Like many Louisiana towns — perhaps 300 of them, according to official estimates — St. Joseph can’t afford to maintain and improve its water system, he said.
More than half of the 528 families in town make less than $50,000 a year, according U.S. Census Bureau data.
In 2015, the town raised $115,883 charging fees for water, gas and other services;$117,328 from sales taxes; and $37,237 from ad valorem property taxes, according to the town’s financial records.
Brown went to Washington, D.C. in 2006 and got help from then U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. But the money Landrieu had found went away when Congress ended the practice of earmarks.
He then headed to Baton Rouge and persuaded then Gov. Bobby Jindal to visit in 2013 and have a glass of water.
Jindal promised $6 million. The town would have to put up a match of about $2 million, which is about what the town could raise if it sold every piece of property and equipment. Jindal waived the match.
But the money could not be used. The town’s finances were so shaky, it could not get the clear audit necessary to release the funds.
Then in March, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera released a report finding that Brown’s hiring of a cousin to do maintenance work may have violated state law.
On June 6, an independent auditor issued a report that allowed the town to access the $8 million to replace pipes and upgrade the water filtration facility. Sixth Judicial District Judge John D. Crigler, of St. Joseph, then appointed David Greer, a former assistant legislative auditor from Watson, to oversee the finances.
Since then, the water tower has been refurbished. The replacement of all the town’s distribution pipes, which pumps the water to the customers, will begin in a couple weeks. The facility that treats the water will be upgraded. The goal is to have the new system going by June.
In the meantime, each resident is receiving three liter bottles of water each day. The water is distributed from an empty lot that once was a grocery store, where residents sign a sheet to collect their daily ration.
Pastor Donald Scott, one of the volunteers from the town’s churches handling the task, said he has suspended baptisms at his Oneonta Baptist Church until he can work out a source to provide clean water. Celebrants’ heads are plunged fully underwater by the minister as part of the ceremony.
“They say don’t drink it. I just don’t feel comfortable immersing people in that water,” Scott said. “I’m pretty sure God understands.” Baton Rouge Advocate
John Berger shaped how a generation of artists saw the world and led the call for boycott of Israel https://t.co/WY2AIzu15p
— Electronic Intifada (@intifada) January 8, 2017
Leah Menzer, producer of a talk show for Lumpen Radio called EcoChicago and a co-founder of Lumpen Radio, was essential in getting the station on the air, navigating Lumpen through the tricky FCC licensing and tower-building process.
“It’s the golden age of radio, I would say, right now,” she said. “There’s never been such public attention to creative radio art before now. It usually used to be that the news journalism tradition was the American way of doing radio. But recently it’s like—This American Life, the whole Gimlet thing, all that kind of stuff is blowing up.” South Side Weekly
The late Carrie Fisher on Donald Trump:
Donald trump is a classless thug Trying 2 scare us in2 voting 4 him-an entitled, elitist, racist misogynist-dangerous, unkind & w/o empathy pic.twitter.com/CaWPgjd03J
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) October 10, 2016
A bill introduced by GOP congressman Todd Rokita of Indiana would eliminate civil service protections, including the right to union representation for all new federal employees, including new postal workers.
A key provision of Rokita’s “Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency (PAGE) Act” states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any employee in the civil service (as that term is defined in section 2101 of title 5, United States Code) hired on or after the date that is 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act shall be hired on an at-will basis. Such an employee may be removed or suspended, without notice or right to appeal, from service by the head of the agency at which such employee is employed for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.
The bill also says that
The term “employee” has the meaning given such term in section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, and includes any officer or employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission.
American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said “Giving political appointees and the managers who serve them free reign to punish workers without cause, while removing the checks and balances that keep everyone honest, is the antithesis of accountability.” Postal News