What The Baton Rouge Metro Council Did Yesterday Was Disgraceful…

…and the three Republican members of that council who joined with the five Democrats to appropriate money to hire Mary Olive Pierson to sue the St. George people should have their political careers terminated by Republican voters who make up a majority in their districts as a result of their votes.

Those three – John Delgado, Trae Welch and Scott Wilson – basically voted to hire Baton Rouge’s version of Gloria Allred to pursue the St. George lawsuit. Hiring Baton Rouge’s version of Gloria Allred for any purpose is unacceptable for a Republican politician to do. But it’s worse than that. They’re hiring Baton Rouge’s version of Gloria Allred to pursue what can only be considered a tyrannical agenda.

Because what Mary Olive Pierson is going to do is allege that because the city of Baton Rouge annexed a few almost completely uninhabited pieces of the unincorporated part of southern East Baton Rouge Parish that were initially included on the map circulated with the St. George petition, the whole petition – which has been signed by the better part of 20,000 people – ought to be invalidated. The Attorney General’s office has already shot down that argument in an opinion asked for by the Metro Council, and while an AG’s opinion doesn’t constitute settled law it’s pretty injudicious for the Metro Council to ask for an opinion on a subject and then act contrary to that opinion.

St. George’s spokesman Lionel Rainey offered us a rather philosophical quote in response to all this…

Since the beginning of time, tyrannical government which has oppressed the voices of political dissidents has not been seen in a positive light in the history books. Thomas Paine said it best when he said “tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.'”

Now, you can be for the St. George incorporation or you can be against it. I’m for it, as our readers know, for all kinds of reasons our readers have already heard. But whether you’re for it or against it you’ve got to agree that the incorporation is a public policy issue which should properly be decided within the political process. In fact, the St. George effort is at its base that very thing; engaging the political process to decide the question of whether that unincorporated area should become a city.

It has to be thought of as a basic democratic right that people can get together and incorporate a city if they want to, no? So to use a dubious legal theory in service to an attempt to deny people a basic democratic right, rather than to engage in the political process to win a public policy argument and therefore an election, ought to be considered as dirty pool, no?

That Kip Holden, who has proven his character time and time again, would push this Mary Olive Pierson business is no surprise. It’s also not a surprise that Delgado would back it; Delgado has this cockamamie idea that he’s going to be elected mayor in 2016 as a white Republican (or, in our modern post-Zimmerman parlance a “white Latino Republican”) on the strength of (1) college kids at LSU, (2) gays, (3) downtown money, (4) crunchy liberals living in Southdowns and the Garden District and (5) the black vote his “mentor” Holden is going to secure for him, and therefore he’s going to spend most of his efforts making a name for himself promoting gay rights issues when he’s not crusading against the St. George incorporation.

Delgado is beyond delusional in thinking this is his formula for political advancement. It’s worth questioning his mental competence and whether he ought to be institutionalized rather than sitting on the parish’s legislative body. But that’s for another post.

As for Wilson and Welch, yesterday’s vote was an interesting window into how much of a commitment to the principle of participatory government and the rule of law they hold. Voters ought to take that into consideration before being asked to give them the responsibility of political office ever again, and hopefully they’ll agree Wilson and Welch are found wanting when measured on those issues. It’s important to find quality candidates to run against them in 2016.

So what happens now? The main thing for the St. George organizers is they’ve now got to find the money to defend the Pierson lawsuit. And it’s going to be expensive, because in all likelihood that suit will go in front of a judge like Janice Clark who’ll essentially run a kangaroo court and give the downtown crowd exactly what they want – so the suit won’t actually be resolved until it gets to the appellate court. That means you’re looking at the better part of $100,000 in legal costs, which is more money than they’ve raised and spent on the petition drive thus far.

Not to mention the delay this thing will cause in getting to a vote on St. George.

To date St. George hasn’t gone looking for a rich guy to make it rain on them, and they haven’t rummaged through the list of people who stand to make a lot of money on things like city contracts if it were to happen. Because they haven’t done that, the St. George organizers can boast of their independence and relative purity of cause. What the Pierson lawsuit, and the resulting legal costs, is going to do is change that. Because to actually get to a vote the St. George people are going to need to go to the companies who would get the city contracts (or at least bid on them) from a new city, and hit them up for the money necessary to win the lawsuit and then the election. They’re talking about contracting out a lot of city services the way other cities do (Sandy Springs, Georgia being the prime example), and the contractors who’d bid on multimillion-dollar city contracts would certainly see the value of investing $100,000 in creating the entity they’d contract with.

There’s a certain greasiness to asking those folks for money. But at this point it’s clear the St. George people can’t get an honest fight with City Hall. There aren’t enough honest players in Baton Rouge politics for that.

Welcome to the dirty war.

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