Organizing from a Historical Perspective: Diversity

 

“Out of all the things that we have to fight for, why would we choose the issues that divide us?”

-Rev. Steve Crump, 

ret. Minister, Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge

In colonial Virginia, 1676, an event took place that would shape the American racial landscape for generations. Bacon’s Rebellion was led by Nathaniel Bacon, a young and rich Virginian Planter who mobilized a band of poor, landless whites; small farmers and indentured servants; as well as free and enslaved blacks who wanted access to land that was not available to them under the colony’s “Indian policy”.  The rebellion was quickly extinguished, but the colonial government was sent reeling over the prospect of diverse groups of poor black and white bondsmen and freemen alike coming together to pursue their common self-interest. (Now, let me take pause here to note that the self-interest they were pursuing, in this case, was the appropriation of more land from the indigenous peoples of the region.)  This prompted the colonial government to pass stricter laws governing slaves and free blacks while granting more freedoms to poor whites and indentured servants. Laws were created that prohibited and severely punished enslaved blacks for interacting with free blacks and whites, and slave patrols were formed, requiring non-slaveholding whites to police the slave population. These measures institutionalized a racial divide that inextricably linked the survival of poor whites to the disenfranchisement of poor and enslaved blacks, allowing those who profited from the economic system of slavery unimpeded access to wealth.  

Almost 300 years later, on the morning of April 4, 1968,  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the 2nd-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At the time of his death, King was organizing a group of sanitation workers in Memphis to protest for fair pay and preparing for the upcoming Poor People's Campaign for economic freedom, which was set to take place in Washington D.C later that year.

About a year before his death, on April 14, 1967, at Stanford University, Dr, King gave what would be one of his final speeches, titled The Other America. In this speech, King paints a picture of two Americas, one that is “overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity”, and another where “millions of work starved men (and women) walk the streets daily in search of jobs that don’t exist.” One, where people find themselves “perishing on a lonely island of poverty, in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” 

The action of King’s speech was a call for economic justice for blacks through fair housing access and the eradication of poverty for all Americans by way of a guaranteed basic income. King called for unity between the races in the fight against poverty, saying, “there can be no separate Black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white routes. There can be no separate white path to power and fulfillment short of social disaster.” He went on to say that “integration is not merely a romantic or aesthetic something where you merely add color to a still predominantly white power structure. Integration must be seen also in political terms where there is shared power, where Black men (and women) and white men (and women) share power together to build a new and a great nation.”  At the time of King’s death, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover referred to Dr. King as the “most dangerous man in America”.

Although driven by drastically different motivations, both King and Bacon shook up the status quo of their time by reaching across the color line to unite citizens around their common self-interests: economic freedom and access to the “vast ocean” of American wealth.  The reaction by those who profited off of the division of the races was the same in (and after) King’s time as it was after Bacon’s Rebellion.  In the years following King’s death, the “new right” emerged in the Republican Party, led by Senator Strom Thurman, Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon. Equipped with what is known as the Southern Strategy, these leaders marshaled an all-out offensive to bolster their party’s support by appealing to middle-class and poor white Americans with a rhetoric of scarcity, fear and entitlement, relying heavily on the language of the “Lost Cause” narrative of the Civil War, which glorified the confederacy and accused proponents of equality of encroaching on their “southern way of life”.  They also passed “tough-on-crime” legislation that disproportionately affected black Americans, and a new and more insidious method of division emerged that would sow new seeds of disunity between the races as the wealth gap in America continued to widen. By the 1980s, King’s vision for true integration through shared political and economic power was appropriated by the Reagan administration and named “trickle-down economics”. The richest corporations in America enjoyed fewer government regulations, lower taxes and the freedom to relocate their manufacturing plants to under-developed countries with cheaper labor and less environmental protections. Unemployment sky-rocketed and, once again, the richest Americans were allowed unimpeded access to wealth while the labor class fought over the crumbs of opportunity left behind in their wake.  

The broad-based organizing model, implemented by IAF organizations like Together Baton Rouge, reclaims the power of diversity as an organizing tool. As an organization, we intentionally break down racial, socio-economic, religious and political barriers by uniting community members and institutions around issues that appeal to their collective self-interests.  In his book Roots for Radicals, former IAF director Ed Chambers writes, “plurality is of the essence in broad-based organizing, because it can produce a base of organized people power, which no single issue or group can match. The haves don’t want to see diverse groups organized. The haves understand the power that creates and want to keep groups divided so that they can keep control.”  Chambers goes on to say, “Organized plurality can take on organized money and win.” Once Bacon and King proved that they could organize diversity to address their self-interests, they became a threat to the power structure.  There are two ways to gain power:- through organized people and through organized money.  Those who wield power through organized money profit from division, because without the organization of people the masses are effectively made politically impotent, unable to recognize and act upon their collective self-interests.   

On November 5, 2019, at the TBR/ TLA Gubernatorial and Legislative Accountability Assembly, Together Baton Rouge leader Lionel Bazile addressed a packed house at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, including representatives from 44 religious and civic institutions, with one simple call to action: “Get out the Vote!” 

With the gubernatorial and legislative run-off elections eleven days away, TLA/ TBR were in the midst of our “Bridge the Gap” campaign, which aimed to increase black voter turnout well past a concerningly low, 25% turnout rate reached during the primaries, which contributed heavily to an overall 13 percent gap between low-and high-income voters.  Incumbent Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards was 45,000 votes short of an outright victory with only 46 percent of Louisiana's total voting population participating in the election.  After the 2016 Presidential election, many members of the community, namely our lower-income communities, were disenchanted with the election process, feeling that their vote didn’t matter.  The Bridge the Gap campaign targeted voters in lower-income precincts who voted in 2016 but had not voted since. Between the primary election on October 12 and the Accountability Assembly on November 5,  2,100 TLA volunteers reached 64,000 voters in 320 targeted precincts across the state.   In Baton Rouge alone, 500 volunteers targeted 60 precincts and reached 15,000 voters.  As Rev. James Barret was relaying this information to the audience, Gov. Edwards, almost as if on cue, walked into the church to a flurry of applause.  Rev. Barret paused as Gov. Edwards addressed a group of students from Scotlandville Magnet Highschool.  What happened next was the most powerful display of civic engagement I have ever witnessed. With Gov. Edwards sitting directly behind them,  a  representative from each of the 44 institutions present came up to the front of the church, one by one, and presented the number of volunteers and the votes they turned out for the election.  

       “I’m John Hanely from Spirit and Justice. We have 8 volunteers and 240 voters!” 

 

       “Julie Hoffman from Beth- Shalom synagogue and we have 6 volunteers contacting 180 voters!”

 

       “I’m Wilma Barret, we have 6 volunteers. By the way, I'm from Greater 60 Aid Baptist Church, and we have 300 voters!”

 

       “Good Afternoon, I’m Claude Tellis. I'm from Camphor United Methodist and we have 6 volunteers and 120 voters!” 

The leaders stole the show that afternoon. There might have been over 1,000 people present both in the church and watching from the nearby civic center, but in that moment those leaders, representing an array of demographics and faith traditions, brought the energy of 15,000 constituents into the church and put them squarely in Gov. Edwards’ lap!  

The next segment of the Accountability Assembly involved leaders and community members engaging Governor Edwards around an agenda of issues that came out of our house meetings.  The purpose of the house meeting strategy is to create a space for understanding our self-interests by discussing issues that affect our families and building relational capacity to address those issues.  Drawing from those earlier meetings, leaders told stories about how issues like blight and food insecurity affect them and their families. After sharing these stories about the issues affecting our communities, we asked Gov. Edwards to commit to work with TBR to address our concerns.

During any Accountability Assembly, the most important question we ask of all the candidates is, “will you commit to meeting with us on a quarterly basis?”  Governor Edwards, who kept this commitment over the course of his first term, answered with an unequivocal “yes”. 

While Together Baton Rouge is non-partisan and does not endorse or support candidates, we do find allies around specific issues if we can work together on them.  Throughout his first term, Governor Edwards worked with TBR on several issues from that day’s agenda—such as ITEP reform, Medicaid expansion and food access.  His opponent Eddie Rispone, on the other hand, did not agree to meet with us and rejected our invitation to the accountability assembly, a decision which did not bode well for our prospects of counting him as an ally if he won the election. With a large portion of our communities underserved, and public goods/ services underfunded, the stakes of this election were high.  

By election day on November 16, 2019, TLA/TBR and other community organizations were successful in increasing overall voter turn-out by 165,116 voters and helping to raise black voter participation from 25% to 31%.  This increase in voter turn-out was enough to give Gov. Edwards a small margin of victory—less than 1%. 

This year, East Baton Rouge Parish and parishes throughout the state are facing huge local elections, as well as a highly divisive presidential race.  In addition to our house meetings and Accountability Assemblies, TLA has added a new feature to our GOTV strategy,  called the Precinct Organizing Project (POP).  The POP is a way to engage voters not only for this election but for all future elections as well. To make this successful, we’ve set up a network of Block Captains who are responsible for turning out 10 voters in their neighborhood.  Unlike phone banking, the Block Captain process will engage voters all the way from the initial call to the voting booth, and beyond into future elections. By recruiting block captains we are engaging with other members of the community in order to build on our capacity to address issues that continue to affect us beyond election season. The more voices and diversity we’re able to bring to the table, the more organized people power we will have to match organized money power in order to advocate for our own self-interests. 

In his speech “The Other America”, King says, “But we must see that the struggle today is much more difficult. It’s more difficult today because we are struggling now for genuine equality. And it’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job. It’s much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee the right to live in sanitary, decent housing conditions. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to make genuine, quality, integrated education a reality. And so today we are struggling for something which says we demand genuine equality.”

The difference between gaining access to lunch counters and voting polls and receiving a livable wage and decent housing conditions is that one affects one group of people who make up a small portion of the population, and the other crosses all demographic lines. One requires a few white people to fight for the equality of black people.  The other requires a mass of white people to stand with a mass of black and brown folks to address issues that affect us all.  In other words, one depends on the altruism of the white population while the other simply requires white folks to recognize their own self-interest and reach across racial lines to build the capacity to act on them.  White survival was inextricably linked to black disenfranchisement after Bacon’s Rebellion.  Like Dr. King, IAF organizations seek to rearrange this relationship by linking the self-interests of both the black and white working class.   

We are on the precipice of change.  We are in the middle of a moral, racial, and cultural reckoning on one side and a push-back to maintain the status quo on the other.  If we hope to break down the structures that maintain the status quo and achieve “genuine equality”, we must answer the question Lionel Bazile asked the packed house at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church—“Are you ready to hold yourselves accountable to working and building a Louisiana that is not divided, but together?!”—with a resounding “Yes we are!”


Justice by Association: Centering Relationships in Policing Reform

On September 8th, IAF member organizations from across the country came together for a virtual Justice Summit on the topic of Police Reform. The Summit was hosted by The Metropolitan Organization of Houston, alongside fellow IAF member organizations from across the state of Texas. During my first month of service at Together Baton Rouge, I’ve gained a great deal of understanding by reflecting on the ideas and policies presented during the summit. In that same stretch of time, I’ve also had the chance to be brought up to speed on the work of the Criminal Justice Action Team by participating in a number of their meetings and research actions. Thanks to these learning opportunities, I’ve been able to get a much better grip on the complicated set of problems that confronts us as we seek to create more effective and equitable ways of ensuring public safety in our communities.

The morning after the Justice Summit, in a conversation that stretched from the parking lot through the first hour of our workday, my new Serve Louisiana teammate Abel Thompson and I tried out terms and ideas that we’d picked up from the night’s presenters. This talk came at the end of my first full week in the TBR office, a time when my ‘new guy’ anxiety was at an all-time high. I was feeling especially anxious about conversation in general, much less a dialogue on criminal justice and policing reform, topics that I have only the most elementary understanding of. Abel, on the other hand, co-chairs TBR’s Criminal Justice Action Team and has been studying up on these topics for a couple of years now. Needless to say, I was feeling somewhat out of my depth.

As he and I continued to talk, though, I quickly knew I’d found an excellent thought partner to help me wade through a set of difficult issues. I also took solace in a critical piece of wisdom he’d picked up during the Summit’s post-meeting, where organizers critiqued one another on what might have gone better. As the night’s speakers grew frustrated over what they regarded as a failure to establish a clearer through-line connecting all their ideas, one speaker, Professor Danielle Allen, reassured them that no one, not even tenured researchers like herself, has yet fully figured out how to talk about, much less act on, the need to “reimagine” public safety in the United States.

Alienation vs. Association: Moving from Division to Repair

Of all the Justice Summit’s presenters, Dr. Allen’s words seemed to resonate the deepest with Abel and I, as well as with most TBR folks I’ve spoken to about the event. Her remarks hit home, we gathered, because they lent a constructive approach and positive tone to what has become an increasingly negative and divisive debate about reforming criminal justice policies and practices in the United States.

Entering this increasingly fraught discussion, Dr. Allen provided important historical perspective and laid the foundation for a unifying strategy to help build beyond our current state of division. Drawing from her comparative studies of justice in Ancient Greece and Modern America, she charted a course for the evolution of dated, alienating criminal justice procedures that only do more harm to a society in need of healing.

Alienation versus Association: this simple distinction helps to both break down the complex series of problems going on in our criminal justice system and to raise up strategies we can apply to address those problems. Alienation and Association are two drastically different principles around which a justice system can be built. In Ancient Greece, Dr. Allen informed us, the justice system was built around the principle of alienation— removing wrongdoers from society, which in those days took the form of exile. Upon being convicted of a serious crime, offenders were expelled at the gates of the city where they’d done harm, but were still allowed to find a new life in a new place.

While the Justice System in the present-day US is still built around this same principle of alienation, its handling of crime eliminates the possibility for redemption that exile allowed. In place of exile, our justice system has come to rely on incarceration as the primary means of punishing wrongdoers. The shape incarceration has taken over the past several decades is one that severely curtails an individual’s ability to start a new life after serving time. Upon release, formerly incarcerated people have their access to voting, education, jobs, and social services drastically restricted or outright eliminated, depending on the state in which they live. In Dr. Allen’s words, “incarceration degrades people, leaving them less well-prepared to succeed in society than when they entered”.  

While our justice system’s particular way of alienating, incarceration, eliminates the possibility of individual redemption, it also inhibits a community’s ability to heal in the wake of tragedy. For decades, incarceration has failed to reduce violent crime rates or prevent repeat offenses while fracturing communities by aggressively locking away offenders, the majority of whom are nonviolent. In this way, the alienating effect incarceration has on individuals multiplies to create what Dr. Allen called a “culture of alienation” in many communities and in US society at large. Where a culture of alienation takes hold, crime remains high and neighbors lose trust and faith in police officers who are meant to protect them. As Dr. Allen noted, the role of the law enforcement officer in the United States has also grown out of this “culture of alienation.” Under the present circumstances, the role of the police officer becomes “to treat people to the experience of alienation”, to isolate convicted wrongdoers, separating them from community and the possibility of redemption, and oftentimes subjecting them to an excessive use of force. 

What we are left with, then, is a justice system which often fails in two of its principal capacities: to solve crimes and keep communities safe. We are all losers in such a system, because we lose faith in the institutions built for our protection and peace of mind, as well as in our innate ability to look out for one another. Yet, as the past summer’s national reckoning with systemic racism and police violence has revealed to many, communities of color, and low-income black communities in particular, bear the brunt of this loss. These communities are subjected to a most severe form of alienation and often pay the greatest price for a broken system long overdue for change.

Mr. Nick Hudson of ACLU Texas, who preceded Dr. Allen in the night’s order of speakers, described the issue of racial bias in alienating policing practices.  The problem, he said, is with “black people experiencing law enforcement differently, experiencing the brunt of policing, and the brunt of police violence as a result”. An ACLU Houston report found that black Houstonians, while comprising just 23% of the total population, make-up 36% of police stops, 49% of citation eligible for arrest, and 63% of those shot by the police department (2, “Justice Can’t Wait”). 

Similar statistics speak to the disproportionate policing of black communities in cities across the country. The research collaborative Mapping Police Violence found that black people made up 38% of people killed by police departments in America’s 100 largest cities between 2013 and 2019, despite making up only 21% of the population in their jurisdictions. Numerous studies have also evidenced patterns of racial profiling that subject black communities across the country to disproportionate rates of arrest and incarceration. A study by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that black adults in Louisiana, who comprise only 30.6% of the state’s population, make up 53.7% of arrested adults and 67.5% of those incarcerated. For black Americans, then, the negative consequences of an alienating justice system are compounded by routine experiences of racial discrimination that so often pervade the justice process. 

The principle of alienation, applied as standard law enforcement practice and influenced by racial bias, will always end in tragedy. Alienation is a lethal knee on the neck of a man, George Floyd, who was not resisting arrest. It is 8 deadly shots fired at an innocent woman, Breonna Taylor, by police raiding the wrong home on a dubious warrant. These breakdowns in law enforcement practice and procedure severely fracture relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The courts widen these gaps when they fail to hold officers accountable for grave mistakes, as was the outcome in the Taylor case, like so many before it. This is criminal justice guided by the principle of alienation. The results, under present circumstances, are often remarkably unjust.

The principle of association, on the other hand, guides criminal justice practices that lend themselves towards connectedness and repair. It is this principle, Dr. Allen argued, that we must begin to center our justice systems around as we endeavor to reimagine public safety in our communities. A justice system built around the principle of association makes for a kind of policing, and an overall administration of justice, that centers relationships rather than perpetuating isolation. A system of this kind calls for community policing, which assigns law enforcement officers the role of forming positive social bonds, and helping to mend broken ones, within the communities they become a part of.

Importantly, when the administration of justice is guided by the principle of association, much of justice work falls beyond the bounds of what a police officer can reasonably be asked to do. As Mr. Hudson so poignantly put it at the conclusion of his remarks, “We are simply asking the police to do too much.” To relate to an individual experiencing a mental health crisis, or to a child with a developmental disability, or to a family struggling with dysfunction, requires years of specialized training and practice. Reimagining public safety means to “split the job of policing”, as Dr. Allen put it, between policing itself and an entirely separate provision of aid that is undertaken by mental health and social service professionals.

In a newly-defined, more specific capacity, police guided by the principle of association are primarily meant to focus their energy on raising homicide clearance rates. By assuring that murders are solved and their perpetrators held accountable, whether they wear a badge or not, law enforcement can make a vital contribution to restoring trust and promoting healthy relationships in the neighborhoods they serve.

Responding to Dr. Allen’s presentation, Chief Jeff Spivey, of the Irvine, TX Police Department, echoed the importance of focusing on community relationships and rebuilding trust. Speaking to Dr. Allen’s remarks on the singular importance of raising homicide clearance rates, he said, “Until we can fix that trust relationship, we’ll never fix the homicide clearance rate, we’ll never fix the injustices and the unfairness that happens in our community every day.”  For Chief Spivey, rebuilding these relationships means working with community groups like the IAF affiliate Dallas Area Interfaith, with whom his department has developed a great working relationship. “Partnering with those types of community groups,” Chief Spivey said, “allows us into those communities where that trust relationship is lacking. It allows us to begin developing that [trusting] relationship.”

Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Headed: TBR Action on Criminal Justice Reform

 For Together Baton Rouge’s Criminal Justice Action Team, the focus remains on keeping local issues up front in the group’s effort to reimagine public safety across the city. Long before video footage of George Floyd’s murder shocked the nation, videos depicting the 2016 police killing of Alton Sterling swept Baton Rouge into its own reckoning with race and police violence. Sterling’s killing “deepened wounds that already existed in our communities”, Abel regarded during a recent meeting. As I learned by speaking with him and several other members of our Criminal Justice Action Team, it was this incident that first spurred them to action on issues of law enforcement accountability and reform. Real justice was never served in the Sterling case, leaving wounds left open in those communities still searching for truly impactful change.

Stories from house meetings here in Baton Rouge have made evident the need for reimagining public safety and redefining the role police play in our communities. In meetings across the city, people from all walks of life have expressed uniform concern about significant gaps in our public safety systems. Residents from different neighborhoods told strikingly similar stories about armed robberies that ended in deadly shootings on their neighbors’ front lawns. A comprehensive system of trauma support resources is needed for the many Baton Rouge citizens whose lives are impacted by violent crime. In meetings organized among parishioners of Community Bible Baptist church, people told stories about being harassed by police officers in their neighborhoods. Many also expressed their reluctance to file complaints about these incidents for fear of retaliation. In addition, several elders in our organization have complained of little to no police coverage in the far Northern parts of the city where they live. 

These stories testify precisely to that alienating kind of policing that Dr. Allen described, which only serves to drive people apart, rather than to restore healthy social bonds in neighborhoods impacted by crime. Taken into consideration alongside the open wound left by Alton Sterling’s killing, these stories speak to the need for relationship building and restoration in the midst of ongoing tragedy. 

To take one crucial step towards a reimagined public safety system, the Criminal Justice Action Team is urging the parish to create an Office of Civilian Oversight, separate and independent of the police department. Authorized to field, audit, and investigate civilian complaints, this office would bring a greater measure of accountability to community-police interactions. Accountability, as we all well know, is an essential aspect of any healthy relationship, be it between two people, or among civil servants and the communities they are meant to protect. Trusting relationships with officers who are available to citizens and held accountable for their actions makes for better-connected communities in which crime will be less likely to transpire. 

Over the past month, Together Baton Rouge has posed this question to Metro Council candidates during our District Accountability Assemblies: “Will you work with us to reimagine public safety and policing with a focus on restoring relationships in our community, ensuring adequate police coverage and community policing throughout the city?”  It’s a big question, and a tough one to answer. What we’re looking for in response isn’t an immediate solution, but an expressed willingness to think and work. 

At a recent research action, highlights from the TMO Justice Summit were screened for members and friends of our Criminal Justice Action Team. The event was an opportunity to invigorate the team with new voices and begin identifying action steps for a new phase of relationship building around public safety. At the conclusion of this watch party, Abel closed us out by centering on a key aspect of Dr. Danielle Allen’s vision for reimagining public safety with our minds set on association rather than alienation. For those undertaking this difficult work, Professor Allen offered this guiding maxim: “[We must determine] whether our policies and actions will bring health to social relationships. Everything must flow from that.”


Welcoming New Team Members

At the beginning of September, we welcomed some new members to our organizing team at the TBR office. Senior Organizer Khalid Hudson is now joined by Ryan Terribile, an LSU social work intern, as well as Phillip Norman and Abel Thompson, two Serve Louisiana AmeriCorps members who will complete an 11-month term of service with the organization. In addition to his service with TBR, Abel is also supporting Lady Carlson with her work in organizing the West Side Sponsoring Committee.

By shadowing and collaborating with Together Baton Rouge leaders, these three will have the opportunity to learn the craft of organizing during their service terms. They’ll also be supporting the organization with outreach, communications, and capacity-building efforts.

Abel, Ryan and Phillip are all passionate about civic engagement and excited to apply this interest as organizers-in-training.

Here’s a little more background on each of them:


Over the course of the year, Ryan, Phillip, and Abel will be sharing thoughts and observations from their service through periodic posts on the Together Baton Rouge blog. They hope their reflections will help readers take a deeper dive into the stories of our members, key aspects of our organizing philosophy, and the issues our action teams are working on.

While these three will be the blog’s regular contributors, they’re also excited to invite contributions from across the Together Baton Rouge network. Their goal is for the blog to become a living document of all the incredible work that TBR members and their institutions are getting done every day. If you have an idea for a post you’d like to see or a post you’d like to write, please reach out to them at tbr.web2019@gmail.com.

In light of the increased isolation that Covid-19 has brought on, we’re thrilled to have a full house here at 2019 Government Street.  Even when your collaborators are masked up and socially distanced, a little real-world company goes a long way during this era of online collaboration. Through sporadic Wi-Fi failures, marathon Zoom meetings, and endless email chains, we’re persevering to keep connections strong during these trying times.  


We made a little news today

On Wednesday, June 12, Together Baton Rouge Leader Diane Hanley spoke on behalf of Together Baton Rouge in favor of an ITEP application before the EBR Metro Council - because it met the ITEP standards the EBR Metro Council had set.

It made the front page the next day.

Read more

What difference does local control make over local tax exemptions?

Here's a chart of how much industrial property is exempted in Texas vs. Louisiana as of 2018:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


NEW REPORT: Small- & locally-owned businesses in Baton Rouge are subsidizing industrial giants' taxes

 

 

Download the study here

 

Check out the "Who pays more?" search tool at: PROPERTYSEARCH.TOGETHERBR.ORG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Why Louisiana stays poor

With all Louisiana's wealth in natural resources and industry, WHY DO WE STAY SO POOR?


The Advocate's ground-breaking series on industrial tax exemptions

The Advocate's 3-part series on Louisiana's industrial tax exemption program, "No strings attached," is being recognized as among the best reporting in Louisiana in many years. Links to the series below.

For the online version of each part, click its image below:

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Click here for a PDF version of all three parts of the series:
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Letter to EBR assessor regarding apparent omission of ExxonMobil property from tax rolls

The attached letter has been submitted to the East Baton Rouge Parish assessor, providing notice that approximately $400 million in taxable property at four Baton Rouge facilities owned by ExxonMobil appears to have been omitted from the preliminary 2018 assessment list.

If left uncorrected, this apparent omission would result in a one-year loss to East Baton Rouge parish taxing bodies of approximately $5.9 million, including a loss of $2.7 million to the EBR parish public school system in its current fiscal year and a one-year loss of $3.2 million to other parish taxing bodies.

Read the letter here.
   Review the letter's attachments here:


One of the most emotional moments in a long time

Advocate reporter Andrea Gallo called Gary Meise's testimony at the Baton Rouge police chief search hearing "one of the most emotional moments in a long time" at City Hall.

Watch till the end.


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