Contests for the U.S. House and Senate are going virtually unnoticed as the nation becomes more and more transfixed, shocked—and disgusted—at each new charge of sexual abuse and deleted emails that arises in a sordid presidential race no one dared imagine could ever happen in this country.
Also generally overlooked are scores of local elections scattered across Louisiana’s landscape.
One of those is the race for Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Incumbent Mayor-President and erstwhile candidate for Lieutenant Governor Kip Holden is term-limited and has now set his sights on the 2nd Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.
Predictably, the job has attracted quite a few applicants—12 to be precise. One of those is Republican State Sen. Bodi White of Central, coincidentally, the largest fundraiser to date.
With just over three weeks to go before the Nov. 8 election, White has begun his TV ad blitz. And like candidates before him (including Holden in his initial run) has included a campaign promise to “improve public education” by “building more schools.”
White knows full well there is no way he can make good on such a preposterous promise because the mayor-president has absolutely zero to do with education. That’s the responsibility of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board into whose operations the mayor and parish council have no input.
He knows that but to voters who do not know, it sounds wonderful, like a promise from on high. And that’s the sad part; voters are generally uneducated on the issues and their decisions are often based on cockamamie sound bytes like the one currently being aired by White. He could just as easily say he’s going to build a wall along our southern border and make Mexico pay for it. There are, I’m certain, voters who would buy into that just as quickly.
But there’s more to white than blustering campaign rhetoric.
In 2008, he introduced a bill in the Legislature to create the Central Recreation and Park District and take Central out of BREC (BREC is an acronym for Baton Rouge Recreation—we don’t get it, either).
On May 6, 2008, he revealed his ownership interest in a tract of land BREC wanted for a park. Then on May 14, 2008, White and BREC director Bill Palmer announced a “compromise” under which White would withdraw this legislation to take Central out of BREC.
That “compromise” consisted of a resolution for BREC to purchase some of White’s business partner’s land and develop the adjacent land for the company by whom White was employed.
Not too shabby a deal if you can swing it and apparently his position as a state representative gave him just the political stroke to pull it off. No abuse of his office there.
In addition, BREC agreed to pay Parcel 52, LLC, $130,000 to help build a 750-foot-long road with curbs and sidewalks to the BREC site. The road goes through the center of the eight-acre commercial property owned by Parcel 52, LLC, and adds significant value to the commercial property, which could be developed for 10-20 commercial sites or offices. http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/politics/bodi-white-proof-that-louisiana-has-low-standards-brec-bribed-him/28772800/
Parcel 52, LLC was registered with the Secretary of State. The partners in the company were Brandon and E. Gordon Rogillio, Jr. and Rep. Mack (Bodi) White. White, who later relinquished his interest in the property, is a realtor who works for Brandon Rogillio. http://centralcitynews.us/?p=3373
Gordon Rogillio later explained that White invested nothing in the property and received nothing in the transaction. http://centralcitynews.us/?p=3427
White’s boss prospered nicely, however, and therein lies the possible quid pro quo.
A timeline provided by a local newspaper, the Central City News, published by former State Rep. Woody Jenkins, further revealed details of the entire transaction: http://centralcitynews.us/?p=3373
In a throwback to the days of raging newspaper wars (days we sorely miss, by the way), a rival publication, Central Speaks, attempted to exonerate White from any wrongdoing in the BREC flap. http://www.centralspeaks.com/old/rep-bodi-white-brec-sports-park-just-the-facts/
Just another day in good old-fashioned Louisiana politics.