Archive for January, 2010

Finding common ground in politics

Columnists: Partisan war destroying US

Columnists Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas — the first a liberal, the second a conservative — talked to The Chamber/Southwest Louisiana on Thursday about finding common ground.

“Partisanship is not really a bad thing — polarization is,” said Thomas. “We do this to show people that there is a place to meet in the middle.”

Beckel and Thomas, coauthors of the 2008 book “Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America,” spoke at the chamber’s banquet.

Beckel began his career as a Democratic strategist, working on presidential campaigns and later for the State Department. Thomas was a reporter for NBC News, then went on be a columnist and radio host. The two met eight years ago, as Beckel was coming off hard times, recovering from alcoholism. “Cal was the first person to offer me any help, even though we had completely different points of view,” Beckel said.

While they served as commentators for Fox News, Beckel said, they noticed how contributors spent the entire time screaming at each other.

“We knew there had to be another way to get things done,” he said.

They pitched their column, “Common Ground,” to USA Today, saying that through civil discussion they could bring their opposite points of view together.

“Politicians don’t seem to realize that common ground is good politics,” Beckel said. “Until then, they’ll keep getting knocked in and out of power.”

He said he and Thomas have spoken to “hundreds” of audiences about compromise and use every opportunity to embarrass their respective parties.

“We’re agitators, and we intend to keep agitating until politicians start to get back to understanding that what they do is about the people,” Beckel said.


January 29, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Slaying suspect linked to rapes


Lake Charles police have arrested a man in connection with the rape and slaying of a woman whose body was found Jan. 15, and they say the man, Marlin James Jenkins, 38, has sexually assaulted at least two other women.

The body of 50-year-old Linda Jackson Moore was found earlier this month behind a detailing shop at the corner of Shattuck and Belden streets.

Police ruled her death a homicide, but Police Chief Don Dixon, speaking at a news conference Monday, declined to give the specific cause of death, saying that to do so could compromise the case.

“I will say she died a violent death, and she put up quite a fight,” he said.

While investigating the death, Detectives Lecia McCullough and Franklin Fondel arrested Jenkins for the rapes of two women, Dixon said.

After further investigation, and with the aid of an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip, they connected Jenkins to Moore’s death, he said.

“We also believe there may be other victims out there who have not come forward out of fear of Jenkins,” Dixon said. “This man was on a spree and is now in jail with no bond.

“Nobody deserves to be victimized and then afraid to report it.”

He said Jenkins, of 333 Mill St., has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated rape and seconddegree robbery — in addition to two counts of aggravated rape in the other cases.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso attended the conference to debunk rumors that Moore’s death was connected to the Nov. 23 death of Sierra Bouzigard, who was found on John Koonce Road in Moss Bluff.

“Keep in mind, all agencies stay in close contact regardless of the crime,” Mancuso said.

Officials are still awaiting forensic test results in the Bouzigard case, he said.

“We will be comparing notes with Lake Charles police and the task force in Jennings,” Mancuso said. “But right now, none of these (cases) seem to connect.”

Victims and people with information on the crimes can call 491-1311 and ask for McCullough or Fondel.


January 26, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Biden returns to SW La.

Vice president back in Cameron today for first time since 2006

Vice President Joseph Biden will be in New Orleans and Grand Lake today, discussing how the administration is helping with recovery and rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast.

A schedule released by the White House says his day will start at about 11 a.m. in New Orleans with a visit to Delgado Community College’s City Park campus.

After touring the school, he will be joined by Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu at the St. Bernard Recreation Center.

They will discuss Recovery Act investments and hear updates on the area’s hurricane recovery. Biden, his wife, Jill, and Landrieu will continue on to Grand Lake at about 3 p.m. They will meet with Cameron Parish officials to get updates on hurricane recovery in the area and will speak at the Grand Lake Elderly Apartments.

To see video of the Vice President’s visit, CLICK HERE.

Landrieu brought Biden — then a U.S. senator from Delaware — to south Louisiana in early 2006 to see the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He was the only non-Louisiana senator to view Southwest Louisiana.

Biden acknowledged that most politicians focused on New Orleans, and he pledged to help Landrieu lobby for funding to rebuild Cameron, saying the area reminded him of Delaware Bay, which also supports the fishing and oil industries.

He promised to return, and has kept tabs on the area. As Hurricane Gustav made its way toward Louisiana in September 2008, Biden, then a vice presidential candidate, called Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach on his cell phone.

“He said he was praying for our safety and wanted us to know we were on his mind,” Roach said at the time. “And it wasn’t an assistant — it was him.”

link: (advance story)
daily article BY ELONA WESTON:

January 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Dalton ‘just had so much character’

Law enforcement officials remember trooper killed in two-vehicle accident

Local law enforcement officials on Wednesday shared their memories of State Police Senior Trooper Duane Dalton, who died Tuesday after a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 171 in Moss Bluff.

Trooper Sal Messina, who worked with Dalton for 12 years, said he considered the man a good friend and someone who was fun to be around.

Dalton, a native of Virginia, came to Louisiana while in the military. He met his wife here and settled. He was the father of three children, and he coached at baseball camps and headed to Baton Rouge for LSU games whenever he could.

“That’s all he talked about — his family or baseball,” Messina said.

As a senior trooper, he said, Dalton always tried to help other officers on the shift.

“He was quick-witted and very precise at every scene,” Messina said. “He would go to every scene to help the younger troopers.”

Dalton began his law enforcement career with the Lake Charles Police Department in 1993. Sgt. Mark Kraus, one of his training officers, said he quickly noticed Dalton’s integrity and desire to protect people.

To see a slideshow (BY BRAD K. PUCKETT) of Trooper Dalton’s funeral, CLICK HERE.

“He was always eager to learn and help people and just had so much character,” he said. “When we learned he was going to state police, we knew the department as a whole was losing.”

Both Messina and Kraus noted Dalton’s sense of humor, which they said stood in contrast to his imposing 6-foot-4-inch figure.

“When he was out on a scene, working, you could never tell how funny he was,” Messina said. “We cut up a lot.”

In 1995, Dalton joined the state police. In his 14 years as a trooper, he worked in the patrol and gaming divisions.

Visitation will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, at Johnson Funeral Home and from 10 a.m. until his funeral at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan 16, at Trinity Baptist Church.


January 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Biden set to visit SW La. on Friday


Vice President Joseph Biden is scheduled to visit Louisiana and the Lake Area on Friday, local officials said.

Lake Charles police Sgt. Mark Kraus on Tuesday confirmed that Biden would visit New Orleans and Cameron Parish at the end of the week.

He said further details would be released by Biden’s office.

The vice president is making good on a promise he made in March 2006, when he vowed to return to the area.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, was the only non-Louisiana senator to visit Cameron Parish with Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Most federal lawmakers had focused solely on New Orleans.

After a flyover with Calcasieu and Cameron parish officials, Biden was briefed on the state of the area and promised to work with FEMA to get needed aid.

He said the area reminded him of the Delaware River and bay areas of his state, which also supports the fishing and oil industries.

During the 2008 presidential election, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said Biden called him as Hurricane Gustav headed toward Louisiana.

“It wasn’t his assistant, it was him,” Roach said at the time.


January 13, 2010 at 10:20 pm

State trooper killed in two-vehicle accident


A Louisiana State Police trooper died at a local hospital Tuesday night as the result of a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 171 in Moss Bluff.

Trooper Stephen LaFargue with Troop D confirmed a trooper was involved in an accident that occurred at around 7 p.m. LaFargue said the injured trooper had to be removed from the car with the jaws of life and was airlifted to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. LaFargue would not release any other details of the accident late Tuesday.


January 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm

SW La. braces for hard freeze

Use caution on roadways; area schools put on notice

As temperatures drop across the state, Department of Transportation and Development officials say they will monitor roadways for ice and fallen trees and branches.

Maintenance crews are on standby to apply salt or sand to bridges or roads affected by any snow, rain or sleet. A DOTD news release says some road closures may take place.

Officials advise motorists to use caution in extreme weather — drive slowly, avoid distractions, allow extra driving time and make sure there is plenty of room between vehicles.

DOTD provides real-time traffic and road condition information online at

Officials with the Calcasieu Parish school system have been in touch with the Office of Emergency Preparedness, along with the DOTD, local police and the National Weather Service, said Charlene Chiasson, school system spokeswoman.

“Superintendent (Wayne) Savoy met with all of these officials today,” Chiasson said. “He is maintaining constant contact and following their recommendations on whether or not to close schools.”

Late Wednesday, the National Weather Service recorded 47 degrees, and the forecast has the temperature going downhill from there.

Light rain should end in the afternoon and be followed by an evening temperature in the mid-20s.

Friday will be sunny and cold, with a high in the mid-30s and a low in the teens. Overnight temperatures during the weekend are expected to remain in the teens.

The wind chill along the Intestate 10 corridor could reach 10 degrees, forecasters said.


January 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Appeal judge’s mother admits to stealing more than $100,000


ALEXANDRIA — The mother of a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal judge has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than $100,000 from the federal government by falsifying her father’s veterans pension forms.

According to court documents, Fontaine C. Gremillion, mother of current Judge Shannon J. Gremillion and wife of former state appellate Judge Glenn Gremillion, failed to list on the forms about $41,000 in income from a rental property.

Gremillion, who has power of attorney for her father, James F. Cook, reportedly collected $110,848 from $1,675 monthly benefit payments from about July 2001 to July 2005.

Had she disclosed the property income, the benefit would have amounted to only $319 per month, according to court records.

Sentencing guidelines would require Gremillion to repay the full amount, but federal judges can exercise discretion in such matters.


January 6, 2010 at 10:09 pm