Use Your Delusion

As commonly understood by folks who choose not to participate in the Parish

With Parish elections only about a week away, I decided to put in a little overtime in examining the underlying arguments of Councilman Scott Wilson and fans of the two ballot propositions to change the East Baton Rouge Parish (EBRP) Plan of Government to provide the small cities of Baker, Zachary, and Central (the BZC) appointees to the Library Board of Control (LBC) and the Recreation and Parks Commission (BREC).

In my previous post, I countered, empirically, any argument for these two propositions based on population. In case you don’t want to read the entire post, the BZC represent a combined total of 12.66% of the population. Approving the propositions would grant the BZC 25% of the vote on BREC and 30% of the vote on the LBC. If passed, the propositions would create a disproportionate power sharing situation in favor of the BZC.
But what about the underlying argument that the BZC is not receiving its fair share? Essentially, the argument that the northern portion of the Parish is being ignored by the LBC and BREC in favor of the city of Baton Rouge and the southern portion of the Parish? Per the Advocate, here’s the essential argument:
“The bottom line is we need more representation from across the parish,” Wilson said. “Look at the Library Board. Nobody north of Florida Boulevard is serving on the Library Board.”
Since the current appointees are at-large and consider the needs of the Parish as a whole, this should not matter (not to mention that the proposition only addresses three small cities, not “across the Parish”). The argument above would be valid if there was a truly disproportionate allocation of resources by the LBC and BREC to the detriment of the northern portion of the Parish. So, is that the case? Let’s take a look…
The first thing we need to do is come to a reasonable understanding of what constitutes the northern part of the Parish. Since Councilmembers Wilson and Trae Welch (another advocate of these propositions) represent not only the BZC but much of the unincorporated portions of the northern portion of the Parish, we can’t only focus on the corporate limits of the BZC. With that in mind, and a native’s understanding of the geography of East Baton Rouge Parish, here is my version of the Mason-Dixon line for East Baton Rouge Parish which I’ll further reference as the Hooper-Harding Line:
Draw a line directly from the Mississippi River to the western end of Thomas Road. Thomas Road east to Plank Road. Plank Road south to Hooper Road. Hooper Road east to Mickens Road. Mickens Road southeast to Joor Road. Joor Road south to Greenwell Springs Road. Greenwell Springs Road northeast to Flannery Road. Flannery Road south to Florida Boulevard. Florida Boulevard east to the Parish line.
You can see a rough approximation of the Hooper-Harding line in the picture above. Anything along or north of the Hooper-Harding line is considered the northern portion of EBRP for comparison purposes. The Hooper-Harding line generally separates the inner-city, urban characteristics of the City of Baton Rouge from its sister cities in the BZC as well as the rural, unincorporated areas in the northern part of the Parish. This also increases the size of the population that we’re examining to 87,549*, which is 19.89% of the Parish population based on the 2010 US Census (also interesting to note that the population of the unincorporated northern portion of the Parish outnumbers any of the individual cities of the BZC). With that information established, let’s take a look at how each of the public entities is doing with respect to the northern part of the Parish.
Library Board of Control: This one’s pretty easy since the LBC can largely be measured by its facilities and it only has so many. The East Baton Rouge Parish Library System currently has thirteen  active branches with one branch  that is currently under construction (Fairwood) and one that is currently sort of under construction (Southdowns/Rouzan). For the sake of the argument, let’s go ahead and say that the LBC has 15 libraries. The Baker Branch, Central Branch, Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch, Pride-Cheneyville Branch, and the Zachary Branch are all located above or along the Hooper-Harding line. 33.33% of the library branches in East Baton Rouge Parish directly serve or are easily accessible to the 19.89% of the population in the northern portion of the Parish**.  So I ask the proponents of the proposition: Is the problem that you’re being overserved?

Nothing to see here folks, certainly not a massive public park...

Recreation and Parks Commission: This one was not so much fun. BREC has a LOT of facilities; 189 of them built or in planning totaling 6,687.30 acres. On request, BREC graciously provided an excel list of all the parks within their system. While you could pull all of them from the BREC website, it would be a giant pain in the ass. So thanks for the help BREC! Getting down to business… of the 189 facilities BREC operates in East Baton Rouge Parish, 60 of them are located north of the Hooper-Harding line. That’s 31% of BREC assets for an area that contains 19.89% of the population. Better yet, lets talk acreage. Fully 3,502.62 of the 6,687.30 acres managed and operated by BREC are located north of the Hooper-Harding line. That’s 52.37% for 20% of the population! Again I ask, is the problem that the BZC and northern portion of the Parish being overserved?

The Bottom Line: Look, no discussion of this topic would be complete without considering the past. While the LBC has never seemed to be a high priority for the northern portion of the Parish, BREC has been a contentious issue in recent years with some of the cities threatening to pull out. Given that the BZC has already split their school systems off from the EBRP school system, I would hesitate writing off future threats of this nature. Just look at Mike Mannino’s advertisement in the October 3rd issue of the Central City News and not only because it’s hilarious. Mannino is running against Bodi White for State Senate in the upcoming election; the district they are competing for includes the City of Central and portions of the northern part of the Parish. Check out Page 7 on the right hand side. Yup, a campaign promise to break Central away from BREC. Clearly, there is some desire within the city to break away if the concept is making its way into a campaign promise. Like most campaign promises, it largely panders to a certain group without bothering much with facts. There are several facilities located or being constructed in and within close proximity to Central. The issue may be that they aren’t actually physically located within the city limits of Central. So what? I live in Baton Rouge. If I want to ride a horse or shoot a bow at a Parish-run park, I have to leave the City of Baton Rouge to do so. Seriously, is anyone arguing for an equestrian center in Baton Rouge? No, because we can drive a few miles to Farr Park. This apparently isn’t good enough for the powers-that-be in the northern portion of the Parish. The part that I really find amusing about this is that, from a tax base perspective, it seems to me that you really wouldn’t want that many land-gobbling parks in small cities since it reduces the space available for business or housing development- you know, the ones that generate tax revenue. It seems to me you would want parks just outside of the corporate limits, easily accessible but not taking away from your potential tax base. Maybe that’s just me.
The arguments with respect to BREC are mirrored for the LBC. The northern portion of the Parish is well represented both in terms of libraries and public parks. Don’t let someone tell you lies that it is not.
In summary,this is simply yet another attempted power grab by the powers that be in the BZC. What the folks up north choose not to understand is that we’re all in this Parish together. I urge you to vote against these two ballot propositions. If they fail, I’ll almost certainly soon be asking you to also vote against the subsequent attempt to further break away from the Parish.
*After an infuriatingly long search, I finally located the data I was searching for at the US Census website. For reference, the portion of EBRP north of the Hooper-Harding line is roughly comprised of census tracts 32.01, 35.01, 42.01, 42.03, 42.04, 42.05, 43.01, 43.02, 44.01, 44.02, 44.03, 45.03, 46.02, 46.03, 46.04, & 47.
** I could also point out, using data the anti-downtown library coalition practically fell over themselves to use, both Central and Pride-Cheneyville tend to rank low on one or both of the gate count and circulation rank order lists. I don’t find the argument persuasive, so I decided not to use it in the meat of the post but figured I would include it as a footnote. I also can’t find the stupid chart.

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One For You, Ten For Me!

UPDATE: Taking a second look, the Recreation and Parks Commission currently includes six qualified voters appointed by the Metro Council as well as the Parish President, a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, and a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. The proposition only seeks to change the “qualified voters” section as far as I can determine, so my calculations of the total Board composition were off as they only calculated for the “qualified voter” component of the Commission. In any event, my argument still stands even though the power grab is only slightly less egregious. I’ve adjusted those calculations below.

I’ve been away for a long time, but power grabs and parochialism will always draw me back. Interesting… according to The Advocate, two misguided parishwide propositions remain on the ballot for October 22nd. Both of them are designed to expand two important local commissions found in the East Baton Rouge Parish Plan of Government: the Library Board of Control and the Recreation and Park Commission. The purpose of this expansion, however, is to set aside appointments for each of the three small political subdivisions in the Parish: Baker, Central, & Zachary. I thought the BREC proposition had been killed at the State level (the legislature had to sign off on the change since they actually created the district), but there is apparently a legal dispute over what takes precedence, the State Constitution or Baton Rouge’s Plan of Government. I know what wins at the Federal level but not State. So here’s my argument, better safe than sorry I always say.

The propositions call for those small cities to receive a guaranteed voice on the two commissions. In the case of the Library Board of Control, the proposition would increase the size of the Board from seven members to ten members and requires three of those members be appointed based on recommendations from the cities of Baker, Central, and Zachary. In the case of the Recreation and Park Commission, the proposition would increase the size of the Commission from nine members to twelve members and requires three of those members be appointed based on recommendations from the cities of Baker, Central, and Zachary.

So why are these propositions misguided? It’s a matter of population and proportion; what I like to call the pie problem (mainly so I can use the below graphic).

Honestly, you know you've been there.

So here’s the pie problem. These appointments have never formally been based on geographical location. Informally, BREC Board Chairman Bill Benedetto has stated:

“We’ve also always had at least two commissioners from the northern part of the parish, some years, we’ve had three or four.”

So there’s at least some attempt at accommodation from the BREC Board. Regardless and more importantly, all of the appointed members of either Board are supposed to be operating in an at-large capacity and doing what is best for the City-Parish as a whole. This helps minimize some of the ridiculous parochial bickering you see in other elected bodies in the City-Parish (‘sup, Metro Council?).

OK, let’s say for some reason we WANT to devolve into ridiculous parochialism at the Board/Commission level. Does anyone want to argue that it shouldn’t at least be done proportionately by population like nearly every other governing body appointed with a consideration for where one lives? Does anyone want to argue that these three small cities should receive preferential appointment authority over the single largest city in the Parish, which has no guaranteed appointee? That’s right folks, it’s time for the maths!

Using the 2010 Census, let’s see what a fair distribution of the population of East Baton Rouge Parish would look like.

So, the three cities that believe they each deserve individual seats on these two Boards based on their apparent support of the aforementioned propositions represent a grand combined total of 12.66% of the Parish’s population. Let’s think back to what these propositions will ultimately do. In the case of the Library Board of Control, these areas would gain control of 30% of the votes. In the case of the Recreation and Parks Commission, these areas would gain control of 25% of the votes.


12.66% = 30%?

12.66% = 25%?

Man, I know EBRP Schools aren’t the best, but I think the answers to the above questions are both no.

In fact, the only fair way to introduce an appointment system based on political subdivision is if you apportion seats based on all of the political subdivisions and unincorporated area of the Parish. If we were to go down that road, we would need to expand each Board to 32 (!) appointed members in order to accommodate the miniscule population shares represented by Baker and Zachary. Each appointee would represent 3% of the Parish population rounded down.  The end result?

Seems fair to me!

I think you can see my point here. A totally fair distribution of appointments across the Parish (as seen at left) would result in a completely unmanageable Board. Instead, the Parish wisely adopted an at-large model by which the Boards and Commissions operate. Unlike the fair distribution in the chart to the left, the proposed changes to the Plan of government do nothing more than unfairly transfer a disproportionate amount of power into the hands of a small number of people at the expense of our community. I don’t know about you, but I tend to vote against that kind of stuff.

– Politivore

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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Apparently, some think this is what patriotism looks like. If you ask me, it looks an awful lot like 9/11 and Oklahoma City.

It’s been a while, but recent events have compelled me to post. I wrote a little while ago about the potential for violence when political pundits and parties abrogate their responsibility to monitor and control their message. Sadly, I was proven somewhat prescient (not that it takes much to guess the inevitable). As most have heard by now, an idiot crashed his plane into an IRS building in Austin, TX, ultimately killing Vietnam veteran and IRS employee Vernon Hunter as well as his own loathsome self. This idiot’s name was Joe Stack.

Not only did Stack perpetrate one of the grandest spectacle homicides in recent memory, but he left us a note by which to remember him. If you do decide to go down the rabbit hole, make sure to bring along this travel guide to help point out the landmarks in the fantasy land of delusion in which Stack lived. It’s a pretty convoluted world where a man who’s money and livelihood were “stolen” by the government still somehow managed to own a $200,000 house and private plane. Yeah, he was living hand-to-mouth.

To me, the really interesting part of this tragedy is the contrast in the public reaction when compared with the Oklahoma City Bombing. Both were carried out by disturbed domestic terrorists fed up with the government. But Stack seems to have received much more support from the general public than McVeigh. McVeigh was generally reviled by everyone but a few fringe elements in the anti-government and white supremacy movement. Stack, on the other hand, has his own facebook fan page. To be fair,  technological advances have eased the barriers of entry to getting your opinion heard on a grand scale, no matter how marginalized that opinion may be.

At the same time, social media websites like facebook aren’t anonymous, generally speaking. When you register your support for something, you’re registering your support for the facebook-going public to see. Fully aware of this and at last count, 2,293 people have registered their support for “The philosophy of Joe Stack”. 2,293 people have taken an affirmative stance in support of the philosophical arguments espoused by a terrorist. That truly blows my mind.

In reading through the posts and comments of Joe Stack’s supporters, the common argument is that they support his philosophy and anti-tax stand, but not his methods. Stack’s philosophy, as typed by his own hand, stated:

“[V]iolence not only is the answer, it is the only answer”

That type of rationale makes it hard for me to accept the defensive arguments of his supporters without a grain of salt. Further, I would have loved to see public reaction to a Muslim stating they did not agree with the methods of the 9/11 terrorists, but agreed with their anger against the United States. In my opinion, these statements of support are delusional and yet another display by a movement taking its cues from irresponsible leaders ultimately responsible for this tragedy.

Check out this book if you want to understand the psychological underpinnings to killing

To understand my rationale, you need to understand important concepts underlying the psychological preparation needed to kill someone. During my time in the US Army, I read On Killing by LTC Dave Grossman. LTC Grossman’s book is a fascinating analysis of the situational and psychological factors that play into a human being’s ability to kill another human being. One of those factors is dehumanizing the enemy. In recent conflicts, the military has accomplished this through the use of human-shaped target silhouettes and derogatory nicknames. It’s the latter that draws my attention.

The current partisan political discourse, both within the government and without, invites just the type of dehumanization needed to overcome inherent limits on a human being’s ability to kill. When last I wrote on this topic, I presented Jim David Adkisson as an example of this phenomenon. Adkisson murdered two members of a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville because he hated Democrats, liberals, African-Americans, and homosexuals. Adkisson’s personal library contained writings from such luminaries as Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly.

Since Adkisson’s rampage, the partisan divide has only become more strained and, not unsurprisingly, we now have another example of this phenomenon in the form of Joe Stack. To the pundits and politicians who gleefully vilify the opposition, you need to take a hard look at what you are doing and saying. Focus your efforts on the issue, not the person. I realize it probably helps you sleep at night to think you can disassociate yourself from the actions of someone you have influenced. I also realize it is unlikely you understand the psychological rationale required to kill a person as most of you never served in any branch of the military. While you can deny your culpability in any deaths that result from your influence, the simple fact is that you are playing a necessary role in the dehumanization of an innocent person.

Simply consider this: if Joe Stack had viewed the IRS as an organization of hard-working human beings with the unfortunate job of collecting taxes rather than as a leviathan evil responsible for his sorry lot in life, Vernon Hunter would likely still be alive today.


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Filed under Domestic Terrorism

Small Town Diplomacy

Over the years, I’ve come to find rural, small-town politics to be among my most favorite. Small towns often pride themselves on being direct in their dealings and plain in their speech; the towns in Louisiana are certainly no exception. As a result, small-town political exchanges tend to be pretty lively. With this in mind, I read this article in the Advocate the other day concerning Pointe Coupee Parish.

I wasn’t disappointed. I learned two things about Pointe Coupee from this article:

1) You must have a nickname in order to hold public office in the Parish, preferrably something juvenile such as “Dewey” or “Sassy”.

2) If you are an outsider, do not attempt to render aid or provide assistance. Your attempts will be futile and ill-received.

Case in point: Officials from Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge Parishes offered first-hand experience and anecdotes concerning Pointe Coupee’s pending decision to abandon its traditional Police Jury for a Parish President & Council form of government. Apparently, certain Pointe Coupee elected officials decided the real reason for this meeting was to  “embarass”  their Parish and highlight its failings. Specifically, Pointe Coupee Parish School Board President James “Bado” Cline said:

“Our schools are rated higher than Iberville’s, Livingston is the crystal meth capital of the world … we have some issues with infrastructure and traffic (associated) with the new bridge. Is a parish president going to cancel that?” Cline asked rhetorically.

“I’m tired of experts from out of town coming in trying to embarrass us,” Cline said. “We’re doing better than them in a lot of aspects.”

Sure, that’s a reasonable assumption. These outside Parish officials have absolutley nothing better to do with their time than to come to another Parish in order to lord it over them. Apparently, Cline’s worldview was formed from old Charles Atlas advertisements from the middle of the last century.

Pointe Coupee Parish officials have sent off for their free Charles Atlas book.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Cline may have developed a bit of an inferiority complex. If Cline really thinks outside officials are there to simply kick sand in the face of Pointe Coupee rather than to offer advice, he probably shouldn’t be in government. Learning from those who have gone before you is a mark of wisdom; turning your back on the advice of others because you have an irrational fear that they’re trying to embarrass you is idiocy.

Plus, it looks like Pointe Coupee could use a little help. One of the benefits for abandoning the Police Jury, cited by a Pointe Coupee official, was that it would eliminate the ability of police jurors to demand parish workers cease working on a project in one district in order to work on a project in the juror’s own district. Are you kidding me? Apparently, Pointe Coupee has devolved into a series of fiefdoms. Granted, a Parish Council can still cause trouble. Come to think of it, Livingston Parish actually has experience in this area considering their recent run-ins with the State Auditor and their peicemeal approach to road repair and improvement (which sadly predates this blog, I really enjoyed following that one).

There’s no way I can close this post without commenting on the “fantastic” display of diplomacy on Cline’s part. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made several jabs at Livingston Parish’s expense concerning their crystal meth problem, but I don’t think I would ever use that as part of a public political statement. Here’s hoping Pointe Coupee gets better leadership as growth comes to their area.


P.S. While it is true that the Pointe Coupee Parish School District performed better than Iberville Parish, there are a good 51 school districts with higher scores than Pointe Coupee… including both West Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes.

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You Wouldn’t Like Him When He’s Angry…

Whoa Nelly!

The Roux House on Third Street has been a supporter of Mayor Holden’s Bond Proposal and has displayed a “Vote Yes” banner for quite some time. Apparently this exercise of free speech by the owners of the Roux House offended the sensibilities of off-duty BRPD officer Robert Moruzzi. He finally had to take action…

While the investigation into Officer Moruzzi’s antics is still on-going, the facts as currently reported are as follows:

1) While off-duty, Moruzzi decided that the “Vote Yes” banner at the Roux House presented a political opinion different than his own and must be stopped. He promptly began to tear it down.

Suspended BRPD Officer Robert Moruzzi

The weeks of being subjected to a business owner expressing an opinion contrary to his own caused a shocking transformation in BRPD Officer Robert Moruzzi on Thursday night... ROB SMASH!!!

2. An unidentified manager of the Roux House told Officer Moruzzi to cease and desist. Apparently, Moruzzi is used to giving orders rather than taking them and ignored the request.

3. Seeking to protect the restaurant’s property from damage, the manager forced Moruzzi away from the sign, causing the badly-behaving Law Enforcement Officer to fall to the ground.

4. Officer Moruzzi regained his feet and promptly started punching the manager in the face and threatening to kill him. After about five blows, the manager struck back.

5. At this affront to his perceived authority, Moruzzi drew a concealed firearm from his waistband and identified himself as a police officer.

6. After realizing the game of political vandalism, intimidation, and battery had just gone to the next level, one of Moruzzi’s more level-headed companions quickly disarmed him. The weapon was retrieved by a bystander and on-duty BRPD officers arrived at the scene to defuse the situation.

By my estimation, Moruzzi engaged in simple criminal damage to property, simple battery, aggravated assault, and likely violated a slew of BRPD internal regulations. According to news reports, the incident was caught on a BRPD crime camera, so these facts should be fairly easy to confirm. Once determined, I hope the full force of the law is applied against Moruzzi. Police officers are among our most trusted public servants; most citizens willingly defer to their instruction without question. It is absolutely unacceptable for a police officer to behave this poorly, even while off duty.

Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that this kind of violent abuse of power and authority was perpetrated by an individual apparently aligned with or sympathetic to the anti-bond crowd. Before everyone gets up and arms and takes my words out of context, I’m not saying that everyone who votes against the bond proposal is a violent neanderthal incapable of participating at a mature level in the US political process.

Intimidation of Public Officials by Implied Violence? Check!

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you." ~ Jedi Master Yoda

What I am saying is that an undue reliance on outrage and anger, while fantastically effective in motivating a disaffected base, has very real consequences. They’ve manifested here. Really, there’s only so much promotion and acceptance of fear and intimidation that can be done before the pot boils over. Our local newspaper even has an editorial devoted to this issue today.

It’s long past time for the leadership and figureheads of these organizations and movements to accept responsibility for the actions of their followers. Many will attempt to avoid responsibility and wave inconvenient actions away as “the will of the people”. I think we all know that this supposed “will” is often controlled by what these troubled individuals see and hear. It certainly was in the case of Jim David Adkisson, convicted murderer of members of a Unitarian Universalist Church, a denomination largely noted for its devotion to non-violence, in Tennesse in 2008.  According to his post-arrest interrogation, he murdered these people because of his hatred of Democrats, liberals, African Americans, and homosexuals. His personal library contained such noted luminairies as Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly.

Our city, not to mention the manager from the Roux House, dodged a bullet this time. This situation could have very easily escalated to murder. If the bond proposal passes today, Baton Rouge stands to gain a significant amount of interest from outside businesses who see a city willing to invest in its future. That interest is going to wane significantly if they notice one too many incidents like this one. To the leaders of these movements relying on fear and exaggeration to motivate their base which gives actions such as these a favorable light (and you certainly know who you are): Get control of your damn message. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be involved in politics.
P.S. While surfing the web for this article, I think I found my favorite editorial cartoon of the year. Having served in the military, I regularly followed Somalia over the last decade. This gave me a laugh.
Somalia Tea Party

Best Editorial Cartoon of 2009 - Hands's Down

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Filed under Bond Proposal

BR Tea Party = Outside Agitators?

Tea Party

The word you're looking for is: "Homogeneous"

Advocate investigative reporter Greg Garland apparently got tired of following the Mayor around and did a little digging into the Baton Rouge Tea Party. Actually, I guess it should be referred to as The Baton Rouge Tea Party of Iberville Parish. Yup, turns out the group was actually incorporated in the city of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish  (Search Baton Rouge Tea Party here). According to Plaquemine resident and Baton Rouge Tea Party President Jennifer Madsen, it was incorporated in Iberville Parish as “a matter of convenience”. Matter of convenience it may well be, but it lends the appearance of outside agitation in a local election and is a bit of a political blunder. After all, if these people expect you to believe they know what is best for this parish,  shouldn’t they be spending enough time in EBR that incorporating the organization in the parish in which the election is actually being held wouldn’t be such a problem?

Of greater interest to me are the reports found over on the Louisiana Ethics Administration’s website. The Baton Rouge Tea Party entry lists three reports, two financial disclosure reports and one statement of organization (P.S. If anyone from the Tea Party reads this, y’all really should electronically file your reports. The way you’re doing it now makes you look like a bunch of Neo-Luddites). Garland covers the most recent financial disclosure report in some detail, basically revealing that a mere two donors were responsible for 97.4%  of recent Tea Party fund-raising activities. Apparently, most Tea Party members are unwilling to financially contribute to the cause. I guess that isn’t really a surprise as the group’s anti-tax focus is intended to keep as much money in the pockets of its members as possible. It’s kind of a double-edged sword there, really.

Tea Party Claim

The word you're looking for is: "Disingenuous". Check out their Facebook Friends if you don't believe me. To their credit, the Tea Party has removed any references to political, social, and racial inclusiveness from their website.

But I digress…

What’s really interesting to me is the other two reports. The Statement of Organization is innocuous enough… except that it was filed September 14th, 2009. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, except that their initial financial disclosure report covers a lot of calendar… all the way back to March 2009. Why is this a big deal? See for yourself. I’m not a campaign finance expert, but Section II, Sub-Section C of this document states (emphasis added):

“A PAC which organizes after January 31 or discovers after January 31 that its financial activity for the year will exceed $500 must file a statement of organization within 10 days of that date.

Based on the initial financial disclosure report, the BR Tea Party broke the $500 financial activity threshold back in March. According to the Statement of Organization, they didn’t organize until September. That seems like a little longer than 10 days to me.

Ultimately, incorporating in Iberville Parish and possibly failing to comply with campaign finance regulations, while amusing to Tea party opponents, are unlikely to have much of an impact on the election.Voters really don’t care about an organization’s possible mishandling of bureaucratic hurdles. Instead, voters care about issues.

The Mayor and his administration have presented the bond proposal more times than I think anyone would care to count. The opportunity to get educated on this issue has been there.  If you still don’t feel like you know enough about the proposal to make an educated vote, check out the resources available at the Progress Is website and the official City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge website. These resources include a presentation of the bond proposal itself as well as the economic impact assessment prepared by former state economist Dr. Jim Richardson. I would include links to resources opposing the bond but, as of this date, there have been none that meet the same level of academic rigor achieved by Dr. Richardson. You can take that however you will, but I find it amusing that many of the questions that are asked about the proposal are answered in detail in the economic assessment. I guess some folks have better things to do than read…

The election will be this Saturday, November 14th. I will be voting for the bond proposal that morning before heading to work. I hope that each of you will read the proposal, read the economic assessment, and then make a fully informed decision behind the curtain. Emotion has its place when voting social issues, but factual information and informed conjecture are required when considering infrastructure improvements and economic development.


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Makin’ it rain in BR City Court…

Makin' it rain in City Court

Justice is served... a whole lot of cheddar.

I wish I could say that I’m shocked, but for some reason my jaw didn’t quite hit the floor when I read this story in the Advocate. In short, a former city prosecutor and a 23-year BRPD veteran plead guilty to accepting money in exchange for a combination of reducing bonds and the dismissal of various criminal and traffic charges. These arrests and pleas originated from a three year investigation by the Feds. The two former “public servants” are looking at 5 and 10 year sentences. While the terms may seem light, these two are almost certainly involved in a plea deal in order to testify against bigger fish. The story is clearly not over and will certainly get worse.

Public corruption and graft are personal pet peeves of mine. Having been a public servant during my military career, this breach of trust really gets under my skin. Considering the fact EBRP law enforcement officers potentially put their lives on the line each time they investigate a crime, the actions of these two corrupt servants are really abhorrent. All the work and effort put into making an arrest and getting a criminal off the streets undone with the slip of a few bills. Not to mention the kind of effect this activity has certainly had on exacerbating the crime problem in the city.

It’s not like the local judicial system needed any more bad press. After the miscarriage of justice in the Fourmy murder case, one has to wonder how far the corruption extends beyond what we are seeing here. To refresh your memory, three men were charged with the 24 hour beating and burning death of Jason Fourmy. Originally charged with murder, charges against the suspects were reduced to battery and then dropped altogether after no less than three suspects in the case were murdered. After one of the murders, DA Hiller Moore requested funding for witness protection (something the city could certainly use). Considering the problems we are seeing here and in other recent, possibly related, corruption cases involving the city and BRPD, I think Moore and Chief Jeff LeDuff need to put more energy into cleaning house before we can expect the city’s crime problems to get better.


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