EBR Crime Statistics Sunday, Feb 19 2012 

Every 6 months or so, I read with great interest the crime statistics provided by East Baton Rouge Parish via our media outlets.  It’s one thing to say ‘the murder rate is down’; it’s entirely another task to understand the methologies and numbers as they really exist. 

Let’s discuss murders in 2011.  Understanding, of course, that we do not have access to all of the detailed data, we can read the archives of The Advocate and determine what is reported to the taxpayers of EBR Parish.

There are a lot of different statistics to consider: 

  • 81:  On Sunday, February 5, 2012, The Advocate reported there were 81 murders in EBR Parish (incorporated and unincorporated city limits). 

  • 64:  On February 18, 2012, The Advocate reports there were 64 murders in the incorporated city limits of the Red Stick, according to the BR Police Dept. 

  • 17:  Subtracting The Advocate’s report of 64 city murders vs. 81 parish murders equates to only 17 murder in the unincorporated portions of the parish.  (Unfortunately, the murders in the unincorporated sections of EBR Parish are not identified on the EBR Sheriff’s website.  (EBRSO stats are from 2009; a bit out of date guys!)

There are some flaws in the Uniform Crime Reporting as far as tracking crime.  I know this because I read the entire archives of The Advocate for 2011 and found more than 17 murders in the unincorporated portions of our parish. 

Though I do not believe all murders are storied in the daily newspaper, I do think those murders reported are actual.  Unfortunately, we are left to the tracking of law enforcement under the guidelines of Uniform Crime Reporting system which can make a significant determination in the method in which crimes are reported. 

The City of Baton Rouge has 227,818 residents in the city limits with 64 murders; 81 in the Parish.  New Orleans has 343,829 residents in their city limits, and UCR statistics show 105 murders in their city.   They have 66% more residents than we do, and we have 60% of the murders they have.  It puts things into perspective.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker stated last week while announcing his Mayorial intentions that Baton Rouge has crime equal or worst to New Orleans.  Earlier that same day,  Mayor-President Kip Holden stated that serious crimes were on the decline. 

Any way you cut it, we have a crime problem.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker recognizes, along with District Attorney Hillar Moore, that crimes are repeated by many of the same offenders. 

On the other hand, the percentage of those commiting the actual murders are often commiting only one murder each.  I certainly do not discount those repeat offenders that commit multiple murders; the numbers are simply smaller. 

Crime does escalate in the eye of a perpetrator.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker got it wrong by stating that we need to crack down on misdemeanors such as parking violations, etc. and keep a misdemeanor jail open 24/7.  Parking violators and such are not in the same league as those commiting crimes that escalate to violent crimes. 

Furthermore, Walker touted Baton Rouge Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee as an example of a perpetrator that passed through the court system numerous times.  This was an unfortunate example to use because Lee’s crimes were of a much more serious nature.  We can’t compare stalking and masturbation outside of women’s bedroom windows with those individuals committing parking violations.

This gap in linking serious crimes with non-violent crimes that do not escalate concerns me greatly on Walker’s behalf, even though I am a fan of Walker and have respect for some of the intitiatives he has implemented during this political career.

I am digressing to the Mayor’s race, but if we are to look for the right candidate for the Office of Mayor-President while addressing the apparent spike in crime (regardless of crime statistics shared), we must find a candidate that is not a politician. 

Baton Rouge, and East Baton Rouge Parish, needs to address crime head-on and properly classify perpetrators, while admitting we have a huge, escalating crime problem in the Red Stick.

Who is that candidate? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper Wednesday, Nov 16 2011 

They say honesty is the best policy.  In the case of Coroner Shannon Cooper, I might disagree — unless you are a voter in East Baton Rouge Parish who wants to understand just how he rolls. 

When I read yesterday’s Daily Report edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report, my first thought was that Coroner Shannon Cooper needed a new political consultant.

Cooper chose to reveal his true self by honestly responding as to his intention of how to deal with protestors that planned to show up at his office today: 

IGNORE THEM!

Cooper’s words spoke volumes as to how our Coroner really feels about the 7,000 to 8,000 families his office deals with annually.

Cooper’s words are powerful:

Cooper said he had no plans of speaking with any protestors that showed up his office today.

Where is the compassion for families who have lost loved ones? 

How much time would it have taken for Cooper to drive from the Baton Rouge General Hospital  or Surgical Specialty Center, where he is listed as a staff member?  Either one of these locations are less than 30 minutes away from the Coroner’s Office. 

Instead of taking a few minutes out of his private practice, Cooper takes the position that this is much ado about nothing. 

Try telling that to families who have lost their loved ones.

Is Cooper a man we want to re-elect? 

Can Cooper possibly explain to the voters and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish why he so cavalierly wrote off families who had legitimate questions? 

What about the Temple family who was there to ask why their son’s drivers license was found at the home of death investigator, Raymond Levie, in December, 2010?  Their son was killed in 2006. 

The Traylor family was also present at the protest.  Keith Traylor, the organizer of the protest, is the father of Jeremy who died of a drug overdose in 2009.  This family has suffered unbelievable heartaches because the Coroner misdiagnosed their son’s death, and changed the cause of death after they buried their son. 

Heartbreaking stories!

Nearly 50 families whose loved ones died in East Baton Rouge Parish, are not even aware of the fact that the drivers licenses, ID cards, and medications was stolen by death investigator Raymond Levie, taken to his home, and kept in body bags and closets. 

Maybe you know some of the families listed in the Baton Rouge Police Department Report?  Maybe you are one of those families?

Perhaps the most disconcerting issue is the fact that the Coroner claims he was unaware of these facts. 

This is not true according to the BR Police report.  That report states that 6 months prior to the murder-suicide that resulted in the death of Raymond Levie by Shawn Jones (who then turned the gun on himself)  at T. J. Ribs, the Coroner was contacted by the acting Police Chief in an effort to have Cooper come to his office to discuss numerous complaints and the contents of a search warrant performed on Levie’s home. 

The Coroner also dismissed the Police Chief by responding that if he wanted a meeting, he could come to his office because he wasn’t going to the Chief’s office.

That is arrogance in its highest form. 

I wonder which one of Cooper’s offices he was referring to? 

One thing I have learned through this story is that EBR Coroner Shannon Cooper doesn’t even go the Coroner’s Office most of the time.  I personally called all three of his offices to find out that he works as a pathologist outside of the Coroner’s Office — that he has turned over the reigns of the Coroner’s Office to his Chief Operating Officer, Don Moreau, who is the only person that is willing to even take your calls.

Clarification:  Though Cooper met with Traylor awhile back, he refused to supply their family with requested documents.  Furthermore, Cooper refused to acknowledge Traylor and other families on the day of their protest. 

According to the Traylor family, when they met with the Coroner, Moreau talked over Cooper and took over the meeting in short order, refusing to provide the family with documentation they requested.  This confirms who is really in charge at the Coroner’s Office, and it’s not Cooper!

What we have here is yet another politician who is glad to claim a title, the prestige of an elected office, to pick up a paycheck — but not show up to perform the duties he was elected by the people to do.  My understanding is that paycheck is significant – nearly $100,000 annually.  Pretty hefty check for someone who doesn’t show up! 

Instead of dismissing these families/protestors, perhaps it would have been in Cooper’s best interest to show up and take a moment or two to share a little compassion for these family members whose lives were turned upside down?

Instead, Cooper said:

It will be business as usual.

The EBRP Coroner’s Office is on call 24/7; they are charged with the responsibility of investigating untimely deaths, determining causes of death, and assessing whether individuals require commitment for further assessment or treatment that are mentally ill or drug dependent.

I have some advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper:

Keep your job at the Baton Rouge General and Surgical Center, because we prefer to elect someone who will show a little kindness, and commit to the responsibilities of their office!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

To Mrs. Levie, who responded to me in writing regarding this blog:  I have made two corrections, as noted in red above, to clarify statements. 

Regarding your question as to what good would it have done for Dr. Cooper to go out side and speak with the protestors, I would respond that he was elected to serve the public, and if a family asks for a second, or third meeting, it should be granted with the Coroner or one of his appointed representatives.  To not do so is to ignore the very families he claims he is mindful of on his website — those left behind.  They deserve nothing less.  I am saddened by the loss of all families who have lost loved ones whether by murder, suicide or drug overdoses.  My condolences to you.  Let’s hope that the new Coroner has a better open door policy.

MOHSEP Grants Misused? Saturday, Nov 5 2011 

Update:  The Baton Rouge Metro Council met yesterday to delve into the details of the Homeland Security Grant debacle.  By a majority vote, they determined it was in the best interest of the taxpayers that a full investigation take place in regard to MOHSEP, Mayor Kip Holden’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.  Unfortunately, they are giving MOHSEP until January 15th to resolve pending issues before pursuing the investigation.  Amazing how MOHSEP was able to ‘buy some time’ on the investigation.  Is this appropriate?

Perhaps a whistleblower among us might be able to shed light on the proposed investigation into the alleged misappropriations  of grant monies arising out of the office of the Mayor-President Kip Holden’s office and MOHSEP (Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness)?

According to OHSEP (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness), both Mayor Kip Holden and JoAnne Moreau, Director of MOHSEP, refused to follow state and federal guidelines.  Basically, they did not submit the proper paperwork as follows:

  • Failure to submit complete project applications
  • Failure to present potential expenditures to the Parish Emergency Management Advisory Committee (PEMAC)
  • Failure to get GOHSEP’s, the State Administrative Agency’s (SAA), approval on intended expenditures
  • Failure to obtain Environmental Historical Preservation (EHP) assessments as required by federal law

To add insult to injury, Mayor Holden and JoAnne Moreau misspent funds, did not receive approval for certain expenditures, and failed to supply details on past and future expenditures. 

Among those issues are the spending of $159,000 used for salaries while grant rules capped total salary payments at $95,500.  There is another $362,784 in spending that will not be reimbursed by OHSEP; that money will now have to come out of the parish general fund because the Mayor already spent the money!

There is a total of $1.3 million in spending that has already taken place by Mayor Kip Holden.  The potential exists that, without the proper documentation, that funding will not be reimbursed to the city-parish from OHSEP.  You should never spend money without funding, especially when the terms of reimbursement are clear. 

One of the precedents for grant receipt is to properly complete paperwork prior to receipt, to provide detailed confirmation on the spending of grant monies, and to be good stewards of the monies received.

Good stewards.  Sometimes this concept is foreign, once power and control take priority.

There is good news, however!  Chandler Loupe, a councilman on the EBR Metro Council, flanked by Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker, is making a move to request a full investigation and audit of funds received by the Mayor’s Office.  It is my hope that the full council votes next week to comply with this request.  No doubt, Mayor Kip Holden will be lobbying against this request.

Mayor Kip Holden has proven time and time again that he does not like being questioned — even when he is spending the taxpayer’s money — our money.  Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of all elected officials to comply with total transparency.  A concept that the Mayor does not embrace.

Where there is fire, there is smoke. 

The challenge set forth by anyone investigating the reason that OHSEP reallocated federal homeland security grant funding from Mayor Kip Holden and gave the authority to the Sheriff’s Office of EBRP and Ascension Parish is to find the truth.  The amount they were given authority over totals $4,033,033.

If Mayor Kip Holden and JoAnne Moreau of MOHSEP have nothing to hide, then they will embrace this investigation and provide detail necessary to get to the bottom of this issue.

Unfortunately, I fully expect Holden and Moreau to continue this debacle by not complying, refusing to participate with the investigation in a friendly manner, and continuing to hide the facts.

Holden and Moreau have been long-time compadres.  Yet, some believe that Holden will use Moreau as his scapegoat.  I disagree.  Anyone who has ever met Moreau knows she will not be thrown under anyone’s bus — including the Mayor’s.

The public deserves a full-blown investigation and the facts to be presented.  Of course, so did GOHSEP when they required that MOHSEP and the Mayor’s Office to supply details required by the grant.  All other parishes complied. 

Why didn’t Holden and Moreau comply?  The devil is in the details.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Coroner’s Office Troubling Sunday, Oct 30 2011 

The Office of Coroner has caused me pause over the past few months.  While doing extensive research, I have been troubled at the facts that have come forth.  It all began with a friend who had trouble obtaining a death certificate investigated by the Coroner’s Office  in short order.  Evidently, the backlog of death certificates in the Coroner’s Office is pretty extensive. 

Then, without warning to the public, a death investigator was killed in a murder-suicide a few months ago at one of my favorite restaurants, T.J. Ribs.  It was a very sad story that slowly unfolded. 

Perhaps it was then that the public began to made aware of significant issues that seemed awry. 

According to The Advocate, both Coroner Shannon Cooper and Chief Operating Officer Don Moreau spoke on occasion with the death investigator, Raymond Levie, about his relationship with a mentally ill woman.  This fact was verified by Moreau and the Baton Rouge Police Department reports.

The Coroner’s Office website states they are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, to evaluate the mentally ill, chemically dependent and handle death investigations. 

Furthermore, their website states the conditions under which CEC’s (Coroners Emergency Certificates) are issued in order for a physician to perform a psychiatric evaluation of a patient under an Order of Protective Custody (OPC) ordered by the Coroner.

In the case of Raymond Levie, as a death investigator, who is on call 24/7 — 365 days a year, it appears that Levie took the liberty of getting involved with a mentally ill patient and went beyond the perimeters of his responsibilties by entering into a relationship with the patient.

What is more troubling is that the relationship was volitile and the mother of the patient repeatedly made efforts to put the death investigator’s personal involvement to a stop.  The Coroner and the Chief Operating Officer were both aware of the request for a restraining order, requested by the mother, and the fact that the death investigator continued the relationship.

As things unfolded, Coroner Shannon Cooper denied that the patient was mentally ill.   The truth is that the patient was mentally ill and perhaps chemically dependent according the BR Police Department reports.

In short order, we also learned that the deceased death investigator had a large amount of personal property taken from the scene of death investigations in his apartment.  Those items included drivers licenses, other types of ID’s, and medication. 

The Coroner should have either dismissed or placed the death investigator on probation, as he was made aware of the situation in December, 2010, when a search warrant was performed at the residence of the death investigator when the BR Police Chief requested that Coroner Shannon Cooper meet with him.

The death investigator died in June, 2011.  One must ask if action had been taken by the Coroner prior to that time if two unnecessary deaths could have been avoided?

Additionally, it was not until after the death of the investigator that The Advocate checked in to the situation further to learn that the medications and personal property of those investigated by the Coroner’s Office had been confiscated in the December 2010 search warrant. 

This caused Coroner Shannon Cooper to publicly state he would implement a ‘new’ policy aimed at better tracking of drugs removed from death investigations.

In response to this ‘new’ policy, The Advocate Editorial Staff issued an Opinion stating the policy should not be verbal, as stated by Cooper, but should be stated clearly in writing.

The fact that Coroner Shannon Cooper stated he was implementing a new policy is troubling at best.

With a little research into the Louisiana Constitution, I found a written policy already in existence, in fact it is the law:

  • RSS13:1551 – Part II Coroner – Subpart A General Provisions — 1567:  Retention of Decedent’s Person Effects — plainly states that the Coroner shall take charge of person effects and property of the deceased at the scene of death.  Once complete, the Coroner is to return the property to the lawful person and/or provide it to law enforcement in ongoing investigations. 

The law is clear already.  Coroner Shannon Cooper and his office personnel were in violation of a law that was already in effect.  It seems to me that by ‘reinventing a policy’ that is already law, Cooper has diverted the attention from the real issue. 

Furthermore, Ron Coe, Coroner for Livingston Parish, told The Advocate in February, 2005, that his investigators had collected medications worth thousands of dollars over the past six months and donated them to the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy.  At that time, Coroner Shannon Cooper stated he has implemented the same policy.  That was 6 years ago!  If that is the case, how did drugs find their way to the residence of a death investigator?

All of this is extremely disturbing.  Evidently Cooper has taken on the characteristics of Pinocchio during his effort to hold on to his post in a highly contested election that will continue to play out during a run-off set for November. 

Pinocchio is often a term used to describe an individual who is prone to telling lies, fabricating stories and exaggerating or creating tall tales for various reasons. 

The people deserve a Coroner that will enforce the laws that already exist  — one that is not prone to ignoring the laws, but enforcing them.  The Advocate had it right in their Opinion; however, the laws are already on the books.

This may be the tip of the iceberg.  Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire. The truth is that the story is a sad commentary on what is apparently going on behind the scenes at the EBRP Coroner’s Office. 

Unfortuantely, Coroner Shannon Cooper made a cognitive decision to ignore the law.  Is this the type of man we want to re-elect?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mayor Kip Holden Horse Trades Wednesday, Oct 12 2011 

Mayor Kip Holden has taken on a new hobby – horse trading with your tax dollars by freeing up money to repair bridges in the parish in exchange for approval of one of his downtown projects.

In late July, 2011, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor Kip Holden accused our Metro Council of “virtually playing Russian Roulette with the lives and safety of the people of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish” for not approving his proposed $740 million tax increase/bond issue which would have included the repair of bridges in our parish.

The Metro Council was simply following the lead of their constituents who are sorely against the bond issue and another tax increase earlier this year.  Holden’s bond issue failed in 2008 and 2009 when voters refused to approve his tax increase.

Perhaps the most amazing revelation in this horse-trade is that money was ‘suddenly uncovered’ to fund the bridges requiring repair.  It is utterly amazing that the voters were told no funding was possible without a tax increase in 2008, 2009, and 2011, yet funds were ‘moved’ to meet the need.

It seems that Holden has no problem spending tax dollars on personal items such as:

  • $8,000 to ‘protect’ himself from the public by installing security cameras, a panic button, double glass doors, and a keypad. 
  • Nearly $1,000,000 to widen streets in downtown Baton Rouge,
  • Purchasing a helicopter for the Baton Rouge Police Department vs. putting more boots on the ground to address ever-increasing crime in our parish. (No doubt Holden flies around in the helicopter at will.)
  • Spending between $42,000 to $68,000 annually for personal body guards.  Over an 8 year period, this equates to between $336,000 and $544,000 of your tax dollars for his personal use. 
  • An annual expenditure, according to the city-parish budget, of $642 monthly to pay for a Lincoln Town Car to drive Holden around town.  This would be approximately $61,000 during an 8 year tenure for the rental of a vehicle or Holden’s use.

Mayor Kip Holden’s annual budget has increased over $138 million since taking office.  That is our tax dollars being spent.  Imagine having that kind of increase in your personal household spending?  It would never happen.  Spending someone else’s money is Holden’s specialty.

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 not changed Mayor Kip Holden’s spending habits.  In fact, as they say in politics, Holden has never seen a tax increase he doesn’t love.

Holden also spends his campaign contributions for personal expenditures such as:

  • 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!

I’ve addressed Holden’s tax-and-spend liberal modus operandi many times.  frivolous expenditures such as spending $1,000,000 of our tax dollars to lure Frontier Airlines, only to see Frontier flee Baton Rouge faster than a bank robber.

When does it stop?  Evidently, only when Mayor Kip Holden takes up a new hobby — horse trading with our tax dollars.

The bottom line here is that there IS already funding in our coffers to take care of the needs of our parish.  Otherwise, we couldn’t ‘move’ money from one frivilous project to take care of a much needed project like bridges requiring repair.

I’m not sure who to credit for this horse-trading-deal, but it appears that Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker cut the deal with Holden.  If that is correct, then kudos to Walker for making a bold move to find monies that already exist vs. allowing Holden to raise our taxes once again.

Follow the money.  It truly is a test of character.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Metro Council Attacked Saturday, Sep 24 2011 

Here we go again. 

Baton Rouge Business Report owner, Rolfe McCollister, Jr., has shown his disdain for the East Baton Rouge Metro Council in his most recent editorial focusing on a lack of vision for the Red Stick.

McCollister’s claim is that the EBRP Metro Council members lack understanding as to how a ‘vibrant riverfront’ will attract young residents that are educated as well as companies that will create jobs.

The claim is made that individuals against downtown progress want to preserve their cluster of suburbs and rarely leave a five mile radius except to travel to their jobs.

I disagree.   

On any given day, you can find venues from Perkins Rowe to shopping venues across EBR parish packed with residents from far outside of their five mile radius.  Restaurants are brimming to the gills with families and individuals (even educated ones) every day of the week. 

The other side of the coin should be considered. 

We are living in continuously changing times.  Priorities can and will evolve.  Still, a great deal of focus and funding in EBR Parish has been dedicated to the growth of downtown Baton Rouge.  

According to the Downtown Development District, over $1.8 billion was dedicated to the redevelopment of downtown from 1987 to 2008 alone, and $300 million more is on tap.  

According to the 2010 Census, the EBRP Population is 440,171.  The only figure I can find for downtown Residents is in the 4,000 range.  That is 1% of the population of our parish.  If funding for projects was determined on population alone, downtown would not have been a priority. 

There are, as we know, other factors to consider.  The question is are those factors of the utmost importance to all of the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish?

The City of Pittsburgh was cited by McCollister as a ‘best practice’ example for a successful growth of city.  Former Pittsburgh Mayor, Tom Murphy, recently spoke at the Growth Summit hosted in Baton Rouge.  It was there that we heard the challenge of the importance of not pandering to the “lowest common denominator”. 

Unfortunately, this phrase is now being used to refer to anyone disagreeing with a $1,000,000 expenditure to build a stage canopy and art design in downtown Baton Rouge.

Furthermore, such characteristics as small minds, visionless, blind to the future, myopic, parochial, and hypocritical were ascribed to our current Metro Council members who are reconsidering this lavish expenditure.  If you disagree with this expenditure, these characteristics penned by McCollister might describe you as well.

Or, perhaps not?

The truth about downtown Pittsburgh is that they had their own challenges.  The steel industry was broken and their downtown was nothing more than a red light district with 20+ massage parlors.  They currently have approximately 5,000 residents and they are thriving. 

If we want to talk about an example, let’s take a harder look at former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy. 

In only two terms, Tom Murphy reduced their city workforce by 1,000 individuals (21%), and turned a budget deficit into a budget surplus. 

Murphy renovated almost 169 playgrounds, built world-class facilities for both baseball and football teams, and refurbished neighborhoods by a landslide.  He also attracted companies that created so many jobs that they cannot be filled — companies like Alcoa.

Under Murphy’s watch, the city of Pittsburgh experienced their lowest levels of crime in over 30 years.

Yes, Murphy is an example of ‘best practices’.  Addressing the entire city’s best interests was Murphy’s claim to fame. 

Anyone who considers downtown as our only crown jewel, and fails to consider the entire parish is truly the one who lacks vision.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Is the Mayor Pro-Tem the Real Problem? Sunday, Sep 18 2011 

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

EBRP Metro Council Says NO to Tax Increase Sunday, Aug 14 2011 

Kudos to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council members that voted down Mayor Kip Holden’s $748 million bond issue that would have been funded by increased taxes to citizens of our parish.  This equates to the bond issue not finding a place on the October ballot.

The truth is that this tax proposal should have never been introduced by the Mayor; it was incomplete, did not include the appropriate parties, and was written in secrecy and withheld in its entirety from taxpayers.  The resulting action taken by the Metro Council was, therefore, absolutely correct.

Each Metro Council member was elected under the premise that they would represent the people of their respective districts fairly and honestly.  This can not be done if they do not have full information in a timely manner to make proper decisions that represent us.

In fact, Mayor Kip Holden did not even present the full details of his tax increase to the voters.  While other initiatives of the Mayor’s office are available online at http://www.brgov.com/, the largest expenditure for the taxpayers to date was not available for voters to view.  Once must ask why?

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book in the political world to withhold information in hopes of getting an initiative to slide through with few questions.  Unfortunately, for Mayor Kip Holden, we have elected a Metro Council that was set on doing their due diligence.  Fortunately, this favors the voters vs the politicians, resulting in no current increase in taxes based on a somewhat ‘secret’ proposal.

No, the proposal wasn’t entirely secret; we did know some of the intiatives included, just not enough detail for a bond issue of that magnitude.  Some of the intitiatives were questionable.  For instance, $32 million to expand the River Center.  My personal feelings are that we can continue to build a larger venue; however, we can’t seem to fill the one we have with consistent events. 

$418 million was to be dedicated to infrastructure.  No one can argue that we have let our infrastructure degenerate through the years.  Then again, some would say there are more valid questions as to how dollars have been spent in the past in the City-Parish budget.  What about another ‘pay as you go’ intiative?  It certainly worked for the Green Light Program. 

Only $298 million of the proposed bond issue would have addressed public safety.  This is a major concern for law enforcement, the Metro Council and taxpayers.  Crime continues to be one of the most critical concerns for our parish. 

Awhile back I addressed the huge sums of monies made by those putting together bond proposals.  I believe it was Metro Councilman Ulysses Bones that inquired as to how much the tax plan fully costs.  Hopefully, he and other council members will also address the large amount of fees required to make a bond proposal work.

Even better, there is an initiative by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Walker, and other Metro Council members to work with various City-Parish leaders to put together a more efficient tax package that will address one of the major concerns we are facing in East Baton Rouge Parish:  CRIME.

It will be interesting to see what Walker and others come up with in a revised bond issue .  Until we view their proposal, we can’t speak as to whether it has merit.

Time will tell.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mayor Kip Holden Still “Off Limits” Friday, Jun 17 2011 

 

 

Evidently it doesn’t matter if you are on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council, a concerned citizen, or a homeless man — the message is clear:  Mayor Kip Holden is “Off Limits” — and so is his office!  

According to The Advocate and Baton Rouge Business Report, the Mayor recently spent more than $8,000 to ‘protect’ himself from the public by installing security cameras, a panic button, double glassed in doors, and a keypad. 

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker stated his displeasure at the expenditure (albeit a Homeland Security Grant) and declared it unnecessary due to the fact that the building has uniformed security and that Mayor Kip Holden has his own entourage of personal body guards and drivers.  Walker’s thinking is accurate in that he referred to these security measures as sending a message to the public that the Mayor’s Office is “Off Limits”.

Surely no one is surprised at this blatent move by the Mayor to continue his ‘closed door’ policy? 

Holden and his ‘former’ good buddy, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, made the same move in his offices in an effort to line up with the same type of closed door policy.  Campaign promises to visit with each individual have gone by the wayside. 

Closed doors = closed minds?

Holden was first elected to the position of Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish due to Baton Rouge Next’s campaign against former Mayor Bobby Simpson.  The campaign was known as “Anybody But Bobby” or “ABB”.  With a goal that was clear and concise — “ABB” pledged to put their money, time and effort behind getting anyone other than Bobby Simpson elected as Mayor of EBRP. 

The “ABB” train was on the move, and Kip Holden arrived at the station just in time!  From the onset of the campaign, Holden was on the attack — claiming, of course, that his ‘addressing the issues’ was not negative campaigning, but simply “pointing out problems with Simpson’s record“. 

One might remember that William Daniel also ran in the primary of 2004.  Daniel loaned his campaign enough to run the infamous traffic ads produced by BRNext showcasing frustrated citizens sitting in EBR Parish traffic.  The political action committee, BRNext, created numerous ads that pointed out all the problems in EBR Parish and targeting the Mayor’s Office (Bobby Simpson in particular) for the issues at hand.  Holden spent very little in his own campaign, yet he benefited greatly from both ABB’s and Daniel’s expenditures.

This must have been a golden moment for Kip Holden.  The irony of the 2004 campaign was that former Mayor Bobby Simpson was attacked for doing nothing to improve three major areas of concern to EBR Parish citizens:

        1. Crime ……………………………………… still an issue 7 years later
        2. Education ………………………………..  still an issue 7 years later
        3. Traffic ……………………………………..  still an issue 7 years later

 I digress.  Back to the issue at hand.

The bottom line on Mayor Kip Holden being “Off Limits” is not a new concept.  Building glass double doors, adding keypads and buzzers to allow individuals to enter, and security cameras are just external signs of a policy that has been in place for some time now. 

The only thing that makes me wonder is why it has taken so long for the media and public to recognize the dichotomy of Holden. 

On a social level, Holden is the cat’s meow…always in attendance of every community event (beer in hand), a smile on his face, kissing babies, dancing, sharing motivational tidbits, and making campaign promises under the auspice of his catch phrase that Baton Rouge will be “the next greatest city in America” – Amen, brother!

The political side of Holden, however, is the man with a huge ego that loves to be driven around like Miss Daisy, catered to by his entourage, protected by his body guards, and is unapproachable for sensible open discussions about how we can work TOGETHER lest we fall apart. 

The latter is a dangerous man who lacks understanding.  He closes himself off from those with fresh ideas who have nothing to gain except to see the greater good prevail in a community.  His intentions are less than honorable when he does not share openly and freely information that the public (and the Metro Council) deserve to receive, and rejects the wisdom of crowds.

Yes, Mayor Kip Holden is Still “Off Limits”.  The only difference is that now you have to be buzzed in — or will they hit the panic button?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

 

Living in the Land of Pinocchio Friday, Feb 18 2011 

 

I suppose it would not matter if I took a five month or a one year hiatus from blogging, because when I return I will still be reporting that Mayor Kip Holden’s antics of name calling and stretching the truth continues to escalate. 

I liken it to  living in the Land of Pinocchio

Surely everyone knows who that character Pinocchio was, right?  He was a cute sort of guy with a funny nose that was created by a Woodcarver named Geppetto.  He was jovial and outgoing and often appeared at every event in town.  In fact, Pinocchio and Holden have much in common.  The Mayor was “created” by a Rainmaker who wanted to oust former Mayor Bobby Simpson. (Holden was elected during the massive Anybody But Bobby campaign.)

So many similarities.  So little to be proud of in these troubled times.

The Daily Report, a publication of the Baton Rouge Business Report, indicates that our illustrious Mayor Kip Holden is,  once again, attempting to use threats of potential bridge collapses to push through a new proposed tax increase.  

Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe, however, is saying that the Mayor is stretching the truth and using scare tactics to force a new tax on to voters of East Baton Rouge Parish.  Loupe goes on to say that there is money dedicated, or in the budget, to repair all of the bridges with low ratings, and Holden is crying foul with no basis for doing so.

Pinocchio stretched the truth, and his nose grew.    Holden’s face does not offer any obvious tell-tale sign to voters. 

Of course, in his normal fashion, Mayor Holden fired back at yet another council member.  Each time Holden’s attacks get bolder.  This time, Holden specifically is quoted as saying, “Chandler Loupe is an absolute liar”.

Some might say, “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. 

Holden reminds me of Kanye West, a rapper known for his inability to engage his brain before opening his mouth.  Then again, West did perform a freestyle version of the Pinocchio Story while on tour, espousing that his own personal life lacked depth, and that he needed a simpler life than seeking that of fame and the spotlight.  West said, “I just want to be a real boy.”  A lesson Holden might consider.

Some might ask why I am often so harsh with Holden.  Easily explained.  Too whom much is given, much is required.  Our leaders, especially those elected to serve and protect the people who elected them, should be held to the highest of standards. 

The truth is that I long for the day when I can wake up from this Nightmare on Main Street, where we are pressed on every side by a growing city-parish budget, higher crime than most cities in America will ever experience, and leadership that is more interested in attacking anyone who disagrees or questions him. 

Bodyguards, limousines and verbal attacks have set the tone for Mayor Kip Holden’s reign over East Baton Rouge Parish.   

The Red Stick has begun to mirror its’ leader.    Jiminy Cricket!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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