Tuesday, 27 May 2014 17:31

Dysfunction: Louisiana disabled funding Indy 500 business project?

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capitol-red-blueDuring Tuesday's WGSO-Bayoubuzz radio Google Hangout webcast talk show, a caller asked about a report that the Governor and the Senate Finance Committee favored transfering money from a fund for the disabled to pay for an important economic development project involving a Westwego Louisiana racetrack and the Indy 500.  Should money be taken from the disabled to fund an economic development project, especially for a major Jindal campaign contributor, Dr. Laney Chouest?  Where should the money come from instead?  Jeff Crouere and Stephen Sabludowsky responded to the caller in this segment of the Hangout webcast.

Below is the transcript for that segment of the radio broadcast-Bayoubuzz Google Hangout:

Crouere: Let's get our friend John in Mandeville. Hey, John, good morning.

John: Good morning, good morning. So Judas did it, Jindal did it again, hah?  But that is not why I called.

 I  respect both of your opinions, and I'd like to just mention one quick thing, which I think is an abomination because I have a handicapped younger brother who's not on this particular program because our family takes care of him. But Jack Donahue, I know you both know this. I'm just repeating it for the people who haven't read it yet. 4.5 million dollars from the handicap fund to the new racing track on the Westbank, which makes me absolutely sick in my stomach. So I'd just like your opinion on that and whether or not it's true. I think it is. CB  mentioned it. You know, whatever he says is true. Comment on it and Steve, maybe you can tell us as an attorney, how can they do this? Thank you. God bless you.{snippet 41}

Crouere: Allright, good question. Thank you, John. Steve, are you familiar with this? CB talked about it in a recent posting. We're going to try to Daryll, see if we can line up Jack Donahue to come in and talk about that. Your thoughts, Steve?

Sabludowsky: Well, I don't know what CB said, so anyway. But I do know that there has been a lot of writing about it, a lot of reporting of this issue, recently. Last week or two weeks ago, essentially, Governor Jindal had made an announcement about the track getting a gigantic, really, a wonderful project. The Indy 500 were coming down here for races. So, apparently what happened was that the Governor - and this is what was reported, I don't know for a fact; I didn't see the hearing - apparently, 4.5 million dollars was promised to the track.  And the money was taken from the fund that John's referring to. So there was only one person - that was Dan Claitor - who actually opposed the transferring of the money. And Donahue said that the money would be repaid to this fund from some other source. So that was in essence...and then there's another component of this, and that is that the gentleman, the family that owns the track, they put up like, 120 000 dollar, I'm going to say, to the gentleman's campaign over the years. And so, you know..

Crouere: The Chouest family.

Sabludowsky: Sure. They have a lot of marine interest. Dr. Chouest, who's the major principal, I think he's started a terrific job with this.

Crouere: I agree. Fantastic job.

Sabludowsky: You know, I mean, absolutely. I think we should support to the extent...Look, we support Tom Benson.

Crouere: (Laugh) Do we?

Sabludowsky: Yeah, we do. And from that standpoint, I think we should do what we can do to support economic, vital economic development projects.

Crouere: But do we..we should have a fund set aside for such issues instead of taking it from those who need the money, especially those who are disabled. I mean, that's a real concern.

Sabludowsky: And we do have, that fund actually started under Gov. Foster. It actually was approved under Gov. Blanco. So, we do have a fund.  Here's the problem. We don't have enough revenues. We can talk to we're blue and white and green in the face about how well this state is doing in terms of our economy and having jobs and all. But our government is dysfunctional. We don't have the money. Until we get that right, we're going to have these debates ongoing, and that's what we've talked about in the past. That is the Governor basically taking from different funds, not paying the bills, using...

Crouere: It's that dreaded one-time money.

Sabludowsky: Using one-time money that is now depleted. So now, you know, we're robbing Paul to pay Peter. I don't blame Dr. Chouest. I mean, absolutely not. He's made a great investment. He sees other people, whether it's the movie industry, or other industries getting funding. He's bringing in jobs.

Crouere: But I don't blame Sen. Claitor for asking questions about how this transfer was being made or CB or anybody else being critical. So...we're going to reach out to Sen. Donahue to try to get some answers. You said that the money was going to be repaid. Do you know from where and when?

Sabludowsky:  No. No, maybe from the Jindal campaign fund; I don't know.

Crouere: (Laughter) That's a very robust fund, by the way. Because he does a lot of fund raising. He spends a lot of time on that.

Sabludowsky: It really is a shame. I don't know. This is a big issue that, I think, comes at the tail end of this session. You know, it just shows evidence of the fact that, again, I think, Louisiana government and the way that we fund the government is just absolutely dysfunctional and will remain dysfunctional over the next couple of years. So when Bobby is able to get up there on the national scene, everybody down here, hopefully the 70, 50, 70 or whatever billion dollar projects that do come in, hopefully will be able to have enough funds to pay for...

Crouere:  Hang on Steve...



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