Every time you turn around, you see a political movement somewhere talking about seceding from the Union because they’re upset that they can’t have their way when it comes to guns, teaching religion in school or whatever the hard right outrage du jour is. Yet, most of these are little more than a crackpot idea which fizzles out and is forgotten about once the next shiny controversy rolls around. Even the constant talk from some Texans amounts to nothing more than a fantasy of independence which gets talked about at bars and some local political meetings, and that’s about it – and of course we remember how the last serious attempt at seceding worked out.
However, there’s another kind of secession going on – and it could very well happen. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana there is a movement ongoing to break away and form a new city with its own school district and government. Why? The portion of Baton Rouge that would be left would be primarily
black poor and the new city of St. George would be primarily white rich people. Oh yeah, and they would also be taking the majority of the tax base with them, leaving what remains of Baton Rouge even more impoverished than it was before.
If supporters succeed in their quest to create the city of St. George, they will carve off a quarter of the residents in areas covered by the city-parish government but take 40 percent of the sales tax revenue, according to a study by LSU economists released Sunday.
The 28-page study, paid for by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, takes no formal position on the effort to incorporate St. George but still paints a grim picture of the ultimate effect the proposed new city would have on city-parish finances. (Source)
Wait, there’s more. Certainly someone would have a financial interest in making this happen. Who stands to make money off planning a new city, new government buildings and the infrastructure that goes along with it? Whoever they might be, certainly they’d be discrete enough to not make it too obvious, right? Wrong. According to CenLamar.com, the person leading the movement to break away from Baton Rouge and create a new city would also be in a position to make millions of dollars if this came about – a guy by the name of John Hoffpauir who just by sheer coincidence happens to own a company specializing in state contracts.
Mr. Hoffpauir is an architect and the owner of Hoffpauir Studio. Although he claims that the St. George campaign is his first real foray into politics, both the State’s database on contracts (in which his name appears more than a dozen times) and Mr. Hoffpauir’s own website reveal that his firm specializes in government projects, including, most notably, community master planning.
So let’s get this straight – you create a campaign to break off and create a new city which you would be in the perfect position to get all the contracts for, right after you endorse the first mayor of St. George, Louisiana? That’s dirty, utterly corrupt politics, something Louisiana is famous for. Lamar White breaks it down further for us as follows.
The problem is two-fold: First, it is difficult to take seriously a claim that the government has neglected you and your community when you, personally have made a fortune from the government, and second, it is impossible to discount the massive architectural and planning projects that would be created if and when St. George incorporates. This isn’t merely about building a couple of new fire stations; it’s about planning and designing an entirely new city. If you’re leading a campaign to create a new city and you’re an architect and an urban planner, this is your dream job.
St. George proponents claim this is primarily about building a new school system. As luck would have it, Mr. Hoffpauir specializes in civic, government, and educational architecture.
And there you have it. Complain that the government isn’t working, break away to form a new city that you (out of sheer coincidence, of course) would benefit enormously from, and take the tax revenues with you while leaving the old city with its poor to rot. Just the good old “compassionate conservatism” we’ve come to expect – are you really that surprised?
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