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

the-moment-of-truth-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case is pretty simple.  Stay tuned.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Election Cover-ups – U.S., & EBRP Sunday, Nov 18 2012 

United States:

This week we witnessed the fall of another governmental leader — General Petraeus, who sadly chose to mar his image as an American hero.

Ironically, as serious as the choice that Petraeus made to commit adultery and its consequences are, it begs the question as to what was really going on in the form of a cover-up to not release the information publicly until post-election.  Of course, Petraeus’ mistress had access to his emails, which is a key question in the sharing of classified information that will now be investigated.

To add insult to injury, the apparent cover-up of what really happened in Benghazi, and the investigation that was delayed post-election is a sad commentary for America.

Anyone taking an honest look at this situation will realize that all the events surrounding Petraeus was a definitive cover-up during the Presidential Election.

East Baton Rouge Parish

Post-election, it seems fairly clear to me that the individuals who were previously criticized for attempting to “divide us” and “focus on crime” in the Red Stick’s recent Mayoral Election were accurate.

Post-election, the head of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber president, Adam Knapp, in today’s newspaper explains the ‘challenge’ of selling EBRP to companies considering us as a destination to do business due to the CRIME RATE!  What?  Huh?

Where was Adam Knapp during the Mayoral Election with these facts?

Good job to Kip Holden and his political operatives for getting the likes of Knapp, McCollister, FuturePac, the Baton Rouge Police Union, Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White, Pat Felder, Walter Monsour, John Noland, Rev. Raymond Jetson, et al.  to jump on Holden’s bandwagon endorsing him, crying racism, and refusing to address the crime increase in our parish during the election.  I am so disappointed in these community leaders for misleading us.

The inability of Kip Holden and his entourage to properly address the fact that crime is up in EBRP was a blatant cover-up to ensure his re-election and ignore the facts.

Post-election, the topic of increased crime is now up for discussion?

Let’s be clear on this article where Knapp is quoted about firms questioning the crime rate, seeing billboards and discussions about the crime rate.

The election was held November 6th, and the billboards went up less than 30 days ago.  Anyone who believes that we have had a surge of companies visiting in the past 30 days might be interested in some land I have for sale.  Ha!

As a researcher, I work on facts, and am not a conspiracy theorist.  At the same time, some would say this was a conspiracy properly planned by Kip Holden and his political operatives to ignore the facts, or should I say hide the facts from the public until post-election.

Unfortunately, all of the ‘so-called’ conspiracy theorists have been proven accurate in that nationally, and locally, information that should have been properly discussed in an honest and forthright manner was withheld from the voters until after the election.

To all those who endorsed Holden, you made your bed, now you will have to sleep in it — sharing Holden’s bed seems to be a commonality in EBRP!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Farrakhan Treated ‘Presidential’ by EBRP Thursday, Oct 25 2012 

Let me begin by stating clearly to everyone, including Mayor Kip Holden and his entourage, that this topic has nothing to do with race, unless you subscribe to, or support the preachings of the proclaimed leader of Islam, Louis Farrakhan.

If you want to understand the recent controversy between Mayor Kip Holden and Mayoral Candidate Mike Walker, you need to do a little fact checking.

  1. Farrakhan’s Security Detail:  Louis Farrakhan travels with his own private security detail.  Anyone, including myself, who has personally heard Farrakhan speak through the years — or has witnessed any video clips of him speaking for that matter, would plainly see that he travels with a full entourage of security. ( In fact, in about 2010, you may recall incidents between Farrakhan’s security detail and the Secret Service detail on the White House lawn.)  He never travels without them. 
  2.  Who is Louis Farrakhan?  The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Louis Farrakhan as the head of the Nation of Islam, with a fundamentally anti-white theology, an anti-semite that blames Jews for plantation slavery and for dominating and controlling the U. S. Government, and calls the state of Israel wicked
  3. What does this have to do with the EBRP Mayor’s Race?  It seems that Farrakhan was ‘shepherded’ from the New Orleans Airport to Southern University with law enforcement from the Baton Rouge Police Department and Louisiana State Police.  This fact upset Mayoral Candidate Mike Walker, who in turn created a commercial saying that Mayor Kip Holden needed to spend money fighting crime in EBRP vs. sending officers to provide security for Farrakhan.
  4. What was the reaction of Kip Holden?  He called a political press conference to charge Mike Walker with sowing seeds of racism.

HOLD THAT THOUGHT.  Back up a minute.  Let’s think about this a second!  Stop Kip’s Tipsy Taxi!   Did I hear that correctly? 

Mayor Kip Holden finally found a way to play the race card, in his usual fashion, which is to counterattack those attacking him.  That’s a desperate political strategy there Kipster! 

Unfortunately, that dog won’t hunt.  The only racist in the triangle is Louis Farrakhan. 

Now, ask me how I know?  Simply put, his own words out of his own mouth through decades of preaching racism.  Many years ago, I even sat in an audience at Southern to hear him speak.  Curious as a young person to hear what this self-proclaimed leader had to say.  It was disappointing and frightening.

Now, back at the ranch, the head of our BR Police Department, Chief White, proclaimed that this ‘shepherding’ (i.e. escorting Farrakhan) to and from the airport was similar to arrangements to protect presidential candidates such as Romney, Gingrich and Clinton in the past.

Whoa!  Stop the presses!  When did Louis Farrakhan rank among the same ranks as presidential candidates? 

C’mon folks; let’s stop the madness!  This was definitely a waste of taxpayer money.  This time Mayoral Candidate Mike Walker definitely got it right.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Influence Peddling in EBRP? Sunday, Jul 29 2012 

Let’s talk about one of the oldest political tricks in the book — Influence Peddling.  It come in many forms, and is referred to by many names.  The key is to recognize Influence Peddling in some of its truest forms in East Baton Rouge Parish prior to the fall election.

In some political circles, influence peddling is extremely effective and considered a legal business deal — depending upon your viewpoint (i.e. lobbying). 

For those who are in tune with the media — behind closed doors or via quick mobile dialing — it can also be extremely advantageous (i.e. keeping things under wrap).

In the community, it comes in many forms including controlling the flow of information, determining where focus is put, and deciding where and from whom and to whom funding will flow.

The examples could be lengthy, but why prolong our pain?  Let’s just get to the point, shall we? 

Influence Peddling has come to mind in the current climate of East Baton Rouge Parish politics and current leadership — especially in light of the coming fall election. 

Let me be very clear whom I refer to when considering ‘current’ leadership. 

  • They are the individuals who decide the who, what, where, and how.  
  • Simply put, they are the ‘powers that be’ — those behind the scenes who direct and determine what is, and what is not, done.
  • Depending on your working knowledge of who is really in control of such matters, they include members of the media, key community leaders, heads of community organizations and businesses, and a handful of politicians who both need and desire to be peddled regardless of what is right or wrong. 
  • They are the true decision makers and spin doctors of our political, economic, and financial climate in the Red Stick. 
  • For the past dozen or so years, they have determined where we are headed and how we will get there.

They should also be held accountable for where we currently are — something they are attuned to and very good at blaming on others.  Blame-shifting and influence peddling go hand-in-hand.

God help you if you should ever choose to disagree or question these influential peddlers or their political figureheads.  They are able, and more than willing, to strike back with a vengeance.

After all, influence peddlers stick together and are much like a brotherhood that almost appear to have unlimited powers to cut you off or make you into a spectacle — whatever suits the scenario.

They remind me of the mafia — a brotherhood of sorts that stick together against those who might interfere with their desires or whims.  The power of the political machine or editorial pen can be enormous in their world — and in yours. 

I am not a conspiracy theorist.  I work completely on the premise of truth revealed through extensive research that brings forth a working knowledge of the facts. 

Freedom from spin will set you free, and allow you to make more informed decisions.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants to know the truth.  In biblical times, they wanted to believe a lie, so God allowed a messenger to tell them what they wanted to hear: II Thessalonians 2:11.

Don’t be caught unaware.  Don’t be willing or desirous to believe a lie.  Do your homework.  Avoid the spin doctors.  Look long and hard at the facts.  And, above all else, be an informed citizen.  That is your responsibility before entering the voting booth.  Your vote does count. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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

Advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper Wednesday, Nov 16 2011 

They say honesty is the best policy.  In the case of Coroner Shannon Cooper, I might disagree — unless you are a voter in East Baton Rouge Parish who wants to understand just how he rolls. 

When I read yesterday’s Daily Report edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report, my first thought was that Coroner Shannon Cooper needed a new political consultant.

Cooper chose to reveal his true self by honestly responding as to his intention of how to deal with protestors that planned to show up at his office today: 

IGNORE THEM!

Cooper’s words spoke volumes as to how our Coroner really feels about the 7,000 to 8,000 families his office deals with annually.

Cooper’s words are powerful:

Cooper said he had no plans of speaking with any protestors that showed up his office today.

Where is the compassion for families who have lost loved ones? 

How much time would it have taken for Cooper to drive from the Baton Rouge General Hospital  or Surgical Specialty Center, where he is listed as a staff member?  Either one of these locations are less than 30 minutes away from the Coroner’s Office. 

Instead of taking a few minutes out of his private practice, Cooper takes the position that this is much ado about nothing. 

Try telling that to families who have lost their loved ones.

Is Cooper a man we want to re-elect? 

Can Cooper possibly explain to the voters and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish why he so cavalierly wrote off families who had legitimate questions? 

What about the Temple family who was there to ask why their son’s drivers license was found at the home of death investigator, Raymond Levie, in December, 2010?  Their son was killed in 2006. 

The Traylor family was also present at the protest.  Keith Traylor, the organizer of the protest, is the father of Jeremy who died of a drug overdose in 2009.  This family has suffered unbelievable heartaches because the Coroner misdiagnosed their son’s death, and changed the cause of death after they buried their son. 

Heartbreaking stories!

Nearly 50 families whose loved ones died in East Baton Rouge Parish, are not even aware of the fact that the drivers licenses, ID cards, and medications was stolen by death investigator Raymond Levie, taken to his home, and kept in body bags and closets. 

Maybe you know some of the families listed in the Baton Rouge Police Department Report?  Maybe you are one of those families?

Perhaps the most disconcerting issue is the fact that the Coroner claims he was unaware of these facts. 

This is not true according to the BR Police report.  That report states that 6 months prior to the murder-suicide that resulted in the death of Raymond Levie by Shawn Jones (who then turned the gun on himself)  at T. J. Ribs, the Coroner was contacted by the acting Police Chief in an effort to have Cooper come to his office to discuss numerous complaints and the contents of a search warrant performed on Levie’s home. 

The Coroner also dismissed the Police Chief by responding that if he wanted a meeting, he could come to his office because he wasn’t going to the Chief’s office.

That is arrogance in its highest form. 

I wonder which one of Cooper’s offices he was referring to? 

One thing I have learned through this story is that EBR Coroner Shannon Cooper doesn’t even go the Coroner’s Office most of the time.  I personally called all three of his offices to find out that he works as a pathologist outside of the Coroner’s Office — that he has turned over the reigns of the Coroner’s Office to his Chief Operating Officer, Don Moreau, who is the only person that is willing to even take your calls.

Clarification:  Though Cooper met with Traylor awhile back, he refused to supply their family with requested documents.  Furthermore, Cooper refused to acknowledge Traylor and other families on the day of their protest. 

According to the Traylor family, when they met with the Coroner, Moreau talked over Cooper and took over the meeting in short order, refusing to provide the family with documentation they requested.  This confirms who is really in charge at the Coroner’s Office, and it’s not Cooper!

What we have here is yet another politician who is glad to claim a title, the prestige of an elected office, to pick up a paycheck — but not show up to perform the duties he was elected by the people to do.  My understanding is that paycheck is significant – nearly $100,000 annually.  Pretty hefty check for someone who doesn’t show up! 

Instead of dismissing these families/protestors, perhaps it would have been in Cooper’s best interest to show up and take a moment or two to share a little compassion for these family members whose lives were turned upside down?

Instead, Cooper said:

It will be business as usual.

The EBRP Coroner’s Office is on call 24/7; they are charged with the responsibility of investigating untimely deaths, determining causes of death, and assessing whether individuals require commitment for further assessment or treatment that are mentally ill or drug dependent.

I have some advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper:

Keep your job at the Baton Rouge General and Surgical Center, because we prefer to elect someone who will show a little kindness, and commit to the responsibilities of their office!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

To Mrs. Levie, who responded to me in writing regarding this blog:  I have made two corrections, as noted in red above, to clarify statements. 

Regarding your question as to what good would it have done for Dr. Cooper to go out side and speak with the protestors, I would respond that he was elected to serve the public, and if a family asks for a second, or third meeting, it should be granted with the Coroner or one of his appointed representatives.  To not do so is to ignore the very families he claims he is mindful of on his website — those left behind.  They deserve nothing less.  I am saddened by the loss of all families who have lost loved ones whether by murder, suicide or drug overdoses.  My condolences to you.  Let’s hope that the new Coroner has a better open door policy.

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

 

Central’s Woes Saturday, Jul 3 2010 

UPDATE:  Judge Kay Bates has ruled that CH2MHill is not a public entity, and therefore is not required to provide records in regard to an advertisement placed in The Advocate newspaper.  (Community Press, LLC  vs CH2MHill, Inc.)  Woody Jenkins is the individual behind the law suit that was dismissed.  

Jenkins formerly enjoyed financial profit from CH2MHill advertisements in Community Press, LLC’s publication Central News, and lost revenue when CH2MHill chose another newspaper for the ad in question. 

Note:  *Added statistics on election results!

Additionally, I opened the forum for comments in hopes of receiving factual information from either side of this argument.  Instead I receiving bashing of individuals and ‘he said, she said’ claims.  None of these comments can be considered factual.  If you have proof of any wrongdoing on either side, I recommend you address the judge assigned to this case.   

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”   George Orwell

In five years, the City of Central has incorporated, developed a Master Plan, created its own School District, and elected a Mayor, City Council and Chief of Police.  All of this while standing up to the bully pulpit of Mayor Kip Holden’s massive tax increase and threats to oust the City of Central from East Baton Rouge Parish elections.

Quite impressive.

In recent months, Central’s leadership has come under attack by the editor of the Central City News, Woody Jenkins. 

By all appearances, Jenkins was happy until election time rolled around earlier this year.  Some say Jenkins had another choice for Mayor, however, Mac Watts won his bid for re-election against Jr. Shelton. 

What else is bothering Jenkins?

CH2M Hill was contracted by the City to handle contractual issues and hire the necessary personnel to carry out city services.  Birds were chirping and everyone was happy.  Even Jenkins, since some of CH2M Hill’s money was flowing into the coffers of Central City News evidenced by ads introducing Central City personnel hired to handle services.

The day before an election, CH2M Hill ran a 4-page advertisement in The Advocate explaining building permit fees.  This topic was also a hotly contested election issue between the two Mayorial candidates.

This ignited a firestorm of criticism from Jenkins. 

Post-election, Jenkins made a public records request to determine who was involved in the 4-page advertisement – a costly proposition at best to reach 5,000 readers of The Advocate.  CH2M Hill responded by providing records required, but claimed that information regarding the ad were irrelevant as they are a private company.

Jenkins retaliated again.  And, again.  And again, in his publication as well as in the courts by filing a lawsuit demanding information regarding the advertisement.  He wanted to know if anyone in Central’s leadership played a role in creating, approving or placing the ad in another newspaper.

CH2M Hill stood fast to its position by not discussing the ad due to the fact that they are a privately held company and no money from the City of Central was used to place the ad.

Journalism requires factual reporting, the discipline of verification, and to remain independent monitors of power. 

No matter what side you stand on regarding this issue, one fact remains.  When CH2M Hill was running ads in Jenkins’ publication, all was well.  Until, a costly 4-page advertisement ran in another newspaper.  That ad, some say, initiated the attacks and also may have played a role in Jenkins’ candidate losing the race for Mayor.

That ad didn’t appear to affect the race in my opinion.  Mac Watts went into the election with overwhelming support and always appeared to be the winner. *Watts won the election with 52% of the vote, and his opposition took 48% of the vote. 

I’m a believer in presenting the facts. 

In checking the City of Central records, it appears that CH2M Hill has provided monthly reports of services for the Mayor’s review.  Those reports are reviewed monthly by the City Council.  On a quarterly basis, a synopsis is provided to the residents at Council Meetings.  Additionally, I easily obtained a copy of the work performed by CH2M Hill through my contacts. 

Based on this, there doesn’t appear to be any secrecy on CH2M Hill’s reporting methods.

So, if the services were being performed to everyone’s satisfaction prior to the ad in question being run in The Advocate, and regular reports are provided, what’s the problem?

You figure it out.

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

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