Admit That It Is A Quasi Public Agency
by Timothy Achan Gates, CW Correspondent
New Legal Precedent A recent Baton Rouge Appellate Court ruling on the constitutionality of a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office arrest related to an anti-corruption blog sets a new precedent with regard to the Louisiana State criminal defamation statute and public officials. In this case, the subjects of discussion in the blog were identified as public officials, therefore the information disclosed was constitutionally protected.
What does that mean for St. Tammany? Questions asked by CW regarding the STEDF two years ago remain unanswered while the organization (The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation is a private, non profit organization with governmental authority granted by the Louisiana State Legislature) continues to write hundreds of millions of dollars yearly in Revenue Bonds comprised of Federal and State money, offered through state and local economic development agencies.
It is everybody’s problem that the State of Louisiana has a deficit of one and a half billion dollars, while it gives away freely one and a half billion dollars in corporate tax incentives. The same principles employed by the state are used by the parish on a smaller scale, and they expect subservience while operating in such a fashion. In the name of furthering economic development, the results of this fiscal path are evidenced by the current situation St. Tammany faces, among other parishes in the State:
Municipal infrastructure is weak, rampant development and industrialization is resulting in man-made disasters, taxes are raising to pay for parish projects that were never publicly voted on, and the public will again foot the bill for mitigation, repairs and clean-up that should have already been administered years ago, with taxes that are already collected. While the general public and the small business community faces these challenges, the parish and their corporate partners continue an initiative of growing the tax base and encouraging destructive heavy industrial operations with no real regard for public opinion.
Public Money Equals Full Public Disclosure The EDF justifies its non-disclosure of financial details by pointing out that it is a private organization and not accountable to the public. Bonds written using Federal and State dollars illuminate the premise that full disclosure of EDF activities to the public is warranted, regardless of its status as a private organization.
Is the EDF, or is the EDF not a quasi-public agency? It is time to admit the legal standing.