DIRTY KITTY LITTER: Holden Pushes CATS Bailout

“CATS” is supposed to stand for: Capitol Area Transportation System. It should be called: the Capitol Area Taxing Specialists, led by Mayor Kip Holden and his band of Meddlin’ Merry Minions. They want to control everything. Their competence is easily recognized as questionable.

“CATS” hasn’t made money for Baton Rouge for as long as I’ve lived here; over thirty years. It’s been the Poster Child for fiscal inefficiency, poor management and illogical business operations. This is obvious and irrefutable information: it hasn’t shown a profit and likely won’t.

“CATS” has NO new business plan as of this date. It can’t articulate any logical plan of operation to project a proper conduct of business. The “CATS” Chief Financial Officer says there’s a projected shortfall of $2.1 MILLION. His dilemma is based on a projected shrinkage of 46% by cutting hours and routes. This could make things worse in the future, he says.

The “CATS” Board Chairman said a 46% cut in services would be devastating.  A Metro-Councilwoman on the CATS Board was upset. The Mayor wouldn’t shift funds from other areas of the City Budget. She forgot the Mayor is already subsidizing a new library boondoggle to replace one nobody uses now. Is it now understood money doesn’t grow on trees? You can’t prune a government budget to increase the yield for projects you find important; but others don’t?

This same Council-woman said it was an “emotional issue for all of us.”  That’s the problem. It’s an issue of fiscal irresponsibility being filtered through a seine of emotion and political correctness instead of sound business practices. Whenever this issue arises the discomfort of the have-nots supersedes the financial impact it’ll have on those expected to pay for it all.

What could be worse than the record of insolvency this operation’s shown so far? Bankruptcy allows for reorganization and re-establishment of public trust. The public’s interests are placed first as opposed to politicians pandering for lower income population votes. But you can’t do that because it becomes apparent who is to blame.

As they already have a reputation for failing to produce a profit, or even break even, why should these same people get $18.4 MILLION per year on top of a $12 MILLION in budgeted revenue, to waste? Over 10 years $300 million becomes accessible to dubious professional maintenance. This property tax increase makes Homestead Exemption irrelevant. There’s no tax freeze for anybody over 65. There’s no transparency or accountability.

Suggested needs are: decreased waiting times and establishing 3 new transfer centers replacing a “hub” system with a grid system. Then; overhaul bus stops with new shelters and benches (how does this make bus routes more efficient?) Then there are overhauled signage needs. (The old signs are in a foreign language?) Use GPS to track the fleet. (Why? The routes are randomizing?) Increase service upward from 19-34 routes and increase peak-hour buses from 32-57. (It’s rare to see ANY bus that’s at capacity or turns away riders on any given day. Maybe you need smaller, more efficient and agile buses not wasting time patrolling empty bus stops.)

Next: “Support new criteria for CATS Board members by following Blue Ribbon Commission”. (It says support-not implement.) “Support true accountability for “CATS” board, in line with best practices national (removing Metro-Council from operational decisions about routes and fares). (And then under Accountability it says: “Adhere to and publicize concrete benchmarks and timelines of deliverables for service improvement.” (CATS Comprehensive Transit Reform Information 3-9-2012)

There are no written mandates for business plans, selection of qualified board personnel or explanations of how $30 MILLION per year will be used to assure proper and efficient operation of this system.

This is how you conduct politics in Baton Rouge. Cry poverty, tax the middle class and put the prime movers’ names on brass plaques as testimony to their self-service. Never, ever try to do it right and by responding to the will of all of the people. Do this and you’ll stay in office.

Obama “bailed out” General Motors. We got the VOLT. Holden’s doing it with “CATS”. We’ll get dirty kitty litter.

Thanks for listening.

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