Skip to comments.Judge wants details on school tax proposal (Fed judge to impose tax w/o vote)
Posted on 05/20/2010 5:15:52 AM PDT by abb
A Baton Rouge federal judge said Wednesday he wants details on a plan to tax St. Helena Parish residents for public school improvements without calling an election.
Parish and state officials also announced that low-performing St. Helena Central Middle School will be taken over by Louisianas Recovery School District.
U.S. District Judge James J. Brady told School Board officials at a court hearing in the parishs 57-year-old desegregation suit: All of you get together, come up with a schedule.
Within a month, the judge said, he wants details on how the plan would put some money into the system.
Earlier this month, St. Helena voters rejected a ballot proposition that would have raised $2.1 million annually for 20 years. It was the fourth proposed property tax to be defeated in three years.
Nelson Dan Taylor Sr., the School Boards attorney, told Brady it is impossible to obtain voter approval for public schools in St. Helena Parish.
Taylor asked the judge for permission to impose a tax without an election in order to raise money for school facilities and raise teacher salaries to the levels of wealthier parishes in the area.
At $30,254 per year, starting teachers salaries are about $12,000 less than those of surrounding parishes, St. Helena Superintendent Daisy Slan said last month. She said that makes it difficult for St. Helena to attract and retain teachers.
Those children have suffered enough, Taylor told Brady on Wednesday.
The judge welcomed the taxation proposal and said he plans to visit school facilities in St. Helena Parish and meet there with members of the School Board.
Brady also noted that questions have been raised about the possibility that board members have violated open-meetings laws during recent discussions about the lingering litigation. The aging dispute pre-dates the U.S. Supreme Courts 1954 landmark desegregation decision in the Kansas case of Brown vs. Board of Education.
Last week, 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrillouxs staff announced that an investigation has been opened into an April status conference in the St. Helena case. That conference with Brady in Baton Rouge was attended by four of the School Boards members Elijah Harvey, Brenda Hurst, Willie Lee and James Baker.
Another board member, Alton Travis, filed a complaint in which he alleged he was not notified of the court conference, Assistant District Attorney Cliff Speed said last week.
I may in the future meet with the board in closed session, Brady announced Wednesday.
The judge added that such meetings would not violate the states Open Meetings Laws because board members would be discussing pending litigation and would not be taking any formal action.
Winston G. Decuir Sr., a Baton Rouge attorney for the Louisiana Department of Education, told Brady that department officials are in agreement with one of the School Boards proposals.
We have no position in regard to Mr. Taylors proposal for local taxation, Decuir told the judge. We are prepared to take over the school. And we wish them well.
Tax increase by judicial fiat seems to me to be grounds for a revolt, actually not a revolt because revolting means fighting against a legal authority. How about dealing with theft of belongings and protecting yourself from such.
Soooo...what happens if the people tell the judge to shove it?
I mean seriously: To paraphrase Andrew Jackson: he made his ruling now let him enforce it.
So what if the people simple refuse to pay?
LIKE THEY ALREADY HAVE DONE????
How can this even remotely be considered constitutional????
A federal judge in Kansas City raised taxes for years to support Kansas City schools, all without approval or vote by the taxpayers. He not only raised taxes in Jackson County (where KC is located), but in the surrounding Missouri counties as well. He couldn’t do that in the bordering Kansas counties, so many people moved to Kansas.
If he gets away with it, what's written on a piece of paper makes no difference.
Thats very true. Then we become ruled by men and not laws. At that point, I feel free to raise a single digit in defiance.
If the law means nothing then a slavish obedience to it is insanity.
I am amazed at just how fragile this system is.
All it takes is a sheriff to refuse to enforce or the people to simply say no: we do not give you the power over us any more and it will crack crumble and fall....
I don’t KNOW that such a thing can happen......
Here we have another example of a judge overstepping his bounds. Lets hope the legislators in Louisiana have a bit more backbone and will tell this judge to stick to judging and keep his nose out of the legislature's business.
Nevada as well. A court tossed out their requirement for a legislative supermajority to raise taxes. Case was about funding for the public schools...you know, For the Chil’in.
What part of POWER OF THE PURSE do they not understand?
Especially after attending LAW SCHOOL???
Taxation without representation is coming!
If the government is not guided by laws then neither should we be.
Moon Griffon to weigh in on this today.
St. Helena Tea Party to Fight Lawless Fed Judge
05/23/2010 by Walter Abbott
St. Helena Parish is about to form a tea party to fight precisely what our forefathers fought over 200 years ago taxation without representation. Alton Travis, a 12-year St. Helena school board member, has begun preliminary efforts to organize a group. Ive made some phone calls and Im putting together a contact list, Travis said.
We spoke with Mr. Travis earlier today from his home near Kentwood.
Last week, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) had reported about U. S. District Judge James Bradys plans to impose a tax upon St. Helena residents without a vote. Brady is the former chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.
Travis said he has been in contact with the Baton Rouge Tea Party (BRTP) for help in organizing a group in St. Helena Parish. I really dont know why were talking about this, said Travis in reference to taxes imposed by a judge contrary to voters wishes. Things like that shouldnt even be contemplated.
Parish voters had previously turned down several attempts to pass new school taxes. On May 1, parish voters rejected a 55 mil property tax by a 62% margin. The tax issue has gone back over twenty years, according to Travis, and has been voted upon at least a dozen times.
Some have tried to portray a negative vote on school taxes as a racist vote, but as the parish is 52% black, it is clear that many blacks voted no on the tax. LPNO readers will recall how last falls defeat of a Baton Rouge tax was painted as racist by The (Baton Rouge) Advocate.
St. Helena is a rural parish with no significant tax base. Years ago, the area had several dairy farms, but that property now grows trees. Travis said if a tax is imposed, several property owners have told him they will file bankruptcy because they wouldnt be able to afford the taxes. The school system consists of one elementary school, one middle school that has been taken over by the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD), and one high school.
The taxes would fund pay raises for the districts teachers and also fund new construction. Asked what condition are the districts buildings, Travis said theyre in as good a condition as thirty-five years ago when he attended.
The school board is also under investigation for holding meetings without notifying all the board members.