St George, LA Update – 12/3/13

Why St. George? Elite Intransigence, That’s Why!
By Jeff Sadow

Has it come to this: people exercising their constitutional rights, whose policy preferences are given second-class status because they are less numerous than those in the wagon that they pull, are selfish for doing so?

That’s an apt description of the reactions from opponents of the drive for south East Baton Rouge Parish to incorporate itself into its own separate municipality, proposed to be named St. George, removing itself from a metropolitan government that would have only the northern and central parts of the parish that are not the municipalities of Baker, Central, and Zachary and the city of Baton Rouge remaining. This presently southern unincorporated area of the parish would create a city of around 107,000 people and become almost as large in land area as Baton Rouge itself.

The process is simple: collect signatures on a petition without time limit representing a quarter of the registered voters in the area, which then triggers an election where a majority of those voters can approve of the new municipality. The politics behind it, by contrast, are complex.

A couple of years ago concerned families in the area pressured the Legislature to create an independent school district in a large part of the area, voicing a frustration that the East Baton Rouge Parish School District pursued policies that put vested interests among politicians, administrators, and unions ahead of children’s education. That paid off this past year in the creation of such a majority-black district that while would not have been ranked a high performer compared to others statewide it would have been scored higher than the consistently lagging EBRPSD, except that no means of financing was provided. Legislators signaled they did not feel comfortable carving a district out of an existing district without some municipality to anchor it.

So, backers of the breakaway district went about creating that municipality, which if then the district were altered to conform to that would make it even better performing than in its present version at the expense of the EBRPSD. This tossed opponents from the frying pan into the fire, for now the proposition was about more authority over more people and they could no longer control the process, as now it didn’t matter that they had the backing of almost all elected officials in East Baton Rouge outside of the district for the policymaking locus has shifted from their having the majority of power to that now being in the hands of the people of the district.

See more at this link.

One Response to “St George, LA Update – 12/3/13”

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