How Political Connections Work

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.

Wrote Hays:

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?

A Sign of the Times in Ruston

Maybe Brandon Crume needed a state senator on his payroll, instead of facts and logic in his argument.

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12 Responses to “How Political Connections Work”

  1. Angry_Taxpayer! Says:

    It’s cronyism like this that really pisses citizens off and undermines their faith in government. It’s doesn’t matter if it’s black or white cronyism – it’s still cronyism and it ain’t right folks. This is the kind of thing businesses that locate in other states are talking about when they say Louisiana has a corrupt culture. This kind of corruption hurts every citizen because of the lost job opportunities from businesses locating elsewhere. This is one reason I support term limits – to keep politicians from getting so comfortable in their jobs that they have the time to make connections to serve their corruption.

    We used to be taught that the rule of law applied to everyone equally and that no man was above the law. Incidents like this put the lie to these teachings. Forget playing by the rules, just pay someone off to get what you want. We look down on third-world banana republics for the very thing that goes on in our own backyards. We the taxpayers are the ones who ultimately end up screwed.

    Louisiana passed a ridiculous building permit law after Hurricane Katrina that forces us to purchase expensive building permits ostensibly for public safety and to insure buildings are better constructed to withstand hurricanes. It was sold as being required by the insurance companies – the same companies that screwed everyone over after Katrina by refusing to honor their policies! It’s all BS! It’s nothing more than another way to gouge citizens into making payoffs to local officials to avoid the hassles of the permitting process! The guys making payoffs and building shoddy buildings now have a piece of paper to wave around saying they performed due diligence when they didn’t! By the time the building collapses and people get killed, these guys will be long gone and no one will know which buildings were built right and which weren’t. And, the insurance companies will find yet another excuse to avoid paying off their policies! Pretty much the same as it was before the process. So, what’s the point of the permitting process other than to be a source of graft and corruption?

    All of this crap stinks to high heaven and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it other than to vote these idiots out of office. Well, with 18% voter turnouts, that’s never going to happen and these crooks know it and are counting on it! You damn liberals love big government so much, but with big government comes big government corruption!

  2. Renee Stringer Says:

    “Lobbying never fails”, yes indeed, look how much has taken place on various levels with regard to the Town of Jonesboro. Look closely at what all that lobbying has provided for the residents of the Town of Jonesboro and those that ellict the lobbying.
    1. A town that had not had a complete financial audit in 4 years, was allowed to continue with grant funding up until recently when the decision was made to keep the town on the Non Compliance list until a completed Audit was provided for review thus restricting grant funding and any additional state or federal funding.
    2. A town that had not paid in Federal Income Tax, Health Insurance, Unemployment tax, Retirement funds and a plethora of other mandatory contributions by an employer.
    3. A town that had a Compliance Audit performed by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor that indicated several very serious infractions that constitued an investigation by the Sheriff’s office.
    4. A town that has never, to date, been provided any answers to the just the items listed above, no answer for any of the non compliance with regard to Federal issues and more importantly no answers to any of the issues relative to the State issues.
    The lobbying has been very successful in that there have been winners from the standpoint that the same issues that were testified to in Baton Rouge 4 years ago continue, the issues that were brought to the attention of the District Attorney and Attorney General 4 years ago continue and the knowledge that everyone that could have done something before the town was allowed to reach the level that it has now attained chose to listent to the “lobbyist” and look the other way. If a small business owner had violated No. 2 above, they would have been assessed enormous fines and faced severe penalties and in some cases, as I well know from first hand experience from bucking the system, they would have been arrested.
    Yes, lobbying does work in Louisiana, votes are the most critical commodity in Louisiana and some poor souls will sell their soul to hold a public office and have the “power” to control our taxes and provide themselves with all they can dream of when it comes to the use of those tax dollars and up until now, there are no brakes for that run away system.
    Vote in the next election, make your voice heard and if you don’t vote, don’t complain.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Totally agree! People need to get out and vote in the next election, whether local or national…Let your voice be heard by voting!

  3. Louisa Jones Says:

    Well said,Renee. The whole state is corrupt. If people don’t get out and vote, they get what they deserve and they shouldn’t complain. The corruption will only get worse.

  4. ann s. Says:

    The biggest “lobbyist” in Jackson Parish is at the Courthouse now where he spends a good majority of time “lobbying” for continued benefits.

  5. GothicArc Says:

    People not politicians were meant to run the US, we let the pols run it because, after all, they are Americans, right, and they won’t do anything we don’t approve of, will they?
    We see on several levels that, when we are not watching carefully, things go very badly for the people. Take America back!

  6. MrEd Says:

    Crume ought to sue the City of Ruston under the Equal protection clause of the Constitution: they ignore the law for some, enforce it for others.
    Oh…, wait; the President just ordered the INS not to enfore part of Federal immigration law, for “certain people”. Didn’t he swear an oath to up hold the laws and Constitution of the US? Guess he doesn’t care much for either of these.
    Everyone should go see the movie “2016: Obama’s America” it’s an eye-opener.

  7. Saved by the Hurricane | Tom Roberson Says:

    […] for corruption and graft by those charged with their enforcement. Witness the fast track approval of the New Living Word Ministries School expansion when it looked like they were about to lose out […]

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