Living the High Life Sunday, Apr 4 2010 

Nearly one year ago, I blogged about Mayor Kip Holden’s propensity to travel on the taxpayer’s dime.  This was based on the fact that in 1988 Holden ranked #2 as a Louisiana Legislator for one reason:  spending taxpayer monies on travel. 

Today, The Advocate has done an expose’ on Holden’s travel as Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish revealing excessive trips during his tenure.  Are we to be surprised?

One of the methods of determining an individual’s character is to observe how they spend other people’s money.  The goal is to be a good steward of the money.  A quick study of the EBR City Parish Budget indicates Holden does not hold fast to that mentality.

Part of the rub uncovered by Greg Garland, journalist for The Advocate, was Holden’s first class plane tickets.  (The taxpayer’s are footing the bill for domestic travel while campaign contributors or consultants are paying for foreign travel.) 

Another small annoyance is the fact that Holden was in violation of the Louisiana Ethics Laws by not providing detailed information on campaign expenditures for his China trip. 

When Garland questioned the Mayor on this issue, Holden quickly cut him off by admitting the Ethics Commission did ask him to file an amended return, but that it was not the business of the newspaper. 

Really?  That’s an interesting position for a Mayor.  Having made this statement, Holden is espousing that it is not the business of the taxpayers since the newspaper is charged with providing the facts for taxpayers. 

C. B. Forgotston often refers to the Louisiana Ethics Commission’s tendency to fail to enact the laws.  Forgotston refers to it as the “gold standard,” which in reality is a double standard.  In this case, there are no apparent violations or fees imposed according to the Louisiana Ethics Commission for Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden. 

The $10,000 reimbursable expense that Holden did not detail in his campaign finance report is not that unusual for our Mayor.  Nor are expenses that are questionable campaign expenditures.  Just a few to mention include:

  • LSU football tickets?  $1,520
  • LSU parking fees?  $5,050
  • Southern football tickets? $760
  • Southern parking fees?  $806
  • Camelot membership dues?  $201$201, $201, (apparently this is a monthly expense during Holden’s campaigns)
  • Car repairs?  $500, $3134, $800 
  • There are also expenditures for flowers on virtually every report for $800 – $1,300 in each instance.  That’s a lot of flowers. 

The point of this exercise is to take a look at how Holden spends campaign contributions.  It’s just more proof of his disregard for other people’s money.  Campaign contributors freely give their money for election results, not for luxury items for a candidate.  You can attend football games, and walk around the tailgaters without making your contributors pay for you to enjoy the game.  Sadly, few contributors even read campaign finance reports.

The campaign finance law requires explanations for each campaign expenditure.  To not do so would definitely be equal to violation of the law as it exists, regardless of Holden’s brush off to Garland upon questioning. 

Claiming that you were reimbursed $10,000 is not sufficient.  There should be a detailed explanation of how each dollar was allotted.

As Forgotston so eloquently states, there is a desperate need for our elected leaders to be forthright, and for the laws to be enforced.  Can you imagine using your employer’s money and then when questioned, tell them it’s not their business?  How long would you remain employed?

There is a huge chasm between the private and public sector.  Elected officials should understand that if we run city and state government like a business, we would spend less time living the high life and more time meeting the needs of the people they serve.

We have a way to go down this long and winding road we call politics in East Baton Rouge Parish, and it begins in the Mayor’s office.  If we are to be the greatest city in America, we have to do better.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Silent Majority No More! Sunday, Nov 15 2009 

creepy batture

Once again, the voters of East Baton Rouge Parish took to the polls on Saturday to say no to Mayor-President Kip Holden’s proposed $901 million bond issue.  Voters rejected paying an half-cent sales tax increase and a 9.9 mill property tax to fund questionable projects in 2008, and repeated that message on Saturday.

The message is simple.  City Parish government needs to live within its’ means. 

Senate District 16 is known as the most influential voting district in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Out of 103 voting precincts in District 16, 100 precincts voted NO to Holden’s tax increase.  Quite telling.

Unfortunately, Mayor-President Kip Holden and his entourage refuse to listen to those who elected him and appear to be considering a third run at the tax increase.  During the 10:00 p.m. WAFB news report, Holden, while claiming the voters turned their backs on the Mississippi River, hinted at regrouping for a third push at raising taxes.

What is most amazing is that Holden convinced businesses and political allies to donate more than $600,000 on a tax-increase campaign to convince voters to say yes.  The people would have been better served if those funds would have been used in the development of public-private partnerships than a poorly planned and executed tax increase campaign.

Holden pulled out the stops by garnering support from an endless list of politically motivated individuals and groups such as the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) who receives $500,000 annually from Holden for economic development.  Other key supporters included architects, contractors, attorneys and developers who stood to gain financially if the bond issue passed.  

On the other side of the issue, a very effective campaign was run by volunteers associated with the Baton Rouge Tea Party in their Beat the Bond message to voters.  The Tea Party spent less than 3% of the funds raised by their opponents, bringing home a victory with nearly a 3-to-1 vote against the tax increase with 64% voting no to higher taxes.

There is no doubt that this is not the final word on Holden’s plan to increase city-parish spending by passing it on to taxpayers.  Likewise, I believe the voters have gained strength by proving their vote can make a difference.

Voters are more savvy than in any time in history.  They have witnessed their federal tax dollars flowing into the coffers of financial institutions and car manufacturers, not to mention the dollars pumped into special interests. 

The seeds of deception Holden and his entourage sowed with the Metro Council and EBRP voters, no doubt, played a key role in the defeat of his tax proposal.  Once trust is violated, it’s a losing proposition.

Finally, Holden needs to learn that holding fast to a bullying mentality toward those who expressed concern or questioned his decision to increase taxes is no way to win over the public.  Voters have grown weary of political games, and expressed their disdain for this type of behavior.

The greatest event arising from the proposed tax increase was the involvement and feedback from voters who have been silent in the past.  As the Baton Rouge Tea Party says, Silent Majority No More!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Devil is in the Details Wednesday, Nov 4 2009 

Devil in the Details

 

When small things have larger consequences, we say “the devil is in the details” and this precisely describes Mayor-President Kip Holden’s $901 million tax increase which will cost an additional $814 million in interest.

Holden and his entourage have already proven to be less than trustworthy in being forthcoming with the voters.  Now, it is our job to spend a little more time looking at the facts.

It’s tough to fight city hall when they use diversion tactics to keep the voters away from the facts.  Better late than never, the media finally gave the voters critical information that Holden’s entourage chose to keep private.  They are to be complimented. 

I’m not sure which of the critical details are most important, so I’ll let you decide:

So much misinformation, so little time to check the facts.  Perhaps this is the plan by Holden and his entourage?  Will it work?  Or will the voters take a hard look at raising taxes in troubled financial times and say, enough is enough?

Will the voters be swayed by groups like the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce that receives $500,000 of OUR tax dollars annually from Mayor Holden to play a public relations role by touting economic development?  What about the mirage of financial supporters to Holden’s tax increase that includes a long list of companies and individuals that will benefit from the bond issue?

Why did Holden insist on not disclosing critical information to the voters, much less his own Metro Council?  Will his tactics of attacking those who question the bond issue work as a bait-and-switch agenda to divert voters from the real facts?

I have to totally disagree with insane claims that we can triple tourism because of Alive! being built, or that it will stop the exodus of our young and talented people.  Or, that we will drastically increase events at the River Center because of an expansion and new parking garage.  We expanded it before and saw virtually no increase in events.  

The carrot keeps moving folks!

Discrediting voters and cost-sensitive residents of EBR Parish has been the focus of the entire bond issue CAMPAIGN by Holden and his entourage. 

It won’t work this time. 

The greatest thing that Mayor Holden’s proposed tax increase has accomplished is a dialogue by more EBRP citizens than in the history of the Red Stick.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad that the small list of individuals supporting this tax increase has told us in the past that tax increases are not the answer, but responsible government spending is the answer.  What happened to our leaders?  It is stinking thinking to push a tax increase on us and not examine the spending habits of our Mayor.  

Every time these tired leaders want to get our attention and sway us into excessive spending, they use scare tactics and outdated sayings! 

Stop the insanity! 

Years ago we were told the Shaw Center, the rebuilding of hotels, the Casinos, updating the Centroplex, building Catfish Town, and more would save our city and make us a tourist mecca.  Oh, let’s not forget the building of an EMPTY dock on the riverfront.  Pretty to look at, but virtually unused! 

Maybe someone should talk with Secretary of State Jay Dardenne who has done more with less money and increased visitors at the museums under his purvue! 

While you are reading this, Holden’s entourage is working on getting out the vote. 

The only way you can stop this 30-year-tax-and-spend-plan for the Red Stick is to go to the voting booth and pull the lever by sending another message that we will not be bullied into increasing city-parish spending through a NEW tax! 

We cannot tax our way to prosperity, nor become the next greatest city in America by committing to a 30-year tax. 

Revolution is brewing!  Silent majority no more!  Join the Tea Party!  Vote NO to higher taxes, and Beat the Bond!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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

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

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

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