Admonitions of imminent Derbonne lawsuit fall of deaf ears with Gov. Edwards’ appointees to Louisiana State Police Commission.

Louisiana Interior Design Board Chairman Deborah Steinmetz


At a special meeting of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) of Wednesday, February 22, 2017, Sound Off Louisiana‘s founder Robert Burns expressed his concerns as a taxpayer that yet more taxpayer funds are about to be expended defending yet another lawsuit, which Burns described as “a certainty” by the former Executive Director of the Commission, Cathy Derbonne.  Derbonne was strong-armed into resigning (by allegedly being informed there were four votes on the Commission committed to terminating her) soon after she reported the illegal campaign contributions by three of the LSPC members to Gov. Edwards and other appropriate authorities.  As a result of her reporting, those three LSPC members (Freddie Pitcher, Franklin Kyle, and William Goldring) resigned.  Also, as a result of retired LSP Troopers filing a complaint with the LSPC entailing illegal campaign contributions by the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), a $5,000 fine was imposed for those illegal campaign contributions.  Video of Burns expressing his concerns follows:

Burns expresses his concern about taxpayer outlays expended on retaliation cases such as Corey delaHoussaye, Murphy Painter, and what he describes as an “all but certain” upcoming lawsuit by Derbonne.

At the conclusion of the video clip above, Burns is very complimentary of the professionalism and courtesy of the LSPC membership.  As he stated in the video, that is certainly not the case with some other boards and commissions that he monitors.  In particular, Deborah Steinmetz, Chairman of the State Board of Interior Design (IDB), has, according to Burns, shown more determination and resolve than anyone he’s ever met to shield internal agency corruption in the form of “blatant payroll fraud” on the part of that agency’s executive Director, Sandy Edmonds.  At the February 16, 2017 meeting of that Board, Rev. Freddie Lee Phillips, who has long pursued Edmonds’ actions on that Board for her payroll fraud activities, was informed that an item he requested to be on the agenda would not be granted.  Here’s video coverage of Rev. Phillips’ interaction with that Board:

Phillips sought to have his agenda request discussed by the Board, but he was instead served with
this one-page UNSIGNED certified letter just before the meeting indicating that his request had been denied.

Meanwhile, Burns had his own concerns about the Board’s financing.  Specifically, Burns is concerned that the Board has, for years, imposed fees on its licensees for continuing education when it has absolutely no statutory authority for doing so.

Deborah Steinmetz, as Chairman of the IDB, fully adheres to the Nike commercial slogan “just do it,” and she has historically cared less whether what she does is legal or illegal.  It is that mindset on her part which has resulted in the Louisiana Legislative Auditor stating the Board should require her hand-picked Executive Director, Sandy Edmonds (wife of licensed interior designer Matthew Edmonds, who also happens to teach Interior Design under IDB Vice Chairman T. L. Ritchie, who is an Associate Professor of LSU’s Interior Design Program) pay back funds to the IDB which the Legislative Auditor claims were paid illegally.

When Steinmetz steadfastly refused to follow the Legislative Auditor’s admonitions, the matter was referred to EBRP District Attorney Hillar Moore for criminal prosecution.  Moore, in turn, forwarded the matter on to the Louisiana Office of Inspector General (IG) which, in turn, issued this damning report.   In the report, the IG stated Edmonds had been “paid for performing no public purpose.”  IG investigators monitored Edmonds’ cell phone and caught her red-handed relaxing on the beach in Orange Beach, AL; taking a weeklong vacation in Disneyworld, visiting New York, etc. all while claiming to be “on the clock.”  IG investigators also caught Edmonds point-blank lying to them about the practice, for which the investigators recommended “appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Of course, Steinmetz and the corrupt IDB she heads, let the IG’s disciplinary recommendation go in one ear and out the other because Edmonds, as wife of Matthew Edmonds, is in the close “inner circle” of “family” of Interior Designers, so under no circumstances would they ever take disciplinary action against her!

While Phillips has continued to press the payroll fraud issues, Burns sought to address the continuing educational fees and lack of any statutory authority to impose them.  Let’s watch Steinmetz conveniently try to omit public comment by Burns, followed by Steinmetz and the Board’s attorney, Anna Dow, going into full-blown “shut down” mode as Burns makes effort to discuss the matter despite their stern resistance, shall we?

Burns, after being conveniently overlooked by Steinmetz for him to make public comment, encounters intense shut-down efforts in his efforts to discuss the financial statements the Board is about to approve, which clearly contained  a line-item for CEU fees assessed to licensees.

So, despite the fact that the LSPC is right now under a microscope under some very, very adverse circumstances, at least the members demonstrated the utmost of courtesy and respect to Burns for him to make his public comment.  Hence, perhaps the biggest mistake Col. Edmonson has made is being a high-profile figure whose subordinates charged some illegal overtime.  If he’d been a low-profile leader of a state agency like Deborah Steinmetz, despite years of corruption as evidenced above (and way, way, way more payroll fraud than the State Troopers allegedly recently committed), nobody ever even reveals that fact in newspapers, TV news, etc.  So, Col. Edmonson, if you soon find yourself no longer Edwards’ LSP Colonel in coming days or weeks, simply apply for a low-level agency head.  It seems Edwards has no regard for what goes on in such agencies, as readily demonstrated above.

Update:  2/23/17 @ 9:50 p.m. (see comment/question below):

EBRP Deputy Ronald Landry asked Burns to go outside the room for a brief conversation.  In that conversation, Landry indicated that some members (and particularly attorney Anna Dow) were acting hostile toward Burns, and he was responding in kind.  He then said, “Unfortunately, man, if they order me to escort you out, I have no choice even though that’s not what I would want to do.  I can’t take sides in the discussion you’re having with them, so I’m asking you to not place me in a position of having to do something I don’t want to do.”  He then said an apology was not necessary on Burns’ part, but that “it may help lower the volume levels of everyone in the room.”  Accordingly, Burns did make a brief apology, and he was permitted to continue his public comment, and it follows:

Burns questions ability to charge for continuing education, and Board Member Karen Hazel, wife of 
State Representative Chris Hazel
, indicated that the matter would be looked into.

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15 thoughts on “Admonitions of imminent Derbonne lawsuit fall of deaf ears with Gov. Edwards’ appointees to Louisiana State Police Commission.”

  1. Apparently the second you get on the State of Louisiana payrol you’ve got carte blanche authority and license to steal. Gee one of the continuing education mailers says an hour for ethics. From these people????????

    1. Yes. Since you’ve asked the question, I just put an update to the post (see above). Thanks for asking. I guess other readers and viewers may wonder the same thing.

  2. I believe the Attorney General (Jeff Landry) needs to intervene in regards to all these Attorneys acting on their own.

    I don’t believe it’s the Boards as much as it is their attorneys that keep getting these boards involved in litigation!!

  3. What crazy is she think she can roll three heads the governor put on but think her own head safe she must be crazy

  4. And people wonder why it’s so hard to attract business to Louisiana. People see this sort of thing and say no thanks. Looks to me like these designers are architect wanna bes without the brains. No thanks. I’ll hire a real architect and a decorator and leave these fine folk in the cold. I had no idea they licensed a so-called designer. What a joke.

  5. That room has more premadonnas per square foot that any place in the world. No design work for me from such a motley crew!

  6. Jeff Landry needs to get involved. This is bologna. If she never needs to be at the office and taxpayers have to pay her while she relaxes on a beach saying she’s working, the whole board needs to be dissolved. They are clearly just leaches anyway.

  7. These people are clearly corrupt. One guy is denied the right to discuss what is clearly payroll fraud going on for years, and the other guy can’t get two words out of his mouth before they try and stop him because they know they are committing illegal acts. There’s nothing wrong with these people that about 72 hours in jail wouldn’t fix, and they are all in bad need of lockup.

    Sad, sad.

  8. Robert, Louisiana Civil Service has a sub-class employee W.A.E. (While Actually Employed) why is this person not in this sub-class? Second, since when does a part-time employee accumulate leave. She is a part-time hourly employee! Robert, please tell me I’m wrong, calculating her salary for this part-time, out of state traveling, telecommuting position she earned over $60,000 per year? Oh please tell me there are more positions like this, I want one.

    1. Hi Dennis. Let me answer your questions as best I can:
      Didn’t know about a W. A. E. classification, but that would seem to fit PERFECTLY for Edmonds. I can tell you that, when the Inspector General’s Office began its investigation of her, Tom Boulton (head of investigations), who still works for the IG, said, and I’m quoting, “There is no such thing as a ‘performance-based employee.’ It’s illegal.” Nevertheless, those are the terms under which she has been permitted to work for years as outlined in the agreement executed during the secretive, clandestine meeting of November 17, 2011.
      Your point is excellent entailing part-time employees not accruing leave, and Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera pointed that out in his report and said she needed to pay the money back (see report link in article). Not only was the money never paid back, but the practice continues today. The reason? Supposedly, “Jindal got involved.” Notice that, because of Jindal “getting involved,” Edmonds got to openly flaunt it EVEN to the one board member who was concerned about waking up and reading about all this in a newspaper. She flaunted it by saying, “Welcome to politics.”
      You are correct on her salary. She is being paid $57,980 ($25,480 LALB & $32,500 IDB), which we’ll call “close enough for government work” to $60,000 for a position in which she can relax in bed until whatever time she feels, then go shopping, take the kids to school, run other errands, etc. Only IF the cell phone happens to ring (office phones are forwarded to board issued cell-phones), sooner or later, she needs to respond. It was the tracking of those cell phones that caused the IG’s Office to nail her!
      Further, she is ADAMANT that she is NOT required to adhere to the Division of Administration’s telecommuting policy (notice how she even says “the Governor doesn’t dictate how I work!” That recording is from the March, 2011 LALB meeting, and the “civil service source” attorney Dow & Edmonds cite was a low-level administrator, Liz Joiner, who reportedly was “chewed out” for telling Edmonds what Edmonds indicates she was told (note: Purpera says Edmonds was “misinformed” by Civil Service) while Patrick Lowery, Chief of Accountability, was SIMULTANEOUSLY saying, and I’m quoting him, “She’s committing blatant payroll fraud!” Further, the legal counsel for Civil Service, Robert Borland, had already submitted his retirement paperwork and was even GONE by the time attorney Dow stated what she indicates he said entailing Edmonds LITERALLY on his way out the door!

      Rev. Phillips has done EVERYTHING he can possibly do entailing Edmonds’ practices; however, when you have appointed heads of boards such as Deborah Steinmetz, who are hell-bent on cramming internal-agency corruption down taxpayers’ throats, and those responsible for prosecuting same such as the Inspector General’s Office kowtow to a Governor with delusional Presidential aspirations who “intervenes” to permit such illegalities, we’re all screwed. That’s the bottom line.
      Dennis, these people (especially Steinmetz and attorney Anna Dow) are so paranoid of exposure of their illegal acts that they threw me out of a meeting once merely for mentioning the words, “November, 2011” (which is when Steinmetz felt she could “cover” herself and the board by reducing to writing an agreement permitting all these illegalities and they went to GREAT lengths to make it a clandestine meeting). If you’d like to follow what happened, simply click on this link and advance a page at a time as you read. You’ll see CLEARLY the lengths Steinmetz will go to in order to perpetuate internal agency corruption on that Board!
      Your final comment hits the nail on the head, Dennis. We ALL want a job where we can be paid for going on vacations, shopping, etc. and claiming to be on the clock. Trouble is, unless you know a Louisiana agency wherein cronyism is the norm which is willing to engage in illegal acts such as the Interior Design Board, Auctioneer Licensing Board, etc., no “Ordinary Joe” can get such a lucrative gig! Hey, it’s our tax dollars at rest!!
      Thanks for the comment, Dennis, and for your dedication on following the blog posts.

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