Ethics Board Gone Wild! Saturday, Aug 15 2009 

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The Louisiana Ethics Administration presented Mayor-President Kip Holden a birthday present this week by agreeing to become a pawn in a dangerous political game gone wild.

Louisiana law set up the Ethics Administration to oversee, investigate and rule in matters related to campaign finance, lobbyist disclosure, and conflicts of interest. 

Procedures are in place to allow citizens to submit concerns in writing.  In turn, the ethics board reviews the matter and determines whether to move forward in pursuit of specific violations of the ethics laws.

Several ironies exist in this format. 

One is that the process clearly states that it is a misdemeanor to reveal any information regarding an ethics investigation.  Yet, we read about this investigation in The Advocate.  This is another case of the law making no sense, unless this isn’t about ethics?

Another irony is that the man charged, Scott Wilfong, is not even required to file a campaign finance report which, in essence, makes the charges and complaint erroneous.  Vendors of campaigns are not required to file campaign finance reports.  Those hiring them must file whether they are the political candidate, a PAC, or interested citizen.

The greatest irony is that ethics is about morality which is the basis for the flyer.  The ethics board has chosen to investigate the source, but not the content of the flyer.  

There’s more to the story. 

Mayor-President Kip Holden allegedly committed an immoral act (adultery) coupled with an unethical one (using police officers after hours) which was the thrust of the anti-Holden flyer. 

Holden hired an attorney and private investigator to pursue the matter and obtain the name(s) of individuals responsible for the flyer to no avail.  Holden also accused numerous individuals at varying times as being responsible for the flyer. 

When the allegations could not be proven by Holden, an ethics complaint was filed to force the hand of Wilfong to reveal who paid him to mail the flyer.  To date, the Mayor has accused 4 different individuals as being the source of the flyer. 

Truly, this is political scheming and unethical behavior in its truest form.  And people wonder why the ethics board is not respected or why more individuals do not file ethics complaints?

The legislature took away the privilege of anonymously filing ethics complaints.  This allows alleged perpetrators to know their accuser unlike proven whistleblower programs like CrimeStoppers.  This was a mistake. 

The politically powerful have far reaching arms in the Red Stick, and those seen as violating the rules of secrecy pay dearly.   It also prevents law-abiding citizens from filing complaints that are sure violations of the law.  Who needs the grief?

The bottom line on this entire fiasco is simple in that we reap what we sow: 

  • If you don’t want to be embarrassed publicly, be faithful to your partner. 
  • If you use security, don’t bring them to the scene of your illicit activities. 
  • If you are accused of impropriety, don’t fuel the fire by showing the media the flyer.
  • If you are a vendor engaged in any political-related work, be prepared to be exposed for your involvement and possibly become the scapegoat.
  • If you are smart enough, you can use the ethics board to do your dirty work without them even realizing they are your pawn.

Any way you cut it, this is a slap in the face for the intent of the ethics laws for the state of Louisiana, and a huge step backwards for the Red Stick.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Joel Boe’ –> Vox Populi Thursday, Aug 13 2009 

voice of the people

Simply put, we have found a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council that has become:

Vox Populi, the ‘Voice of the People’  

We are watching a true leader walking the walk, not just talking the talk.  

Councilman Joel Boe’ not only stood up for his constituents in District 9, but he stood in the gap for the entire parish by standing strong against a foolish plan by Mayor-President Kip Holden. 

The Mayor attempted to stack the deck in his favor by shutting out certain portions of the parish and excluding them from their right to vote on a parish tax increase this fall. 

Holden’s divisive move is a show of his true colors gone wild

Without doing his due diligence, Holden made a single-minded decision to exclude areas of the parish that previously voted against his proposed tax increases.  Coffee shop talk reveals that Holden and his consultant’s believe he is invincible based on past political polls

This was an unfortunate position to take. 

When Boe’ spoke against Holden’s divisive move, the Mayor went to great lengths to put Boe’ in his place and verbally attack him in the media.   

On the other hand, cool as a cucumber, Boe’, took the verbal assaults by Holden and still spoke for the people. 

Boe’ showed signs of a true leader.

Holden’s hot-headed nature has become more prolific.  In spite of his personal attacks on Boe’, the councilman remained calm, stood his ground, and won by forcing Holden’s hand.  Yesterday Holden was surrounded by hundreds of citizens crowding into the Metro Council Chamber.  They had come to support Boe’ and to let the Mayor know he works for the people.

The voters have longed for a voice of the people.  Boe’s leadership caused Holden to back down and finally do the right thing by including all of the parish of East Baton Rouge.

Boe’ has won the support of many groups including members of the local Tea Party, several North Baton Rouge African-American organizations and leaders, his constituents, and others who have been longing for real leadership in the Red Stick.

Holden soon found out that whatever he says doesn’t necessarily fly with the voters.  In fact, two of the three areas Holden set out to exclude met this week to voice their desires to be a part of the tax decision.

My hope is truly renewed. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing!

It’s almost like having a glimpse of character traits that would be attractive in a future Mayor when I observe Boe’. 

Stranger things have happened in the Red Stick.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Right To Vote Monday, Aug 10 2009 

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Jessie Jackson wroteIn a democracy, there is nothing more fundamental than having the right to vote.  His statement was under the premise that felons should have voting rights reinstated once they’ve paid their debt to society — an argument for another day.

Mayor-President Kip Holden to take away right to vote

Mayor-President Kip Holden, in a major political move,  set out to take away the voting rights of certain registered voters in EBR Parish for his proposed fall tax election.  They are law-abiding citizens who hail from the northern part of our parish including the bedroom communities of Baker, Central and Zachary. 

Ironically, the EBR Sheriff will not vote or be assessed if Holden removes Zachary from the tax proposal.  Life is stranger than fiction.

Councilman Joel Boe’ is under attack by Mayor Kip Holden for daring to disagree with Holden’s plan to disallow voters from the northern part of the parish from voting on the tax.  Are we One Baton Rouge when we exclude Central, Zachary and Baker from the right to vote on a 30-year Red Stick tax initiative? 

Furthermore, what is wrong with a Metro Council, elected by the people and for the people, who are willing to side with this discriminatory mentality and take away the right of their own constituents to vote?  

The game is changing so fast you have to be on your toes to keep up!  Hang with me here as we walk down memory lane . . .

Should we believe that the “38 bridges endangering Red Stick citizen’s safety” was like playing “Russian roulette by not passing the 2008 tax proposal” as Mayor Holden said last fall?  Or that our bridges are no longer in danger because funding was suddenly found to take care of the tab?   

A portion of Holden’s $887 million wish list includes Audubon Alive!  Can EBR Parish support this new venture through tourism?

Last week the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum announced changes due to the lack of traffic and funding by the state.  According to LASM, their attendance is 214,000 annually.  Strictly from a math perspective, this is an average of 586 visitors daily. 

Why is this important?  Because the Mayor’s proposed Audubon Alive! will need three times that annual attendance to survive. 

How will we triple downtown tourism? 

Can someone say ‘Catfish Town’?  For those too young to remember, Catfish Town was a $30 million dream-come-true tourist attraction that opened with a splash on July 4, 1984, and shut down within two years.  It became the home of a management company followed by the Resolution Trust Corporation.

Ten years later, Jazz Enterprises took over Catfish Town, and brought Argosy Gaming to the table with a promise of filling 150,000 sq ft with a retail wonderland of shopping, eateries and entertainment.  15 years later, we have the floating casino, the hotel and their two restaurants, one bar, and a beautiful atrium with occasional events.  The tourist mecca never came to fruition.   

There are lessons here we haven’t learned.  

The proposed building of a new prison is another issue that makes no sense in the bond issue.  I prefer to envision a press conference vs. the nightly murder report with Sheriff Gautreaux saying,

“I’m going to keep my campaign promise and put up tents or temporary buildings.  I don’t need a new office because I am going to spend my time on the streets fighting crime with my fellow deputies. I’m going to show up every morning like all of you do at your own jobs, not just when media opportunities arise.  And at the end of the day, we are going to take back our city and clean up crime across this parish.  Starting right now, there is a no tolerance policy on crime in our parish.  We are going to house all prisoners, feed them P&B sandwiches, and run a chain gang to save the city on clean-up and blight.  If you play, you will pay in our city by serving your time and becoming a productive citizen one way or another.”

I suppose it’s okay to dream and imagine what true leadership would be like?

Now that’s something to get excited about, stand behind and support! When you can do that, then you can talk to me about increasing our taxes.

If you want me to pay, then you have to prove to me that you are doing all you can with what you have already.  That is NOT happening in EBR parish.  We have become lazy.  We expect something for nothing.  Just roll out the tax plan and lead us to the voting booth to pull the lever.  Why?  Because you say so? 

What do we want from leadership?

The idea here is not to pick apart as much as it is to ask the right questions, and to demand fiscal responsibility and real leadership.  Last time I checked, you work for us, the taxpayers – WE are YOUR employers.  Where I work, if you commit insubordination you lose your job in our right-to-work state!  How dare you get angry at a councilman that asks the right questions!  How dare you send out a message to ‘calm the citizens down’!  It is OUR RIGHT to question you and demand your work ethic is beyond reproach!

‘Ahem’!  Now that we have that straight.

ALL voters in our parish have the right to vote in a tax election that will last for 30 years.  Complete details on every aspect of Holden’s tax-and-spend-bond-proposal should be made available to the public — not just a public relations campaign.

Is that too much to ask for?  Where is all of this information?  In the age of technology we do not have the details, but are expected to vote yes to more spending with a paragraph explaining hundreds of millions in expenditures.  They have done their due diligence, right?  Why not share it with the voters who will agree or disagree to pay for it over the next 30 years?

Why do we ask for FULL transparency from Jindal and not require it from Holden?  It does beg the question. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Who’s the New Kid? Friday, Aug 7 2009 

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There may be a new sheriff in town, but the guy we have our eye on is the new kid on the Metro Council.  Yep, that’s him.  The one who stood up for his constituents.  Right.  The guy with the funny name.  Boe’.

Joel Boe’ is a 32 year old project manager for a local construction company, who made his first run at politics winning the District 9 Metro Council seat last October with over 64% of the vote. 

During his campaign, Boe’ made it clear that he felt Mayor-President Kip Holden’s bond issue contained components that were sorely needed in our parish. 

At the same time, Boe’ said he had concerns the bond issue would not pass last fall, and told The Advocate he would like to “see the bond proposal split up to allow voters to decide which aspects of the plan they want to support”.

Once Boe’ called for the Metro Council to include the northern parts of EBR Parish (Baker, Zachary and Central) he was sorely chastised by Mayor Kip Holden.  (The Mayor’s harsh words came because Boe’ disagreed with Holden’s plan to exclude the portions of the parish that caused last fall’s vote to fail.)

As I mentioned in Bully Mayor Holden Bully, our Mayor doesn’t like it when someone disagrees with him.  Once they do, he runs amuck to the media in a no-holds bar plan of action against his intended target by ranting and raving nonsense.  Holden shows his true colors and disdain for anyone who dares to disagree.  

There really is something special about leaders who are willing to ask the tough questions.  The ones that stand by their convictions.  To do so is definitely not in step with the path of least resistance.  Nor is it a ticket to winning some of the powerfully influential politicians who prefer to manage by intimidation and control.

So, what will happen to the new kid on the block?  I suppose time will tell. 

It is my hope that Boe’ will spur on other young leaders to step up to the plate, speak their minds, represent the people (not the few, but the many no matter what part of our parish they reside).  That we will support Boe’ and those like him.

I would love to see us prove that we DO want new, fresh leadership that will help us see the bigger issues.  That these new leaders do not have to fold their hands because their opinions are different than those in ‘control’.

No doubt Joel’s parents are proud of him.  He comes from good stock.  I have not seen him, nor spoken to his parents in many years.  Ralph and Linda, I applaud you.  As I watch from afar, I am excited to see the fruits of your labor.  Thank you for equipping the new kid on the block with the tools he needs to serve us in his new capacity.

To Joel, keep on doing what you believe is right.  Do not be discouraged or dismayed.  With bright young leaders such as yourself, we CAN be the next greatest city in America. 

My hope has been renewed.   

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican