Perception is Reality Friday, Feb 29 2008 

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Today I read an article claiming the ethics session may change the perception of Louisiana’s image.   

Perception is reality. 

In politics, and life in general, perception is what people believe — what we see, hear and understand.  Reality, on the other hand, is what is actual or true.

It was amusing to watch the ongoing debate on the $50 meal cap lobbyists can spend on a legislator.  While one legislator amused us with worrying about having to eat their meals at Taco Bell, another legislator asked if they bought a meal for a lobbyist would that be reportable?  A lobbyist replied, “that would be historical.” 

Unfortunately Senator Francis Thompson felt it necessary to make light of proposed ethics laws by asking the new governor to let him know who was the doing the corrupting.  Ironically, Thompson has been questioned for years for potential nepotism in state government.  Thompson is a democrat.

Any way you cut it, the bottom line is that we are moving in the right direction.  That perception was proven today in the New York Times headline “Louisiana Governor Pierces Business as Usual.”  

Doing the right thing is not just about perception.  It’s about action.  Integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking.  True, it will take more than legislative laws to stop corruption; it will take a change of heart and walking the talk.  Let’s not let up.  Let’s continue the push for ethics and do the right thing.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

A Heart for Ethics Tuesday, Feb 26 2008 

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Ethics reform is the order of the day.  One of the proposed bills some may not be aware of is HB 70 authored by Representative Sam Jones of Franklin, La.  HB70 allows public servants to accept a donated organ for use in transplantation — a heart. 

Everyone needs a heart, right?  It’s the beating heart that keeps us among the living and politically correct. 

Right now, a heart for ethics is what all of us aspire to for our state.  Or do we?  I view all the bickering of what should be included in the ethics package at the state capitol and am amused and sometimes saddened that ethics is only important when it applies to someone else.

Politics is the sport of packs.  There are times when it is not prudent to run with the pack.  But this is not the time or place to say ‘let’s break away from the pack.’  It’s time to say ‘me first, I will stand up for what is right even if it costs me, I will pay the price.’ 

I would be remiss to not mention, since this is the capital city, that I have not seen our Mayor-President Kip Holden, come out for ethics reform.  This would not only be admirable, but important to citizens of this parish. 

When Holden gave his 2008 State of the City Address, I was hoping one of his major issues would include ethics since this is a major push for the Jindal administration.  He did not mention the word ethics.

The only time I have seen Holden’s name connected in the same sentence with the word ethics in the past few years was when  Holden asked the Metro Council to pay his interim DPW director a monthly salary despite the fact that he was a legislator and bid on city contracts.  Another time was when his chief administrative officer’s ties to a business that performed services for the parish was questioned by outside sources.  In fact, it took someone other than Holden — councilman Spider Carter — to propose that all board and commission members of EBR Parish undergo mandatory ethics training. 

Shouldn’t ethics begin in the capital city?  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear our Mayor-President stand up and say ‘my office will be the pacesetter’ ?

C’mon Kip, have a heart for ethics!  It’s time.  Judgment begins at the capital city.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

A Place Called Hope Monday, Feb 25 2008 

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“I still believe in a place called Hope.”  Hope IS the anchor of the soul.

Hope, Arkansas has a population of about 10,000.  Two natives from Hope include  42nd president, Bill Clinton, and 44th presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.

Is Hope the birthplace of another “comeback kid?” 

Huckabee and Clinton seem to be polar opposites with the exception of their musical prowess, service as governors of Arkansas, and running for the position of leader of the free world. 

Clinton drowned in controversy for numerous indiscretions including Whitewater,  Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky.  I can still hear him saying “I did not sleep with that woman” and later admitting “yes, I did have an affair with Miss Lewinsky.  I misled people, including my wife Hillary, and I deeply regret that.”  So did we!

Huckabee, on the other hand, is a southern baptist minister, weight loss and health advocate, and married to Janet McCain Huckabee,ironically born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has little controversy other than his affinity to humorous metaphors.

Here are some reasons to take a strong look at Huckabee: 

  • Post-Katrina — Huckabee stood in the fray and rallied the people of Arkansas to come to the assistance of many driven from their homes in Louisiana and on the Gulf Coast
  • 2nd Amendment — Huckabee is a strong advocate of the right to bear arms
  • Roads — Huckabee sponsored the largest road construction package in Arkansas as governor
  • Budget — Huckabee did an excellent job with the budget as governor turning a $200 million deficit into a $800 million surplus
  • Children –Huckabee worked to help low-income families by increasing the number of children covered by health care and put into effect a program called Smart Start that pushed for children to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic
  • School funding — Huckabee worked to make school funding more equal across the board as governor
  • Leadership — when former governor Jim Guy Tucker was charged with fraud, agreed to resign and then tried to rescend his resignation Huckabee stepped forward and showed leadership by forcing Tucker to resign or face impeachment proceedings

Anyway you look at it, there are pros and cons of every candidate.  Huckabee is someone to take a hard look at because he seems to be a man of conviction.  I like his humor, ability to think on his feet, record, stand for christian conservative values and style of leadership. 

No one is perfect, but maybe, just maybe “we can still believe in a place called hope.”

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Strain of Politics Sunday, Feb 24 2008 

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“Competition is part of the free enterprise system” said Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain according to this morning’s newspaper – The Advocate.

In 2003 when former Ag Commish Bob Odom announced that over 690 sugar cane farmers in our state would show another loss due to hurricanes and other conditions, an expert said:  “The sugar mills are feeling the STRAIN too.”  Who knew this was a prophetic statement?

Imperial Sugar suffered at the hands of hurricane aftermaths, high fuel, low sugar cane prices, and other manufacturing woes.  The government did not come to their rescue to offer assistance.  Imperial rebuilt and moved forward.

Since 1960, according to Tommy Thibodaux, manager of Cajun Sugar Cooperative, Inc., the number of sugar mills in Louisiana shrunk from 44 to 11. 

Blanco and her hatchet people voted the sugar cane mill project down at the bond commission last year after Michael Olivier, Secretary of Economic Development, claimed the project would collapse under the weight of debt.  The vote of 9-4 against providing half of the 145 million dollar sugar mill in Avoyelles parish caused the project to fail.

Now with a new republican regime, the approval of a new mill is being authorized in St. John the Baptist parish by the Bond Commission in the amount of 100 million, as well as $30 million to Domino Sugar refinery in Arabi. 

Even though these are my fellow republicans, I still have to ask the question as to why we fund some private enterprises like sugar refineries, Frontier Airlines and Bass Pro and not others? 

I want to see the sugar cane farmers do well, and I’m all for economic development, but have difficulty watching Imperial Sugar, Jim’s Firearms, and other privately owned companies have to make their own way while other businesses are given greater tax incentives, bond issues and special incentives.  Is this the new definition of free enterprise?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Obama-Maniacs Saturday, Feb 23 2008 

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Something about this picture bothers me.  Anyway…

There is a strange movement among democratic circles across the country.  I refer to these Obama followers as Obama-Maniacs.  My father used to say you were known by the company you keep.  Who’s keeping company with Barack Hussein Obama?  Obama-mania club members include an interesting array of characters.

Key words come to mind when considering this first group of Obama-maniacs:

  • Ted Kennedy:  Chappaquiddick
  • Marion Barry:  Cocaine
  • Teamsters:  Jimmy Hoffa
  • Rev. Jessie Jackson:  Rainbow Coalition
  • Gary Hart:  Donna Rice

Of course, there are many others caught up in Obama-mania with more positive word associations (depending upon who you ask):

  • Oprah:  Philanthropic
  • Stephen King:  Popular writer
  • Robert Dinero:  Great actor
  • Maria Shriver:  Journalist
  • Hulk Hogan: Champion

Why does this array of individuals subscribe to Obama-mania?  Perhaps it is his near messianic speeches.  He does have a way with words — especially if they were used by someone else previously.  (Just a little humor based on Hillary’s constant annoyance with Obama’s speech content.) 

You Tube videos of women fainting at the sight of Obama are a good example of Obama-maniacs.  Other newscasts of crowds swooning while Obama speaks remind me of years gone by when girls screamed at the sight and sounds of the Beatles and Elvis – swooning, fainting, grabbing their heads and screaming in derision.  It’s all so emotional and manic – and somewhat disturbing.

What does all of this equate to?  Is it because he is the first viable black candidate for president?  Is it because he is so articulate?  Is it his ability to borrow words from some of history’s most well known speeches?  Or is it because of the promise of hope and change in a world that constantly craves more of something that will ‘make it all better?’  Whatever the reason, I do not subscribe to this fan club and choose to remain republican with my feet planted firmly on the ground.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Right of Passage Tuesday, Feb 19 2008 

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Governor Bobby Jindal called the legislature into an ‘extraordinary session’ — talk about!  ETHICS is the agenda. 

The Louisiana Constitution states that the legislature is a public trust and every effort to realize personal gain through official conduct is a violation of that trust and requires the legislature to enact a code of ethics for public servants.  RS 42:1101

So we begin the session. 

Financial Disclosure.  Conflicts of Interest.  Transparency of Lobbyists.  Improving Ethics, Education and Enforcement.  Transparency and Public Access to Information.  Further combatting fraud and abuse.  Improve Campaign Finance Laws.  Sounds like a plan.

We do want to do the right thing.  We do, don’t we?  Didn’t we agree to full-fledged ethics reform when we, the voters, elected Governor Bobby Jindal? 

Ethics reform will require change.  Change is painful.  We pay now or we pay later.

Plastered on the news are signs of REVOLT against changing the structure of how ethics violations are handled.  They want to ‘study’ it awhile before making changes.  The proposed change would take away some of the power of the Louisiana Ethics Board in that administrative judges would dole out the final decisions on ethics violations vs. the Ethics Board.

I see this ‘extraordinary session’  as a true right of passage for our state.  It’s time to make a real transition.  It’s time for a coming of age.  Let’s not say no just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it around here.”  Let’s say yes to the Ethics agenda and watch our state grow from puberty to real manhood no matter how painful. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Holden’s Great Frontier Debacle Friday, Feb 15 2008 

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At lunch I overheard a business owner say “the parish never invested in my business, why should we invest in businesses like Frontier Airlines?”  Good question.

Today the announcement came through the electronic media that Frontier Airlines would be pulling out of Baton Rouge.  Mayor Kip Holden convinced the Metro Council in January, 2007, to invest up to $1 million if Frontier would fly in and out of the Redstick.  Frontier arrived around August, 2007. 

Our Mayor-President told us less than a year ago that Frontier would create over 3,000 jobs indirect jobs and 2,000 direct jobs for the parish.  He also promised $97 million in new annual earnings and $65 million in direct earnings to East Baton Rouge Parish alone.  Holden also said this investment would net $7 million in new tax revenue to the parish and $26 million to the state over a 10 year period.

Perhaps the Mayor should erase the portion of his state of the city address touting Frontier as one of his major accomplishments for economic development in our parish?  To date, Frontier has received $550,000.  Some are calling this “Holden’s Great Frontier Debacle” while we watch Frontier fly away – permanently. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Art of Jumping the Gun Friday, Feb 15 2008 

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In the world of investments, the art of jumping the gun is defined as trading on information which has not yet been revealed to the public.  Also known as doing something before the appropriate time.

Today I read in The Advocate that the Greater Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce’s PAC (FuturePAC) has endorsed Mayor Kip Holden for the Democratic Primary this fall.  What makes a group endorse a candidate when they don’t even know who the opposition is or the issues for that matter?

The Chamber’s website states that FuturePAC’s decisions to endorse candidates or issues are reached only after rigorous examination by the FuturePAC Board of Directors.  Normally, the process includes each candidate submitting answers to a questionnaire for review by the board.  An interview of the candidate is also in order.  (FuturePAC has endorsed more than one candidate in the past.)  In this case an endorsement was made with no regard for any other candidates that qualify, or announce for that matter.  Although speculation and rumors abound regarding other possible candidates, no one has announced to date except for Holden.  Qualifying does not begin until July.

FuturePAC is sending a message to individuals considering running for the office of Mayor President of East Baton Rouge Parish this fall —“No other candidates need apply.”  The door is closed.  The decision is made.  I call this “the art of jumping the gun.”  Louisiana politics is so predictable.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Every Dog Has His Day Sunday, Feb 10 2008 

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The voters have spoken and Pinnacle is on their way to changing the face of River Road and gaming as we know it in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Gaming is an extremely controversial issue as shown by the passionate arguments of those deeply involved in activities leading up to yesterday’s election. 

Christian conservatives spoke out, rightfully so, against an institution that drains the pocketbooks of families in our parish. 

The more liberal democrat leaders looked past the woes of gaming and pushed for the expansion claiming economic development was more important.  Thousands of jobs, more taxes and a promise of a premier gaming facility with world-class entertainment made sugar plum faeries dance in their heads.

One of the questions we must ask is how this election was affected by politics. 

Mayor Kip Holden said he was not going to lobby for either side, but he pushed Pinnacle and the two existing boats for higher fees shortly before the election.  Ironically, Pinnacle was also invited to be a sponsor of the 100 Black Men’s Gala Banquet last year.  If you read between the lines, Holden took a safe but apparent stand for the new casino since he seemed vague at best about his position on the new gaming development publicly.

Millions of dollars have already poured into our community by Pinnacle in this campaign in an effort to sway the voters to their side.  Consultants, television, radio, newspaper and other vendors such as bus companies were the winners in this election.  One of the consultants against Pinnacle claimed that by the time they attempted to buy radio time they realized it was too late — Pinnacle beat them to the punch.  Likewise the anti-Pinnacle group spent millions.

Politics in East Baton Rouge Parish play a significant role in almost every decision we make in the council chambers.  As they say, money talks and you know what walks.  A great deal of money flowed into pocketbooks in order to buy their way into the hearts of leaders and voters. 

What effect will the new casino have on the voters this fall in the upcoming election for our parish? 

Holden has already gone to great efforts to show his prowess against white christian conservative ministers over his ‘One Baton Rouge.’  This time he refused to take a position publicly against increasing gaming for EBRP.  Conservatives must consider this just another issue when they go to the voting booth this fall.  One thing I know for sure is that in the voting booth every dog has his day. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Internet: Most Thrillicious Media Outlet Tuesday, Feb 5 2008 

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Today’s Media and Advertising section of the New York Times touts You Tube and other state of the art internet vehicles as the most valuable player for this year’s Super Bowl.  

Bob Parsons, chief executive of GoDaddy, wrote Monday on his blog that one spot had been watched online more than two million times on Sunday alone.

In the Red Stick we check our blackberrys and computers for the latest poop from political websites, blogs, and breaking news from local TV and newspaper outlets.  Internet news and advertising seems to slowly be taking the place of old-school media — the printed newspaper.  By the time we break for lunch, restaurants are filled with buzz about morning emails which set the tone for the hot topic of conversation.  The afternoon emails become the new water-cooler talk.

A quick push of the button allows us to share information with our entire email contact list in less than 60 seconds.  Claims have been made that one forwarded email circles the globe in less than 60 minutes.  

Advertising is evolving and the internet has definitely changed the face of political strategies and business branding.  As far as Super Bowl ads go, I definitely vote for one of the most watched ads where Naomi and animated lizards dance to Thriller for SoBe Water.  It’s Thrillicious!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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