J. R. Ball, Baton Rouge Business Report columnist, gave a dressing down to Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker of the Baton Rouge Metro Council for questioning an additional $1 million expenditure for a downtown stage covering and an artistic design.  

Who dares to question the expansion of downtown Baton Rouge, much less Mayor Kip Holden.  It almost seems Ball is channeling Holden in his scathing attack on Mike Walker!

Ball claims that Walker’s only reasoning for his change of mind is because of his political aspirations to become the next Mayor of EBR Parish.  

Ball’s scathing opinion of Walker was met with opponents and proponents of his assessment as noted by opinions expressed on the page of Ball’s opinion

Additionally, the Baton Rouge Business Report did a poll asking readers “Do you think the Metro Council should reconsider spending $900,000 for a state covering at the Galvez Plaza development downtown?”  51% voted no, while 41% voted yes. 

The fact is that the expenditure for Galvez Plaza was reassessed, and the amount was increased drastically earlier this Spring. This is a common concern with EBR City Parish spending, and should be noted by taxpayers – and J. R. Ball. 

A simple review of past Metro Council meetings indicate consistent excessive spending beyond the original bids accepted on projects.  The Mayor’s Office is always ‘going back to the till’  (aka “our pocketbooks”) !

Perhaps spending is the REAL problem? 

Then again, attacking Walker might be the path of least resistance with the current Mayor who seems to have no issue with overspending. 

Constituents of East Baton Rouge Parish (those who learned that an additional $1 million was approved for a project that was already previously bid on at a lower cost) got upset. 

Spend more money?  On Downtown?  On a sculpture and stage that admittedly will be used less than 10% of the time?

My bet is that if you did a poll of the citizens of EBRP as to whether they would approve an additional $1 million on a building project from their contractor,  their answer would be a definitive NO. 

Is an additional $1 million necessary for a stage cover and artistic design? 

The good news about J. R. Ball’s article is that he does state that Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker was formerly “the Mayor’s puppet”.  The bad news is that the article is a direct attack on an elected official that has found the courage to step out from being a ‘yes man’ to Mayor Kip Holden and doing what he was elected to do — serve the people who elected him and become a voice of the parish. 

Kudos should also be given to other Metro Council members who raised legitimate concerns:  Bones Addison, Smokey Bourgeois, Alison Gary, and Scott Wilson.

51% on the Baton Rouge Business Report poll said no to the expenditure.  Last time I checked, that was a majority. 

We elect the Metro Council to be wise in spending practices for the parish.  It is our hope that they will ‘take our place’ at meetings and make decisions that are in our best interest. 

My guess is that even if the Metro Council does approve the additional $1 million, that another change order will be forthcoming before the project is complete in 2012.  Hint:  The Mayor’s spokespersons said they can not guarantee that additional spending might not take place. 

So, what is the issue that concerns the voters?

The political aspirations of Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker, or the fact that we are continually being asked to open our pocketbooks with NO accountability or limits by Mayor Kip Holden?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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