As we prepare for the 2012 East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President’s race, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back to 2004 when Kip Holden ran against incumbent Bobby Simpson.
I am a strong believer in reviewing the facts and quoting candidate’s own words. It begs the question.
In 2004, according to The Advocate, mayoral candidate Kip Holden, made the following statements on October 25th while speaking at the Catholic Life Center about incumbent Bobby Simpson:
More than $119 million in this year’s budget has gone to professional service contracts, he said. “We are going to cut it out” and pay officers more.
“When you can see the same conditions that existed four years ago,” then what has been accomplished, he asked. (In reference to Crime, Traffic, Economic Development and Education.)
Fast forward 8 years. If Holden felt Simpson should be replaced based on these 4 major failings, let’s ask the same question he asked:
“When you can see the same conditions that existed four years ago,” then what has been accomplished?”
- Crime is still a major issue.
- Our Education problems are ever-increasing.
- Traffic has improved in some areas; however, it is still a huge problem.
- Economic Development is still not where it should be, and we are spending huge sums to underwrite BRAC’s initiatives that are questionable at best.
So, Mayor Holden, to use your own prolific words, why are we asking the same questions?
Two of the most disheartening issues I find of late (there are so many, but I will zero in on a few for now) include:
Crime and Budget Issues
In 2004, Holden claimed that he would cut out $119 million in professional services contracts. We have a long way to go to make that proposed cut a reality.
A side bar should be made here regarding the fact that not all professional services contracts are clearly spelled out in the budget. Any accountant or CPA worth his salt will tell you how easy it is to hide expenditures in a budget the magnitude of our City-Parish — 513 pages to be precise.
The truth is that spending for the Mayor’s Office in professional services contracts far exceeded what Simpson’s budget called for — this is strictly for the Mayor’s Office alone. Take a look:
- $200,000 – Patton Boggs – lobbying and consulting
- $110,000 – Courson-Nickel – lobbying and consulting
- $100,000 – Truancy (a pass is given on this one as it is sorely needed)
- $100,000 – Red Stick Animation Festival
That is over $500,000 in Contractual Services for the Mayor’s Office only. Contractual Services for the City-Parish make up 19.3% of the EBRP’s budget. (See page 66 of the budget here.)
Finally, the budget for the Mayor’s Office has substantially increased since Holden was initially elected. Let’s review the facts:
- Mayor-President & Administrative Offices (page 78 of the budget):
- 2005: 2,342,060
- 2006: 2,785,780
- 2007: 3,744,280
- 2008: 4,748,700
- 2009: 3,860,040
- 2010: 3,825,570
- 2011: 3,502,520
The numbers speak volumes.
There are some changes on the horizon thanks to the Metro Council. Their plans for 2012 included substantial changes in authorization privileges being moved from the Mayor-President to the Metro Council for certain expenditures. These changes, of course, seriously affected the administration’s budget.
According to the budget, those areas include: Community Sponsored Programs, Economic Development Programs, and Community Centers (see page 76, item w. of the budget for verification.)
As I began, so shall I end.
Mayor-President Kip Holden ran for office in 2004 under the auspices that former Mayor-President Bobby Simpson had not taken hold of Crime, Education, Economic Development and Traffic problems.
In 2012, we should do no less than ask the same very questions that Holden asked:
“…what has been accomplished (to address these issues)…?”
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican