So how much does it cost taxpayers to hold a Metro Council meeting anyway?

Mayor Kip Holden’s bond proposal seems to be the story du jour for the local media and the BR blogosphere.

In essence, the Metro Council held a special meeting today to discuss a motion calling for the deferral of a scheduled November vote on the bond proposal. The special meeting was called by Councilmembers Trae Welch (district 1), Chandler Loupe (District 3), and Joel Boe (District 9). After a good three hours of debate, the Council voted on the motion, resulting in a 6-6 tie. As the motion required a simple majority of the Council to pass, the tie vote resulted in the failure of the motion. What does this mean to you? It means EBRP residents will be heading to the polls on November 14th to determine the bond’s fate.

After observing the proceedings, I have to wonder why the meeting was called in the first place. For one, the public comment portion was (predictably) a waste of time. The Council requested speakers limit their comments to the pros and cons of holding the election in November. Unsurprisingly, speakers on both sides of the issue failed at this simple task. Guess what, it doesn’t matter if you think the Alive! project is a good or bad idea. That opinion is certainly important when you step into a voting booth to decide the proposal’s fate but is largely irrelevant to whether the election should be held in November or at a later point in time.

I also have to wonder if this meeting was called in order for opponents of the bond proposal to buy time to rally the troops. Ostensibly, the motion to delay the bond proposal was made in order to allow time to work out issues with the Alive! component of the bond proposal. While the Alive! project certainly has hurdles to clear when it comes to railroad right of way issues and state financing, does anyone honestly think that was the true reason for the effort to delay the vote? I have my doubts, particularly considering some of the councilmembers involved in calling for deferral of the vote have previously sided with those in opposition to the Alive! component. If they or their constituents oppose the Alive!  component, why would they seek more time to iron out potential problems that would increase its chances of passing? Something just doesn’t add up about that scenario. I think it’s far more likely they hoped to either find a way to scuttle the Alive! component in the intervening time period or to use that time to build stronger opposition to the proposal as a whole. At the beginning of the discussion concerning the 2009 bond proposal, there seemed to be very little opposition other than the ever reliable Fred & Elizabeth Dent of Taxbusters. The Baton Rouge Tea Party has, until recently, stood on the sidelines of the bond proposal debate. Obviously, bond opponents would much rather have these pieces fully in play and that takes time.

So if the special election is going to cost us $480,000 to allow the people to vote, how much tax money was wasted to hold this special Council meeting which served little if any purpose? Is the Advocate preparing an article?

As a final note, I want to give credit to Alex Velasquez of the Jeffersonians. While a bond proposal opponent, Velasquez was the only opponent who recommended the bond proposal remain on the ballot in November. He fully believes that the people will vote against the bond again. While that remains to be seen, I applaud his willingness to allow the people to make their choice.



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