Deep Beneath the Batture Sunday, Oct 18 2009 

beneath the batture

“The people have spoken” used to mean something.  We entered the voting booth, pulled the lever, and our vote counted for something.  Unless you are Mayor Kip Holden or a member of his entourage.

I listened intently to last week’s special Metro Council meeting and heard some interesting comments from individuals for and against keeping Holden’s proposed tax in the form of a bond issue on the ballot in November.

It was Elizabeth Dent that succinctly explained that the people had already spoken in 2008 by voting NO to the tax increase/bond proposal.  Holden and his entourage continue to choose to live in denial over the voice of the people.

What part of NO don’t you understand, Mayor Holden?  

Perhaps the most creative comment for the tax increase was to “pull the lever for hope”,  although I don’t see Holden’s Alive! amusement park something that our children should ‘hope’ for when making their Christmas wish list.  At least not when statistics published in May, 2009 indicate we have 2,000 homeless children in our parish.    Or, the fact that Louisiana ranks #1 in children under the age of 5 as being on the brink of hunger! causing the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to call for more donations this Thanksgiving/Christmas.

Doing the Math

Previously, I published the 2005 – 2008 budgets showing Holden has increased city-government spending — an increase of $116 million in less than 4 years. 

Shouldn’t we be cutting spending?  Instead, we plan to spend 2.175 billion on a tax increase

You may ask:  Is that correct?  Well, let’s do the math. 

The proposition states that a tax of 1/2% is expected to yield 41.5 million annually and an ad valorem tax of 9.9 mills expected to yield $31 million annually. 

41.5 million+ 31 million = 72.5 million x 30 years = 2.175 billion

Perhaps these figures will help us see the bigger picture and understand that if the actual items in the bond issue cost us $901 million, the difference will be going to something else.  The difference is $1.274 billion.  Now, we’re doing the math!

That ‘something else’ ($1.27 billion) will be paid to a long list of individuals and companies who sorely want to see this bond issue pass. 

Now, I challenge the media and Metro Council to find the breakdown of who will make $1.274 billion while the voters will only enjoy $901 million for Alive!, a new prison, new JV facility, new public safety complex, new city hall, added light synchronization, some drainage improvements, expanding the River Center, and parking garages. 

In plain english, others will be making $373 million MORE than the taxpayers will be gaining.  Who will be making $1.274 billion on this bond issue?

Now, talk to me again about pulling the lever for hope?  Hope for whom?

Just in time for Halloween, Red Stick politics not only makes for strange bedfellows, but for deals that will make your head spin like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Red Stick on Need to Know Basis Saturday, Oct 10 2009 

 need to know basis

Whether you call Mayor-President Kip Holden’s Alive! bond issue Waterworld, KipWorld, KipLand, or what it really is — a tax increase — one thing is for sure:  Voters are on a “need to know basis”.

Government is famous for the “need to know basis” that is indicative of individuals who do not want unwelcome scrutiny of their work or project.  Yet voters are intelligent enough to know that anytime there is a lack of information there is a reason. 

Former shadow mayor Walter Monsour was awarded a new position with a compensation package of $365,000 as the head of the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority.  That’s quite a little compensation package given the fact that he has been totally free to spend the majority of his time as a consultant and advisor to Mayor Kip Holden on the Alive! project.  Then again, it’s tax dollars, so who cares.  Right?

Now, do you understand how Red Stick politics works?

JR Ball of the Baton Rouge Business Report is digging deeper into the Alive! controversy and painting it in a very accurate light.  Yesterday, Ball portrayed Holden’s bond issue as a campaign coming undone with Alive! barely hanging on life support.  His acknowledgement that anyone not agreeing blindly with Holden and his entourage are immediately attacked hit the nail on the head.  In fact, it’s just further proof of the “need to know basis” campaign that Holden and his entourage have been running.

It’s pretty simple folks, and I know you are smart enough (given the facts) to figure it out.  2 + 2 = 4  

Buyer beware!  There is not one investor worth his salt that would invest nearly a billion dollars without having every inch of the detail of the deal.  Ask the Donald.  Any acquisition requires an extensive Due Diligence in order to be assured you are making a wise decision.  It’s common sense!

Oh, I suppose if you are spending someone else’s money (like the taxpayers) you might not worry about doing a comprehensive checklist of crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s.  This is what our Mayor and his entourage have done.  It’s a sad commentary on city-parish government and what has been going on behind the scenes for years.

Alas!  We wanted NEW, fresh leaders on the EBR Parish City Council.  We got them.  Thank God!  They are like the new kids on the block and I feel like a proud parent cheering them on from the sidelines.  They are to be commended for their leadership and inquiring minds.  Joel Boe’ caught my eye as did Trae Welch, Chandler Loupe, Scott Wilson, Alison Cascio and Tara Wicker.  Go, Go, Go!  You do your jobs by representing the people:  VOX POPULI is your cry.  You are even converting and giving wings to potential leaders like Smokie Bourgeois.  There is strength in numbers!

Citizen Kane, also known as Lane Grigsby, has long been a huge supporter of electing fresh new leaders with a vision of the future and the ability to effect change.  Lane understands the principle that he will not be here forever and wants to leave a legacy of strong young leaders behind to carry on.  He has been highly criticized from time to time for his political antics, and I cannot always endorse his methods.  As they say, though, to know him is to love him if you understand his motivation to see new leadership rise to the top.   He was responsible for some of these new leaders.  Thank you Lane!

All of these things that I have screamed from my soap box for the last few years tie together.  The voters need to be informed, active and not dismissed.  Politicians need to be more open and honest.  We are adults here and we do not need to be coddled or treated on a “need to know basis”. 

As in my profile, I always say and believe that if the people are provided with the full picture they can make an informed decision.  All of our decisions may not be right, but at least we have the facts and will learn from our mistakes. 

Government spending is out of control.  No one will argue that fact.  At the same time, while we are excited about LSU, Pennington Biomedical, Perkins Rowe, and the widening of I-12, we still have a long way to go in properly funneling and controlling city-parish spending.  I will never give up my belief that the people of this parish need to be respected and treated like first class citizens and not sheep being led into the voting booth for slaughter.

Get out the black vote?  Give them info on a need to know basis?  Stand on polls that show a 93% favorable rating?  Promise no more downtown studies while we are studying away?  Tell them what we think they want to hear?  All of these things are based on political strategies that may have worked in the past, but no more.  Enough is enough! 

While Holden and his entourage may have the support of organizations that receive city-parish funding such as the Redevelopment Authority, Downtown Development District and Baton Rouge Area Chamber, there is a larger and more important constituency that is against the Alive! bond issue.

Never underestimate the power of the voters.  If you believe a woman scorned was difficult to deal with, welcome to the world of enlightened voters.

Until the next time,

Red Stick Republican