Editorial/Op

Let’s All Get Mad!

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Commentary by Dave Freneaux

I am neither for nor against a toll road in or near Central. I am, however, against higher taxes, against underfunding schools, against increased traffic problems and for solutions which solve such issues while protecting the Central Community.

Tuesday night’s Council Meeting will likely rank as one of the biggest wastes of the time and resources of the people of Central in the past 18 months.  (Passing a resolution in November to try to control who sits where at Council meetings takes a close second in that it was just as useless, but at least it did not involve much publicity and debate.) It has been clearly established that Louisiana State Law says that no toll road can be built through the City of Central without Central’s prior written consent, and after a public meeting is held on the issue. Yet, Council Member Messina insisted on sponsoring a resolution expressing the Central City Council’s disapproval of the Baton Rouge Loop Project. With the support of Council Members Washington and LoBue the resolution passed, and it will accomplish nothing.  But let’s not consider the facts, let’s just get MAD.

Want to get MAD? Let someone tell you they are going to destroy your community by cutting the city in half with a 1,500 foot wide walled toll road.  Want to get MADDER? Do a little research and find out that the proposed toll road would instead look more like the four-lane section of Joor Road. Want to get REALLY MAD? Find out that you got mad for nothing, because no toll road can be built without Central’s prior written permission. Then realize that Central’s City Council should be spending its time understanding the laws already on the books to protect Central rather than creating a meaningless resolution to complain about something that can’t happen anyway.

Want to get MAD? Let some Council Members and a newspaper tell you that you need to give up your Tuesday to come tell the City Council to support a vote for a resolution to stop the Loop. Want to get MADDER? Come to the meeting and spend two hours listening to neighbors argue with each other and further divide this community, only to find out that the Resolution you are arguing about has NO force of law and is only the opinion of the three Council Members needed to pass it. Want to get REALLY MAD? Watch the Council pass the resolution by the same 3-2 margin that has prevailed in almost every controversial issue in Central since this Council took office in 2010. Understand also that when the REAL time comes for Central’s City Council to vote on whether to approve a toll road, these five men may not even be serving on that Council.

Want to get MAD? Do some research and understand that if our School System paid its pension liabilities each year it would be losing over $1 Million a year.  Want to get MADDER? Realize that the loss will grow every year and eventually that pension liability, currently about $6 Million and growing by over $1 million a year, will have to be paid. Want to get REALLY MAD? Look back in 10 years when our property taxes rise or our schools suffer financially and remember that a road skirting the north edge of Central could have brought much needed sales tax revenues to support our Children’s education and keep our property taxes down.

Want to get MAD? Watch every year as traffic congestion gets worse in Central. Want to get MADDER? Understand that most of Central’s traffic problems are caused not by cars IN Central, but by cars driving THROUGH Central. Want to get REALLY MAD? Understand that wider roads and more roads in Central are the only solutions to traffic congestion, and that such roads are expensive, and that a toll road constructed where Central wants it built could mean traffic relief as well as $250 million in infrastructure at no cost to the taxpayers.

Want to get MAD? Go through the minutes of the Council meetings since July 1, 2011 and see how much of our City’s time and resources have been wasted on infighting and needless grandstanding on issues that have no legislative merit. Want to get MADDER? Consider all of the work that does not get done while the bickering continues, work like planning for infrastructure, solving traffic issues, setting a direction for police protection, fixing the sign ordinance, or any number of things that actually ARE the Council’s job. Want to get REALLY MAD?  Come to the Council Meetings like Tuesday’s to watch Central’s City Council argue and grandstand for two hours about legislation that has no force of law and is really no more than opinion.  Let’s all find the next politically charged and meaningless resolution to fight about and start the whole divisive process over again. Let’s All Get Mad!

Actually, I have a better idea. Let’s all ask our Council Members and the news media to stop grandstanding and sensationalizing and start working together, doing real research, solving real problems and finding common ground and productive ways to help Central grow.

1 Comment

  1. Nathan

    January 16, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Dave

    I admire your efforts to try and rally people together but Central has one underlining problem. You have a line of division of those who want growth and those who don’t. I feel most people wanted to incorporate central simply to get control of our schools. Which was a great idea and look at the progress we have made in this area. Know here is the negative side of the incorporation. We are a new municipality with a very inexperienced government. We often compare ourselves to our neighbors Baker and Zachary but forget that those municipalities were established will over 40 years ago before they broke away from EBR. The people in Central need to realize that when you become a big boy and leave the house you are going to have big boy problems. I don’t think the people fully understand what challenges we were going to face starting from scratch.

    Just the Facts Are:

    We are going to need to establish a strong tax base to start paying for some of these infrastructure improvements. I have not seen one article from you are Woody about the progress of the Walmart in Watson. You might wonder well what does that have to do with us? The Denham/Watson crowd will stop spending money in Central and start keeping it where they need it but continue to use our roads. I know the mayor brags about his surplus in budget every year but what is his contingency plan when that runs out. Do we really think that a million dollar will buy this city a basket of eggs at market when we really need it.

    Growth is something that this city will be faced with from know until the end of time. Population always grows and it very seldom shrink. We need to establish a realistic master plan of growth that builds a strong tax base with out forcing property owners to foot the bill. We need to be realistic that we are large city that needs revenue to survive.The residents need to understand that wether you like it or not you are a city now and we need money to function.

    Dave, where is our Economic Growth leaders at? I never see any news printed from these guys at all in either paper. These guys are the life line that this city needs to sustain a sound future. We need to start looking at Economic Growth very seriously folks.

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