Hook, Line and Sinker


The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Clif Hart last Thursday. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Hart and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

I have had the privilege over the last couple of days of reading some responses to questions posed on a website. These responses are from a Mr. Larry Paige.  I’m assuming that it’s the same Mr. Paige who has announced his candidacy for the district five council position coming open.  Mr. Paige goes overboard in his praise of the Cane River Waterworks commission.  Lauding their fiscal responsibility in their handling of the tax moneys handed to them.  Extolling the virtues of the CRWC and all the many things they have done for the city and the rural areas of Natchitoches parish.  He also in another post lambasts the old PPJ as well as the HRC for fiscal irresponsibility.

His left handed view of things from what I’ve seen of his writings includes looking at all the other funds in the parish and seeing what can be taken from them in order to bring more money into the Road 40 purses.  He makes absolutely no acknowledgement of the fact that funds in Natchitoches parish are “restricted”.  Meaning that one fund cannot just go dip into another fund that he thinks has too much money and grab it.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is exactly what got the Police Jury in trouble with the state auditors for 15 of their last 18 years of their rule.  Hmmm.  He is also totally discounting the results of a select commission appointed to do just that by the current President of the Home Rule Charter.

By his own admission the roads of this parish have been neglected for many years and are going to require a complete rebuild.  I’m wondering if he’s even looked at the commission report and seen just how much it’s going to cost to “rebuild” every blacktop and dirt road in this parish??  I’m wondering if he is elected how he is going to pull that miracle off even if he’s given permission to plunder the library fund or any other funds for the couple of hundred thousand bucks he would be able to get out of them.  So far I can see no mention in any of his posts about how he is going to pull that rabbit out of the hat.  Griping about something isn’t the same thing as offering solutions and so far I’ve seen none from him.

I’ve said all that to say this.  This same Mr. Paige made an appearance at the last Council meeting seeking to put the taxpayers of Natchitoches parish on the hook for potentially thousands of dollars that the parish doesn’t have.  There is a little Catholic Church down on the river that is a very historical church.  It’s on the parish list of historical places and I believe it to be on the National list also.  It sits on private property on a state highway (484) down close to Melrose.  The river has encroached on the highway right of way and seems to be threatening the road itself if something isn’t done to stop the erosion.  Yep.  I drove down there yesterday and that is indeed the truth.  Getting awfully close to the road itself.  Apparently he has some pull with the Corp of Engineers because he submitted a proposal to the council that said that they would do a feasibility study to look at the problem.  However, before they would even consider the undertaking he would need to come up with an entity who would guarantee to pony up half of any cost overruns amounting to over a hundred thousand dollars.  I’m not real sure about you folks but I have yet to hear of a government entity doing a project and actually coming in under their cost projections.  More usually it is double or even triple what they say it will take to finish the job and keep coming back for more money.  So since they have no earthly idea what they will run across while doing this feasibility study lets just say for the fun of it that the final bill comes in at two hundred thousand (not an unrealistic figure).  That means that the taxpayers of Natchitoches parish would have to pony up $50,000 that the parish doesn’t have by his own admission.  Does this sound like fiscal responsibility to you?  Not to mention that it is a state highway and private property.  All the other property owners along the lake who have bulkheads and piers on the lake have to pay for it out of their own pockets.    It’s on a state highway right of way so why can’t he get the state to agree to pay for the cost overruns?  Did he approach them and they turned him down?  Why does he feel the need to put the taxpayers of the parish on the hook for one of his pet projects?  Were there any private contractors contacted to look at the situation and offer bids?  Another primary consideration in the back of my mind is that it is the Cane River.  If the CRWC has millions of dollars in their bank account and keeping the Cane River navigable and the banks safe fall under their purview why hasn’t he asked this bottomless pit of money to underwrite this little fiasco?  Another potential problem, thankfully spotted by Councilman Johnson is that if the parish signs off on the feasibility study does that then put them on the hook for providing funding for the work itself?  That was a question that Mr. Paige didn’t have an answer for.  So the Council has called a special session for August 31 to hopefully be able to answer these questions.  If it turns out to be one of those “in for a penny in for a pound” situations where the parish would also be liable for 25% of the actual work itself to repair this breach then you are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I’m not sure about you but this doesn’t sound like fiscal responsibility to me.  And this is a guy that wants the voters in District 5 to trust him with their money.  Your thoughts??

One thought on “Hook, Line and Sinker

  1. Thanks Clif Hart, this insightful story needed to be told. What does it say about a candidate who goes before a meeting of the parish council and ask for it to commit to an expenditure that NO ONE knows how much it could cost? Also noticed on another site that it was suggested by Larry Paige “If we would have been calling or picketing or taking pictures or organizing” that “change” could be effected. Doesn’t this sound more like a UNION ORGANIZER than a political candidate?

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