The Obfuscation Of Economic Development by Timothy Achan Gates, Correspondent

The process of economic development in St. Tammany Parish is an intricate web consisting of subdivisions of the state upon subdivisions of the state stretched delicately above a swamp of similar personages, all occupying key positions in multiple inter-governmental organizations with legislative influence. Covington Weekly has explored the legitimacy of such a structure previously with some public support, but ultimately without redress.

The reason for confusing the process to such a mind-boggling degree is simple: none of it matters to the real issue. It is legal maneuvering to disguise unlawful actions performed legally through ordinance and act after ordinance and act. The real issue is that no one is paying enough attention to history.

Statue of Tamanend
Chief Tamanend, St. Tammany Parish’s namesake.
Statue of Tamanend in Philadelphia

St. Tammany Parish is named after Chief Tamanend, who was neither a Saint or a Native of this area. Tamanend achieved his “affable” status for his role as a diplomat, establishing peace between natives and settlers of the earliest colonies in our Great Country. The influence of his legacy was such that Tammany Day replaced May Day (May 1st) and Tammany Societies formed throughout the colonies. One particular group, the “Sons of Tammany”, is thought to be a predecessor to the “Sons of Liberty”, who were influential in the groundswell leading up the American Revolution. From this historical perspective, the name St. Tammany connotes to this writer the ideas of peaceful relations and liberty (but not without fatigue).


This phrase became the rallying call of the American Revolution, as the colonists refused to pay taxes without representation in Parliament. The irony of the current situation is that nearly three hundred years later, things have come full circle as history continues to repeat itself. With regard to fracking, the public is paying for unwanted development, and they will pay even more after the fact. There is very little representation on the Parish level, save Councilman Jacob Groby, who publicly exhibits critical thinking skills. There is obviously no representation on the State level, as we are told by the Parish that we don’t have a right to self determination. Because public funds are used in the structuring of bonds related to the operations and land associated with usage, combined with the generous incentives and credits afforded to the industry, the current situation does constitute an authentic example of Taxation Without Representation, at least from a layman’s perspective. Although recent court rulings indicated that St. Tammany does not have a right to self determination through the Home Rule Charter, those decisions do not mean that an Inherent Right to Self Determination does not exist, because it does, and the discussion will continue until it is recognized by the Courts.

This writer was provided the opportunity to speak with Charlotte Batson by phone, Helis’ newest Public Relations professional, with regard to the radio interview hosted by Don Dubuc on WWL AM 870 last week. Curiosity stemmed from the comment regarding armed security at the work site, and Batson made assurances that there were no incidents or threats, and the guards are off-duty Sheriff’s Deputies paid by Helis, strictly for safety purposes (safety of site workers and the public).

Image of the on-going sinkhole in Bayou Corne, Louisiana
Image of the on-going sinkhole in Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Two erroneous statements (propaganda) made in the radio program not discussed during the phone call, are “there are strict regulations” (mentioned several times) and “industry operations have been going on for many years in Louisiana with no negative effects” (paraphrase). Unfortunately for the second comment, BP’s Deepwater Horizon Disaster had a decidedly negative impact on this state, and the Bayou Corne sinkhole continues to grow. To the former statement, fracking is specifically exempted from many federal regulations thanks to the infamous “Halliburton Loophole”.

The conclusion presented implies that the situation is not as cut and dry as a simple issue of economic development. The public is being forced to accept an operation of secret and highly questionable technology whose negative social and environmental impacts, by the industry’s estimation, are far outweighed by the long term benefits. (Whose?) As for the long term detriments? Just ask Pennsylvania, home to Tamanend, as Thomas Paine rolls in his grave.

Timothy Gates may be reached at 985-288-9609 or by emailing