This morning The Advocate  issued an Opinion regarding the lack of transparency in state government in regard to a $134 million tax incentive to draw a vehicle company to Louisiana.  Jindal and Moret are being targeted as being secretive for not sharing all details of this tax incentive.

In their own words, here are some concerns from The Advocate:

  • “…the state’s taxpayers deserve more information…”
  • “…few documents concerning the deal are available for public review…”
  • “…a rationale for blanket secrecy about the use of taxpayer money…”
  • “where is the public accountability when key information isn’t recorded in writing?”

Perhaps the most prolific quote is the suggestion that DED “intentionally exchanged information by word of mouth to avoid generating documents.”

Now that we have established the need for complete, full disclosure, and documentation for all government spending of our tax dollars (according to The Advocate), let’s move forward!

While we are waiting for documentation from the Governor’s office and DED Secretary Stephen Moret on the details of a $134 million tax incentive, let’s make a request for information on a $880 million tax, okay?  After all, the city-parish tax is $746 million more than the state incentive!  Phew!

Where is the request or opinion from The Advocate for full details of Mayor Holden’s proposed tax?   Or, are they only targeting the Governor’s Office for issues of transparency? 

Why?  Do they realize that the fees associated with the bond issue will most likely cost more than the tax incentive Moret is discussing with that car manufacturer? 

Just in case this information is exclusively in the heads of a few key people, The Advocate might check their own archives for an expose’ done years ago by their own staff writer, Greg Garland, regarding incredibly high fees paid to those handling bond issues as consultants. 

Ironically, the expose included Walter Monsour and a cadre’ of his friends that were all receiving contracts for muncipal bond issues that were being handled by the LPFA. 

Remember now?

Maybe the most memorable quote was that of former Representative Sean Reilly who stated this is the greatest rip off of public funds that I’ve ever seen…”  Reilly also noted that fees paid were within the limits allowed legally, but were still excessive

Why did Reilly feel this way?  Maybe it was because there was no public bidding?  Or was it because Garland revealed that bond issues “include a large cast of characters”

Whatever it was that got Garland and Reilly fired up, we need that good ole’ investigative reporting and sharing of information with tax payers.  In the story Garland wrote, he revealed the fees behind bond issues and the ties that bound all the players in what appeared to be a confidential group of political allies and friends.

According to Garland, a $388 million bond issue netted fees of: 

  • $14.6 million to underwriters
  • $5.2 million for letter of credit fees
  • $810,000 in bond counsel fees
  • $615,000 in remarketing fees
  • $488,000 in administrative fees
  • $431,000 to the tax counsel
  • $303,000 to the program administrators
  • $165,000 to the trustee bank
  • $40,000 to the in-house counsel
  • $2,500 and a few other ancillary fees to various service providers

It seems The Advocate would pursue this information along with key questions as to the who, what, how of Mayor Holden’s bond issue/tax plan. 

After all, we do want the truth for the taxpayers, right?  Taxpayers are being asked to commit to a $880 million tax plan and bond issue for 30-years. 

Has The Advocate asked the total amount expected to be paid back over that time period?  Who will earn all the fees and what are those amounts?  Will they be publically bid? What about the specific building projects?  Are the studies available?  Does The Advocate realize that by the time we build the new prison, it will be too small for our needs based on what the Sheriff has stated?

So many questions, yet so little interest by the media that it’s mind boggling.  Once again, Jessup’s words ring true.

Do we really want the truth?  Do we really care?  Is the dog hunt by The Advocate pervasive and far-reaching enough to ask the same tough questions to Holden?  Or is this just another witch hunt exclusive to Jindal?

Do we really want the truth?  I hope so.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican