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St. George opposition disbelieves own rhetoric

That seems to have developed as strategy for special interests trying to stop the incipient city of St. George from coming into being. Currently, an effort taking place in much of southern and eastern East Baton Rouge Parish seeks to make that unincorporated area into that municipality, joining other successful past attempts that created Baker, Central, and Zachary.

A similar try occurred three years ago, over a slightly larger land area. Some shenanigans by the East Baton Parish registrar’s office, taking advantage of ambiguity then existing in state laws regarding incorporation elections, denied bringing the matter to a vote. So, proponents retooled and now go for it again, with a Nov. 27 deadline to collect the necessary number of residential signatures to trigger an election to decide whether St. George may form.

This has caused remobilization of opponents, many of whom don’t live in the area. And, as a recent presentation by a group representing such interests shows, a mixture of shoddy assertions and illogical premises has taken the forefront in their resistance.

The disingenuousness starts with the group’s name – Better Together/Residents Against the Breakaway. That misstates the St. George effort: it’s not a “breakaway” because organizers don’t want to detach the area from Baton Rouge, but to take unincorporated land in the parish and make it into a municipality. It still will remain under the parish umbrella, except that it will have autonomy in certain matters like Baker, Central, and Zachary.

The deception continued, in a couple of ways. First, the group alleged that creation of St. George would uproot 3,800 public school students and cause school capacity issues elsewhere. But, in reality, incorporating St. George would have no impact on school districts, which is a completely separate issue. While many backers of St. George would like to see a school district carved out of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System – a genuine “breakaway” – that’s an entirely separate step that has nothing to do with the current effort. An incorporation of St. George displaces no students; the group spins falsehoods.

Second, the opponents tout a study paid for by anonymous donors to the group which purports to show the expenses of St. George would exceed revenues by around $5 million annually. However, as previously noted, that research made questionable assumptions that don’t hold up well when compared to a report backed by supporters which shows healthy yearly surpluses – validated by the fact that Central uses the same approach envisioned by St. George advocates and has returned surpluses year after year in its decade of existence.

And, if the opponents really believe in their numbers, they behave irrationally on this issue. According to what they say, St. George costs East Baton Rouge over $5 million a year. So why are they fighting to prohibit St. George’s existence? Wouldn’t they be better off by letting it go and saving the money?

This belies their real thinking and motive: they don’t want St. George to exist because they don’t really believe in their own argument. Instead, they realize the St. George area acts as a cash cow they want to milk to support increased expenditures in local government. Their true motive isn’t “Better Together,” but “Bigger Government Together.”

Thus, the lies and smokescreen they peddle to maintain their power and privilege. They hope it will work to prevent again a sufficient number of signatures to bring the issue to the ballot.

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