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‘The bill now sits on the House floor ready for its third reading and final passage.’ Jeff David column.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012 

the livingston parish news

Will they shoot down our economic development?

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ov. Bobby Jindal is actively opposing the creation of a Tax Increment Financing District that would provide infrastructure for the multi-purpose development planned at I-12 and Juban Road. Economic projections show hundreds of temporary and perways manent jobs at stake, along with and means millions of dollars in revenues Jeff M. David potentially pumping through the Livingston Parish economy. The Governor’s opposition is based on the belief that “TIFs” aren’t meant for retail developments, and certainly weren’t conceived for the purpose of spurring growth in the suburbs. These are the same objections, among others, that were raised over the Bass Pro TIF in Denham Springs. State Senator Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, authored a bill in the early stages of the current legislative session that would create a TIF at the site of the proposed Juban Crossing project, now a huge piece of cleared land on the northwest quadrant of the new interstate exit at Juban Road. Originally planned with much the same flair as the developers used at Towne Center in Baton Rouge, the demise of the economy brought the project to a screeching halt. Developers now say they simply cannot raise the capital to complete the initial stages of the development from the private market, and are therefore left with no alternative but to seek government assistance in securing financing. Erdey’s bill carefully stipulates that any subsidized expenditures from the TIF will be used solely for infrastructure. It would not finance any buildings, as the Bass Pro TIF does. Erdey’s bill made its way through the Senate unopposed, but met formal opposition in House Committee from Department of Economic Development Secretary Steven Moret. Moret has long objected to any kind of active assistance by the State in the areas of retail and housing development under the theory that those projects do not

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editorial

Swimming in freedom

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his Memorial Day, families across America will be able to gather around public pools and bask in freedom — or swim in it. On such a somber occasion when we honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for their country, just think for a moment about all the ways that seven-letter word — freedom — applies to simple daily living. Even at times when our free country feels perilously close to something else, we are reminded of how our system operates and how it works. Government frequently tries to impose rules on citizens, and in some parts of the world those rules are the final word until a revolution occurs. Not here. We live in a land where the government ultimately is the people, which means we get the last say if we want it badly enough. Earlier this year, the Justice Department decided that public swimming pools and spas must install lifts, ramps or elevators to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, a law passed in 1990. There is nothing in its language about pools, but the Obama administration nevertheless set a March deadline for compliance with its new interpretation, touching off an uproar. Because of that uproar, the federal bureaucracy crawfished, extending its arbitrarily imposed deadline until next year. And just this past week, facing more and more heat, some additional crawfishing occurred when the agency said the rules would actually apply only to new pools. We’ll see. The House of Representatives has already put provisions in a spending bill that blocks the Justice Department from enforcing any of its pool rules. Liberals, of course, would like to cast this whole controversy as an example of benevolent government battling to promote the rights of one of its endless beneficiary victim groups, in this case handicapped people. It is nothing of the sort. This is just one of government’s endless incursions on human freedom that goes too far with a high-handed decision by unelected bureaucrats with no concern about the costs they would impose on people. Many facilities have such amenities as ramps and lifts because it makes sense for their clientele. Others do not because such things would be clearly cost prohibitive. This is the free market at work. This is freedom. So the petty dictators will get slapped down, something to reflect upon as we kick back. Let’s remember our vets who gave America its blessed position in the world.

What happens when a free country balks at its high-handed government?

much retail business Livingston Parish is still bring new jobs into the community, losing to East Baton Rouge. but, rather, move jobs from one East Baton Rouge, of course, loves it. They place to another within a given get our MFP education funds, and they are marketplace. Moret has focused able to block any effort to assist in retail his efforts largely on manufacturdevelopment in Livingston Parish at the ing, where he has enjoyed some same time. Maybe Mr. Moret, a City Club success, landing a steelmaker for regular, is pleased with that situation. But St. James Parish for example. Senator Erdey is not, this newspaper is not, But when it comes to housing and the thinking citizens and retail, he simply won’t endorse of Livingston Parish who any kind of state aid. Erdey has made are exposed to the facts repeated efforts to negotiate someshould not be pleased thing Moret can live with, but either. the LED head simply will Juban Crossing repnot budge on the point. resents an opportunity From a Livingston Parfor Livingston Parish to ish perspective, Moret’s atmake up the state educatitude really hurts. That’s tion funds that will soon because the only true begin to dwindle on an industries we have here annual basis. The Govare retail and housing. ernor and his best paid For better or worse, that’s agency head oppose exactly what Juban Crossefforts by Sen. Erdey to ing is all about. If the State do something about the refuses to assist Livingston coming loss of state aid Parish with its primary to Livingston Parish. industries, but is willing to A House committee readily help other parishes passed Sen. Erdey bill’s with their primary industries, over Moret’s objection. an obvious inequity results. The bill now sits on the At this very moment, the Jindal Stephen Moret House floor ready for administration is running roughthird reading and final shod over Livingston Parish in its passage this week. haste to take state education aid from Livingston Sen. Erdey expects the Jindal administration to Parish and send that money to downtown charter oppose his bill. In a House essentially locked up schools in Baton Rouge. The pressure is already by the Jindal administration, that’s tough duty. on the Livingston Parish School Board to find It would be nice if Mr. Moret would see the light local revenues to make up for the loss of state aid. and understand that when it comes to Livingston Juban Crossing can provide immediate and longParish, the only assistance he can give us is with term assistance by boosting tax receipts just as housing or retail. If he refuses, it hurts everyone the Bass Pro project has demonstrably done. who lives here. And “here” just happens to be the Livingston Parish has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, sales tax per capita among all parishes heart of Bobby Jindal’s political support. These Jindal guys have an interesting way of in the state of Louisiana. If per capita sales tax treating their friends. revenues in Livingston Parish rose tomorrow to the state average, the revenues for the Livingston Parish School Board would double. That’s how Jeff M. David is the Publisher of The Livingston Parish News.

The man who changed DS

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ometimes a normal day can turn into an unexpected special occasion. That happened for me Monday when I was tending to some routine personal business in town and bumped into two old friends I had not seen in years. Many long standing residents of Denham Springs will remember Ed and Louise Wright, who moved away several years back to their retirement life on False River. Ed was a service station owner who became a City Council member in the 1990s. Today at 84 he looks fit as a fiddle, I might add. For those who do not remember this gregarious man — who claims to have, I believe, about 300 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — I want to point out something today. He is the reason Denham Springs became the thriving hub of commercial growth in Livingston Parish that it is today. Not to take away from any of the hard work by the many officials and business leaders who collaborated to attract such corporate citizens as Bass Pro Shops to our community, but Ed is the one who almost single handedly did something vital to make those enterprises work as they have. And his influence extends far beyond Denham Springs. His contribution inspired Walker to do the same recently to lay the ground for its own entry onto the stage of major small cities in Louisiana. What did he do that was so all-fired critical? First some background. Ed is not originally from this area. He hails from Cajun country where the prevailing culture is Catholic rather than Protestant. Because of this, open consumption of alcoholic beverages is very much part of life. You can buy beer at church festivals, for example. When he moved to Denham Springs in the 1960s, as a Catholic he was not greeted universally with good will. We won’t go into the influences responsible for that. However, Ed does not intimidate easily and it took more than a few dead fish thrown in front of his business to run him off. Today, demographics have changed and such conflicts are non-existent or minimal at best. Catholics are still a minority, but their numbers have grown. Immaculate Conception may by now be the largest church in the parish. Yet there remains among some brought up in Protestant fundamentalist traditions a distinct aversion to the consumption of alcoholic beverages. For a long time, Denham Springs banned everything but the sale of beer at grocery stores. Ed, who is known to pop a tab himself, observed that this ban had little if any effect on the alcoholic beverage consumption of local residents, though some preferred to sneak off to the strip of bars just across the river in Baton Rouge to do their imbibing away from nosy neighbors and family members. As a businessman, what Ed noticed was the enormous loss of commerce and tax revenue for Denham Springs and Livingston Parish

because so many members of the commuting workforce also did their grocery shopping in Baton Rouge on the way home to be able to purchase the products unavailable to them in Denham Springs. So he decided to do something about that. pIECE OF What he did was circuMIND late a petition for a local Mike Dowty option election on the sale of alcoholic beverages. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with the exception of an emotional minority that wanted it stopped. They managed to throw out the petition on a technicality to prevent the public from having their vote, so Ed Wright put on his walking shoes and did it again. In the end, the voters of Denham Springs had their election and they spoke, choosing to allow grocery stores to sell package liquor and wines and restaurants to serve these beverages. Only bars were still prohibited. The change brought new business to the community, especially restaurants, and bumped sales. It was sort of special that I had lunch with my old friends Monday at Big Mike’s Sports Bar and Grill. Mike O’Neal operated a bar in Baton Rouge for years, while his wife Jocelyn managed a cafeteria. It was their dream to open a restaurant in their home town, which they were able to do because of the local option election that Ed facilitated. Last Sunday I read a big article in the Baton Rouge paper comparing the success of our Denham Springs Bass Pro Shops complex with the relative lack thereof at Cabela’s in Gonzales. The reasons for the differences were many, but one never mentioned was Ed Wright’s petition here. Without it there would be no steakhouse, Hooters, or shopping center with four or five other restaurants right across the street. There would be no Big Mike’s, probably no Don’s Seafood and you could forget about Chili’s or those Mexican places. For certain kinds of restaurants, the lack of a bar option is simply a dealbreaker. Critical mass is what we’re talking about and Ed Wright is responsible for bringing that to Denham Springs. The people, of course, voted, but would not have been able to do so without him. Walker saw the success stories and decided to follow suit. And the dire consequences we heard so much about haven’t happened. So what do you think was the man’s reward for all this? He got beat in the next election. I suppose that’s the reason he gets to fish every day now in False River, so it all worked out. Nevertheless, it was good to see him again. Mike Dowty is managing editor of the Livingston Parish News.


the livingston parish neWS A5

Sunday, May 27, 2012

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The unravelling myth of Watergate

t was, they said, the crime of the century. An attempted coup d’etat by Richard Nixon, stopped by two intrepid young reporters from The Washington Post and their dashing and heroic editor. The 1976 movie, “All the President’s Men,” retold the story with Robert Redford as Bob Woodward, Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein and Jason Robards in his Oscarwinning role as Ben Bradlee. What did Bradlee really think of Watergate? In a taped interview in 1990, revealed now in “Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee,” Bradlee himself dynamites the myth: “Watergate ... (has) achieved a place in history ... that it really doesn’t deserve. ... The crime itself was really not a great deal. Had it not been for the Nixon resignation, it really would have been a blip in history.” “The Iran-Contra hearing was a much more significant violation of the democratic ethic than anything in Watergate,” said Bradlee. Yet when the Iran-Contra scandal hit the Reagan White House, Bradlee chortled, “We haven’t had this much fun since Watergate.” All fun and games at the Post. Yet with Nixon’s fall came the fall of South Vietnam, thousands executed, hundreds of thousands of boat people struggling in the South China Sea and a holocaust in Cambodia. Still, what is most arresting about “Yours in Truth” is the panic that gripped Bob Woodward when Jeff Himmelman, the author and a protege of Woodward, revealed to him the contents of the Bradlee tapes. Speaking of “All the President’s Men,” Bradlee had said, “I have a little problem with Deep Throat,” Woodward’s famous source, played in the movie by Hal Holbrooke, later revealed to be Mark Felt of the FBI. Bradlee was deeply skeptical of the Woodward-Felt signals code and all those secret meetings. He told interviewer Barbara Feinman: “Did that potted palm thing ever

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happen? ... And meeting in some garage. One meeting in the garage. Fifty Patrick meetings in the Buchanan garage ... there’s a residual fear in my soul that that isn’t quite straight.” Bradlee spoke about that fear gnawing at him: “I just find the flower in the window difficult to believe and the garage scenes. ... “If they could prove that Deep Throat never existed ... that would be a devastating blow to Woodward and to the Post. ... It would be devastating, devastating.” When Himmelman showed him the transcript, Woodward “was visibly shaken” and repeated Bradlee’s line — “there’s a residual fear in my soul that that isn’t quite straight” — 15 times in 20 minutes. Woodward tried to get Bradlee to retract. He told Himmelman not to include the statements in his book. He pleaded. He threatened. He failed. That Woodward became so alarmed and agitated that Bradlee’s bullhockey detector had gone off over the dramatized version of “All the President’s Men” suggests a fear in more than just one soul here. A second revelation of Himmelman’s is more startling. During Watergate, Woodward and Bernstein sought to breach the secrecy of the grand jury. The Post lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, had to go to see Judge John Sirica to prevent their being charged with jury tampering. No breach had occurred, we were assured.

We were deceived. According to Himmelman, not only did Bernstein try to breach the grand jury, he succeeded. One juror, a woman identified as “Z,” had collaborated. Notes of Bernstein’s interviews with Z were found in Bradlee’s files. Writes Himmelman: “Carl and Bob, with Ben’s explicit permission, lured a grand juror over the line of illegality ...” This means that either Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee lied to Williams about breaching the grand jury, or the legendary lawyer lied to Sirica, or Sirica was told the truth but let it go, as all were engaged in the same noble cause — bringing down Nixon. Who was that grand juror? Wood-

ward, Bernstein and Bradlee know, but none is talking and no one is asking. The cover-up continues. Had one of Nixon’s men, with his approval, breached the secrecy of the Watergate grand jury, and lied about it, that aide would have gone to prison and that would have been an article of impeachment. Conduct that sent Nixon men to the penitentiary got the Post’s men a stern admonition. Welcome to Washington, circa 1972. With the 40th anniversary of the break-in coming up this June, Himmelman’s book, well-written and revelatory of the temper of that time, will receive a wider reading. As will Max Holland’s “Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat,” out this spring and the definitive book on why J. Edgar Hoover’s deputy betrayed his bureau and sought to destroy the honorable man who ran it, L. Patrick Gray. With Bernstein’s primary source spilling grand jury secrets, and Mark Felt leaking details of the FBI investigation to Woodward, both of the primary sources on which the Washington Post’s Pulitzer depended were engaged in criminal misconduct. At Kay Graham’s Post, the end justified the means. Redford is now backing a new documentary, “All the President’s Men Revisited.” The Sundance Kid has his work cut out for him.

Patrick Buchanan is the author of SuicideSuperpower-Will-America-Survive? To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

call & comment

I am tired of dealing

with banks. All of these banks around here are all part of a big national bank system. There are no more small local banks anymore. If you’re lucky enough to find one, you receive a letter within a year about them being bought out by another big bank. The service is no longer on a personal level. They have cut services, added fees and increased the fees they already have. All of that is done so I can use my money, but it’s costing me more and more to use my own money and there is always a hidden charge or a new notice in the mail of how they are going to charge me something else. The debit cards are a joke and credit cards are darn near criminal. They are always charging me more and more to use the card and they charge the business a fee for me using it. You call them on the phone and have to deal with recordings and pushing numbers for 15 minutes before speaking to a live person. I’m closing the accounts I have. If nobody wants to get paid in cash or by money order, they won’t get paid.

This week I read a

story that Romney is ahead of Obama in Florida and then another that said Obama leads Romney there. Are the people of Florida really that indecisive? Are they flip flopping from day to day? I don’t see any evidence from the people I know here in Baton Rouge or Denham Springs that anybody is changing their mind since four years ago. Most vote Republican and some will vote Democrat, but

all about entitlement programs and we have Obama the dictator in power.

Congratulations to Coach Tim

it’s the same ones voting for the same candidates. Why is “Floriduh” so flaky?

Does this ever happen

to you? You stop at a red light and when the light changes, the people ahead of you are out in the intersection trying to turn but can’t so everybody is stuck. It’s dangerous. People, the proper way to turn is to wait behind the intersection until your turn opens up instead of trying to force your way in and cause gridlock and maybe cause a wreck. Thank you for listening.

The reason there are so

many poor people in the USA is because a lot of people stink at life by continually making the wrong choices.

If a government worker

uses a government computer, she is not supposed to have personal materials on it. We don’t allow it in state government. Why is it allowed in Livingston Parish? Oh, I forgot. It’s Livingston Parish.

Memorial Day is Monday. Remember the

true meaning of this day. It is not about barbecues and the beach. If it weren’t for our vets, you would not be enjoying these liberties. Too many people seem to forget this. This country is divided. It is

Beaty getting the head baseball coach position at Doyle High. You are the man for the job and we can’t wait to have a great year. Coach Beatty has lots of knowledge to be an awesome head coach. You will make us Tigers proud.

It seems the only mo-

nopoly that grows, even when times are hard, is government. I say we all quit our jobs and work for the government. We will always get pay raises and have juicy benefits. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say work? It is much easier to get and stay on welfare. What was I thinking?

are due one in 2012. If your taxes go up but the value of your home has dropped, go to the Assessors Office and find out what it will take to lower your taxes.

It looks like Jeff Taylor is already trying to groom people to try to run against this new council. Jeff, why don’t you worry about making sure everyone is paying their fair share of taxes instead of getting into other parish business that has nothing to do with you? This Parish Council is

doing some long overdue house cleaning and they just got started. The voters may be foolish enough to vote them out in four years, but you can bet the house won’t be nearly as dirty as when they were voted in.

Obama actually said that

This is really sad. We

have a Parish Council standing up to corruption and trying to clean up the mess that has been happening for the last 20 years. I know it’s tough, guys, but I want to let you know you have the support! Keep fighting for what’s right no matter what the corrupt say with their lies and rumors!

I would like to thank

Councilman Parent for standing up for me. He won’t back down from what is right and I commend him on that! He will always have my support no matter what anyone says about him! Thank you.

Property can be reassessed every four years in Livingston Parish. I think the last one was in 2008. If so, then we

lems and waste more time with these things than they are worth. If you want to give me a discount, put it in the price of the item and charge me less instead of asking if I have my card, do I want a card, and what’s my phone number to look up my card if I don’t have it with me. The worst part is having an 80-year-old woman ahead of you in line and she has to go searching through her wallet for 10 minutes to find a stupid rewards card. Then she has to go digging for her debit card and try to figure out how to use that and her pin number. It’s not anything against older folks but for crying out loud, just take the money and give us a lower price to begin with instead of waiting in line for 15 minutes behind two people with four items between them. It’s ridiculous.

The National Weather Service predicts a “nor-

mal” hurricane season this year. Recently, they have been hyping the hurricanes and global warming and claiming many more storms than normal. Then they got egg on their face because hardly none of those hurricanes hit anywhere. Now they say less are coming. So I’m really scared this time.

I have grown to despise these stores and their so-called Rewards Cards. Grocery stores and these big chain drug stores cause more prob-

Governor Romney doesn’t have the experience needed to be the president. I guess all he’s lacking is community organizing skills.

“My plan reduces the

national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we’re going to run out of debt to retire.” — George Bush, The Decider, 2001.

If we the people are glad when government overreaches with a law we are in favor of, we must then be prepared to receive the opposite. We finally have a new

Parish Council that isn’t bowing down to the corruption in this parish! I love how they make decisions on what’s best for the people and not to just get along with the corruption to save face. Thanks for standing up for me. I know it’s not the most favorite decision, but it’s the right one.

The only thing I am aware of the Parish Council not doing that Parish President Ricks asked them to do was approve his interim finance director. I feel they had a quite valid reason for taking issue with her. If they are blocking something Mr. Ricks is trying to get done, I sure would like for someone to elaborate because I missed it. It seems that all the elected officials have people that aren’t too happy with them. It tells me that no one can please everyone all of the time, but they are in office. The Parish Council is

blocking? Blah, blah, blah. They have passed two resolutions to have Mr. Ricks engage with a law firm to protect the parish from the IED debacle. Mr. “I have a serious conflict” Ricks has yet to do it! Who’s blocking what?

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May 27 Opinion