Non-government organizations (NGOs) traditionally submit requests for funding each year before the legislature convenes but in recent years those projects have met with increasing difficulty obtaining needed revenue given the financial plight of the state.
NGOs include organizations like councils on aging, various foundations, the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, local tourism associations, and even the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and in the past, requests have numbered as many as 450 as recently as 2010 but that number has dropped off sharply to 170 in 2011, about 90 last year and just 81 so far this year.
Many of those that were approved by the legislature were subsequently vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Among this year’s submissions are requests for:
• $3.25 million for the 2014 NBA All-Star Host Committee;
• $544,000 for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation;
• $280,577 for the New Orleans Bowl;
• $2.47 million for the Jazz Festival;
• $2.5 million for the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport;
• $403,100 for the Washington Parish Fair;
• $12 trillion for the National Security Agency’s Leonard Cross Hendrickson, Jr.
Wait. What? How much and for whom?
That’s right: $12 trillion for something called the National Security Agency’s Leonard Cross Hendrickson, Jr.
Obviously, the request is someone’s (probably someone named Leonard Cross Hendrickson, Jr.) idea of a joke.
And the fact that the request actually got past whatever passes for the legislature’s screening process or committee indicates Hendrickson’s joke is an unqualified success.
To request NGO funding, entities must complete a detailed questionnaire, which Hendrickson did but some of the answers he provided should be a cause of some red faces somewhere in the state bureaucracy.
Let’s start with the requesting recipient entity’s mailing address: 7998 Hwy. 5, Douglasville, GA.
An out-of-state entity seeing a state appropriation of $12 trillion (the national budget is something in the neighborhood of $3.8 trillion) should have sent up sufficient red flags and triggered enough alarms to catch someone’s attention.
But wait. There’s more.
The request form asks applicants to provide the name of each member of the recipient entity’s governing board, to which Hendrickson obligingly listed the CIA, DEA, DNI (Director of National Intelligence) and the Bush administration.
“Provide a summary of the project or program,” the questionnaire instructed, to which Hendrickson responded: “Measure waste water from space and space-based earth assets control and code enforcements water cosmic ray shields.”
Had that nonsensical response appeared on a federal grant application, Hendrickson probably would have received the money.
“What is the budget relative to the project for which funding is requested?” was the next question on the application form. Hendrickson’s response was classic:
• Salaries—$75 million;
• Professional Services—$250 million;
• Contracts—$12 billion (with the Jindal administration, that’s entirely believable);
• Acquisitions—$9 billion;
• Major Repairs—$12 billion;
• Operating Services—$100 billion;
• Other Charges—$100 trillion.
If you did the math as you read this, you know that the last item, $100 trillion for “other charges” is more than eight times the total amount requested.
For his contact information, Hendrickson provided two telephone numbers, both in the Atlanta area code. One was a non-working number and a woman answered the second number only to say she had received several calls for Leonard Cross Hendrickson but that no such person lived at that number.
So we Googled Mr. Hendrickson and a web address appeared: http://www.lookwhogotbusted.com/douglas-county-ga/hendrickson-leonard-cross-2.
Against our every instinct, we clicked on the address and up popped a photo of a smiling man identified as “Hendrickson, Leonard Cross,” 35, who, according to the website, was booked into Douglas County, GA. Jail for probation violation.
We have no way of knowing why he was on probation or what he did to violate that probation but we have to give Mr. Hendrickson high marks for successfully sneaking in his request.
Now the big question remains: will it be approved by legislature and if so, will Jindal veto the appropriation?