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Registrar starts work on validating St. George petition

The East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters started work on validating the thousands and thousands of signatures submitted by the hopeful organizers of the proposed city of St. George.

The petition is more than 11,000 pages, and organizers estimate they submitted about 18,000 signatures. They need 25 percent of registered voters in the proposed boundaries in order to qualify for an election.

The signatures, which took more than a year to compile, were submitted Oct. 20, with the hope that the petition would be validated in time for the December or March election.

However, the Registrar officials had not been able to start the process until this week because they say they’ve been inundated with fall election work.

The process to validate the petition will take at least a month, Registrar Elaine Lamb has said.

That means the petition might not be finalized in time for the March election — rather it could have to wait for the May 2 ballot.

TigerDroppings weighs in on Kip Holden’s mayoral tenure, future prospects at state office

TigerDroppings, a popular LSU sports message board website, weighed in on Mayor-President Kip Holden’s success as mayor in a thread posted Tuesday.

While rooted in sports, the contributors of TigerDroppings often take on other local topics and issues ranging from news stories, restaurant recommendations and politics.

On Tuesday, a contributor who goes by “tigerinthebueche” said he had been impressed by Holden.

“I met Kip this weekend at Bergeron’s in Port Allen. Super polite individual who was as friendly as anyone I’ve ever met. Given his affable demeanor, what do you citizens of EBR think of him? How would you rate his tenure in office?”

Within a few hours, the post had generated about 80 comments — many of them illustrated that people have favorable impressions of the mayor-president for the past 10 years and what he’s done for downtown Baton Rouge.

Many also weighed in on his prospects for success as he runs for Lt. Governor.

Here’s some of the responses: 

DoubleB:” Very good mayor, grew arrogant as many do the longer they serve.

He likes to spend money, but that isn’t bad at the mayoral level. In fact that’s where money should be spent, where taxpayers can see what’s going on.

He needs to be reeled in once in a while, but all in all he’s been a very good Mayor for the Parish.

I do believe he let the St. George thing get out of hand, but maybe he had to placate his base so he had to choose sides. And some would also say, like Lincoln in 1861, he had no real choice.”

KingBob: “Great guy, great personality, heck of a sense of humor, great cheerleader for Baton Rouge and the state. I would never want him in charge of anything important as he is prone to tax and spend and race-bait when he doesn’t get his way. However, he is literally the most perfect candidate for Lt. Governor since Louis, the trumpet-playing alligator from “The Princess and the Frog” ran for reelection in 1937.

ETA: My mom was in journalism school at LSU with him. Both of my parents have some pretty funny stories about the Kipster.”

Bard: “He’s been a good Mayor (just look at downtown for evidence of that), but a sh***y Parish President (the office is Mayor/President).

I think that of the current crop of folks running for Lt Gov he would do the best. But he can’t win the race because of his skin color and because he’s pretty much unknown outside of Baton Rouge.”

Member12: “Good candidate with vision, but he’s kind of gone off the deep end the past 5-6 years. The few times I’ve dealt with him personally, he came off as a good politican.

I think he had a chance at higher, statewide office had he not made some mistakes in the more recent past.

Downtown Baton Rouge is head and shoulders better than it was when I started undergrad at LSU. It turned around rapidly to the point where I’ve seen media in other parts of the country use Baton Rouge as an example of how to property reinvigorate a downtown setting.

I know a lot of that started under Bobby Simpson, but I think Holden has a good vision for the city even though he’s taken the wrong stance on numerous things.”

Lsupimp: “Kip is really very accomplished. He was able to get White Republicans to vote for him and feel relatively good about it. It has been impossible to live here without bumping into him all over town and his old-school Pol instincts are impeccable. He returns calls, kisses babies, attends ribbon-cuttings, patronizes businesses, etc. He probably makes 5 football games per Friday night each week. So people admire his optimistic energy.

His primary appeal is that he actually likes the people of Baton Rouge and he is a BIG TIME Cheerleader/ Advocate for Baton Rouge. People sense that he honestly wanted the best for Baton Rouge.

The problem is that over time, he has been on the wrong side of so many issues that he has lost support.Many People (for right or wrong) now view him as largely indistinguishable from other black Democratic -Machine Mayors-minus The Hate Whitey Shtick. And there is a sense that just below the surface there lingers a scandal in the making as often happens in these parts.

Almost every person I know likes Kip on a personal level. And I’m talking people that may not even vote for him. On a message board he’ll get the typical Blue-Velvet-Baton-Rouge-Sucks-level- broad criticism. But I really like Kip. Doubt I’d ever vote for him above the local level under any circumstances though.”

Click here for the full thread. 

 

Here’s Mary Roper’s full statement in response to search of her house for evidence of hacking

On Saturday, about a dozen Baton Rouge Police officers raided fired Parish Attorney Mary Roper’s house with a search warrant, seeking evidence she was hacking into city-parish email accounts after she was fired. 

She released a statement Monday in response to the incident. Here’s her full unedited statement:

“The public should be outraged that at least a dozen police officers appeared on a Saturday afternoon at the home of a well-respected attorney involved in litigation with the City-Parish to execute a search warrant, which was issued in response to baseless allegations that Mary Roper may have committed a misdemeanor. Pursuant to the search warrant, which authorized the search of a residence not even located within the Baton Rouge city limits, 12 or more Baton Rouge City Police officers searched the entire contents of Ms. Roper’s home, including her personal effects, in order to locate electronic devices that were allegedly used to “hack” into the e-mail accounts of two City-Parish employees in September 2014.
Most appallingly, the devices seized from Mr. Roper’s residence included her 8-year-old daughter’s I-Pod, personal laptop, and personal desktop computer. Before the police arrived at Ms. Roper’s residence, Ms. Roper’s daughter, along with her friends, had set up an operation outside the house using a table and chairs whereby they were donating Christmas toys to passersby. However, when the police officers arrived to conduct the search and seizure, they dismantled Ms. Roper’s daughter’s operation.
How demeaning is it for a mother to have to explain to her 8-year-old child why 12 or more police officers were rummaging through the contents of their house, including through Ms. Roper’s personal effects, on a Saturday afternoon? What justification could there possibly be for the police dismantling Ms. Roper’s daughter’s charitable operation and then taking the child’s I-Pod, laptop, and desktop computer? A simple request to Ms. Roper would have negated the tremendous financial burden imposed on the taxpayers of this city resulting from the execution of the search warrant and cleared Ms. Roper of this accused wrongdoing. Instead, the individuals responsible for obtaining this law enforcement intervention chose to utilize their positions of authority to see to it that a family was both disturbed and intimidated on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps some of these individuals are disgruntled that Ms. Roper was able to rise to a position of power, or perhaps some of these individuals have issues in general with women that hold high positions of authority. Regardless, the citizens of this city and this parish should be appalled at the manner in which the responsible individuals chose to have this search warrant executed.
Now this issue and all other issues involving Ms. Roper’s 21-year relationship with the City-Parish government and some members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council will be decided in court, as it should be. Let the court system do its work. There is no need to use “cute” intimidation tactics that will not keep Ms. Roper from obtaining justice. The judicial system will work.”

Together Baton Rouge raises $26,000 at fundraising gala

Credit: Together Baton Rouge

Credit: Together Baton Rouge

Together Baton Rouge, a faith-based activist nonprofit, had its annual fundraiser gala on Tuesday and raised $26,170 from tickets and donations.

The event, held at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, drew a crowd of about 400 people. Tickets for the gala were $40.

The organization has advocated for issues ranging from cemetery clean ups and cancer screenings to food deserts and public transportation.

Together Baton Rouge is best known for its work promoting the Capital Area Transit System dedicated property tax in 2012. The agency reached out to lower income areas, where residents are reliant on the service, and encouraged votes. They are partially credited with the success of the tax.

Dept. of Public Works pushes one final time for pay raises

LaTanja Silvester, president of the Service Employees International Union, implored the Metro Council one final time Tuesday to add pay raises to the proposed 2015 budget.

Silvester has led the call for adding pay raises into the mayor’s proposed budget for Dept. of Public Works employees, who are the lowest paid in the parish. Most have gone more than five years without pay raises aside from yearly increases that are part of the city-parish’s pay scale.

She sent a last-minute email to the council members Tuesday urging them to change their minds. Part of the email reads as below:

“I just wanted to urge you once again to support the employees of the this City-Parish. This discussion about DPW employees pay has been something talked about and studied for the past few years. The results from the pay study showed that city workers, especially those in the DPW, are significantly underpaid compared with their peer in similar cities. The recommendations from the consultants suggested that a 6% raise should be given to begin bringing YOUR EMPLOYEES close their counterparts. And now the attached poll results shows that Baton Rouge voters agree!!! The poll, surveyed 1,700 people in Baton Rouge shows 45.97% of those sampled strongly support a increase in pay for DPW employees. 

We find it insulting that this Administration has consistently been able to fund the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce in the amount of $450K but refuses to support the hardworking men and women who in some cases put their lives on the line to ensure that the day to day operations of this City-Parish is met without a hitch.”

While it initially appeared as though council members would add pay raises into Mayor-President Kip Holden’s proposed budget, their most vocal advocate backed down from the fight Monday. Councilman John Delgado said the necessary $3.6 million was too difficult to pull from other areas of the budget.

He hopes to pass a budget supplement come early 2015 instead, once more revenue numbers are available. City-parish Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel also has plans to pass a budget supplement in 2015 that would add pay raises for workers while adjusting the whole city-parish pay plan.

The Council will vote at 4 p.m. today.

 

“Better Together” anti-St. George motto is also John Delgado’s 2016 campaign slogan

better together

When freshman Councilman John Delgado ran for Metro Council in 2012, he ran under the slogan “Better Together.”

It was a seemingly prescient choice for a slogan, considering that the effort to create the City of St. George was “only a twinkle in Norman Browning’s eye,” as Delgado puts it.

Delgado is already organizing for his 2016 push, which could either be for a council re-election or for mayor-president. And he’s returning to his 2012 slogan, which has adopted a new meaning. He’s got a website and a hired media consultant already sending press releases to  the media.

In the past year, a nonprofit group opposing the City of St. George adopted the name “Better Together.” They also sometimes go by “Residents Against the Breakaway.”

better tog 2

 

 

 

Make no mistake, Delgado says. The two are not affiliated. Delgado had the name first.

However, he doesn’t mind being associated with an anti-St. George group.

“It’s pretty clear that I support keeping the parish united,” Delgado said. “I’ve been an outspoken critic of the division tactics of St. George.”

He said he chose the slogan in 2012, referring to the need to break down district, racial, economic and geographical barriers.

“I knew there was this almost provincial nature to the council,” he said. “Council members focused on their districts, almost to the exclusion of other districts and the city-parish as  whole.”

But now the slogan has evolved into something directly opposing the proposed city of St. George incorporation — and Delgado said that’s just fine with him.

“I think it was very aptly chosen and it applies even more now,” he said.

Kip Holden kicking off Lt. Governor campaign on Wednesday

kip

Mayor President Kip Holden is making his plans to run for Lt. Governor officially official on Wednesday at an event at Drusilla Seafood.

The term-limited mayor and former state legislator first hinted strongly in June that he was considering running for the state seat. Then in August, he declared that he was definitely going to run, but would wait until after this year’s slate of elections to finish before kicking off his campaign.

The lieutenant governor’s primary job is as commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, although the attraction for many is as a potential stepping stone to the governor’s office. In the event the governor’s office becomes vacant, the lieutenant governor fills in.

So far Holden, a Democrat, will likely face Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, State Sen. Elbert Guillory and Jefferson Parish President John Young, all Republicans.

CATS board member Dalton Honore II arrested for suspected DUI, blew .091

A board member for the Capital Area Transit System should have perhaps considered using public transportation this weekend, after he was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Dalton Honore II is one of the most senior members of the CATS board. He is also the son of the Baton Rouge state representative of the same name.

According to the affidavit of probably cause, Honore crashed his white Dodge truck at about 1 a.m. early Friday morning. The responding officer observed that Honore had a “lack of balance, glassy bloodshot eyes and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath and person.”

He initially refused the standard field sobriety test and was placed under arrest and taken to the Sheriff’s Office’s Central substation. He then submitted to a breathalyzer test. He blew .091 percent BAC. The legal limit is .08 percent.

He was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

DUI

State looks to end homelessness in 10 years

A new ten year plan calls on Louisiana to change its policies and better coordinate resources to end, rather than manage, homelessness.

The Louisiana Housing Corporation claims it actually costs the state more money to allow its homeless population of 4,606 to live on the streets than it would to give them permanent housing. The draft of the 10 year plan includes four main themes for ending homelessness: passing statewide policies, using more data to make decisions, creating standard assessment policies across the state and using existing resources more effectively.

The Housing Corporation has also taken special cues from President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Obama and the VA have called on people nationwide to find permanent places for homeless veterans to live by the end of 2015, which is mirrored in the state’s plan.

Louisiana currently has more than 400 homeless veterans, which has shrunk from nearly 2,000 in 2009.

Statewide, Louisiana’s total homeless population has dropped from 12,504 in 2009 to 4,606 in 2014, according to LHC.

The state’s homeless population is largest in New Orleans, where nearly 2,000 people live without permanent housing. Baton Rouge has the second biggest homeless population in the state with 665 people in either emergency or transitional shelters.

 

Downtown Baton Rouge is getting into the Christmas Spirit

 

photo (3)

 

Downtown Baton Rouge is preparing for the holiday season.

On Tuesday, workers were setting up the Christmas tree in Galvez Plaza.

There will be a tree lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, with fireworks to follow. But seasonal festivities will begin at 4 p.m. and last until 9 p.m.

There will be free ice skating, musical acts, Christmas movies and sledding down the hill of Repentance Park.