It’s not official, but it is expected to be when the Caddo Commission adopts it’s 2018 budget in the next few weeks.
As expected, the recommendations of the Commission’s Appropriations Committee had winners and losers. The annual “let’s play Santa Claus” process is reminiscent of kids divvying up Halloween candy after a big haul.
This year’s Committee’s work was perhaps the most egregious in terms of good government. Commission president Steven Jackson not only took over the Committee’s deliberations, but also fired two committee members before the last Committee meeting.
And to top it off, Jackson ignored the established rules for timely submission of requests. He successfully pushed funding for five organizations that were tardy in filing the necessary paperwork.
The Commission’s share of Riverfront gaming funds is expected to be $950 grand. As further evidence of the Committee’s lack of fiscal discipline, the Committee voted to award a million twenty seven five hundred ($1,027,500) dollars. So taxpayer dollars will be needed to fund the extra $67,500 if the full Commission adopts the recommendations.
In total, over sixty organizations were funded. Awards ranged from $1 thousand dollars to Steeple Success LLC to $80 grand for the Caddo Council on Aging Meals on Wheels program and $85 grand for the Food Bank of NW La. (For a list of organizations, email John@jesettle.com.)
Several recommendations are, at best, questionable. One example is $30 thousand to help underwrite the Good Times Roll Festival. Not only was the application received late, but big time fraternity brother Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) pushed this funding.
Previously this year, LBJ sponsored a Commission resolution recognizing Rho Omega and the festival. LBJ participated in the Committee meetings even though he was not a Committee member.
District wise, there were big time winners and losers when it came to bringing home “the bacon” to constituents.
Commissioner Matthew Linn (District 4) lead the pack, netting almost 29% of the proposed funding. Politicos believe that Linn’s swing vote to remove the Confederate Memorial was a trade-out to give his district the most money.
Jerald Bowman(District 5) racked up with almost 14% of the funding. Bowman was the Committee chairman.
Jackson’s district garnered almost 13% of the funding and Stormy Gage-Watts’ district had 12%.
Mike Middleton was kicked off the Committee by Jackson after the first two Committee meetings. The final grant moneys were decided at the Committees third meeting. Middleton’s District 8 received no funding.
Vice President Doug Dominick was not a committee member. His District 1 also drew a goose egg in the funding recommendations.
Commissioner Jim Smith’s District 11 will receive less than .4% of the Riverfront Funds.
To say that is was not “pretty” to watch the decision-making process of the Committee in it’s three hurried meetings would be a gross understatement.
Committee members did not receive the chart of organizations with funding requests until the first meeting started. Very little information was provided about the soliciting organizations much less the need for the moneys.
So much for following good government practices.
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