Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University Shreveport. If you're an elected official, political operative or anyone else upset at his views, don't go bothering LSUS or LSU System officials about that because these are his own views solely.
This publishes Sunday through Thursday with the exception of 7 holidays. Also check out his Louisiana Legislature Log especially during legislative sessions (in "Louisiana Politics Blog Roll" below).
Maybe the Bossier Parish School Board thought the well had been poisoned for tax increases, despite its deficit spending, when it did not roll forward rates last week. Because if one wanted to find a definition of “farce,” “arrogant,” and perhaps even “illegal,” around these parts look to the June Potemkin meeting by Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen to raise taxes on suffering Bossier Parish residents to satisfy some strange lust for taking maximal resources from them for minimal return.
Again, a review of statistics shows how Deen’s aberrant behavior has been over the past decade, as he has raised the overall tax millage far more than any other major governing authority in Bossier Parish through rolling forward rates. The Constitution mandates that rates be lowered above the legal maximum for an authority because of increase in value of property to keep overall tax paid the same, unless the authority acts to roll forward rates.
Unlike the Parish, Bossier City, and the School Board, he unilaterally may decide on this while these other authorities must have a supermajority of their governing bodies to do so.
Since 2000, Sheriff’s Office revenues have climbed 296 percent, expenses have increased 361 percent, property tax revenues – with just a 2005 roll forward prior to this one – went up 136 percent, and assets have exploded 932 percent. Parish population outside of municipal boundaries increased only about 12 percent in that period, and overall crime rates – which are more affected by things that policing cannot control such as proportion of young males in the population and economic performance – have gone down about 14 percent.
To provide contrast, the change from 2000 to 2009 for the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office for these figures were increases in revenues of 78 percent that totaled almost $6 million lower than Deen’s in 2009, in expenses of 60 percent that totaled almost a half of Deen’s in 2009, in assets of -12 percent that comprise less than half of Deen’s in 2009, and the property tax take is up 54 percent representing about twice in size Deen’s in 2009 but drawn from a population 2.5 times larger. During the same period, Caddo Parish’s population outside of its cities enlarged by about 20 percent – to a figure about 10,000 higher today than Bossier Parish’s – while its crime rate fell 31 percent.
In other words, in comparative perspective in the same metropolitan area, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, serving a smaller population that grew more slowly, expanded in resources taken in, including that taken from the public, and also spent far more than the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office did, while its performance was worse, creating an agency that takes in more money, spends more money, and owns more things than its brethren across the river – and did a relatively worse job fighting crime.
That any official would have the audacity to want to suck even more out of the public when his department comes up wanting in comparison to a more enlightened agency boggles the mind. But it’s the way Deen did it that would make even Venezuelan strongman President Hugo Chavez admire the way he attempted to squelch any public opposition to the tax increase.
According to eyewitness accounts, after a large contingent of opponents showed up to the cramped venue for the public hearing, Sheriff’s Office personnel said its public commentary portion would last only 15 minutes because of state law, that to speak one had to have signed up even as no such sheet was visibly available, and that four people, all of whom spoke favorably about the sheriff’s activity, were asserted to have signed up and ended up taking nearly all of the time allowed for public comment with their plaudits.
At the time, multiple requests were made for the citation to the referenced law which the office could not provide. Small wonder; it doesn’t exist. Wouldn’t it be nice if the chief law enforcement officer of the parish actually knows the laws he’s supposed to enforce and follows them?
All this indicates an elected official who clearly has lost any idea of what it means to be a public servant and who would rather dictate than understand what his constituents want and need. When an elected official begins to act more like a kingdom-building Middle Eastern monarch than someone who wants to fulfill his duties without arrogating to himself more than a fair share of the public’s property, he needs to go. While we could wait to deny him reelection, given his indifferent performance, wastefulness, and the contempt that he shows to dissent it would not be untoward to recall him now.