Lenny Vasbinder for President!!!!
Congratulations Lenny! You beat me to the punch. When I read the insulting post that Mr. Brown wrote I was livid. He must think we all just fell off the turnip truck.
After I read the post I saved it because I didn't want to respond in the heated mood I was in. I'm sick and tired of being thought of as "stupid" (quoting Charlene Mora when referring to licensees) by this group.
My message to the board is.... You can screw us but we don't have to like it! It's my estimation that the ones that are lacking in intelligence are the ones that take themselves seriously enough to believe that they are necessary and doing the public a service. Give me a break!
Mr. Brown's letter was quite eloquent. It was one of the finest examples of rhetorical nepotism I've ever read!
Jim....can I call you Jim? I aint buying.
From the Co-Moderator [of P-I Talk Yahoo Group]: And Steve Divine as Vice President!
On that political ticket we would begin to see the end to the [LA P.I.] Board's misteatment of us, their walking ATM's....... thanks for your post!
HERE IS HOW IT ALL STARTED:
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 12:20:00 -0600
From: "Jim Brown"
Subject: Response from JIM BROWN
I put forth a concerted effort to read every posting that goes on the PI-Talk site. Some postings are informative; some are thought-provoking and some are so very unprofessional. I suppose it gives the authors a chance to vent their frustrations and to be heard by their peers.
I take personal exception to a recent posting whereas the author stated emphatically that the Board office was simply another bureaucratic governmental entity that was poorly run. I challenge any reader to find another governmental office that has gone through 3 consecutive audits conducted or sanctioned by the Louisiana Legislative Auditors and that has had absolutely NO exceptions reported. That is 6 years of conducting and doing business as it should be done. I could go on and on and give many positive examples as to how the Board office conducts business. I have an idea that most private investigators already know this, so, I will not bore the readers with any further information in this regard.
I was not here when the Private Investigator Statute was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Edwards. I cannot speak with any intelligence or facts as to why the statute was created. BUT!!!! The law is on the books and I am convinced that the law was created so that the citizens of Louisiana could/would be protected from unscrupulous and unethical men and women working as private investigators.
The industry, in my opinion, needs oversight by someone so that action can be taken against those that choose to fleece and bilk the public out of their hard-earned money. Does this mean that ALL private investigators are dishonest, unscrupulous, unethical or otherwise bad people? NO, indeed.........absolutely not....BUT!!! there are those among you that are and they give people in YOUR industry a bad name. This is where the Board and Board office plays a vital role in making certain that those "bad" people in the industry are made to play by the rules and conduct themselves as professionals.
There are, as I write this, a total of 44 states, including the District of Columbia, that regulates the private investigator industry. That means that only 7 states do not regulate private investigators, statewide. I believe some are regulated in cities and counties rather than by the state.
In those 44 states, the regulating authority, by statute, charges fees to become licensed and a fees to renew that license. Please be assured that some states charge higher fees and some charge lower fees. It is my belief that Louisiana falls somewhere in the middle.
Those fees that are charged by the various and sundry states are used by the regulating authority to conduct their business. All private investigators, regardless of the state in which they reside and work, pay those fees so that they have the right, authority and privilege of working as a private investigator. You pay a fee for a drivers license, a marriage license, a concealed weapons permit, a hunting license and various and sundry other licensing fees so that you may participate. YOU have the choice and the right NOT to participate.
Much to the surprise of some of you, those fees become a part of the regulating authority and no longer belong to you. I know that some of you become disgruntled has to how those fees are spent. Understood!!! Please be advised that the Board was not created for YOU, the private investigator and is not here to assist you, help you or otherwise support you. Brutal but honest!!!!
Some of you have been going on and on about the situation in New Orleans and the fact that if you reside and work in Orleans Parish, you are required to be licensed there, TOO. I may be wrong, but it is my belief that if you reside and work as a private investigator in Orleans Parish, it is a requirement that you must get a Parish Occupational License, NOT a private investigators license. Please keep in mind that New Orleans is under a Home Rule Charter and has the right and authority to do what they do in this regard. NOW!!! It is not a Board responsibility or duty to get into a long, drawn-out legal fight with New Orleans on the behalf of private investigators. Can you just imagine what that would cost???. Perhaps the three or four professional private investigator organizations operating within the state could address this issue with the authorities in Orleans Parish. Regardless of your opinions or thoughts in this matter, it is simply not a function of the Board.
It is also NOT a function of the Board to order or tell a police agency how they should conduct their business. If the police authority or agency has a reporting policy for private investigators when working within that jurisdiction, it seems to me that you will just have to comply or take the necessary steps to change that UNWRITTEN policy. NOT a Board function simply because you think it is.
There is an ample supply of postings about the amount of money that the Board has on deposit. Perhaps I can address some of your questions, concerns and consternation. The Board, to my understanding, at one time was conducting business with an extreme low fund balance. When I reported to work in September 1997, the Board had about $85,000.00 in a checking account. Fairly soon after that, the fund balance began to creep up and up. On demand and authority of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, the Board was under an obligation to place some funds in an interest-bearing account, which we did. There are many reasons why the fund balance reached the amounts that it did. Those can be explained BUT not in this format.
If you are one of those people that is paying attention to the Board's budget, you will surely take notice that the fund is slowly going down. There are many reasons for this BUT will not be explained in this format. If you will simply have patience, your wish will certainly come true and the Board's funds will quickly go down. A slush fund......????? Give me a break...No Board money can be spent, ILLEGALLY. A. Edward Hardin, Board Chairman and Financial Officer for the Board, pays extreme close attention, as I do, as to how the funds are expended. Needless to say, someone is watching and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor also watches. I wonder where all the complainers were when the Board had NO money and I wonder if they will complain when the money is all gone???. What is a happy medium??? What will make the complainers happy??? Please don't get me wrong..I know where you are coming from when you see funds expended for reasons that seems ludicrous. Bottom Line.....a concerted effort is made to make certain that this business is operated in a professional and ethical manner.
You may be interested to know that NOT one complainer and griper has made an effort to walk into the Board office and to sit down, one-on one and discuss the issues that seem so irritating to many people. I tend to believe that I could make a difference in some negative attitudes. Give it a try. Perhaps some want to continue "raising cane" and using this format to instigate those that are easily instigated.
You may be interested in knowing that the Board office receives very very few complaints concerning UNLICENSED activity. I tend to believe that we have made an impact in this regard. NO, I do not believe it is nonexistent. I believe is less prevalent that it was. You may also be interested in knowing that the Board office aggressively investigates all complaints received from citizens concerning activity by licensed and unlicensed investigators.
There is posting after posting complaining about the Board's travel habits. The Board considers and approves all Board travel, including mine. A majority of my official travel is attending the conference held twice a year by the International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators. Starting in 2003 only one confernce will be held. Through the Board's membership in IASIR, we have signed eight LIMITED reciprocity agreements and two FULL reciprocity agreements. Other good things have come as a result of the Board's membership in IASIR. Please keep in mind, ALL Board travel is closely scrutinized by the State Auditors.
I am SO aware that this posting will not stop the complainers. I am simply making an attempt to educate some of the readers and to invite those people who have questions to make an effort to find the answers.
I will say this: Be extremely careful what you ask for and make absolutely certain that you actually want what you are seeking. Asking to abolish the Board and the PI Statute has extreme ramifications. There is a professional way to proceed and there is an unprofessional and unethical way to get things done.
A large majority of the 1468 licensed private investigators in Louisiana are very nice, professional and ethical people. At least, the ones I personally know are in that category.
I personally wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a wonderful and prosperous 2003. Working and pulling together, in the same direction, makes the task so much easier to attain. Take a close look at and around you and see if you "own" some of the things that are wrong within your industry. Kind words tend to go a long way. Vicious attacks are supported by very very few of your comrades.
Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners
AND NOW... LENNY VASBINDER'S PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH REPLY TO JIM BROWN.
Dear Jim Brown and PI-Talk,
I am sure most of you, just like me are glad to hear that Jim Brown does indeed read and consider our complaints and concerns about the Board. I don't think that most of us ever actually complained about Jim or his staff. In fact, when it came to "our" attention that some Board Members were trying to oust him, we wrote vigilantly in his favor. It is a shame that he had to throw himself on the sword on behalf of the spineless Board Members. It is the Board Members who ignore our complaints and concerns and waste so much of our money. I am not sure if the actual Board Office is cost effective and efficient, but I do know that for hundreds of years prior to 1993, we did not have to fund another Government office that does not care what the people that fund it think. Jim made it clear several times that his office is there to serve the public, not the P.I.'s, yet it is the P.I.'s that pay the bills! Just another of the typical things that Government does WRONG compared to the private sector.
AFTER ANALYZING HIS COMMENTS AND ATTITUDE, I BECAME MORE AND MORE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM. I will discuss his comments paragraph by paragraph.
Paragraph One - His comment about giving us a chance to "vent" is typical. If the Board had let P.I.'s "vent" in what were supposed to be open meetings, we would not have had to resort to forming forums like this. Our being able to "vent" is one of the big reasons that PI-Talk was formed. Government offices just don't get it!
Paragraph Two - Just because a Government office makes it through an audit is not something to be congratulated.. it is expected! When a Government office does things to lower its costs and reduce the fees/taxes that it charges.. that is to be congratulated! That has not happened in the ten years that the P.I. Board has been around. Suzanne Haik Terrell is one of the few "Politicians" or Government Offices that has actually done this task.
Paragraph Three - He talks of the "unscrupulous and unethical men and women working as private investigators." yet never mentions the "unscrupulous and unethical Board members". There are only seven Board Members and several of them have been indicted and/or sued for their behavior. There are thousands of P.I.'s and I bet as a percentage, our indictment/lawsuit rate is far lower! The reason the Board was formed is the same as so many other "Public Safety Laws"... painted as a picture to protect the Public but then merely used for Revenue Enhancement and Political Appointments in the years and decades following.
Paragraph Four - Of course he feels the industry needs oversight. He would not have his job if he did not feel that way. There were and still are hundreds of laws on the books in every City and Parish that already protected the citizens from someone who tried to "bilk" them out of their "hard earned money". Too bad he does not care about OUR "hard earned money" and how we have been "bilked" also. He complains about the "few" in our industry that give "us" a bad name. I wonder if he ever looks in the mirror of his "industry" (Government) to see how many in his "industry" give them a far worse name! I WILL PUT "OUR" INDUSTRY'S RECORD AGAINST HIS ANY DAY!
Paragraph Five - Unfortunately, State Governments around this great country saw "our" industry as a way of "Revenue Enhancement" which led 44 of them to dipping into our pockets. Fortunately, there are still 7 states that have let their P.I.'s keep "their" money!
Paragraph Six - That is another typical Government attitude. Instead of trying to have the lowest fees/taxes, they are happy with themselves to ride somewhere "in the middle".
Paragraph Seven - All of those "Licenses" that he seems to hold in high regard are just some more of the "Revenue Enhancements" that Government started under the guise of "Public Safety". He did not mention the "Brake Tag/Inspection Sticker" which is one of the worse. I pay my $10.00 a year and haven't had an actual "Inspection" in so long, I don't know what one would actually look like. Same as "Mandatory Insurance" which he does not mention.. started under our MANY CONVICTED INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS.. the latest being Jim Brown (no relation to "our" Jim Brown, of course!). Our Insurance rates are still higher than any other Southern State of similar socio-economic conditions and much higher than the States without "Mandatory Insurance", yet the States without "Mandatory Insurance" actually have a higher percentage of their drivers insured because their rates are almost half of Louisiana's rates. Thank God, "our" Jim Brown says we have the "choice" to keep our jobs as long as we pay the extorted fees/taxes to the Board. I guess he forgot about the two hundred years that we were able to have our jobs without having to pay these extorted fees/taxes. Typical Government attitude. They think it is their good graces that allow us to live, rather than recognizing that they are actually inhibiting our rights to live. Just like with taxes.. it is OUR money, NOT YOURS!
Paragraph Eight - Just another typical Government attitude! HE THINKS IT IS NOT OUR MONEY. IT IS NOW THEIR'S AND THERE ISN'T ANYTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. "BRUTAL BUT HONEST!!!"
Paragraph Nine - Not only is he completely unaware of the "situation in New Orleans", he has the gall to say "Can you just imagine what that would cost???" as if that would be a waste of "our" money. At least that would be using "our" money to make things better for us, rather than worse! New Orleans is so messed up as far as P.I.'s are concerned that it is actually illegal, in some opinions, for a Metairie P.I. to work in New Orleans without a Occupational License and P.I. License from New Orleans. The problem with that is you cannot get an Occupational License without having an office there. I had to "beat" that system for years until the City finally gave up trying to get my money. I did end up establishing an "shell office" in New Orleans and got an Occupational License for $50.00 just so certain Police Agencies would not give me grief. I just got an Occupational License in my business name for "Court Run Service" and whoever decided to check my occupational license could not tell what it was actually for. LOL! The last time I checked with City Hall, P.I.'s were required to get a separate license, undergo a background check and get bonded. Another $500.00 plus in costs that the City is trying to extort from us, of course, in the guise of "Public Safety".
Paragraph Ten - Another typical Government attitude. "That's not my job!"
Paragraph Eleven - He talks about only having "$85,000.00" of "our" money in excess funds, yet Eddie and Steve have regularly stated that they have around $250,000.00 in excess funds. I tend to believe Eddie and Steve in this conflict. Of course, he says the "$85,000.00" was in 1997, which means that he could be agreeing and acknowledging that "we" have been overcharged another $165,000.00 in the past five years. Over $25,000.00 a year, yet when they wanted to cut something back, they cut back the "free" (not really since we already paid for it) Continuing Education Classes which cost "us" $10,000.00 a year (only $25.00 per investigator that utilized that service).
Paragraph Twelve - When did the Board have "NO money". I remember paying my $300.00 or more in 1992 to get my Agency License. Except for Board Actions which may have wasted "our" money in the beginning even worse than today, I don't remember the Board having "No money". Throughout the previous paragraphs and again here he says "...BUT will not be explained in this format." WHY NOT???? And if not here, WHERE???? He then alludes "... that this business is operated in a professional and ethical manner." but a real business does not take money from one person and then tell them it is going to be used for someone else and there is nothing you can do about it. That is a Government attitude!
Paragraph Thirteen - You are right that I am not going to drive to Baton Rouge to complain. My attitude about the worth of this Board, and so many other useless Government Offices, has been made abundantly clear in my postings. I don't think wasting your or my time would really change anything. We are obviously diametrically opposite in our beliefs about what this Government Office actually does.
Paragraph Fourteen - You are right about not receiving very many complaints about unlicensed investigators. I would never tell on the ones I know of and belive me... there are many out there. And the majority of the rest of the public does not even know that P.I.'s are licensed. In the nine years that I carried my "$200.00 plastic coated Dick" as I jokingly referred to my license, I never once had anyone ask me for it. Not in all of my depositions or Court Appearances either. As long as you do a good job, the overwhelming majority of the people do not bother to ask.
Paragraph Fifteen - Of course the Board considers and approves all Board travel... talk about the Fox guarding the Henhouse. Most of the Board Members are too spineless to challenge each other. We were fortunate for Charlene Mora's inadvertent post to PI-Talk where she and other Board Members were pre-determining how money would be spent. Do you really think they would not do the same for Board Travel???? And are you actually proud that in TEN YEARS, the Board has only been able to get into 10 of the 44 States that are Licensed??? If Mississippi had P.I. Laws, the Board would only have a 33% success rate with our bordering states, and then only with Arkansas which is good for the northernmost P.I.'s in the State, but what about all along the Western edge.. Ten years later and still no limited or full reciprocity agreement with Texas. How many tens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on this 33% success rate with neighboring States and 23% success rate with the rest of the country??? And I still say that prior to all of your beloved Boards all over the country, P.I.'s were able to go into all 50 states. 100% reciprocity without Boards... 23-33% with Boards... HMMMMMMMMM.
Paragraph Sixteen - You are right! You merely gave us additional information which legitimizes our complaints. I know you mean well, but you are fighting for the wrong side.
Paragraph Seventeen - I would much rather go back to where all 50 States were open for us to do business, rather than 23-33% of them.
Paragraph Eighteen - So now the majority are very nice, professional and ethical. It took you Eighteen paragraphs to finally say what should have been the focus of your post. Well, I'm sure I don't fall into that category... in your opinion. And I won't lose a bit of sleep because of it!
Paragraph Nineteen - MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND ALL THE OTHER POSTERS AND READERS OF PI-TALK. THERE ARE MY KIND WORDS. LET'S SEE HOW FAR THEY GO WITH THE BOARD. BUT REMEMBER, FOR EVERY COMPLAINT YOU READ ABOUT HERE, THERE ARE TEN TIMES AS MANY THAT DO NOT VOICE THEIR COMPLAINTS. I KNOW THAT FROM THE MANY PRIVATE E-MAIL "DITTO'S" THAT I GET.
Once again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
Lenny Vasbinder, P.I.
P.S. - Jim Brown's post and my reply were sent via e-mail to Governor Foster through his e-mail service on his website. I know PI-Talk cannot be programmed to do this but maybe Eddie or Steve can do this manually so that the Governor will continually get our complaints. Here is the URL for his e-mail service. Unfortunately, he does not have a regular e-mail address that I've been able to find so you have to cut and paste baby! http://www.gov.state.la.us/gov_email.html