Greg Foster no longer interested in city job, withdraws name

Greg Foster, who was hired then fired from a position in Mayor Jacques Roy’s administration, has withdrawn his name from the hat.

“The city attorney called me and basically said that I didn’t have enough votes. That’s not going to change,” he said. “I’m not without a job. I need a job.”

The Alexandria City Council for the third time Tuesday, Aug. 26, delayed confirming Foster’s position as Human Resources Director.

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Check back later for an update.

Council appoints one of the mayor’s hires, delays another

By Eugene Sutherland
The Light

The Alexandria City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday, Aug. 26, to confirm one staff appointment of Mayor Jacques Roy while delaying another.

Council members to a man said there was no rancor between themselves and Roy regarding the potential hires. The only question, they said, was whether the city would get the “bang for its buck” from the appointments, given the $80,000 salary that would come with their roles.

Up for vote were the appointments of Greg Foster as director of human resources and Jannease Seastrunk as director of community services. Seastrunk, the longtime head of the non-profit Shepherd Center, was approved with no apparent hesitation. Council members said they were satisfied of Seastrunk’s qualifications through her interaction with people in her former capacity and that the duties of the position itself justify the salary.

Foster’s appointment, however, was met with concern. Not so much regarding his qualifications as much as whether the position justified the financial commitment to the position and whether it duplicated some services of already existing positions within City Hall.

The two appointments had previously been delayed twice. There is no timetable on how long the current delay might be resolved.

In related news, former community services director Lisa Harris was appointed as chief of policy and compliance, as per Roy’s recommendation.

Heading into the meeting, council members Charles Fowler and Charles F. Smith Jr. were both on record as supporting both hires. Member Louis Marshall did not. Member Roosevelt L. Johnson took what he called a “wait-and-see” approach. Member Harry Silver turned the matter back to Roy, calling it a “moot point.”

“We want to make sure we make the decision that is right financially and economically,” Johnson said. “We just needed to make sure we’re all on the same page here. There was no arguing or anything like that. This is about doing what’s best for the city.”
There had been concerns the positions duplicated already existing jobs within City Hall, thus leading to irresponsible spending. Foster already draws an annual salary of $80,000 from the city.

“What I look at is that Jannease Seastrunk has a record of dealing with people in the community,” Smith said. “With her community service work, she meets every qualification. What we need to do now is figure out the need for a human resources director, what it involves and whether the position will mix with others.”

Marshall said that among the sticking points regarding the human resources position is that the position gives more leeway to potential hires who happen to have criminal or other negative backgrounds. The city has had issues meeting the number of hires needed because of what he feels to be harsh standards.

“We have to give people a break,” Marshall said. “Our Judeo-Christian society believes in giving people a second chance. But as much as anything, you’re talking about an $80,000 salary. That’s a lot of money, especially at a time when people are having trouble just paying energy bills.”

Foster would replace Joe Page, who had been paid $60,000 to perform the duties of the position.

Roy could not be reached for comment after the meeting.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Prayer Breakfast

The Alexandria (LA) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. hosted its 26th annual Voter Registration/Education Prayer Breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Alexander Fulton Convention Center.

State Rep. Patrick C. Williams of Shreveport was the keynote speaker.

Enjoy the photos.

Ed Larvadain III to officially announce District 1 candidacy

Ed Larvadain III plans to announce his candidacy for the District 1 Council seat for which Louis Marshall is the incumbent.

The announcement will be made at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Bolton Avenue Community Center, 315 Bolton Ave.

Alexandria (La.) mayor and council fighting again

Read how the Alexandria City Council is giving the mayor hell about his hiring practices. Go to Page 3.

Aug. 15, 2008, Pages 1-8

Aug. 15, 2008, Pages 9-16

Youngest member of Jena Six in a prestigious boarding school

Jesse R. Beard, the youngest member of the famed Jena Six, has a golden opportunity to change his life into something other than what has made him famous.

Jesse is out of Jena, La., with a golden nugget given to him by people who don’t look like him or think like him. Let’s pray that Beard and his family move beyond the Jena Six saga. Read the story below

By Eileen FitzGerald
Staff Writer
NEW MILFORD — A lot of elements affect the success of a high-profile student. They can range from the reason for the acclaim and the student’s attitude about it, to the support the student has from family and the school.

These are some of the issues that will come into play for Jesse Ray Beard, who begins classes at Canterbury School in New Milford next month. Beard is one of six black students still awaiting trial after being arrested for a fight at Jena High School in central Louisiana, where a white student suffered a concussion and multiple bruises. Five of the defendants who await trial found success when they left Jena High for other schools, said Beard’s lead counsel, David Utter.

“All of the young men were able to get out of Jena High and go to other schools and they have succeeded,” said Utter, who is associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The main thing these children needed to make the transition from high school to adulthood was a supporting environment. (Canterbury) is an incredible opportunity and Jesse Ray knows it.” Canterbury wants this to be successful for Beard, he said. “We have great confidence that it’s going to work out.”

Seventeen-year-old Beard was released from house arrest in the spring for previous juvenile charges and alleged probation violation and spent the summer in New York with an attorney, taking an English course and working at a law firm. His probation was terminated so he could attend Canterbury. What will be crucial to the outcome will be how much support he has from the school, his family and other students, Manos said.

“That will determine to a large extent how a person comes out of a high-profile situation,” said psychologist Charles Manos, coordinator of pupil services for the 10,000-student Danbury school district. “On some level, kids are more accepting and understanding, and they wanted to weigh all the issues, while many adults come to quick conclusions.” Manos said it’s an interesting time in society when the context of an event plays a role in the response to it.

“We look at all the factors, not just the legal result, because society has a certain belief system and values.” For instance, a 16-year-old boy arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old girl would be viewed differently than if the girl was 6 years old, Manos said.

And the repercussions for the children of a parent on the front page of a local paper for embezzling would be different than if the parent was arrested for Internet sex activity, Manos said. Another example he gave was the reaction to the drunk driving arrest of Olympic gold medalist Mike Phelps, who would receive more sympathy than the same charge for Paris Hilton.

“The six (Jena) students who became enraged (about the nooses) and beat up someone has great historical meaning compared to someone who beats up someone else for some drugs,” Manos said. “How people handle race and their deep ingrained beliefs will play a factor in how they respond to this situation. To some extent it’s about violence, but it’s still about race and how we’re a divided society.”

The noose serves as a threat of domination and power, and even though that meaning might not have been fully understood by the boys who hung the nooses, Manos said the response shows when people feel threatened, they sometimes use power to retaliate.

“I will never condone violence on any level, but you can understand how something like this could happen when this symbol was used to frighten,” Manos said. “Just because we don’t condone it (violence), doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help people understand it. If you use the ‘n’ word or a noose, it’s a powerful provocative act.”

Conversations allow healing to take place, he said. In a high-profile case, you have to help kids deal with the resulting attention.

“There will be implications,” Manos said, because the person walking down the hall is carrying around all these issues inside. “How the school responds, how it deals both overtly and subtly, and the message sent about this behavior may help the student heal or become more angry or bitter.” Schools have a primary obligation, he said. “You have to protect the privacy of the children.”

National Night Out in Alexandria, Louisiana

The Alexandria (Louisiana) Police Department celebrated its participation in the 25th-annual  National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Police Chief Darren Coutee said about 500 people attended.

According to the national National Night Out organizers,

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

In Alexandria, attendees were treated to fun, food and good fellowship.

Enjoy the above slideshow. Photos were taken by Eugene Sutherland.