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

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

Living in the Land of Pinocchio Friday, Feb 18 2011 

 

I suppose it would not matter if I took a five month or a one year hiatus from blogging, because when I return I will still be reporting that Mayor Kip Holden’s antics of name calling and stretching the truth continues to escalate. 

I liken it to  living in the Land of Pinocchio

Surely everyone knows who that character Pinocchio was, right?  He was a cute sort of guy with a funny nose that was created by a Woodcarver named Geppetto.  He was jovial and outgoing and often appeared at every event in town.  In fact, Pinocchio and Holden have much in common.  The Mayor was “created” by a Rainmaker who wanted to oust former Mayor Bobby Simpson. (Holden was elected during the massive Anybody But Bobby campaign.)

So many similarities.  So little to be proud of in these troubled times.

The Daily Report, a publication of the Baton Rouge Business Report, indicates that our illustrious Mayor Kip Holden is,  once again, attempting to use threats of potential bridge collapses to push through a new proposed tax increase.  

Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe, however, is saying that the Mayor is stretching the truth and using scare tactics to force a new tax on to voters of East Baton Rouge Parish.  Loupe goes on to say that there is money dedicated, or in the budget, to repair all of the bridges with low ratings, and Holden is crying foul with no basis for doing so.

Pinocchio stretched the truth, and his nose grew.    Holden’s face does not offer any obvious tell-tale sign to voters. 

Of course, in his normal fashion, Mayor Holden fired back at yet another council member.  Each time Holden’s attacks get bolder.  This time, Holden specifically is quoted as saying, “Chandler Loupe is an absolute liar”.

Some might say, “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. 

Holden reminds me of Kanye West, a rapper known for his inability to engage his brain before opening his mouth.  Then again, West did perform a freestyle version of the Pinocchio Story while on tour, espousing that his own personal life lacked depth, and that he needed a simpler life than seeking that of fame and the spotlight.  West said, “I just want to be a real boy.”  A lesson Holden might consider.

Some might ask why I am often so harsh with Holden.  Easily explained.  Too whom much is given, much is required.  Our leaders, especially those elected to serve and protect the people who elected them, should be held to the highest of standards. 

The truth is that I long for the day when I can wake up from this Nightmare on Main Street, where we are pressed on every side by a growing city-parish budget, higher crime than most cities in America will ever experience, and leadership that is more interested in attacking anyone who disagrees or questions him. 

Bodyguards, limousines and verbal attacks have set the tone for Mayor Kip Holden’s reign over East Baton Rouge Parish.   

The Red Stick has begun to mirror its’ leader.    Jiminy Cricket!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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

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

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

$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

My Christmas Gifts to EBRP Leadership Sunday, Dec 21 2008 

christmas-giftsMerry Christmas

Christmas is a time set aside for family, celebrating the birth of Christ, and gift giving.  While visions of sugarplums seem to have danced in the heads of our leadership over the past 12 months, I would offer more substantial holiday gifts for 2009 to our leaders including the gifts of wisdom, insight, and sound judgement.  

Sometimes the best gifts come in forms we least expect:

  • Due Diligence – the care a reasonable person should take before entering into agreements and transactions

Mayor-President Kip Holden and some community leaders were pushing EBRP voters to buy-in to the largest bond issue in the history of our parish in the fall election.  Meanwhile, the largest financial crisis in our economy since the Great Depression was quickly chasing us like a thief in the night.  Had our leadership done a proper Due Diligence perhaps they would have had insight as to the looming failure of  any taxpayer choosing to take on more debt in times that require cutting back, not increased spending.   May our leaders pursue the critical research before embarking on ventures in EBR Parish in 2009.

  • Sages – profound philosophers with wisdom and sound judgement

If our leaders need anything, it is wisdom and sound judgement.  This can be easily obtained from sages that research and have the insight to foresee the past, present and future.  In an economy that is requiring that every family tighten their belts, why should city government be any different?  Governor Bobby Jindal just announced a statewide shortfall along with potential cutbacks.  Perhaps if EBRP leaders would tune in to sages that are more realistic, they would understand that downtown is only one part of our great parish.  While focusing on downtown hotels, parking lots and long-shot attractions, the citizens are crying out for tighter reins on tax dollars, not excessive spending.  If leaders had listened to some of the sages, they would have removed these components and passed a bond issue addressing the true needs, not perks of the parish.  May our leaders search for all the sages of our parish to provide insight and planning that will change the entire parish for 2009.

  • Principle of the ‘Wii’ – Nintendo’s genius creation that targets a broader audience than any other similar system.

EBRP leaders often have tunnel vision.  A lesson is to be taken from Nintendo via their incredible product that has taken consumers by storm.  Wii detects movement in three dimensions and focuses on a new form of player interaction.  Bingo!  Interaction of all the key players is a component that city parish government desperately needs to consider.  When you only include the top layer in decision making you are destined for tragic outcomes.  It is imperative that all players interact and become key components of any costly project under consideration.  If our leaders would take this gift and implement these principles, they would find more support on all levels.  May we mirror the success of reaching a broader audience with hands-on interaction by all citizens of EBR Parish for 2009.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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