July 24th, 2020 – E Eric Guirard of E Eric Guirard Injury Lawyers has officially joined the race to become the next mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish. While E couldn’t resist cracking a joke while announcing his campaign on the last day of qualifying, his message to Baton Rouge is serious. E plans to make Baton Rouge the next great American city using these 5 pillars of focus from his “Fuse the Rouge” platform.
All of our problems stem from the woeful public school educational system that has developed in Baton Rouge for the last 40 years. White flight, crime, labor shortages, traffic – everything can be traced back to education. It mostly directly affects minorities, but ultimately everyone. Our city public schools, by and large, are producing functional illiterates who test well below their grade level. Every public official, even tangentially involved in education, should be ashamed and resign. It is so bad, tinkering around the edges or pouring in more money will not work. The solution – “FUND IT, DON’T RUN IT”. Take all the money dedicated to public schools, put it in one pot, then divide it by the number of students in the parish. Each student would then get that amount of money to be used only on education. Call it a tax credit, education credit, education stipend, purple donkey – it doesn’t matter. There would be an explosion of new schools, revamped schools and educational entrepreneurialism never before seen in this country. Educational entrepreneurs from every state would clamor to set up shop here. The parish government could run schools too if it wanted, but they would have to compete with all the private schools and could not force attendance. Capitalism and free enterprise works in every other aspect of our lives, so why not for the most import thing in our lives – our children’s brains? And until Fund It, Don’t Run It is implemented, let’s put cameras in every classroom, and let the public see firsthand what our tax dollars are paying for in the way of education.
It’s the traffic, stupid! This is the most obvious problem in our parish. First, as to the new bridge, we need to quit being like football instant replay referees – just make a decision! Get the surrounding parish leaders in a room and don’t come out till we’ve decided where to put the damn thing. And aide from the bridge and the large “green light” like initiatives, we need to address what should be called (and apologies to President Bush), “A Thousand Points of Fright”. We need to address the innumerable small problems, like I10 East and Essen in the mornings, I10 East at Siegen Lane exit, College Drive West I10 entrance, etc., that could all be fixed with added exit lanes, changed signage, new exit roads, etc. at relatively minimal costs. The public, who see these problems every day, could point out and help devise solutions across the parish. Plus, quit handing out driver’s licenses like candy, and mandate increased licensing requirements for parish residents. You’d get better drivers, less volume and less accidents. Also increase electronic monitoring of traffic laws, but enforce them and let our police go chase actual bad guys. Both the licensing and actually collecting electronic traffic monitoring could provide funds for roads. But the biggest method for paying for the better roads would come from an additional tax only levied on out of parish people. Implement it at the gas pump and maybe as an additional sales tax, but provide each parish resident a “credit card” that could be swiped at the gas pump or the cash register and allow the parish resident to pay the amount without the out of parish surcharge. It would be a hidden tax, but these out of parish residents use our roads and parish services.
Why do we have two police forces overlapping each other – the Baton Rouge City Police and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office? Merge those two into a completely new entity, which will tie in nicely with the President’s new executive order and possible coming federal laws, and call it the Guardian Rouge. No longer call them police or cops, they will be our guardians – well trained, well paid, well educated, physical beyond fit and martial arts trained. And no more blue or green. The new uniforms and cars would all be red – or maybe a hip maroon or burgundy. Put small Guardian Rouge substations around the city and especially smack in the middle of the worst, most crime ridden sections. It will be community policing on steroids. The Guardian Rouge will be the public’s friend – kids will want to grow up to be one and they will be all of our guardians. It’s the cop on beat – 21st century style. And tying back into Theme #2, with more electronic traffic monitoring, the main interaction of the Guardian Rouge with otherwise law-abiding citizens will not be for a traffic stop. The public will have mainly positive interaction with law enforcement and come to understand their main role is to be our guardians. We should also pay the Guardian Rouge a bonus for living in the parish. When law enforcement lives in the parish they serve, community policing is enhanced and commitment to the parish is emphasized. And finally, the Guardian Rouge will publicize just who in the heck the people are committing crimes – pictures, names, addresses, where you went to school, who are your parents. Parish residents need to take ownership of how we are raising our children. And we should all keep an eye out on those bad citizens who dare soil our house. A village shouldn’t raise a child, but it should look out for the bad child.
Black small business ownership has plummeted to around 3% since their peak in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. White small business ownership has fallen too. Baton Rouge should become the Mecca or Hong Kong of small business, business enterprise and entrepreneurism. We need to streamline the process to where one can start a business in a day – permits, licensing, etc. Reduce fees, regulations and taxes for the first year or two that a business is open. Encourage low entry requirement business like taxi service, food service, law service, etc. with city rules and helpful city employees designated to get business people up and running quickly and efficiently. Perhaps there could even be a joint effort with the LSU, Southern, and BRCC business departments. In return, business should be expected to be good parish partners, especially in regards to litter, clean up and appearance efforts of store fronts and surrounding areas. And can the airport please be expanded? There’s plenty of room for expansion. We cannot expect to attract or keep great businesses (See Abermarle) unless we at a minimum have the ability of offer enhanced travel options from the city.
This is the most overarching category that really touches on the previous four themes and takes on all the more importance in light of recent national events. The city needs to do more things to bring our city together as one people – much of this will be symbolic. We need a true “City Park”, just like New York City has. We need to quit appeasing the 17 golfers that play golf at City Park Golf Course on a 9-hole course, and instead use that land to make one great City Park. It is directly in the middle of the city. We can keep one golf hole for historical sake if necessary. Events, festivals, concerts, weddings, picnics, entertainment and on and one would become commonplace in City Park and would be a gathering spot for all people of the parish. The city-parish and BRCC’s new mascot should be the “Tiguar” – a mythical creature that is half tiger and half jaguar, in honor of the two mascots of our two universities. We need to embark on a massive clean-up campaign to reduce litter, unsightly properties, ugly street poles, ugly business signage, etc. And how about we actually finish the new Government Street District. Young entrepreneurs, professionals and families need areas like this district to be attracted to Baton Rouge as a permanent home. Create a roaming video litter police that will actually allow us to enforce our litter laws without engaging people on the street. At $350 a cigarette butt or gum wrapper, the litter will quickly stop. Utilize the help of local businesses as outlined in Theme #4, and have physically able people on need-based government assistance at least get out there and start helping clean up our city. If people have pride in their street, they will not want it soiled with litter, crime or any other anti-social behavior. Encourage neighborhoods to “Get Out” – work out, clean out and watch out. It will combine neighbors getting together in groups to walk for exercise, pick up litter and perform neighborhood crime watch. In the same spirit as the Guardian Rouge, can we explore combining the Baton Rouge and St. George Fire Departments. Just like law enforcement, do we need two overlapping entities providing the same function? Finally, we’re going to put Baton Rouge on one massive diet and exercise program. We are probably one of the most obese cities in not only the country, but the world. And the problem is even more exacerbated in the black community. A healthier population will reduce health care costs, utilization of public resources, increase business productivity, improve education, emotional well-being, etc.
Fuse the Rouge is overall designed to make Baton Rouge a city with the best education in America, low crime rate, tolerable traffic, unsurpassed business development and a chest thumping pride in a clean, healthy, racially inclusive and forward looking community. Given our culture, moderate weather and location, there’s no reason Baton Rouge should not be a place that entrepreneurs and families would want to spend the rest of their lives. Baton Rouge – the next great American city. E Eric Guirard, mayor of Baton Rouge! FUSE THE ROUGE.