EBRP Mayor Kip Holden: In His Own Words Sunday, Jun 17 2012 

As we prepare for the 2012 East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President’s race, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back to 2004 when Kip Holden ran against incumbent Bobby Simpson. 

I am a strong believer in reviewing the facts and quoting candidate’s own words.  It begs the question.

In 2004, according to The Advocate, mayoral candidate Kip Holden, made the following statements on October 25th while speaking at the Catholic Life Center about incumbent Bobby Simpson:

More than $119 million in this year’s budget has gone to professional service contracts, he said. “We are going to cut it out” and pay officers more.

When you can see the same conditions that existed four years ago,” then what has been accomplished, he asked.  (In reference to Crime, Traffic, Economic Development and Education.)

Fast forward 8 years.  If Holden felt Simpson should be replaced based on these 4 major failings, let’s ask the same question he asked:

“When you can see the same conditions that existed four years ago,” then what has been accomplished?”

  1. Crime is still a major issue. 
  2. Our Education problems are ever-increasing. 
  3. Traffic has improved in some areas; however, it is still a huge problem. 
  4. Economic Development is still not where it should be, and we are spending huge sums to underwrite BRAC’s initiatives that are questionable at best.

So, Mayor Holden, to use your own prolific words, why are we asking the same questions?

Two of the most disheartening issues I find of late (there are so many, but I will zero in on a few for now) include: 

Crime and Budget Issues

In 2004, Holden claimed that he would cut out $119 million in professional services contracts.  We have a long way to go to make that proposed cut a reality.

A side bar should be made here regarding the fact that not all professional services contracts are clearly spelled out in the budget.  Any accountant or CPA worth his salt will tell you how easy it is to hide expenditures in a budget the magnitude of our City-Parish — 513 pages to be precise. 

The truth is that spending for the Mayor’s Office in professional services contracts far exceeded what Simpson’s budget called for — this is strictly for the Mayor’s Office alone.  Take a look:

  • $200,000 – Patton Boggs – lobbying and consulting
  • $110,000 – Courson-Nickel – lobbying and consulting
  • $100,000 – Truancy (a pass is given on this one as it is sorely needed)
  • $100,000 – Red Stick Animation Festival

That is over $500,000 in Contractual Services for the Mayor’s Office only.  Contractual Services for the City-Parish make up 19.3% of the EBRP’s budget.  (See page 66 of the budget here.)

Finally, the budget for the Mayor’s Office has substantially increased since Holden was initially elected.  Let’s review the facts:

  • Mayor-President & Administrative Offices (page 78 of the budget):
    • 2005:  2,342,060
    • 2006:  2,785,780
    • 2007:  3,744,280
    • 2008:  4,748,700
    • 2009:  3,860,040
    • 2010:  3,825,570
    • 2011:  3,502,520

The numbers speak volumes. 

There are some changes on the horizon thanks to the Metro Council.  Their plans for 2012 included substantial changes in authorization privileges being moved from the Mayor-President to the Metro Council for certain expenditures.  These changes, of course, seriously affected the administration’s budget. 

According to the budget, those areas include:  Community Sponsored Programs, Economic Development Programs, and Community Centers (see page 76, item w. of the budget for verification.)

As I began, so shall I end. 

Mayor-President Kip Holden ran for office in 2004 under the auspices that former Mayor-President Bobby Simpson had not taken hold of Crime, Education, Economic Development and Traffic problems.

In 2012, we should do no less than ask the same very questions that Holden asked: 

“…what has been accomplished (to address these issues)…?”

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The plot thickens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, the topic of this piece. 

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

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

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

Why should these accusations warrant any less attention? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBR Crime Statistics Sunday, Feb 19 2012 

Every 6 months or so, I read with great interest the crime statistics provided by East Baton Rouge Parish via our media outlets.  It’s one thing to say ‘the murder rate is down’; it’s entirely another task to understand the methologies and numbers as they really exist. 

Let’s discuss murders in 2011.  Understanding, of course, that we do not have access to all of the detailed data, we can read the archives of The Advocate and determine what is reported to the taxpayers of EBR Parish.

There are a lot of different statistics to consider: 

  • 81:  On Sunday, February 5, 2012, The Advocate reported there were 81 murders in EBR Parish (incorporated and unincorporated city limits). 

  • 64:  On February 18, 2012, The Advocate reports there were 64 murders in the incorporated city limits of the Red Stick, according to the BR Police Dept. 

  • 17:  Subtracting The Advocate’s report of 64 city murders vs. 81 parish murders equates to only 17 murder in the unincorporated portions of the parish.  (Unfortunately, the murders in the unincorporated sections of EBR Parish are not identified on the EBR Sheriff’s website.  (EBRSO stats are from 2009; a bit out of date guys!)

There are some flaws in the Uniform Crime Reporting as far as tracking crime.  I know this because I read the entire archives of The Advocate for 2011 and found more than 17 murders in the unincorporated portions of our parish. 

Though I do not believe all murders are storied in the daily newspaper, I do think those murders reported are actual.  Unfortunately, we are left to the tracking of law enforcement under the guidelines of Uniform Crime Reporting system which can make a significant determination in the method in which crimes are reported. 

The City of Baton Rouge has 227,818 residents in the city limits with 64 murders; 81 in the Parish.  New Orleans has 343,829 residents in their city limits, and UCR statistics show 105 murders in their city.   They have 66% more residents than we do, and we have 60% of the murders they have.  It puts things into perspective.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker stated last week while announcing his Mayorial intentions that Baton Rouge has crime equal or worst to New Orleans.  Earlier that same day,  Mayor-President Kip Holden stated that serious crimes were on the decline. 

Any way you cut it, we have a crime problem.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker recognizes, along with District Attorney Hillar Moore, that crimes are repeated by many of the same offenders. 

On the other hand, the percentage of those commiting the actual murders are often commiting only one murder each.  I certainly do not discount those repeat offenders that commit multiple murders; the numbers are simply smaller. 

Crime does escalate in the eye of a perpetrator.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker got it wrong by stating that we need to crack down on misdemeanors such as parking violations, etc. and keep a misdemeanor jail open 24/7.  Parking violators and such are not in the same league as those commiting crimes that escalate to violent crimes. 

Furthermore, Walker touted Baton Rouge Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee as an example of a perpetrator that passed through the court system numerous times.  This was an unfortunate example to use because Lee’s crimes were of a much more serious nature.  We can’t compare stalking and masturbation outside of women’s bedroom windows with those individuals committing parking violations.

This gap in linking serious crimes with non-violent crimes that do not escalate concerns me greatly on Walker’s behalf, even though I am a fan of Walker and have respect for some of the intitiatives he has implemented during this political career.

I am digressing to the Mayor’s race, but if we are to look for the right candidate for the Office of Mayor-President while addressing the apparent spike in crime (regardless of crime statistics shared), we must find a candidate that is not a politician. 

Baton Rouge, and East Baton Rouge Parish, needs to address crime head-on and properly classify perpetrators, while admitting we have a huge, escalating crime problem in the Red Stick.

Who is that candidate? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Metro Council Says NO to Tax Increase Sunday, Aug 14 2011 

Kudos to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council members that voted down Mayor Kip Holden’s $748 million bond issue that would have been funded by increased taxes to citizens of our parish.  This equates to the bond issue not finding a place on the October ballot.

The truth is that this tax proposal should have never been introduced by the Mayor; it was incomplete, did not include the appropriate parties, and was written in secrecy and withheld in its entirety from taxpayers.  The resulting action taken by the Metro Council was, therefore, absolutely correct.

Each Metro Council member was elected under the premise that they would represent the people of their respective districts fairly and honestly.  This can not be done if they do not have full information in a timely manner to make proper decisions that represent us.

In fact, Mayor Kip Holden did not even present the full details of his tax increase to the voters.  While other initiatives of the Mayor’s office are available online at http://www.brgov.com/, the largest expenditure for the taxpayers to date was not available for voters to view.  Once must ask why?

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book in the political world to withhold information in hopes of getting an initiative to slide through with few questions.  Unfortunately, for Mayor Kip Holden, we have elected a Metro Council that was set on doing their due diligence.  Fortunately, this favors the voters vs the politicians, resulting in no current increase in taxes based on a somewhat ‘secret’ proposal.

No, the proposal wasn’t entirely secret; we did know some of the intiatives included, just not enough detail for a bond issue of that magnitude.  Some of the intitiatives were questionable.  For instance, $32 million to expand the River Center.  My personal feelings are that we can continue to build a larger venue; however, we can’t seem to fill the one we have with consistent events. 

$418 million was to be dedicated to infrastructure.  No one can argue that we have let our infrastructure degenerate through the years.  Then again, some would say there are more valid questions as to how dollars have been spent in the past in the City-Parish budget.  What about another ‘pay as you go’ intiative?  It certainly worked for the Green Light Program. 

Only $298 million of the proposed bond issue would have addressed public safety.  This is a major concern for law enforcement, the Metro Council and taxpayers.  Crime continues to be one of the most critical concerns for our parish. 

Awhile back I addressed the huge sums of monies made by those putting together bond proposals.  I believe it was Metro Councilman Ulysses Bones that inquired as to how much the tax plan fully costs.  Hopefully, he and other council members will also address the large amount of fees required to make a bond proposal work.

Even better, there is an initiative by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Walker, and other Metro Council members to work with various City-Parish leaders to put together a more efficient tax package that will address one of the major concerns we are facing in East Baton Rouge Parish:  CRIME.

It will be interesting to see what Walker and others come up with in a revised bond issue .  Until we view their proposal, we can’t speak as to whether it has merit.

Time will tell.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Secrets of the Red Stick Sunday, Sep 27 2009 

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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

Putting Together the Pieces Thursday, Sep 24 2009 

For two days in a row, the media rocked my world by finally asking for details of Mayor Kip Holden’s proposed tax increase that will come in the form of a bond issue this fall.  How much better can life get?  Baton Rouge Business Report’s JR Ball is asking some questions that community and business leaders have failed to ask.  Kudos to JR!  Read more here.

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So many pieces, so little time to put them all together.  Some say this is exactly what Mayor-President Kip Holden and his entourage are banking on in regard to this fall’s proposed tax increase.

I subscribe to the old adage of judging someone by their questions rather than their answers.  Weak leaders attack those who ask questions — something we have witnessed from Holden and his administration repeatedly.  Enough said.

While secrecy appears to be the mother’s milk of the EBR Mayor-President Kip Holden’s strategy, there are so many unanswered questions remaining:

  1. Why haven’t taxpayers been provided with full and complete disclosure on each aspect of the bond proposal package vs a one paragraph overview?
  2. How much of our tax dollars are being spent for the public relations portion of the bond proposal?
  3. What studies have been done on each aspect of the bond proposal and where can taxpayers access these reports? 
  4. Are we expected to fund nearly $1 billion for a 30-year tax with simple power point presentations?
  5. Who is really behind Progress Is, an organization set us as a non-profit promoting the bond issue?  
  6. Why should taxpayers be forced to choose an all or nothing plan because of a hard-headed-spendthrift Mayor-President?
  7. Why are we being led to believe that local government cannot make the necessary cuts in order to fund the real needs of our parish vs increasing our taxes?
  8. Who made the decision to assume that Downtown Baton Rouge should be the location of the proposed Audubon Alive! facility?

With all due respect, improving Downtown Baton Rouge has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of life for Red Stick residents whether you hail from Baker, Zachary, Central, Shenandoah, Highland Road, Gardere or Brookstown.  

Perhaps this is where “trust me, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help” comes in?  If it is, I’m not buying what they are selling.

Since the days of Catfish Town, we have struggled to make downtown a thriving metropolis.  The visitor statistics for downtown already reveal a dismal report on a failed attempt at increasing tourism.  Building of The Shaw Center, two complete makeovers at the River Center, the USS Kidd, a complete makeover of the LASC, millions spent to upgrade the Old State Capitol, a barrage of bars and restaurants, and of course, our two major gaming facilities surrounded by an Atrium that remains empty are signs of more troubles to come for downtown Baton Rouge should we spend millions more on another ‘savior’ attraction.  

These facilities speak louder than any editorial publisher Rolfe McCollister, Jr. can write trying to convince us to spend more tax dollars downtown. 

There are more politics in this bond issue than you can shake a stick at — but the average taxpayer isn’t privy to this information.  The former shadow mayor, bond issue participants, public relations firms, and financial supporters of the Holden administration stand to make millions of dollars at our expense should this tax pass.  Hard facts, but true.

When will the business leaders of this community stand up, once and for all, and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?  When will you side with the hard-working citizens who are struggling to make their own neighborhoods safer? 

What happened to the former mayoral candidate Rolfe McCollister that said, “I don’t believe you tax your way to prosperity”?   I guess a lot changes in nine years, eh?

Though Mayor Kip Holden said last year that he planned to present this tax proposal, when he was first elected in 2000, he said, “Public Safety is the only thing for which I would ask the voters to raise taxes”!   

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said he would put temporary housing at the EBR Parish Prison.  Was this a lie or is he willing to keep his campaign promise?  Right after the election, a study done by former sheriff Greg Phares indicated that temporary housing and adding beds could be done at no extra cost except for a slight increase in food, beds and staff.  This was nearly two years ago!  What happened?

Putting the pieces together is tough given a shroud of secrecy, but I am committed to continue to seek the truth and shout it from the rooftops, and demand that business leaders and politicians stop the madness.  Say NO to higher taxes, and YES to fiscal responsibility!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Ethics Board Gone Wild! Saturday, Aug 15 2009 

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The Louisiana Ethics Administration presented Mayor-President Kip Holden a birthday present this week by agreeing to become a pawn in a dangerous political game gone wild.

Louisiana law set up the Ethics Administration to oversee, investigate and rule in matters related to campaign finance, lobbyist disclosure, and conflicts of interest. 

Procedures are in place to allow citizens to submit concerns in writing.  In turn, the ethics board reviews the matter and determines whether to move forward in pursuit of specific violations of the ethics laws.

Several ironies exist in this format. 

One is that the process clearly states that it is a misdemeanor to reveal any information regarding an ethics investigation.  Yet, we read about this investigation in The Advocate.  This is another case of the law making no sense, unless this isn’t about ethics?

Another irony is that the man charged, Scott Wilfong, is not even required to file a campaign finance report which, in essence, makes the charges and complaint erroneous.  Vendors of campaigns are not required to file campaign finance reports.  Those hiring them must file whether they are the political candidate, a PAC, or interested citizen.

The greatest irony is that ethics is about morality which is the basis for the flyer.  The ethics board has chosen to investigate the source, but not the content of the flyer.  

There’s more to the story. 

Mayor-President Kip Holden allegedly committed an immoral act (adultery) coupled with an unethical one (using police officers after hours) which was the thrust of the anti-Holden flyer. 

Holden hired an attorney and private investigator to pursue the matter and obtain the name(s) of individuals responsible for the flyer to no avail.  Holden also accused numerous individuals at varying times as being responsible for the flyer. 

When the allegations could not be proven by Holden, an ethics complaint was filed to force the hand of Wilfong to reveal who paid him to mail the flyer.  To date, the Mayor has accused 4 different individuals as being the source of the flyer. 

Truly, this is political scheming and unethical behavior in its truest form.  And people wonder why the ethics board is not respected or why more individuals do not file ethics complaints?

The legislature took away the privilege of anonymously filing ethics complaints.  This allows alleged perpetrators to know their accuser unlike proven whistleblower programs like CrimeStoppers.  This was a mistake. 

The politically powerful have far reaching arms in the Red Stick, and those seen as violating the rules of secrecy pay dearly.   It also prevents law-abiding citizens from filing complaints that are sure violations of the law.  Who needs the grief?

The bottom line on this entire fiasco is simple in that we reap what we sow: 

  • If you don’t want to be embarrassed publicly, be faithful to your partner. 
  • If you use security, don’t bring them to the scene of your illicit activities. 
  • If you are accused of impropriety, don’t fuel the fire by showing the media the flyer.
  • If you are a vendor engaged in any political-related work, be prepared to be exposed for your involvement and possibly become the scapegoat.
  • If you are smart enough, you can use the ethics board to do your dirty work without them even realizing they are your pawn.

Any way you cut it, this is a slap in the face for the intent of the ethics laws for the state of Louisiana, and a huge step backwards for the Red Stick.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Valid Question for Red Stick Saturday, Jul 11 2009 

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Whose life is more valuable? Mayor-President Kip Holden or witnesses to violent crime in our parish? Sounds like an ignorant question, but it is a valid one.

Records released last year showed that three bodyguards making between $42k and $68k each worked for Holden.  This means your tax dollars will pay between $336,000 and $544,000 over an eight year period while Kip Holden serves as Mayor.  Holden is currently serving his second term in office. 

Holden also is chauffered in a Lincoln Town Car that costs taxpayers $642 per month according to public records.  That equates to $61,632 for 8 years.  Can’t you buy a car for that leased price for less?  Don’t get me started on the extravagant spending that comes out of his office.  It is a slap in the face to taxpayers of our parish.

See how quick it is to find $600,000 in budget cuts?  This is not rocket science folks, and it doesn’t take a CPA to figure it out!

On the other hand, East Baton Rouge voters were recently told there is not enough money in the coffers to protect witnesses of violent crimes in our parish.  Newly elected District Attorney, Hillar Moore, found out he is fighting an uphill battle for funding to protect witnesses.  If there is a way out of this mess, I know Moore will find it.  He has my vote of confidence.

Therefore, the logical answer on the table is: 

Whose life is more valuable? 

You see, in order for us to clean up crime in our parish, we must ask the hard questions of ourselves. 

I have heard consistently from Chief Jeff Leduff that he does not have the resources to protect witnesses.  Recently, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux touted the problem with witnesses not coming forward.  And they wonder why?

Just two weeks ago, another witness to a violent murder in our city was killed.  I wrote about this in great detail in the story, 5 Related Murders in EBRP

The Mayor waited until AFTER we had one of the bloodiest months and highest incidences of violent crime in our parish to finally go on TV and say enough is enough. 

We have to pull the funds from ridiculous expenditures and spend the money where it is needed.  “Building new jails is not the answer” as told to us by former candidate for EBR Sheriff Dalton Honore’. 

Let’s dig deeper than talking about taxes to build new prisons.  We must drive much further into neighborhoods than talking on the news. 

So, back to the valid question of the day for Red Stick citizens:  Whose life is more valuable?

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

Red Stick Unemployment Lines Growing Thursday, May 21 2009 

Updates!

  • Sunland Pipe, a Shaw Group company, laid off about 40 workers.  Last month they laid off 200 in North Louisiana.  Shaw claims this is due to the downturn in fabrication work. 
  • 100 contract maintenance workers at the Georgia Gulf plant have been laid off.  Reports indicate they are employed by Turner Industries as maintenance personnel. 

unemployment

Despite Mayor-President Kip Holden’s hyperbole claiming the Red Stick has been immune to the recession, news reports continue to prove otherwise.  Recent announcements were made that hundreds of jobs in the Red Stick are vanishing before our very eyes, and thousands of employees will feel the pinch of the cost of living while their paychecks shrink. 

It’s the tip of the iceberg since the news only reports on large employers or ‘newsworthy’ companies.  (No offense intended to every business that has closed or individual who has been laid off.) 

Capitol One Bank announced yesterday that approximately 22% of their work force, 180 employees, will be cut over the next few months.  

Chrysler and General Motor dealers in the Red Stick still await their fate, as do employees that earn in excess of $21 hourly.  According to Louisiana State Treasurer, John Kennedy, dealership losses are expected to deliver a blow of up to $350 million with a loss of up to $50 million in state taxes.  Dealers are being notified via mail.

Though Trinity Marine is located in Brusly, many employees travel from the Greater Baton Rouge area to work at the barge manufacturer.  Over 190 employees are expected to lose their jobs in the immediate future according to reports earlier this week.

The Red Stick’s pride and joy, Pennington Biomedical, chose the higher road by announcing no pay raises for 452 employees vs layoffs.  This could be a temporary measure, however, since Pennington receives significant funding from the troubled treasure chest of the state of Louisiana. 

The Advocate took the lower road by announcing that approximately 10% of their staff, 49 employees, will learn their fate  today when they receive their dismissal papers.

In June, Louisiana Civil Service will make a decision as to whether merit increases are eliminated in lieu of state worker layoffs.  This move stands to significantly affect Red Stick workers as agencies are headquartered in the capitol city.

Southern University, based in the Red Stick, is discussing layoffs and one-day-a-month unpaid furloughs for university employees.  LSU is in the news daily, discussing major cuts in personnel and services.

There are far too many stories in the naked city.  Troubling times.  Budget cuts.  Benefit costs being passed on to employees.  Unpaid furloughs.  Businesses shutting down.  Enough facts to challenge the ‘Baton Rouge has survived the recession without a blemish’ to say the least.

The problem with politicians like Mayor-President Kip Holden is that they cannot comprehend budget cuts.  Spendthrift is primary in Holden’s vocabulary evidenced by his plan to raise taxes on voters this fall.  It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money.  Business owners, on the other hand, are more in tune with strict budgets, the cost of doing business, and less than bottomless funding scenarios.

Loren Scott has continuously told us that the Red Stick is in good financial shape.  Now, he claims the third quarter predictions are grim for the parish.  I’m glad he is taking a peek into the real world the rest of us are already living in today.

What can we do?  Buckle down folks.  Shop mindfully.  Spend wisely.  Squeeze whatever you can into savings.  Take it on as a challenge. 

Reach out.  Share the fruit of your labors with those less fortunate.  These are the times that make us stronger and better. 

Let’s not do as the politicians, and bury our heads in the sand.  We can remain positive, cautiously.  This too shall pass.  And, if it doesn’t, let’s demand that elected officials cut the necessary fat, not raise taxes, and join the rest of us in working towards a sounder financial future in the Red Stick.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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