This and That
February 11, 2009

By Roger Emile Stouff

A few thingsÖ

I wish someone would kidnap Bill Steigerwald, who appears on this page regularly, and put him on an ice-sheet in the Arctic and set him adrift. I donít care if his ice-sheet melts or not, I just want to be rid of his constant bellyaching.

I am not an extremist, I consider myself a moderate in just about everything, except fly fishing and puppies, wherein I do tend to be pretty over-the-top. But Steigerwaldís constant bashing of anyone who even remotely considers global warming a possibility has become boring, irritating and above all, pedantic.

While I agree that global warming is probably a cyclical thing, this badger-like dehumanizing of anyone who wants to curb emissions on Steigerwaldís part is sickening.

Certainly, I donít believe in "punctuated equilibrium" or, to put it another way, sudden change of everything we do. But if there is the remotest chance that human activities have the slightest effect on the planetís temperature Ė not to mention a plethora of other environmental maladies Ė then a gradual, as pain free as possible approach to eliminating those outputs over the next couple decades is in order.

Instead of belittling anyone who raises a concern over the environment Ė as so-called "conservatives" have done since DDT, Love Canal and Exxon Valdez Ė it would be nice if we could all just ignore the radicals on both sides, from Greenpeace to Bill Steigerwald, and work out a comfortable plan for making sure weíre doing all we can to protect the world we live in, as pain-free as possible for ourselves but also for the biosphere.

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Rumor has it another half-cent in sales taxes might be coming to a theater near you.

A letter sent out by the St. Mary Industrial Group accuses a back-room conversation going on in parish government to send a proposal to the voters raising the sales tax in St. Mary parish by a half-cent.

If SMIG is correct, "Of the anticipated $5 million per year that it would raise 45 percent is to be dedicated to recreation and an additional 5 percent to be given to private agencies such as the Council on Aging, Community Action Agency, Center of Hope, S.T.E.P., St. Mary Outreach, and Emergency Aid."

Well, slap my face and call me a cowboy.

On the surface, it seems like parish government is looking for money to fund some very worthwhile endeavors! Recreation, our elderly, CAA, so on and so forth. Oh joyous day!

This surface, unfortunately, is sugar-coating.

This is a money-grab, and for a parish that just set its second record in sales tax collections of $4 million in a month, completely insane. Though we havenít felt the full brunt of the national economic slowdown here in Louisiana, we likely will, and to impose a further burden on buying anything from toothpaste to cars is counterproductive to everything the parish council should be working for in St. Mary Parish.

That last cent of available sales tax to St. Mary Parish has been bothering some local officials, parish and otherwise, for years. They sometimes practically drool for it.

Judging by the last few ballots that include a tax proposition, the only one that passed was the doom-and-gloom-inspired school board tax. The residents of this parish have otherwise sent out a clear and definite "NO MORE TAXES" message.

And judging how trustworthy this parish government has proven to be over the last several years, we can no more trust their intentions than a fox in the hen house.

Parish government has money. Donít let them fool you. Tax collections have been staggering for several years now. We may not spot those bulging, sterling silver, monogrammed parish money clips here, west of the Calumet Cut, but yeah, they got money. Theyíd have even more if they werenít feeding the golf course $200,000 smackers a year to keep it running. And thatís even at $6.75 for a Crown and water!

(Thatíd be about $5 at Mr. Lesterís, you know.)

My guess is theyíre looking for a reason not to spend their current tax boon in west St. Mary, since the words "Baldwin" and "Centerville" have reached my ears several times in regards to the sales tax proceeds.

Iíll bet the rest of the proceeds is going to be talked about in association with words like "roads" and "drainage."

Donít trust them. Theyíve proven they donít deserve it, over and over again.

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Interestingly, did you know "calumet" is a Canadian French word for the Indian "peace pipe?"

Think about. Youíll see the irony.

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Hey, I got an idea.

Perhaps we could balance the books at the golf course by offering fishing in the ponds, and quail hunts on the greens. All the golfers could then take a rod and a shotgun along with their clubs to the course.

Now there is a proposal Iíd support, or you can call me Dick Cheney. Duck!

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Itís interesting, that if you travel U.S. 90, almost instantly as you cross the Peace Pipe Cut to the east and the Iberia Parish line to the west, commercial buildings suddenly leap skyward, thereís small diners and convenience stores and all sorts of things.

The highway from the west St. Mary line to the Smoke ĎEm Before The Tobacco Tax Takes Effect Cut is almost completely empty.

Itís interesting, as well, that Krewe of Agmarol is not having a ball this year. You all know I donít give a rip about Mardi Gras personally, but even in the worst of times, back in the 1980s, the show went on. Thatís not a good tiding for the well-being of our community, whether you are into Fat Tuesday or not.

Not saying this is parish governmentís fault or any governmentís fault (imagine that!) In fact, itís been the fault of west St. Maryís residents and property owners since they wanted to put the Oil Center here, but it was shooed away to Lafayette instead.

On the one hand, that kind of thinking has served us well: Itís protected us from demolition in the name of development, from horrid crime rates and problematic ordinances.

On the other, itís kept us isolated, in a stranglehold and, to be frank, in a pickle.

However, we can rise above this, before itís too late.

We have to make government understand that weíre serious now (we are, arenít we?) about ceasing to be the damp spot in the road across west St. Mary.

Iím delighted about the industrial park. Iím thrilled about the prospects of news businesses there and elsewhere.

But thatís not going to be enough, and in fact, we donít want to put all our chickens in that basket. Theyíll break all the eggs, you see.

We need diversification, and we need it badly, and I continue to tout that tourism is the one thing we can offer with the smallest amount of financial input. The Eagle Expo is going on this week and weekend in Morgan City and the basin. We can do the same thing here, with a little effort.

I just donít see the effort being made among the officialdom, other than the Cajun Coast people.

Thereíll be a meeting at City Hall Feb. 17 to again prepare for the visit, March 17, of a strategic consultant to help grow the parish. We need your input. I beseech you to come. Itíll probably be city officials, Cajun Coast folks and Rep. Sam Jones. Donít let this chance pass you by.

Remember: If you donít vote, donít gripe. Well, same principle, anyway.