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

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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

Kip Holden and Louis Farrakhan Tuesday, Oct 16 2012 

I received this by email today and thought it worthy of passing on….read it and weep!

Kip Holden and Louis Farrakhan

 

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan recently spoke at Southern University and was provided a taxpayer funded BRPD escort from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and back. Additionally, members of the BRPD S.W.A.T team were pulled off the streets and stationed at Southern to provide security for Farrakhan.

Here’s a YouTube video of Farrakhan thanking Kip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO8oqc4MBak

Just who is Louis Farrakhan? Here’s some background information from the Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/profiles/louis-farrakhan

Does anyone remember the Black Panther’s visit to Baton Rouge in 1970’s when camera man Bob Johnson was brutally attacked, and Baton Rouge residents lived in fear going to downtown Baton Rouge for years, causing many economic and social problems with negative impact to our hometown? This event was sponsored by the Southern University Student Government Association and the Nation of Islam Students.

Why were our tax dollars and BRPD personnel used to escort a man who preaches hate? And why, when we already face a critical shortage of police officers, were police pulled off the streets to provide security for this man? Would we have done the same for other speakers who preach violence and racial hatred on tax-supported college campuses? Would we extend the same courtesty to Christian, Jewish or ideologies? Are we promoting acceptance of Sharia Laws and radiacal Islamic conversions at Southern, and other universities?

Here are 5 things you can do right now to let Kip Holden know this is NOT okay!

1. Email or call Kip Holden’s office. His number is (225) 389-3100 and his email address is mayor@brgov.com.

2. Email the Metro Council. You can email all members using this address: metrocouncil@brgov.com

3. Write a Letter to the Editor. The Advocate: www.theadvocate.com/help/letters

Central Speaks: Email letter to: info@centralspeaks.com

The Zachary Plainsman: Email to: stacy.gill@zacharytoday.com

Central City News/Capitol City News: Email to: centralcitynews@hotmail.com

4. Share the YouTube video on Facebook and let others know about Kip’s use of your tax dollars to chauffer Farrakhan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO8oqc4MBak

5. Cut, paste and forward this email to 10 friends and encourage them to do the same.

Let’s vote carefully and wisely in this upcoming election!

Billy

EBR Republican Connection

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

To Investigate Or Not To Investigate, That Is The Question? Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

 

 

 

Investigations are required in order to solve the mystery of a crime – or potential crime.  To investigate is to do so by taking all leads and fully examining information presented with care and accuracy. 

As I continue to follow the storyline of alleged malfeasance in office possibly committed by Mayor-President Kip Holden, I have questions regarding how far the investigation has advanced thus far. 

Someone may need to help me interpret what is being reported, taking in to consideration the fact that the public is not always privy to the details of investigations. 

After all, the facts as presented to us are confusing at best. 

It was just a few years ago that we recall a flyer mailed to a select number of residents of East Baton Rouge Parish describing an alleged affair between Mayor Kip Holden and a woman (other than his wife). 

The flyer brought on accusations by an unnamed source at the time against Mayor Kip Holden.  Once made public via the newspaper, the Mayor began making counter-accusations by naming numerous individuals that he felt were responsible for the flyer. 

One by one, the Mayor (in an attempt to get the focus off of him) marched individual’s names before the media as the supposed source of the flyers that alleged he had an extramarital affair.  It caused quite a stir in the media, followed by the hiring of an attorney and investigator who proceeded to jump on the bandwagon of accusations.

I am always fascinated when someone is targeted by another party, especially when the response is a counter-accusation.  It reminds me of being on the playground as a child when the focus is now on the messenger vs. the alleged guilty party.  Sometimes ‘shooting the messenger’ works, and suddenly they are the bad guy vs. the individual who performed the dastardly deed.

For awhile, it seemed that Mayor Holden was successful in the public’s eye by attacking the sources of the flyer vs. the actual content of the flyer. 

After much ado, the creator and the distributor of the flyers were named publicly and the Mayor promised to sue them both for defamation of character.  Successfully, the Mayor got the attention off of the content of the flyer and on to the individuals responsible for sharing the information. 

This must have made the Mayor and his entourage very happy?

Unfortunately, nothing really happened.  The rumors died down, the creator and distributor were basically forgotten and all seemed as if nothing ever happened, with the exception of the whispers among those questioning the validity of the information contained in the flyer. 

Believe it or not, there are many people who really do believe that a betrayal of a marriage shows the true character of a person.

Fast forward to 2012.  Lawsuits begin flying back and forth about possible defamation of character and personal attacks that may or may not have validity.  A court date is set and we all watch with various degrees of interest.

Then, while we are all caught unaware, public records laws reveal that another party is asking for a full investigation into activities surrounding the prior accusations.  The ex-boyfriend of the woman who Mayor Holden supposedly had an affair with reveals that the woman shared with him confidentially that she received trips, gifts and cash from the Mayor that she believed to be from the city coffers. 

The plot thickens.

Now hold on!  Just when you think that a full investigation might take place to find out if the accusations are true, it appears that the investigation is thwarted because a Judge, a Sheriff, and God knows who else, claim that the former boyfriend’s story is considered “here say”.

Whoa!  Hold on!  This is where I may need some assistance. 

Let me get this right.  If I call or write a judge or law enforcement officer and tell them I know of someone committing what I believe to be a crime because ‘someone else’ told me that ‘John Doe’ is spending thousands of dollars on them that they believe came from the commission of a crime (and taking money from city coffers for use other than it was intended is considered a crime), will they just dismiss me because this is here say?

Let’s up the ante.  I talk to someone’s parent who tells me their child committed a murder, but since they believe it is self-defense, they are not going to tell anyone.  If I call with that information, am I dismissed because this is considered here say?

Well, I know the answer to that question.  Any law enforcement officer worth his salt will look into this alleged murder and will not dismiss my call as here say. 

So, why is the information from the ex-boyfriend considered here say?  Just because you are a jilted lover does not make every piece of information you share not worth fully investigating.

Maybe an investigation is still ongoing?  Let’s hope so. 

Thus, the topic of this piece. 

Hamlet asked “To be or not to be, that is the question?” 

I ask “To investigate or not to investigate, that is the question?”

In the age we live in, I say that you fully investigate possible wrongdoing.  We have watched Mayors in surrounding communities falling like flies because they chose to line their own pocketbooks vs. the pocketbooks of the taxpayers. 

Why should these accusations warrant any less attention? 

To dismiss information without carefully and fully questioning all those potentially involved in the potential commission of a crime would prove to me that the system is functioning even worst than I believe it to be.

As an officer of the law, you should not ‘pick and choose’ who you investigate and who you do not investigate regardless of their stature. 

Unfortunately, many of us already know this is a problem that needs to be thrown into the public eye for consideration when viewing the inadequacies of the legal and judicial system as it exists today.

We are watching and waiting to see if investigators will fully investigate charges that Mayor Kip Holden spent thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on a woman — or anyone else for that matter.

As an elected official, you have a duty to uphold the responsibilities of the office which you are entrusted by the people.  If, for any reason, you fail to be responsible with your time, taxpayer money or resources, you have failed to fulfill the duties of your office — and committed a crime referred to as malfeasance in office. 

In ending, one last burning question exists in my mind. 

What if the elected official entrusted to perform the investigation has some of his own skeletons, and the individual who he is charged to investigate knows those details?

I long for the days when I could say ‘ignorance is bliss’!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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

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

Spendthrift Sheriff Sid Gautreaux Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Ten years have passed since a 3.73-mil property tax was implemented to support the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says “If these funds are not renewed, then we will have to severly cut our services to the community, including the number of deputies we have patrolling the streets.” 

Gautreaux has taken an age old Democrat position:  Threaten the public with reduced services if taxes are not enacted or renewed.  It’s a tired argument.

Perhaps the issue is not the tax, but the spendthrift practices of the new Sheriff?

The EBRSO’s figures used to promote the tax renewal appear to be a bit out of kilter.  On the EBRSO website, a flyer promoting the election indicates that the millage generates $12.3 million for the EBR Sheriff’s Office, while The Advocate reports that the EBRSO’s take is $13.8 million from this millage.  That’s quite a gap.  Which figure is accurate?

While there is no doubt that we need to support law enforcement, taxpayers would be better served to receive consistent, accurate information when asked to renew a millage that has a $1.5 million chasm.

Furthermore, in reviewing the Louisiana State Audits of the EBR Sheriff Office, some interesting facts caught my attention.  It also changed my mind about the tax renewal.

Good news, bad news.

The good news is that assets exceed liabilities.  The current reserve is $26.2 million in total assets.

The bad news is that those assets are rapidly decreasing due to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux’s spendthrift practices.  Take a look at the annual budget figures indicating revenue and expenditures:

  • Before Sheriff Gautreaux took office as Sheriff:
    • The 2007 budget indicates annual net assets of $2.2 million, annual revenue of $61.3 million, and annual expenditures of $59.1 million. 
  • Gautreaux took the helm of the Sheriff’s Office in January, 2008:
    •  2008 budget figures indicate annual net assets of $3.3 million, annual revenue of $68.5 million, and annual expenditures of $65.2 million. 
    • This is an increase of $7.1 million in annual revenue, and an increase of $6.1 in annual spending.
    • In 2009, with Gautreaux in his second year in office, the budget indicates  he overspent to the tune of $1.9 million, with annual revenue of $72.6 million, and annual expenditures of $74.5 million. 
    • This is an increase of $4.2 million in annual revenue, and an increase in annual spending of $9.3 million.

What does this tell us? 

In two short years, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux is quickly spending the assets of the EBR Sheriff’s Office.  The revenue has increased by $11.3 million, while spending has increased by $15.4 million under his watch.

If Gautreaux continues to overspend, we are looking at a need for even more tax dollars to underwrite his spendthrift practices.  Do the math.  As we all know, if you continue to overspend, you will eventually deplete your savings.  No wonder Sheriff Gautreaux wants us to renew the tax millage. 

Although I have great respect for Tax Buster’s leader, Fred Dent, I can’t help but wonder if he took time to read the State Auditor’s reports on the Sheriff’s Office annual budget when he so readily said we should support law enforcement by voting yes to the tax renewal.

Again, I have to say NO to taxes – even though it is a renewal. 

It is important that we not endorse spendthrift practices of our tax dollars, and that we hold our elected officials accountable for balancing budgets and spending less than we take in — otherwise, we are headed down another slippery slope.

When Gautreaux ran for office, he clearly stated that he could increase services without raising taxes.  Was this just more political talk to get elected?  Why has there been such a dramatic increase in spending?  How long can we afford to spend more than we take in at the EBR Sheriff’s Office?

Mayor Kip Holden endorsed Gautreaux for Sheriff.  It all makes more sense now.  Spendthrift birds of a feather flock together.

Crime is on the increase in EBR Parish, and so is the EBRSO budget.  This speaks volumes.  Say NO to the tax renewal, and YES to spending less than we take in at the EBRSO.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

More Pieces to the Puzzle Saturday, Apr 17 2010 

Update:  SB611 appears to have two additional amendments.  The first amendment filed by Boudrear calls for no state taxes to be allotted to the proposed economic development district, nor will the state be responsible for any financial supportThe second amendment filed by Delaneys changes the appointment process for the proposed economic development district; rather than the Mayor solely making appointments, other individuals will make some of the appointments including the DDD director, and Legislative representatives from the House and Senate will each make one appointment

 

 

There is nothing worse than trying to put a puzzle together with missing pieces.  More piece to the puzzle of the proposed Downtown Red Stick Economic Development District are being revealed. 

Developer Pete Clements is planning a mixed-use development in downtown Baton Rouge along the batture.  Mayor Kip Holden endorses Clements project.  Senator Yvonne Dorsey introduced legislation to create an economic development district for the project allowing TIF funds to finance the project.

There are no voters in the proposed district, therefore no vote required to implement bond issues.  A Louisiana Senate committee recommended the bill with one caveat — the TIF could only be allowed with the approval of the EBR Metro Council.

The fact that there are no voters living in the proposed district seemed ‘off’, until The Advocate revealed that gaming revenues from Hollywood Casino would be used in the TIF arrangement.  TIF’s allow for bond issues to fund private projects when taxes collected are higher than the amount previously collected.

Pieces of the puzzle were missing last year when Hollywood Casino and developer Pete Clements announced a joint venture to build a $12.5 million underpass. 

  • *No mention was made that Clements was a convicted felon, and Louisiana Gaming Laws require that casino’s not have business dealings with felons. 
  • *Mayor Kip Holden said that tax revenues from the casino would net $10.3 million in proceeds over a 10 year period.  The facts indicate that figure may be higher.
  • *An agreement was made between Mayor Holden and the two Red Stick Casinos, the Belle and Hollywood, to increase boarding fees.  Instead of $2.50 per patron, Hollywood agreed to pay 3.5% on the first $100 million, 4.5% on revenue above that amount, and 2% on revenue below that amount. 
  • The Advocate indicates Holden said, *the increase in boarding percentages would provide an additional $2.7 million in annual revenue.  
  • Former Councilman Wayne “Spider” Carter requested a portion of those funds be allotted to Baker, Zachary and Central, but former *CAO Walter Monsour said the designation of additional funds should be determined based on the EBRP’s budget process.  (So much for that!)
  • *Abstaining from the vote was former Councilman Pat Culbertson and  Councilman Bones Addision.  Former Councilmans Wayne Carter and Byron Sharper voted against the increase based on no designation of how funds would be used.  Other 2009 Metro Council voted yea, and the increase in boarding fees passed.

Now, even more of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.  Some questions to ask:

  • Was the timing of the refusal to designate additional casino boarding fees by design?
  • Does it matter that River Park Development, owned by Pete Clements, made the *3rd largest contribution ($15,000) to Holden’s failed tax plan?
  • Is it important that the developer, Pete Clements, *declared bankruptcy in 1987 for his business of real estate holdings?
  • How about past projects such as the *Riverfront Dock and the Old  Courthouse Renovation, handled by Clements, were all significantly over budget?
  • Is it important that Clements was the developer of former Clerk of Court Mike Cannon’s satellite office on Coursey that *received criticism by former BRAC leader Bill Little for awarding work without a formal bid process?
  • Does it matter that the *failed Place Vendome fiasco resulted in one of Clement’s convictions for averting funds from the Feds?
  • Has the Louisiana State Police taken a position on a convicted felon entering into a business agreement to mix funds for the development of an underpass to Hollywood Casino?
  • Will the half-acre of wetlands on the edge of the property affect this development?
  • Does the option to receive land by expropriation or (Note: An amendment is currently in legislation to remove the word expropriation) gift in SB611 matter?
  • Is it possible there is a plan to bring back the Alive project under this mixed-use development project under the guise of expropriation or a gift to avert voters?

So many questions, so few answers.

At this week’s Senate Legislative Committee, Senator Dan Claitor almost redeemed himself by questioning the project.  Instead he claimed he felt the river was never given its due.  It didn’t matter that Consultant Mark Drennan claimed to have ‘overlooked’ the fact that casino revenue would play a factor.   

What the?  This project is not about giving the Mississippi River its due, it’s about a plan to divert city-parish and state proceeds from gaming to underwrite a developer’s private project through a TIF fund.

This is about already *declining city-parish tax revenues for East Baton Rouge Parish taking another plunge, all for the sake of a private developer’s project and a Mayor who is dead set to further develop the Riverfront with total disregard for the voters who have already spoken.

I fear there are even more pieces to the puzzle yet to be revealed.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

*All of the above facts were verified in the archives of The Advocate

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

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