Old Fashioned Cup of Joe Sunday, Mar 28 2010 

 

Every citizen in East Baton Rouge Parish should read the Metro Council Agenda on a regular basis.  Fifteen minutes with an old-fashioned cup of Joe  perusing the Agenda will provide a better understanding of the inner workings of city government and how our tax dollars are being spent. 

The most current Agenda for March 24, 2010, indicates several points that might raise your eyebrows. 

For instance, the South Wastewater Treatment Plant had a proposed cost of $50,000, but is seeking approval for an increase to $63,450.  Planting trees on Corporate Boulevard from College to Jefferson Highway indicates a cost of $73,130.  $557,621 is on the Agenda for the architectural design of the new EMS facility.  There are adjustments in contracts for varying reasons including weather and an original plan not being accurate.  Did I read that correctly?

These are only a few of the expenditures.  The list is lengthy.

Other Council business includes condemnations of properties, zoning issues, leasing of space, adjudicated properties, etc.  The majority calls for spending tax dollars.

They are also seeking approval for applications of grants including:

  • $1,214,149.94 from the State of Louisiana for federal grant monies available through the Katrina Relief Fund
  • $177,952 for Federal Grant Funds
  • $78,973,970 in grants from the State of Louisiana

Legal settlements from EBR Parish are proposed in the amount of $344,284 to wronged citizens.

Maybe I am missing something.  The spending seems to never end.

There is a $400 million shortfall for the State of Louisiana for our fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.  An additional $1.7 billion shortfall is projected for the State of Louisiana for the upcoming fiscal year.  Yet, we are applying for grants from various departments within state government in the amount of nearly $79 million.  Yes.  $79 million in just one Metro Council Agenda!

Jindal just announced that he expects state agencies to make additional cuts including personnel.  Medicaid cuts are also being considered.  

Update:  To put this into better perspective, The Advocate reports on March 30 the State of Louisiana faces a $3 billion dollar shortfall over the next two years — $3,000,000,000!

Federal hurricane recovery money is dwindling, while we are seeking an additional $1.2 million for East Baton Rouge Parish. 

The bank is busted, yet, EBR still runs to the till in hopes we can make a mad dash with the booty.  Remember Mayor Holden’s proposed bond issue that promised he could convince State Legislators to fund the land revisions necessary for his amusement park to the tune of $40 million?  A small detail Holden and his entourage failed to mention to the voters that became a last-minute issue before the election.

It never seems to end.

Politicians have overspent, over promised and act as though there is an endless checkbook full of money.  Of course, it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money.  Mayor Holden stands firm in this mindset as proven by his continuous spendthrift mentality.

What is wrong with this picture?

Will Mayor-President Kip Holden wake up and smell the coffee?  We can’t afford Starbucks anymore!  Let’s return to the old coffee pot and brew up a plan of action that is more suitable for the citizens in our parish.  We definitely deserve better. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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In the Trenches of the Red Stick Sunday, Mar 21 2010 

If you want to understand the realities of life, just talk to someone who is living in the trenches.  It’s a common mistake to ASSuME that you understand a situation until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes.

This is precisely what happened in an effort to produce a positive campaign for the Red Stick by consultants and political leaders over the past year in regard to the recession’s effects on a local basis.

In December, I opined about the top ten stories in the Red Stick with #8 being a drop in East Baton Rouge Parish sales tax revenues.  As of October, the drop was 4.64% less than the previous year.  By December, The Advocate reports a drop of 6% for 2009 vs. 2008. 

On Friday, March 19th, The Advocate reported a drop of 12% for January, 2010 in East Baton Rouge Parish.  That equates to a 76.8 million dollar drop in spending in our parish for January alone.

Spendthrift mentalities must regroup.  It’s something the average citizen understands.  One of the reasons that the health care reform debate is so contentious is that political leaders are not listening to or heeding the desire of voters.  Politicians that ignore reality and continue to make false assumptions and false promises are out of touch with citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

The Tea Party may draw some radical members, as witnessed yesterday by irreprehensible hyperbole, but the substance of what the group at large is preaching is common sense. 

With all due respect to economist guru, Professor Loren Scott, even he was in error with his ridiculous predictions that Baton Rouge was not affected by the recession.  Finally, Scott stated to The Advocate, “I guess it’s just turning out to be tougher, certainly tougher than anything I anticipated.  I hadn’t anticipated anything this big.”

Perhaps the greatest flaw was that statistics and charts are not good indicators of what is happening around the kitchen tables in Baton Rouge.  The best research is around the coffee shops where citizens are quick to talk about their financial woes to support their family. 

The political world is a strange one.  It is not for the fainthearted, and is a like a pressure cooker magnified.  Popularity is seldom gained by delivering the bad news.  Regardless of speculation, this is the precise reason Mayor Kip Holden’s bond issue failed by an overwhelming vote of the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish last fall.  Yet, he seeks to revisit another tax increase. 

Voters, however, are more savvy and do live in the real world.  Sugarplums dancing in the heads of politicians and consultants do not make a significant impact on the average family that is struggling to meet their basic financial obligations in a rough economy. 

An average family in East Baton Rouge Parish has a household income of $43,316 according to the Mayor’s Office.   With a 2.9 person ratio in each household, that makes for some serious financial challenges.

It’s time that Mayor Holden wakes up, stops dancing around the issues, and cuts parish spending.  Of course, this will happen eventually as sales tax income continues to shrink.  Or, he could propose another tax increase?

I took a hiatus from blogging for the last two months in hopes that I would return with positive news.  The truth is that we are living in troubling times, and there continues to be some chasm between political fodder and living in the trenches of the Red Stick. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican