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

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Old Fashioned Cup of Joe Sunday, Mar 28 2010 

 

Every citizen in East Baton Rouge Parish should read the Metro Council Agenda on a regular basis.  Fifteen minutes with an old-fashioned cup of Joe  perusing the Agenda will provide a better understanding of the inner workings of city government and how our tax dollars are being spent. 

The most current Agenda for March 24, 2010, indicates several points that might raise your eyebrows. 

For instance, the South Wastewater Treatment Plant had a proposed cost of $50,000, but is seeking approval for an increase to $63,450.  Planting trees on Corporate Boulevard from College to Jefferson Highway indicates a cost of $73,130.  $557,621 is on the Agenda for the architectural design of the new EMS facility.  There are adjustments in contracts for varying reasons including weather and an original plan not being accurate.  Did I read that correctly?

These are only a few of the expenditures.  The list is lengthy.

Other Council business includes condemnations of properties, zoning issues, leasing of space, adjudicated properties, etc.  The majority calls for spending tax dollars.

They are also seeking approval for applications of grants including:

  • $1,214,149.94 from the State of Louisiana for federal grant monies available through the Katrina Relief Fund
  • $177,952 for Federal Grant Funds
  • $78,973,970 in grants from the State of Louisiana

Legal settlements from EBR Parish are proposed in the amount of $344,284 to wronged citizens.

Maybe I am missing something.  The spending seems to never end.

There is a $400 million shortfall for the State of Louisiana for our fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.  An additional $1.7 billion shortfall is projected for the State of Louisiana for the upcoming fiscal year.  Yet, we are applying for grants from various departments within state government in the amount of nearly $79 million.  Yes.  $79 million in just one Metro Council Agenda!

Jindal just announced that he expects state agencies to make additional cuts including personnel.  Medicaid cuts are also being considered.  

Update:  To put this into better perspective, The Advocate reports on March 30 the State of Louisiana faces a $3 billion dollar shortfall over the next two years — $3,000,000,000!

Federal hurricane recovery money is dwindling, while we are seeking an additional $1.2 million for East Baton Rouge Parish. 

The bank is busted, yet, EBR still runs to the till in hopes we can make a mad dash with the booty.  Remember Mayor Holden’s proposed bond issue that promised he could convince State Legislators to fund the land revisions necessary for his amusement park to the tune of $40 million?  A small detail Holden and his entourage failed to mention to the voters that became a last-minute issue before the election.

It never seems to end.

Politicians have overspent, over promised and act as though there is an endless checkbook full of money.  Of course, it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money.  Mayor Holden stands firm in this mindset as proven by his continuous spendthrift mentality.

What is wrong with this picture?

Will Mayor-President Kip Holden wake up and smell the coffee?  We can’t afford Starbucks anymore!  Let’s return to the old coffee pot and brew up a plan of action that is more suitable for the citizens in our parish.  We definitely deserve better. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Dangerous Liasons Thwart Reform Saturday, Sep 19 2009 

Dangerous_Liaisons_Cover

No doubt that Louisiana politics has a dominant place in the archives of U.S. history, and some have reveled in that fact.  Perhaps it is the age of information or the downfall of American family values that has caused the average voter to long for political reform in our good state.  Reform should always start in our own backyards.

The reform movement will come at a great price.  That price includes putting a stop to dangerous liaisons that thwart true reform.

For me, political corruption in Louisiana began with the labor unions.  I remember succinctly as a child the effects of the AFLCIO on our personal lives.  My father refused to be a member of the union, and the price we paid was both physical and emotional as mentioned in a previous post.  

Mayor Kip Holden and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux are supported, funded and often work in collusion with the AFLCIO and other local labor unions.  These are truly dangerous liaisons for the Red Stick.

What is most troubling is how real corruption is camaflouged and overlooked by the media, community and business leaders.  Political corruption still abounds on a local and state level.  This must stop.

It was Senator Robert Kostelka that forced the Louisiana Board of Education and media to publicly announce that contracts were not being publicly bid.  I believe that Chas Roemer erred in saying that no-bid contracts are justified if there is only one provider. 

How do we truly know other providers do not exist without the bid process?  This type of mentality opens the door to facilitating more dangerous liaisons, especially given this particular contract totaled $625,000.

Closed meetings, no bids, private conversations among community leaders, business owners and politicians makes for more dangerous liasons.  Why do we allow these practices to continue?  Only The Advocate would allow our mayor to get away with this incident without forcing the hand of community leaders.    Interesting.

Just this past week Baton Rouge Area Chamber officials asked the media to leave the room so they could ask private questions to Mayor Kip Holden about his bond proposal.  Adam Knapp and his ‘leaders’ should have realized this would leave a negative impression in our community.  Where are real leaders when you need them?

Mayor Kip Holden gives $500,000 of YOUR tax dollars to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber annually.  Everything BRAC does is funded by local monies whether through memberships, sponsorships or municipalities.  What kind of questions could they ask that we shouldn’t know about?  I see more dangerous liaisons on the horizon.

No matter how you slice it, dangerous liaisons in political matters still abound in Louisiana.  On a local level, even more so.  What I am still amazed at the ability of the media to overlook just about everything that Mayor Kip Holden does while criticizing Governor Bobby Jindal for the same issues. 

Mayor-President Kip Holden is the king of private liasions personally and professionally.  The proposed $900 million bond issue is immersed in potential corruption and secrecy.  Will voters endorse the continued practice of dangerous liaisons in city-parish government or put them to a stop by saying no this fall?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Are THEY right? Tuesday, Sep 15 2009 

 

spindocpirata

Political consultant, Roy Fletcher, said, “In politics, when you have to make a case that is not believed by the people, you better have a lot of money to make that case, because they don’t believe it in the first place.” 

Fletcher was referring to Mayor Kip Holden’s bond issue, and the fact that the people didn’t believe in it enough to pass it last fall.

Obviously money will continue to be spent on a public relations campaign targeting voters in hopes they will buy into accepting higher taxes.  Where does this money come from, and how can we find out how much is being spent?

George Kennedy, another consultant, tries to make the argument that the bond proposal pays for itself.  This is almost laughable.  If it paid for itself and was ‘free’ as Kennedy claims, we wouldn’t need a tax.  Maybe Holden should hire Kennedy to sell this wacko political spin?   

Who are the Redstick’s watchdogs?  

Not our newspaper.  The Advocate questions Jindal, but not Holden on transparency issues because they have an axe to grind with Jindal.  Everyone knows McCollister, publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report, served as a finance chair to Jindal.  Cutting into The Advocate’s market share just adds insult to injury.  

The owners of the newspaper have made it clear that if Alive! happens, they will be pleased because it would raise the property value of their former headquarters downtown.  With newspaper sales down, they probably need to sell the building.

BRAC, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and BRAF, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, are not our watchdogs either.  BRAC and BRAF work hand-in-hand and BRAC receives $500,000 annually from Mayor Kip Holden to be the economic development arm for the parish.  They are part of Holden’s entourage.

The same goes for the Downtown Development District.  The DDD receives far too much funding and support from Mayor-President Kip Holden to  speak out against his administration.  In fact, he and Davis Rhorer, executive director, are close allies.  Besides, they have far too much invested in this tax package.

Sometimes it is up to us, the voters, to be the watchdogs. 

We, the voters, have already spoken once on this issue, and our answer was no!  72% of East Baton Rouge Parish voters turned out last fall and voted against a tax increase.  Instead of taking voters at face value, they say that Holden and his entourage have decided to bank on lower turnout to pass the proposal.

Perhaps the coffee shop talk is accurate?  If they know their facts, then funding for the public relations campaign such as Progress Is comes from Holden’s entourage and his political contributors. 

Whether they are correct or not, city-parish government has NO business spending OUR tax dollars building a tourist attraction.  Who came up with this idea? 

Some say the financing of Audubon Alive! makes building a prison more palatable to the average voter.  One thing is for sure, the economic impact figures are highly inflated.  No big surprise, they usually are.

If Alive! is such a great potential moneymaker, let the Audubon Institute raise private funds and add it to their array of facilities. 

By the way, have you checked their financial records lately? 

All of the Audubon Institute facilities combined brought in $10.3 million last year in admissions with only three facilities operated in the black:  the Zoo, the Insectarium, and the Park.  All of these facilities lost money:  IMAX, Aquarium, Wolberg, Research Center, and Survival Centers. 

That includes an annual tax millage totaling $7.2 million.  It’s always good to do your homework.  Trust me, Holden’s public relations package won’t be sharing this kind of information with taxpayers! 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Do we really want the truth? Monday, Jul 27 2009 

 afewgoodmenjacktruth

 

This morning The Advocate  issued an Opinion regarding the lack of transparency in state government in regard to a $134 million tax incentive to draw a vehicle company to Louisiana.  Jindal and Moret are being targeted as being secretive for not sharing all details of this tax incentive.

In their own words, here are some concerns from The Advocate:

  • “…the state’s taxpayers deserve more information…”
  • “…few documents concerning the deal are available for public review…”
  • “…a rationale for blanket secrecy about the use of taxpayer money…”
  • “where is the public accountability when key information isn’t recorded in writing?”

Perhaps the most prolific quote is the suggestion that DED “intentionally exchanged information by word of mouth to avoid generating documents.”

Now that we have established the need for complete, full disclosure, and documentation for all government spending of our tax dollars (according to The Advocate), let’s move forward!

While we are waiting for documentation from the Governor’s office and DED Secretary Stephen Moret on the details of a $134 million tax incentive, let’s make a request for information on a $880 million tax, okay?  After all, the city-parish tax is $746 million more than the state incentive!  Phew!

Where is the request or opinion from The Advocate for full details of Mayor Holden’s proposed tax?   Or, are they only targeting the Governor’s Office for issues of transparency? 

Why?  Do they realize that the fees associated with the bond issue will most likely cost more than the tax incentive Moret is discussing with that car manufacturer? 

Just in case this information is exclusively in the heads of a few key people, The Advocate might check their own archives for an expose’ done years ago by their own staff writer, Greg Garland, regarding incredibly high fees paid to those handling bond issues as consultants. 

Ironically, the expose included Walter Monsour and a cadre’ of his friends that were all receiving contracts for muncipal bond issues that were being handled by the LPFA. 

Remember now?

Maybe the most memorable quote was that of former Representative Sean Reilly who stated this is the greatest rip off of public funds that I’ve ever seen…”  Reilly also noted that fees paid were within the limits allowed legally, but were still excessive

Why did Reilly feel this way?  Maybe it was because there was no public bidding?  Or was it because Garland revealed that bond issues “include a large cast of characters”

Whatever it was that got Garland and Reilly fired up, we need that good ole’ investigative reporting and sharing of information with tax payers.  In the story Garland wrote, he revealed the fees behind bond issues and the ties that bound all the players in what appeared to be a confidential group of political allies and friends.

According to Garland, a $388 million bond issue netted fees of: 

  • $14.6 million to underwriters
  • $5.2 million for letter of credit fees
  • $810,000 in bond counsel fees
  • $615,000 in remarketing fees
  • $488,000 in administrative fees
  • $431,000 to the tax counsel
  • $303,000 to the program administrators
  • $165,000 to the trustee bank
  • $40,000 to the in-house counsel
  • $2,500 and a few other ancillary fees to various service providers

It seems The Advocate would pursue this information along with key questions as to the who, what, how of Mayor Holden’s bond issue/tax plan. 

After all, we do want the truth for the taxpayers, right?  Taxpayers are being asked to commit to a $880 million tax plan and bond issue for 30-years. 

Has The Advocate asked the total amount expected to be paid back over that time period?  Who will earn all the fees and what are those amounts?  Will they be publically bid? What about the specific building projects?  Are the studies available?  Does The Advocate realize that by the time we build the new prison, it will be too small for our needs based on what the Sheriff has stated?

So many questions, yet so little interest by the media that it’s mind boggling.  Once again, Jessup’s words ring true.

Do we really want the truth?  Do we really care?  Is the dog hunt by The Advocate pervasive and far-reaching enough to ask the same tough questions to Holden?  Or is this just another witch hunt exclusive to Jindal?

Do we really want the truth?  I hope so.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

$28 Billion Decision in 1 Hour? Sunday, Jun 28 2009 

 timeandmoney

What took place in the final hour of last week’s 2009 Louisiana Regular Legislative Session was insane at best.  Who on earth would sign a $28 billion budget in less than an hour?   

The money in the capital outlay budget is, simply put,  yours – tax dollars from your hard-earned money. 

How someone spends other people’s money is very telling.

When private citizens misuse their employer’s finances, they are charged with various crimes, required to pay restitution and/or serve prison time.  Yet, legislators get a free pass should they mishandle state funds. 

Even if they break a promise they made to their employer – you.  Instead of ‘doing more with less’ as legislators promised to do, they spent $28 billion of their employer’s money.

We can’t undo what our elected officials have done, but can only hope that we live long enough to witness prudence in legislative spending one day.

Let’s see how much funding landed in the Red Stick coffers.  (Monies for facilities located in the parish that are state-specific are not included in the list below.  They include facilities such as:  LSU, Southern, DOTD, CRT, Homeland Security, the Old State Capitol, State of Louisiana Offices or facilities, School for the Deaf, School for the Visually Impaired, airport, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, levees, etc.)

  • $16,000,000 Pennington Biomedical (page 43)
  • $13,500,000 Comite River Diversion Canal (page 28)
  • $6,000,000 19th Judicial Court House (page 123)
  • $5,455,000 La 3030 Road Improvements (page 25)
  • $4,600,000 River Center Expansion, Renovation, Parking (page 80)
  • $4,000,000 Capitol City Family Health Center (page 112)
  • $4,000,000 Pecue Lane / I-10 Exchange (page 26)
  • $4,000,000 I-12 to O’Neal Lane Widening (page 27)
  • $3,000,000 Baker Fire Station (page 79)
  • $2,600,000 Office of Homeland Security (page 17)
  • $2,275,000 Zachary Sewer Programs (page 108)
  • $1,440,000 Black History Museum & Cultural Center (page 119)
  • $1,400,000 Baseball Stadium Improvements (page 80)
  • $1,325,000 BREC’s Anna T. Jordan Site & Facility (page 114)
  • $1,160,000 BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center (page 114)
  • $1,000,000 Stumberg Lane to Jefferson & Airline (page 80)
  • $1,000,000 Athletic Education & Band Center (page 125)
  • $875,000 BREC Children’s Museum (page 114)
  • $850,000 YMCA North Baton Rouge (page 113)
  • $700,000 Old Goodwood Sewer Improvements (page 80)
  • $600,000 Hooper Road Sewer Improvements (page 79)
  • $400,000 USDA Biological Facility (page 129)
  • $310,000 Fire Marshall (page 32)
  • $300,000 LASC (page 14)
  • $250,000 CASA Facility (page 116)
  • $200,000 Hwy 19 Lane Improvements (page 16)
  • $198,361 Visitor Signage (page 80)
  • $190,000 Crime Lab Expansion (page 34)
  • $155,000 McKinley High (page 112)
  • $140,000 Annison Plantation Renovation (page 108)
  • $100,000 Central Administration Building (page 108)
  • $100,000 BREC’s Rollins Road Park Basketball Court Cover (page 114)
  • $90,000 Progress 63 Senior, Veteran, Tutoring Center (page 132)
  • $75,000 Stanford Avenue Sidewalk Widening (page 80)
  • $75,000 Pride Fire Station (page 80)
  • $50,000 BREC’s Pete Goldsby Renovations (page 114)
  • $50,000 Habitat for Humanity Metro Aire Shopping Ctr (page 120)

This list along is roughly $78.4 million for the Red Stick, but The Advocate shows more which may be buried in the budget.  It is true that earmarks were the order of the day on the final day of the legislative session, and East Baton Rouge Parish was no exception.

Where does it stop? 

Do you know anyone who can continue to dip into their Rainy Day Fund and not eventually run out of money?  Is there anyone you currently know that has not made some form of cutbacks to their budget?

I do.  They are our legislators. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Magical World of Louisiana Politics Saturday, Jun 20 2009 

 all about the money

Alice in Wonderland taught us about the world of childhood fantasies.  It’s a world of fantasy where some still choose to reside.  It’s a magical land of make believe where anything can happen, much like the world of Louisiana politics.

The heart of the Red Stick is the seat of both city and state government where magical dreams come true.  It’s a tale that began with wonder and delight.  Some call it the legend of Istrouma Bluff . . .

It all began long, long ago on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, when a french explorer, Iberville, spotted a bloody cypress stick and named the location ‘le baton rouge’ or Red Stick

A new architect to the land, Dakin, built a gothic medieval castle to house the seat of government with a front row view of the massive river traffic, but just as in all magical lands, this castle was not large enough for the politically powerful. 

So, Governor Huey P. Long commissioned a taller state capitol to house state government.  It would, one day, become the home of the largest employer in the state of Louisiana. 

This was only the beginning of the people’s woes including larger, more excessive state government.  A chicken in every pot, and funding for all special interests.  It was a Never Never Land, where politicians proclaimed ‘no is not an answer’.

In this magical land, money grew on trees and blank checks fell from the sky.  Politicians skipped down the halls exchanging votes only behind magical closed doors. 

The legislative sessions do often sound like tales from folklore.  Don’t they?  Unfortunately they are not fairy tales, but the reality of gatherings comprised of elected officials and appointees that often lack common sense, ethical concern and good ole-fashioned prudence. 

In the magical world of Louisiana politics, finances are infinite.  There is no awareness of real budgets or lack of funding.  Like Dick Tracy, someone with a magical answer is always ‘on their way’ to the rescue. 

The mentality is that state government is too big to fail, that bailouts and magic financial formulas will cause money to magically appear.  And like all mantras, sometimes they do come true as evidenced by $22.6 million in funding suddenly ‘found’ recently.

In this magical world of Louisiana politics, the finances are so tangled in bureaucracy that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.  So much so, that within 12 months we can be so far off base to go from a surplus to a shortfall.  Then, magically, we begin to pick the fruit of unspent dollars and tax dollars to meet the shortfall. 

It truly is magical.  No reality here folks.  Just a wonderful world of fantasy spending that will endlessly lift us to another world of wonder. 

As long as we are living in the world of fantasy, I recommend we all search for a character similar to the one in the movie ‘Dave’.  A hero that snuck a friend into the state capitol to recommend financial cuts.  If it worked in the movies, surely it will work in the magical world of Louisiana politics.  Right?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

A Tale of Four Governors Sunday, Jun 14 2009 

 four-horsemen-apocalypse

Four past governors rode down to the state capitol this week to ‘reason’ with Governor Bobby Jindal about higher education cuts.  I found this to be a fascinating move by former Governors Kathleen Blanco, Mike Foster, Buddy Roemer and Dave Treen, especially since they contributed to the overspending mess we find ourselves in today. 

Over the last 14 years, voters have had a front row seat to statewide spendthrift practices by various governors and legislators.  A quick glance at past news reports give a brief overview:

  • On January 9, 2005, The Advocate told us that Governor Blanco’s first operating budget added $500 million to state spending.
  • On January 12, 2003, John Hill of The Town Talk pointed out to us that Governor Mike Foster had 7 years to address state spending, yet failed to do so.
  • On February 15, 1995, Wardlaw of The Times Picayune told us that former Governor Edwin Edwards left incoming Governor Buddy Roemer a $1 billion deficit in 1987.

Putting things into perspective are made possible by glancing at the State of Louisiana’s annual budget increases. 

Take a look at the growth in spending over the past 7 years, and you will see we have virtually doubled state spending:

  • 2001-2002 State Budget:  $15.5 Billion (Governor Foster)
  • 2002-2003 State Budget:  $16.3 Billion (Governor Foster)
  • 2003-2004 State Budget:  $16.7 Billion (Governor Foster)
  • 2004-2005 State Budget:  $17.5 Billion (Governor Blanco)
  • 2005-2006 State Budget:  $18.7 Billion (Governor Blanco)
  • 2006-2007 State Budget:  $26.7 Billion (Governor Blanco)
  • 2007-2008State Budget:  $29.8 Billion (Governor Blanco)

For the 2008-2009 budget, spending was estimated at $29,732,692,645, with an estimated deficit of $2,181,531.  Yes, those numbers are billions!

Blanco and Foster have no footing since they alone doubled state spending in 7 short years.  It comes natural to them to spend more and cut less.  Maybe they have some brilliant idea of how we can pull the money out of our !#$%&? 

When does the spendthrift madness end?  No, I do not want to see higher education cut.  (In case you were wondering.)  Yet, cutting the budget is in order.

While we focus on not cutting higher education, earmarks are slipped in the back door.  It’s an endless mindset of overspending that no one wants to properly address.

Are any of these naysayer-ex-governors offering alternative measures for increasing spending or cuts elsewhere in the budget? 

They’ve already had their 15 minutes of fame, which consisted of a total of 20 years in state government and excessive spending.  Now they want to return and give advice to current Governor Bobby Jindal?  Is that correct?

I realize each individual will have their own perception of this ‘newsworthy’ event.  No doubt it will run the gambit depending on your personal stand on the state spending and cuts. 

For years we were ‘informed’ that Jindal was the ‘whiz kid’, and the only real answer to getting Louisiana back on track.  How quickly those same individuals have turned on Jindal like vipers.  Politics is so fascinating, isn’t it? 

Even the political bloggers told us Jindal was ‘the only choice for change’.  Now look at what they are saying; how entertaining they have become.  I call them fair weather supporters. 

There is no easy solution.  So, I have questions for the pundits and politicians:

  • Where are you willing cut?  Walk with me down budget cutting lane
    • The homeless? 
    • The poor? 
    • The uninsured? 
    • The elderly? 
    • The children? 
    • Economic development? 
    • Roads and bridges? 
    • Emergency services such as EMS, Police or Fire? 
    • Your community? 
    • Your neighborhood? 
    • Who is willing to volunteer a cut for the greater good? 

Silence?  Surely someone can offer something more than a tale of five governors who simply cry out ‘don’t cut higher ed funding”?  Anyone?

I’m waiting . . .

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

All the Kings Men Monday, May 25 2009 

 AllTheKingsMen

Coverage by Louisiana media outlets report that the current Legislative session is akin to a Battle Royale over the state’s troubled budget.  Like ancient gladiators, the media is in their own battle, vying for audiences by reporting every single move made by the Jindal administration.

The problem with this style of journalism is that it flys in the face of what readers really wants to know.

The public needs to understand why Jindal is being targeted for a budget crisis that reaches back far beyond his inauguration as governor of our state.  Voters are smart enough to know that the financial crisis we are facing didn’t happen overnight. 

In fact, the ‘get out of jail’ cards issued to Blanco, Foster and Edwards by this same media are mind boggling at best, not to mention the legislators who have spent our tax dollars for years like money was growing on trees around the state capitol.

It’s about as humorous as the comparison of former Governor Mike Foster being allowed to be a part time elected official while attending law school vs Governor Bobby Jindal being criticized for traveling around the country for political reasons.  Oh well, I digress.

Perhaps we are paying for the ‘sins of our fathers’?  Forefathers in state government, that is. 

It began with Governor Huey P. Long, and continues today.  A spendthrift mentality.  A chicken in every pot.  Textbooks funded by the state.  Let the government pay our way.  Just write another check.  Add another budget line item.  Conceal an amendment, if you will.  We’ll worry about the consequences later!

Everything we do has an effect on everything else.  This is not rocket science.  It’s the law of reaping and sowing. 

In our personal life, we have a budget.  We receive income and learn to live within our means.  If we do not live within our means, eventually the debt and interest catches up with us. 

Why do we continue to believe government can be run any different? 

In 1987, Roemer came into the governor’s office with $5.2 billion in state debt, and a $1 million daily deficit.  He fought for reform, but legislators stopped him from the onset, claiming they didn’t like his administration’s attitude.  Boohoo!

Fast forward to 1992 when Edwards was headed back to the helm of state government with a $500 million gap between revenue and spending.  The legislators loved working with Edwin W. Edwards.  That path led straight to federal prison. 

It’s as plain on the nose on our face.  We have been increasing state government spending annually, loading up on debt (and interest) and then going back to the trough to see who will throw us more feed.  

If we do not learn from our mistakes, history is sure to repeat itself.

By 2005, the state debt reached $24.8 billion, according to AARP.  Five times the debt Roemer tried to deal with in the 1980’s.  Do the math.  I could not locate more current information on Louisiana’s debt, but I am confident it has increased drastically. 

For decades, we have watched the legislature fight over budget deficits.  From each session, lawmakers have proposed the ‘answer to our prayers’ to become debt free or meet our annual obligations. 

The list is long.  The Louisiana Lottery.  A land-based casino.  Video poker.  Riverboat casinos.  Tobacco settlement.  The Stelly Plan.  Business taxes.  Individual taxes.  Sales taxes.  Bed taxes.  Sin taxes.  Federal stimulus money.    Homestead exemption tax increases.  All touted as answers to our  state’s financial dilemma.  Yet, here we are . . . again!

On the other hand, legislators and special interest groups fight fearlessly for earmarks each fiscal session. 

Universities fight for education funding.  Pennington fights for research funding.  Teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement fight for pay raises.  City government fights for economic development and infrastructure funding.  LSU Health Care fights for charity hospital and clinic funding.  DOTD fights for highway funding.  Another endless list. 

Republican or democrat.  Senator or Representative.  Elected official or voter.  State budget or personal budget.  There really is only one solution.  Cutbacks! 

Robert Penn Warren said All the Kings Men was not intended to be a book about politics.  Neither was the budget of the state of Louisiana.  Nevertheless, both are purely political.  For the state budget, that must change. 

The quicker we remove politics from our state budget, and run it like a business or household, the better off we will be.  Otherwise, we will continue to allow state spending to embrace political corruption and grow our enormous political machine. 

To Senator Lydia Jackson, Democrat from Shreveport, who says to the press that “No is not a solution” (referring to Jindal saying no to spending), I offer the opposite:  NO IS THE SOLUTION!  No is not a popular word in the world of politics, but one we need to be willing to stand up and shout from the rooftops.  NO!  NO!  NO to more spending! 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Media Scrutiny Depends on Politician Monday, May 11 2009 

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I always find it curious when the media attacks one politician but gives another politician a free pass.  It is so glaringly obvious.

Governor Bobby Jindal has been highly scutinized by the media for appointments to Louisiana Boards & Commissions, for each expenditure, and for records not made public. 

On the other hand, the media appears to turn a blind eye to other politician’s hiring practices, oversight of unruly employees or ‘secret’ decisions and expenditures. 

As we speak, the media frenzy across our state is viewing Jindal’s practices with a microscope.  All the while, other politicians are carefully working behind the scenes like baseball players stealing bases knowing the media has allowed their eye to stray from homeplate.

For instance, what if a politician that was elected just over a year ago had purchased expensive furniture for his office, moved to another location, lost his second in command due to a coup-de-gras gone bad, hired one of his largest contributor’s wives in a key position, lost several key employees due to alleged criminal activity, and didn’t even show up on most days until late afternoon? 

Should this elected official’s disregard for ethics, taxpayer money and unacceptable activities go without scrutiny?  What if he was supposed to be the standard for upholding the law in our parish?

Why do we hold one politician’s feet to the fire, and not others?  How are some politician’s campaign promises important enough for daily fodder on the front page, but other politician’s false promises ignored by the media?

Do we really believe our ethics are in question because we ‘need to know’ every move our Governor makes in order to prove we are ethical?

Are we really that concerned about every expenditure?  If so, then let’s play fair, and scrutinize every politician, not just those who sell newspapers. 

I was a bit humored at the recent Tea Party at the State Capitol, when guards began hauling bottled water out to the crowds.  Water funded by taxpayers.  No one asked for the water, but it was freely given.  Of course, the employees didn’t pay for it, the taxpayers did. 

Another humorous incident was in Sunday’s newspaper when it was casually mentioned that all women in the Senate and House received bromalaid plants and roses respectively.  A nice gesture for Mother’s Day, but was it at the taxpayer’s expense?

Yes, these are small examples.  Does the phrase ‘tip of the iceberg’ mean anything to you?

At what point does the media decide for us, the taxpayers, what is ethical or acceptable?  Are we really concerned about state and city government in it’s entirety? 

What I have been witnessing is the ultimate form of prejudice and discrimination.  They have proven the argument that it depends upon the politician and the personal views of media and pundits as to who is criticized or who is given the ‘get out of jail card’.

Our ‘champions for ethics’ beg the question.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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