Secrets of the Red Stick Sunday, Sep 27 2009 

secrets

It’s easy to understand why some refer to the Red Stick as “Kip World” or “Kipland” if you simply check the Webster’s Dictionary.  The definition of despotism is an individual or tight knit group of individuals that rule with absolute political power. 

Now we are getting to where the rubber meets the road in East Baton Rouge Parish. 

For those who are unaware of the tremendous political power held by a handful of individuals in the Red Stick, you need only to keep your ear to the ground and read carefully between the lines.  

History was not my favorite subject in school, but now I completely understand the importance of the past in order to understand the present.

Mayor-President Kip Holden was marked as unfriendly to business, a tax and spend liberal and named as one of two “King of Legislative Junketeers” according to The Advocate in 1997.  By 2004, Ginger Sawyer from Louisiana Business & Industry proclaimed Holden as the candidate with one of the worst LABI ratings.

Time has changed little for Holden’s political ventures.  Last year, former Councilman David Bonneno proposed a tax decrease for businesses in regard to new equipment and machinery.  Monsour quickly put a halt to the proposal at the direction of Holden. 

Now, Holden wants us to pay more taxes and build a downtown Epcot.  Holden took exception to the term ‘Epcot’ though it was birthed by the Downtown Development District, one of the main drivers of the proposed Audubon Alive! project — not the media as Holden claimed.

Holden makes a lot of claims that have no substance.  Examples include claiming there is no ownership issue with the proposed site for Alive! when in fact there is an issue with the railroad that was never resolved — or that he plans to have the state fund the $40 million required to raise the batture out of the swamp when in fact there was no discussion or approval. 

It’s part of the Secrets of the Red Stick that those in power hope we won’t notice or discuss.  I refuse to aspire to that mandate.  Instead, I will continue to ask the tough questions of our leaders and hope the newfound questions by the media will continue on behalf of the community they are charged with representing. 

The fact that the EBR Parish Metro Council was not made privy to these issues is proof in itself that Mayor Kip Holden believes he is large and in charge with no regard for others.  In fact, just yesterday it was revealed that Clerk of Court Doug Welborn was not told by Holden that his office was to be moved until Welborn viewed a slide show presentation.  Amazing!

Our community, political and business leaders need to realize that to whom much is given, much is required.  Their legacies should not be rooted in higher taxes, building larger buildings and entertainment complexes, or funding organizations that duplicate services. 

We can no longer ignore the obvious.  The truth is that our leaders are allowing Mayor-President Kip Holden and his entourage to spend millions of dollars at taxpayer’s expense while our real needs go unmet in the Red Stick.

The truth is painful. 

We can never be the next greatest city as long as we have children that are hungry, women that are abused, men that are absentee fathers, teenagers that are committing more crimes than in the history of our parish.  So much so that District Attorney Hillar Moore is proposing a full blown truancy program.

As long as we spend $500,000 annually to fund the Baton Rouge Area Chamber for economic development and approve contracts in the amount of $49,999 so that these expenditures do not have to be made public at Metro Council meetings, we are allowing Mayor Holden and his entourage to fail us as leaders. 

I suppose I shouldn’t even mention the hours spent doing ‘security sweeps’ by the Mayor’s security team before he enters facilities?  All the while witnesses to crime cannot be protected and murderers are set free.  It’s a  slap in the face to victims and their families.

Meanwhile, our citizens are tracking in the sludge from a failing sewer system into their homes making their children sick.  Perhaps it is true this is one reason our staph infection is at an all time high in the Red Stick? 

What on earth are we doing here in the Red Stick?  When will this madness stop?  At what point will JUST ONE LEADER in our community stand up and demand that we stop the excessive spending and taxation? Where is Tax Busters and Fred Dent when you need them?

If we truly want to be America’s next greatest city, we will stop the insanity of city-parish spending, address a failing sewer system as promised, house our inmates in tents as promised, have a no-tolerance for crime stand as promised, stop raising taxes, stop duplicating services, stop creating contracts for campaign contributors, and stop attacking those who question these ungodly practices.  Questioning is our duty!  These are the Secrets of the Red Stick that are injustices to our citizens.  

Somehow we have lost our way.  As a mayoral candidate, Rolfe McCollister, Jr. said, “I don’t believe in taxing our way to prosperity”.    What changed?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Alive! But Not Well Friday, Sep 25 2009 

swamp

Along the shores of the Mighty Mississippi River lies a swampy batture in the heart of the Red Stick.  What lurks there is a sign of things Alive! but not well.

Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive might apply to the entangled web of hidden information that Mayor Kip Holden and his entourage purposely kept from the EBR Parish Metro Council and citizens of the Red Stick.

Perhaps what is most offensive is that Mayor Holden and his inner circle continually operate in a covert manner.  When questioned, Holden sloughs off the media, Council members or voters with the direct intention of discrediting them.  It’s an age old practice to get the focus off of the question and on to another topic.  Holden has even gone so far as to vehemently attack anyone who questions or opposes him

At yesterday’s council meeting, Mayor Holden ran around saying ‘no comment’ when he realized the media was on to his tactics.  Evidently Holden needed to regroup, quickly schedule a meeting with his entourage to do damage control, and finally do what he should have done over a year ago – meet with the state to discuss land ownership and funding to build up the property. 

Holden says he wants to ask the Capitol Delegation of the Louisiana Legislature to earmark $40 million to his favored pork barrel project.  The Delegation says they only received $50 million for special projects which must take care of nine parishes including East Baton Rouge.  This would be a tough sell to legislators to agree to spend the majority of the funding on East Baton Rouge Parish.

This scenario begs the question:  Why was this particular property chosen with so many potential land sites in the Red Stick?  Especially given the overwhelming challenges to prepare and build up the swampy batture.

The goods news is that the media has finally caught on to some of Holden’s dreadful practices and are revealing them to the voters:

All I can hope is that the voters will be provided with the full details of Mayor Kip Holden’s proposed tax increase prior to the November vote.  If the media keeps up this flow of information, that will very likely happen.  Let’s hope that Holden doesn’t turn up the heat on the media and force them to back down. 

Recently, Holden’s entourage touted that there was no organized opposition.  Once again, they underestimated the power of the voters. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Putting Together the Pieces Thursday, Sep 24 2009 

For two days in a row, the media rocked my world by finally asking for details of Mayor Kip Holden’s proposed tax increase that will come in the form of a bond issue this fall.  How much better can life get?  Baton Rouge Business Report’s JR Ball is asking some questions that community and business leaders have failed to ask.  Kudos to JR!  Read more here.

puzzle_piece%20cropped

So many pieces, so little time to put them all together.  Some say this is exactly what Mayor-President Kip Holden and his entourage are banking on in regard to this fall’s proposed tax increase.

I subscribe to the old adage of judging someone by their questions rather than their answers.  Weak leaders attack those who ask questions — something we have witnessed from Holden and his administration repeatedly.  Enough said.

While secrecy appears to be the mother’s milk of the EBR Mayor-President Kip Holden’s strategy, there are so many unanswered questions remaining:

  1. Why haven’t taxpayers been provided with full and complete disclosure on each aspect of the bond proposal package vs a one paragraph overview?
  2. How much of our tax dollars are being spent for the public relations portion of the bond proposal?
  3. What studies have been done on each aspect of the bond proposal and where can taxpayers access these reports? 
  4. Are we expected to fund nearly $1 billion for a 30-year tax with simple power point presentations?
  5. Who is really behind Progress Is, an organization set us as a non-profit promoting the bond issue?  
  6. Why should taxpayers be forced to choose an all or nothing plan because of a hard-headed-spendthrift Mayor-President?
  7. Why are we being led to believe that local government cannot make the necessary cuts in order to fund the real needs of our parish vs increasing our taxes?
  8. Who made the decision to assume that Downtown Baton Rouge should be the location of the proposed Audubon Alive! facility?

With all due respect, improving Downtown Baton Rouge has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of life for Red Stick residents whether you hail from Baker, Zachary, Central, Shenandoah, Highland Road, Gardere or Brookstown.  

Perhaps this is where “trust me, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help” comes in?  If it is, I’m not buying what they are selling.

Since the days of Catfish Town, we have struggled to make downtown a thriving metropolis.  The visitor statistics for downtown already reveal a dismal report on a failed attempt at increasing tourism.  Building of The Shaw Center, two complete makeovers at the River Center, the USS Kidd, a complete makeover of the LASC, millions spent to upgrade the Old State Capitol, a barrage of bars and restaurants, and of course, our two major gaming facilities surrounded by an Atrium that remains empty are signs of more troubles to come for downtown Baton Rouge should we spend millions more on another ‘savior’ attraction.  

These facilities speak louder than any editorial publisher Rolfe McCollister, Jr. can write trying to convince us to spend more tax dollars downtown. 

There are more politics in this bond issue than you can shake a stick at — but the average taxpayer isn’t privy to this information.  The former shadow mayor, bond issue participants, public relations firms, and financial supporters of the Holden administration stand to make millions of dollars at our expense should this tax pass.  Hard facts, but true.

When will the business leaders of this community stand up, once and for all, and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?  When will you side with the hard-working citizens who are struggling to make their own neighborhoods safer? 

What happened to the former mayoral candidate Rolfe McCollister that said, “I don’t believe you tax your way to prosperity”?   I guess a lot changes in nine years, eh?

Though Mayor Kip Holden said last year that he planned to present this tax proposal, when he was first elected in 2000, he said, “Public Safety is the only thing for which I would ask the voters to raise taxes”!   

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said he would put temporary housing at the EBR Parish Prison.  Was this a lie or is he willing to keep his campaign promise?  Right after the election, a study done by former sheriff Greg Phares indicated that temporary housing and adding beds could be done at no extra cost except for a slight increase in food, beds and staff.  This was nearly two years ago!  What happened?

Putting the pieces together is tough given a shroud of secrecy, but I am committed to continue to seek the truth and shout it from the rooftops, and demand that business leaders and politicians stop the madness.  Say NO to higher taxes, and YES to fiscal responsibility!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Red Stick’s Bermuda Triangle Wednesday, Sep 23 2009 

Alas! The Advocate has a reporter that has researched and revealed that Mayor Kip Holden and his entourage have not done their due diligence in regard to land use for his proposed Audubon Alive!  As mentioned previously in my posts, who do you know that would plan to build a $229 million complex without clearing the land title?  Better yet, why should your tax dollars be spent financing a project without title clearance?    Kudos to Michelle Millhollon for her excellent article in  this morning’s newspaper!

 puppetmaster

Along the edge of the Mighty Mississippi sits a 22 acre triangular-shaped piece of property in the Red Stick that some believe is our Bermuda Triangle.  It is a batture that is partially underwater and can be viewed here.

For 10 years the Downtown Development District, City of Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana, and The Audubon Institute have presented the tax payers with various scenarios for this batture on the riverfront.  From sports venues to DeSoto Park to Audubon Alive! ideas have been pursued, and sometimes partially funded.  

BREC was shut out years ago from potential involvement, even though all parks in our parish are overseen by them.  Why wouldn’t BREC be involved in a new park, and a potential moneymaking venture?  Some say the decision was political.

The Audubon Institute convinced city and state officials in 2002 that this same property should be the site of DeSoto Park. 

In 2004, unfortunately, the courts ruled that the State of Louisiana did not own the batture across from the Pentagon Barracks, and that the railroad had owned the property for over 130 years.  This immediately halted forward movement of the proposed DeSoto Park.

One of the major issues, besides ownership, was the fact that the property is under water and floods regularly.  In order to address this problem, a proposed expenditure of $41 million was required to ‘raise the dirt’ in order to avoid future flooding. 

At that time the State of Louisiana’s financial coffers were supposedly overflowing and the money was approved to address potential flooding issues.

The State of Louisiana, however, stopped the project immediately and DeSoto Park was no more than a bad memory in the minds of state officials who failed to run a check on who owned the property.  I suppose this would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. 

Who do you know that can or would build any project without having all the proper land clearances in advance?  

To add insult to injury, $11 million was already spent according to Commissioner of Administration Mark Drennan, with Coastal Bridge Contractors in Phase I of DeSoto Park.  Though attorney Charles Landry and DDD Director Davis Rhorer claimed they expected an agreement to happen, the project did not make a comeback, and the land remains for the most part under water.  My research did not result in an explanation of those funds Drennan said were spent other than the fact that the work had begun and stopped abruptly.

Perhaps this will help you to understand why I am so adamate over the lack of details for the proposed Alive! project. 

Unwise decisions and careless spending of our tax dollars is of no concern to politicians.  After all, it is not their personal monies involved — it’s yours. 

Imagine knowing you have millions of dollars at your disposal to fund your pet peeve projects on someone else’s dime, and full disclosure isn’t required in advance of your vote to fund the projects. 

Perhaps the best question to ask is why is this information not laid out in its entirety for taxpayers?  Maybe its because the math doesn’t add up? 

The Audubon Nature Institute has an annual payroll of over $6.6 million annually according to their financial reports.  They indicate 600 employees on their payroll and 518 volunteers required to run their properties.  The Institute runs the Zoo, the Park, the Insectarium, the Wolberg Park, Research Center, Survival Center, Imax and Aquarium.  If this is the case, how does Mayor Holden expect us to believe that we will generate 1,000 jobs upward to 2,000 jobs permanently for Alive!? 

There is no doubt that Audubon and all their entities are great attractions.  Our family has enjoyed them for years.  Let’s not get caught up in the pitch.  We should demand, as taxpayers, the accurate detailed information. 

Of course, if you don’t provide all the details, you can’t be held accountable.  Can you?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

5 Related Murders in EBRP Monday, Sep 21 2009 

   

Serial_killer

In memory of the victims, I am republishing their story today.

In the heart of the Red Stick, a man was beaten for 24 hours, dragged unconscious, set on fire and left to die in a remote wooded area.  Since this horrific murder took place, 3 eye-witnesses  & 1 attorney  tied to the case have been murdered. 

Got your attention yet?

In May, I mentioned this story when discussing my concern about judges in EBR Parish allowing murderers to continually be released on bond

While officials are trying to convince us that the violent crime reports are not completely accurate, violent offenders are walking down the streets of the Red Stick.  They are standing in line at the convenience store, walking in the mall, sitting next to someone at a red light – maybe next to you?  Or, worst yet, next to your child?  

Don’t even think “this has nothing to do with me”.  It’s a growing problem coming to your neighborhood soon. 

What are the chances that 3 eyewitness and an attorney, all involved with the same murder case, were ALL murdered prior to the trial?   

Denako Duheart and his brother, Dearius Duheart, along with Andrea Deon Williams were originally charged with 1st degree murderin October, 2007 in the brutal beating, burning and death of Jason Fourmy. 

But something happened.  Judge Wilson Fields allowed them to be released on a reduced bond. 

One month later, two eyewitnesses were suddenly murdered. 

As a result, the crime was reduced to 2nd degree murder

To add insult to injury, their attorney was murdered – supposedly by her husband.  What an odd coincidence!  Anyone?

Ironically, the charges were then reduced to 2nd degree battery

Walking around.  Two of the perpetrators.  In the Red Stick.  Among us.  Next to our children.  (One remained in prison; after he confessed.)

Concerned yet?  You should be.  This is only one story in the naked city of the Red Stick.

Suddenly another eyewitness is shot, but evidently survives.

A 3rd eyewitness was murdered this week – just two months prior to the trial.  A young woman shot in the head and left in a ditch to die.

Give me the definition of a serial killer again? Anyone? 

According to Mr. Webster, a serial killer is someone who murders 3 or more people over a period of 30 days or more with a ‘cooling’ period in between.

The body count is now up to 5 individuals involved in one murder case:  The original victim (Fourmy) + 1 attorney + 3 eyewitnesses = 5 

Mayor Holden, please do not insult our intelligence again by telling us that a new tax or bond issue to build a new prison will solve our crime problems in EBRParish.  Instead, remind us of your promise for zero-tolerance for violent offenders.  What happened to that promise? 

The only way we will begin to scratch the surface of crime in our parish will be to bring violent offenders to justice — for judges to realize that setting violent offenders free on reduced bail, or reducing charges because witnesses are murdered is no way to keep our citizens safe.

I see no difference between a Derrick Todd Lee or Sean Vincent Gillis in comparison to the Duheart-Duheart-Williams trio.  They all took multiple lives in our parish. 

I am my brother’s keeper.  We must seek justice on behalf of these victims.  Their blood cries out to all of us to act before more senseless murders are committed.  

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

UPDATE:  The system failed the victims and families of these murderers.  Today, September 21, 2009, the murderers were set free.  Why?    Because ALL of the witnesses were murdered.  The victims could have been your son, your daughter, your mother, your father, your friend, or you.  If we do not make serious changes in the Red Stick, our crime will continue to dominate the news and threaten the safety of our children.  I am so very saddened for the loved ones of these victims.

Dangerous Liasons Thwart Reform Saturday, Sep 19 2009 

Dangerous_Liaisons_Cover

No doubt that Louisiana politics has a dominant place in the archives of U.S. history, and some have reveled in that fact.  Perhaps it is the age of information or the downfall of American family values that has caused the average voter to long for political reform in our good state.  Reform should always start in our own backyards.

The reform movement will come at a great price.  That price includes putting a stop to dangerous liaisons that thwart true reform.

For me, political corruption in Louisiana began with the labor unions.  I remember succinctly as a child the effects of the AFLCIO on our personal lives.  My father refused to be a member of the union, and the price we paid was both physical and emotional as mentioned in a previous post.  

Mayor Kip Holden and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux are supported, funded and often work in collusion with the AFLCIO and other local labor unions.  These are truly dangerous liaisons for the Red Stick.

What is most troubling is how real corruption is camaflouged and overlooked by the media, community and business leaders.  Political corruption still abounds on a local and state level.  This must stop.

It was Senator Robert Kostelka that forced the Louisiana Board of Education and media to publicly announce that contracts were not being publicly bid.  I believe that Chas Roemer erred in saying that no-bid contracts are justified if there is only one provider. 

How do we truly know other providers do not exist without the bid process?  This type of mentality opens the door to facilitating more dangerous liaisons, especially given this particular contract totaled $625,000.

Closed meetings, no bids, private conversations among community leaders, business owners and politicians makes for more dangerous liasons.  Why do we allow these practices to continue?  Only The Advocate would allow our mayor to get away with this incident without forcing the hand of community leaders.    Interesting.

Just this past week Baton Rouge Area Chamber officials asked the media to leave the room so they could ask private questions to Mayor Kip Holden about his bond proposal.  Adam Knapp and his ‘leaders’ should have realized this would leave a negative impression in our community.  Where are real leaders when you need them?

Mayor Kip Holden gives $500,000 of YOUR tax dollars to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber annually.  Everything BRAC does is funded by local monies whether through memberships, sponsorships or municipalities.  What kind of questions could they ask that we shouldn’t know about?  I see more dangerous liaisons on the horizon.

No matter how you slice it, dangerous liaisons in political matters still abound in Louisiana.  On a local level, even more so.  What I am still amazed at the ability of the media to overlook just about everything that Mayor Kip Holden does while criticizing Governor Bobby Jindal for the same issues. 

Mayor-President Kip Holden is the king of private liasions personally and professionally.  The proposed $900 million bond issue is immersed in potential corruption and secrecy.  Will voters endorse the continued practice of dangerous liaisons in city-parish government or put them to a stop by saying no this fall?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Are THEY right? Tuesday, Sep 15 2009 

 

spindocpirata

Political consultant, Roy Fletcher, said, “In politics, when you have to make a case that is not believed by the people, you better have a lot of money to make that case, because they don’t believe it in the first place.” 

Fletcher was referring to Mayor Kip Holden’s bond issue, and the fact that the people didn’t believe in it enough to pass it last fall.

Obviously money will continue to be spent on a public relations campaign targeting voters in hopes they will buy into accepting higher taxes.  Where does this money come from, and how can we find out how much is being spent?

George Kennedy, another consultant, tries to make the argument that the bond proposal pays for itself.  This is almost laughable.  If it paid for itself and was ‘free’ as Kennedy claims, we wouldn’t need a tax.  Maybe Holden should hire Kennedy to sell this wacko political spin?   

Who are the Redstick’s watchdogs?  

Not our newspaper.  The Advocate questions Jindal, but not Holden on transparency issues because they have an axe to grind with Jindal.  Everyone knows McCollister, publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report, served as a finance chair to Jindal.  Cutting into The Advocate’s market share just adds insult to injury.  

The owners of the newspaper have made it clear that if Alive! happens, they will be pleased because it would raise the property value of their former headquarters downtown.  With newspaper sales down, they probably need to sell the building.

BRAC, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and BRAF, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, are not our watchdogs either.  BRAC and BRAF work hand-in-hand and BRAC receives $500,000 annually from Mayor Kip Holden to be the economic development arm for the parish.  They are part of Holden’s entourage.

The same goes for the Downtown Development District.  The DDD receives far too much funding and support from Mayor-President Kip Holden to  speak out against his administration.  In fact, he and Davis Rhorer, executive director, are close allies.  Besides, they have far too much invested in this tax package.

Sometimes it is up to us, the voters, to be the watchdogs. 

We, the voters, have already spoken once on this issue, and our answer was no!  72% of East Baton Rouge Parish voters turned out last fall and voted against a tax increase.  Instead of taking voters at face value, they say that Holden and his entourage have decided to bank on lower turnout to pass the proposal.

Perhaps the coffee shop talk is accurate?  If they know their facts, then funding for the public relations campaign such as Progress Is comes from Holden’s entourage and his political contributors. 

Whether they are correct or not, city-parish government has NO business spending OUR tax dollars building a tourist attraction.  Who came up with this idea? 

Some say the financing of Audubon Alive! makes building a prison more palatable to the average voter.  One thing is for sure, the economic impact figures are highly inflated.  No big surprise, they usually are.

If Alive! is such a great potential moneymaker, let the Audubon Institute raise private funds and add it to their array of facilities. 

By the way, have you checked their financial records lately? 

All of the Audubon Institute facilities combined brought in $10.3 million last year in admissions with only three facilities operated in the black:  the Zoo, the Insectarium, and the Park.  All of these facilities lost money:  IMAX, Aquarium, Wolberg, Research Center, and Survival Centers. 

That includes an annual tax millage totaling $7.2 million.  It’s always good to do your homework.  Trust me, Holden’s public relations package won’t be sharing this kind of information with taxpayers! 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Politics Wins Out Thursday, Sep 3 2009 

 1921-06-04-The-Country-Gentleman-Norman-Rockwell-cover-Bully-Before-no-logo-140-Digimarc

On days such as these, there is little that needs to be said other than to share the facts:

Councilman Rodney “Smokie” Bourgeois said he disagreed with Mayor Kip Holden’s approach for the impending bond issue claiming it was a MISTAKE BASED ON HIS CONSTITUENT’S FEEDBACK BUT WOULD GO ALONG WITH THE MAYOR ANY WAY.

Congratulations Smokie!  You have now graduated from Professor Kip’s School of Politics!

Welcome to Kip’ World folks! 

Who needs a new downtown project like Alive! when we have our own hurricane reinactment in the heart of the Metro Council Chambers? It may not be as exciting as a new Audubon project, but it is certainly as costly to the citizens of the Red Stick.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

P.S.  Kudos to the ONLY three council persons who voted according to their constituents:  Alison Cascio, Joel Boe’, and Scott Wilson  If they can survive the Holden administration, they will be leaders to keep an eye on . . .