most dedicated subscribers.  They asked us to first make sure anyone following this blog would be aware why Gov. Edwards is going to back law enforcement no matter what the circumstances.  Here would be the possible reason stated in a mere 11 seconds:


Gov. Edwards touts his family’s strong ties to law enforcement, particularly sheriffs, which have long controlled LSP’s operations through the Louisiana Sheriffs Association.

Finally, those same subscribers asked that we reintroduce a theme song we adopted entailing Edwards not long after he was elected Governor, so here is that theme song now resurrected  almost four years later:

Sound Off Louisiana theme song adopted for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards not long after he was elected Governor of Louisiana in 2015.

During the Engster interview, one caller asked for Edwards to consider running for President of the United States.  Not only did Edwards rule that out (in stating, “I love my wife and want to keep her,” in indicating she would not be on board for a Presidential run), but he also ruled out challenging John Kennedy for U. S. Senate next year.  He indicated that he looks forward to returning to his family home and resuming working in private practice.  Let’s give him credit for one thing:  he knows his political career, just as was the case for his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, is over.

Having said that, if the best the GOP has to offer in 2023 is Lt. Governor Billy Nunguesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry, don’t be surprised if a dark horse in the person of Gary Smith (D-Norco) doesn’t become the next one to pull off a feat similar to Edwards’ own incredible feat in 2015.  It is truly a sad state of affairs in Louisiana politics unless there are changes in the offing for the GOP major announced field of contenders for the Governor’s Mansion in 2023!  We sure hope such changes ARE in the offing!

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Even as State Police Col. Davis emphatically denies AP report he tried to influence DA Belton, he’s confronted by alleged victim of excessive force who tells him, “Ya’ll worse criminals than us!”

At a Louisiana State Police press conference of Friday, September 10, 2021, LSP Col. Lamar Davis points to Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns to pose the first question of the Q & A segment of the press conference.

As any follower of our blog knows, we have been T-totally immersed very deeply in the Broussard / St. Martin Parish Government (SMPG) controversy (which itself has extensive involvement by Louisiana State Police – LSP).  Further, we are looking very forward to attending Tuesday’s (September 14, 2021) injunction hearing in 16th JDC on the matter.  We are particularly looking forward to any cross examination of LSP Trooper Scott Lopez at that hearing by Broussard’s attorney entailing a June 14, 2021 traffic stop of one of Broussard’s drivers.

Let us take this opportunity to catch our subscribers and visitors up on some of the core happenings at LSP last week.

First, on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 (a date at which we were at the SMPG Council Meeting), WBRZ’s (Channel 2 in Baton Rouge) Chris Nakamoto, the station’s lead investigative reporter, produced a feature entailing LSP Lt. John Clary, who was the highest-ranking Trooper to be on the scene of Ronald Greene’s death on May 10, 2019, being assigned as the body guard for Louisiana Tech’s football coach for its home games.

Numerous sources contacted a source common to both Sound Off Louisiana and WBRZ, and we were happy to know Nakamoto had keen interest in the matter and would run with it because we were (and are) deeply entrenched in Broussard/SMPG.  That source, in turn, encouraged Nakamoto to watch video of Louisiana Tech’s home game played on Saturday, September 4, 2021, and that he (Nakamoto) would notice Clary escorting Louisiana Tech’s football coach off the field.  The broadcast was on national television, and these folk felt it was an outrage to have the highest-ranking LSP Trooper on the scene at Greene’s death (and who is alleged to have lied about the existence of his own body-cam footage on the scene that morning), be awarded such a prestigious assignment.

Accordingly, Nakamoto ran with a feature on Tuesday night (September 7, 2021), and that feature was followed by yet another feature airing on the evening of Thursday, September 9, 2021.  Let’s take a look at Nakamoto’s feature of that evening at this time:


WBRZ’s Clary follow-up feature airing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

Meanwhile, only one day before the preceding feature (Wednesday, September 8, 2021), AP reporters Jim Mustian (a former Advocate reporter) and Jake Bleiberg published this feature which contains an absolute plethora of photos and videos of alleged uses of excessive force by LSP Troopers.  While some of the videos on the preceding feature had already been released to the public via the AP, the feature contains a ton of brand new releases of damning material.

After the one-two-three punch of Nakamoto-Mustian/Bleiberg-Nakamoto, LSP felt the agency simply had to convene a press conference to try and make at least a half-hearted effort at damage control as things seemed to have begun to spin completely out of control.  LSP has tried for weeks to put on the full-court press to uncover the “source” of the media leaks (such that reports are that a massive level of LSP manpower and effort has been devoted solely to uncovering the leaks).

Since those efforts are obviously proving fruitless, the agency opted to try to mitigate the extensive damage to its public image via a hastily-called news conference.  That news conference took place at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 10, 2021, which marked the one-year anniversary of Sound Off Louisiana being the first media outlet to expose the Ronald Greene matterSound Off Louisiana’s founder, Robert Burns, attended the press conference, and LSP Col. Lamar Davis was kind enough to call upon Burns for the very first question of the Q & A segment.

Burns sought clarity entailing material in this August 4, 2021 AP feature also by Mustian & Bleiberg.  Specifically, Burns sought for Davis to “clear the air” on this segment of the feature:

Davis and Cain traveled to District Attorney John Belton’s office in Ruston — more than 200 miles north of Baton Rouge — on May 20 to review the video frame by frame and make the case that the troopers’ actions were justified.

Let’s take a look at Davis’ adamant statement that the segment of the AP feature quoted above is “not true.”:


LSP Col. Davis responds to Burns’ question on the accuracy of the AP report stating that he tried to convince DA John Belton that LSP troopers’ actions in the arrest of Ronald Greene were “justified.”

Now, Col. Davis was kind enough to call upon us (even doing so first), so we certainly wanted to be very respectful of the other journalists in attendance and make sure all of them had an opportunity to pose their questions before we took a “second bite at the apple” so to speak.  We were very hopeful that someone in the media would follow-up on our question and seek the composition of folk from LSP attending that Ruston meeting.  Fortunately, one member did, and that alleviated the need for us to even take that second bite.  Let’s focus in on Davis’ response to the inquiry regarding who all at LSP (and otherwise) attended the meeting:


Davis provides the names of LSP personnel (and others) attending the meeting at DA John Belton’s Office on May 20, 2021.

Now, we are about to make some observations that we want to make it crystal clear that we’re speaking for Sound Off Louisiana only and our own practices in our commentary which follows:

As founder Robert Burns stated to the SMPG Council last week (watch video on the feature), we take great pride in extensively striving to make sure what we report is “accurate.”  Burns made that comment before the SMPG expressing extreme frustration at what he’s referred to as “piss poor” journalism on the part of The Daily Iberian.

Burns’ criticism of the feature linked above entailed four (4) separate references to farmer Billy Broussard engaging in “burning” activities of vegetative debris he hauls onto his 33-acre farm.  All four of those statements in that one feature are absolutely false!

Furthermore, it was not as simple as a mistake on the journalist’s part!  Had that journalist merely taken even a few minutes to call Broussard using the business card Broussard provided at the conclusion of the August 3, 2021 SMPG meeting, those falsehoods would not have been reported.  Why?  Because Broussard would have emphatically denied any burning on his part!

Ironically, Broussard made such a denial at the August 3, 2021 SMPG meeting (from which the author drafted his article).  Hence, we’re not sure what the author must have been doing as he sat in the same meeting and presumably heard Broussard emphatically deny that he is “burning.”  Whatever he was doing, he sure as heck wasn’t paying attention, and that’s being very kind to the author.  The alternative is obviously far worse!  Nevertheless, that “journalist” published a feature falsely claiming that Broussard is burning four times within the same article linked above!

We know Jim Mustian personally, and we know him to be a reporter of absolutely impeccable character and extreme professional competency.

While we are not going to speak on whom his source for the quote above may be, we will simply say, again speaking for Sound Off Louisiana only and our practices, we would not have run with such a statement unless we got that information first-hand from someone in attendance at the meeting.

If Mustian insisted upon the same criterion, and going on the presumption that the source is an LSP official (and we realize that it may not have been given the non-LSP officials Davis states were in attendance at the meeting), we all heard in the video above Davis call out the names of those four (4) LSP officials in attendance at the meeting.

We can also use common sense to deduce Mustian’s source certainly was not Davis or Cain.  If Mustian’s source was an LSP official (and, again, we acknowledge the fact that may not be the case), that leaves only two to choose from:  Lt. Col. Chavez Cammon and Davis’ “then legal counsel, Faye Morrison.”

All of the preceding discussion notwithstanding, we do feel it’s imperative to point out the fact that Mustian reached out to Davis for comment before publishing the feature.  What was Davis’ response?  We’ll reproduce it at this time:

Davis has declined repeated interview requests.

Our advice to Davis is to respond to requests for interviews (i.e. be “transparent” as he promised to do soon after taking office) so that the “air can be cleared” long before large segments of Louisiana’s population (black, white, etc.) are now openly questioning his leadership, integrity, and honesty.  The reporter referenced above regarding the SMPG feature did NOT reach out to Broussard before printing the repeated falsehoods he printed about Broussard “burning.”  Davis cannot invoke that complaint against Mustian, and it is his own fault if he chose not to respond to “repeated interview requests.”

Regarding Davis’ honesty and integrity, he faced one more intriguing question posed by an alleged victim of police brutality.  That gentleman essentially dismissed all of Davis’ defense of LSP.  From our efforts to break out what he asked of and said to Davis, he appears to be from the Lafayette area (or at least asserts he was victimized by law enforcement officials in the Lafayette area).

We’ve yet to see any other media outlet report on this gentleman openly confronting Davis.  Perhaps that may be as a result of a perception that he was ineligible to pose a question in not being a member of the media.  Nevertheless, lack of media credentials notwithstanding, this gentleman certainly made his sentiments known to Davis.  Let’s take a look:


A gentleman at the press conference openly confronts Davis on allegations of “alteration of body cam video” by law enforcement and accuses law enforcement of being, “worse criminals than us.”

Let us conclude by providing this link for the press conference in its entirety; however, we will forewarn our subscribers who may wish to view it that we’ve taken the time to read many of the news media’s reviews of LSP and, more specifically, Davis’ performance at Friday’s press conference.  Those reviews range from one fellow blogger grading Davis at a “D-” for substance (ouch!) to even this Advocate feature which referred to Davis’ presentation as “a rambling press conference.”  Finally, one observer with extensive ties to LSP’s operations who watched the press conference live via steam service provided by a mainstream media outlet, summed the press conference up with these words he uttered to us:  “It has more BS than a Kansas City feed lot.”

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Broussard’s attorney accuses St. Martin Parish Government & President Cedars of engaging in a “crusade” to “harass” him; uses its own sworn testimony to refute validity of zoning ordinance.

Farmer Billy Broussard reiterates to the St. Martin Parish Council at its meeting of Tuesday, September 7, 2021 that the minutes of the Council meeting of August 3, 2021 should not contain any statement that he is “burning.”

In our last feature, we exposed the fact that St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars barely let the ink get dry from him going on a 19-minute masterful performance to convince the St. Martin Parish Council (SMPC) to approve an ordinance to ban the importing of vegetative debris from other parishes into St. Martin Parish before he sued Broussard in 16th JDC.

While we strongly encouraged our subscribers and visitors to watch the video and form their own opinions, we refrained from making very much commentary on it.  At this time, we’re going to use two adjectives and one noun to make our characterization of Cedars on the video just linked:  pompous, arrogant, and prick.  We genuinely feel they’re all appropriate.

We also emphasized that Cedars is smart enough not to set himself personally up for a defamation suit by falsely asserting that farmer Billy Broussard is “burning;” however, as we emphasized, it appears that both The Daily Iberian and several Councilmembers were not as bright as Cedars.

In the preceding hit-piece feature by The Daily Iberian, on no less than four occasions in the same article did its author falsely accuse Broussard of “burning,” to include one blatantly-inaccurate quote of District 6 Councilman Brook Champagne.  The author of the feature, Dwayne Fatherree, touts beneath the article that he likes to “dig things up.”

Perhaps he may have done well to have taken the business card Broussard handed him at the conclusion of the meeting (which he did accept) and do as he (Broussard) invited him (Fatherree) to do and use the card to contact him if he had any questions.  That would have been a fantastic opportunity to ask Broussard to confirm that he’s been “burning” the vegetative debris he hauls in.  Had he made that simple phone call (that’s how we define “digging”), Broussard would have responded, just as he made CRYSTAL clear in the meeting, “No I have not and am not.”  Despite Fatherree’s purported propensity to “dig things up,” he didn’t even “dig” enough to make that simple phone call and inquiry!

It is any wonder that Councilmembers were under the false impression that Broussard had been burning after the piss-poor journalism skills Fatherree put out on full display?  After all, in our most-recent feature linked above, we stated that Council Chairman Chris Tauzin purportedly stated that the whole reason the Council sued Broussard is because he “would not stop burning!”  Let us emphasize that point-blank statement again.  Tauzin said the reason Broussard was sued is because he “would not stop burning!”

Since Tauzin likely read Fatherree’s article with the false and defamatory statements that Broussard has been “burning,” perhaps The Daily Iberian can be used to absolve those Councilmembers from any slander suit which may arise if they end up being sued as part of a libel suit against The Daily Iberian on the part of Broussard.  We want to again emphasize that Cedars was much more crafty to refrain from indicating Broussard has ever been “burning” (he knows he has not) in stressing that only, “two of the three complaints” he received during the week of June 15, 2021 entailed burning.  Cedars is not responsible for Mr. Fatherree’s gross failure to ascertain that Broussard was the one complained-of property which did NOT entail burning.  That obligation falls squarely on Fatherree, and he failed miserably at what should have been a very simple task of responsible journalism.

In this recent feature, we stated that, although it is a very rare occurrence, once in a blue moon Sound Off Louisiana‘s founder, Robert Burns, will choose to address a body he’s filming when he wants to make a point emphatically clear to everyone in the room.  Burns chose to do so at the SMPC meeting of Tuesday, September 7, 2021.  He spoke on the agenda item entailing approving of the minutes, and he admonished the Council that those minutes should most certainly NOT contain any reference to Broussard burning.  Broussard himself briefly addressed the Council immediately after Burns merely to reiterate what Burns had stated to them.  Let’s take a look:

9/7/21 SMPC meeting:  Burns stresses that the 8/3/21 minutes should NOT contain any reference to Broussard burning because, if they do, they are inaccurate and a Motion should be made to either amend the minutes or to defer approval until the next meeting.  Broussard takes a few seconds to reiterate Burns’ commentary to the Council.

Now, as we indicated above, Cedars barely let the ink get dry on the ordinance he persuaded the SMPC to approve before he sued Broussard in 16th JDC and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effectively shutting down Broussard’s operations until a hearing on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 (next Tuesday) can be conducted for the purpose of converting the TRO to a Preliminary Injunction.

As our long-time subscribes are aware, Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns spends a TON of time in courtrooms.  In fact, Burns was even present for Cedars’ masterful performance before then-19th JDC Judge Todd Hernandez when he argued for Attorney General Jeff Landry (Cedars was formerly employed in Landry’s office before seeking to become St. Martin Parish’s President) regarding transgender bathrooms in Louisiana (in a direct challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards).  Cedars’ performance was certainly admirable in that matter!

Having said that, we’ve read a ton of responsive pleadings and memoranda over our many years (both during the timeframe Burns served as a fraud investigator for the Federal government and thereafter), and it just may be that we’ve yet to read one wherein a defense attorney, in this case Broussard’s attorney Michael Adley, filed such as authoritative memorandum as this one which Adley filed yesterday (September 8, 2021) at 8:59 a.m.  We’ll admit that we were on the phone with the St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court’s Office anxiously awaiting the filing of the document and, once we were told it was up and available for download, we took out our one-day pass with that Clerk’s Office and downloaded the sucker!

It’s one heck of a read!  While we have observed over our long careers of observing courtroom proceedings that anything (and we do mean ANYTHING) can happen in a courtroom, just based on the filings alone for this suit, we certainly don’t envy Cedars or the SMPC’s attorney in having to pose oral arguments and carry out the trial of the matter for which they have sued Broussard.  Let’s highlight just a few of Adley’s arguments, shall we?:

Before Billy Broussard Farm and Land purchased the property it was overgrown and served as a haven for drug users. Drug abusers slept in tents spread out all across the property. The property was both an eyesore and a danger.

Neither Billy Broussard nor Billy Broussard Farm and Land are violating any purported zoning ordinances at 1675 Duchamp Road. Nonetheless, SMPG has been on a crusade to interfere with Billy Broussard’s use of 1675 Duchamp Road. SMPG claims 1675 Duchamp Road is zoned R-2 (Mixed Residential). Zone R-2 permits privately growing mushrooms as it allows private
recreational use, private gardens, and private nurseries. SMPG, however, continues to harass Billy Broussard with allegations that he is conducting impermissible commercial activities on the prope1ty.

Perhaps in recognition that privately growing mushrooms would not violate its purported zoning ordinance, SMPG recently passed Ordinance No. 21-08-1329-OR which appears to be targeting Billy Broussard and Billy Broussard Farm and Land. The ordinance prohibits Billy Broussard Billy Broussard Farm and Land from placing any tree or vegetative debris on his own property, regardless of the use, upon penalty of fine or imprisonment if the tree or vegetative debris did not originate on land owned by Billy Broussard or Billy Broussard Farm and Land. Other residents of St. Martin Parish who would be affected by this ordinance told Billy Broussard they were advised by local officials that the ordinance would not be enforced against them.

Upon inquiry with the St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court, however, no “Zoning District Identification File” or “Zoning District Map” exists in the Clerk of Courts office. Because zoning ordinances are “in derogation of an owner’s rights, ” courts have insisted on a level of formality in enacting zoning     ordinances……..Accordingly, courts have routinely invalidated/found unenforceable zoning
ordinances when the “zoning map” referenced in the ordinance is not on file, non-existent or unclear.

Here, just as in the foregoing, SMPG defined its zoning districts by reference to a zoning map. For its zoning ordinance to be effective/enforceable, SMPG was required to keep a copy of the official zoning map referred to in the ordinance on file with SMPG Clerk of Court. SMPG has not. Accordingly, its zoning is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

SMPG is well aware of this fatal flaw with their zoning ordinance. SPMG President Chester Cedars admitted he knew as early 2012 that the map and zoning file were not on file with the SMPG Clerk of Court as described in the zoning ordinance.  Moreover, this issue arose again, as recently as April 8, 2019, when SMPG tried and failed to use its invalid zoning ordinance to enjoin the operations of a local businessman. At the trial on the injunction, the SMPG Clerk of Court testified no “zoning map” was on file, but that mere days before the trial an “Official Road and Highways Map” was filed. There was no indication that this “Official Road and Highway Map” was the map referred to in the zoning ordinance.

As if this was not enough to demonstrate the ambiguity of the zoning ordinance, the attorney for SMPG represented to the court at the April 8, 2019 trial that the zoning ordinance only extends five hundred feet from the road in residential areas and that anything beyond five hundred has no zoning restrictions:

The Court:

Where’s the zoning map? Where’s the zones … ? What are the zones? To what extent does the zones extend?

SMPG:

It extends to both sides of the roads – –

The Court:

How far?

SMPG:

The zoning ordinance indicates, Your Honor, that it extends to five hundred feet of the road for industrial and residential. There’s no statement as to how far to the side of the road it extends for the W-1 and W-2 designations.

The Court:

So there’s some areas of the parish that are not zoned at all, according to your statements. If it only extends for five hundred feet from the road into a pasture that’s more than five hundred feet, there’s no zoning.

SMPG:

That would be correct, your Honor.

At the conclusion of the trial, the court ruled the zoning ordinance was void and ineffectual due to the aforementioned errors, stating:

The defendants have raised two exceptions to the zoning. Those are the vested rights and the zoning ordinance being void and ineffectual due to problems with the recordation and the adoption or notice provisions under the zoning ordinance.  The Court finds that both are applicable.

These same deficiencies still exist with the SMPG zoning ordinance. Recent inquiry with the SPMG Clerk of Court’s office confirmed the office still has no “Zoning District Identification File” or “Zoning District Map” on file as required by the zoning ordinance. Accordingly, the SMPG zoning ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous and cannot be enforced.

III. Ordinance No. 21-08-1329-OR Violates the Dormant Commerce Clause Under the “dormant Commerce Clause” protectionist legislation is per-se invalid. “The evil of protectionism can reside in legislative means as well as legislative ends.” A clear example of such legislation is “a law that overtly blocks the flow of interstate commerce at a State’s borders. ”  The prohibition applies to not only a State that tries to horde a resource or benefit, but also to the “attempt[s] by one State to isolate itself from a problem common to many be erecting a barrier against the movement of interstate trade. ”

Here, just like in the aforementioned cases, SMPG has attempted to block the flow of interstate commerce, apparently, to isolate itself from a problem common to many. The ordinance suggests the transportation, dumping, or burning of tree and vegetative debris is a threat to the safety, health and welfare of its citizens. Accordingly, it seeks to prohibit the transportation of any tree or vegetative debris from outside the parish for dumping or burning inside the parish. The ordinance makes an exception for transportation, dumping, and burning of trees or vegetative debris that originated inside the parish. At the August 3, 2021 St. Martin Parish Council meeting, Parish President Chester Cedars confirmed the protectionist motivations when defending the ordinance:

“It’s a crying shame we have to go to Court to keep somebody from burning something in a neighborhood after they transported from probably outside of this parish and from another location, really and truly. So I support this ordinance. I think it’s a good ordinance.”

The ordinance is undoubtedly protectionist in nature. It seeks to discriminate against tree and vegetative debris from outside the parish. Tree and vegetative debris are items of commerce.  Accordingly, the ordinance is invalid, per se. The Commerce Clause does not allow St. Martin Parish to “isolate itself from the national economy. ”

As written, a St. Martin Parish resident who mulches their garden with mulch purchased from Wal-Mart could be imprisoned for up to thirty days. So to could a St. Martin Parish resident who purchases brick pavers from “Mike Baker Brick” in Lafayette Parish in order to install a brick patio. Both would be transporting tree or building material generated outside the parish for deposit onto their property within the parish.  Such a vague and overly broad ordinance cannot be permitted. It will undoubtedly lead to discriminatory or arbitrary enforcement. In fact, upon information and belief, this was the very purpose- to create a vague ordinance that could be used to discriminate against Defendants.  Accordingly, for that reason, the ordinance must be invalidated.  Moreover, this ordinance is clearly arbitrary and not substantially related to public health,
safety, morals or general welfare. The ordinance permits a St. Martin Parish resident to burn tree and vegetative debris generated on their own land. The ordinance also permits a St. Martin Parish resident to transport tree or vegetative debris generated on their own property to other property they own for burning. Per this ordinance, Billy Broussard could burn every single tree on his 35-acre property, and it would not be a nuisance nor would it threaten the safety, morals or general welfare of the public; however, if Billy Broussard merely deposits (not burns) a single cut tree on his property in order to feed his mushrooms and that tree originated outside of his property, it is a nuisance and threat to the safety, morals or general welfare of the public. This is a completely arbitrary and unreasonable restriction. Thus, for that reason, as well, the ordinance must be invalidated.

So, here’s the bottom line as we see it!  SMPG President Chester Cedars conducted a fire and brimstone sermon (a necessary ingredient to any “crusade”), to the SMPC Members and easily bamboozled them (which some St. Martin Parish residents have told us is not hard to do).  Thereafter, like good little penguins, they all followed right after him into diving right into the freezing water by giving him the green light to sue Billy Broussard and thereby block (at least temporarily) his efforts to generate taxes for the SMPG coffers.

The big question is, if Cedars knew as far back as back as 2012 that the Zoning Ordinances were not on file with the St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court’s Office and would therefore be unenforceable as alleged in Adley’s memorandum, why did he charge head first after Broussard in the manner he did?

We believe the answer is simple and two-fold.  First, he felt Broussard would not be able to procure the services of an attorney because he wouldn’t have the resources to do so.  Further, he felt that, even if Broussard did have those resources, he would likely just hire some derelict attorney whom Cedars and his legal team could simply throttle in the same manner he easily and practically effortlessly throttled the SMPC.

In other words, Cedars simply “rolled the dice” with taxpayers’ money in pursuing what just may end up being one of the biggest, and certainly most visible, fiascos of his legal and political career.

If that turns out to be the case, it appears Cedars basically rolled snake eyes as Broussard has demonstrated that he does have the resources to fight Cedars in court and, further, he was sharp enough to use the same attorney who just emerged victorious over Cedars in a recently-concluded legal battle.

Near the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Parish Council Chairman Chris Tauzin recognized all of the SMPG employees having September birthdays.  He recognized Cedars, who was born on September 12 (three days from today), last and congratulated him on “turning 25.”  Cedars’ response?  “I think I’ve aged more in the last week than I have the rest of my life!”  We have no doubt that, having just received Adley’s memo served to him via email mere hours before the meeting, that memo likely contributed to Cedars’ candid assessment of his “aging” in the prior week.

Just as a service for the residents of St. Martin Parish, anyone is welcome to watch the SMPC meeting in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.

One item that may be of interest entails unhappiness with the trash pickup service provided by the Parish contractor.  For those who merely want to watch that segment alone, advance the tape to the 38:34 mark.

We look VERY forward to attending Tuesday’s Preliminary Injunction hearing and reporting on the results immediately thereafter outside the Courthouse.  As we indicated, we learned long ago that anything can happen in a courtroom, but as we think is obvious by this post, we believe this is one court hearing where, just as with the Bible illustration of David v. Goliath, Broussard has come to battle with a very effective slingshot in the person of Michael Adley!

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