It’s something to see when the Morning Paper’s John Hays connects for a home run, as he did in Friday’s Rumor Mill column.
Hays held forth on the State Senator Rick Gallot Charter School (often called the New Living Word Ministries School), and its ability to elicit favorable consideration from the City of Ruston’s formidable zoning, permits, and inspections machine.
Lobbying never fails, especially when Louisiana’s controversial school voucher program is the issue. After the state fire marshal fell in line, so too did the city of Ruston, approving a jury-rigged private school after a quickie inspection.
Inspections were scheduled for Monday morning. But with 167 state vouchers at $6,300 each, New Living Word wasn’t willing to wait–just as it not been willing to apply for a zoning permit or a building permit or to hire a licensed contractor.
Later Friday afternoon, city officials agreed to rush up the already fast-tracked inspections, clearing the way to start classes Monday morning. All deficiencies noted in an inspection earlier in the week had been remedied, city building official Bill Sanderson says. Among them: partitions made of flammable materials and multiple electrical cords lying on the floor between wall outlets and computer equipment.
Neither Sanderson nor fire marshal Butch Browning has yet to explain why they didn’t pull the plug after New Living Word started construction without the required building permit and without a licensed contractor. Under Ruston 21 master plan, New Living Word was also required to obtain a zoning variance to operate a school on property presently zoned for a church.
What Sanderson cannot change to anyone’s satisfaction is the fact that Baldwin renovated two buildings without the benefit of a land use variance or a building permit, without a complete set of plans by a licensed architect or engineer, and without the use of a licensed general contractor and licensed trade contractors.
Contrast this treatment of a politically-connected entity to that of a business that dared to ask that it be allowed to put up a sign slightly larger than the rules allowed. Remember this report from last month?
Maybe Brandon Crume needed a state senator on his payroll, instead of facts and logic in his argument.