The Weekend Scoop July 7, 2012

  IF IT LOOKS LIKE A CRIME, IT’S A CRIME SO WHERE DOES A SELF GENERATED MONEY FUND COME FROM? HINDS COUNTY?

St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed’s office said Washington Parish is required by law to financially support the DA’s office in Franklinton Louisiana. Reed said, the district attorney has paid through the years to the parish was done only to assist with balancing the budget. A statement issued through Rick Wood said the district attorney’s office chipped in with expenses many years ago after Washington Parish officials indicated they could not afford Reed’s request to expand the Franklinton branch. The request came after the historic Reed vs. Washington Parish decision of 1988, in which Reed sued the parish for adequate funding for his office.

       The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling which went against Reed and mandated that all Louisiana parishes must provide funds that are “reasonable and necessary” to support the DA’s office. Several opinions by the Louisiana Attorney General have confirmed that decision although “reasonable and necessary” has not been defined, adding to the confusion.
 
  Washington Parish officials said they were led to believe that a gentlemen’s agreement was in place where Reed would reimburse the parish for expenses above and beyond what the DA’s office asks for at the beginning of each fiscal year. For more than 20 years, records indicate the district attorney’s office paid the parish $25,000 a month. However, from August of 2007 through March of 2009 Reed’s office withheld all payments, then in April of 2009 began making monthly payments of $16,000.
 

The problem, Washington Parish officials maintain, is Reed’s decision to trim back on the reimbursement is costing the parish $13,000 a month, and that deficit has led to a dire projection that the general fund, which is basically the parish checkbook, will see a $200,000 shortfall at the end of 2012. Recently, the parish was forced to write off $800,000 of the nearly $1 million that officials were counting on in reimbursements. Sources have said that money was listed under receivables and once it was written off, the $800,000 had to be put back into the expenses, thus creating the gaping hole in the budget.

Many years ago because the parish indicated that it could not pay for some of the mandated expenses it asked for help with funding after the Reed decision. “It was decided to advance some self-generated funds to the parish. “The varying amounts provided to the parish are discretionary and not an obligation or ‘debt’ to the parish. They were simply to assist the parish as long as the DA was financially capable of sending the advances. The Daily News also asked Reed’s office to detail the expenditures of the additional $29,000 per month but the statement did not address that question.

Several sources, who asked not to be identified, have said one option the parish may consider is not paying the additional $13,000 per month it is currently paying out to cover expenses. Reed’s office did not say if cutbacks would be required if that were to occur. Such a decision must come by an act of the Parish Council.

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WASHINGTON: Internet service providers have sent notices that the Internet problems have been splashed across Facebook and Google. and the FBI set up a special website. Tens of thousands of Americans may still lose their Internet service Monday unless they do a quick check of their computers for malware that could have taken over their machines more than a year ago.

Despite repeated alerts, the number of computers probably are infected is more than 277,000 worldwide, down from about 360,000 in April. Of those still infected, the FBI believes that about 64,000 are in the United States. Users whose computers are still infected Monday will lose their ability to go online, and they will have to call their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet.__________________________________________

      

 The Columbian-Progress Reports City’s paving project :
 
Heavy equipment is rolling as the city’s nearly $3 million paving project continues following a short break as contractors had obligations outside the city of Columbia.“A lot of the side streets are done,” Mayor Reed Houston said. “They are what we call ‘collectors.’ The larger streets are considered ‘arteries,’ those are streets like North Main.” Paving and resurfacing began in early April with T.L Wallace Construction as the contractor. Sub-contractor Dunn Roadbuilders of Laurel is doing much of the side street work.Recent work includes National Guard Road and many of the streets near the city schools. There are several major projects left to be completed including Church Street. Milling and prep work on Church Street began Tuesday, beginning at Sumrall Road. Crews were expected to work on Church Street between Sumrall Road and Alberta Avenue this week as well. Paving was continuing on Gail Avenue and was set to move to Clearview Drive and Clearview Circle later this week. When that paving is completed, paving on Church Street will begin.

“We’re finding leaks,” Houston said. “On Gill Street we’ve had to cut into the current pavement numerous times in one area for water and sewer leaks. That area hadn’t been paved yet; some of the streets in the city hadn’t been touched in years.”

“Houston said the project is a large undertaking and estimated that it was approximately 25 percent complete. Many of the roads have been covered with a technique called “microsurfacing.” Crews lay out a 3/8-inch surface of tar, sand and rock that is ready to drive on in about an hour depending on the weather. Several other types of paving are part of the project including a 1 ½-inch hot mix asphalt overlay and an ultrathin 1-inch lift overlay.  Houston said that while there have been issues, the overall response to the project has been positive.

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