The Livingston Parish School Board is cracking down on snoops that it discovered were listening in on closed meeting by pressing their ears to an air conditioning grate in the lobby.

As the public was ushered out of board’s chambers for the latest executive session meeting, where the board was discussing a lawsuit, they were greeted by a peculiar sound. It came from speakers pumping out “white noise,” like that used to keep the public from hearing bench conferences between judges and lawyers.

Superintendant John Watson said the school system recently purchased new audio equipment and officials were testing out all the bells and whistles. He said it’s unclear if white noise will be used for every future executive session.

The white noise recordings is among the tools viewed as a way to drown out the board’s executive sessions to possible eavesdroppers in the lobby. In the past, snoops have pressed their ears up to an air-conditioning grate to listen in on private sessions, Watson said.

He said it typically happened during expulsion hearings involving multiple students, with friends and families trying to listen in to the various accounts given about incidents.

Question for Livingston drainage board: How much is a bull calf worth?

It’s not every day that a drainage board member is authorized to negotiate the price of a bull calf.

In Livingston Parish, that day was Tuesday.

A bush hog operated by someone with Gravity Drainage District 1 was cutting along a drainage ditch that runs through former Parish Councilman Buddy Mincey Sr.’s property last week, when it ran upon the calf in the tall grass. The calf’s mama had bedded him down near the ditch, and the operator didn’t see him until it was too late.

The district paid the veterinarian bill of $187, but the board was puzzled when it came to calculating the value of the lost mixed-breed.

Do you pay what the calf was worth the day he died? Or what the bull might have brought at auction in his prime? He might have died of other causes by then, the board members reasoned Tuesday during a discussion of what they called “the calf incident.”

Numbers were bandied about, ranging from the $1,900 one board member said Mincey had proposed to the couple hundred dollars another board member said the calf might have been worth before years of additional investment could turn him into a profitable steer.

Ultimately the board chose to have member David Provost, who lives up the road from Mincey, negotiate a fair settlement.

The “not to exceed” price cap was set at $700.

Denham Springs councilman takes hands-on approach in contract vote

A Denham Springs councilman convinced city leadership to hold off on a contract vote, saying he cold-called a competitor 45 minutes before Tuesday’s meeting and got a better tentative quote over the phone from a business that did not submit an official bid.

Since retaking his council seat in January, Robert Poole has on several occasions expressed displeasure when the city has put a job out for bid and gotten only one response, asking if the city is paying competitive rates when only one company submits a quote.

Tuesday, both projects that had been put our for bids returned with only one quote. City Council approved the first — roughly $50,000 annually for facility environmental and mechanical systems maintenance.

The second contract was for generator maintenance, and the city received one bid for $4,400 annually. Poole told the council he picked a number out of his phone book and called another company in the parish, which gave him an estimate over the phone that was “drastically different” — and cheaper — than the official bid.

It created a conundrum for the council, because, as Mayor Gerard Landry explained, the city followed the law and its own policy for advertising the job.

Ultimately, Poole moved to table the issue and got a quick second from Councilman Chris Davis. Councilman Rene Delahoussaye also voted in support, while Lori Lamm-Williams and Jeff Wesley voted against tabling the matter.

The issue has been successfully pushed back, but it is unclear what effect the maneuver will have, since council did not vote to put the contract back out for bid. The next opportunity to take up the matter will come at the Council’s July 27 meeting.

Advocate staff writers Steve Hardy and Heidi Kinchen contributed to this article