Editor’s Note: This will serve as a guest post by former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman and 2016 mayor-president candidate John Delgado, who forwarded it after the Baton Rouge Advocate rejected it as a Letter To The Editor on Friday. It’s a follow-up to a radio interview Delgado did on Talk 107.3 in Baton Rouge on Thursday raising alarms about Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s rather singular focus on racial division rather than some of the more mundane but necessary tasks of the office she holds.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome
222 St. Louis Street, 3rd Floor
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
Dear Mayor Broome:
Last Friday, you published an open letter to the citizens of Baton Rouge, condemning “words and actions that only further divide our community.” Your letter stated, “My goal as mayor-president is to unite people around our collective goals of progress and equity.” While I agree that fighting “hatred and division” is a noble ideal, it is also a rather ambiguous goal. It is not enough to say that you are against everything bad and for everything good. Baton Rouge needs concrete solutions, not abstract platitudes.
Focusing on amorphous problems is an easy way to score political points. Just use words like “respect, opportunity, fairness, inclusion, equity, and optimism.” Blame your opponents for “hatred and division”. And distract everyone from the real issues that cause – or stem from – inequality.
Traffic, infrastructure, poverty, crime, education, jobs… We face many difficulties in Baton Rouge. Of course these are not simple problems to solve, and no one is expecting that you would have cured all of our ills in your first 150 days. My concern is with your lack of effort to address these issues. Your solutions have been collaborations, meetings, summits, roundtables and future plans for more discussions. Respectfully, Madam Mayor, what we need is action.
As you well know, last August, our community was devastated by a major flood event. Much of the damage occurred because the myriad canals and bayous in our parish have been neglected for years, and need to be cleared out and maintained. June 1st is the start of hurricane season, and forecasters have already stated that this season is expected to be especially dangerous. To date, however, our drainage canals have yet to be cleared, and thousands of homes remain at risk.
Violent crime continues to plague Baton Rouge. On May 12th, the Advocate reported, “Looking at the most recent five years, 2017 has had the highest number of homicides in the first four months of the year.” Every day brings another article in the paper about a tragic and violent crime occurring in our community. Our police force is 50 officers short of its allotment, but instead of increasing the budget to hire and equip additional police officers, you have simply complained about the Chief, the racial makeup of the department and the proper use of de-escalation tactics.
In April, the United Way released a study that showed 49% of households in the City of Baton Rouge were either living in poverty or were “working poor”. These families are also the most likely to be affected by crime, and many were heavily impacted by last year’s floods. Yet for all the talk about equity and progress, we have seen no tangible steps from your administration to bring new jobs and new businesses to our community.
To be perfectly clear: It is my most sincere hope that Baton Rouge thrives and prospers. I hope that your administration can focus on the problems that we face, and address them directly. Enough talk; the time to act is now. I pray for your success, for with it comes our success as a community.
With kindest regards, I remain
Very truly yours,
John M. Delgado