Ethics: Temple of Doom Saturday, May 31 2008 

Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom portrayed undertones of child slavery and destructive cult rituals.  The Red Stick Temple of Doom overseen by Collis Temple seems like a bad rendition of a cult classic.  Concerns continue to be raised in the media.

Collis Temple is considered somewhat of an icon in the Red Stick.  Temple was the first black athlete to wear an LSU basketball jersey.  It was ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich’s father who played a major role in bringing Temple to the forefront of sports.  Standing six feet eight inches, Temple went on to play professional basketball briefly until he decided to give back to the Red Stick community.

In 1987, Temple opened the privately operated non-profit Harmony Center created for foster children and mentally disabled adults.  Great idea.  According to The Advocate, Harmony has a two-year contract with the state of Louisiana’s Office of Youth Development for $5.9 million to provide halfway houses for juvenile offenders.  That’s a lot of dough!

In February of 2008, Temple was chosen to serve on a four person panel to choose who heads the Juvenile Prison System that makes the final decision on the very contracts he receives.  The Advocate wrote an article raising concerns on this issue.  Temple’s response was ‘they asked me, I did not ask to be on the committee’.  Of course, he could have declined, but chose to remain on the committee given the obvious conflict.

In January of 2008, Temple took Jindal staffer Timmy Teepel, Business Report Editor Rolfe McCollister and James LeBlanc, director of the Office of Public Safety and Corrections on a revealing tour of the Jetson Youth Center where Temple and McCollister ‘revealed’ information regarding disturbing events of sexual misconduct and brutality – allegations that currently have the Louisiana legislature considering potential closure of the facility.  Now, Temple’s facilities are under similar allegations. 

Today, and last October, arrests were made due to alleged rapes that occurred at two different Harmony Centers run by Temple, according to The Advocate.

Temple also faces ethics charges on an ethical conflict of interest due to the fact that he serves as Chairman of the Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission (BREC) board while his wife and father-in-law receives money for services provided to BREC, according to The Advocate.  That firm, headed by his family, is under fire for $17,000 worth of unemployment compensation that never found its way to the Department of Labor.  Temple declined to vote on the call for filing a lawsuit against the company.

Ethics is always an issue in state government, for board and commission members, and city government.  Watch for more information on potential ethics and conflict of interests in the Temple of Doom in the upcoming mayoral election!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Hurricane Mitch is Brewing Friday, May 23 2008 

In 1998 Hurricane Mitch was one of the deadliest and powerful Atlantic hurricanes in history killing 11,000 and leaving 8,000 missing with 75 inches of rain.  Rarely does a hurricane receive the same name ID. 

Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu was inaugurated as Lt. Governor in January.  At that time no one had a clue that he might move into the #1 position as Governor of the State of Louisiana.  Some say Hurricane Mitch is brewing.

If Governor Bobby Jindal is enticed to join presidential candidate John McCain, it could be the only way a Landrieu could finally win the coveted seat of Governor this long time political family has only dreamed of in Louisiana.  The Landrieu family has been involved in Louisiana politics since 1950.

The election or appointment of the #2 position in any branch of government or business is paramount.  If anything happens to the #1 person, they are succeeded by their ‘right hand man’. 

Landrieu is a household name in politics.  Patriarch, Moon Landrieu, served as a judge, a member of the legislature and eventually mayor of New Orleans.  Mitch’s sister, Mary Landrieu served in the legislature, on the board of education and currently is a senator in the U.S. Congress.  Mitch served as state Representative in the Louisiana legislature and is currently serving his second term as Lt. Governor of Louisiana. 

The Landrieu political legacy runs deep in Louisiana politics.  Keep an eye on this brewing storm.  It might be a history maker.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

 

Political Freakonomics Wednesday, May 21 2008 

Which is more dangerous, a politician or a contributor?  No, that’s not a question in Levitt’s Freakonomics book, but it might as well be since his principles definitely apply to the political world.

Steven Levitt, an economist, and Stephen Dubner, a writer and journalist, came together last year to write the best-seller Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.  The book is a must read.

Levitt makes you think.  Hard.  His approach is a somewhat complex, but simple theory that reveals the domino effect behind many events.  While exploring hidden explanations, the authors ask ‘unasked questions’.  After all, it’s not always the questions we ask, but the questions we do not ask that matter.  A good detective asks the right questions. 

I am intrigued by Levitt’s insight on incentives.  He asks how do people get what they need or want when others need or want the same things.  This is a key concept in politics.  Thus Political Freakonomics is born, at least for me.

For instance:  Kip Holden was elected as Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish.  Holden and others go to elaborate detail explaining how he won.  Like all political campaigns, theories abound and the non-participants take credit.  (I define non-participants as the disillusioned individuals who choose to live in denial by believing they were the tipping point in an election.)  There is almost always a little truth in what we believe.  But if we press forward, and ask the right questions, we might be surprised at what is uncovered.

Holden wants us to believe he was elected mayor because he has crossover appeal and presented a message that crossed racial, gender and age barriers.  The political freakonomics question is:  WHO was behind the election of Kip Holden?  The answer is simple.  Baton Rouge Next, and some extremely talented political consultants that made a firm decision to remove former mayor Bobby Simpson from office.  They created a campaign called “Anybody But Bobby” and an aggressive political campaign to unseat him.  The field was broad and as it narrowed, Holden won the support of BR Next and became our mayor.

Now that’s what I call Political Freakonomics!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mayor Holden & Governor Jindal at Odds Sunday, May 18 2008 

In the right corner standing tall is newly elected Governor Bobby Jindal who is eliminating the Stelly Tax and developing a plan to do away with state income tax for Louisiana citizens. 

In the left corner stands short-sighted Mayor-President Kip Holden who backed the original Stelly Tax and plans to raise taxes significantly in the upcoming fall election.

Each man is in the fight of their life.  They are polar opposites.  Jindal is conservative.  Holden is liberal.  Two completely different men at odds due to their core beliefs and values.

Jindal, a republican, seeks ethics reform, believes life begins at conception, and that marriage is between a man and woman.

Holden, a democrat, seeks a liberal agenda, argued for abortion and pushes One Baton Rouge, a liberal movement touting the gay lifestyle.  Holden has even thumbed his nose at local church leaders in an effort to attack them for not supporting his One Baton Rouge liberal lifestyle agenda.

The people of Louisiana and the Red Stick have spoken in the Governor’s race.  They chose a candidate with conservative values that would move our state and parish forward.

This fall the voters will have another opportunity to make a choice.  They can re-elect a spend-thrift liberal OR look for a candidate closer to their values that will move the Red Stick forward.

Mayor-President Kip Holden ran against former mayor Bobby Simpson claiming he did not address our traffic problems and reduce our crime.  Holden’s promise to solve these issues have not been accomplished.    

Holden, in fact, has turned over the reigns of city parish government to his right hand man, Walter Monsour.  Meanwhile, Holden seems to find his rightful place at festivals, special events, hot lunch spots, jaunting around the country to conferences, or searching for ways for taxpayers to fund his special interest projects in preparation for his re-election. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

 

Elections: Sorting Out the Truth Sunday, May 11 2008 

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Elections can be difficult and challenging for voters.  Media reports and campaign rhetoric are often difficult to sift through to determine truth from lies.  Candidates portray their self as quintessential saviors promising to calm the troubled waters and rescue voters from all of their woes.  Opponents paint each other as evil souls with pasts that would make serial killers look like saints. 

What’s a voter to do?

If the candidate served in an elected capacity previously, research their record.  If the candidate is ‘new’ to the political process, research their life.  Sounds simple enough.  Another key for voters is going with their gut feeling.  Instinct is a powerful thing.

Other resources are available including organizations and groups that spend inordinate amounts of time researching issues, voting records and platforms of candidates.  Use those resources wisely based on your personal philosophy, beliefs and desires for a better quality of life for your community.  A few resources include:

  • Project Vote Smart:  Researches the backgrounds, campaign contributions, voting records, and public statements of candidates. 
  • Family Research Council:  Dedicated to family, the promotion of marriage and the sanctity of life, the FRC researches candidates based on conservative family values.
  • Louisiana Family Forum:  Biblical-based group committed to researching and presenting the facts of issues based on biblical principles.  LFF provides candidate ‘report cards’ rating candidates based on their voting records, personal and political beliefs.
  • Louisiana Board of Ethics:  Administers the laws surrounding ethics, conflicts of interest, campaign finance, and disseminating that information to the public.  Following the money by viewing each candidate’s financial expenditures and contributions can be very revealing.
  • Louisiana Legislature:  Contains detailed information on Louisiana laws, bills introduced, and voting records of candidates that serves as state Senators or Representatives.
  • The Advocate:  The Red Stick’s local daily newspaper provides current and historical data regarding political candidates, quotes and events surrounding campaigns. 
  • Baton Rouge Report:  The Red Stick’s premier business publisher of several publications providing information on business, current events and political happenings.  Their publications include the Baton Rouge Business Report, The Daily Report,  225 Magazine, and upcoming 1012 Magazine.
  • Other websites and political blogs are also outlets to view opinions and facts on candidates, political races and current issues surrounding proposed voter issues are a dime a dozen.  Some of my favorites are included on the left side of this page in my Blogroll list.

Remembering that each group and individuals is biased to their own conservative or liberal beliefs, voters can still learn a great deal by perusing the research, political and news sites listed above.  You can always visit the Louisiana republican or democrat websites, but take into account that they are pushing their party in lieu of the best interest of the people.  It certainly helps you to think out of the box and sort out the truth!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Mayoral Spider Web Tuesday, May 6 2008 

Wayne ‘Spider’ Carter, EBR Parish metro council member, announced yesterday he will run for Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish in the upcoming fall election against Kip Holden.

Spiders are famous for weaving storm-resistant webs trapping their prey with ease.  Research is currently underway to replicate the silk weave of a spider for bullet-proof vests.  Amazingly powerful.

Carter has been a strong opponent of current Mayor-President Kip Holden on many fronts.  Having the inside information as a metro council member for the past 8 years, ‘Spider’ has been in the know of all city parish budgets, decisions and behind-the-scene scuttlebutt the average citizen does not have the pleasure, or displeasure, of knowing.

Love him or hate him, one thing you can definitely say about Wayne ‘Spider’ Carter is that he will stand against the political powers that be to speak up for what he believes.  Carter has become the target of current Mayor-President Kip Holden’s wrath on more than one occasion.  Spider still stood his ground.

What really counts are the citizens and voters of EBR Parish.  Voters are always seeking out a candidate that is willing to withstand the storms of politics regardless of the outcome.  Carter may just be that man.  A former bull-rider who has worked hard as a laborer and now lives the American dream as a successful business owner. 

Carter says he plans to address the most pressing concerns of EBR Parish citizens that affect our quality of life that Holden has not adequately addressed including a rising crime rate and traffic woes.  Spider also said he plans no new taxes and to turn around Holden’s wasteful spending habits.  A time that has come.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The ‘Real One Baton Rouge’: EBRP Metro Police Monday, May 5 2008 

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Consolidating the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office should be one of the major focuses in the upcoming election for Mayor-President of EBR Parish this fall. 

States across the U.S. are learning that the integration of law enforcement agencies have proven, positive results – it increases efficiency, provides for better service to the public and improves the ability to fight crime.

Agencies that work ‘together’ are good, but agencies that are merged become more effective and monies are spent more wisely avoiding duplication of services. 

Public safety in East Baton Rouge Parish is a major concern to residents with an ever-increasing crime rate.  Murders are up.  Home invasions are up.  The first ten minutes of the nightly news and the morning newspaper gives us a peak into not only what is happening across this parish, but what to expect in the future.

It is apparent that current Mayor-President Kip Holden has no plans to merge agencies at this time even though it would be an obvious improvement on all fronts.  Holden is pro-union and the BR Police Department falls under union guidelines while the EBR Sheriff’s Office does not.  This will be an argument Holden will use to fight a metro police force since he is so heavily influenced by local unions.

Merging law enforcement agencies would provide the citizens of EBR Parish with advantages such as :

  • Streamlining and improving communication by combining emergency, dispatch and records
  • Increasing effectiveness and response time by creating one major jurisdiction negating the need to cross-deputize officers – allowing the pooling of resources and improvement of parish-wide coverage
  • Uniting law enforcement under one umbrella guaranteeing a stronger team effort and increased effectiveness
  • Generating one mission, one philosophy and one culture for parish-wide law enforcement
  • Addressing the issue of pay inequity among law enforcement personnel by bringing officers in both agencies to comparable levels avoiding personnel from ‘force-hopping’
  • Laying the groundwork for more effective community policing and stronger uniformed patrol presence in neighborhoods
  • Creating a forum for more effective training among all law enforcement personnel
  • Reducing duplicating costs over time

A Metro Police Feasibility Committee should be set up immediately to include stakeholders.  This should not be a ‘political’ group, but a visionary group of business leaders, community activists and experienced law enforcement personnel that will see both the big picture and the details that will be effected by this merging. 

Outside of education, is there anything more important to the citizens of EBR Parish than public safety?  Now is the time.  THIS is the ‘real one Baton Rouge’!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Creation vs. Evolution Friday, May 2 2008 

Far be it for me to challenge a professor.  Oh, why not?

To the author of the letter to the editor of The Advocate on May 1, 2008 entitled “Creationism effort might backfire” I would say:

 

 

Consider this:

 

 

You have grossly underestimated the power of God.  The Lord is mighty, all his wonders to behold.  His ways are far above our ways.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He knit us in our mother’s womb.  He numbered the hairs on our head, and counted the days of our life in advance of our first breath.  The Lord is so much larger than we give him credit for – he is the Alpha and the Omega. 

 

God spoke through a burning bush, and an ass for that matter.  He caused a man to part the Red Sea with the wave of his hand and fed the masses with a few loaves of bread and fish. 

 

It is not the mind of man that is won by God, but the heart of man.  No classroom subject can change that fact. 

 

When the spirit of God tugs at your heart – no education, book, teaching, debate or person can detract from the drawing power of the Lord.  Faith is not perceived by the mind, but by the heart. 

 

When we understand the true heart of God, we can safely stand among men and say ‘whatever man teaches will never take away from the teachings of the word of God.’ 

 

I am not afraid of what man can do or say.  I am only afraid that when I hear the truth that I will not beckon to his call. 

 

With all due respect to those who are ‘concerned’ about teaching creationism alongside evolution, do not be dismayed.  The Lord, our God, is more powerful than we give him credit for in our finite minds.

 

Until next time,

 

Red Stick Republican 

 

 

Referenced letter to the editor from The Advocate – May 1, 2008: 

OPINION:  Creationism effort might backfire

Believers in creationism are going down a slippery path proposing teaching it alongside evolution in the science classroom.

Consider this: 

Daughter to father: “Dad, there is no scientific data or evidence for creationism; it is all about belief. The bone information alone supporting evolution is overwhelming. You can propose a scientific hypothesis concerning an evolution issue and test it using existing geological evidence or do a microbiological laboratory experiment. You can’t do that with creationism.”

Clearly, she has been applying critical thinking skills, logical analysis and having open and objective discussion about each concept side-by-side.

The father answers: “The Bible says the Earth and all the living creatures within were created in six days.”

She responds: “But Dad, created in six Earth days is wrong. The geological evidence shows it took millions of years of continuous evolution to get the present living forms.”’

Father: “The words in the Bible were written by men inspired by God, they must be true.”

Daughter: “We discussed that issue. There is no scientific test for God-inspired writers of literature. And written words themselves allow no scientific hypothesis testing.”

There is a long pause, then she continues: “Dad, why did our state leaders allow creationism to be taught alongside evolution in science class? Each test put to creationism fails when the scientific method is used. Dad, I am now questioning my beliefs about God and the Bible.”

The science classroom is not a flat playing field for religious ideas. The odds are that side-by-side study will compromise spiritual beliefs, and any religion taught will not produce creationists.

As they say, be careful what you ask for.

Louis Thibodeaux
professor
Baton Rouge