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

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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

EBR Parish Crime Commission Moot Sunday, Feb 5 2012 

Here we go again!  The local East Baton Rouge Crime Commission, according to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, “is a dead issue” for voters of our parish in the Spring.  More bureaucracy, more delays to address one of the most critical issues of our parish — CRIME!

The Crime Commission includes law enforcement agency heads, the District Attorney, a Metro Council representative and the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ Mayor-President’s office (who originally balked at the idea because it was not his own, claiming he addressed some of the issues in his past tax issues.)

No doubt, we have a huge crime problem in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Residents of the Red Stick have made this a daily conversation at the dinner table, water cooler, twitter, facebook, etc.  It’s a huge concern for anyone living in our parish.

For some time, I have addressed the serious crime issues of our parish, and my personal concern as I watched an escalating problem in the Red Stick.  All you have to do is view the murder rate map at The Advocate to see how serious the murder rate alone has become for our parish.

The EBR Parish Crime Commission has discussed issues many issues such as:

  • Building a new prison at a cost of $165 million — an issue I absolutely do not understand.  When Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was elected, he clearly stated that he would increase the beds and capacity at the current prison through modular housing by aggressively pursuing federal grants.  (The Advocate, September 30, 2007, Sheriff Candidates Differ on Details) This promise has not happened!
  • Creating a new Juvenile Services Facility at a cost of $45 million.  This is an initiative of District Attorney Hillar Moore. 
  • A new/shared Public Safety Headquarters housing the Baton Rouge Police Department and the EBR Sheriff’s Office at a cost of $102 million.
  • Increasing space for a Addiction Treatment Facility at a cost of $2.5 to $5.5 million (a widely proposed cost with no definitive cost).
  • Additional funding for the District Attorney’s Office at $5 million.  This expense also includes ‘other unspecified operation costs for other law enforcement agencies’.  (Costs that should be clarified down to the penny!)

There is a lot of complexity in the facts surrounding these proposed public safety (crime) infrastructure improvements such as land that was purchased by the city parish that has yet to have been used, lease agreements, donated land, money owed to the city parish by some agencies, the precise size of facilities yet to be agreed upon, etc.

Side issues that were also considered:  a Truancy Jail, a Misdemeanor Jail, and taking over the soon-to-be-abandoned Woman’s Hospital as a Public Safety Headquarters.

To add insult to one part of this plan is the fact that Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says that it will take $1 million annually to operate a new Parish Prison, which he does not have in his annual operating budget.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, one of the largest failings of the Crime Commission aka Crime Prevention Committee was to include the Judges that rule the bench and the Legislators from our parish.

We can complain about crime while law enforcement arrests offenders, but it is the Legislators that create the laws governing our parish and the Judges that enforce those laws. 

Until we include everyone that has a say in the laws and sentencing of criminals, we are putting a band-aid on the problem of crime in our parish.

If a perpetrator commits murder, it is up to the laws of the land and the interpretation and enforcement of those laws that really matter.

Judges, the District Attorney and Law Makers are key to carrying out the proper sentences before a perpetrator stands before a Judge and/or Jury.  If the law doesn’t have enough bite, if the DA doesn’t go for the strongest sentence possible, and if the Judge doesn’t rule to keep the perpetrators in jail until and after sentencing, we are wasting our time on the other issues.

I am sorely disappointed that we have yet to find a Mayor-President for this parish that will make public safety the #1 priority.  All of the false campaign promises of a Sheriff that promised to increase housing at the prison and a Mayor that said we will not tolerate crime has worn my patience thin.

All the while, criminals are trolling our city committing horrific crimes on our citizens.  Once arrested, if they are identified, they are bonded out by Judges and allowed to serve menial sentences that put them back on the streets to commit more crime.

Any law enforcement officer worth his salt, will tell you that the majority of perpetrators are repeat offenders.  When will we address the heart of the problem?

It begins with the law and is followed by the Judges that we must hold accountable.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

MOHSEP Grants Misused? Saturday, Nov 5 2011 

Update:  The Baton Rouge Metro Council met yesterday to delve into the details of the Homeland Security Grant debacle.  By a majority vote, they determined it was in the best interest of the taxpayers that a full investigation take place in regard to MOHSEP, Mayor Kip Holden’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.  Unfortunately, they are giving MOHSEP until January 15th to resolve pending issues before pursuing the investigation.  Amazing how MOHSEP was able to ‘buy some time’ on the investigation.  Is this appropriate?

Perhaps a whistleblower among us might be able to shed light on the proposed investigation into the alleged misappropriations  of grant monies arising out of the office of the Mayor-President Kip Holden’s office and MOHSEP (Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness)?

According to OHSEP (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness), both Mayor Kip Holden and JoAnne Moreau, Director of MOHSEP, refused to follow state and federal guidelines.  Basically, they did not submit the proper paperwork as follows:

  • Failure to submit complete project applications
  • Failure to present potential expenditures to the Parish Emergency Management Advisory Committee (PEMAC)
  • Failure to get GOHSEP’s, the State Administrative Agency’s (SAA), approval on intended expenditures
  • Failure to obtain Environmental Historical Preservation (EHP) assessments as required by federal law

To add insult to injury, Mayor Holden and JoAnne Moreau misspent funds, did not receive approval for certain expenditures, and failed to supply details on past and future expenditures. 

Among those issues are the spending of $159,000 used for salaries while grant rules capped total salary payments at $95,500.  There is another $362,784 in spending that will not be reimbursed by OHSEP; that money will now have to come out of the parish general fund because the Mayor already spent the money!

There is a total of $1.3 million in spending that has already taken place by Mayor Kip Holden.  The potential exists that, without the proper documentation, that funding will not be reimbursed to the city-parish from OHSEP.  You should never spend money without funding, especially when the terms of reimbursement are clear. 

One of the precedents for grant receipt is to properly complete paperwork prior to receipt, to provide detailed confirmation on the spending of grant monies, and to be good stewards of the monies received.

Good stewards.  Sometimes this concept is foreign, once power and control take priority.

There is good news, however!  Chandler Loupe, a councilman on the EBR Metro Council, flanked by Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker, is making a move to request a full investigation and audit of funds received by the Mayor’s Office.  It is my hope that the full council votes next week to comply with this request.  No doubt, Mayor Kip Holden will be lobbying against this request.

Mayor Kip Holden has proven time and time again that he does not like being questioned — even when he is spending the taxpayer’s money — our money.  Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of all elected officials to comply with total transparency.  A concept that the Mayor does not embrace.

Where there is fire, there is smoke. 

The challenge set forth by anyone investigating the reason that OHSEP reallocated federal homeland security grant funding from Mayor Kip Holden and gave the authority to the Sheriff’s Office of EBRP and Ascension Parish is to find the truth.  The amount they were given authority over totals $4,033,033.

If Mayor Kip Holden and JoAnne Moreau of MOHSEP have nothing to hide, then they will embrace this investigation and provide detail necessary to get to the bottom of this issue.

Unfortunately, I fully expect Holden and Moreau to continue this debacle by not complying, refusing to participate with the investigation in a friendly manner, and continuing to hide the facts.

Holden and Moreau have been long-time compadres.  Yet, some believe that Holden will use Moreau as his scapegoat.  I disagree.  Anyone who has ever met Moreau knows she will not be thrown under anyone’s bus — including the Mayor’s.

The public deserves a full-blown investigation and the facts to be presented.  Of course, so did GOHSEP when they required that MOHSEP and the Mayor’s Office to supply details required by the grant.  All other parishes complied. 

Why didn’t Holden and Moreau comply?  The devil is in the details.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mayor Kip Holden Still “Off Limits” Friday, Jun 17 2011 

 

 

Evidently it doesn’t matter if you are on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council, a concerned citizen, or a homeless man — the message is clear:  Mayor Kip Holden is “Off Limits” — and so is his office!  

According to The Advocate and Baton Rouge Business Report, the Mayor recently spent more than $8,000 to ‘protect’ himself from the public by installing security cameras, a panic button, double glassed in doors, and a keypad. 

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker stated his displeasure at the expenditure (albeit a Homeland Security Grant) and declared it unnecessary due to the fact that the building has uniformed security and that Mayor Kip Holden has his own entourage of personal body guards and drivers.  Walker’s thinking is accurate in that he referred to these security measures as sending a message to the public that the Mayor’s Office is “Off Limits”.

Surely no one is surprised at this blatent move by the Mayor to continue his ‘closed door’ policy? 

Holden and his ‘former’ good buddy, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, made the same move in his offices in an effort to line up with the same type of closed door policy.  Campaign promises to visit with each individual have gone by the wayside. 

Closed doors = closed minds?

Holden was first elected to the position of Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish due to Baton Rouge Next’s campaign against former Mayor Bobby Simpson.  The campaign was known as “Anybody But Bobby” or “ABB”.  With a goal that was clear and concise — “ABB” pledged to put their money, time and effort behind getting anyone other than Bobby Simpson elected as Mayor of EBRP. 

The “ABB” train was on the move, and Kip Holden arrived at the station just in time!  From the onset of the campaign, Holden was on the attack — claiming, of course, that his ‘addressing the issues’ was not negative campaigning, but simply “pointing out problems with Simpson’s record“. 

One might remember that William Daniel also ran in the primary of 2004.  Daniel loaned his campaign enough to run the infamous traffic ads produced by BRNext showcasing frustrated citizens sitting in EBR Parish traffic.  The political action committee, BRNext, created numerous ads that pointed out all the problems in EBR Parish and targeting the Mayor’s Office (Bobby Simpson in particular) for the issues at hand.  Holden spent very little in his own campaign, yet he benefited greatly from both ABB’s and Daniel’s expenditures.

This must have been a golden moment for Kip Holden.  The irony of the 2004 campaign was that former Mayor Bobby Simpson was attacked for doing nothing to improve three major areas of concern to EBR Parish citizens:

        1. Crime ……………………………………… still an issue 7 years later
        2. Education ………………………………..  still an issue 7 years later
        3. Traffic ……………………………………..  still an issue 7 years later

 I digress.  Back to the issue at hand.

The bottom line on Mayor Kip Holden being “Off Limits” is not a new concept.  Building glass double doors, adding keypads and buzzers to allow individuals to enter, and security cameras are just external signs of a policy that has been in place for some time now. 

The only thing that makes me wonder is why it has taken so long for the media and public to recognize the dichotomy of Holden. 

On a social level, Holden is the cat’s meow…always in attendance of every community event (beer in hand), a smile on his face, kissing babies, dancing, sharing motivational tidbits, and making campaign promises under the auspice of his catch phrase that Baton Rouge will be “the next greatest city in America” – Amen, brother!

The political side of Holden, however, is the man with a huge ego that loves to be driven around like Miss Daisy, catered to by his entourage, protected by his body guards, and is unapproachable for sensible open discussions about how we can work TOGETHER lest we fall apart. 

The latter is a dangerous man who lacks understanding.  He closes himself off from those with fresh ideas who have nothing to gain except to see the greater good prevail in a community.  His intentions are less than honorable when he does not share openly and freely information that the public (and the Metro Council) deserve to receive, and rejects the wisdom of crowds.

Yes, Mayor Kip Holden is Still “Off Limits”.  The only difference is that now you have to be buzzed in — or will they hit the panic button?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

 

Lack of Leadership Saturday, Oct 9 2010 

 

 

Chief Leduff, Sheriff Gautreaux & Mayor Holden

I believe it is imperative to discuss this past week’s “crime-fighting” debacle.

It all began when Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker, who is rumored at taking a run for Mayor-President in the near future, began to address the ongoing increase in violent crime in East Baton Rouge Parish as an urgent matter.  Walker declared the increasing violent crime as an emergency that needed immediate attention.  

This action by Walker, of course, met resistance from current Mayor-President Kip Holden. 

 There is nothing new under the sun since this is Holden’s MO (modus operandi).  Anyone that dares to speak against Holden’s plans, or lack of plans in this case, is seen as the target du jour.  Holden always goes for the jugular vein by attacking his opponents vs. the issue at hand.

Let’s recap the chain of events.

  • Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker announced he had plans to move funding to address the apparent problem with violent crime in our parish. 
  • Mayor Kip Holden lashed back by accusing Walker of instilling fear in the community. 
  • Holden also accused Walker of micro-managing the police department (which falls under the purview of the Mayor).
  • Walker mentioned that he would like to divert $900,000 from widening streets in downtown to the police department and district attorney’s office to fund increased police patrols and prosecutions.
  • Holden cried foul by saying the Bowling Congress needed two-way streets to be a success. (Guess he forgot the last Bowling Congress was a success with one-way streets?)
  • Holden struck back again claiming that he was being attacked, going so far as to speak of himself in the third person.  “This is not a time for a counsel member to try to attack the Mayor,”  said Mayor Holden. 
  • Council members Alison Cascio and Chandler Loupe supported Walker by stating their constituents were fearful of the crime problem in our parish and it did need to be addressed, while Joel Boe’ said he feels the crime is as bad as it has been for the past two years. 
  • Holden continued his hyperbole by going so far as to suggest that those criticizing policing efforts don’t understand what is going on in the poor black areas of our community.

I suppose that would be funny, if it weren’t such a sad statement.  No doubt, this is a mentality shared by Holden’s spin doctors who are truly out of touch with our entire community.  First of all, Walker didn’t refer to the crime problem as a black/white issue.  Race was NEVER mentioned until the Mayor brought up the topic.    This truly was political suicide for Holden.

Let’s continue with the events that brought forth the greatest political debacle affecting Holden and Gautreaux:

  • Mayor Kip Holden quickly summons the Baton Rouge Police Chief, District Attorney, State Police Superintendent, and Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish to his office to ask them ‘are you with me’?
    • This is the ultimate insult to the intelligence of the citizens of Baton Rouge.  Are you telling me that it took Mike Walker to speak out publicly to cause the Mayor to call the four leading law enforcement entities to his office to “discuss’ the violent crime problem in our Parish?
  • The cover was blown when Sheriff Sid Gautreaux repeatedly stated, at the last-minute press conference, that he told the Mayor he was in when he called the day before to ask for his help. 
    • Huh?  Is Gautreaux the ‘chief law enforcement officer of the parish’ or not?  Does he only follow the lead of the Mayor?  Is he only reactionary?  Does it take a domino effect for the chief law enforcement officer to act?  Why did Mayor Holden wait until Walker said we had an emergency to call in the top law enforcement officers for a meeting to develop a plan of action?  What kind of Mickey Mouse operation are we running here? 
  • Police Chief Jeff Leduff, who is rumored to run for Sheriff with Holden’s backing, spoke next at the press conference by saying he never understood the victims of violent crime until now.  Well, that’s a hell of a note since he is retiring at the end of 2010. 
    • Why was this a mistake?  Because it showed that Leduff has not been engaged enough with past murders and family victims.  Broken, once again, in front of the television cameras, Leduff came closer to an emotional wreck than as leader of city police.
    • District Attorney Hillar Moore seemed to be the voice of reason while stating that we needed to understand how we got to where we are today.  Understanding the past always leads to a clearer path to the future.  Moore has made it no secret that education and truancy is not only his platform, but something he has put feet to since elected.
  • Superintendent Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police, was present at Holden’s ‘come quickly to my rescue press conference’ and appeared to show the same leadership skills he normally displays as chief law enforcement officer of the State Police.  Nothing new here.

Unfortunately, the press conference proved to be full of errors:

  • Mayor Holden and Chief Leduff stated the Louisiana State Police Officers will ride in vehicles with Baton Rouge Police.
    • We learned the next day that this is NOT true, and as Gautreaux said, “this will never happen”.
  • Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said the parish prison is being modified to open up more beds for prisoners.
    • This promise was made when we elected Gautreaux; he promised to add modular housing once he became Sheriff.  This has NOT taken place.
  • State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said he was availing his office for various law enforcement agencies to work together to solve crimes.
    • This sounds good, but those on the inside know that the State Police has always opened up their campus to other law enforcement personnel.  Nevertheless, Edmonson backed up the Mayor in a show of support.
    • Additionally, Sheriff Gautreaux is already housed at the Emergency Preparedness Center near the airport where various agencies work in tandem with one another already. 
    • FINDING A PLACE TO WORK IS NOT THE PROBLEM FOLKS!

Boots on the Ground make more sense and do more good than any long list of false promises could ever make.  We have seen enough of those promises from politicians.  What we need is ACTION.

When Mayor Holden’s neighbor was murdered a year or two ago, he and Chief Leduff plainly stated that we would NOT allow this to continue.  Unfortunately, neither one of these men have kept their promise.  The criminals are running amuck in our parish and areas that rarely experienced violent crime are continuing (not just recently) to show increased activity by violent perpetrators.

Sheriff Gautreaux made a lot of promises when he was elected.  The main thing was to put more boots on the ground by drastically increasing patrols (not just in the unincorporated portions of our parish, but in the entire parish and city limits.  This has NOT happened.

Gautreaux also promised to build a coalition with ALL law enforcement agencies both INSIDE and OUTSIDE of our parish.  This has NOT happened.  Thus the press conference which resulted in a sad cover-up of what is a proven lack of leadership in the Mayor’s office, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office.

Hey, if you are unemployed or want a better opportunity to make a REAL difference in our community, I have TWO GREAT JOB OPPORTUNITIES waiting for two individuals who are committed to making a difference:

OPENING #1

MAYOR-PRESIDENT of EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH

OPENING #2

SHERIFF of EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH

ONLY THOSE WHO ARE SERIOUS, CAN TAKE ACTION AND STOP SMOOTH-TALKING THE CITIZENS OF EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH NEED APPLY.

The only way WE can make a difference in OUR leadership is when we vote at the polls.  I have my binoculars on looking in the distance for leaders that will stand up for the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish.

Who will be sworn in to protect and serve the people of our parish?  Who is willing to stand in the gap and really lead the charge?  Not for economic development, but for public safety? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Controversy: EBR Sheriff’s Office Monday, Jun 14 2010 

 

The problem surfaced when two inmates escaped from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and residents needed to be notified by the EBR Sheriff’s Office of impending danger.  Something went wrong.

EBR Parish has a Community Alert System (CAL) that was set up to notify citizens of impending danger.  (The CAL System works like the robotic calls we receive during political campaigns with a pre-recorded message.)  Other systems also exist including the Emergency Alert System (EAS) which alerts both TV and Radio for emergency announcements.

Two emergency messages came through CAL by telephone to residents with erroneous messages.  Later, the media announced the messages contained errors, and the blame shifting began. 

The media dedicated itself to investigate the situation, later reporting that the EBR Parish Sheriff’s Office was ‘left out’ of the emergency system.

Really?

Casey Hicks, a spokeswoman for the EBR Sheriff’s Office, stated that the message went out later than necessary because they were required to go through another agency, the Baton Rouge Fire Department, to use the emergency alert system. 

Scott Dyer, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, fired back stating that the EBR Sheriff’s Office could negotiate its own deal if they wish, but that the emergency alert system is limited to city-parish agencies.

Even later, the Office of Emergency Preparedness stated that the Sheriff’s Office only asked to be trained in the system, not to participate in the system.  No training has taken place.

Stories were flying as fast as Linda Blair’s head spin in The Exorcist.  Also known as CYA.

There are valid questions that the citizens of EBR Parish should now ask.

  • Why is the Mayor’s Office referring to the Sheriff’s Office as if they are not a city-parish agency? 
  • Why didn’t the Sheriff’s Office negotiate a contract with the new alert system vendor?  Or another vendor?
  • Why aren’t employees of the Sheriff’s Office trained to use the alert system?

After all the dust settled, and a lot of finger pointing took place, we were told that the EBRP Sheriff’s Office is looking into its own emergency alert system.

The escape of these two inmates have revealed other issues at the Sheriff’s Office:  According to Hicks, the inmates escaped out of the prison kitchen through a door with a ‘defective lock’.  The deputy who took a lunch break leaving the inmates alone to escape was fired.  Five individuals assisted the inmates in their escape, only two were arrested. 

Take a deep breath, there’s more to come.

The two escaped inmates also committed a murder before being captured.  Finally, thousands of dollars and endless hours of manpower was taken from multiple law enforcement agencies in order to capture the escaped inmates.  All underwritten by you, the taxpayer.

Normally, Mayor Kip Holden and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux are clamoring for time in front of the media.  Instead of addressing the prison break and emergency faux pas head on, they have both deferred to their spokespersons. 

When Gautreaux ran for Sheriff of EBR Parish, he made a lot of charges against former Sheriff Greg Phares.  One charge claimed that staffing levels at the parish prison were dangerously low.  Obviously this hasn’t changed if a deputy can leave for a 30 minute lunch with no relief. 

Gautreaux also made a lot of promises during his run for Sheriff — like building modular units at the parish prison to increase the ability to house inmates.  That has not happened. 

Another claim Gautreaux made was that inter-agency communication was poor, complicated and rarely used.  He promised to drastically improve communications and create seamless protection for EBR Parish citizens.  Is this his definition of improved communication?

Political endorsements appear to have turned into political finger pointing.    Perhaps we should have considered a law man rather than a politician.  Is that the sound of chopping wood I hear in the background?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Spendthrift Sheriff Sid Gautreaux Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Ten years have passed since a 3.73-mil property tax was implemented to support the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says “If these funds are not renewed, then we will have to severly cut our services to the community, including the number of deputies we have patrolling the streets.” 

Gautreaux has taken an age old Democrat position:  Threaten the public with reduced services if taxes are not enacted or renewed.  It’s a tired argument.

Perhaps the issue is not the tax, but the spendthrift practices of the new Sheriff?

The EBRSO’s figures used to promote the tax renewal appear to be a bit out of kilter.  On the EBRSO website, a flyer promoting the election indicates that the millage generates $12.3 million for the EBR Sheriff’s Office, while The Advocate reports that the EBRSO’s take is $13.8 million from this millage.  That’s quite a gap.  Which figure is accurate?

While there is no doubt that we need to support law enforcement, taxpayers would be better served to receive consistent, accurate information when asked to renew a millage that has a $1.5 million chasm.

Furthermore, in reviewing the Louisiana State Audits of the EBR Sheriff Office, some interesting facts caught my attention.  It also changed my mind about the tax renewal.

Good news, bad news.

The good news is that assets exceed liabilities.  The current reserve is $26.2 million in total assets.

The bad news is that those assets are rapidly decreasing due to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux’s spendthrift practices.  Take a look at the annual budget figures indicating revenue and expenditures:

  • Before Sheriff Gautreaux took office as Sheriff:
    • The 2007 budget indicates annual net assets of $2.2 million, annual revenue of $61.3 million, and annual expenditures of $59.1 million. 
  • Gautreaux took the helm of the Sheriff’s Office in January, 2008:
    •  2008 budget figures indicate annual net assets of $3.3 million, annual revenue of $68.5 million, and annual expenditures of $65.2 million. 
    • This is an increase of $7.1 million in annual revenue, and an increase of $6.1 in annual spending.
    • In 2009, with Gautreaux in his second year in office, the budget indicates  he overspent to the tune of $1.9 million, with annual revenue of $72.6 million, and annual expenditures of $74.5 million. 
    • This is an increase of $4.2 million in annual revenue, and an increase in annual spending of $9.3 million.

What does this tell us? 

In two short years, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux is quickly spending the assets of the EBR Sheriff’s Office.  The revenue has increased by $11.3 million, while spending has increased by $15.4 million under his watch.

If Gautreaux continues to overspend, we are looking at a need for even more tax dollars to underwrite his spendthrift practices.  Do the math.  As we all know, if you continue to overspend, you will eventually deplete your savings.  No wonder Sheriff Gautreaux wants us to renew the tax millage. 

Although I have great respect for Tax Buster’s leader, Fred Dent, I can’t help but wonder if he took time to read the State Auditor’s reports on the Sheriff’s Office annual budget when he so readily said we should support law enforcement by voting yes to the tax renewal.

Again, I have to say NO to taxes – even though it is a renewal. 

It is important that we not endorse spendthrift practices of our tax dollars, and that we hold our elected officials accountable for balancing budgets and spending less than we take in — otherwise, we are headed down another slippery slope.

When Gautreaux ran for office, he clearly stated that he could increase services without raising taxes.  Was this just more political talk to get elected?  Why has there been such a dramatic increase in spending?  How long can we afford to spend more than we take in at the EBR Sheriff’s Office?

Mayor Kip Holden endorsed Gautreaux for Sheriff.  It all makes more sense now.  Spendthrift birds of a feather flock together.

Crime is on the increase in EBR Parish, and so is the EBRSO budget.  This speaks volumes.  Say NO to the tax renewal, and YES to spending less than we take in at the EBRSO.

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

In the Trenches of the Red Stick Sunday, Mar 21 2010 

If you want to understand the realities of life, just talk to someone who is living in the trenches.  It’s a common mistake to ASSuME that you understand a situation until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes.

This is precisely what happened in an effort to produce a positive campaign for the Red Stick by consultants and political leaders over the past year in regard to the recession’s effects on a local basis.

In December, I opined about the top ten stories in the Red Stick with #8 being a drop in East Baton Rouge Parish sales tax revenues.  As of October, the drop was 4.64% less than the previous year.  By December, The Advocate reports a drop of 6% for 2009 vs. 2008. 

On Friday, March 19th, The Advocate reported a drop of 12% for January, 2010 in East Baton Rouge Parish.  That equates to a 76.8 million dollar drop in spending in our parish for January alone.

Spendthrift mentalities must regroup.  It’s something the average citizen understands.  One of the reasons that the health care reform debate is so contentious is that political leaders are not listening to or heeding the desire of voters.  Politicians that ignore reality and continue to make false assumptions and false promises are out of touch with citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

The Tea Party may draw some radical members, as witnessed yesterday by irreprehensible hyperbole, but the substance of what the group at large is preaching is common sense. 

With all due respect to economist guru, Professor Loren Scott, even he was in error with his ridiculous predictions that Baton Rouge was not affected by the recession.  Finally, Scott stated to The Advocate, “I guess it’s just turning out to be tougher, certainly tougher than anything I anticipated.  I hadn’t anticipated anything this big.”

Perhaps the greatest flaw was that statistics and charts are not good indicators of what is happening around the kitchen tables in Baton Rouge.  The best research is around the coffee shops where citizens are quick to talk about their financial woes to support their family. 

The political world is a strange one.  It is not for the fainthearted, and is a like a pressure cooker magnified.  Popularity is seldom gained by delivering the bad news.  Regardless of speculation, this is the precise reason Mayor Kip Holden’s bond issue failed by an overwhelming vote of the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish last fall.  Yet, he seeks to revisit another tax increase. 

Voters, however, are more savvy and do live in the real world.  Sugarplums dancing in the heads of politicians and consultants do not make a significant impact on the average family that is struggling to meet their basic financial obligations in a rough economy. 

An average family in East Baton Rouge Parish has a household income of $43,316 according to the Mayor’s Office.   With a 2.9 person ratio in each household, that makes for some serious financial challenges.

It’s time that Mayor Holden wakes up, stops dancing around the issues, and cuts parish spending.  Of course, this will happen eventually as sales tax income continues to shrink.  Or, he could propose another tax increase?

I took a hiatus from blogging for the last two months in hopes that I would return with positive news.  The truth is that we are living in troubling times, and there continues to be some chasm between political fodder and living in the trenches of the Red Stick. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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