Friday, July 21, 2017

Resources for fighting back in family court

"There is a national crisis for women and their children in the family law courts of this country. Affirmed by experts and leaders in the women’s movement, the existence of this crisis is verified by women in every state who report injustice in their family law cases, especially battered mothers trying to protect their children from abusive fathers who aggressively litigate against them, using family court to stalk, harass, punish, and impoverish their former partners and children. NOW recognizes this crisis for women and their children and seeks to address discrimination against women in family courts.

The information presented here has been compiled by the National NOW Family Law Advisory Ad Hoc Committee. Created in April 2004, this all-volunteer committee is comprised of parents, grandparents, activists, paralegals, organizers, attorneys, and advocates from across the nation devoting their collective experience and expertise in family law and navigating the family court system to NOW’s work in promoting justice and equality for women."

Click here to access resources available from the National Organization for Women. 

Click here to join the N.O.W. Shreveport-Bossier Chapter.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Caddo Parish: Take Down the Confederate Monument Now

I am one of five authors of the petition to remove the Confederate monument from the courthouse & place it at a designated historic site or museum. The Caddo Parish Commission was considering what to do with the Confederate monument long before our petition was created, and we appreciate their dedication to peacefully resolving this challenging issue.

Since becoming involved in this effort, I have learned a lot about this statue, its history, and its supporters – primarily from historians, lawyers, students, elected officials, current and former Caddo Parish residents, and white supremacists.

I’ve learned that on June 18, 1903, white citizens in Caddo Parish were violently resisting implementation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, so Caddo Parish commissioned this monument commemorating the last stand of the Confederacy in Louisiana.

I’ve learned that in 1949, just two years before the Confederate flag was added to the statue, the Ku Klux Klan staged a “third re-activation” in the South, and began to use the flag as its emblem of racial bias. The Klan targeted Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana to become a central hub of its activities, and its chapters multiplied throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. By 1961, there were at least four chapters of the Klan in the Shreveport area, totaling over 1,000 members, with three additional chapters about to be chartered. The Confederate Flag flew for 60 years in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse, and was finally removed for good in 2011, due to an overwhelming 11 - 1 vote by our representatives at the Caddo Parish Commission.

I’ve learned that “there is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it….(Confederate) statues were…erected….as part of…The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity….It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America; they fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.” (Mitch Landrieu)

I’ve learned that Confederate “monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for. After the Civil War, (Confederate) statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who (is) still in charge in this city.” (Mitch Landrieu)

To quote Mayor Mitch Landrieu: “To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future…History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it.”

I’ve learned that the most vocal - and dangerous - defenders of the Confederate statues are white supremacists. White supremacists say things like, “I’m not a racist, but…” or “I’m in the militia, but I’m not a racist,” or “We need to tear down the MLK statue – but I’m not a racist,” or “I have black friends,” or “I’ll defend the Confederate monument with my AK47.” They desperately cling to oversized granite reminders of their long-lost superiority, which they refer to as their “history.” 21st century ideals of racial and social equality are a serious threat to their fragile existence.

I’ve learned that I am completely incapable of comprehending the fear, anxiety and horror that people of color have endured in the South for hundreds of years. After only two weeks of being under attack by white supremacists, I am depressed, scared, and exhausted. Being able to survive generations of this brutal treatment is beyond my scope of understanding. White people are completely incapable of understanding the American Black experience. Completely. Incapable.

I’ve learned that white people owe our hearts, minds and power to fighting for FULL RACIAL EQUALITY under the law. We owe a debt to our Black neighbors that can NEVER be fully repaid. White supremacists live and breathe to keep Black people scared, broken and subservient. We who have the ability (and our "sacred" white privilege) must forever banish racist lawmakers, law-breakers and terrorists from our civilized society in the name of love and human decency.

Removing Confederate monuments is a good start. But in order to eliminate white supremacy from our midst, we must completely flush out this evil from our state legislature, our courthouses, our neighborhoods, our schools, our places of worship...we must commit to calling out white supremacy EVERY TIME WE WITNESS IT. Without exception.

White supremacists have no moral compass or empathy; they will sacrifice everything to keep their perceived power over Black people. While there are many more of us than there are them, we must never underestimate their willingness to martyr themselves for their "Lost Cause."

If you would like to sign the petition to remove the Confederate statue at the Caddo Parish Courthouse, please sign here or email the Caddo Parish Commission at


Monday, January 23, 2017

New ERA bill introduced in Congress

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 

Cardin Measure Would Immediately Revive Consideration of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

*As hundreds of thousands of Americans prepare to attend the Women’s March on Washington, Senator urges national guarantee of full equality*

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today announced the formal reintroduction of a resolution, S.J. Res. 5, to immediately revive the consideration of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which needs to be ratified by only three additional states to ensure our Constitution finally guarantees full and equal protections to women. Senator Cardin’s ERA resolution has the active support of the ERA Coalition, an umbrella organization comprised of dozens of civil and human rights organizations. The reintroduction comes just days before hundreds of thousands of women and men are expected in our Nation’s Capital for the Women’s March on Washington. Senator Cardin plans to participate in the march with three generations of Cardin women: his wife, daughter and granddaughters.

“I think many Americans would be shocked to find out that the U.S. Constitution still lacks a provision ensuring gender equality. Think about that: in 2017, women lack the same constitutional protections as men. This is clearly wrong and needs permanent correction,” said Senator Cardin. “America was built on the promise of equal rights. Our history is defined by groups struggling to achieve full equality under the law.  It’s long past time for us to recognize the equality of women in our fundamental governing documents.”

When Congress proposed the ERA in 1972, it provided that the measure had to be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38) within seven years. This deadline was later extended to 10 years by a joint resolution enacted by Congress, but ultimately only 35 out of 38 States had ratified the ERA when the deadline expired in 1982. To put that in context, in 1992, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits immediate Congressional pay raises, was ratified after 203 yearsSenator Cardin’s legislation would immediately remove the ratification deadline and revive the consideration of the ERA by the states.

The Equal Rights Amendment is slightly longer than two tweets but would finally give women full and equal protection under the Constitution. It reads as follows:
  • Section 1.  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
  • Section 2.  The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  • Section 3.  This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

“Article V of the Constitution contains no time limits for ratification of amendments, and the ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution, not the actual text of the amendment. The Senate could pass my legislation removing the 10-year deadline right now,” said Senator Cardin.  “I hope that the Majority Leader will bring this legislation up for a vote because American women deserve to know that their most fundamental rights are explicitly protected by our nation’s most venerated document. And what better way to set a positive tone for a new Congress and presidential administration than to take clear steps to fix a long-standing slight to America’s women.”

The amendment gives power to Congress to enforce its provisions by appropriate legislation, and the amendment would take effect two years after ratification.

“Today, nearly half of the states in America have a version of the ERA written into their state constitutions. In Maryland, my home state, the constitution reads that ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex,’” said Senator Cardin. “Those sentiments also represent the present-day views of the vast majority of people across America and are the spirit that underpins this legislation.  Congress should give the states another chance to ratify the ERA and correct this historical injustice.”

Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) will once again introduce the House companion version of this legislation shortly. Senator Cardin’s legislation is part of a two-track approach to ERA ratification, with Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) also preparing to introduce legislation to revive consideration of the ERA. As Senator Cardin’s resolution would remove the deadline for states to ratify the ERA, which has already been ratified by 35 states, Senator Menendez’s resolution would begin the process anew, giving all states a fresh opportunity to voice their support for women’s equality.

The 20 senators listed below have joined Senator Cardin’s resolution as original co-sponsors. Additional cosponsors will be added during upcoming legislative days.

Sen Baldwin, Tammy [D-Wisc.]
Sen Booker, Cory A. [D-N.J.]
Sen Brown, Sherrod [D-Ohio] 
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [D-Calif.] 
Sen Franken, Al [D-Minn.]
Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-N.Y.]
Sen Kaine, Tim [D-Va.]
Sen Klobuchar, Amy [D-Minn.]
Sen Markey, Edward J. [D-Mass.]
Sen Menendez, Robert [D-N.J.] 
Sen Merkley, Jeff [D-Ore.]
Sen Reed, Jack [D-R.I.]
Sen Sanders, Bernard [I-Vt.]
Sen Stabenow, Debbie [D-Mich.]
Sen Udall, Tom [D-N.M.]
Sen Van Hollen, Chris [D-Md.]
Sen Warner, Mark R. [D-Va.]
Sen Warren, Elizabeth [D-Mass.]
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-R.I.]
Sen Wyden, Ron [D-Ore.]

Friday, January 20, 2017

Louisiana Anthology Podcast: Episode 192.

January 19, 2017

We talk to Debbie Lynn Hollis and Lamar White about how to remain hopeful and active in the present political situation.

Debbie has organized a Women's March in Shreveport/Bossier for this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. It will take place at the Caddo Parish Courthouse, 501 Texas St., Shreveport, LA 71101.

 Lamar White also joins us to discuss how to have a positive impact during the coming era. They both recommend finding a way to connect to others. 

 Lamar works through his blog CenLamar and the Democratic Party. Debbie works with NOW and Works in Progress Louisiana.

Working with others both keeps our hopes up and helps change for the better.

Listen here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New Government Accounting Rules to Shine a Light on Corporate Tax Breaks

States and local governments that enter into tax-abatement agreements with businesses and others will soon be required to disclose more information to the public, as the result of new nationwide accounting rules that go into effect in 2017.

Under the new rules, state and local governments must report all economic development incentives as foregone tax revenue beginning with their fiscal year 2017 annual financial reports. Specifically, governments will have to disclose the gross dollar amount of corporate tax breaks for economic development and similar activities, any commitments agreed upon, and how the government will get the money back (clawback) if the goals are not achieved, among other things.

The amount of foregone tax revenues for tax deals with businesses and others is significant, with estimates for 2012 exceeding $80 billion.

The new rules from the Government Accounting Standards Board are designed to encourage transparency while “provid[ing] citizens and taxpayers, legislative and oversight bodies, municipal bond analysts, and others with information they need to evaluate the financial health of governments, make decisions, and assess accountability.”

Business tax abatements usually reduce tax revenues to local governments, which often turn to nonprofits to make up the some of the difference by demanding taxes, fees, or payments in lieu of taxes.

The new government disclosure rules should enable nonprofits to demonstrate their value to communities in comparison to economic deals struck by local policymakers.

More info here.
Source:  National Council of Nonprofits

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Louisiana's SB 461 will protect families who are abused by the family court system

Sen. Troy Carter has proposed SB 461 this session.  This bill, if it becomes law, will change EVERYTHING that caused my son's father to abuse us via the court system for 16 years, and eventually steal him away from me for three years.

The bill eliminates a well-hidden aspect of the overt corruption in our family courts: the ability of wealthy, well-connected people to pick and choose
custody "evaluators" and "mental health professionals" who will do whatever is required to secure custody for the parent who had them hired by the judge. 

The bill is currently in committee.  You can email the committee members and encourage them to approve the bill.  After they approve it, they will forward it to the legislature for a full vote.  If approved by the full House and Senate, the bill will then go to the governor's desk to be signed into law. 

PLEASE contact your state legislators and tell them to vote FOR this bill.

Children and parents experiencing painful family separation deserve this protection from Louisiana's corrupt, vile, one-sided court system!

Following is the email I sent to my legislators and the committee.  You are welcome to use/modify it as you wish:


First, thank you for your service to our state. This has been an especially difficult year for Louisiana, and I appreciate your tenacity and willingness to go the extra mile for your constituents.

Second, I would like to encourage you to support Sen. Troy Carter's SB 461.

As the mother of a son who endured 16 years of family court abuse in Louisiana, I am hopeful that this legislation will eventually reverse the widespread corruption and overt graft in our state's district courts.  This bill represents the only glimmer of hope for systemic improvement and progress in an otherwise notoriously corrupt family court system.

My son's father is an attorney here in Shreveport, and I cannot begin to tell you how harshly he abused my son, me, and the system by using his unfettered access to personal friends who are also court officials.  You are welcome to read a sample of our horrific court transcripts here:

Over the years, countless parents across the region have contacted me about their similar painful experiences with custody/divorce trials, and several of us have started a support group for people who have lost children via the courts and their faulty use of unqualified, prejudiced mediators and court-appointed "experts." NOTE: Parents in our group were never reported to or investigated by the Department of Children & Family Services.  Our experiences are all the result of intentional abuse by and through the court system via a circle of attorneys/mediators/judges who have a well-documented history of working together to manipulate the 1st Judicial District court to their financial and personal advantage. In addition, each parent in our group was found 100% fit to rear our children upon being evaluated by independent licensed psychological professionals, despite the findings of court-appointed mediators and judges during the course of our trials.

This type of abuse is rampant and unchecked here in the 1st Judicial District; there is no evidence that other districts in our state operate any differently.

This bill, as I understand it, eliminates a portion of the overt corruption in our family courts: the ability of wealthy, well-connected people to pick and choose custody evaluators and mental health "professionals" who will do whatever is required to secure custody for the parent who (literally) had them hired by the judge.

It also forbids ex parte communication between the court and the mediators, as well as eliminating many other prejudicial practices I have personally witnessed in the courtroom while fighting to rightfully maintain custody of my own son for 16 years.

I encourage you to approve this bill as it is written, and send it for a full vote of the legislature.

Children and parents experiencing painful family separation deserve this legal protection from Louisiana's corrupt, one-sided family court system. 

I trust that you will do what is best for our state's children and families.

Many thanks,
Debbie Hollis
(Address, Phone)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Popular Austin singer/songwriter Julieann Banks returns home to North Louisiana to release new album!

Julieann Banks is coming home to Shreveport after scoring big in Austin -
and YOU can help her launch her new album!

A well-known musician among musicians, Julieann Banks has worked professionally as a bassist and vocalist for popular Austin bands including The Austin Lounge Lizards, The Cosmic Americans (with Earl Poole Ball and Casper Rawls), and with notable performers like Leeann Atherton, Patterson Barrett and more.  She has toured nationally with show bands Rotel & the Hot Tomatoes and The Big Time, and performed with her own award-winning bands, Apaches of Paris and The Activates.

"Julieann Banks’ alternative country musical stylings include songwriting, singing and guitar-playing in a blend of Texas Americana, folk, rock and country, with a streak of blues and gospel for good measure. The edgy, electric emotion of her songs and singing are probably what earns her awards such as Austin Music Magazine’s “Best Female Vocalist Rock,” one of the Top Ten in South by Southwest Austin Chronicle Music Awards’ “Best Songwriter,” and Austin’s Local Flavor Music Magazine’s “Best Pipes,” among many others."

Her new album is the next step in Julieann's career.

She writes:

"I’d like to start playing more nationally, with an eye toward international touring to promote the new (album).  So many people have expressed interest in my new songs when I perform them, but I have no product to sell.  I want to let new and old fans know I’m still at it and I want them to hear my new works.

So much of what we hear and are exposed to (in) media, on television, and radio – is multi-track trickery.  It’s impersonal and digitally “created” and enhanced to the point where it has no human connection. 

I’d like to return to an acoustic “warts and all” method of live recording, like the way Neil Young recordings sound.  Like the Cowboy Junkies recording where they are all gathered at certain distances around one, or very few, mics in a large church.  I’m very excited about staying true to a minimalist approach on this recording..."

How much does Julieann need to complete her project?

Studio rental, engineering, mixing - $2250.00
Musicians' fees - $1500.00
Album artwork + reproduction costs - $1464.00

Works In Progress Louisiana investment - $4000.00
Presales of album + artist's contribution- $1214.00

Total cost of project - $5214.00
How can I help?

Julieann submitted a written request for $4000.00 to Works In Progress Louisiana for this project.  Our Board of Directors met with her, performed our due diligence, and approved her request for funding.

Artists, musicians, designers and writers can't visit the local bank to apply for a loan for a creative concept.  This can be a career-ending problem for creative professionals.

A recent article in The Times featured Julieann, and pointed out the many challenges faced by North Louisiana musicians - including finding funding for new projects, and sustaining a creative career in a region that doesn't understand that musicians are also serious businesspeople.

Now, thanks to Works In Progress Louisiana, YOU have the opportunity to engage with creative workers like Julieann at the onset of new projects - supporting work that is fresh and experimental in nature, and for which other funding is not available.