$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

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The Magical World of Louisiana Politics Saturday, Jun 20 2009 

 all about the money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Holden Plans Tax Increase Saturday, May 30 2009 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

All the Kings Men Monday, May 25 2009 

 AllTheKingsMen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Sin Taxes, Spendthrift Liberals & A Voice of Reason Sunday, Apr 19 2009 

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Apparently ‘sin’ taxes on cigarettes is the answer to Louisiana’s budget woes according to The Advocate and Representative Karen Peterson, Democrat, who has introduced HB 75

The Advocate has gone so far as to claim that ‘sin’ taxes are literally political taxes, in that cuts to education in our state are less desirable than charging ‘sinners’ more taxes.  Quite humorous given The Advocate’s disdain for anything Christian in political races.  How convenient!

Did The Advocate notice that another legislator, Democrat Senator Cheryl Gray, introduced SB 226 designed to spend the first $250,000 of the cigarette ‘sin’ tax annually on technology? 

It’s no coincidence that Rep. Peterson and Sen. Gray are working together on tax and spend projects.  Just last year they joined forces in a joint press conference to discuss projects that Peterson would locate funding for and Gray would quickly spend.  A great team of democrat tax and spend liberals!

The problem with any tax that is levied or raised is that it gives the false assumption there will be more money to pay down debt.  The truth is that it gives lawmakers the impetus to spend more money proven by the Peterson-Gray spendthrift duo.

Any knowledgeable person is aware that government budgets must be spent in their entirety in order for an agency to receive funding the following year.  There is always a frenzy to spend ‘the last of this year’s budget’ by agencies between October and December so they can re-justify their budget for the following year. 

It’s simple:  If you spend less, then you have proved you need less to operate.  This is never the goal of an agency. 

While sugarplums are dancing in their heads over increased tax dollars, we the people, are still looking for government spending to be streamlined.  We are not desiring more taxes, but less taxes, less spending, less government.

A new concept:  Senator Jack Donahue, Republican, has introduced SB 261 intended to streamline state government.  This bill is more in line with the thinking of voters.  It calls for streamlining, eliminating, privatizing, consolidating, and outsourcing, if necessary, governmental agency’s functions in order to be more effective and to cut spending. 

Alas, a voice of reason!

SB 261 further provides that an assessment be made of governmental agencies to ensure they are meeting or exceeding performance standards to meet the needs of Louisiana residents.  Accountability . . . a refreshing concept!

Cost efficiency, alternative resources and specific guidelines would be required in order to measure the efficiency of programs, services, functions and agency activities.  It calls for a Commission designed to streamline government functions and expenditures.  Bravo!

No wonder The Advocate endorses a ‘sin’ tax – they endorse our spendthrift liberal tax and spend Mayor, Kip Holden, as well as his bond issue to tax millions of dollars for generations to come.  Perhaps they should take a lesson from Senator Donahue and line up with taxpayers who long for true leadership and direction that cries out for government reform vs more spending and taxes?

If we continue to do the same thing, we will get the same result. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Church Lady Interviews Jindal Friday, Jun 27 2008 

Church Lady:  Hello.  I’m the Church Lady, and this is ‘Church Chat’.  Well, well, well, what an honor it is to have our first guest, Governor Piyush Jindal.  Welcome Piyush!

Governor Bobby Jindal: Thank you Church Lady.  It’s good to be here and you can call me Bobby, I changed my name years ago. 

Church Lady:  (rolling her eyes) What a lovely little name!  Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!  Just like Bobby on the Brady Bunch! 

Governor Jindal:  Actually, that’s how I chose my name!

Church Lady:  Well now, isn’t that special?  Let’s talk about the little crack your behind is in right now Bobby.  It seems you’ve found yourself between the legislature and the taxpayers in what we might call the proverbial rock and a hard place.  Tell me about the deals you cut behind closed doors with legislators in exchange for not vetoing their pay raise?

Governor Jindal:  (clearing his throat)  How on earth do you know about that? 

Church Lady:  The Church Lady knows everything dear!  So, Bobby, when you said ‘Let’s give our homeland, the great state of Louisiana, a fresh start’ after the election, did you mean throwing taxpayer’s under the bus in favor of legislators?

Governor Jindal:  No, uh, but I also said that ‘our people don’t want to be amused by our politics anymore, we don’t want to be entertained.  I said I would create ethics reform too!

Church Lady:  Well, it’s too late for that Bobby!  Hmmm!  Ethics Reform!  What a charming little euphemism!  Is that what we’re calling this now?

Governor Jindal:  I don’t know what you are implying.

Church Lady:  Of course you don’t dear!  (snickering)   So, tell me Bobby, what on earth made you think that you could put your little head in the sand and imagine that a 200% pay raise for legislators would just allllllll go away and nooo one would notice?

Governor Jindal:  Well a voice inside of myself sort of told me to focus on ethics reform, doing away with the Stelly Tax in a year or so, and to not upset the legislators who want full control of taxpayer money for pork projects and raises!

Church Lady:  How con-veeen-ient!  I think you need to look deeeep inside of yourself, Bobby, at what was thrusting and throbbing inside of you and think just what might that be that was telling you – hmmm  (taps her fingers on her chin) What could it be?  What could it be?  Could it be – Satan????

Governor Jindal:  Satan?

Church Lady:  Satan!!  Mephistopheles!!  The Prince of Darkness!!  The Beast Master!!  Satan himself!!

Governor Jindal?  I think you’re wrong, I think I’m right!  I’m the Whiz Kid!  I’m a Rhodes Scholar!  I refuse to continue this interview.  (storms off set)

Church Lady:  Oh, you think you’re so superior, don’t you Bobby?  A Rhodes Scholar?  Maybe you’re just a rogue scholar?    Kind of makes me feeling like dancing, dancing, dance the night away! 

(Church Lady begins doing the Superior Dance to the tune of . . .)

Hit the Road Jack

and Don’t ya Come Back No More No More No More No More

Hit the Road Jack

and Don’t ya Come Back No Moreeeeeeeeee!

Governor Jindal:  (screaming from backstage)  I don’t dance, except around political pay raise issues!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mad as Hell Saturday, Jun 21 2008 

Due to popular response, I am told that I should let you know that during this movie there is a phone call to the Network where Faye Dunaway answers the phone and says ‘they are yelling in Baton Rouge’. 

 

Do these words sound familiar? 

“So, I want you to get up now.  I want all of you to get up out of your chairs.  I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell . . .

I’m as mad as hell,

 and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

The year was 1976 and the movie was “Network”.  Howard Beale was addressing the public in a radio talk show on the high cost of living, increase in violent crime, poor air quality, and unemployment rate.  Ironically, he addresses the fact that writing your congressman will be of no effect.

Talk about history repeating itself.  It’s almost prophetic for our current scenario in Louisiana and specifically in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Baton Rouge is the state capital and home to legislators who just chose to totally ignore the voters plea and give their self a pay raise.  Governor Jindal is also playing the absentee landlord by claiming he will also reject the citizen’s cry to veto the bill by ignoring that option and allowing it to automatically become law.  This, along with violent crime, captures the first ten minutes of our nightly news in the Red Stick.

Groups, PACS, and recall notices are slowly forming against the blatant lawmakers who erroneously believe that Huey P. Long’s cry ‘Every Man a King’ applies only to their selves!

Regardless of their indifference to voters, we should still make our voice known in the voting booth as well as writing and joining forces with capable groups that plan to combat excess spending in government.  Take a few minutes and write Governor Bobby Jindal to voice your concerns on issues such as the legislative pay raise.  Whatever you do, just get involved.  Talk. Write. Email. Call.  Voice your opinion now and in the voting booth in upcoming elections.

Go ahead!  Get up out of your chair!  Throw the window of communication open!  Holler at your elected officials and get mad as hell and tell them you are not going to take it anymore!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

SalaryGate: “I AM NOT A CROOK” Wednesday, Jun 18 2008 

     

“I AM NOT A CROOK”

In 1873, the Salary Grab Act, was passed by Congress raising their own salaries by 50%.  In order to make it more pallatible, they also raised the salary of the President and Supreme Court Justices.  It was donned as the most indulgent money grab by politicians.  The people were outraged and the act was rescinded.

In 1972, sabotage was the motivating factor behind one of the most historic political scandals:  WaterGate  Two years later, Richard M. Nixon became the only President of the United States to resign as a result.

The House Banking Scandal in 1992 included elected officials of Congress that overdrew their house accounts lending the perception of corruption and malfeasance in office.

There is a long line of political scandals leadng up to SalaryGate including  Lancegate, Billygate, Travelgate, Whitewhater, Pardongate, and Enron, to name a few.  As I said previously, history repeats itself

Fast forward again to 2008.  Zoom in to the State of Louisiana, Regular Session of the Legislature.  Elected officials of our infamous legislature have now created SalaryGate, much to the dismay of voters.  

Governor Bobby Jindal is getting a lot of advice these days, rightfully so.  He promised ethical reform and good government for the people of Louisiana.  He also promised that he would not allow legislators to vote their self a pay raise.  Uh oh!  While he is being held hostage by legislators to not veto their self-imposed pay raise, the voters are throwing their windows open and shouting “I’m not going to take this anymore!”  But will Jindal hearken to the sound of their voice?  Or will he refuse to stand up and be counted as he promised?

The people are watching, listening, waiting for someone to stand in the fray against politics as usual.  It’s time to make your move Jindal.  Don’t negotiate with terrorists.  If you allow them to win now, they will know you are a pushover.  Stand up and be counted.  Stand up for the people of Louisiana.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

It’s Raining Cash! Hallelujah! It’s Raining Cash! Amen! Thursday, Jun 12 2008 

 

I don’t normally believe rumors, but it may be true that Louisiana legislators are in the process of rewriting the Weather Girl’s most famous song ‘It’s Raining Men’.  I hear the new title is “It’s Raining Cash!’  I can see them dancing in the halls of the State Capitol as money falls out of the sky . . .

Hi! Hi! We’re your legislators! Ah-huh!

And have we got news for YOU!  You better listen!

Get ready all your poor voters

and leave your ethics at home!  Alright!

Gas prices are rising!  Disposable income’s low!

According to all sources – politics is the way to go!

Cause on Friday for the first time

Just about in a flash

For the first time in history

It’s gonna start raising cash!

It’s raining cash, Hallelujah!  It’s raining cash, Amen!

At the expense of taxpayers I’m gonna go out and let myself get

Absolutely soaking wet!

It’s raining Cash, Hallelujah!  It’s raining Cash, Amen!

On a more serious note, according to the Census Bureau, the average household income in the U.S. in 2007 was less than what Louisiana legislators are planning to pay their self annually for part-time public service.  As the old saying goes, I have bad news and good news!  First the bad news:

What’s really interesting is to break down the number of days and hours the legislature is ‘required’ to serve at the state capitol.  (I do realize they work other days, but let’s look at this with the knowledge that virtually every legislator has another job and income.)  Take a look:  2008 Organizational Session = 3 days, 2008  First Extraordinary Session = 13 days, 2008 Second Extraordinary Session = 6 days, 2008 Regular Session = 44 days. 

That’s a total of 66 days in session divided into the proposed salary increases nets between $900 to $1,153 per day, plus committee per diem of $143, plus mileage.  I’m no accountant, but I believe that averages between $96 to $144 per hour not including per diem and mileage.  (Previously they made $31.75 per hour average plus per diem and mileage.)  Or more.  I based this on an 8 hour work day which is not a reality for all days of the legislature or all legislators for that matter.

When you look at it as an hourly average it does put it into perspective.  What are our elected officials thinking?  What are they piping in to the state capitol these days?  It’s almost like watching an armored car with the back door open and legislators scrambling for the cash before the guards realize what’s happening!  (The guards are the voters.)  Uh, oh!  The voters have been notified of the money grab!  Yikes!

Now, for the good news:  Legislators have finally accomplished what Secretary of State Jay Dardenne couldn’t by getting the attention of voters and potential voters.  There is a sense of outrage by citizens of our state at the legislative money grab which could very well result in increased voter registration and attendance in the voting booths this fall and in future elections!  I think this is the definition of a ‘call to arms’?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Republicans in 6th Reject Party Unity Saturday, Jun 7 2008 

Overdue Update:  Republicans finally came together and agreed that Cassidy was the most formidable candidate for the 6th Congressional District.  Calongne and Jenkins have agreed not to run!  Things may be looking up for the Louisiana GOP.

In times where party unity seems to be a daily political discussion on a national level, it might be advantageous to take a look at an interesting race that is brewing this fall in the Red Stick.  Voters will now have three Republican candidates to choose from in the 6th Congressional race since the trio seems to reject the idea of party unity. 

Voters often wonder why candidates run for office.  After all, who would want to subject their family and future to the whim of the media, political pundits and overwhelming daily stress in a daunting challenge of changing the course of our country that is already spiraling out of control? 

Apparently three are willing to take the plunge including Senator Bill Cassidy, business owner Laurinda Calongne, and editor Woody Jenkins.  All three have strong political ties, experience and supporters. 

Who will wind up on 1st to run against recently seated democrat Congressman Don Cazayoux?  (Don may have his own party competition on the democratic side in Representative Michael Jackson)  Cazayoux hit the floor running with an impressive website that is user friendly and a message of “what can I do to help?” This past week he began running radio ads and held conference calls for constituents to call in and address their concerns and needs.  Republicans will have to overcome his effective ability to be ‘one of us’ coupled with his humor and lack of elitism.

As a republican, this race is already causing me concern.  It won’t take a crystal ball to see the future and what to expect based on the past:

  • Republican Senator Bill Cassidy is a physician specializing in diseases of the liver.  Cassidy won a senate seat vacated by Jay Dardenne against William Daniel in 2006, and was re-elected against virtually no strong competition in 2008.  Cassidy’s platform was to improve education and healthcare in Louisiana.  He is married to retired physician Laura Cassidy, has three young children who attend public school, and attends the Chapel on the Campus. 
    • Opponents will say Cassidy is attempting to catapult his political career to a national level with a goal of changing a fledgling national healthcare system without achieving his goals in the office he promised to serve for at least 3 more years and cite his inexperience in Washington as a negative.

 

  • Republican business owner Laurinda Calongne, principal of Robert Rose Consulting, lost her bid for the vacated congressional seat of Richard Baker earlier this year in the party primary against Woody Jenkins.  Calongne ran on the premise that her business savvy would help streamline government spending, to ease the tax burden of constituents, and to fight against illegal immigration.  Laurinda says she has raised millions of dollars for the republican party and even more for health care related organizations through her grant writing to increase benefits to Louisianans.  Calongne is married to engineering consultant Dan, has one teenage daughter, and they attend Healing Place Church and Our Lady of Mercy.
    • Opponents will attack Calongne for being a registered lobbyist, for ties to Bob Livingston, and twist her stand against illegal immigration claiming she is being discriminatory.

 

  • Republican Woody Jenkins, former representative and editor of three Red Stick publications, lost his bid for this congressional seat in the run-off earlier this year to Don Cazayoux, democrat.  Jenkins’ campaign ran on his conservative values and history in the legislature.  He was backed by the Family Research Council and the Louisiana Family Forum, both christian conservative organizations and by Governor Bobby Jindal.  Jenkins is married to attorney and former assistant district attorney, Diane; they have four adult children and listed no church affiliation.
    • Opponents will attack Jenkins’ inability to win elections against strong democrats, questionable ethics in past elections and a controversial non-profit organization he and his wife managed.

Three strong republicans that refuse to agree on party unity.  Is this the wave of the future?  Maybe. 

There is no way these three candidates can run against each other without attacks on their opponents if they expect to set their self apart from the pack.  Families will suffer, as they always do in tough campaigns, and the need to raise at least $1 million by each candidate to be effective will make it one for the books – especially with McCain making major fundraising strides in Louisiana.  Who is willing to pay the ultimate price to represent Louisiana’s 6th district? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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