Senator Mary Landrieu . . .The Consummate Politician Sunday, Sep 14 2014 

mltroubled

Louisiana’s democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is, always, the consummate politician.

I begin by recalling her calm demeanor in the face of the Katrina disaster when speaking with Anderson Cooper — her focus was to thank her fellow politicians rather than discuss the real issues at hand (i.e. lack of response by the government, dead bodies in the street, etc.)

To add insult to injury, Landrieu also went to great links to play politics by issuing a public statement congratulating Governor Blanco for her handling of Katrina.

Unbelievable, right?

Then, at the 2008 DNC when she had an opportunity to ‘play politics’, she chose to speak out against FEMA and the failure to respond properly for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In the world of political analysts, the response would be “Well played, Mary, well-played!”

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, is also an avid blackmailer.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Two particular instances come to mind to support this argument.

The first was when she issued a press release stating she would hold up the vote on the confirmation of budget director, Jacob Lew, until the administration modified the moratorium that was set after the BP Oil Spill.

The second time Mary refused to endorse a public health care option until the administration agreed to provide Louisiana with $300,000,000 as a trade for her vote.

Some might say this is great because Mary held out for what was in Louisiana’s best interest.  I suppose that depends on how you feel about the outcome.

Are we better off with the current handling of oil production and sales in Louisiana?

Is the Affordable Care Act working for or against the average citizen at this time?

Perhaps the better question is — how do you feel now that you have the knowledge that a Senator representing you in Washington is an avid blackmailer?

Senator Landrieu also claims Washington as her official ‘home’ — even though she calls herself the senior Senator from Louisiana.

Evidence of this fact was taken on recently by one of her opponents in the upcoming Senate race when he brought out the fact that Landrieu did not even own a home in Louisiana.

Mary claims her parents home as the location she resides in while visiting her home state.

It is VERY important to note that I am about to put together the pieces of this puzzle:

  1. Judge Wilson Fields, a fellow Democrat, ruled that Senator Mary Landrieu’s residence is not relevant until election day according to the law, delaying this legal challenge until, and if, Mary is re-elected.
  2. Judge Wilson Fields is the brother of Cleo Fields, Democrat.
  3. Cleo Fields is an endorser of May Landrieu, Democrat.

Is this all a coincidence?  Perhaps, I will allow the reader to decide.

Mary Landrieu also has a propensity to spend taxpayer money for personal use.

This situation was uncovered, only after being challenged by an opponent, that Landrieu was spending taxpayer dollars on personal fundraising events by charging the government for her flight costs.

Once this was made public, Landrieu’s political operatives decided to go on the offensive by performing an internal audit of their flight costs and calendar.

Landrieu was aware that you do not mix ‘personal’ or political events with official Senate business.  All elected officials are aware of this rule of law; especially a seasoned ‘senior official’ from the good state of Louisiana.

At least 136 political functions were scheduled during 43 official Senate business flights since 2002.

Landrieu blamed the problem on faulty bookkeeping, and has now decided to use accounting software that other congressional elected officials use to avoid this problem.  Are you kidding me?

Mary has now cut a check to the good people of the U.S. — taxpayers who elected her — in the amount of $33,727.02 to the U.S. Treasury.

 Senator Landrieu’s endorsement may uncover questions.

Boysie Bollinger, one of the most powerful individuals in the State of Louisiana, has endorsed Mary Landrieu for re-election.  Mr. Bollinger is a multi-millionaire and the proprietor of Bollinger Shipyards.

Bollinger Shipyards received a $255 million contract to build Fast Response Cutters for the Coast Guard.  Landrieu is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee that approved that expenditure, and took credit by announcing the awarding of this contract.

Enough said.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Election Cover-ups – U.S., & EBRP Sunday, Nov 18 2012 

United States:

This week we witnessed the fall of another governmental leader — General Petraeus, who sadly chose to mar his image as an American hero.

Ironically, as serious as the choice that Petraeus made to commit adultery and its consequences are, it begs the question as to what was really going on in the form of a cover-up to not release the information publicly until post-election.  Of course, Petraeus’ mistress had access to his emails, which is a key question in the sharing of classified information that will now be investigated.

To add insult to injury, the apparent cover-up of what really happened in Benghazi, and the investigation that was delayed post-election is a sad commentary for America.

Anyone taking an honest look at this situation will realize that all the events surrounding Petraeus was a definitive cover-up during the Presidential Election.

East Baton Rouge Parish

Post-election, it seems fairly clear to me that the individuals who were previously criticized for attempting to “divide us” and “focus on crime” in the Red Stick’s recent Mayoral Election were accurate.

Post-election, the head of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber president, Adam Knapp, in today’s newspaper explains the ‘challenge’ of selling EBRP to companies considering us as a destination to do business due to the CRIME RATE!  What?  Huh?

Where was Adam Knapp during the Mayoral Election with these facts?

Good job to Kip Holden and his political operatives for getting the likes of Knapp, McCollister, FuturePac, the Baton Rouge Police Union, Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White, Pat Felder, Walter Monsour, John Noland, Rev. Raymond Jetson, et al.  to jump on Holden’s bandwagon endorsing him, crying racism, and refusing to address the crime increase in our parish during the election.  I am so disappointed in these community leaders for misleading us.

The inability of Kip Holden and his entourage to properly address the fact that crime is up in EBRP was a blatant cover-up to ensure his re-election and ignore the facts.

Post-election, the topic of increased crime is now up for discussion?

Let’s be clear on this article where Knapp is quoted about firms questioning the crime rate, seeing billboards and discussions about the crime rate.

The election was held November 6th, and the billboards went up less than 30 days ago.  Anyone who believes that we have had a surge of companies visiting in the past 30 days might be interested in some land I have for sale.  Ha!

As a researcher, I work on facts, and am not a conspiracy theorist.  At the same time, some would say this was a conspiracy properly planned by Kip Holden and his political operatives to ignore the facts, or should I say hide the facts from the public until post-election.

Unfortunately, all of the ‘so-called’ conspiracy theorists have been proven accurate in that nationally, and locally, information that should have been properly discussed in an honest and forthright manner was withheld from the voters until after the election.

To all those who endorsed Holden, you made your bed, now you will have to sleep in it — sharing Holden’s bed seems to be a commonality in EBRP!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Mayor Kip Holden: In His Own Words Sunday, Jun 17 2012 

As we prepare for the 2012 East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President’s race, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back to 2004 when Kip Holden ran against incumbent Bobby Simpson. 

I am a strong believer in reviewing the facts and quoting candidate’s own words.  It begs the question.

In 2004, according to The Advocate, mayoral candidate Kip Holden, made the following statements on October 25th while speaking at the Catholic Life Center about incumbent Bobby Simpson:

More than $119 million in this year’s budget has gone to professional service contracts, he said. “We are going to cut it out” and pay officers more.

When you can see the same conditions that existed four years ago,” then what has been accomplished, he asked.  (In reference to Crime, Traffic, Economic Development and Education.)

Fast forward 8 years.  If Holden felt Simpson should be replaced based on these 4 major failings, let’s ask the same question he asked:

“When you can see the same conditions that existed four years ago,” then what has been accomplished?”

  1. Crime is still a major issue. 
  2. Our Education problems are ever-increasing. 
  3. Traffic has improved in some areas; however, it is still a huge problem. 
  4. Economic Development is still not where it should be, and we are spending huge sums to underwrite BRAC’s initiatives that are questionable at best.

So, Mayor Holden, to use your own prolific words, why are we asking the same questions?

Two of the most disheartening issues I find of late (there are so many, but I will zero in on a few for now) include: 

Crime and Budget Issues

In 2004, Holden claimed that he would cut out $119 million in professional services contracts.  We have a long way to go to make that proposed cut a reality.

A side bar should be made here regarding the fact that not all professional services contracts are clearly spelled out in the budget.  Any accountant or CPA worth his salt will tell you how easy it is to hide expenditures in a budget the magnitude of our City-Parish — 513 pages to be precise. 

The truth is that spending for the Mayor’s Office in professional services contracts far exceeded what Simpson’s budget called for — this is strictly for the Mayor’s Office alone.  Take a look:

  • $200,000 – Patton Boggs – lobbying and consulting
  • $110,000 – Courson-Nickel – lobbying and consulting
  • $100,000 – Truancy (a pass is given on this one as it is sorely needed)
  • $100,000 – Red Stick Animation Festival

That is over $500,000 in Contractual Services for the Mayor’s Office only.  Contractual Services for the City-Parish make up 19.3% of the EBRP’s budget.  (See page 66 of the budget here.)

Finally, the budget for the Mayor’s Office has substantially increased since Holden was initially elected.  Let’s review the facts:

  • Mayor-President & Administrative Offices (page 78 of the budget):
    • 2005:  2,342,060
    • 2006:  2,785,780
    • 2007:  3,744,280
    • 2008:  4,748,700
    • 2009:  3,860,040
    • 2010:  3,825,570
    • 2011:  3,502,520

The numbers speak volumes. 

There are some changes on the horizon thanks to the Metro Council.  Their plans for 2012 included substantial changes in authorization privileges being moved from the Mayor-President to the Metro Council for certain expenditures.  These changes, of course, seriously affected the administration’s budget. 

According to the budget, those areas include:  Community Sponsored Programs, Economic Development Programs, and Community Centers (see page 76, item w. of the budget for verification.)

As I began, so shall I end. 

Mayor-President Kip Holden ran for office in 2004 under the auspices that former Mayor-President Bobby Simpson had not taken hold of Crime, Education, Economic Development and Traffic problems.

In 2012, we should do no less than ask the same very questions that Holden asked: 

“…what has been accomplished (to address these issues)…?”

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

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

Controversy: EBR Sheriff’s Office Monday, Jun 14 2010 

 

The problem surfaced when two inmates escaped from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and residents needed to be notified by the EBR Sheriff’s Office of impending danger.  Something went wrong.

EBR Parish has a Community Alert System (CAL) that was set up to notify citizens of impending danger.  (The CAL System works like the robotic calls we receive during political campaigns with a pre-recorded message.)  Other systems also exist including the Emergency Alert System (EAS) which alerts both TV and Radio for emergency announcements.

Two emergency messages came through CAL by telephone to residents with erroneous messages.  Later, the media announced the messages contained errors, and the blame shifting began. 

The media dedicated itself to investigate the situation, later reporting that the EBR Parish Sheriff’s Office was ‘left out’ of the emergency system.

Really?

Casey Hicks, a spokeswoman for the EBR Sheriff’s Office, stated that the message went out later than necessary because they were required to go through another agency, the Baton Rouge Fire Department, to use the emergency alert system. 

Scott Dyer, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, fired back stating that the EBR Sheriff’s Office could negotiate its own deal if they wish, but that the emergency alert system is limited to city-parish agencies.

Even later, the Office of Emergency Preparedness stated that the Sheriff’s Office only asked to be trained in the system, not to participate in the system.  No training has taken place.

Stories were flying as fast as Linda Blair’s head spin in The Exorcist.  Also known as CYA.

There are valid questions that the citizens of EBR Parish should now ask.

  • Why is the Mayor’s Office referring to the Sheriff’s Office as if they are not a city-parish agency? 
  • Why didn’t the Sheriff’s Office negotiate a contract with the new alert system vendor?  Or another vendor?
  • Why aren’t employees of the Sheriff’s Office trained to use the alert system?

After all the dust settled, and a lot of finger pointing took place, we were told that the EBRP Sheriff’s Office is looking into its own emergency alert system.

The escape of these two inmates have revealed other issues at the Sheriff’s Office:  According to Hicks, the inmates escaped out of the prison kitchen through a door with a ‘defective lock’.  The deputy who took a lunch break leaving the inmates alone to escape was fired.  Five individuals assisted the inmates in their escape, only two were arrested. 

Take a deep breath, there’s more to come.

The two escaped inmates also committed a murder before being captured.  Finally, thousands of dollars and endless hours of manpower was taken from multiple law enforcement agencies in order to capture the escaped inmates.  All underwritten by you, the taxpayer.

Normally, Mayor Kip Holden and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux are clamoring for time in front of the media.  Instead of addressing the prison break and emergency faux pas head on, they have both deferred to their spokespersons. 

When Gautreaux ran for Sheriff of EBR Parish, he made a lot of charges against former Sheriff Greg Phares.  One charge claimed that staffing levels at the parish prison were dangerously low.  Obviously this hasn’t changed if a deputy can leave for a 30 minute lunch with no relief. 

Gautreaux also made a lot of promises during his run for Sheriff — like building modular units at the parish prison to increase the ability to house inmates.  That has not happened. 

Another claim Gautreaux made was that inter-agency communication was poor, complicated and rarely used.  He promised to drastically improve communications and create seamless protection for EBR Parish citizens.  Is this his definition of improved communication?

Political endorsements appear to have turned into political finger pointing.    Perhaps we should have considered a law man rather than a politician.  Is that the sound of chopping wood I hear in the background?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Budget Watch: EBR Parish Sunday, Apr 11 2010 

 

Interpreting the East Baton Rouge Parish city budget is challenging and time-consuming.  This 485 page read is no J. K. Rowling novel, and I think it is safe to say that few have read it in its entirety.

The most important part of the city parish budget is the organizational chart showing the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish at the top.  As a resident and taxpayer, you are the one that the top three entities report to, which include:  the Mayor-President, the Metro Council and the Judicial Branch.  These are elected officials who are sworn in to office, and serve at your pleasure.

Next are the vision and mission statements, emphasis, goals, strategic initiatives, and budget process.  Then, we get into the real meat of the budget with detailed charts, graphs and financial reports indicating the sources of income and how dollars your tax dollars are spent. 

The general fund consists of 40% of the city parish budget.  This is signficant since 78.8% of that income depends upon taxes including sales and use tax, property taxes, gross receipts tax and other taxes including gaming proceeds.  The report indicates a $5 million reduction in business taxes, licenses and permits and interest rates.  This budget presentation comes from the same individuals who informed us the recession was not affecting the Red Stick.

Mayor-President Kip Holden joined hands with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) to the tune of $500,000 annually for economic development services for the Red Stick.  Each year the annual Canvas Trip is made by community leaders and politicians to cities that Holden and BRAC feel we should pattern ourselves after.  A puzzling addition to the budget is an additional $150,000 in business development support.  This is cause for concern since taxpayers were told that the contract with BRAC would replace any need for city-parish spending  or increase in services and manpower towards economic development.

When comparing the budget and planning process of the cities we have visited to the EBRP budget, some enlightening facts are revealed.  For instance, the city of Austin, hailed as the most desired city to pattern the Red Stick after indicates some progressive budgetary moves.

Austin indicates a major reduction in their annual budget for 2010 as well as a major change in 2009 indicating all city merit raises decreased from 4% to 2.5%.  There is a lesson to be learned here from a city we hold in high regard.

No salary increases for civil employees in 2010 and suspension of service incentive pay are also shown on Austin’s budget.  Additionally, cuts were made in their general fund including deferred contractual salary increases for police and EMS, eliminating vacant positions permanently, reducing overtime budgets, and adding gate fees for city-wide festivals.  Austin’s budget indicates a reserve of 11% compared to less than half of that reserve for the Red Stick.

More importantly is the involvement of Austin’s community in the budgetary process including transparency and collaboration.  Austin holds citizen focus groups, town halls, teen town halls, taxpayer surveys, a budget hotline and email program to make recommendations or question budgetary concerns. 

Additionally, Austin has implemented a Dollars & Sense employee input program including those who are not department heads or supervisors.  The EBRP budget indicates the only input that is allowed is the Mayor, the Chief Administrative Officer, Metro Council and department heads.  It begs the question.

Ultimately Austin’s goal is to be the “most livable city” in the country.  Nashville, seems to get it as well with beginning their entire process by referring to their metro city budget as The Citizens BudgetRefreshing.

Back at the ranch, EBRP’s budget has some major concerns for citizens to consider including the vast list of consultants which comprises 19.4% of expenditures.  It appears that consultant fees total $54 million.  Wow!

Mayor-President Kip Holden is also banking that our citizens will pay a visit to dump their hard-earned dollars at our two downtown casinos proven by the projected increase in revenue by an additional million dollars for the general fund.  I do not think you will find anyone who believes this will  improve our quality of life in the Red Stick.  Banking on the gaming addictions of our citizens is a bad move.

Increased spending is projected for a 10% increase in health care for city-parish employees, a $100,000 expenditure to ensure our local census is accurate, and a mirage of additional projects.  We have nearly $3 million allotted for EBRP vehicle purchases. 

We spend $340,000 on what is referred to as quality of life issues including fairs and festivals.  We also spend an additional $61,000 on hosting the bowling congress.  I wasn’t aware that improved our quality of life in EBRP.  In comparison, we give only $23,000 to the local Food Bank.

In 2009 we purchased a helicopter for the Baton Rouge Police Department vs. more boots on the ground.  I suppose that compares to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, who criticized former Sheriff Greg Phares for the purchase of a boat, purchasing a second boat which rumor has it was named after Gautreaux’s wife.  I guess that indicates Gautreaux’s attack was nothing more than a political public relations campaign.

As I began, the 485-page budget is an interesting read, yet a handful of taxpayers will take the time to peruse it and understand the spending mentality of Mayor-President Kip Holden.  One recommendation is that every consultant contract be identified; some departments detail the companies involved, others provide no details.

Ultimately, we need to look hard at our spending.  Carl Redmond of The Advocate might be better served to study the budget and investigate the mirage of consultants and their ties to Mayor-President Kip Holden.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Baton Rouge CityStats Reveals Inadequacies Wednesday, Apr 7 2010 

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation released their CityStats study for East Baton Rouge Parish earlier this week.  It’s an insightful look into the Red Stick’s Quality of Life, and worth reading.

CityStats provides information on facts such as:

  • Over a 5-year period, library readership has declined 14%, and library computer use declined 9.5% in a 2-year period.  Nevertheless, we are spending tens of millions to build new libraries.
  • Unemployment nearly doubled from 3.6% in 2007 to 6.1% in 2009, and is expected to increase.
  • Adjudicated properties increased by 54% in one year due for failure to pay property taxes.
  • Outward migration nearly doubled over the past five years, excluding Katrina which increased dramatically.
  • Patents dropped 14% over a 5-year period.
  • High school dropouts increased from 6.4% to 9.8% in four years.
  • High school graduates dropped 12.9% over a 4-year period.
  • Public and private school enrollment has experienced a steady decrease over a 4-year period.
  • A decline of 20% less qualified teachers over a 4-year period.
  • Toxic releases into the environment increased 32% over a 4-year period.
  • Our infant mortality rate is more than twice the national average.
  • Cases of sexually transmitted diseases remained the same or increased over a 5-year period.
  • An increase in commute time since 2004 was experienced while a decrease in airport use was experienced.
  • While bus ridership has increased, bus routes have decreased.
  • Violent crime has increased as compared to 4 years ago with the exception of Baker and Zachary. (See page 49 for full statistics.)
  • More than 1/4 of families in East Baton Rouge Parish experienced the inability to provide meals over the past year.
  • Child abuse has increased over the past year.

There are some positive factors, but frankly, they are outweighed by the tremendous volume of serious concerns over the quality of life issues for our parish.

Remind me again who the politicians and leaders are that kept telling us the Red Stick was not touched by the recession?

There is a huge difference between maintaining a healthy positive outlook and absolute denial.  Judgement begins in the actions of politicians and community leaders who have been handing out rose-colored glasses.

We need to get back to basics.  It begins in the Mayor-President’s office and in the seat of the Metro Council.  We have reached so deep into the pockets of taxpayers to create plans that are not improving the true Quality of Life for our citizens according to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s CityStats study.  

Our Mayor-President has had free rein to wrecklessly increase our city-parish budget during his 6-year tenure.  Take a look:

  • $563 million in 2005
  • $592 million in 2006
  • $621 million in 2007
  • $679 million in 2008
  • $694.9 million in 2009
  • $701.1 million in 2010

Do the math.  That’s a 40% increase to the tune of $138.1 million in City-Parish spending by Mayor-President Kip Holden in six years.

Enough said.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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