EBRP TIF More Than Meets the Eye Sunday, Jul 11 2010 

Update:  Community Activist, John Berry, has written an excellent Letter to the Editor published by The Advocate that can be read at  here.  Berry documents the progress of the EBRP TIF that is discussed below.  

 

Senator Yvonne Dorsey said, “Every little part of it isn’t in the legislation” when speaking of SB611 

We shouldn’t be surprised. 

When Mayor Kip Holden joined hands with a convicted felon to create a TIF (Tax Increment Funding) plan for the downtown riverfront, red flags went up immediately. 

It was fairly obvious there was more than meets the eye to this legislation.  The legislation passed with Senate votes shown here and House votes here

Downtown Development Director, Davis Rhorer, says, “Clements criminal past should not be an issue.”  

I was not aware that it was common practice to do city business with convicted felons.  Something we learned was acceptable during this TIF project.

Pete Clements, the developer for this TIF project, has a past as revealed by The Advocate.  That past includes a felony conviction for tax invasion.  Felons are forbidden from having business dealings with gaming facilities, and during that debacle, Clements was not allowed to continue a business dealing with a casino. 

It is shocking that Louisiana State Police has not moved in to stop Clements from co-mingling funds with Hollywood Casino to build a proposed underpass.

Baton Rouge casinos are controversial at best.  They not only take away disposable dollars that could be spent elsewhere in our community for the greater good, but take non-disposable dollars from families who have gambling addictions.

This is disturbing at best. 

Now, our Mayor and other community leaders are using public dollars to not only help a convicted felon build a private enterprise, but to make one of our casinos more enticing.

Where does it end?

Senator Dan Claitor may have redeemed himself (with me) by opposing SB 611.  Claitor led the charge against SB611 to create the Economic Development District. 

Unfortunately, Claitor did not carry enough weight to defeat the bill, but did move himself up in the ranks of those who are willing to stand against the powers that be. 

This will cause Claitor grief in his future dealings with EBRP.  Kudos to him for representing the people and not the politics.

Claitor said people do make mistakes and can learn from them.  Perhaps his best quote was, “it is a big leap to ask the public to trust someone with millions of public dollars when a tax invasion conviction is involved.”

Well said!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Central’s Woes Saturday, Jul 3 2010 

UPDATE:  Judge Kay Bates has ruled that CH2MHill is not a public entity, and therefore is not required to provide records in regard to an advertisement placed in The Advocate newspaper.  (Community Press, LLC  vs CH2MHill, Inc.)  Woody Jenkins is the individual behind the law suit that was dismissed.  

Jenkins formerly enjoyed financial profit from CH2MHill advertisements in Community Press, LLC’s publication Central News, and lost revenue when CH2MHill chose another newspaper for the ad in question. 

Note:  *Added statistics on election results!

Additionally, I opened the forum for comments in hopes of receiving factual information from either side of this argument.  Instead I receiving bashing of individuals and ‘he said, she said’ claims.  None of these comments can be considered factual.  If you have proof of any wrongdoing on either side, I recommend you address the judge assigned to this case.   

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”   George Orwell

In five years, the City of Central has incorporated, developed a Master Plan, created its own School District, and elected a Mayor, City Council and Chief of Police.  All of this while standing up to the bully pulpit of Mayor Kip Holden’s massive tax increase and threats to oust the City of Central from East Baton Rouge Parish elections.

Quite impressive.

In recent months, Central’s leadership has come under attack by the editor of the Central City News, Woody Jenkins. 

By all appearances, Jenkins was happy until election time rolled around earlier this year.  Some say Jenkins had another choice for Mayor, however, Mac Watts won his bid for re-election against Jr. Shelton. 

What else is bothering Jenkins?

CH2M Hill was contracted by the City to handle contractual issues and hire the necessary personnel to carry out city services.  Birds were chirping and everyone was happy.  Even Jenkins, since some of CH2M Hill’s money was flowing into the coffers of Central City News evidenced by ads introducing Central City personnel hired to handle services.

The day before an election, CH2M Hill ran a 4-page advertisement in The Advocate explaining building permit fees.  This topic was also a hotly contested election issue between the two Mayorial candidates.

This ignited a firestorm of criticism from Jenkins. 

Post-election, Jenkins made a public records request to determine who was involved in the 4-page advertisement – a costly proposition at best to reach 5,000 readers of The Advocate.  CH2M Hill responded by providing records required, but claimed that information regarding the ad were irrelevant as they are a private company.

Jenkins retaliated again.  And, again.  And again, in his publication as well as in the courts by filing a lawsuit demanding information regarding the advertisement.  He wanted to know if anyone in Central’s leadership played a role in creating, approving or placing the ad in another newspaper.

CH2M Hill stood fast to its position by not discussing the ad due to the fact that they are a privately held company and no money from the City of Central was used to place the ad.

Journalism requires factual reporting, the discipline of verification, and to remain independent monitors of power. 

No matter what side you stand on regarding this issue, one fact remains.  When CH2M Hill was running ads in Jenkins’ publication, all was well.  Until, a costly 4-page advertisement ran in another newspaper.  That ad, some say, initiated the attacks and also may have played a role in Jenkins’ candidate losing the race for Mayor.

That ad didn’t appear to affect the race in my opinion.  Mac Watts went into the election with overwhelming support and always appeared to be the winner. *Watts won the election with 52% of the vote, and his opposition took 48% of the vote. 

I’m a believer in presenting the facts. 

In checking the City of Central records, it appears that CH2M Hill has provided monthly reports of services for the Mayor’s review.  Those reports are reviewed monthly by the City Council.  On a quarterly basis, a synopsis is provided to the residents at Council Meetings.  Additionally, I easily obtained a copy of the work performed by CH2M Hill through my contacts. 

Based on this, there doesn’t appear to be any secrecy on CH2M Hill’s reporting methods.

So, if the services were being performed to everyone’s satisfaction prior to the ad in question being run in The Advocate, and regular reports are provided, what’s the problem?

You figure it out.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican