JT drove Front Street around 8 a.m. Saturday and City Police had already put their barriers up for the Krewe of Dionysos parade. (JT heard it was actually a decision of the Chief of Police and they actually starting putting up the barricades around 6 a.m.) That was almost 10 hours before the parade was scheduled to role. There was no place to park…ALL DAY. JT needed to run by Kaffie Fredericks but after driving by and not having anywhere to park he gave up on his downtown shopping…JT’s sure a lot of others did too. The barricades are for safety reasons, which JT fully understands. But they could have easily been set up after lunch. That would have given merchants a better chance to make some sales. With no place to park, shoppers…as well as folks wanting to eat…headed back home like JT did. In the end, the city shot itself in the foot because there’s no telling how much they lost in sales tax revenue.
With the conclusion of Carnival Season, JT can’t help but chuckle a bit over how Mardi Gras fever has evolved over the years. In fact, one of JT’s “older” staffers was telling how in the early 70s, he was called into Dean Richard Galloway’s office because of something he wrote in the student newspaper, “The Current Sauce.” It seems the newspaper had a column weekly called “Hot Sauce” where students could ask a question and the paper would give the answer. Well…the question was why didn’t Northwester get off for Mardi Gras? The writer responded…something to the effect that we were a “red neck” University and the South Louisiana traditions didn’t apply to us.
Someone in the administration of the late Dr. Arnold Kilpatrick didn’t like the answer and thus the young reporter was summoned to the Dean’s office for a one-sided discussion. Anyway….fast forward to 2019 and the Mardi Gras observance is now almost a five-day holiday. Classes are over at noon on Fridays now…and have been for a number of years…and students didn’t return to class until Wednesday. Judging by the students living off campus near JT, they left town Thursday afternoon, skipped Friday’s classes and got Monday and Tuesday off as Mardi Gras holidays before returning to class yesterday.
It’s hard to believe….but it’s already time to change the clocks again. Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday. That means we will be turning our clocks forward one hour Saturday night before we go to sleep.
There is quite a bit of hypocrisy going on in the state right now. It all has to do with the inducement of industry through local and state tax exemptions. The state has a program called ITEP (Industrial Tax Exemption Program). Basically, taxing agencies like school boards, police juries, cities, etc. have foregone a tax assessment or sales taxes to help a particular industry. For years, opponents of the incentives say the state has basically been buying industry for them to locate in Louisiana. The argument was, other states are doing it so we have to try and match or beat them in the fight for new industry. Those in favor of the enticements to new or expanding industry or expanding industry see it as a way to get the new plant or keep the jobs from leaving. Many of you may remember the era of garment manufacturing plants that came to our state for the 10-year tax exempt status then left, leaving vacant buildings and hundreds of out of work residents.
Your outlook depends a lot on whether or not you are the one gaining the industry. In Baton Rouge, Exxon (the city’s largest tax payer) was looking for a tax break and it was rejected by the school board. JT sees where Senator Jay Luneau of Alexandria has been appearing before groups in his district asking for their opinions on ITEP. Since the Baton Rouge flare-up it’s generated some lively discussion and should be quite the topic in the legislative session that opens in April.
JT hears all the rumblings about the parish roads. They are deplorable. They are rough. They are substandard. They are dangerous. JT was talking to editor Juanice Gray Monday and over the weekend she had to rush to a family member’s side for what turned out to be a minor emergency. She didn’t know that. Juanice said she jumped in her car and then had to battle the horrific road conditions trying to get to her family member. A 5-mile drive took 15-20 minutes simply because the roads are so full of potholes the only way to get over them without losing control or severely damaging a vehicle is to creep. It doesn’t matter what kind of car, truck or SUV you drive.
Have you ever had to creep during an emergency? Those extra minutes are an eternity. Thankfully the emergency was minor, but what if there were a life and death situation when minutes made all the difference? JT cannot imagine the frustration first responders encounter whein their emergency vehicles are not able to respond in a timely manner. Now, JT knows the financial situation facing the parish and fully understands the way government works. Money from one fund cannot be moved into another fund no matter the greater need. Peter can’t be robbed to pay Paul. Still, bottom line is something has to be done to fix the roads before lives are lost.