Valid Question for Red Stick Saturday, Jul 11 2009 

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, the logical answer on the table is: 

Whose life is more valuable? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Violent Crime Dominates EBRP Monday, Jul 6 2009 

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No, I don’t like the headline, but the truth hurts. 

It’s time for the Red Stick to call a ‘Come to Jesus Meeting’ regarding violent crime.  Denying that crime statistics are accurate is nothing more than ignoring the facts. 

In fact, let’s just let the facts speak for their self.  In viewing the Police & Fire Briefs in The Advocate for the month of June only, here is an overview of specific violent crimes reported on by the media in the Red Stick:

June Murders:

  1. Victim name unknown, Tecumseh/NBR area
  2. Myron Wright, 17, Greenwell Springs area
  3. Shelva Glasper, 33, North Baton Rouge area
  4. Kendrick Brown, 26, Brookstown area
  5. Ramon House, 56, North 26th area
  6. Juan Gonzales, 30, Ardenwood area
  7. Jarnell Anderson, 28, Zion City area
  8. Quincy Gibson, 33, Glen Oaks area
  9. Jermiah ‘Mico” Gibson, Baker area
  10. Anthony Laphand, 20, Perkins Road area
  11. Louis Deggs, Jr., 20, N. Acadian area

June Shootings:

  1. Mall City
  2. Chippewa Street area
  3. Off Burbank
  4. Baker/Zachary
  5. Zion City
  6. East Boulevard
  7. Brownsfield
  8. I-10 @ Essen Lane
  9. Village St. George

June Stabbings:

  1. Siegen/Perkins Road
  2. North Blvd/Convention

June Carjackings:

  1. Bawell off College Drive
  2. N. Acadian Thruway

June Armed Robberies:

  1. Baskin Robbins, Sherwood Forest
  2. Midsouth Bank, Jefferson Hwy
  3. Shell, Greenwell Springs Rd
  4. Cracker Barrell, Jefferson Hwy
  5. Buffalo Wings parking lot, Bluebonnet
  6. Individual on Scenic Hwy
  7. Individual in Gardere area
  8. Home Invasion, Eugene Street
  9. Jack-in-Box, Airline Hwy
  10. Pizza deliveryperson, S. Harrells Ferry Rd
  11. Southern Belle, Lobdell
  12. 5 minute Oil Change, Airline Hwy
  13. Individual O’Neal @ I-12

June Home or Business Invasions/Thefts:

  1. Conn’s, Airline Hwy
  2. Coastal Corrosion, Mammoth Dr
  3. Winn Dixie, Flannery Rd
  4. Cracker Barrel, Highland Rd
  5. Home, Charles Street
  6. Home, Central area

June Rapes:

  1. Airline near Jefferson Hwy
  2. Unknown location – multiple offenses
  3. Clayton area
  4. S. Harrell Ferry Road
  5. Unknown – child rape
  6. LSU area
  7. Airline @ I-12
  8. Area not given – 3 instances

June Attempted Child Abduction:

  1. Florida near Flannery

June Kidnapping of an Adult:

  1. North Baton Rouge

June Arsons:

  1. Zachary – two vehicles
  2. Zion City – home

June Violent Beatings:

  1. Baker

June Cyberstalking Cases:

  1. Red Stick resident
  2. Red Stick resident

This list is generated directly from the BR Police Department and the EBR Sheriff’s Office as provided to The Advocate.  These crimes do NOT reflect all crimes in the month of June, only those printed in the newspaper. 

I find it extremely offensive when officials try to convince us that the national crime statistics are not accurate.  All you need to do is read the daily newspaper or watch the local nightly news, and you will know that we have a violent crime issue in the Red Stick.

This does not scratch the surface of crime in our parish, as it does not have ONE drug incident listed – only TWO incidents listed mention domestic violence – only ONE crime listed mentions a juvenile.  It does not include all the 911 calls made daily regarding suspicious activities, disputes, the vast majority of home invasions, or car thefts. The newspaper doesn’t have enough allotted space to cover all criminal incidents in the parish.

Violent crime is defined by the use of violent force  in the commission of a crime or threatening to use violent force.  That’s a broad definition.  Do you have to walk in on a burglar and see a weapon to consider it a violent crime?  Do domestic violence situations where one party threatens to violently harm the other party fall under violent crime?  I believe it does.  

Where do we go from here to curb violent crime in the Red Stick?  We talk about education and economic development as the linchpins for “the next great city” – our future. 

Violent crime is a socio-economic issue. 

The lack of education in partnerships between our churches, schools, neighborhoods, businesses, families and law enforcement is a major key to the answer.  

Some of the key issues we must address include:   illegal drugs in our neighborhoods, easy access to prescription drugs in our homes, juvenile behavior that goes without proper punishment, a justice system that is too forgiving of violent offenders, corruption in political office that is accepted, turning a blind eye when witnessing a crime or injustice in our streets. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Sheriffs Under Fire Tuesday, Apr 14 2009 

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The Sheriff is the most powerful law enforcement officer in any given parish.  Over the past few weeks, several Sheriffs in Louisiana have been investigated by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for ethics violations. 

According to The Advocate, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre was funneling business from the Sheriff’s Office to a business he owned.  Grant Parish Sheriff Pop Hataway is charged with using his influence to allow detainees to be released without required bond fees and under reduced bonds.

Given the world of technology and citizens who thrive as armchair detectives and watchdogs, it is a major mistake to misuse the power of a Sheriff’s Office.  Apparently, the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish, Sid Gautreaux, is about to come under fire for potential ethics violations. 

What are these guys thinking?  They are supposed to follow the law, not break the law.

There is no doubt that our Sheriff is the top law enforcement officer.  The responsibility of this position is huge.  He oversees more than 850 employees and a budget of more than $65 million.  It is the responsibility of voters to ensure that he properly administers and directs personnel by setting an example. 

Looking back to last year, the Baton Rouge Business Report broke the news that Sheriff Sid Gautreaux spent over $43,000 on a personal vehicle.  The ‘bling’on Gautreaux’s fine ride included a chrome package, sun roof, heated seats, Bose sound system, navigation system, rear view camera back-up, and DVD televisions front and rear.  Response from the Sheriff’s spokesperson was this was ‘an appropriate accommodation for the Sheriff’.  (Red Stick Police Chief Jeff Leduff drives a police cruiser.)  His entourage of top people enjoyed the same type of vehicles along with other ‘hand picked’ personnel in the sheriff’s office.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Last fall Mayor Kip Holden told the voters we needed to pass a tax/bond issue; a key component of that issue was to build a new administration building that would house the Sheriff of EBRP. 

A couple days ago, I heard that Sheriff Gautreaux already moved to Harding Boulevard offices where Mayor Holden’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness are housed. 

Tell me why we need that tax again?

Former Sheriff Greg Phares exposed Gautreaux for being absent as Police Chief of Baker.  It is my understanding that Gautreaux is repeating this character trait as Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish. 

We expect leaders to be present, not serving as absentee landlords.

When we elected Gautreaux, he made some hefty promises to the voters including cutting a top-heavy bureaucracy, yet he has almost tripled the number of promotions than any previous administration. 

Gautreaux promised to put more deputies on the road; how many more do we have today?  Once again, our media has not investigated or reported on this topic.  Do we have more deputies actively patrolling the parish or not?  How many?

Gautreaux said that former Sheriff Greg Phares’ anti-terrorist boat was a misuse of money (even though Phares said it was paid for by a grant).  Yet, recently the Sheriff took out an ad in The Advocate touting this same boat. 

Was this just political campaign talk, as usual?

Since elected, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has touted his accomplishments including Zachary and Pride substations.  The Zachary station was actually opened by the former sheriff in 2007.  

More political double-speak?

We elected Gautreaux, with Mayor Kip Holden’s endorsement.  We voted for change, for a leader that would maintain the integrity of the Sheriff’s office.  Did we do the right thing? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

The Pearls of Politics Wednesday, Apr 8 2009 

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Pastor Dino Rizzo and the Healing Place took enormous heat for Rizzo’s personal support of candidate Lee Domingue.  This is baffling given the history of church and pastoral involvement in politics in the Red Stick.

It’s no secret that pastors and churches in the Red Stick have been actively involved in political races through the years. 

As one Baptist pastor said, “If you read the scriptures, Jesus was involved in the politics of Palestine”.  Another pastor said, “There is a working relationship between pastors and politicians that’s often not talked about”.  No truer words were spoken.

For years, it has been common knowledge that the doors of churches in the Red Stick have flung open for political forums.  These actions have often been followed by the support of pastors for particular candidates based on their faith and common beliefs in what is right for the community they pastor.

Some names of churches that come to mind, that are easily verifiable through The Advocate archives, are Jefferson Baptist Church, Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church, New Gideon Baptist Church, Woodlawn Baptist Church, and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church – all listed in past articles of The Advocate for their political involvement in the Red Stick.

No one seemed to take issue with the barage of letters written for or against specific candidates by Pastor Tommy French.  Neither has anyone criticized the list of black pastors that supported Mayor Kip Holden, including Reverand Raymond Jetson.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was endorsed publicly by several pastors during his political race.  None of these pastors or churches were criticized, even though the personal lifestyles of their candidates have been questioned sorely for lacking christian character.

Faith-based organizations in the Red Stick have also hosted forums and wound up working ‘behind the scenes’ with specific candidates running for political office.  WIN (Working Interfaith Network), and the Interfaith Federation of Baton Rouge, a 60-congregation membership of Christian and Jewish churches in the Red Stick,  have been very active politically through writing letters, and inviting politicians to speak to their congregations.  Flyers are often generated and passed out as members exit church on Sunday encouraging them to support candidates.  Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that? 

The Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues is well known as an active political machine in the Red Stick.  Members of all of these organizations have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates, though the organization itself is dissallowed by the IRS from making church contributions. 

They are many politically-savvy ministers – involved, in touch, and actively working with and for politicians and candidates.  In fact, election day activities are often run out of church annexes with members being paid for hauling getting out the vote.

To date, I have not seen any of these faith-based organizations, pastors or churches called out for these hands-on political activities. 

Yet, Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church were targeted numerous times during the Senate District 16 race.  The truth is, this is the ultimate discrimination by political pundits.  It’s the politics of old we abhor. 

I do not know Dino Rizzo, but I have watched his service on TV numerous Sunday mornings.  He is, obviously, a man of faith that is grounded in the word of God and has been active in the Red Stick community for over a decade.   

Why shouldn’t Rizzo stand behind someone he personally knows and believes in for political office?  

Why discriminate against one pastor, but turn your head when other men of God are deeply involved in Red Stick politics?

Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church has all the ‘gravitas’ they need in this community, and supporting someone he believes in, for political office, will not affect his standing in the Red Stick.  His pearls of wisdom are needed and wanted in our community.  That is, unless you consider yourself swine?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Unions: Employee Free Choice Act Sunday, Mar 8 2009 

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There is a huge controversy brewing over the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act) that is currently being pushed by President Barack Obama and the Democrat Party.  The president says he wants to give employees an opportunity to bargain for their fair share of the wealth our country generates. 

One of the rubs is that employees now vote against unions – secretly.  Once the EFCA is passed, all votes will be publicly known.  This goes against the entire democratic process America prides itself on – your free choice in the voting booth – privately, securely, confidentially.

I am not a fan of unions as shown in my previous blog Childhood Memories of Unions.  My father was anti-union and our family paid the price generated by the fear, threats and intimidation of unions. 

Fortunately, Louisiana is now a Right to Work state which prevents employers from forcing workers to be union members for hiring purposes or maintaining their jobs.  It protects employees.

It should be a real concern to voters when candidates are supported by unions. 

In the Red Stick, we have had a plethora of union-supported officials including high-profile individuals like Mayor-President Kip Holden and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.  Their campaigns were highly funded with union contributions and both were endorsed by unions. 

Union-supported candidates are tax and spend liberals that push for collective bargaining which opens the door for unions to negotiate.  Much to our dismay, Mayor-President Kip Holden has been a supporter of collective bargaining. 

Shortly after his initial election as Mayor, The Advocate cautioned voters in an editorial saying there needed to be more to the relationship between Holden and the police union than collective bargaining, labor contracts, union management issues and pay raises.  That remains to be seen.

If the EFCA passes, regardless of what democrats, President Obama or Mayor Holden wants us to believe, it will have a negative result. 

They want us to believe that unions are good and that it will help ‘share the wealth’ and create more middle class workers.  The truth is that it will take away part of the American Dream for business owners by forcing businesses to allow unions to be formed.  It will also contain a penalty for business owners that do not comply with the demands of their employees.  What the heck?

This is sounding more and more like a takeover by unions than ‘free choice’ as they tout. 

I have always had a problem with ‘stinking thinking’ that promotes one person believing they deserve something another person owns.  It’s almost like a form of white collar crime.  Employees will now be able to tell business owners exactly what they want and if the employer does not comply, they are fined. 

So much for the free enterprise system. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Alarming Murder Rate in EBRP Monday, Feb 16 2009 

Update:  Mayor-President Kip Holden has finally recognized the alarming crime rate in Baton Rouge.  Voters have spoken in local forums held by the mayor to discuss challenges plaguing the Red Stick.  In response, Holden tells The Advocate:  “I can tell you that we have to make this city cleaner, we have to do something about the crime that primarily (is) going on in the inner city.”  Unfortunately, the mayor is focusing on teaching our children more about the “evils of trash”than the evils of crime.  Although littering is a concern, we already have programs in place including the one Secretary of State Dardenne instituted.  Let’s hope Holden will develop programs for our childen that will educate them about crime.

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Crime statistics show that 99 murders took place in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2008.  No, this is not an error.  Total reading and a little math is required to determine the cause of murders in the Red Stick including:  75 by gunfire, 15 via drunken or accidental driving, 6 by knife, 1 beaten to death, 1 hit in the head, and 1 self-defense by shooting. 

According to The Advocate, the murders were committed for varying reasons including domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, revenge, road rage, robbery, drive-by shootings, and nightclub brawls.  Some indicate unknown reasons. 

The youngest victim was 3 years old and the oldest victim was 61 years of age.  The majority seem to fall in the 20-30 year range.  A couple extremely heartbreaking stories include children dying at the hands of troubled or angry parents. 

Also troubling is the fact that murders have taken place from across the North end of the parish in Zachary to Downtown Baton Rouge, and from the East to the West sides of EBRP.  No area except for the extreme southern part of the parish seems unscathed. 

Areas not so accustomed to murders including Goodwood, N. Harrells Ferry Road, Bluebonnet, Chimes Street, Brogdon, and Laurel Street proves that crime is rampant and murderers are moving freely throughout the Red Stick. 

Perhaps this is why the BR Business Report’s poll results of February 5, 2009, indicated that residents do not feel safe regardless of crime statistics. 

A quick count indicates 36 of last year’s murderers remain free to roam our streets.

Recent trouble in the leadership of the EBR Sheriff’s Office caused Lt. Colonel Ricky Adams to leave his post after only serving one year as the right hand second-in-charge position under Sheriff Sid Gautreaux due to an internal debacle. 

Meanwhile the only time the most powerful law enforcement officer in EBR Parish, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, has mentioned crime statistics in his first year in office had been in response to murders in the Gardere area.   Troubling.

I am also troubled by expenditures by the Sheriff for new uniforms vs. ‘crime fighting’ equipment or tools to combat crime in our parish.  Where is the promise to put more deputies on the road?  Yes, I am aware the new fashionable look was funded by a grant from the Pennington Foundation. 

Wouldn’t the parish be better served with a $632,000 expenditure to increase patrols, replace equipment or buy more patrol units? 

Do you believe that Pennington would have turned down an opportunity to increase safety for our parish for more appropriate expenditures?  I think not.  Pennington has been all about making our parish better, not just cosmetically, but in a lasting way. 

Is this the priority of our chief law enforcement officer for EBR Parish?  Uniforms?  New logos?  Different colors?  Is this money wisely spent?

According to costs cited last April by former sheriff Phares, the cost of patrol units were estimated at $21,200 each.  This grant could have purchased nearly 30 additional units for our hard working deputies in uniform patrol to cover EBR parish.  Where are our priorities?

99 murders is cause for alarm.  Statistics on the EBR Sheriff’s Office website have not been updated since the 2nd quarter of 2008.  Where is the Mayor on this issue?  Why do we not hear from him on such an alarming issue?  Is it time for the Red Stick to merge forces of the BRPD and EBRSO in the creation of EBRP Metro Police? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Here We Go Again Saturday, Jan 17 2009 

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As Ray Charles sang, “Here we go again…one more time”.  Mayor Kip Holden has announced that he plans to present his tax increase in the form of a bond proposal…one more time on a fall ballot to the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish.

Holden’s approach will be to wrap higher taxes up with a nice red bow called “an economic stimulus plan”.  The operative word is downtown

The only good news is that Holden said, “there will not be another study this government will fund”.  Great!

While we are in an economic recession, and president-elect Obama Barack plans to take the helms of the oval office on Tuesday, Holden has realized that there will be economic stimulus money up for grabs.  The Mayor has requested $500 million for EBR Parish.  These are the type of things that make me shake my head and say “interesting”.

The reason this is ‘interesting’ is that just a couple months ago Holden was willing to make taxpayers pay for $100 million in tax increases through former shadow mayor Walter Monsour’s bond issue.  Now that the plan was turned down by voters, suddenly there are other funds to be found.

This is precisely what should have been done in the beginning.  Before a bond issue for $100 million in tax increases was proposed, other options should have been researched. 

The most important question is:  How much more money is there in potential cuts to the city parish budget? 

Trimming the fat is what every family in our parish is having to do with the current recession.  Families are cooking at home more.  Packing a lunch and working at your desk is now an option more people are considering.  Lower gas prices have citizens smiling.  Water cooler talk is about clipping coupons, carefully reviewing investments and where the latest sales are in the retail world.

At what point will city-parish government realize that they must also cut the fat?  You do not spend more money in a recession, you save, cut back and search for more affordable options.

Holden’s office told Baton Rouge Business Report that the new proposed tax plan will include lower project costs.  Really?  Where these options available the first go round?

I don’t think we are asking much when we expect muncipalities to give us their best foot forward.  Not the second time around, but the first time around.  Not because voters refused to pay higher taxes, but because it was the right thing to do.  The first time.

When I read these type of articles, it confirms that my first assessment was accurate.  In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink!, he talks about your initial instinct when you know that you know that you know something is or is not right.  That is the instinct that led voters to turn down Holden’s mandate to pay more taxes last fall.  It’s just good common sense!

Besides, Holden’s ‘new’ plan, according to the Business Report, is about downtown.  After speaking at the Downtown Development District board meeting, even The Advocate reported that Holden has bigger plans for downtown.  Though you cannot be all things to all people, what about the rest of the parish? 

Don’t the citizens of our parish deserve strong bridges instead of emails that claim we have 38 unsafe bridges that will only be improved if we vote for a tax increase?  Holding taxpayers hostage with threats of this type will not win a tax election.

With all due respect, grants for new uniforms, logos and branding for the Sheriff’s office could have better served the public improving our infrastructure.  Do we care what they wear as long as they are protecting and serving?  Then again, that story is for another day since rumors have it that it was tied to a political promise. 

The bottom line is that we need the incoming Chief Administrative Officer, Mike Futrell, to delve deep into our city budget and make the necessary cuts.  Futrell needs to cut the contracts of Holden’s private security detail, public relations personnel, etc. and seek grant funding to address our infrastructure needs.   We are spending untold dollars that are buried in the budget only for true researchers to dig up.  

We want our city-parish government officials to spend our tax dollars wisely, to budget them effectively, and to realize that while we are making these changes to our own pocketbooks, they need to do the same.

Is that too much to ask of our public servants?  I think not.  Treat our tax dollars as if they were your own money.  Pretty simple approach.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Jury Still Out on Crime Stats for EBR Parish Sunday, Aug 24 2008 

 

Baton Rouge City Police released statistics for the first six months of 2008 claiming crime is on the decrease.  In order to determine the parish as a whole, we also need the statistics from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office which are not available.  The last figures released by the EBRSO were for 2007.

With all due respect to the BR Police Department, statistics are relative to reporting.  Robbery was up 24 for the first six months of 2008 compared to 2007.  Rape was up 8 for the first six months of 2008 compared to 2007.  History of crime statistics for the BRPD indicate that any given crime goes up or down from month to month.  Overall statistics are what matters.

Headlines indicate crime is a major concern and not on the downward swing:

ARSON:  “The total number of arsons in East Baton Rouge Parish is consistent with the number last year.”  The Advocate,  July 26, 2008

MURDER:  “The number of murders committed within Baton Rouge City limits last year was 2 shy of a 1993 high of 74 victims.”  The Advocate, January 12, 2008

OVERALL RANKING:  “Baton Rouge was the 28th most dangerous city in the nation, and the most dangerous city in the state.”  The Advocate, January 17, 2008

GARDERE AREA:  “Crime around the apartments have been bad for more than a decade.  This year has been especially violent with four people shot to death in less than six months.”  The Advocate, June 15, 2008

SCOTLANDVILLE AREA:  “Many years ago Scotlandville was a thriving community . . . our community is scared . . . we have to do something about crime in our area.”  The Advocate, August 20, 2008

GARDEN DISTRICT:  “The overall level of crime (in the Garden District) is not any worse than in any other neighborhoods.”  Nevertheless, off-duty patrol officers have been increased from 90 to 120 hours monthly.  The Advocate, July 24, 2008

As I said, statistics are relative, take a look:

“A spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department said the agency does not track how many people are injured by gunfire unintended for them.  The Advocate show stray bullets have derailed numerous lives across the parish in the past few years.”  The Advocate, August 15, 2008

Again, to see the entire picture you need all statistics for EBR Parish – not just the BRPD stats.  Let me be very clear that all officers of the law are doing their best with the tools they have been provided.  Statistics are not an indication that officers are not giving their all.  I doubt you could find anyone who would not agree that deputies and police officers do an incredible job on a daily basis. 

There is a bigger problem that our community must address.  It begins at the top.  Mayor Kip Holden promised to address crime with community policing.  The definition of community policing can be relative depending upon the politician you ask.  

Patrick Olivier, criminal justice professor at Cedarville University in Ohio, said:

“When crime starts to increase, there is more pressure to show short-term results.”

After four years of being in office, Mayor Kip Holden finally decided to address the problems in crime-ridden and blighted Eden Park in August with a job fair, neighborhood clean-up and crime prevention workshop according to The Advocate, August 5, 2008. 

Well, it is an election year.  Enough said.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Mayor Kip Holden: 30 Year Prison Tax Plan Wednesday, Aug 6 2008 

 

Mayor Kip Holden has presented a $989 million proposed tax increase for the citizens of EBR Parish.  The tax would last for 30 years.  Part of Holden’s tax plan includes building a new prison.  The Mayor refused to seperate the plan into components so voters could consider each improvement on its own merit.  So are we ready to pay for a new prison in the Red Stick? 

The new EBR Parish prison will cost taxpayers $135 million out of the new tax plan, providing 2,280 beds for inmates.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said,  “a new prison is needed to ensure that criminals do not walk the streets”.  I beg to differ.  Building a prison won’t keep criminals off our streets.  The problem is much bigger than housing. 

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said “1,700 prisoners are behind bars in a facility meant to hold 1,594” in a Baton Rouge Business Report interview.  Gautreaux also said that the new facility of 2,280 beds is “more than enough space to meet projected needs of 2,135 by the year 2025.”  These figures make no sense to me.  1,700 inmates plus 339 inmates currently housed outside the parish adds up to 2,039.  Are we to believe there will only be 241 additional inmates to house over the next 17 years?  That’s only 14 new prisoners annually. 

This is part of the problem with a 30 year tax proposal.  By the time we get a few years behind us, we are already working in a deficit.  Statistics can be made to sound good, but when you take the magnifying glass and take a closer look – well, not such a rosy picture is presented.

The bottom line is that we need to determine if building a new prison is a priority for the taxpayers.  This is just one component of a multi-faceted tax plan that Mayor Kip Holden wants you and your children to pay for the next 30 years.

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux would do well to study Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix who did not ask for a tax increase to build additional prisons until he created a tent city and showed that he could control spending and do away with the luxuries of prison life.  Let’s get rid of the color televisions and weight rooms and spend tax dollars on basics before we start paying more taxes for a new prison.

In 2000, the taxpayers voted down a tax proposal to renovate the prison with a 60% vote against the tax, and with only 10% showing up at the polls.  Fast forward 8 years to today.  We have spent an average of $7.7 million annually on the prison.  Sorry, but we need to spend money more wisely and on the neighborhood programs and facilities vs. a nicer facility for those who are a threat to society.  I say NO to higher taxes to fund a new prison.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

EBRP Sheriff’s Six Month Performance Review Friday, Jun 6 2008 

Six months ago Sid Gautreaux took the oath of office as Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish.  That’s a fair amount of time to assess the job someone is doing and to grade their performance.

Outstanding Warrants:  The EBR Sheriff’s Office has 74,000 outstanding warrants.  Gautreaux held a press conference a couple weeks ago to announce that 50 officers worked three days to clear 293 warrants resulting in 100 arrests.  If my math is correct, this means that if they work another 250 days, they will clear the remaining warrants.   If 1/3 are arrested, and if that figure is an average, an additional 24,667 would be arrested.  No wonder Mayor Kip Holden wants taxpayers to fund a new jail to the tune of $55 million.  The Sheriff claims these warrants are mainly for domestic abuse and marijuana abuse.  I prefer to see more officers on the streets or arrests for violent offenders.  Grade on outstanding warrants:  D

Crime Statistics:  I would like to see some current crime statistics from the Sheriff’s office.  The latest crime statistics on the EBR Sheriff’s website are from 2006.  Let’s move into the 20th century folks!  I wrote The Advocate a couple of months ago and was told they also inquired and the Sheriff’s new staff was ‘working on it.’  Look, I don’t want to be hard on the new Sheriff, but for God’s sake can we get some updated statistics or what?  We do live in the age of technology.  Grade on publishing crime statistics:  F

Drug Traffic:  During the election, Gautreaux promised to develop an aggressive anti-drug trafficking plan of action.  Drugs are a major part of our crime problem in East Baton Rouge Parish.  In April, city police and the sheriff’s office announced a new crime abatement team that would work together.  According to their spokeswoman, 32 arrests for drugs had been made by the EBRSO.  Each arrest is an improvement; however, we need to see a major increase in drug arrests in order to curb drug traffic in EBRP.  Grade on Drug Traffic Efforts:  C

Uniform Patrol:  Sheriff Gautreaux claimed his number one goal was to put more uniform patrol officers on the streets.  To date, no announcement has been made as to whether patrols have been increased.  Since Gautreaux is a smooth politician that takes advantage of every opportunity to be in front of the camera or hold a press conference, I think it is safe to say he has not yet made this a reality.  Grade for increasing uniform patrol:  F

Improving communications center:  Oddly enough, another issue discussed in the sheriff’s race was the need for communications to improve technically between law enforcement agencies.  This issue will be another one that Mayor-President Kip Holden will address with a tax increase this fall, so everyone will have to wait for this improvement to take place.  The plan that is in the works is to move the sheriff’s office communication center from Central to the main communication center near the airport.  Because no action will be taken unless taxes are raised:  Grade for improving technical communications:  F

High-Profile Presence:  I would have to give a high grade as to media exposure and physical presence for crimes that have a high profile in the media for Sheriff Gautreaux.  He seems to have held quite a few press conferences, showed a physical presence, and been willing to be interviewed on criminal cases and proposed efforts and plans for the future.  This could equate to political savvy or having his own ‘boots on the ground’, so for now:  Grade for high-profile physical presence:  B

Overall Grade:  Based on averages, on the issues listed above, our new Sheriff, Sid Gautreaux, seems to be batting below average.  Six months in office should be more than enough time to grade someone’s performance in a new job.  Most good managers and leaders set the pace immediately and quickly make changes.  The main changes we have seen to date include moving around personnel, promotions, hiring, firing, and assessing what needs to be done.  When the voters elect someone, they expect action.  When Litchfield took office, he moved quickly and that was ages ago.  Based on the slow movement to date, I would have to give Sheriff Gautreaux a near failing grade thus far.  Grade average:  D

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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