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

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

A Tangled Mess? Wednesday, Apr 14 2010 

 

For a few minutes, I thought yesterday’s Baton Rouge Business Daily Report was sounding a bit like the Red Schtick.  I regrouped, and quickly came to my senses when I realized was I was reading was not a joke.  Nevertheless it was a shock to read what was happening. 

Normally, when you put together a tax increase in the form of a bond issue.  Law requires that the voters must decide if the plan and tax are acceptable.  Voters pull the lever, and the tax passes or fails. 

Or not? 

Last year the taxpayers of East Baton Rouge Parish defeated Mayor Kip Holden’s proposal to raise taxes in the form of a bond issue for riverfront development in downtown Red Stick.  The voter’s decided raising taxes was not acceptable in the current financial climate.  Also, another major downtown project was not pleasing to the voters.

There is another way.

By creating economic development districts with the ability to use TIF (tax increment financing) funds, a vote of the people is not required if there are no voters in that particular district.  

SB611 by Senator Yvonne Dorsey is proposing that an economic development district be created along the riverfront of downtown Baton Rouge.  The purpose is to build a river park multi-use development by Pete Clements for approximately $600 million.  It is located next to Hollywood Casino.  Clement’s  development would include a hotel, condominiums, retail and residential construction, office space, 6,000 parking spaces, and an amphitheatre.    

The Advocate also reports that developer Pete Clements declared bankruptcy in 1987, as well as committing tax evasion and lying to the FBI in 1994.  Clements withheld taxes, and purportedly hide money from the Feds.  As result, he was convicted and served over 3 years in a federal prison.  He was released in 1997. 

The Mayor stood by Clements as Holden announced the downtown project at Tuesday’s DDD meeting. 

The economic development district proposed by Dorsey, and endorsed by Holden, allows for the sale of bonds, and the collection of taxes from the district via TIF funds.  TIF funds are any taxes collected that are above and beyond taxes collected the previous year. 

Criticism of TIF funds come for many reasons.  Some feel that private developers reap the benefits of bonds sold along with the possibility that the developer is favored by politicians. 

The new district would create another Commission to make decisions over the economic development district.  A five-members board would be appointed by Mayor-President Kip Holden, and approved by the Metro Council of EBRP. 

Members will have full authority to enter into contracts, acquire land, oversee land development, hire employees, issue general obligation, revenue and special assessment bonds, certificates and notes and to levy taxes within and on behalf of the district.  These taxes will be voted on, but only by those within the district, disallowing other citizens of EBR Parish to vote.  Furthermore, if there are no voters in the economic development district, no election is required.

There is more to the story of developer Pete Clements and the land in question according to The Advocate archives.  In 1994 Clements was tied to Casino Rouge as a stockholder in Capitol Lake Properties, a company that leased land to the casino, now known as Hollywood Casino. 

Louisiana State Police demanded that the casino distance their self from Clements due to the fact that he was a convicted felon and it violated gaming regulations to do business with a felon.  Clements sold his stock, but Judge Frank Polozola reversed the sale and left the stock in Clements name while giving control of the corporation to the Internal Revenue to recover taxes not paid by Clements.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Corporate Database indicates that Capitol Lake Properties is owned by Astrid Clements, who resides at the same address as John “Pete” Clements.  The corporation indicates a report was filed by the corporation on February 27, 2010 which keeps it in good standing. 

This entire situation is way over my head; however, something doesn’t set right with me about this potential legislation.  There are too many questions based on the history revealed by The Advocate.  It seems a detailed investigation is called for regarding this plan. 

Is it good business for city-parish and state governments to create a way to raise funds via taxes without a vote of the people?  I find this a slippery slope.

There is no doubt this is a tangled mess.

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

In the Trenches of the Red Stick Sunday, Mar 21 2010 

If you want to understand the realities of life, just talk to someone who is living in the trenches.  It’s a common mistake to ASSuME that you understand a situation until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes.

This is precisely what happened in an effort to produce a positive campaign for the Red Stick by consultants and political leaders over the past year in regard to the recession’s effects on a local basis.

In December, I opined about the top ten stories in the Red Stick with #8 being a drop in East Baton Rouge Parish sales tax revenues.  As of October, the drop was 4.64% less than the previous year.  By December, The Advocate reports a drop of 6% for 2009 vs. 2008. 

On Friday, March 19th, The Advocate reported a drop of 12% for January, 2010 in East Baton Rouge Parish.  That equates to a 76.8 million dollar drop in spending in our parish for January alone.

Spendthrift mentalities must regroup.  It’s something the average citizen understands.  One of the reasons that the health care reform debate is so contentious is that political leaders are not listening to or heeding the desire of voters.  Politicians that ignore reality and continue to make false assumptions and false promises are out of touch with citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

The Tea Party may draw some radical members, as witnessed yesterday by irreprehensible hyperbole, but the substance of what the group at large is preaching is common sense. 

With all due respect to economist guru, Professor Loren Scott, even he was in error with his ridiculous predictions that Baton Rouge was not affected by the recession.  Finally, Scott stated to The Advocate, “I guess it’s just turning out to be tougher, certainly tougher than anything I anticipated.  I hadn’t anticipated anything this big.”

Perhaps the greatest flaw was that statistics and charts are not good indicators of what is happening around the kitchen tables in Baton Rouge.  The best research is around the coffee shops where citizens are quick to talk about their financial woes to support their family. 

The political world is a strange one.  It is not for the fainthearted, and is a like a pressure cooker magnified.  Popularity is seldom gained by delivering the bad news.  Regardless of speculation, this is the precise reason Mayor Kip Holden’s bond issue failed by an overwhelming vote of the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish last fall.  Yet, he seeks to revisit another tax increase. 

Voters, however, are more savvy and do live in the real world.  Sugarplums dancing in the heads of politicians and consultants do not make a significant impact on the average family that is struggling to meet their basic financial obligations in a rough economy. 

An average family in East Baton Rouge Parish has a household income of $43,316 according to the Mayor’s Office.   With a 2.9 person ratio in each household, that makes for some serious financial challenges.

It’s time that Mayor Holden wakes up, stops dancing around the issues, and cuts parish spending.  Of course, this will happen eventually as sales tax income continues to shrink.  Or, he could propose another tax increase?

I took a hiatus from blogging for the last two months in hopes that I would return with positive news.  The truth is that we are living in troubling times, and there continues to be some chasm between political fodder and living in the trenches of the Red Stick. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The EBRP Money Tree Friday, Nov 27 2009 

 

Mayor-President Kip Holden is full of contradictions.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons I question budgetary issues in the Red Stick.  All one has to do is to pay attention, do a small amount of research and compare the endless trail of contradictions.

On one hand the Mayor’s Office released information indicating the fact that East Baton Rouge Parish income has decreased (according to a recent report in The Advocate).  Income from taxes is on the decrease in EBRP.  So much so, that the finance department is closely watching for potential challenges in city-parish spending for 2010.

Meanwhile, Mayor Holden plans to spend more of our tax dollars to lure new airlines to the Baton Rouge Metro Airport.  The increase in city parish spending would include $200,000 in advertisement and a 100% reduction in terminal rent, landing fees (that means free for the airline) for 2 years with an additional 5 cent reduction in fuel costs.  The expenditure was approved by the EBRP Metro Council on November 25th.

Flash back to 2007.  Mayor Holden cut a deal with Frontier Airlines to the tune of $1,000,000.  The promise was that the Red Stick would enjoy 3,000 indirect and 2,000 direct jobs.  As usual, the employment numbers were inflated and Frontier flew into the sunset one year later with $550,000 of our tax dollars.

Either Mayor Holden has a money tree we are not aware of, or he is banking that our tax income will not continue to drop.  If income drops just a couple more percent, city-parish’s budget will be operating in a deficit.

There is also the theory that Mayor Holden is a tax and spend liberal.  I prescribe to this belief.

Michael Acaldo, CEO of St. Vincent de Paul, indicated they served a record number of Thanksgiving meals to the needy in Baton Rouge. 739 vs 600 in past years, making that an all-time 20-year high.

Holiday Helpers normally serves 1,200 meals annually; however, they served 1,500 needy citizens this year — another record-breaking number of hungry families. 

These are specific indicators of the issues facing families in the Red Stick.  While Mayor Holden tries to convince us that the Red Stick has gone unscathed by the U.S. recession, we now have more evidence to indicate the opposite is true. 

It is so important that voters do their homework.  What we are told and the facts are sometimes drastically different. 

Is there a pending financial crisis for the city-parish, or are the coffers flowing to the point we can increase expenditures by nearly a quarter of a million dollars to lure another airline with no guarantees? 

Are families unscathed, or are they working hard to make ends meet?

Phaedrus said, things are not always as they seem, the first appearance deceives many.  The intelligence of few perceives what has been carefully hidden. 

The truth is important, and all we need to do is to look at the facts vs. political double-talk. 

How you spend someone else’s money speaks volumes.  Holden’s actions continue to prove he is spendthrift with our tax dollars.  While we are having record numbers of hungry families in the Greater Baton Rouge area, Holden is continually seeking out ways to increase spending.

Does Mayor-President Holden have an EBRP money tree?  Only if you have it hidden in your pocketbook.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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

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

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