Friday, May 25, 2007

CLECO Execs Stock Dumping - no news

This story had us looking for answers Thursday and it is another good example of how we can be transparent, show the anatomy of a story and separate fact from fiction.

Thursday an email was sent to the "contact us" box. It contained the following:
Anonymous said...
The Cleco VP dumps at least $430,000 worth of stock... which is immediately reported in the Houston Chronicle, Boston Globe, Forbes, and MSNBC.Not worthy of a mention in the Town Talk or KALB though.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 6:35:00 PM

It turns out this was actually a post in the Cenla Antics blog. The item was of interest to us simply because of the lack of information surrounding the CLECO and City of Alexandria litigation.
The statement in the emailed comment above is not factual. Here are the facts and why this is not a news story.
CLECO Executives, like any other high level employee of a publicly traded company have a small window of opportunity to sell their earned options/shares. This is regulated by the SEC and there are public filings required. A quick visit to the CLECO website at this link, SEC filings shows all of the executives and what stock they have sold in May and for how much.

05/22/07 CRUMP KEITH D 15k
05/10/07 DAVIS R RUSSELL 17k
05/08/07 JAMES F BEN JR 8k
05/08/07 WESTBROOK W L 10k
05/08/07 GARRETT J PATRICK 19k
05/08/07 NOLEN KATHLEEN F 14k
05/08/07 MILLER JUDY P 19k
05/08/07 DAVIS R RUSSELL 17k

This is not a hidden transaction and stock holders are encouraged to check with the company they hold stock in.
Susan Broussard of the CLECO Public Relations Department responded to our calls for clarification and says " you know our stock has been very strong lately, CLECO has been a good investment."
Were we wrong? Did we miss an important story?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Buddy Caldwell wants to be your Attorney General

Buddy Caldwell has spent 29 years of service as a District Attorney and visited the KALB-TV studios recently for a Video Blog. Mr. Caldwell is emphasizing his long public service as an attorney for the people of Louisiana. We talked with him about why he would go after a job which some say pays too low for the position. His answer is that this is not the kind of election a person goes after to get rich.

He was elected to the office of District Attorney for the parishes of East Carroll, Madison, and Tensas in September of 1978, and has been reelected to that office ever since. On his website it says "Buddy has already been assigned and personally handled more Attorney General cases for the state than all living Attorneys General combined, despite the fact that he is not yet Attorney General."

Thinking about politics and fallen soldiers

We wish this item had come to our attention earlier this week when interviewing State Treasurer John Kennedy...

Without fanfare or national media attention, White House strategist Karl Rove went to Louisiana the weekend before last to woo State Treasurer John Kennedy (D) to the GOP and into the 2008 Senate race against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
As Memorial Day approaches our area is poised to acknowledge the huge sacrifice soldiers make to keep the push going against people who hate the American way of life.
Conservatives link our struggles to the war on terror. Liberal thinkers want communication not war.
We have interviewed countless soldiers in our exclusive coverage of Fort Polk. No other local media has made the effort to cover the post more than KALB-TV. Just ask John-Thomas Kobos what the experience has meant to him and the feedback he gets.

Today, John-Thomas attends another soldier memorial for Sergeant Jason Alan Schumann, 23, of Hawley, Minnesota. He died Saturday,May 19, near Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq. Schumann died of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Schumann was a Cavalry Scout assigned to Apache Troop, 3rd Squadron,89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Infantry Division.

Schumann joined the Army in Sept. 2001 and arrived at Fort Polk in Oct. 2004.

He may not have been from central Louisiana, but he lived with us since 2004. Is it too much to ask for everyone today to bow your head and say a silent prayer for these soldiers?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Race for High Sheriff - Cenla Style

Today in the Paragon Casino candidates for the Avoyelles Parish sheriffs race gather for a debate. Longtime Sheriff Bill Belt is not running for reelection and we're told this race could be one to watch. What are the major issues facing the area and how can a new sheriff help improve law enforcement? If you have insight your comments are welcome. We will be on our toes for any election irregularities...

And speaking of election irregularities and sheriffs races, the Rapides Parish race is like a bomb waiting to go off with someone (unnamed) lighting a big fuse earlier this week.

KALB-TV news was contacted with a tip there are activities going on within the sheriffs office that are against the law(whose law we haven't figured out). We take calls like this frequently during election season and unless there is a credible and verifiable complaint that has been filed with the Elections Commission we take a pass. The majority of the complaints right now center around election signs but there are more serious issues being brought to us.

In response KALB-TV ran an item explaining where to go if there are election complaints. Nothing on the radar worth sharing yet unless we missed something, did we?
On the blogosphere this blog has been created to follow the Rapides race.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kennedy Video Blog "Sen. Hines mad at me"

We interviewed State Treasurer John Kennedy today and have the interview posted here at the KALB-TV Video Blog.

In the interview Kennedy answers a question from a blogger about the State Bond Commission issue and says the item is authored by Senator Don Hines because he is mad at Kennedy over the Bunkie Sugar Mill issue.

He outlines what he would do if he were "King for a Day" and no it is not replace Hines, but a three point plan for the state's load of cash.

That and an answer about running for governor.

Tell John Kennedy what to do with the money.

The Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy is in Alexandria today to discuss the loads of money our state will have for roads among other things. He has been pounding his fists and giving a message to the people about fiscal responsibility since being told in essence he can not do his job the "Recovery Authority" will. Remember them? They administer the Road Home program.

The idea behind this blog originally was to gather thoughts from the blogosphere and be a middle man in between the news maker and the public.

Do you have a question for Mr. Kennedy? We have an appointment with him later today.

Here are some links that might encourage you.
Daily Kingfish - Why State Treasurer John Kennedy is a Democrat.
About John N. Kennedy - Wikipedia
Look he has a blog! - John Kennedy Blog
The Town Talk - Our view: Accountability in letter of law, not in reality

We would be happy to pose your question to Mr. Kennedy. Our first question, what office are you running for next?

Monday, May 21, 2007

City of Alexandria sued over utility rates.

This is the item we ran tonight on KALB-TV.
The City of Alexandria is being sued in a class action lawsuit filed by Shreveport attorney Larry English.
The suit claims the city has over charged its rate payers for utility costs.

The lawsuit claims “...the City has over charged plaintiffs and class members on their utility accounts for a period of time dating from 1997 to the present.”

One note, English you may recall is the attorney for Bridgette Brown. Brown a local attorney was removed from the Cleco lawsuit by city administration.

The Cleco case is in mediation and last word has not publicly taken any steps forward.

We'll have more on this story as it develops and have been in contact with the Mayor's office for a response but have not heard back yet.

Do bigger public salaries equal better government officials?

I read with great interest the lapolitics newsletter today and thought of sharing an excerpt.

John Maginnis writes the following...
Increasing the salaries of politicians, especially those at the top, is always a tough sell, and the availability of resources seldom has anything to do with it.
With every election cycle one hears the lament about the lack of good people willing to offer themselves for public office. Yet what are we doing to make public service more attractive? Small wonder that fewer successful, well-adjusted individuals choose to endure the expense, stress, heartache and plain meanness of modern-day election campaigns for the honor and rewards of serving we the people.

He continues...

Last year, Attorney General Charles Foti, a retired sheriff, stirred up huge controversy and anger within the medical community and the public for arresting a doctor and two nurses following his post-Katrina investigation of mercy killing at a New Orleans hospital. It was assumed that he would face multiple viable challengers this year from the ranks of district attorneys and term-limited legislators. So far, the only takers are Buddy Caldwell, a district attorney eligible to retire, and Royal Alexander, a former congressional aide.
Foti sits on a big campaign war chest, but is he that strong or is the lure of the state's top legal office so weak? Where are the state's best legal minds or even politically ambitious lawyers, who could position themselves to run for governor or senator? They are making money, of course, having invested heavily in building their professional careers.
Even doubling the A.G.'s salary would not come near what top lawyers in private practice are pulling down, but doing so would make a one-term or two-term stint feasible, especially for some well-qualified district attorneys.

And finally...

On this subject a few years ago, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said, "You get what you pay for," and instantly regretted it. What he meant was not that he and other incumbents would work harder if paid more, but that more good people would offer themselves for the top levels of public service if they didn't feel they would be punished for it.


Gas prices up - use the internet to find local cheap gas?

Here is the latest AP wire copy on the Lundberg Survey...

Gas prices up eleven cents nationwide
The Lundberg Survey says the average price of self-serve regular gasoline has hit a record high of three dollars, 18 cents per gallon.

That's up more than eleven cents over the previous two weeks. The previous record adjusted for inflation was three dollars, 15 cents per gallon in March 1981.
A gallon of mid-grade gasoline averaged three-29, and premium cost three-40, according to the latest Lundberg Survey of seven-thousand gas stations across the country.
Nationwide, the lowest price for regular fuel was two-87 in Charleston, South Carolina, and the highest was in Chicago at three-59 a gallon.

Central Louisiana prices are climbing and this brings up our Pain at the Pump program. The idea is to find as many people as possible that can form a network and find the least expensive gas prices. It may be just a few cents difference per gallon, but at these prices anything can help. Just post your comments and we'll see if the power of the Internet can help people save a little money.