Mayor Kip Holden ‘Above the Law’ on Firing of Police Chief Dwayne White Friday, Feb 22 2013 

CBR-LawBreaker

As we enter another day of the firing of Police Chief Dwayne White debacle, it appears that the topic of ‘breaking the law’ is now on the table.  Louisiana Law (RS 33:2481) states under “Police” (1) that the Chief of Police is classified.  If this is accurate, then it explains why White’s attorney, Jill Craft, has filed an appeal stating that his firing violates the officer’s bill of rights and Louisiana Law.

Regarding the officer’s Bill of Rights, now that I have read them, I understand completely why Mayor Kip Holden and his sidekick William Daniel have violated the rights of Chief Dwayne White.  In fact, it is pretty clear that both Daniel and the Mayor have violated the majority of White’s rights by completely disregarding all requirements to investigate, demote or fire an officer of the law.

Let me segue for just a moment and be very clear that Mayor Kip Holden is ‘above the law’ in his service as Mayor of East Baton Rouge Parish and the City of Baton Rouge.  Each time he has been re-elected, I have been taken aback that the people have chosen him to serve another four terms.  He has demonstrated over and over again that he does as he pleases.  One of the more recent incidents you might recall is the refusal to sign a grant request for the Sheriff’s Office causing the control of the grants to be awarded elsewhere.  In his mind, Holden is above the law.

I digress.

The officer’s bill of rights can be found at this link; however, for those who do not have time to read the full text, allow me to provide just a few excerpts.  By the way, these texts are not just a list of ‘let’s try to play nice’ — these are Louisiana Law and can also be found in the Revised Statues of the Legislature:

  • VIOLATION #1 BY MAYOR KIP HOLDEN – the public release of Chief of Police Dwayne White’s home address to the media — further printed in the newspaper and television websites for all to view.  The Law is:  Title 40, Chapter 25, Section 2532:  No person, agency, or department shall release to the news media, press or any other public information agency, a law enforcement officer’s home address
  • VIOLATION #2 BY MAYOR KIP HOLDEN – it is crystal clear now why Chief of Police Dwayne White had an attorney contact the Mayor’s Office to determine if the rumors were try regarding the potential firing of her client.  The law clearly states in Title 40, Chapter 25, Section 2531 – 4(A) that an officer will be allowed the right to retain counsel and have that counsel present.  According to CAO William Daniel and the media, White was called in and told that he could not have his attorney present.  Furthermore, prior to his firing, his counsel contacted the Mayor’s Office out of courtesy to ask about the blatant rumors of his purported firing.  More lies were told by Holden’s Office in that they claimed there was no intention to fire the Police Chief.  To add more insult to injury, Holden’s cronies told the media that there was no intention to fire the Police Chief.  (Of course, this was all during the election — not a good time to admit someone leaked information on your plans to fire the Police Chief).
  • VIOLATION #3 BY MAYOR KIP HOLDEN – The law states that a recording will be made, and the officer will be afforded a copy of that recording. Title 40, Chapter 25, Section 2531 – 3 — Police Chief Dwayne White thought their meeting was being recorded, but when he and his attorney asked for a copy they were told by CAO William Daniel that he was playing with his phone and maybe that is why White ‘thought’ it was being recorded.  Furthermore, Daniel stated no recording existed — another blatant violation of Louisiana Law!

We could go on and on, but you might want to take the time to read the law yourself.  Whether you are a fan or foe of Mayor Kip Holden and his Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel, one thing is very clear — the entire handling of the firing of Police Chief Dwayne White is sorely in question.

It seems to me that Holden and his entourage have always done as they pleased.  In this case, they have clearly violated statues of Louisiana Law.

This is about power, control, and thumbing your nose at everyone.  Holden has developed it to a fine art, and totally disregards anything or anyone who questions his authority as Mayor-President.

As we wait and watch to see the end result, do not underestimate the ability of Holden to weasel out of this situation.  No doubt he will find a way to set himself free and find another scapegoat.

What you do in private is as important as what you do in the public eye.  The only difference this time is that a man with the backbone and desire to save his own reputation (Chief Dwayne White) is willing to go to the mat and fight Holden on what he believes to be right.

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

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

Living the High Life Sunday, Apr 4 2010 

Nearly one year ago, I blogged about Mayor Kip Holden’s propensity to travel on the taxpayer’s dime.  This was based on the fact that in 1988 Holden ranked #2 as a Louisiana Legislator for one reason:  spending taxpayer monies on travel. 

Today, The Advocate has done an expose’ on Holden’s travel as Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish revealing excessive trips during his tenure.  Are we to be surprised?

One of the methods of determining an individual’s character is to observe how they spend other people’s money.  The goal is to be a good steward of the money.  A quick study of the EBR City Parish Budget indicates Holden does not hold fast to that mentality.

Part of the rub uncovered by Greg Garland, journalist for The Advocate, was Holden’s first class plane tickets.  (The taxpayer’s are footing the bill for domestic travel while campaign contributors or consultants are paying for foreign travel.) 

Another small annoyance is the fact that Holden was in violation of the Louisiana Ethics Laws by not providing detailed information on campaign expenditures for his China trip. 

When Garland questioned the Mayor on this issue, Holden quickly cut him off by admitting the Ethics Commission did ask him to file an amended return, but that it was not the business of the newspaper. 

Really?  That’s an interesting position for a Mayor.  Having made this statement, Holden is espousing that it is not the business of the taxpayers since the newspaper is charged with providing the facts for taxpayers. 

C. B. Forgotston often refers to the Louisiana Ethics Commission’s tendency to fail to enact the laws.  Forgotston refers to it as the “gold standard,” which in reality is a double standard.  In this case, there are no apparent violations or fees imposed according to the Louisiana Ethics Commission for Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden. 

The $10,000 reimbursable expense that Holden did not detail in his campaign finance report is not that unusual for our Mayor.  Nor are expenses that are questionable campaign expenditures.  Just a few to mention include:

  • LSU football tickets?  $1,520
  • LSU parking fees?  $5,050
  • Southern football tickets? $760
  • Southern parking fees?  $806
  • Camelot membership dues?  $201$201, $201, (apparently this is a monthly expense during Holden’s campaigns)
  • Car repairs?  $500, $3134, $800 
  • There are also expenditures for flowers on virtually every report for $800 – $1,300 in each instance.  That’s a lot of flowers. 

The point of this exercise is to take a look at how Holden spends campaign contributions.  It’s just more proof of his disregard for other people’s money.  Campaign contributors freely give their money for election results, not for luxury items for a candidate.  You can attend football games, and walk around the tailgaters without making your contributors pay for you to enjoy the game.  Sadly, few contributors even read campaign finance reports.

The campaign finance law requires explanations for each campaign expenditure.  To not do so would definitely be equal to violation of the law as it exists, regardless of Holden’s brush off to Garland upon questioning. 

Claiming that you were reimbursed $10,000 is not sufficient.  There should be a detailed explanation of how each dollar was allotted.

As Forgotston so eloquently states, there is a desperate need for our elected leaders to be forthright, and for the laws to be enforced.  Can you imagine using your employer’s money and then when questioned, tell them it’s not their business?  How long would you remain employed?

There is a huge chasm between the private and public sector.  Elected officials should understand that if we run city and state government like a business, we would spend less time living the high life and more time meeting the needs of the people they serve.

We have a way to go down this long and winding road we call politics in East Baton Rouge Parish, and it begins in the Mayor’s office.  If we are to be the greatest city in America, we have to do better.

Until 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

Alive! But Not Well Friday, Sep 25 2009 

swamp

Along the shores of the Mighty Mississippi River lies a swampy batture in the heart of the Red Stick.  What lurks there is a sign of things Alive! but not well.

Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive might apply to the entangled web of hidden information that Mayor Kip Holden and his entourage purposely kept from the EBR Parish Metro Council and citizens of the Red Stick.

Perhaps what is most offensive is that Mayor Holden and his inner circle continually operate in a covert manner.  When questioned, Holden sloughs off the media, Council members or voters with the direct intention of discrediting them.  It’s an age old practice to get the focus off of the question and on to another topic.  Holden has even gone so far as to vehemently attack anyone who questions or opposes him

At yesterday’s council meeting, Mayor Holden ran around saying ‘no comment’ when he realized the media was on to his tactics.  Evidently Holden needed to regroup, quickly schedule a meeting with his entourage to do damage control, and finally do what he should have done over a year ago – meet with the state to discuss land ownership and funding to build up the property. 

Holden says he wants to ask the Capitol Delegation of the Louisiana Legislature to earmark $40 million to his favored pork barrel project.  The Delegation says they only received $50 million for special projects which must take care of nine parishes including East Baton Rouge.  This would be a tough sell to legislators to agree to spend the majority of the funding on East Baton Rouge Parish.

This scenario begs the question:  Why was this particular property chosen with so many potential land sites in the Red Stick?  Especially given the overwhelming challenges to prepare and build up the swampy batture.

The goods news is that the media has finally caught on to some of Holden’s dreadful practices and are revealing them to the voters:

All I can hope is that the voters will be provided with the full details of Mayor Kip Holden’s proposed tax increase prior to the November vote.  If the media keeps up this flow of information, that will very likely happen.  Let’s hope that Holden doesn’t turn up the heat on the media and force them to back down. 

Recently, Holden’s entourage touted that there was no organized opposition.  Once again, they underestimated the power of the voters. 

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

Holden Plans Tax Increase Saturday, May 30 2009 

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Under Mayor-President Kip Holden, budget increases have been quite significant.    During his reign over East Baton Rouge Parish, Holden increased the budget over 24% in the last 3 years, more than double for the previous mayoral administration.

This is not surprising since Holden has always held fast a spendthrift mentality with tax dollars. 

Former Mayor-President Bobby Simpson, with an accounting background, was able to hold the budget to more desirable increases.  Under Simpson, the 2003 budget was $221 million, the 2004 budget was  $224 million, and his final budget presentation was $228 million in 2005.  The outgoing mayor presents the budget for the following year.  Previous figures are not available on the EBRP city government website.

Holden increased that budget by 24% since his election as Mayor of East Baton Rouge Parish.  Parish reports indicate a $235 million city-parish budget in 2006, increased to $254 million in 2007, $278 million in 2008, and finally $282 million for 2009

In 2004, total revenue for EBRP was $542 million, increasing to $588 million in 2005.  By 2006, EBRP revenue was up to $664 million.   Holden’s finance team has failed to list revenue figures for 2007 or 2008.  Surprising, given the public records requirements, unless there is a strategy here to not reveal a clearer picture of revenue to voters.

Simpson was working with less than desirable revenue, yet Holden, with more cash in the coffers, claims he still needs additional funds.  The Mayor-President plans to make his own dreams of spending more tax dollars come true through his proposed tax increase aka bond issue set for an upcoming fall election.

Regardless of some positive conditions Holden rallies around on behalf of  East Baton Rouge Parish, raising taxes is not desirable to voters who are reigning in their personal spending due to the recession.

Holden carries spendthrift baggage that he hopes voters will once again overlook.  Increasing revenues, along with increased budgets shows he failed to keep a campaign promise.  Holden promised to streamline EBRP government, and to meet bi-annually with each department head to justify spending and services.  No reports of these meetings have been given to his employer:  YOU, the taxpayer.

Our past is always a representation of our present mentality and things to come.  Holden has proven this point.

In 1992, as a representative in the Louisiana Legislature, Holden voted 100% against business, as noted by LABI (Louisiana Business & Industry) in 13 votes for business and industry. 

Continuing his plight against businesses, Holden targeted entrepreneurs by proclaiming his goal to ‘remove the corporate welfare’ by ending tax exemptions to businesses.  In 2002, he attempted to remove tax exemptions for Louisiana manufacturers and businesses.  

In a turnaround, Holden received a positive rating for voting against a sales tax in 2000 because LABI opposed a tax increase, but only because the tax would affect the needy.  Holden proclaimed, “sales taxes hurt the poor“.   Interesting, since he plans to tax everyone, including the poor, in his upcoming bond issue. 

In 1988, as a legislator, Holden won the ranking of #2 in the entire state for spending taxpayer monies to travel.  Enough said.

I have made it no secret that Mayor-President Kip Holden’s bond issue is nothing more than a tax on the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish that we cannot afford. 

Some would ask how we can strengthen our infrastructure without a tax.  Easy.  Cut spending.  A cursory glance at the 2009 budget indicates expenses that can be easily cut without cutting essential services to taxpayers. 

Examples of cuts in contractual services in the 2009 budget that are non-essential include:

  • $233,000 to host the U.S. Bowling Congress
  • $284,560 for seasonal decorations, landscaping, arborist and plant maintenance
  • $250,000 for an airport and airline surveys/studies

Additionally, the list of annual contractual services below could be cut significantly.  Either they have not generated the desired results, are unnecessary at this financial level, or cut into monies that could have been spent on children and needy families in our parish :

  • $965,750 for medical services for EBR Parish Prison inmates
  • $500,000 for marketing services of the airport
  • $100,000 for mowing/trimming services of 4 facilities
  • $100,000 for marketing the garbage, trash and sewer services

These cuts alone equate to $2.4 million.  There’s plenty more fat in the budget.  We’ve all had to cut our personal budgets, why should city government be any different? 

This is not rocket science.  If we cut 12% of the annual city parish budget, we would not need tax increases.  That $33.8 million annually times Holden’s proposed 30 year tax/bond issue = over $1 billion.  Sounds tough to do?  Probably no tougher than it has been for you to make cuts in your family budget.  

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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