We might just have to do a weekly series pointing out the horrors of Sharon Broome’s Baton Rouge, except for the fact that what we’d say in it, everybody knows. Namely that this is a dying city, on its way to becoming Jackson, Mississippi with a big college and some petrochemical facilities in it, and that the people who run the place are intentionally destroying it for their own political advantage.
We’ll get to that last part in a minute. Meanwhile, we have this for you today…
A 3-year-old was struck and killed by a stray bullet while resting in his own bed late Tuesday night.
According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the shooting happened around 11 a.m. on Fairfields Avenue, about a block from N Foster Drive. Police said the victim, Devin Page Jr., died at the scene.
No other injuries were reported.
Fairfields Avenue runs between North Foster and Acadian Thruway. This is an area which isn’t quite North Baton Rouge, but it’s north of Mid-City. And it’s a shooting gallery.
Ballers trading lead on the streets happens all the time there. So while it’s an unspeakable tragedy that Devin Page, Jr. was killed by morons spraying bullets at each other, it’s sadly not a major surprise that this would happen.
Here’s something even less surprising which happened this week…
Former CATS CEO Brian Marshall, who helped push for a tax to fund the public bus system more than ten years ago, is stunned by the ongoing mismanagement at the bus company featured in numerous WBRZ Investigative Unit reports.
Monday night, the CATS Board fired Bill Deville as the CEO but opted to keep him on the payroll earning nearly $200,000. Dwana Williams was named the interim CEO. Williams was the second-in-charge at CATS and was earning close to $146,000 in her role.
Marshall, the former system leader, said he’s been watching the failures unfold and believes CATS is not operating in the best interest of the taxpayers.
“It’s really very, very, very sad that the system is in the state that it’s in,” Marshall told WBRZ in an interview Tuesday.
You almost have to laugh at the spectacle of Brian Marshall, who we had a field day with when he was busily grifting the people of Baton Rouge while gorging on CATS swag a decade ago, showing off his high dudgeon at the current comically awful practices of the city’s system of empty buses.
CATS isn’t operating in the best interest of the taxpayers? You don’t say. What you also don’t say is that it was never intended to.
And then there is this…
One day after a man smashed his way into several cars at Our Lady of the Lake, an employee there is sounding the alarm and raising serious questions about the security inside the parking garage.
The pictures tell the story. They show windows blown out and glass scattered on the ground. It highlights the damage left behind after police say a man armed with a hammer smashed his way into 10 different cars inside the OLOL parking garage around 2 a.m. on Monday, April 11.
”It’s almost like this same garage is being targeted and nothing is being done about it,” the employee said.
A hospital employee, speaking only to the 9News Investigators if their identity was hidden, says enough is enough. The Monday morning smash and grab is the latest in what they call a troubling pattern at the parking garage so many people in Baton Rouge use.
”We just don’t feel protected,” the employee said.
Why include the car break-ins at Our Lady of the Lake with a senseless murder of a toddler and tales of massive public corruption? To prove this point: it’s everywhere in Baton Rouge.
Our Lady of the Lake is on Essen Lane in the southern part of town. South Baton Rouge is supposed to be the safe part. It’s where the people with money live. So the fast decline of the northern part of the city was supposed to be the problem of Those Other People, the ones whose politicians can be greased to take care that their problems don’t become “ours.”
Which is the way it works in every dying city.
Except that doesn’t work.
Nine months ago it wasn’t just lowlifes bashing in windows of cars in the OLOL parking lot, it was a nurse at the hospital getting carjacked. And all three of the big cross-streets in South Baton Rouge – Essen Lane, Bluebonnet Blvd. and Siegen Lane – have been murder scenes in recent weeks.
In other words, there is no safe part of Baton Rouge anymore. The whole place is a crime scene.
And the political regime running Baton Rouge, despite running a BILLION-DOLLAR BUDGET, has turned the Baton Rouge Police Department into a rump police force woefully understaffed and savagely disrespected. Its morale is almost nonexistent and its officers generally leave for better-paying jobs in the suburbs as fast as they can. The judicial system gets more and more lenient towards the city’s criminal class every week, and there are places you simply do not go after dark.
Or in broad daylight.
Siegen, one of the city’s commercial centers, is awash in homeless bums. There are beggars on all the interstate exits panhandling drivers as they come to stoplights, and in some cases the panhandling is so aggressive it leads to violence.
How does it get this bad? On purpose, that’s how.
You could bash Broome for her incompetence and inattention to basic governance, but she’s hardly special. She governs like every other Democrat mayor does: she fiddles while the city burns.
Go on Broome’s city-provided website and this is what’s featured there: the Commission on Racial Equity and Inclusion, something called Healthy BR, an Operation Clean Up which, if you drive around town, isn’t the most effective, the Homelessness Prevention Coalition and a Lifeline & Emergency Broadband Benefit.
You won’t see much emphasis on economic development or competitiveness, there’s zero on promoting entrepreneurship, absolutely nothing on law and order. The things Baton Rouge is desperate for, Sharon Broome lacks both the capacity and desire to promote.
Because not long ago, Baton Rouge was a middle-class city full of people who worked a job and got ahead. Even in North Baton Rouge, and even in the black parts of North Baton Rouge, there was a very working-class mindset in town. Baton Rougeans generally looked down on New Orleans for the lack of productivity of so many in that city.
Then a rivalry between the South Baton Rouge business community and the religious conservatives in Baker, Zachary and Central who had dominated the politics when Republicans controlled the city led to the former throwing their support behind Kip Holden as mayor in 2004. The next year Hurricane Katrina blew up New Orleans and tens of thousands of low-skilled, government-dependent New Orleanians were washed upriver to Baton Rouge and stayed.
All of a sudden Baton Rouge was less a working, middle-class city and more a place where you could get a lot of votes promising free swag to the welfare and criminal class at the expense of those middle-class people. And the same dynamic which has trashed places like Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Jackson, Minneapolis and lots of others began to trash Baton Rouge.
Now, it’s all done on purpose. Broome doesn’t push Baton Rouge forward because why would she want to? She barely won her initial election over state senator Bodi White. Four years later she beat Steve Carter in a landslide, and people thought Carter was a better candidate than White was. This after what could only be described as a pathetic failure of a first term.
How’d it happen? Because the middle class, both black and white, is streaming out of Baton Rouge. For reasons like the three recent stories posted above.
People would much rather live in Livingston or Ascension Parishes, or in Florida or Texas, than continue tolerating this stuff. And that’s just fine with Sharon Broome and her pals in the regime. Because they don’t want middle-class voters in Baton Rouge, middle-class voters want stuff they don’t want to provide.
Like a police force which actually deters crime. Like roads that actually get you somewhere in a reasonable time without destroying your suspension. Like schools kids can actually learn in. Like an economy and business climate which is actually conducive to growing a business so that Baton Rouge brands like Raising Cane’s and Walk-Ons don’t have to hit the road to Dallas and Atlanta to fulfill the expansion plans of their owners.
Doing those things is hard work. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to waste on “Racial Equity and Inclusion” or “Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefits.” And what do you get from doing those things?
You get middle-class, working voters. Who will vote Republican. Run a successful city and you’ll lose elections as often as not if you’re Sharon Broome.
But run a dysfunctional mess of a city and those middle-class voters will get the hell out as fast as they can, and what’s left is the criminal class you pander to, the welfare class whose votes you can buy cheap, the connected rich whose kids go to private schools, whose personal fortunes aren’t dependent on a quality local economy and who pay extra for private security in their gated neighborhoods and special favors from local pols they grease above and below the table.
You’re ruling over a ruin of a city, but you’re ruling. And you always will, because now there aren’t the votes to beat you.
That’s the process – I call it Weaponized Governmental Failure – which turns the Detroit of 1960 into the Detroit of 2022. And it’ll turn – is turning – Baton Rouge into Jackson.
It’s sad, but there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it at this point. So you’ll see a lot more stories like today’s three-fer.