Fired Baton Rouge Police Chief Responds to Mayor Kip Holden Monday, Feb 18 2013 

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Under any other circumstances, what took place today would most likely have not happened.  Unfortunately, Mayor Kip Holden and his Chief Administrative Officer, William Daniel, fired Police Chief Dwayne White last week.  This came after both Holden and Daniel vehemently denied to the media (when rumors were swirling over this potential firing) that there was any truth to the rumors.  Really?  Is anyone surprised that Holden and his partner in crime, Daniel, lied to the media and public?  Furthermore, the Mayor released a letter to the media last week charging the Chief of Police with a laundry list of allegations as to why he was fired.  Today’s one hour hearing was an opportunity for the Police Chief to answer those allegations — and he chose to do so in front of the media and community.

My first response is kudos to ‘former’ Police Chief Dwayne White for answering each charge in great detail, by providing a binder with documentation to back up his ‘evidence’ against each charge made by the Mayor, and for allowing the community and media to hear his side of the story.  I was intrigued and mesmerized that someone in our great city finally had the impetus to stand up to Holden.  For that alone, I applaud White!

I am a lifelong resident of the Red Stick; raised in North Baton Rouge — and in particular grew up and lived in the 70805 zip code until I was in my 30’s.  No one can tell me anything about ‘70805’.  It is one of our most drug-ridden, gang-infested, high crime areas in our city.  Not the same neighborhood I grew up in; nevertheless, just two weeks ago, I drove back to my old homestead (as I do at least once annually) and stopped on my old street to speak with a gentleman that lives across the street from the home I grew up in.  We talked about several murders that have taken place recently on my old street, as well as arrests of late for numerous violent offenders just a few houses down the street.

Let me be clear that I have never met, nor do I know Police Chief Dwayne White.  What I did learn about him today, however, is that he is a man of faith, a man that believes in his principals, a man that chose to not play politics, but to openly answer each charge publicly in order to answer to the community whom he serves as to the charges lodged against him.  He appeared to be full of conviction in his position that he had the best interest of the community in mind with all of his decisions as Police Chief, and that the charges made against him were full of misinformation and innuendo without substance.  Frankly, I remain impressed with him.

White’s attorney, Jill Craft, understands the system well.  She specializes in a very difficult area of the law — discrimination and labor law.  It can be complicated, yet she has had great success in defending individuals who were dismissed from their employment due to unfair labor practices.  Craft is no stranger to the Supreme Court either, which made bode well for White.  No doubt, the fact that White answered the charges against him both publicly and in writing fulfill one of the requirements of the law in this, Craft’s specialized area.

To know Kip Holden in his full political regalia, is to understand that he is secretive, knows how to play the game, and is quick to accuse others without evidence.  On the other hand, he has publicly denied allegations made against him and even gone so far as to file suit against anyone defaming him — later dropping the charges once time passed.  With no public apology to those he easily despaired, I might add.  It begs the question.  Here is a public figure that refuses to be held accountable, overreacts without all of the facts, and simply does as he pleases.  I am continuously shocked that he has been re-elected, and is serving his third term as Mayor.

The majority of the charges lodged against Chief of Police Dwayne White appear to be ridiculous.  Likewise, because of the history of Mayor Kip Holden’s past actions, I tend to believe all of the comments White said Holden told him behind closed doors.  Holden does not like for anyone to disagree with him.  The Mayor is very close to Chris Stewart, head of the Union of Police.  Stewart was transferred; White says Holden called him in — rumors floated that White would be fired; Holden denied the rumors — Holden fires White.

The case is pretty simple.  Stay tuned.

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

Budget Watch: EBR Parish Sunday, Apr 11 2010 

 

Interpreting the East Baton Rouge Parish city budget is challenging and time-consuming.  This 485 page read is no J. K. Rowling novel, and I think it is safe to say that few have read it in its entirety.

The most important part of the city parish budget is the organizational chart showing the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish at the top.  As a resident and taxpayer, you are the one that the top three entities report to, which include:  the Mayor-President, the Metro Council and the Judicial Branch.  These are elected officials who are sworn in to office, and serve at your pleasure.

Next are the vision and mission statements, emphasis, goals, strategic initiatives, and budget process.  Then, we get into the real meat of the budget with detailed charts, graphs and financial reports indicating the sources of income and how dollars your tax dollars are spent. 

The general fund consists of 40% of the city parish budget.  This is signficant since 78.8% of that income depends upon taxes including sales and use tax, property taxes, gross receipts tax and other taxes including gaming proceeds.  The report indicates a $5 million reduction in business taxes, licenses and permits and interest rates.  This budget presentation comes from the same individuals who informed us the recession was not affecting the Red Stick.

Mayor-President Kip Holden joined hands with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) to the tune of $500,000 annually for economic development services for the Red Stick.  Each year the annual Canvas Trip is made by community leaders and politicians to cities that Holden and BRAC feel we should pattern ourselves after.  A puzzling addition to the budget is an additional $150,000 in business development support.  This is cause for concern since taxpayers were told that the contract with BRAC would replace any need for city-parish spending  or increase in services and manpower towards economic development.

When comparing the budget and planning process of the cities we have visited to the EBRP budget, some enlightening facts are revealed.  For instance, the city of Austin, hailed as the most desired city to pattern the Red Stick after indicates some progressive budgetary moves.

Austin indicates a major reduction in their annual budget for 2010 as well as a major change in 2009 indicating all city merit raises decreased from 4% to 2.5%.  There is a lesson to be learned here from a city we hold in high regard.

No salary increases for civil employees in 2010 and suspension of service incentive pay are also shown on Austin’s budget.  Additionally, cuts were made in their general fund including deferred contractual salary increases for police and EMS, eliminating vacant positions permanently, reducing overtime budgets, and adding gate fees for city-wide festivals.  Austin’s budget indicates a reserve of 11% compared to less than half of that reserve for the Red Stick.

More importantly is the involvement of Austin’s community in the budgetary process including transparency and collaboration.  Austin holds citizen focus groups, town halls, teen town halls, taxpayer surveys, a budget hotline and email program to make recommendations or question budgetary concerns. 

Additionally, Austin has implemented a Dollars & Sense employee input program including those who are not department heads or supervisors.  The EBRP budget indicates the only input that is allowed is the Mayor, the Chief Administrative Officer, Metro Council and department heads.  It begs the question.

Ultimately Austin’s goal is to be the “most livable city” in the country.  Nashville, seems to get it as well with beginning their entire process by referring to their metro city budget as The Citizens BudgetRefreshing.

Back at the ranch, EBRP’s budget has some major concerns for citizens to consider including the vast list of consultants which comprises 19.4% of expenditures.  It appears that consultant fees total $54 million.  Wow!

Mayor-President Kip Holden is also banking that our citizens will pay a visit to dump their hard-earned dollars at our two downtown casinos proven by the projected increase in revenue by an additional million dollars for the general fund.  I do not think you will find anyone who believes this will  improve our quality of life in the Red Stick.  Banking on the gaming addictions of our citizens is a bad move.

Increased spending is projected for a 10% increase in health care for city-parish employees, a $100,000 expenditure to ensure our local census is accurate, and a mirage of additional projects.  We have nearly $3 million allotted for EBRP vehicle purchases. 

We spend $340,000 on what is referred to as quality of life issues including fairs and festivals.  We also spend an additional $61,000 on hosting the bowling congress.  I wasn’t aware that improved our quality of life in EBRP.  In comparison, we give only $23,000 to the local Food Bank.

In 2009 we purchased a helicopter for the Baton Rouge Police Department vs. more boots on the ground.  I suppose that compares to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, who criticized former Sheriff Greg Phares for the purchase of a boat, purchasing a second boat which rumor has it was named after Gautreaux’s wife.  I guess that indicates Gautreaux’s attack was nothing more than a political public relations campaign.

As I began, the 485-page budget is an interesting read, yet a handful of taxpayers will take the time to peruse it and understand the spending mentality of Mayor-President Kip Holden.  One recommendation is that every consultant contract be identified; some departments detail the companies involved, others provide no details.

Ultimately, we need to look hard at our spending.  Carl Redmond of The Advocate might be better served to study the budget and investigate the mirage of consultants and their ties to Mayor-President Kip Holden.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican