A familiar story played out in the Advocate’s pages today…
Backers of an effort to create a new city in East Baton Rouge Parish apparently won’t be represented at a public forum this week that was supposed to bring together the St. George movement’s leaders, opponents and outside researchers.
Leaders With Vision, a non-partisan public policy group, had slated St. George’s incorporation attempt as the topic of its monthly luncheonThursday, but was notified last week that pro-St. George leaders Norman Browning and Dustin Yates wouldn’t be able to make it after all.
The Leaders With Vision event was touted as an opportunity for anyone interested in the much-discussed incorporation proposal to hear from both sides and ask questions.
The forum will still go on as planned, Leaders With Vision President Jean Armstrong said.
“I’m not giving up,” she said Tuesday.
Armstrong said her group will save two seats for St. George proponents, in case scheduling conflicts are resolved or someone else is able to attend to represent the effort.
“The question will be whether I can find someone to sit in those chairs who’s knowledgeable about the form of government, taxation issues, land planning — the whole nine yards,” Armstrong said.
Leaders With Vision is the new name for the Baton Rouge affiliate of the League of Women Voters. Their membership has dropped off significantly in recent years due largely to the organization’s president Jean Armstrong irritating most of the group’s former membership – and thanks to her rather partisan left-wing approach to that organization’s management, their events are very poorly attended by Republican and conservative newsmakers and other guests.
And while the St. George effort isn’t a particularly Republican or conservative project (the city of St. George, if it incorporates, will be the most Republican burg in the state and most people know it, but there are lots of Democrats living there who would like a better public school system and are supporting the incorporation), the Democrat and liberal establishment in Baton Rouge, of which Armstrong definitely sees herself as part, almost uniformly opposes it.
And putting on fora at which people Armstrong disagrees with are set up as human sacrifices is a fairly old activity for LWV. The voluntary sacrificees are becoming few and far between. So what tends to happen is that she “invites” them (which comes off as a summons) and then advertises they’ll be there whether they agree to show up or not.
When they don’t, she leaves empty chairs on the dais and sometimes the proceedings involve making fun of the empty chairs – which was funnier, if still awkward, when Clint Eastwood did it.
We know this because we have experience with it…
Here’s the thing: I was asked earlier this week – actually, it was more like a command than an invitation – to speak at this event. But since I’m planning my own event, plus publishing a website and attending another function tomorrow, I didn’t have time to do this one.
And I said so, quite clearly.
I didn’t tell Jean Armstrong, who runs the League of Women Voters Of Baton Rouge, that I wouldn’t be attending out of some sort of rejection of its mission, or cowardice, or whatever. I said I was busy.
And yet I get named in an e-mail and on her Facebook page as a prop or something.
That was our reaction to having the false-advertising pitch put out. Then came this…
“Jean Armstrong, president of the League of Women Voters of Baton Rouge, ordered reporters and photographers not to identify anyone in the audience. She said state employees were part of the luncheon crowd and their attendance could lead to their firing.”
Who knows which audience members at tomorrow’s dance-around-the-empty-chairs event will risk their jobs by attending. But let’s just understand that St. George organizers who won’t be there aren’t backing out of making their case so much as they’re acting the same way everybody else Jean Armstrong summons to be eviscerated does. Life is too short to serve a a frog carcass in Miz Armstrong’s lunchtime biology lab.