hit tracker <body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d23615820\x26blogName\x3dCenLamar:+A+Blog+on+Life+in+Alexandri...\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://cenlamar.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://cenlamar.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7276229209213654946', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Friday, March 31, 2006 by Blogger

It's refreshing when these two stories appear in the news on the same day: Alexandria is in GREAT shape... financially and Homeless population in Central Louisiana DOUBLES since hurricances

Thursday, March 30, 2006 by Blogger

Apparently, Alexandria has one of these at River Oaks: www.artomat.org.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by Blogger

Delores Brewer, Riverfront Center, and the Problem with Brainstorming Sessions I met with Delores Brewer today. Among other things, we spoke about SmartCode, which seems to be a fascinating and innovative way to approach urban planning. It's obvious that there is a lot to be finished, and I hope that the city will embrace a proven model as a guideline, rather than a pastiche of halfbaked ideas. Later on, I made a grand entrance at this brainstorming session that specifically addressed our riverfront center. By grand entrance, I mean that I walked into this big room full of people ("important people?") and TRIPPED AND FELL ON MY ASS. It was awesome. They'll get used to me eventually; I fall all of the time. Two nights ago, one of the managers at the Diamond Grill wanted to call me a cab because I was stumbling all over the place. And no, I wasn't drunk. Anyway, back to the riverfront session: I was invited to attend by Dr. Gormanis (sp?), who, by the way, rocks. They told us to pretend like money was not an option, so, as you can expect, there were a number of totally wild ideas being pitched. Let the dreamers dream, right? I said the following things: 1. The Riverfront Center needs a total cosmetic makeover: new paint, new floors (slate, wood, marble), new lighting. 2. The center should be lit up at night. 3. There needs to be an effective space for musical acts. No one wants to play at the Coliseum. It's gross. 4. The Jackson Street Bridge is a total eyesore. Light it up, paint it, do whatever. It's hideous. 5. The interior columns should be redone. Right now, they're purple and green. There were many other fantastic ideas that were pitched. Horatio Isadore, Clifford Moller, and Greg Gormanis all contributed greatly, and there were several other people who had smart, feasible ideas (I just don't know their names). Horatio said we need to diversify the types of conventions, we need to make the riverfront "sexy," and we need to promote the diversity of our community. All fantastic, effective ideas. Someone said that we should invest in a big neon marquee that tells people what's going on in town. Agreed. Someone else said that we should invest in a city-wide trolly. Funny thing: I had said the EXACT same thing earlier in the day to Delores Brewer. I don't know who most of these people are, and there were a few people there who had nothing substantive to say... and were REALLY negative about their vision of our future. I'm not sure how they're contributing. There were also people whose SOLE agenda was to promote other areas of town, and although we should be committed to the future of the entire community, the purpose of the session was the riverfront center, not the crappy hotel you manage on MacArthur Drive. Sorry. At the very end of the session, someone said that we need a water park. It had absolutely nothing to do with what we were talking about, and at first, I thought it was mentioned in jest. A few people, maybe three, kept saying that we needed things to do at night, and it was really obvious that most of them had never been downtown, except when commuting from Ball to City Hall. Martin Johnson got all happy when the water park idea was mentioned, and he said that we should really spend money on studying the feasibility of this idea. ONE person mentioned this. ONE. And suddenly, Mr. Johnson believes that there is a silent majority of people who are clammoring for this park. No. I'm not sure what this woman does, who she is, or what her agenda is. I may have misheard this, but I think she was in the hotel/motel business-- probably in management. Correct me if I am wrong: But there is not a silent majority who believes we should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for consultation on this stupid idea that, for whatever reason, will not go away. Alexandria should be investing in SMART projects that help GROW and UNIFY. If a water park was really such a great, profitable idea, GUESS WHAT? Private industry would have already built one. We should not be spending our tax dollars on new multi-million dollar projects when 1) Our convention center is in need of serious attention. 2) Our downtown needs significant capital improvements. And 3) We don't need any more consultants. (Most of this consultant b.s. is stuff that I could do with a computer, a calculator, and a telephone). In other words, it doesn't take a highly-trained government-friendly accountant to look at the P & L's of other water parks and a demographic study (available on www.cenlaprospector.com) to tell us anything we shouldn't already know. So, therein lies the problem with these brainstorming sessions: You hold them to talk about the riverfront center, and by the end of the session, you're talking about a stupid water park.

by Blogger

Someone mentioned that a big news story is about to come out regarding Cleco. Hopefully, this is not what they were talking about: "Cleco Corp. has awarded its top five executives and former CEO David Eppler more than $5 million in bonuses and other compensation for the company's 2005 performance. Eppler, who retired from Cleco in July, received more than $2 million in salary and cash bonus, according to the utility's 2005 proxy statement." Not a bad deal, but I hardly see why this seems newsworthy enough to merit a spot on the front page of the TT (at least the online version; I haven't seen the print version today).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 by Blogger

From Wikipedia.com:

Local Attractions

Since 1908 Alexandria has enjoyed the luxurious Hotel Bentley which was built by a wealthy lumberman named Joseph A. Bentley. This grand hotel is known for it's decor, fine dining, and superb accommodations. It's placement next to the Red River and it's status as a historical Louisiana landmark have been the major attraction of the guests who enjoy the experience of staying there. Alexandria is also home to one of the finest authentic Irish pubs in the region, the appropriately named Finnegans Wake. As soon as you open the door you immediately know you have arrived somewhere special. The craftsmanship and attention to detail are what set this pub apart and above the others. The wide selection of imported beer you'll find on draft here are just as much of an attraction as the friendly patrons awaiting you inside. Its location is also ideal as it sits on 3rd street right across from the historic Hotel Bentley. The Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center also resides nearby. This state of the art theater opened in 2004 and seats 615 people. The center was designed to host artists as well as companies, businesses, schools, and anyone who needs a facility that can provide these kinds of accommodations.

Obviously, Finnegan's Wake has some fans.

by Blogger

Correction: Foot in Mouth Bob Dean paid a little over 5 million for the Bentley; not 8, as I had previously reported. My sources, however connected to this transaction, were still incorrect.

Monday, March 27, 2006 by Blogger

No. I am not afraid of walking through Downtown Alexandria at night. In fact, I walked around downtown last night and on Friday night.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 by Blogger

I agree with WeSawThat's comment: Perhaps most people are in the mainstream. But the illusion of real tension is politically important for those whose careers rely on elections. Next Wednesday, I will be participating in a brainstorming session on riverfront revitalization for the Central Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau. I don't have a clear idea of what exactly I'll say, and I welcome any suggestions. Right now, I am certain of a few things: 1. Alexandria's riverfront, particularly near the ampitheater, needs serious landscaping. Right now, it looks like we bulldozed everything and hapazardly placed cheap rocks along the shoreline. Plant some tall trees. Please. 2. It'd be nice if Pineville and Alexandria each had their own look-out point with expansive views of the river and the downtown "skyline." 3. We should pursue a partnership with Rapides Regional, because they're about to double in size. If their downtown presentation is not effective, then the entire downtown will suffer. 4. We need to create serious tax incentives for people interested in renovating and restoring the old plantation-style and shotgun-style homes along Lower Third. If the city would give every homeowner over there a tax credit that can only be used for restoration of their home's facade, we're half-way there. 5. We also need to improve the landscaping and road infrastructure along Lower Third. (The best way to approach downtown is from Lower Third). From this vantage, one is first greeted by River Oaks, the Alexandria Museum of Art, and Coughlin Saunders. It is also the only vantage from which one can see the real facade of the Hotel Bentley. 6. Screw the walking trails. While I am certain that there are plenty of residents in Sonya Quarters and Lower Third who feel it's "unfair" (not my words) that "white people can enjoy Compton Park" (not my words), walking trails should not be a top priority. Compton Park works well, because the neighborhood in which it is situated is safe and clean. (Why is it that people don't focus on making these areas safe and clean FIRST before they plan multi-million dollar trails?). It's not a chicken and egg dilemma. We know which comes first: When a neighborhood is safe and clean, people will utilize the city parks and trails. When it's depressed and in disrepair, we're wasting money and energy that could otherwise be directed toward changes that will actually make a noticeable impact.

by Blogger

In response to the Rodney King reference on Cenla Antics: No, I'm not saying, "Why can't everyone just get along?" I know this is a naive question, and King's motivation for this statement had little to do with any real hope for reconciliation. I think that a big problem with the political climate in Alexandria is that policy is framed along racial lines. When I was living in Houston, I seem to recall Alexandria grabbing the nation's interest because of a few racially-charged stories, particularly the APD SWAT team fiasco in Sonya Quarters. We have made steps toward reconciliation, but our history is filled with incidents of racism and bigotry (and it's hard to escape our history). The deseg plan of the late 60s remains a point of contention, and this occured over forty years ago. It is very difficult to find a white leader who is responsive and understanding to the needs of the African-American community, and it is equally as difficult to find a black leader who doesn't repeat the tired mantra, "It's our turn." This is incredibly discouraging. This is a big election year for us. It will be interesting to see which leaders step up to the plate as unifiers and which ones continue to rely on their narrow bases in order to squeek out a victory. The cast of characters presented to us has done little to prove that they can move beyond the current discourse. But small towns are inherently complacent. They'd rather not rock the boat too much. Personally, I think that Alexandria needs a group of forward-thinking progressives who balance these "heartland values" with their own desire to see Alexandria improve every single neighborhood within its city limits. But I know this is probably a tall task. Perhaps those of us who know and love this community should be happy that people like "Mr. White Flight," who responded to me earlier, are, in fact, moving outside of the city limits. Perhaps when those individuals who are so proud of their race that they would rather live in a city controlled by those with their skin color actually pack up their bags and leave town, Alexandria will be left with a community of people who are here because they love this place and they see its potential. Those people, like Mr. White Flight, can bark from the sidelines, but they won't be able to affect any change because they're living out in Glenmora or Woodworth. So I guess I'm reaching toward this conclusion: If the white people who can't stomach black leadership finally move out of town (and start their own little River Ranch) and if the black leaders who rely on consulting groups and inside deals to spend tax dollars on their own personal friends and family members are finally exposed and convicted of ethics violations, what we will have left is a core community of people who are all here because they want to be. Oh, to be young and idealistic. I think everyone should try to remember what it was like.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 by Blogger

"white flight... said...

not much activity or interest on the Lamar blog - I think the lecture did it."

The lecture? I think you're wrong on all three claims, but what do I know?

What I find most interesting is that this person signed their name "white flight." Boy, if that isn't a strong indication of his/her political philosophy, then it must a strange example of nuanced irony.

Recently, it has occured to me that the biggest problem facing Central Louisiana is that there seems to be a lack of the balanced, mainstream perspective. Everyone wants to claim that they're "mainstream," because it makes them feel sane. But I have only met a handful of people who really understand that Alexandria is most effective when there is a consensus. There will never be a consensus when the white community and the black community constantly bicker about who "should be" in power. The truth is that both blacks and whites deserve positions of power.

The Failures of White Leadership: 1. Underfunding (for over forty years) the development of majority black neighborhoods like Lower Third. 2. Not respecting the expert opinions of many black businessmen and community leaders. This is either due to entrenched racism or plain ignorance. Or both. 3. Not understanding or empathizing with the unique struggles of minorities. The "boot straps" concept can only go so far. 4. Not presenting a leader who can truly facilitate discussion and build a consensus. 5. Installing their own good ol' boys to the exclusion of others.

The Failures of Black Leadership: 1. Overcompensating projects in majority black neighborhoods, much in the same way a white-run council overcompensated projects in white neighborhoods. 2. Misplacing their priorities, and feeling an obligation to a small group of constituents, less than half of whom actually vote, to the exclusion of more rational, holistic approach. (i.e. The Master Plan should dedicate attention to all areas of town). 3. Not respecting or empathizing with the expert opinions of many white businessmen and community leaders. This is either due to entrenched racism or plain ignorance. Or both. 4. Not presenting a leader who can truly facilitate discussion and build a consensus. 5. Installing their own good ol' boys to the exclusion of others.

by Blogger

That major business announcement I intended on reporting, well, the deal fell through at the last possible minute. Sorry to disappoint.

Friday, March 24, 2006 by Blogger

W & G news: We've been steadily working on the W & G conversion project, and things are coming into place. However, it remains to be seen if there is a luxury loft market in Alexandria. If there is one, even if it's tiny, well, this will work out. My personal experience tells me that there are a number of people who would live downtown, despite conventional wisdom, and that these individuals would be more prone to loft-living than apartment-living. Also, I don't think the current political climate affects this market as much as people would like to believe. Sure, an argument can be made that if the council goes in the wrong direction with the city, individuals who are "on the fence" about downtown would be less likely to move there. But the first project won't appeal to many people who are on the fence; it'll primarily appeal to the diehards and the out-of-towners and people who want to live in an urban setting. Share your thoughts.

by Blogger

Major business announcement that will dramatically change one of Central Louisiana's leading industries to be made (possibly) next week. Details soon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 by Blogger

To blog or not to blog: Dear Readers, I created this blog in order to share my experience of living in Central Louisiana. Last September, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I moved back to Alexandria after five years in Houston. Although Alexandria is my hometown, I am somewhat ignorant of the local political climate. I moved away before the "new" City Council was elected, so my perspective is very different. The purpose of this blog is to open up a dialogue about the state of local affairs. I attempt to shy away from the petty issues; however, I have little patience for lies and obvious political manuevering. When I post information from outside sources, like the document I linked earlier, I am simply sharing knowledge that already exists in the public domain. I am not attempting to personally vilify anyone. In these instances, I am simply posing a question. I hope that readers will understand that this fulfills the basic definition of a "blog." I recognize that many people are fed up with the way government is being operated, and I invite and appreciate their comments, suggestions, and advice. I also understand that Alexandria is a small city, and for this reason, it is important to choose our words wisely. But I refuse to shy away from seeking the truth and finding a common ground. If anonymous individuals want to continue sending me threatening e-mails, then they should probably know that I am flattered they're reading. You're not scaring me, because you just don't get what I'm trying to do. Unlike many people engaged in this debate, I am not on the government's payroll, and I only have one agenda: to promote a better, safer, and healthier Central Louisiana. Sometimes, this may require me to write about controversial issues. Sometimes, it may require a little detective work. I'm not working on this project because I am seeking office; I'm working on it because I think it's interesting. If you want to disagree with me, that's perfectly fine. Feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a phone call. Discussion is critical. When you're too busy attacking people, you'll never be able to bring them to the table. Rock on, Lamar

by Blogger

The Bob Dean Article really caught my attention today: Hilarity! Quote of the month: "Fair market value, by definition, is the price at which a willing seller will sell and a willing buyer will buy." He's basically saying, "Yeah, my asking price is totally unfair, and I know the hotel's not worth $12.2 million. I'm just hoping to find the right idiot." Dean, for the record, purchased the hotel for $8.1 million. For some reason, people seem to think he bought it for much less.

by Blogger

Blowing Smoke: Anonymous said... Tells us a lot that Lamar lectured us all on posting anonomously yet he has posted at least 4 times including the last 2 advertising his blog sight (sp) This is a total and complete fabrication. I have never and will never post anonymously. ....see there is a way to see the IP address of the poster and I just pulled it up....Nice try LEMAR! Please supply this information. You're claiming to have definitive proof....well, show me. (What is particularly interesting is that I post from different computers in different locations, so it'd be impossible to isolate one IP address for me). You're a liar, and you're attempting to discredit my opinion by misrepresenting my intentions. I don't need to advertise. You're advertising for me. Wednesday, March 22, 2006 1:43:47 PM

by Blogger

By the way, I received that information from the Louisiana Secretary of State through another source. My discovery of these records was not due to my own ingenuity. However, I still am interested in answering the question: Why? I mean no ill-will toward any of the individuals listed, but they are all, through official and unofficial channels, big players in local government. The way I see it there are two options: 1. They forgot to file the report, and they didn't realize that this would create a problem. or 2. The failure to disclose this report is indicative of an unwillingness to expose the details of their activities. Either way, they have to understand what this looks like to the public, and hopefully, we'll receive a valid answer to these questions... and hopefully, they'll treat this situation with respect and dignity.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 by Blogger

Why are Bridgett Brown, Kelvin Sanders, and Karen Lawson "not in good standing" with the Louisiana Secretary of State? Click here.

by Blogger

Further proof that the Arna Bontemps the Museum is more famous than Arna Bontemps the Man: Museum hits funding roadblock By Billy Gunn "The nonprofit Historical Association of Central Louisiana donated $500 to the Alexandria museum that celebrates the life and work of a renowned black writer. Association president Charles Charrier said he hopes other organizations will pitch in to help the cash-strapped Arna Bontemps African-American Museum." 500 bucks is a nice start, but it seems more like a token gesture than a real endorsement. "It'll be up to private groups to see the museum through tough times because it's doubtful the city of Alexandria will give it any cash besides the $40,000 the museum receives in the form of a city grant. "We just want to do our part and hope it helps" the only museum that showcases the life of a black artist in Rapides Parish on the National Register of Historic Places, Charrier said." Which black artist in Rapides Parish? Bontemps was from L.A and then NYC. Plus, it seems like they should be able to operate this little museum for a lot less than what they're currently budgeting. "Gwendolyn Y. Elmore, the museum's executive director who hasn't drawn a paycheck in a year, said she's still $60,000 short for the fiscal year that ends in July." Curiously: What is Ms. Elmore's salary? If this is an NPO, these numbers should be relatively easy to pull. The museum's finances have been on a downward drift for the last two years, Elmore said. Last year's two hurricanes and the effect they had on the state budget, from which Louisiana would kick in money to Arna Bontemps, left Elmore with no choice but to approach the city, she said. And guess what? Legally, the city can only give that 40G grant. The real problem with the museum is why it takes $200,000 a year to operate. What's the deal? Surely, they're not paying rent. And between the tax breaks and all the incentives NPOs receive, I doubt they have a huge overhead.... unless they're buying thousands of dollars worth of Arna Bontemps merchandise. I can't wait to go buy the latest Arna Bontemps t-shirt! Seriously, though, their main expense has to be salaries. Last week, she met with Mayor Ned Randolph and other officials, and has tried unsuccessfully to be placed on the City Council agenda, including today's. Elmore has asked Randolph to reserve the museum a spot on the council agenda, and she's also asked two council members, whom she wouldn't name, to give her time at a council meeting. All requests, so far, have been denied. It seems to me that they don't want to talk about this funding in front of the cameras because the politics surrounding the museum are inherently racial. Or am I just completely insane? A call to at-large councilman Myron Lawson was not returned Monday. "We're still hopeful that the city of Alexandria will be able to take another look at our funding," Elmore said. Delores Brewer, mayoral chief of staff, said Elmore wants the same financial treatment the River Oaks Square Arts Center and the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center get. Alexandria's hands are tied: the city owns and operates those buildings, she said. Alexandria government could, Brewer said, contribute services, such as grant-writing expertise. Sounds like they can only do so much, and they're already extending 40K a year in grants. "I understand their plight," Brewer said. "We can't legally give them money" except the $40,000 grant. For the time being, the Arna Bontemps museum will have to survive on the grant and donations like those given by the Historical Association. Charrier who, along with a dozen other people, was on hand when Elmore was given the $500 check, said he hopes other nonprofits and for-profit companies would donate to the museum. "This is a worthy cause," he said. And there's really no other option. Considering the master plan makes a big deal out of this little museum, it should be interesting to see if those in power put their OWN money where their mouth is. Originally published March 21, 2006

by Blogger

LSUA On-Campus Living: Today, the TT reported that LSUA is consulting with five developers, only one of whom is from Louisiana, in order to plan the construction of a garden-style on-campus apartment complex. FINALLY! It's obvious there is a demand. But why, you may ask, aren't any local developers involved in this project? Well... please correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that LSUA is attempting to get a developer to LEASE the land for a very limited period of time. They're looking for a partner, plain and simple. The problem is: The locals know that there is plenty of land for sale DIRECTLY across the street from LSUA, and why would anyone in their right mind want to incur most of the costs and the risks without the security of ownership? But still, it makes sense on LSUA's part, and I really, really hope this deal works. "One proposal suggested rent at $375 per bed, per month for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, and $400 per month, per bed for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment." Incredibly expensive rates: $750 for a 2/1 and $800 for a 2/2! This would make it the most expensive complex in town (until the new one out at the Lakes opens). They'll probably be able to demand these rates due to the lack of housing out there.

Monday, March 20, 2006 by Blogger

Anonymous said... I think the dialogue that best reveals Lamar in his youth and purity is the posting on his site that places great weight on what they decide to call the Weiss & Goldrings store bldg. He and his colleagues begin to focus on a hokey historic Nact. identity, St. Denis. Yeah guys! I think that will do it. You need to order some lobby furniture and hire a doorman. No support for "Watergate" or "Cabildo". Sunday, March 19, 2006 10:45:44 AM Why do people have to hate? Blah blah blah. But I agree, I am very young and very pure. Actually, I think we're going with my original idea, Gitmo! I'm going to build an entire musical production around it for the launch party.

by Blogger

Or wait... Is C.F. Smith saying that it's a good thing that we'll be using a local company with no experience? Either way. It's as if he's promoting the plan by saying "Hey, at least we're giving a $4 million deal to a local company with no experience!" Woo hoo!

by Blogger

Randolph, council at odds over hiring more consultants By the way, this picture of Ned is awesome. By Billy Gunn bgunn@thetowntalk.com (318) 487-6378 "Alexandria's executive and legislative branches are at odds again, this time over City Council votes earlier this month to hire more consultants, which Mayor Ned Randolph has vetoed." MORE CONSULTANTS! Woo hoo! Yes! Just what we need! Why should we have to do all the learnin' when we can pay other people to do it for us? "Council President Charles F. Smith Jr. said he'll try to gather the five votes needed Tuesday to override a veto of March 7 council action that would put two consulting companies to work." Isn't the real issue that these deals were made without any attempt to find other, comparable bids? That, to me, smells like an inside deal. "One of the companies would advise on a $17 million to $20 million project to combine household and business utility meters." WHOA. That's a lot of money. More money than the city has right now for sure. "Smith said Randolph's March 10 veto of hiring Trinity Capital Resources smacks of election-year politics because Trinity would not limit bidding to local firms. Engineering design by itself, he said, would cost $4 million and go to a local firm with no experience in combining meters." Wait. What? Smith's saying Ned's playing election-year politics by vetoing a bill that awards (essentially) a no-bid contract for a project that we're not even sure we need. Oh, and he's saying we shouldn't use anyone local b/c they don't have experience in combining meters. But if we did use a local company for this project, then they would have experience! Right? But tell me again: Why do we need to spend all this ridiculous money on combining meters? ""Four million dollars is a lot of money in an election year," Smith said." And $17- 20 million is a lot of money for the next three years. "Trinity owner Steve Nosacka said Friday he would seek turnkey bids from companies "throughout the south" and wouldn't limit components such as engineering to local firms." Well, at least this guy would consider using local engineering firms. "Trinity in turn would receive a contingency fee of 1.5 percent of the project's total cost, which at $20 million would add up to a $300,000 fee for Nosacka, who would advise the city throughout the project's two- to three-year span." That's a phat deal. For Nosacka. "Turnkey projects encompass one company handling all aspects: engineering, material, labor, everything needed to complete the endeavor." I can do the same job for $200,000. All I'll need is a computer and a phone book. "In the proposed Trinity-advised project, residents' water, natural gas and electricity meters would be combined and read remotely, which would do away with city employees having to read three separate meters as they walk house to house." So we should spend $17- 20 million bucks because it's too hard to read three meters! What?!?!?!?!?!?! "Randolph's chief of staff, Delores Brewer, who is eyeing a run for mayor if Randolph decides against a fifth term this year, said the mayor's vetoes were a prudent move. Besides the Trinity contract, Randolph also vetoed one with B&B Consulting, a company that would inspect improvements being made at the D.G. Hunter Power Plant." Good for the mayor. "Brewer said the mayor reasoned both projects should have gone through the city's Architecture and Engineering Committee, an ad-hoc panel composed of three council members and two Randolph administration officials." Makes sense. Seems to me like these people think they can just push through whatever consulting contracts they want without having to involve anyone in the mayor's office. "Also, Brewer objected to the manner in which the Trinity legislation originated in Smith's council office, and only Smith signed the document that brought the ordinance before the council, which passed it 5-2 with Chuck Fowler and Harry Silver voting no." So Smith was the ONLY person who signed the document that brought the ordinance forward? The ONLY person? And then, suddenly, he was able to get four other councilmen to approve this. Hmmmmm. ""Because (Smith) is so insistent on hiring (Trinity), we had to act" and veto the ordinance, Brewer said. "I don't understand why Mr. Smith is so keen on this." Yeah, it's like Smith is trying to slide something under the table and is now getting mad and saying this is election-year politics when the story gets published. ""I'm perplexed as to his behavior," she said. A $20 million, state-of-the-art meter-reading system would require a bond issue and deserves scrutiny, Brewer said." Right! And Mr. Smith was the only person who signed the document that brought the ordinance to the table. "If the council doesn't override Randolph's veto Tuesday, Randolph likely would place the project "on the shelf," Brewer said." "There are no cities in Louisiana that combine gas, electricity and water in one meter, Nosacka said. But there are some out of state, like Chicago and Atlanta, he said." Because Chicago and Atlanta can afford this stuff. We can't. "Smith bristled at suggestions the proposed meter combination was a pet project of his, explaining that "2,000 to 5,000" meters are skipped each month and their numbers estimated by a computer, which makes for sometimes expensive adjustments whenever a meter is read again." Wow. So we can increase efficiency by about 1 or 2%! And all we have to do is fork up $20 million dollars! What a deal! Also, this will allow the city to lay off a bunch of meter readers. Doesn't Mr. Smith realize that this plan will cost the city a lot of jobs? ""I'm looking out for the best interests of the citizens of Alexandria," Smith said." So explain yourself. Why do we REALLY need this? And why is it so dangerous to actually have a discussion about this plan?

by Blogger

Initial Impressions and Things Said Aloud While Reading a Draft of the New Alexandria Master Plan: - The word "greater" is misspelled on the very first page. A simple spell check was not performed on the ENTIRE document. - It seems like there isn't a coherent organization to the plan. There are main themes, like historic preservation, but there is no way to understand what the main priorities are. - Promoting the African-American community for tourism. Uhhhhhhh...... huh? I mean, I know we have that Arna Bontemps museum, the Harlem Renaissance writer who lived here until the age of THREE. Yes, that is right. Here's his Wikipedia entry: Arna Wendell Bontemps (October 13, 1902 - June 4, 1973) was an American poet and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in the recently restored house at 1327 Third Street, Alexandria, Louisiana, now the Bontemps African America Museum & Cultural Arts Center. When he was three, his family moved to the Watts district of Los Angeles, California. He began writing while a student at Pacific Union College and became the author of many children's books. His critically most important work, The Story of the Negro (1948), received the Jane Addams Book Award and was also a Newbery Honor Book. He is probably best known for the 1931 novel God Sends Sunday. He also wrote the 1946 play St. Louis Woman. Now, let's be honest with one another: Mr. Bontemps is not Jean Toomer or Langston Hughes or Zora Neale Hurston. He was a peripheral figure in the movement. My point is this: It was a good idea to restore the man's home on Third Street, much like they've done to the Degas home in New Orleans. But we're fooling ourselves if we think Bontemps considered himself a Louisianan and that a museum dedicated to him will ever be a real tourist destination. I took a class in Harlem Renaissance poetry and fiction at Rice, and while this may not make me an expert in the leaders of the Renaissance, I'm confident enough to say that Mr. Bontemps would be very surprised that he is so famous in Alexandria. ... more on the master plan - Historic preservation in coordination with affordable housing? You can't do both in the same neighborhoods at the same time. I wish they'd explain themselves more. - Lee Street as the arts district? When? In the year 2055? I mean, it's an interesting vision... but... uh... it's bizarre and counter-intuitive. Look, I know we need to spend more money on South Alexandria. We do. And to all those white racists types who think the city shouldn't have big dreams for the entire community, you guys just don't get it. But there has to be a balance... and although I think that it'd be awesome if we were able to rehab Bolton Avenue and Lee Street, we have to be equally aware of where the city is growing. They say they're spending more money out there on 28W than any area of town, but the master plan hardly makes a mention of 28W. And it's the MASTER PLAN! I'll write more later on this.

Sunday, March 19, 2006 by Blogger

Scarlett said... Huh???? That was hard to follow! I totally agree with the perception of Sams. All I ever hear about him is that he is ugly to people. That usually indicates an ugly person....period. My vote is for Delores! She is a very intelligent woman and has the capacity to research whatever she doesn't understand. At least she is honest enough to admit it when she doesn't know something. Sunday, March 19, 2006 10:36:57 PM I'm going to throw my two cents in: I've known the Sams family for most of my life. We attended the same church, and his kids are around my age. I think his kids are interesting, nice people, and my experience of the doctor has always been positive. However, I agree with Scarlett; Dr. Sams is, for whatever reason, a divisive figure, and I'm not sure he's running for the right position. I believe Dr. Sams may be better fit in another role, and unless he is able to prove his willingness to create synergies between our white and black communities and to execute a coherent and balanced vision for our future, I won't be voting for him. His whole campaign is actually kind of weird to me. We haven't heard much about where he stands, who he is, and what he believes in, yet he's doing door-to-door campaigning like crazy. Why is he suddenly so silent about his platform? And do all these people with his sign in their front lawns know something that we don't? Or are they just friends and family members who blindly support anyone they know or are loosely acquainted with? Like I said before, I've known the Sams family for most of my life, and maybe I'm just naive and uninformed, but even I don't know what he stands for. However, I do know that he's a Republican, and that because Delores Brewer is also running, it will probably be very difficult for both of them. But this is definitely going to be interesting.

Saturday, March 18, 2006 by Blogger

"Anonymous said... Lamar, you better work on your ability to judge character or you will be just another contractor in the back pocket. Try to decipher those who have the City's best interest at heart vs. those who have only their own financial and power building interest at heart. Your young, I guess its O.K. to be snookered every now and then. Just don't let them drag you into their web where you will surely be ensnarled and lost forever. Saturday, March 18, 2006 2:32:07 PM" Thank you for this advice. I know that I need to be more cautious about the words I choose, and I definitely need to be better informed about what happened in Alexandria while I was living in Houston. Remember, I only moved back seven months ago, so I'm still learning about the poltical climate. I appreciate your words of encouragement, and I'll try to be prepared for this type of powerbrokering.

by Blogger

Have you ever experienced this? You're sitting outside when, suddenly, the neighbor's dog starts barking. It's unclear why the dog is barking, but it's loud and fierce and it's echoing across the neighborhood. Soon, the other neighborhood dogs are chiming in; they're barking in concert with the first dog. I kind of feel like Cenla Antics is a little bit like this phenomenon. That said, someone finally articulated why the first dog started barking, and I think he/she would be surprised by my response to their analysis: "proud alexandrian . said..." Considering this person is running for office, it'd be refreshing to know who this is, but still, he/she makes some good points, and I can't fault their delicate position. "Lamar, I apologize for our apparent lack of objectivity." I am not sure why the writer is assuming the role of spokesperson for the entire blog. "If, however, a person is generally if not universally perceived as a self-serving, dishonest opportunist and has a history of injury and insult to our community fisc, progress, and image, you naturally contaminate your position in our eyes by citing this person as your authority and information source." This is a reference to Myron Lawson. In Alexandria, all you have to do is shake the man's hand and you're suddenly his best friend. I'm not sure I ever used Mr. Lawson as an authority, but he's definitely a source of information. I have already corrected one piece of misinformation that I had previously posted, and if there are other errors in my reporting, please let me know. "So you are catching an undeserved ration of shit not for who you are, or what you do, or what you believe, but in whom you believe, respect, and promote." Again, I haven't thrown my support behind any candidate, and I would never believe, respect, or promote an individual who is "universally perceived as a self-serving, dishonest opportunist," no matter who it is. I'm just making my own observations based on my own experiences, and this blog is a recollection of my experiences. "Many of us believe, on a rational AND intuitive basis, that you can stack trendy downtown boutiques and high-priced condos up to heaven and what you will have are failed boutiques and empty condos. The reason for that is a well-deserved lack of confidence in the administration and council." I COMPLETELY agree. 100% behind you. "We think we need a radical and complete change in the cast and you are simply trying to tune up the third act." That's unfair. I'm not tuning up the third act. I'm doing my own thing. "I fully expect to visit your blog and read about what a complete moron I am and how I miss the whole message, use improper syntax and spell poorly, and you very well may be right. But consider for one moment, the possibility that there is another view that deserves at least your thoughtful evaluation." Again, that's also unfair. I actually agree with you, and I've been making the same, basic points for a few weeks now. Go back and read from the beginning. "Our opportunity for economic and cultural growth and progress is absolutely dependant on a change in not just the identity but the quality of our leadership and government. That will be the world that lets your vision turn to reality." Yes! "And yes, I am seeking office, so I'm not just "ranting"." Have we spoken before? Saturday, March 18, 2006 9:55:44 AM"

Friday, March 17, 2006 by Blogger

I spoke with Delores Brewer today , and I don't want to preempt her on any forthcoming annoucement... but she said something to me that now demands a correction: Earlier, I spoke of Pat Moore's plan only calling for 30 something thousand dollars for Lower Third investment. I was informed of this by Mr. Johnson and Mr. Lawson. The argument against this notion is that Mr. Moore's plan specifically focused on downtown, and the plan was never considered a "master plan" by any city officials. Please correct me if I am wrong.

by Blogger

For more information on the art competition, e-mail Jonathan at jb5033@lacollege.edu

by Blogger

Responding to more anonymous idiocy: "If you want something to think about, check out Lamar's blog. He and Myron have a love fest over the future of downtown. It would appear that Lamar is now firmly ensconced in the Lawson Fan Club. Just what we need. I see a consulting contract in his future." That is completely ridiculous; your ignorance is insulting. First of all, Myron and I did not have a "love fest." I think everyone wants the same basic thing, and I think it is important to work together. I don't agree that Lee Street should become the arts district or that Bolton Avenue should be the entertainment district, which are both parts of the new proposal. I shouldn't be wasting my energy responding to people who really don't know what they're talking about, but if people like you, Mr. Anonymous, continue to spread stupid lies about my real intentions, I feel an obligation to defend myself. Plus, this project is not a HUGE cash cow, and we may not even do it, especially if the political climate in Alexandria is really this backwards and stupid. You attempt to do a good thing, and people attack you for trying to work with the community and our leaders. "I went to Lamar's blog and read Lamar on Lamar and Lamar on Alexandria. He labels himself a facilitator but he is just a cheerleader for the powers that be. He is old money doing old stuff the old way. What a shame. Well, at least he gave us a brief glimmer of hope." I'm old money doing old stuff the old way? I haven't done ANYTHING! We're in the planning stages! First of all, I am not doing things the old way. You are woefully ignorant. You have no idea what you're talking about, and if you think that I'm accepting any personal kickbacks from the government, ("the old way"), I will offer full transparency of our records. Go ahead and audit me. The reason it's important to meet with City Councilmen on this is OBVIOUS: They own the building across the street. A current councilman owns the Weiss and Goldring building. They're considering the purchase of the Hotel Bentley. They can help with parking arrangements. They know the historical incentives and revitalization incentives that will help decrease our overhead expenses. Plain and simple. I'd be an idiot if I decided I wouldn't speak with the city government. And I'm not afraid of telling them the way I feel. I'll be publishing an article in the TT every month on what I've learned about city government, and I'm not in the business of kissing ass.

by Blogger

Part One: Alexandria Downtown Development Report March 17, 2006 Summary: Current national development trends indicate a renewed interest in existing downtown infrastructure. In order to understand the reasons for this development, it is important to trace the evolution of downtown market trends. Before the birth of the shopping mall concept in the late 1970s, retail in most American cities was located in downtowns. Of course, the shopping mall dramatically changed the ways in which retail developed, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, retail moved out of downtowns and into or nearby shopping malls. Today, we are witnessing a slow reversal of this trend. Malls have depreciated in value and quality, and retailers have rediscovered the benefits of stand-alone locations. Shopping malls are being replaced by “lifestyle centers,” essentially strip malls that are anchored by large retailers like Best Buy or Barnes and Noble Booksellers. These lifestyle centers, however, are not necessarily locating in downtowns, and it seems evident that in order for downtowns to revitalize, it is important to reevaluate the overall concept of the downtown economy. Case Study: Houston Old Main Street During early part of the 21st century, Houston, Texas dedicated an enormous amount of resources toward a downtown revitalization effort. Houston focused the bulk of its energy on approximately four city blocks on Old Main Street. Rather than attempt to involve major retailers as anchor tenants of this project, Houston recognized that retailers preferred other areas of town, like the Galleria, and would not be inclined to make a risky investment in a depressed area of town, regardless of its prime location. Houston took the following steps to facilitate the revitalization of Old Main Street: It installed a light rail system, linking downtown with the Medical Center. It created incentives for developers seeking to convert buildings, like the Rice Hotel, into lofts and condominiums It encouraged professionals, like lawyers, doctors, and bankers, to locate their businesses on the first and second floors. In doing so, it attracted a plethora of restaurants, bars, and cafes, creating an all-new nightlife in downtown Houston.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 by Blogger

"But on a more important note, if you ever decide to run for public office LJ, please have the good sense and insight to include the CITIZENS of Alexandria in any downtown development. Ultimately, it's our money and word of mouth that will make or break it," says U Know. This is a good point, and I agree with you 100%. That said, we welcome any interested investors to participate in our conversion project. None of us want the project to appear exclusive, and I think it is absolutely essential that the entire community is as enthusiastic about revitalization as we are. There is no way this can be a success without the support of the community. Clifford Moller of GAEDA approached me with an excellent idea that I have somewhat embellished. For now, the window space at Weiss and Goldring is not utilized, and we think we should use it in order to feature local artwork. I don't count Gnat Marks's "For Sale" sign in the window as a piece of art, though some may say it's post-Warholian. So, allow me to use this forum to introduce an art competition, open to anyone in the community. Your work will be displayed for at least two months, and the top prize will be determined by the pool of donations we can collect. Right now, we can safely guarantee a top prize of at least $250. For more information, e-mail me at lamarw@gmail.com, and I will get you in touch with Jonathan Bolen (yes, the son of the former councilman, Jay Bolen). In other news, Horatio and I met with Myron Lawson and Marvin Johnson today. We heard their grand plans for downtown and Lower 3rd Street, and I must admit: I was surprisingly impressed. While they spoke often of the walking trails (which I still believe to be a low priority), I think they understand that the only way to get people downtown again is by converting existing commercial property into residential property. "People like to live near where they work," was a mantra I heard repeatedly. I know people have their own opinions on this city council, and I probably share some of their views. But the funny thing is: Almost everyone I speak with is on the same page; there are just too many chiefs. It seems like everyone wants to be in charge, even though we all want the same thing. Instead of this infighting about who should be in control, let's just focus on getting the job done and working together. The ego b.s. has got to stop. You may not like the current council, but it is what it is. Another interesting thing that was discussed: Mr. Johnson told me that Pat Moore's plan only called for 30-something thousand dollars of investment in Lower 3rd. And let's face it: Downtown must be revitalized in coordination with investment in the surrounding neighborhoods. Today, I drove down Lower 3rd for the first time since I moved back. I'm slightly ashamed to admit this. But I noticed a lot of positive change in the area. I also noticed a plethora of awesome vacant warehouses, buildings that could easily be converted into studio spaces for artists or commercial spaces for small businesses. I'm also pitching this idea to the council: We need to create incentives for homeowners near City Park, particularly those in the Ivy Leagues neighborhood, in order for them to renovate the facades of their homes. (This type of incentive already exists for downtown property). I'd like to see the Ivy Leagues become Alexandria's version of Mid-City New Orleans; indeed, most of the structures are very similiar. All we need is a little paint and some landscaping.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 by Blogger

If that isn't the best endorsement EVER, then I don't know what is.

LAMAR WHITE FOR WHATEVER! Golden: " Anonymous said...

I am going to run for mayor and fire everyone of you idiots who work in the planning department and the utility department. I am going to vote for Lamar White for whatever and never vote for John Sams because he looks like that big fat Yoda (?) thing off of Star Wars.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 9:19:13 PM"

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 by Blogger

" Anonymous said...

Last I heard the W & G building had so many structrural problems that the most practicle use was to tear it down for parking."

Wrong. Urban legend, my friend. And practical is spelled with an a.

by Blogger

People continue to talk about this downtown conversion project, and the chatter is healthy and necessary, though I think people don't realize a few things: 1) I don't make a commission on this at all. My role, like that of Horatio Isadore, is as a faciliator, a motivator, an enthusiast, and a deal-maker. In fact, my mother and I are investors; we can either lose a lot of money or make a little bit of money... but that money is NOT commission-based. 2) The details of this conversion are different than past project ideas for this building. 3) Mr. Silver is not involved in this project, though his wisdom and experience are continuously helpful. 4) The project, even at its potentially most profitable, will not yield a gigantic return on investment. The people who want to invest are individuals who understand the intangible and long-term benefits of the revitalization effort. 5) We can already secure a group of investors, but if the political manuevering surrounding this project is too discouraging, we'll probably look to something else in another market. Some people seem to believe that this building is SO important, but they don't realize two things: 1) People with enough money to seriously invest in this project are always entertaining investment opportunities, and this building is just one item on their desk. 2) The best numbers on conversion are just average. If you're serious about this investment, you're not in it just because you want to make money; you're in because you believe in the future of Alexandria. Period.

by Blogger

Point/Counterpoint: "Scarlett, if you think that he is going to unload/develope (sp) the downtown Weiss & Goldring building for a "gift certificate" then he is not the naive one here. Watch the Silver/Lawson connection. Harry is Myron's man and that's what he is doing there." - Anonymous This is a bizarrely conspiratorial take on the situation. Until last week, I honestly had no idea how political this building truly is. The reason I am involved is because Horatio Isadore, owner of House of Java and a longtime friend of mine, asked me to take a look at it. Plain and simple. I am interested in this building because I think it is critical for downtown revitalization plans, and I'd like to see Alexandria's downtown realize its potential. It's going to be tremendously difficult to realize a profit on this building, which is why it's been vacant for so many years. However, I think that with the right people behind the project, it can work. Individuals, like this anonymous reader, continue to misread the connections, somehow preferring to believe that everyone has their own selfish machinations, rather than believe that there are good people out there who really want what is best for their city. And this is what makes it so hard for people like myself. I don't have anything to prove to anyone. If you think that this is all a political stunt, then I'll be less inclined to invest in downtown... and I'll spend my energy working on projects in better markets. I have a feeling that other developers feel the same way. Politics is crushing privately-funded progress, because those in power believe they "control" downtown. But it's obvious that their control and their vision of downtown severely misses the mark, and perhaps that is one of the reasons the downtown economy continues to falter. But I enjoy your strange conspiracy theory. At least it is entertaining. It's just ashame that you haven't done your research.

by Blogger

Dealing with the abuse on my own terms: Last night, I decided to scale back my participation on the Cenla Antics blog for a number of reasons. First, I was receiving mean-spirited letters and responses, and I simply don't have enough time to personally deal with every little letter. Second, I don't think the blog truly facilitates the type of open forum that we need in order to affect real change in this city. And third, I am working on a project to renovate the downtown Weiss and Goldring building, and some may perceive that my work on this project somehow conflicts with my objectivity, even though I believe that if one is committed to downtown revitalization they understand that we have to start with projects like this one. I am not an elected or nominated official. I write as a concerned citizen. Furthermore, Mr. Silver owns the building, and our company has an option to buy this building from him, pending feasibility studies and the ability to attract outside investment. If people believe there is a conflict of interest in doing business downtown as a private citizen and also speaking up about the nature of downtown revitalization plans, they're totally missing the point. But still, I am going to respond to criticism here on my own blog: Disappointed but not surprised said...

One has to have resided in the city or district, depending on the office, for 2 full years at the time of qualifying. If Lamar has been in Dallas for a couple years that rules him out. Also, if Lamar has deals going with Harry (30 pieces of) Silver and other downtown "interests", there are potentially conflicts of interest which I hope will become a thing of the past on the new and improved council. In other words, looks like Lamar is already at the trough. Maybe he will get the water park deal - he could call it "FOR WHITES ONLY".

___________________ Wow! Someone is a mean-spirited racist idiot! I do not want to run for office. And I have lived in Houston for the past five years. Not Dallas. Your belief that my "deals" with Mr. Silver conflicts with my ability to objectively understand the plans for downtown are ridiculous. I've read the new plans for downtown; I have a copy sitting right here on my desk. By your terms, the only people eligible for office are those who don't want to work with as a private citizen in order to affect change... and there is a big difference between brokering a conversion deal and setting your friends up with an awesome long-term lease on land that belongs to the city, which, by the way, somehow snuck into the city's plans... or at least the most current draft of them. So no, I don't like YOUR water park deal, and the pun on my last name is stupid. "For Whites Only?" If the water park deal ever goes through, I think it should be called "Slippery Slope," because that's what it is indicative of.

Monday, March 13, 2006 by Blogger

Another strange anonymous post on Cenla Antics and my response: "Lamar, and the rest of you for that matter: We can all write eloquent crap on this blog or even in the TT, but it does not matter." I beg to differ, but you are more than entitled to feeling that the articulation and explanation of one's beliefs are, somehow, politically impotent. It's a strangely self-defeating belief, and I find that it is contrary to the ways in which political power is attained. Sure, money helps, and it's commonly argued that a candidate with the most money usually wins. However, this argument, believe it or not, does not hold up under scrutiny. Money helps, but first and foremost, one's words speak loudest. "Only power matters." Again, in order to make your argument logical, you'd have to believe that words don't matter. And you're telling me I should run... so obviously you feel that my words are somehow powerful. Maybe. "The power to bring honesty to City government can only be obtained if you step up and get elected." I'm 23. I walk with a limp. And some people just don't like the idea of me. I think I'll pass. For now. "Lamar, step up to the plate or simply return to oblivion and watch your City burn." You mean burn again? We already burned to the ground during the Civil War. And you know what? I am doing what I can do to "step up to the plate." I'm sorry you feel differently, but like I said before, I think I can affect more change elsewhere. "If you really care, run against the serpent and make a difference." I appreciate your endorsement, but I hardly see why I have to run for office in order to prove that I really care. That's just a backhanded way of calling me a coward. Although I hate to harp on the same point over and over again, I'm the one who signed his name to his opinion. I appreciate the suggestions, ANONYMOUS.

by Blogger

I wrote this already on Cenla Antics... but my sources tell me that a VIP member of the city government is directly behind the purely personal attacks on the Cenla Antics blog. What does this mean? Who knows? What do I mean by "personal?" Well, I read all 2000 something entries, and I think that if you go back and reread everything, you'll see a familiar pattern. The worst attacks share an interesting theme. Hmmmmmmmm........

by Blogger

Monday! Monday! Monday! Returned to Alexandria a few hours ago... and while I was away, I learned some very interesting facts that I am not in a position to give away quite yet. I enjoyed this article in today's Town Talk: Alexandria decisions ‘amaze’ I read with interest that our City Council is looking for more money to help some of our citizens pay their utility bills. I applaud this effort.

It amazes me that our council can give $250,000 to a consulting firm to tell us that we need to plant trees on Third Street and have two-way traffic. It amazes me that this same council authorized $650,000 on a jogging trail that will be seldom used, knowing all the while that the city utility department is behind $3 million on collections. People desperately need help coping with high utility bills. These are the same officials who failed to lock in natural gas prices and actually enabled our utility bills to skyrocket. Thank God for a mild winter. I wonder if these guys can feel the pain. Where are their priorities? It’s almost election time. Should we tell them we approve of the job they are doing?

Don Holloway, Alexandria

Mr. Holloway and I feel the same way about the current state of affairs; however, I also think the city needs to be really careful about how they handle this utility bill crisis. They certainly don't want to do anything illegal. Right? Also, I agree with Mr. Silver's contention that it is equally important for the council to consider the stress these bills are taking on small business owners, because if you're only assisting individuals, you're neglecting the fact that for many businesses, their utility bills are as high as rent. And when this occurs, people lose their jobs. The reception I've received from my article: Hmmmm... one thing is for certain, the people who "disagreed" with me haven't given me a single substantive example of why I am so wrong; insted, they've said that I am "full of myself" and that I "don't know what I am talking about." But so far, no death threats! (Side question: Am I being full of myself in thinking that I am even important enough to warrant a death threat?) People may be confused about the picture I have posted of the old Weiss and Goldring building. Well, our company has a 90-day feasibility study hold on it, and right now, we're looking for investors. So far, we've received committments from quite a few people. It's exciting. I think that the conversion of this building is the key to opening up downtown. Personally, I don't care if the project makes money... it DEFINITELY won't make me a dime (except maybe a gift certificate to Weiss and Goldring in the mall)... what is most important is FINALLY getting the job done.

Friday, March 10, 2006 by Blogger

Interested investors, e-mail me at lamarw@gmail.com.

by Blogger

You know you're touching a nerve when people make personal attacks! "Hey..lamar JR...." Hey. Oh! I get it; you put my name in lower case and capitalized JR in order to create emphasis. Well, hey to you, ANONYMOUS. "why dont you run for office yourself or do something more couragous than lecture everyone on here." Well, you have to start somewhere, right? But thanks for lecturing me about "lecturing everyone on here," which, by the way, was not my intention. Perhaps I need to do something more courageous, but I've put my name out there... which is more than you can say for yourself. "It doesnt make you a MAN just because you have no boss, no political vulnerability, no mortgage to have to be concerned about and thus can sign your NAME." I never meant to emasculate anyone, but I need to correct your assertion: I have a boss. Political vulnerability? Obviously I've made myself vulnerable to anonymous attacks from people in government. And how on earth do you know I don't have a mortgage to pay? You're making assumptions about something you know nothing about. "See, those of us who don't inherit our wealth and substinance have to be careful who we piss off lest we be without a pay check or have a landfill put in our back yard." That way of thinking is self-defeating. Maybe you have a good reason to be scared of sharing your opinions in an honest forum, but ultimately, you're wasting your time. Also, I've worked hard for everything that I have. My family provided me with opportunity, no doubt, but I hardly see how my finances are a part of any discussion concerning the Alexandria government. But you're probably right: wealthy people are NEVER persecuted for their beliefs. "So , when you grow some hair on your chest and have to earn a living without the WHITE name come back and give us some of your self righteous wisdom." You want me to move away and change my name? Well, I lived in Houston for the past five years, and believe me, my last name doesn't mean anything to people over there. And honestly, my last name has little to do with the real issues we should be discussing. It's sad to me that you'd label my opinions as "self-righteous wisdom" without even addressing their substance. This is one of the reasons Alexandria has such a hard time keeping motivated, intelligent young people: If they dare to speak out, they're immediately met with resistance by those whose lives are completely entrenched in a system in desperate need of reform. Rather than listen, they make baseless personal accusations. "We know who you are and all the reasons why we need to treat you with kid gloves but lighten up." Kid gloves? There's no reason to be afraid of being honest with me. I'm just as capable of defending myself as anyone else is (except, of course, if you meant kid gloves literally, in which case, yeah, I'm not a very good boxer at all). And just so you know, I'm in a great mood.

by Blogger

And a former City Councilman seconds me: Rick Ranson said... Bravo to you, Lamar. I was reminded of this blog a few days ago and decided to check it out tonight. It is fortuitous that you made your comments tonight. You are 100% correct. It is time for people to stand up for what is right. If you operate in the shadows hidden by anonymity, you will never win. You must be willing to stand on your convictions. Sometimes that means people will say bad things about you (true or untrue). But that's the price one must be willing to pay if they truly want to make a difference. Lip service is not enough. Some of the comments I have read are very profound and very correct. Unfortunately, unless they are accompanied by the name of a person who is willing to stand behind them, they are worthless. When I was on the City Council, my policy was to respond to 100% of the calls I received from folks who left contact information. I responded to 0% of the anonymous mailings and messages I received. Thanks for taking a stand and I am proud to be the second person willing to use their real name. By the way, if you think this is a fake message, call me and we can discuss it. But, remember, use your real name. Rick Ranson Lamar here: While I really appreciate Mr. Ranson's willingness to jump on board the honesty train, I can't believe that members of this forum were more concerned with his presence than they were of his opinion. The responses weren't about what he said, they were about why he resigned. It's almost like they were star-struck. I could say more about the impotence of their obsessions, but they continue to post anonymously. Thus, they are THE problem: their jobs rely on the city, and they know more about its innerworkings than anyone... but because they're milking from it, they dare not tell the truth... unless it's anonymously and on the Internet really late at night.

Thursday, March 09, 2006 by Blogger

My response to the Cenla Antics Blog: Dear Anonymous Posters Obviously Associated and Disgruntled with Alexandria Government, I discovered this little sounding board today, and I believe it serves a good purpose. I've uncovered some outstanding commentary here. However, as far as I can tell, this post marks the first time in which the writer uses his REAL name. Of course, anonymity allows many of you the ability to write unsubstantiated gossip and mean-spirited attacks against people who cannot defend themselves because this forum isn't exactly the most well-known website in the world. To those people, you're simply pathetic. All of you. Regardless of political persuasion. Regardless of the intention of your claims. If you really care about the state of affairs and if you're really serious about the issues you espouse, then you should have no problem with putting your name next to your opinion. Also, to those of you who are obviously posting from the back offices of City Hall, ladies and gentlemen, your IP addresses can be directly traced. Recently, staffers from both Republican and Democratic Senators offices were exposed as contributors of self-serving content on Wikipedia. If you're using one of Uncle Sam's computers to post slander, even under the shroud of anonymity, you're putting yourself and your boss at risk. I think that most of you really want to see positive change occur in Alexandria, and I share a similar vision. But the only way this will ever occur is if we decide to have enough courage to stand up and speak out. It may be risky to say unpopular things (and I know Alexandria is a small town), but you're accomplishing nothing if you continue to fear the implications of your own beliefs. I agree with much of what has been said here: The local government's composed of a bunch of good ol' boys (and these boys are both black and white), our tax dollars are being wasted on dumb projects, and our government has no concept of how to prioritize. If you share these beliefs, speak out. Cynthia Jardon at The Town Talk will publish your letters. The problem with the paper isn't due to an unwillingness to publish the truth; it's because most people in Alexandria with an opinion, like those in this blog, are simply unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. So please people, share your knowledge with the entire community. Get up. Stand up. Lamar White, Jr. lamarw@gmail.com cenlamar.blogspot.com

by Blogger

HORATIO ISADORE FOR MAYOR

by Blogger

I attempted to send this to Myron Lawson of the Alexandria City Council, but the e-mail address he has listed is invalid. Dear Mr. Lawson, I am writing to express my interest in participating in the discussions of downtown revitalization and to inform you of an upcoming column I wrote for the Town Talk concerning this issue. Although I am very critical of our local government's vision and priorities, I believe the problem exists on a collective level, and I respect the fact that there are many dedicated people who, like yourself, truly want what is best for Alexandria. Often, when people criticize the City Council, the perception is that the criticism is directed toward the individual members, and no doubt, people may incorrectly read this into my column. I contend, however, that the government simply needs to reevaluate their priorities and work at building stronger alliances with businesses. That said, our company, Elm Tree Properties, is considering (edited for a good, practical reason....................................) Today, I spoke with Clifford Muller, and I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and other members of the City Council about their hopes for this critical piece of downtown real estate. Please also share with me your opinion of my column. I want to work with the city, but, at the same time, I feel the need to express my opinion as a concerned citizen. I hope the two are not mutually exclusive in Alexandria. It will be appearing in the Sunday edition, I believe. Sincerely, Lamar PS: You may recall that we shared a moment of fame together over a decade ago when you presented me with the Student of the Week award on KALB-TV. Thanks again.

by Blogger

A VERITABLE GOLD MINE! This is: a) hilarious b) sad c) petty d) interesting e) all of the above cenlaantics.blogspot.com Random posts (there are over 2000 gems from which to choose): Anonymous said... We are like Nero, sniping at each other while Alexandria burns. Did anyone read the paper this morning and see what sort of government we have? the city attorney is setting up the mayor to promote a lease that harms the city but benefits some guy that employs Hobbs and Marshall, is a partner with Smith in a bar, and is Myron's insurance customer. And you are talking etiquette??? Tuesday, December 06, 2005 9:41:39 PM Scarlett said... I'm sure everyone has noticed the topic in the TT in the last few days. As we discussed on this blog, as a result of greed and pandering of influence by the council, utility bills are sky high and will be a major topic in this election. It appears someone on the council has been paying attention. Myron, or his cronies, are trying to cover their bases. It is also appears that the TT is a dear friend to the council. Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:21:53 AM Anonymous said... I imagine that Dr. Alex knows what to expect from Myron. Myron's got two kinds of problems: 1. he is running against a guy with absolutely no political baggage - he is a family doc and a popular person with a pleasing personality and a spotless reputation; 2. Myron has screwed so may people with this lies and double-dealings and irresponsible representation (utility bills, consulting contracts, kickbacks, double-crosses) that his biggest problem is not Dr. Alex, its everybody else. I know for a fact that he as personally lied to and shit upon two of the prosecutors in the DA's office. There is usually a heavy price to pay for that. Monday, March 06, 2006 10:19:45 PM Spanky said... We should expect our mayor and council to be honest and serve the people who elect them with honesty and integrity. The electorate as a whole has to understand that local politics is not a spectator sport and that the results will directly affect their fortunes and estates. It is of the utmost importance that everyone participate and be part of the community. When you analyze poll results, 20-25% voter turnout has 10-12.5 % of the electorate making the decisons for the rest of the population. It is my contention that we have the government we deserve by our neglect as citizens. Apply it across racial, gender and party lines. We as the electorate must motivate our neighbors to care. The first question I ask when someone complains about our government is if they voted. If they do, I listen - If they don't, I tell them to vote and I will listen next time. While we bash our elected officials, and lord knows they deserve an additional double scoop, we are guilty for not being more involved and insisting our fellow citizens be involved also. If recent events of the past year don't motivate people around here to put aside differences and work for change, then nothing will. I am well aware of things that occur in this town and could probably expand on many of the subjects discussed in this blog. It is not good to share everthing one knows. Why have sections of Alexandria been left to crack blight. Do I smell a land grab. By doing nothing, whole neighborhoods have been devalued and equity that was built in homes evaporated as sales prices plunged. Would you believe that houses on Levin street that are selling for 15-20K were worth 80K 15 years ago prior to the interstate shifting the population. I would not call that serving the public. I personally feel that the crack plague was allowed to spread. Especially when it is so obvious that people are dealing and walking the street with goods that would appear to be stolen. I will go as far as saying the city allowed whole neighborhoods to be affected and that you will begin to see developers begin to capitalize on the areas of town that can be picked up at sheriffs sale or bought for a pittance. There is more than one way to steal. Monday, March 06, 2006 8:41:14 PM OutSIDE LOOKING IN said... How much will Dr. Sams and Delores Brewer hurt each other? It is beginning to look like Sams is drawing support accross racial and economic lines. That is a surprise but he has a pretty good organization going. Would it be a mistake to think that Ned's supporters are still out there and that they could be delivered to Brewer or anybody else? Ned's popularity was based on the fact that he wasn't John Snyder. Will that emotional issue still hold up. What happens if Harry Siver and Dudley Hixon announce? Has anyone thought of the big picture? What happened to the "Acosta for Mayor" sign. I only saw one and it vanished. Are all the people waiting on Ned to finally publically announce what is a foregone conclusion - that he can't make another round? Questions? Questions? Saturday, March 04, 2006 9:52:20 AM Also worth noting: People are calling Delores Brewer "Hillary Randolf." And the answer is: e) all of the above.

by Blogger

The Town Talk agreed to publish my letter as a guest column on Sunday. This could only mean one thing. ANGRY MOB! I've been wishing for my very own angry mob ever since I moved back. More later.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 by Blogger

May be appearing in an upcoming issue of The Town Talk. By yours truly. Right Location, Wrong Projects. I am writing in response to the recent opinion piece written by Scott Curry of Jena ("Wrong Locations Picked for Projects," March 8, 2006). Mr. Curry contends that our local government continually doles out money for projects "in the worst part of town," and he references the riverside walking track as a prime example of this type of mismanagement. I respect Mr. Curry's opinion, but I am discouraged that he considers Downtown Alexandria to be the worst part of town. Alexandria is located on the Red River, and although the city has expanded well beyond its original borders, it is critical that we recognize the inherent value of our downtown. A visitor's impression of Alexandria is shaped by two primary factors: our airport and our downtown. Alexandria's new airport terminal was a fantastic investment. Not only does it accommodate a greater number of flights, it also serves as a reflection of the area's potential for growth, particularly for business travelers and investors. The Downtown Revitalization plans are of equal importance. If you're not from Alexandria, your perception of the city's health, more than likely, is based on your perception of downtown. Unfortunately, Alexandria has struggled with revitalization efforts. Of course, there have been a handful of success stories, like the new Coughlin-Saunders Center, but it’s difficult to appreciate the successes when one recognizes that, for the most part, downtown has not undergone the dramatic changes that were commissioned, planned, and promised seven years ago. There are many reasons for this, but I believe this is primarily due to the community's unwillingness to agree on a coherent vision for downtown's future. The only way Alexandria's downtown will ever reemerge is if our local government works with businesses, both big and small, in achieving a shared goal. Instead of involving local businesses, investors, and developers, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to study the feasibility of projects that do not take priority in any model of downtown revitalization: water parks, fishing trails, and yes, walking tracks. (I agree with you on one thing, Mr. Curry). The point isn't that these projects are in the wrong location; they're simply the wrong projects.They may have been planned with the best of intentions, but for a city attempting to revitalize its downtown, they are not an effective use of our limited resources. The reason people seem skeptical of the walking track, for instance, is because most of the surrounding infrastructure remains depressed. Unless we are committed to making capital improvements to the downtown infrastructure, restoring historic buildings, and converting vacant buildings into commercial and residential property, people will continue to refer to downtown as a bad part of town, regardless of the number of parks and trails we build. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the City Council decided to scrap the plans drafted by Pat Moore in 1999. Alexandria spent time, money, and resources hiring a locally-based, award-winning urban planner, someone who certainly understands the culture and dynamics of Alexandria better than anyone from New York or Atlanta. Seven years later, the city continues to spend our tax dollars on projects that either fail to serve a common need or consultation on half-baked ideas that don't address real problems. Despite the reports of mismanagement, inside deals, and misplaced priorities on both ends of the political spectrum, Alexandria has remained relatively complacent. We're currently in a period of sustained growth and expansion, but most local developers won't even consider downtown; it's simply too much of a headache. I should be clear about one thing: I know and respect many members of our local government, and I believe that most of them feel the same way about the state of local affairs. But too often, the voices of reason are being drowned out by those who seem to believe that spending money is their only responsibility. Alexandria is poised for real growth, but if we allow this philosophy of local government to dictate our future, we'll be throwing away a golden opportunity. If you would like to continue this conversation, please visit cenlamar.blogspot.com, an online discussion forum dedicated to the political and social issues affecting Central Louisiana. --

by Blogger

Jogging Near the Interstate Source: The Town Talk, March 8, 2006 "Wrong locations picked for projects It will never cease to amaze me how every time Alexandria officials want to build something they think the city’s citizens will use, it invariably ends up in the worst part of town. Case in point: the walking/jogging track that winds along the river and under the expressway/Interstate 49 interchange. As I recall, it wasn’t very long after the trail opened that a woman was raped while she was walking or jogging. I have a feeling money is going to be wasted to build something that will inevitably wind up being used solely by transients, junkies, dealers and prostitutes. Scott Curry, Jena " First of all, this guy is from Jena, which is like 45 minutes away from Alexandria; why does he really care? If he is right (which he's not), it's for the wrong reasons. It's a failure to understand the nature of revitalization and the broken windows syndrome. There is some debate about this issue on a national level, but to me, it makes sense. The argument is best made by way of example. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NYC subway system was kinda scary. People weren't getting murdered left and right, but there was a large number of petty crimes. How did they fix the problem? They cracked down on people who weren't paying for tickets by rounding them up and detaining them for a few hours and then slapping them with a fine. Then, they painted over all the crappy grafitti that covered nearly every subway car. The system began looking better, and guess what? People began respecting it more. Crime went way down, and today, you don't feel like you're going to get mugged every time you ride the subway. (Though you're now more likely to be paranoid about terrorism). The broken windows syndrome is exactly what is affecting Alexandria, and what Scott from Jena doesn't understand is that the only way for the city to clean up downtown is by investing in it. See, there is a basic concept he fails to grasp: these so-called vagrants don't like to loiter in well-lit nice areas; it makes them too high-profile. So Scott from Jena, you're wrong, man. The city isn't picking the wrong places for their projects; they're just picking the wrong projects. A jogging course and a fishing trail and a water park: WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING? It is very important that we clean up the area, but these solutions are half-baked. Surely, they can do better.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 by Blogger

by Blogger

A long, self-referential open letter to the Alexandria City Council. Dear Distinguished Nominated and/or Elected City Officials, I am writing to share my opinions on Alexandria's housing demands and plans for economic development. After living in Houston for the past five years, I have returned to Alexandria in order to work in real estate management, development, and restoration. Currently, our company serves the housing needs of several hundred local residents, and during the past six months, I have gained an extensive knowledge of Alexandria's unique housing demands and plans for future development. On an average day, I speak with at least thirty people who are looking for a place to live, but because our turnover rate is so small, we rarely have vacancies. In other words, based on my experience, Alexandria is in desperate need of expansion. I know that the City Council continues to research the need for affordable housing. However, I am somewhat baffled by the lack of communication and collaboration between local government officials and individuals who, like myself, respond to these needs on a daily basis. It is difficult to deny that there are thousands of individuals in need of subsidized housing here in Alexandria, and I think there are a number of reasons we continue to struggle with this situation. First, management companies are reluctant to rent to people on housing, because for the most part, people have greater respect for their home when they pay for it themselves. Second, I have encountered, on numerous occasions, individuals that receive subsidized housing who, in most other cities our size, would not qualify. I speak as a disabled individual who has received government assistance in the past. The perception that Alexandria lacks subsidized housing is perhaps exaggerated by the number of people who exploit these programs. I understand that for many people, rent is a huge expense, particularly for a single parent with multiple children, and I believe in our community's obligation to ensure shelter for these individuals. However, I also strongly feel that these programs also serve to perpetuate poverty, and I believe that the City of Alexandria should place tighter controls on the criteria for qualification. That said, you should know that I am diehard liberal, and my opinion does not arise from a disdain for the poor, but from a belief in an individual's capacity to succeed. I know this may not be a popular opinion, and it may not win elections. But we have to eventually face the facts: Despite the fact that our community continues to grow, there is a large segment of our population who are left behind. Of course, there is only a certain amount of change that a local government can affect, but it's readily apparant that the policies and programs we have in place are not efficient or solvent. Rather than spend millions of dollars researching and constructing property that segregates the lower class from the middle and upper classes, we should implement creative lease-to-own programs that empower people. Consider this typical scenario: A local investor spends $25,000 for a three bedroom home near Monroe Street. The investor then locates a tenant on housing and rents the home for $550 a month. In four years, the investor collects over $26,400 in profit, not directly from the tenant, but from the Alexandria Housing Authority. After year four, the investor enjoys $6,600 in pure profit, paid directly from the local government. This policy only serves to benefit the investor. Surely, Alexandria can implement the same type of rent-to-own programs already implemented in other cities. I suggest reading Harvard University's reports entitled "Tax Credits and Rural Housing" and "Pursuing the American Dream: Homeownership and the Role of Federal Housing Policy." We wouldn't have to work from the ground up; these programs exist already. Thanks. I love you guys. NOW LISTEN TO ME. please.

by Blogger

THE VERY FIRST POST An aerial view of Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana. I created this blog for two reasons: First, there aren't any political blogs in Alexandria, Louisiana, and second, my friends from the outside world don't quite understand the strange culture that exists here (or why I'd be so obsessed with it). Anyone would who like to join this conversation is more than welcome. At its best, I believe this blog is like a case study of contemporary life in a city struggling with its own identity and its future. And to that end, I hope that this will illuminate current social and political issues, serving as both subtext and analysis of the stories and events that affect Central Louisiana.

I read with interest that our City Council is looking for more money to help some of our citizens pay their utility bills. I applaud this effort.

It amazes me that our council can give $250,000 to a consulting firm to tell us that we need to plant trees on Third Street and have two-way traffic. It amazes me that this same council authorized $650,000 on a jogging trail that will be seldom used, knowing all the while that the city utility department is behind $3 million on collections. People desperately need help coping with high utility bills. These are the same officials who failed to lock in natural gas prices and actually enabled our utility bills to skyrocket. Thank God for a mild winter. I wonder if these guys can feel the pain. Where are their priorities? It’s almost election time. Should we tell them we approve of the job they are doing?

Don Holloway, Alexandria

Mr. Holloway and I feel the same way about the current state of affairs; however, I also think the city needs to be really careful about how they handle this utility bill crisis. They certainly don't want to do anything illegal. Right? Also, I agree with Mr. Silver's contention that it is equally important for the council to consider the stress these bills are taking on small business owners, because if you're only assisting individuals, you're neglecting the fact that for many businesses, their utility bills are as high as rent. And when this occurs, people lose their jobs. The reception I've received from my article: Hmmmm... one thing is for certain, the people who "disagreed" with me haven't given me a single substantive example of why I am so wrong; insted, they've said that I am "full of myself" and that I "don't know what I am talking about." But so far, no death threats! (Side question: Am I being full of myself in thinking that I am even important enough to warrant a death threat?) People may be confused about the picture I have posted of the old Weiss and Goldring building. Well, our company has a 90-day feasibility study hold on it, and right now, we're looking for investors. So far, we've received committments from quite a few people. It's exciting. I think that the conversion of this building is the key to opening up downtown. Personally, I don't care if the project makes money... it DEFINITELY won't make me a dime (except maybe a gift certificate to Weiss and Goldring in the mall)... what is most important is FINALLY getting the job done. |W|P|114229095207180116|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 12:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Interested investors, e-mail me at lamarw@gmail.com.|W|P|114202397670606113|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 10:03:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|You know you're touching a nerve when people make personal attacks! "Hey..lamar JR...." Hey. Oh! I get it; you put my name in lower case and capitalized JR in order to create emphasis. Well, hey to you, ANONYMOUS. "why dont you run for office yourself or do something more couragous than lecture everyone on here." Well, you have to start somewhere, right? But thanks for lecturing me about "lecturing everyone on here," which, by the way, was not my intention. Perhaps I need to do something more courageous, but I've put my name out there... which is more than you can say for yourself. "It doesnt make you a MAN just because you have no boss, no political vulnerability, no mortgage to have to be concerned about and thus can sign your NAME." I never meant to emasculate anyone, but I need to correct your assertion: I have a boss. Political vulnerability? Obviously I've made myself vulnerable to anonymous attacks from people in government. And how on earth do you know I don't have a mortgage to pay? You're making assumptions about something you know nothing about. "See, those of us who don't inherit our wealth and substinance have to be careful who we piss off lest we be without a pay check or have a landfill put in our back yard." That way of thinking is self-defeating. Maybe you have a good reason to be scared of sharing your opinions in an honest forum, but ultimately, you're wasting your time. Also, I've worked hard for everything that I have. My family provided me with opportunity, no doubt, but I hardly see how my finances are a part of any discussion concerning the Alexandria government. But you're probably right: wealthy people are NEVER persecuted for their beliefs. "So , when you grow some hair on your chest and have to earn a living without the WHITE name come back and give us some of your self righteous wisdom." You want me to move away and change my name? Well, I lived in Houston for the past five years, and believe me, my last name doesn't mean anything to people over there. And honestly, my last name has little to do with the real issues we should be discussing. It's sad to me that you'd label my opinions as "self-righteous wisdom" without even addressing their substance. This is one of the reasons Alexandria has such a hard time keeping motivated, intelligent young people: If they dare to speak out, they're immediately met with resistance by those whose lives are completely entrenched in a system in desperate need of reform. Rather than listen, they make baseless personal accusations. "We know who you are and all the reasons why we need to treat you with kid gloves but lighten up." Kid gloves? There's no reason to be afraid of being honest with me. I'm just as capable of defending myself as anyone else is (except, of course, if you meant kid gloves literally, in which case, yeah, I'm not a very good boxer at all). And just so you know, I'm in a great mood.|W|P|114201391883038032|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 12:01:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| And a former City Councilman seconds me: Rick Ranson said... Bravo to you, Lamar. I was reminded of this blog a few days ago and decided to check it out tonight. It is fortuitous that you made your comments tonight. You are 100% correct. It is time for people to stand up for what is right. If you operate in the shadows hidden by anonymity, you will never win. You must be willing to stand on your convictions. Sometimes that means people will say bad things about you (true or untrue). But that's the price one must be willing to pay if they truly want to make a difference. Lip service is not enough. Some of the comments I have read are very profound and very correct. Unfortunately, unless they are accompanied by the name of a person who is willing to stand behind them, they are worthless. When I was on the City Council, my policy was to respond to 100% of the calls I received from folks who left contact information. I responded to 0% of the anonymous mailings and messages I received. Thanks for taking a stand and I am proud to be the second person willing to use their real name. By the way, if you think this is a fake message, call me and we can discuss it. But, remember, use your real name. Rick Ranson Lamar here: While I really appreciate Mr. Ranson's willingness to jump on board the honesty train, I can't believe that members of this forum were more concerned with his presence than they were of his opinion. The responses weren't about what he said, they were about why he resigned. It's almost like they were star-struck. I could say more about the impotence of their obsessions, but they continue to post anonymously. Thus, they are THE problem: their jobs rely on the city, and they know more about its innerworkings than anyone... but because they're milking from it, they dare not tell the truth... unless it's anonymously and on the Internet really late at night.|W|P|114197836131968615|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 07:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|My response to the Cenla Antics Blog: Dear Anonymous Posters Obviously Associated and Disgruntled with Alexandria Government, I discovered this little sounding board today, and I believe it serves a good purpose. I've uncovered some outstanding commentary here. However, as far as I can tell, this post marks the first time in which the writer uses his REAL name. Of course, anonymity allows many of you the ability to write unsubstantiated gossip and mean-spirited attacks against people who cannot defend themselves because this forum isn't exactly the most well-known website in the world. To those people, you're simply pathetic. All of you. Regardless of political persuasion. Regardless of the intention of your claims. If you really care about the state of affairs and if you're really serious about the issues you espouse, then you should have no problem with putting your name next to your opinion. Also, to those of you who are obviously posting from the back offices of City Hall, ladies and gentlemen, your IP addresses can be directly traced. Recently, staffers from both Republican and Democratic Senators offices were exposed as contributors of self-serving content on Wikipedia. If you're using one of Uncle Sam's computers to post slander, even under the shroud of anonymity, you're putting yourself and your boss at risk. I think that most of you really want to see positive change occur in Alexandria, and I share a similar vision. But the only way this will ever occur is if we decide to have enough courage to stand up and speak out. It may be risky to say unpopular things (and I know Alexandria is a small town), but you're accomplishing nothing if you continue to fear the implications of your own beliefs. I agree with much of what has been said here: The local government's composed of a bunch of good ol' boys (and these boys are both black and white), our tax dollars are being wasted on dumb projects, and our government has no concept of how to prioritize. If you share these beliefs, speak out. Cynthia Jardon at The Town Talk will publish your letters. The problem with the paper isn't due to an unwillingness to publish the truth; it's because most people in Alexandria with an opinion, like those in this blog, are simply unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. So please people, share your knowledge with the entire community. Get up. Stand up. Lamar White, Jr. lamarw@gmail.com cenlamar.blogspot.com|W|P|114196081261482385|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 04:35:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| HORATIO ISADORE FOR MAYOR|W|P|114195096719945987|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I attempted to send this to Myron Lawson of the Alexandria City Council, but the e-mail address he has listed is invalid. Dear Mr. Lawson, I am writing to express my interest in participating in the discussions of downtown revitalization and to inform you of an upcoming column I wrote for the Town Talk concerning this issue. Although I am very critical of our local government's vision and priorities, I believe the problem exists on a collective level, and I respect the fact that there are many dedicated people who, like yourself, truly want what is best for Alexandria. Often, when people criticize the City Council, the perception is that the criticism is directed toward the individual members, and no doubt, people may incorrectly read this into my column. I contend, however, that the government simply needs to reevaluate their priorities and work at building stronger alliances with businesses. That said, our company, Elm Tree Properties, is considering (edited for a good, practical reason....................................) Today, I spoke with Clifford Muller, and I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and other members of the City Council about their hopes for this critical piece of downtown real estate. Please also share with me your opinion of my column. I want to work with the city, but, at the same time, I feel the need to express my opinion as a concerned citizen. I hope the two are not mutually exclusive in Alexandria. It will be appearing in the Sunday edition, I believe. Sincerely, Lamar PS: You may recall that we shared a moment of fame together over a decade ago when you presented me with the Student of the Week award on KALB-TV. Thanks again.|W|P|114194984048853200|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 02:24:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A VERITABLE GOLD MINE! This is: a) hilarious b) sad c) petty d) interesting e) all of the above cenlaantics.blogspot.com Random posts (there are over 2000 gems from which to choose): Anonymous said... We are like Nero, sniping at each other while Alexandria burns. Did anyone read the paper this morning and see what sort of government we have? the city attorney is setting up the mayor to promote a lease that harms the city but benefits some guy that employs Hobbs and Marshall, is a partner with Smith in a bar, and is Myron's insurance customer. And you are talking etiquette??? Tuesday, December 06, 2005 9:41:39 PM Scarlett said... I'm sure everyone has noticed the topic in the TT in the last few days. As we discussed on this blog, as a result of greed and pandering of influence by the council, utility bills are sky high and will be a major topic in this election. It appears someone on the council has been paying attention. Myron, or his cronies, are trying to cover their bases. It is also appears that the TT is a dear friend to the council. Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:21:53 AM Anonymous said... I imagine that Dr. Alex knows what to expect from Myron. Myron's got two kinds of problems: 1. he is running against a guy with absolutely no political baggage - he is a family doc and a popular person with a pleasing personality and a spotless reputation; 2. Myron has screwed so may people with this lies and double-dealings and irresponsible representation (utility bills, consulting contracts, kickbacks, double-crosses) that his biggest problem is not Dr. Alex, its everybody else. I know for a fact that he as personally lied to and shit upon two of the prosecutors in the DA's office. There is usually a heavy price to pay for that. Monday, March 06, 2006 10:19:45 PM Spanky said... We should expect our mayor and council to be honest and serve the people who elect them with honesty and integrity. The electorate as a whole has to understand that local politics is not a spectator sport and that the results will directly affect their fortunes and estates. It is of the utmost importance that everyone participate and be part of the community. When you analyze poll results, 20-25% voter turnout has 10-12.5 % of the electorate making the decisons for the rest of the population. It is my contention that we have the government we deserve by our neglect as citizens. Apply it across racial, gender and party lines. We as the electorate must motivate our neighbors to care. The first question I ask when someone complains about our government is if they voted. If they do, I listen - If they don't, I tell them to vote and I will listen next time. While we bash our elected officials, and lord knows they deserve an additional double scoop, we are guilty for not being more involved and insisting our fellow citizens be involved also. If recent events of the past year don't motivate people around here to put aside differences and work for change, then nothing will. I am well aware of things that occur in this town and could probably expand on many of the subjects discussed in this blog. It is not good to share everthing one knows. Why have sections of Alexandria been left to crack blight. Do I smell a land grab. By doing nothing, whole neighborhoods have been devalued and equity that was built in homes evaporated as sales prices plunged. Would you believe that houses on Levin street that are selling for 15-20K were worth 80K 15 years ago prior to the interstate shifting the population. I would not call that serving the public. I personally feel that the crack plague was allowed to spread. Especially when it is so obvious that people are dealing and walking the street with goods that would appear to be stolen. I will go as far as saying the city allowed whole neighborhoods to be affected and that you will begin to see developers begin to capitalize on the areas of town that can be picked up at sheriffs sale or bought for a pittance. There is more than one way to steal. Monday, March 06, 2006 8:41:14 PM OutSIDE LOOKING IN said... How much will Dr. Sams and Delores Brewer hurt each other? It is beginning to look like Sams is drawing support accross racial and economic lines. That is a surprise but he has a pretty good organization going. Would it be a mistake to think that Ned's supporters are still out there and that they could be delivered to Brewer or anybody else? Ned's popularity was based on the fact that he wasn't John Snyder. Will that emotional issue still hold up. What happens if Harry Siver and Dudley Hixon announce? Has anyone thought of the big picture? What happened to the "Acosta for Mayor" sign. I only saw one and it vanished. Are all the people waiting on Ned to finally publically announce what is a foregone conclusion - that he can't make another round? Questions? Questions? Saturday, March 04, 2006 9:52:20 AM Also worth noting: People are calling Delores Brewer "Hillary Randolf." And the answer is: e) all of the above.|W|P|114194574905236761|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 02:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| The Town Talk agreed to publish my letter as a guest column on Sunday. This could only mean one thing. ANGRY MOB! I've been wishing for my very own angry mob ever since I moved back. More later.|W|P|114194293945631950|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/08/2006 03:26:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|May be appearing in an upcoming issue of The Town Talk. By yours truly. Right Location, Wrong Projects. I am writing in response to the recent opinion piece written by Scott Curry of Jena ("Wrong Locations Picked for Projects," March 8, 2006). Mr. Curry contends that our local government continually doles out money for projects "in the worst part of town," and he references the riverside walking track as a prime example of this type of mismanagement. I respect Mr. Curry's opinion, but I am discouraged that he considers Downtown Alexandria to be the worst part of town. Alexandria is located on the Red River, and although the city has expanded well beyond its original borders, it is critical that we recognize the inherent value of our downtown. A visitor's impression of Alexandria is shaped by two primary factors: our airport and our downtown. Alexandria's new airport terminal was a fantastic investment. Not only does it accommodate a greater number of flights, it also serves as a reflection of the area's potential for growth, particularly for business travelers and investors. The Downtown Revitalization plans are of equal importance. If you're not from Alexandria, your perception of the city's health, more than likely, is based on your perception of downtown. Unfortunately, Alexandria has struggled with revitalization efforts. Of course, there have been a handful of success stories, like the new Coughlin-Saunders Center, but it’s difficult to appreciate the successes when one recognizes that, for the most part, downtown has not undergone the dramatic changes that were commissioned, planned, and promised seven years ago. There are many reasons for this, but I believe this is primarily due to the community's unwillingness to agree on a coherent vision for downtown's future. The only way Alexandria's downtown will ever reemerge is if our local government works with businesses, both big and small, in achieving a shared goal. Instead of involving local businesses, investors, and developers, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to study the feasibility of projects that do not take priority in any model of downtown revitalization: water parks, fishing trails, and yes, walking tracks. (I agree with you on one thing, Mr. Curry). The point isn't that these projects are in the wrong location; they're simply the wrong projects.They may have been planned with the best of intentions, but for a city attempting to revitalize its downtown, they are not an effective use of our limited resources. The reason people seem skeptical of the walking track, for instance, is because most of the surrounding infrastructure remains depressed. Unless we are committed to making capital improvements to the downtown infrastructure, restoring historic buildings, and converting vacant buildings into commercial and residential property, people will continue to refer to downtown as a bad part of town, regardless of the number of parks and trails we build. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the City Council decided to scrap the plans drafted by Pat Moore in 1999. Alexandria spent time, money, and resources hiring a locally-based, award-winning urban planner, someone who certainly understands the culture and dynamics of Alexandria better than anyone from New York or Atlanta. Seven years later, the city continues to spend our tax dollars on projects that either fail to serve a common need or consultation on half-baked ideas that don't address real problems. Despite the reports of mismanagement, inside deals, and misplaced priorities on both ends of the political spectrum, Alexandria has remained relatively complacent. We're currently in a period of sustained growth and expansion, but most local developers won't even consider downtown; it's simply too much of a headache. I should be clear about one thing: I know and respect many members of our local government, and I believe that most of them feel the same way about the state of local affairs. But too often, the voices of reason are being drowned out by those who seem to believe that spending money is their only responsibility. Alexandria is poised for real growth, but if we allow this philosophy of local government to dictate our future, we'll be throwing away a golden opportunity. If you would like to continue this conversation, please visit cenlamar.blogspot.com, an online discussion forum dedicated to the political and social issues affecting Central Louisiana. --|W|P|114186055067263060|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/08/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Jogging Near the Interstate Source: The Town Talk, March 8, 2006 "Wrong locations picked for projects It will never cease to amaze me how every time Alexandria officials want to build something they think the city’s citizens will use, it invariably ends up in the worst part of town. Case in point: the walking/jogging track that winds along the river and under the expressway/Interstate 49 interchange. As I recall, it wasn’t very long after the trail opened that a woman was raped while she was walking or jogging. I have a feeling money is going to be wasted to build something that will inevitably wind up being used solely by transients, junkies, dealers and prostitutes. Scott Curry, Jena " First of all, this guy is from Jena, which is like 45 minutes away from Alexandria; why does he really care? If he is right (which he's not), it's for the wrong reasons. It's a failure to understand the nature of revitalization and the broken windows syndrome. There is some debate about this issue on a national level, but to me, it makes sense. The argument is best made by way of example. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NYC subway system was kinda scary. People weren't getting murdered left and right, but there was a large number of petty crimes. How did they fix the problem? They cracked down on people who weren't paying for tickets by rounding them up and detaining them for a few hours and then slapping them with a fine. Then, they painted over all the crappy grafitti that covered nearly every subway car. The system began looking better, and guess what? People began respecting it more. Crime went way down, and today, you don't feel like you're going to get mugged every time you ride the subway. (Though you're now more likely to be paranoid about terrorism). The broken windows syndrome is exactly what is affecting Alexandria, and what Scott from Jena doesn't understand is that the only way for the city to clean up downtown is by investing in it. See, there is a basic concept he fails to grasp: these so-called vagrants don't like to loiter in well-lit nice areas; it makes them too high-profile. So Scott from Jena, you're wrong, man. The city isn't picking the wrong places for their projects; they're just picking the wrong projects. A jogging course and a fishing trail and a water park: WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING? It is very important that we clean up the area, but these solutions are half-baked. Surely, they can do better.|W|P|114184122969269773|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 04:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P||W|P|114177873430256472|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A long, self-referential open letter to the Alexandria City Council. Dear Distinguished Nominated and/or Elected City Officials, I am writing to share my opinions on Alexandria's housing demands and plans for economic development. After living in Houston for the past five years, I have returned to Alexandria in order to work in real estate management, development, and restoration. Currently, our company serves the housing needs of several hundred local residents, and during the past six months, I have gained an extensive knowledge of Alexandria's unique housing demands and plans for future development. On an average day, I speak with at least thirty people who are looking for a place to live, but because our turnover rate is so small, we rarely have vacancies. In other words, based on my experience, Alexandria is in desperate need of expansion. I know that the City Council continues to research the need for affordable housing. However, I am somewhat baffled by the lack of communication and collaboration between local government officials and individuals who, like myself, respond to these needs on a daily basis. It is difficult to deny that there are thousands of individuals in need of subsidized housing here in Alexandria, and I think there are a number of reasons we continue to struggle with this situation. First, management companies are reluctant to rent to people on housing, because for the most part, people have greater respect for their home when they pay for it themselves. Second, I have encountered, on numerous occasions, individuals that receive subsidized housing who, in most other cities our size, would not qualify. I speak as a disabled individual who has received government assistance in the past. The perception that Alexandria lacks subsidized housing is perhaps exaggerated by the number of people who exploit these programs. I understand that for many people, rent is a huge expense, particularly for a single parent with multiple children, and I believe in our community's obligation to ensure shelter for these individuals. However, I also strongly feel that these programs also serve to perpetuate poverty, and I believe that the City of Alexandria should place tighter controls on the criteria for qualification. That said, you should know that I am diehard liberal, and my opinion does not arise from a disdain for the poor, but from a belief in an individual's capacity to succeed. I know this may not be a popular opinion, and it may not win elections. But we have to eventually face the facts: Despite the fact that our community continues to grow, there is a large segment of our population who are left behind. Of course, there is only a certain amount of change that a local government can affect, but it's readily apparant that the policies and programs we have in place are not efficient or solvent. Rather than spend millions of dollars researching and constructing property that segregates the lower class from the middle and upper classes, we should implement creative lease-to-own programs that empower people. Consider this typical scenario: A local investor spends $25,000 for a three bedroom home near Monroe Street. The investor then locates a tenant on housing and rents the home for $550 a month. In four years, the investor collects over $26,400 in profit, not directly from the tenant, but from the Alexandria Housing Authority. After year four, the investor enjoys $6,600 in pure profit, paid directly from the local government. This policy only serves to benefit the investor. Surely, Alexandria can implement the same type of rent-to-own programs already implemented in other cities. I suggest reading Harvard University's reports entitled "Tax Credits and Rural Housing" and "Pursuing the American Dream: Homeownership and the Role of Federal Housing Policy." We wouldn't have to work from the ground up; these programs exist already. Thanks. I love you guys. NOW LISTEN TO ME. please.|W|P|114177782077043003|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 03:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|THE VERY FIRST POST An aerial view of Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana. I created this blog for two reasons: First, there aren't any political blogs in Alexandria, Louisiana, and second, my friends from the outside world don't quite understand the strange culture that exists here (or why I'd be so obsessed with it). Anyone would who like to join this conversation is more than welcome. At its best, I believe this blog is like a case study of contemporary life in a city struggling with its own identity and its future. And to that end, I hope that this will illuminate current social and political issues, serving as both subtext and analysis of the stories and events that affect Central Louisiana.|W|P|114177609373233744|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com--> I read with interest that our City Council is looking for more money to help some of our citizens pay their utility bills. I applaud this effort.

It amazes me that our council can give $250,000 to a consulting firm to tell us that we need to plant trees on Third Street and have two-way traffic. It amazes me that this same council authorized $650,000 on a jogging trail that will be seldom used, knowing all the while that the city utility department is behind $3 million on collections. People desperately need help coping with high utility bills. These are the same officials who failed to lock in natural gas prices and actually enabled our utility bills to skyrocket. Thank God for a mild winter. I wonder if these guys can feel the pain. Where are their priorities? It’s almost election time. Should we tell them we approve of the job they are doing?

Don Holloway, Alexandria

Mr. Holloway and I feel the same way about the current state of affairs; however, I also think the city needs to be really careful about how they handle this utility bill crisis. They certainly don't want to do anything illegal. Right? Also, I agree with Mr. Silver's contention that it is equally important for the council to consider the stress these bills are taking on small business owners, because if you're only assisting individuals, you're neglecting the fact that for many businesses, their utility bills are as high as rent. And when this occurs, people lose their jobs. The reception I've received from my article: Hmmmm... one thing is for certain, the people who "disagreed" with me haven't given me a single substantive example of why I am so wrong; insted, they've said that I am "full of myself" and that I "don't know what I am talking about." But so far, no death threats! (Side question: Am I being full of myself in thinking that I am even important enough to warrant a death threat?) People may be confused about the picture I have posted of the old Weiss and Goldring building. Well, our company has a 90-day feasibility study hold on it, and right now, we're looking for investors. So far, we've received committments from quite a few people. It's exciting. I think that the conversion of this building is the key to opening up downtown. Personally, I don't care if the project makes money... it DEFINITELY won't make me a dime (except maybe a gift certificate to Weiss and Goldring in the mall)... what is most important is FINALLY getting the job done. |W|P|114229095207180116|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 12:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Interested investors, e-mail me at lamarw@gmail.com.|W|P|114202397670606113|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 10:03:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|You know you're touching a nerve when people make personal attacks! "Hey..lamar JR...." Hey. Oh! I get it; you put my name in lower case and capitalized JR in order to create emphasis. Well, hey to you, ANONYMOUS. "why dont you run for office yourself or do something more couragous than lecture everyone on here." Well, you have to start somewhere, right? But thanks for lecturing me about "lecturing everyone on here," which, by the way, was not my intention. Perhaps I need to do something more courageous, but I've put my name out there... which is more than you can say for yourself. "It doesnt make you a MAN just because you have no boss, no political vulnerability, no mortgage to have to be concerned about and thus can sign your NAME." I never meant to emasculate anyone, but I need to correct your assertion: I have a boss. Political vulnerability? Obviously I've made myself vulnerable to anonymous attacks from people in government. And how on earth do you know I don't have a mortgage to pay? You're making assumptions about something you know nothing about. "See, those of us who don't inherit our wealth and substinance have to be careful who we piss off lest we be without a pay check or have a landfill put in our back yard." That way of thinking is self-defeating. Maybe you have a good reason to be scared of sharing your opinions in an honest forum, but ultimately, you're wasting your time. Also, I've worked hard for everything that I have. My family provided me with opportunity, no doubt, but I hardly see how my finances are a part of any discussion concerning the Alexandria government. But you're probably right: wealthy people are NEVER persecuted for their beliefs. "So , when you grow some hair on your chest and have to earn a living without the WHITE name come back and give us some of your self righteous wisdom." You want me to move away and change my name? Well, I lived in Houston for the past five years, and believe me, my last name doesn't mean anything to people over there. And honestly, my last name has little to do with the real issues we should be discussing. It's sad to me that you'd label my opinions as "self-righteous wisdom" without even addressing their substance. This is one of the reasons Alexandria has such a hard time keeping motivated, intelligent young people: If they dare to speak out, they're immediately met with resistance by those whose lives are completely entrenched in a system in desperate need of reform. Rather than listen, they make baseless personal accusations. "We know who you are and all the reasons why we need to treat you with kid gloves but lighten up." Kid gloves? There's no reason to be afraid of being honest with me. I'm just as capable of defending myself as anyone else is (except, of course, if you meant kid gloves literally, in which case, yeah, I'm not a very good boxer at all). And just so you know, I'm in a great mood.|W|P|114201391883038032|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 12:01:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| And a former City Councilman seconds me: Rick Ranson said... Bravo to you, Lamar. I was reminded of this blog a few days ago and decided to check it out tonight. It is fortuitous that you made your comments tonight. You are 100% correct. It is time for people to stand up for what is right. If you operate in the shadows hidden by anonymity, you will never win. You must be willing to stand on your convictions. Sometimes that means people will say bad things about you (true or untrue). But that's the price one must be willing to pay if they truly want to make a difference. Lip service is not enough. Some of the comments I have read are very profound and very correct. Unfortunately, unless they are accompanied by the name of a person who is willing to stand behind them, they are worthless. When I was on the City Council, my policy was to respond to 100% of the calls I received from folks who left contact information. I responded to 0% of the anonymous mailings and messages I received. Thanks for taking a stand and I am proud to be the second person willing to use their real name. By the way, if you think this is a fake message, call me and we can discuss it. But, remember, use your real name. Rick Ranson Lamar here: While I really appreciate Mr. Ranson's willingness to jump on board the honesty train, I can't believe that members of this forum were more concerned with his presence than they were of his opinion. The responses weren't about what he said, they were about why he resigned. It's almost like they were star-struck. I could say more about the impotence of their obsessions, but they continue to post anonymously. Thus, they are THE problem: their jobs rely on the city, and they know more about its innerworkings than anyone... but because they're milking from it, they dare not tell the truth... unless it's anonymously and on the Internet really late at night.|W|P|114197836131968615|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 07:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|My response to the Cenla Antics Blog: Dear Anonymous Posters Obviously Associated and Disgruntled with Alexandria Government, I discovered this little sounding board today, and I believe it serves a good purpose. I've uncovered some outstanding commentary here. However, as far as I can tell, this post marks the first time in which the writer uses his REAL name. Of course, anonymity allows many of you the ability to write unsubstantiated gossip and mean-spirited attacks against people who cannot defend themselves because this forum isn't exactly the most well-known website in the world. To those people, you're simply pathetic. All of you. Regardless of political persuasion. Regardless of the intention of your claims. If you really care about the state of affairs and if you're really serious about the issues you espouse, then you should have no problem with putting your name next to your opinion. Also, to those of you who are obviously posting from the back offices of City Hall, ladies and gentlemen, your IP addresses can be directly traced. Recently, staffers from both Republican and Democratic Senators offices were exposed as contributors of self-serving content on Wikipedia. If you're using one of Uncle Sam's computers to post slander, even under the shroud of anonymity, you're putting yourself and your boss at risk. I think that most of you really want to see positive change occur in Alexandria, and I share a similar vision. But the only way this will ever occur is if we decide to have enough courage to stand up and speak out. It may be risky to say unpopular things (and I know Alexandria is a small town), but you're accomplishing nothing if you continue to fear the implications of your own beliefs. I agree with much of what has been said here: The local government's composed of a bunch of good ol' boys (and these boys are both black and white), our tax dollars are being wasted on dumb projects, and our government has no concept of how to prioritize. If you share these beliefs, speak out. Cynthia Jardon at The Town Talk will publish your letters. The problem with the paper isn't due to an unwillingness to publish the truth; it's because most people in Alexandria with an opinion, like those in this blog, are simply unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. So please people, share your knowledge with the entire community. Get up. Stand up. Lamar White, Jr. lamarw@gmail.com cenlamar.blogspot.com|W|P|114196081261482385|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 04:35:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| HORATIO ISADORE FOR MAYOR|W|P|114195096719945987|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I attempted to send this to Myron Lawson of the Alexandria City Council, but the e-mail address he has listed is invalid. Dear Mr. Lawson, I am writing to express my interest in participating in the discussions of downtown revitalization and to inform you of an upcoming column I wrote for the Town Talk concerning this issue. Although I am very critical of our local government's vision and priorities, I believe the problem exists on a collective level, and I respect the fact that there are many dedicated people who, like yourself, truly want what is best for Alexandria. Often, when people criticize the City Council, the perception is that the criticism is directed toward the individual members, and no doubt, people may incorrectly read this into my column. I contend, however, that the government simply needs to reevaluate their priorities and work at building stronger alliances with businesses. That said, our company, Elm Tree Properties, is considering (edited for a good, practical reason....................................) Today, I spoke with Clifford Muller, and I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and other members of the City Council about their hopes for this critical piece of downtown real estate. Please also share with me your opinion of my column. I want to work with the city, but, at the same time, I feel the need to express my opinion as a concerned citizen. I hope the two are not mutually exclusive in Alexandria. It will be appearing in the Sunday edition, I believe. Sincerely, Lamar PS: You may recall that we shared a moment of fame together over a decade ago when you presented me with the Student of the Week award on KALB-TV. Thanks again.|W|P|114194984048853200|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 02:24:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A VERITABLE GOLD MINE! This is: a) hilarious b) sad c) petty d) interesting e) all of the above cenlaantics.blogspot.com Random posts (there are over 2000 gems from which to choose): Anonymous said... We are like Nero, sniping at each other while Alexandria burns. Did anyone read the paper this morning and see what sort of government we have? the city attorney is setting up the mayor to promote a lease that harms the city but benefits some guy that employs Hobbs and Marshall, is a partner with Smith in a bar, and is Myron's insurance customer. And you are talking etiquette??? Tuesday, December 06, 2005 9:41:39 PM Scarlett said... I'm sure everyone has noticed the topic in the TT in the last few days. As we discussed on this blog, as a result of greed and pandering of influence by the council, utility bills are sky high and will be a major topic in this election. It appears someone on the council has been paying attention. Myron, or his cronies, are trying to cover their bases. It is also appears that the TT is a dear friend to the council. Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:21:53 AM Anonymous said... I imagine that Dr. Alex knows what to expect from Myron. Myron's got two kinds of problems: 1. he is running against a guy with absolutely no political baggage - he is a family doc and a popular person with a pleasing personality and a spotless reputation; 2. Myron has screwed so may people with this lies and double-dealings and irresponsible representation (utility bills, consulting contracts, kickbacks, double-crosses) that his biggest problem is not Dr. Alex, its everybody else. I know for a fact that he as personally lied to and shit upon two of the prosecutors in the DA's office. There is usually a heavy price to pay for that. Monday, March 06, 2006 10:19:45 PM Spanky said... We should expect our mayor and council to be honest and serve the people who elect them with honesty and integrity. The electorate as a whole has to understand that local politics is not a spectator sport and that the results will directly affect their fortunes and estates. It is of the utmost importance that everyone participate and be part of the community. When you analyze poll results, 20-25% voter turnout has 10-12.5 % of the electorate making the decisons for the rest of the population. It is my contention that we have the government we deserve by our neglect as citizens. Apply it across racial, gender and party lines. We as the electorate must motivate our neighbors to care. The first question I ask when someone complains about our government is if they voted. If they do, I listen - If they don't, I tell them to vote and I will listen next time. While we bash our elected officials, and lord knows they deserve an additional double scoop, we are guilty for not being more involved and insisting our fellow citizens be involved also. If recent events of the past year don't motivate people around here to put aside differences and work for change, then nothing will. I am well aware of things that occur in this town and could probably expand on many of the subjects discussed in this blog. It is not good to share everthing one knows. Why have sections of Alexandria been left to crack blight. Do I smell a land grab. By doing nothing, whole neighborhoods have been devalued and equity that was built in homes evaporated as sales prices plunged. Would you believe that houses on Levin street that are selling for 15-20K were worth 80K 15 years ago prior to the interstate shifting the population. I would not call that serving the public. I personally feel that the crack plague was allowed to spread. Especially when it is so obvious that people are dealing and walking the street with goods that would appear to be stolen. I will go as far as saying the city allowed whole neighborhoods to be affected and that you will begin to see developers begin to capitalize on the areas of town that can be picked up at sheriffs sale or bought for a pittance. There is more than one way to steal. Monday, March 06, 2006 8:41:14 PM OutSIDE LOOKING IN said... How much will Dr. Sams and Delores Brewer hurt each other? It is beginning to look like Sams is drawing support accross racial and economic lines. That is a surprise but he has a pretty good organization going. Would it be a mistake to think that Ned's supporters are still out there and that they could be delivered to Brewer or anybody else? Ned's popularity was based on the fact that he wasn't John Snyder. Will that emotional issue still hold up. What happens if Harry Siver and Dudley Hixon announce? Has anyone thought of the big picture? What happened to the "Acosta for Mayor" sign. I only saw one and it vanished. Are all the people waiting on Ned to finally publically announce what is a foregone conclusion - that he can't make another round? Questions? Questions? Saturday, March 04, 2006 9:52:20 AM Also worth noting: People are calling Delores Brewer "Hillary Randolf." And the answer is: e) all of the above.|W|P|114194574905236761|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 02:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| The Town Talk agreed to publish my letter as a guest column on Sunday. This could only mean one thing. ANGRY MOB! I've been wishing for my very own angry mob ever since I moved back. More later.|W|P|114194293945631950|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/08/2006 03:26:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|May be appearing in an upcoming issue of The Town Talk. By yours truly. Right Location, Wrong Projects. I am writing in response to the recent opinion piece written by Scott Curry of Jena ("Wrong Locations Picked for Projects," March 8, 2006). Mr. Curry contends that our local government continually doles out money for projects "in the worst part of town," and he references the riverside walking track as a prime example of this type of mismanagement. I respect Mr. Curry's opinion, but I am discouraged that he considers Downtown Alexandria to be the worst part of town. Alexandria is located on the Red River, and although the city has expanded well beyond its original borders, it is critical that we recognize the inherent value of our downtown. A visitor's impression of Alexandria is shaped by two primary factors: our airport and our downtown. Alexandria's new airport terminal was a fantastic investment. Not only does it accommodate a greater number of flights, it also serves as a reflection of the area's potential for growth, particularly for business travelers and investors. The Downtown Revitalization plans are of equal importance. If you're not from Alexandria, your perception of the city's health, more than likely, is based on your perception of downtown. Unfortunately, Alexandria has struggled with revitalization efforts. Of course, there have been a handful of success stories, like the new Coughlin-Saunders Center, but it’s difficult to appreciate the successes when one recognizes that, for the most part, downtown has not undergone the dramatic changes that were commissioned, planned, and promised seven years ago. There are many reasons for this, but I believe this is primarily due to the community's unwillingness to agree on a coherent vision for downtown's future. The only way Alexandria's downtown will ever reemerge is if our local government works with businesses, both big and small, in achieving a shared goal. Instead of involving local businesses, investors, and developers, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to study the feasibility of projects that do not take priority in any model of downtown revitalization: water parks, fishing trails, and yes, walking tracks. (I agree with you on one thing, Mr. Curry). The point isn't that these projects are in the wrong location; they're simply the wrong projects.They may have been planned with the best of intentions, but for a city attempting to revitalize its downtown, they are not an effective use of our limited resources. The reason people seem skeptical of the walking track, for instance, is because most of the surrounding infrastructure remains depressed. Unless we are committed to making capital improvements to the downtown infrastructure, restoring historic buildings, and converting vacant buildings into commercial and residential property, people will continue to refer to downtown as a bad part of town, regardless of the number of parks and trails we build. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the City Council decided to scrap the plans drafted by Pat Moore in 1999. Alexandria spent time, money, and resources hiring a locally-based, award-winning urban planner, someone who certainly understands the culture and dynamics of Alexandria better than anyone from New York or Atlanta. Seven years later, the city continues to spend our tax dollars on projects that either fail to serve a common need or consultation on half-baked ideas that don't address real problems. Despite the reports of mismanagement, inside deals, and misplaced priorities on both ends of the political spectrum, Alexandria has remained relatively complacent. We're currently in a period of sustained growth and expansion, but most local developers won't even consider downtown; it's simply too much of a headache. I should be clear about one thing: I know and respect many members of our local government, and I believe that most of them feel the same way about the state of local affairs. But too often, the voices of reason are being drowned out by those who seem to believe that spending money is their only responsibility. Alexandria is poised for real growth, but if we allow this philosophy of local government to dictate our future, we'll be throwing away a golden opportunity. If you would like to continue this conversation, please visit cenlamar.blogspot.com, an online discussion forum dedicated to the political and social issues affecting Central Louisiana. --|W|P|114186055067263060|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/08/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Jogging Near the Interstate Source: The Town Talk, March 8, 2006 "Wrong locations picked for projects It will never cease to amaze me how every time Alexandria officials want to build something they think the city’s citizens will use, it invariably ends up in the worst part of town. Case in point: the walking/jogging track that winds along the river and under the expressway/Interstate 49 interchange. As I recall, it wasn’t very long after the trail opened that a woman was raped while she was walking or jogging. I have a feeling money is going to be wasted to build something that will inevitably wind up being used solely by transients, junkies, dealers and prostitutes. Scott Curry, Jena " First of all, this guy is from Jena, which is like 45 minutes away from Alexandria; why does he really care? If he is right (which he's not), it's for the wrong reasons. It's a failure to understand the nature of revitalization and the broken windows syndrome. There is some debate about this issue on a national level, but to me, it makes sense. The argument is best made by way of example. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NYC subway system was kinda scary. People weren't getting murdered left and right, but there was a large number of petty crimes. How did they fix the problem? They cracked down on people who weren't paying for tickets by rounding them up and detaining them for a few hours and then slapping them with a fine. Then, they painted over all the crappy grafitti that covered nearly every subway car. The system began looking better, and guess what? People began respecting it more. Crime went way down, and today, you don't feel like you're going to get mugged every time you ride the subway. (Though you're now more likely to be paranoid about terrorism). The broken windows syndrome is exactly what is affecting Alexandria, and what Scott from Jena doesn't understand is that the only way for the city to clean up downtown is by investing in it. See, there is a basic concept he fails to grasp: these so-called vagrants don't like to loiter in well-lit nice areas; it makes them too high-profile. So Scott from Jena, you're wrong, man. The city isn't picking the wrong places for their projects; they're just picking the wrong projects. A jogging course and a fishing trail and a water park: WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING? It is very important that we clean up the area, but these solutions are half-baked. Surely, they can do better.|W|P|114184122969269773|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 04:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P||W|P|114177873430256472|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A long, self-referential open letter to the Alexandria City Council. Dear Distinguished Nominated and/or Elected City Officials, I am writing to share my opinions on Alexandria's housing demands and plans for economic development. After living in Houston for the past five years, I have returned to Alexandria in order to work in real estate management, development, and restoration. Currently, our company serves the housing needs of several hundred local residents, and during the past six months, I have gained an extensive knowledge of Alexandria's unique housing demands and plans for future development. On an average day, I speak with at least thirty people who are looking for a place to live, but because our turnover rate is so small, we rarely have vacancies. In other words, based on my experience, Alexandria is in desperate need of expansion. I know that the City Council continues to research the need for affordable housing. However, I am somewhat baffled by the lack of communication and collaboration between local government officials and individuals who, like myself, respond to these needs on a daily basis. It is difficult to deny that there are thousands of individuals in need of subsidized housing here in Alexandria, and I think there are a number of reasons we continue to struggle with this situation. First, management companies are reluctant to rent to people on housing, because for the most part, people have greater respect for their home when they pay for it themselves. Second, I have encountered, on numerous occasions, individuals that receive subsidized housing who, in most other cities our size, would not qualify. I speak as a disabled individual who has received government assistance in the past. The perception that Alexandria lacks subsidized housing is perhaps exaggerated by the number of people who exploit these programs. I understand that for many people, rent is a huge expense, particularly for a single parent with multiple children, and I believe in our community's obligation to ensure shelter for these individuals. However, I also strongly feel that these programs also serve to perpetuate poverty, and I believe that the City of Alexandria should place tighter controls on the criteria for qualification. That said, you should know that I am diehard liberal, and my opinion does not arise from a disdain for the poor, but from a belief in an individual's capacity to succeed. I know this may not be a popular opinion, and it may not win elections. But we have to eventually face the facts: Despite the fact that our community continues to grow, there is a large segment of our population who are left behind. Of course, there is only a certain amount of change that a local government can affect, but it's readily apparant that the policies and programs we have in place are not efficient or solvent. Rather than spend millions of dollars researching and constructing property that segregates the lower class from the middle and upper classes, we should implement creative lease-to-own programs that empower people. Consider this typical scenario: A local investor spends $25,000 for a three bedroom home near Monroe Street. The investor then locates a tenant on housing and rents the home for $550 a month. In four years, the investor collects over $26,400 in profit, not directly from the tenant, but from the Alexandria Housing Authority. After year four, the investor enjoys $6,600 in pure profit, paid directly from the local government. This policy only serves to benefit the investor. Surely, Alexandria can implement the same type of rent-to-own programs already implemented in other cities. I suggest reading Harvard University's reports entitled "Tax Credits and Rural Housing" and "Pursuing the American Dream: Homeownership and the Role of Federal Housing Policy." We wouldn't have to work from the ground up; these programs exist already. Thanks. I love you guys. NOW LISTEN TO ME. please.|W|P|114177782077043003|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 03:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|THE VERY FIRST POST An aerial view of Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana. I created this blog for two reasons: First, there aren't any political blogs in Alexandria, Louisiana, and second, my friends from the outside world don't quite understand the strange culture that exists here (or why I'd be so obsessed with it). Anyone would who like to join this conversation is more than welcome. At its best, I believe this blog is like a case study of contemporary life in a city struggling with its own identity and its future. And to that end, I hope that this will illuminate current social and political issues, serving as both subtext and analysis of the stories and events that affect Central Louisiana.|W|P|114177609373233744|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com--> I read with interest that our City Council is looking for more money to help some of our citizens pay their utility bills. I applaud this effort.

It amazes me that our council can give $250,000 to a consulting firm to tell us that we need to plant trees on Third Street and have two-way traffic. It amazes me that this same council authorized $650,000 on a jogging trail that will be seldom used, knowing all the while that the city utility department is behind $3 million on collections. People desperately need help coping with high utility bills. These are the same officials who failed to lock in natural gas prices and actually enabled our utility bills to skyrocket. Thank God for a mild winter. I wonder if these guys can feel the pain. Where are their priorities? It’s almost election time. Should we tell them we approve of the job they are doing?

Don Holloway, Alexandria

Mr. Holloway and I feel the same way about the current state of affairs; however, I also think the city needs to be really careful about how they handle this utility bill crisis. They certainly don't want to do anything illegal. Right? Also, I agree with Mr. Silver's contention that it is equally important for the council to consider the stress these bills are taking on small business owners, because if you're only assisting individuals, you're neglecting the fact that for many businesses, their utility bills are as high as rent. And when this occurs, people lose their jobs. The reception I've received from my article: Hmmmm... one thing is for certain, the people who "disagreed" with me haven't given me a single substantive example of why I am so wrong; insted, they've said that I am "full of myself" and that I "don't know what I am talking about." But so far, no death threats! (Side question: Am I being full of myself in thinking that I am even important enough to warrant a death threat?) People may be confused about the picture I have posted of the old Weiss and Goldring building. Well, our company has a 90-day feasibility study hold on it, and right now, we're looking for investors. So far, we've received committments from quite a few people. It's exciting. I think that the conversion of this building is the key to opening up downtown. Personally, I don't care if the project makes money... it DEFINITELY won't make me a dime (except maybe a gift certificate to Weiss and Goldring in the mall)... what is most important is FINALLY getting the job done. |W|P|114229095207180116|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 12:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Interested investors, e-mail me at lamarw@gmail.com.|W|P|114202397670606113|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 10:03:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|You know you're touching a nerve when people make personal attacks! "Hey..lamar JR...." Hey. Oh! I get it; you put my name in lower case and capitalized JR in order to create emphasis. Well, hey to you, ANONYMOUS. "why dont you run for office yourself or do something more couragous than lecture everyone on here." Well, you have to start somewhere, right? But thanks for lecturing me about "lecturing everyone on here," which, by the way, was not my intention. Perhaps I need to do something more courageous, but I've put my name out there... which is more than you can say for yourself. "It doesnt make you a MAN just because you have no boss, no political vulnerability, no mortgage to have to be concerned about and thus can sign your NAME." I never meant to emasculate anyone, but I need to correct your assertion: I have a boss. Political vulnerability? Obviously I've made myself vulnerable to anonymous attacks from people in government. And how on earth do you know I don't have a mortgage to pay? You're making assumptions about something you know nothing about. "See, those of us who don't inherit our wealth and substinance have to be careful who we piss off lest we be without a pay check or have a landfill put in our back yard." That way of thinking is self-defeating. Maybe you have a good reason to be scared of sharing your opinions in an honest forum, but ultimately, you're wasting your time. Also, I've worked hard for everything that I have. My family provided me with opportunity, no doubt, but I hardly see how my finances are a part of any discussion concerning the Alexandria government. But you're probably right: wealthy people are NEVER persecuted for their beliefs. "So , when you grow some hair on your chest and have to earn a living without the WHITE name come back and give us some of your self righteous wisdom." You want me to move away and change my name? Well, I lived in Houston for the past five years, and believe me, my last name doesn't mean anything to people over there. And honestly, my last name has little to do with the real issues we should be discussing. It's sad to me that you'd label my opinions as "self-righteous wisdom" without even addressing their substance. This is one of the reasons Alexandria has such a hard time keeping motivated, intelligent young people: If they dare to speak out, they're immediately met with resistance by those whose lives are completely entrenched in a system in desperate need of reform. Rather than listen, they make baseless personal accusations. "We know who you are and all the reasons why we need to treat you with kid gloves but lighten up." Kid gloves? There's no reason to be afraid of being honest with me. I'm just as capable of defending myself as anyone else is (except, of course, if you meant kid gloves literally, in which case, yeah, I'm not a very good boxer at all). And just so you know, I'm in a great mood.|W|P|114201391883038032|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/10/2006 12:01:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| And a former City Councilman seconds me: Rick Ranson said... Bravo to you, Lamar. I was reminded of this blog a few days ago and decided to check it out tonight. It is fortuitous that you made your comments tonight. You are 100% correct. It is time for people to stand up for what is right. If you operate in the shadows hidden by anonymity, you will never win. You must be willing to stand on your convictions. Sometimes that means people will say bad things about you (true or untrue). But that's the price one must be willing to pay if they truly want to make a difference. Lip service is not enough. Some of the comments I have read are very profound and very correct. Unfortunately, unless they are accompanied by the name of a person who is willing to stand behind them, they are worthless. When I was on the City Council, my policy was to respond to 100% of the calls I received from folks who left contact information. I responded to 0% of the anonymous mailings and messages I received. Thanks for taking a stand and I am proud to be the second person willing to use their real name. By the way, if you think this is a fake message, call me and we can discuss it. But, remember, use your real name. Rick Ranson Lamar here: While I really appreciate Mr. Ranson's willingness to jump on board the honesty train, I can't believe that members of this forum were more concerned with his presence than they were of his opinion. The responses weren't about what he said, they were about why he resigned. It's almost like they were star-struck. I could say more about the impotence of their obsessions, but they continue to post anonymously. Thus, they are THE problem: their jobs rely on the city, and they know more about its innerworkings than anyone... but because they're milking from it, they dare not tell the truth... unless it's anonymously and on the Internet really late at night.|W|P|114197836131968615|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 07:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|My response to the Cenla Antics Blog: Dear Anonymous Posters Obviously Associated and Disgruntled with Alexandria Government, I discovered this little sounding board today, and I believe it serves a good purpose. I've uncovered some outstanding commentary here. However, as far as I can tell, this post marks the first time in which the writer uses his REAL name. Of course, anonymity allows many of you the ability to write unsubstantiated gossip and mean-spirited attacks against people who cannot defend themselves because this forum isn't exactly the most well-known website in the world. To those people, you're simply pathetic. All of you. Regardless of political persuasion. Regardless of the intention of your claims. If you really care about the state of affairs and if you're really serious about the issues you espouse, then you should have no problem with putting your name next to your opinion. Also, to those of you who are obviously posting from the back offices of City Hall, ladies and gentlemen, your IP addresses can be directly traced. Recently, staffers from both Republican and Democratic Senators offices were exposed as contributors of self-serving content on Wikipedia. If you're using one of Uncle Sam's computers to post slander, even under the shroud of anonymity, you're putting yourself and your boss at risk. I think that most of you really want to see positive change occur in Alexandria, and I share a similar vision. But the only way this will ever occur is if we decide to have enough courage to stand up and speak out. It may be risky to say unpopular things (and I know Alexandria is a small town), but you're accomplishing nothing if you continue to fear the implications of your own beliefs. I agree with much of what has been said here: The local government's composed of a bunch of good ol' boys (and these boys are both black and white), our tax dollars are being wasted on dumb projects, and our government has no concept of how to prioritize. If you share these beliefs, speak out. Cynthia Jardon at The Town Talk will publish your letters. The problem with the paper isn't due to an unwillingness to publish the truth; it's because most people in Alexandria with an opinion, like those in this blog, are simply unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. So please people, share your knowledge with the entire community. Get up. Stand up. Lamar White, Jr. lamarw@gmail.com cenlamar.blogspot.com|W|P|114196081261482385|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 04:35:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| HORATIO ISADORE FOR MAYOR|W|P|114195096719945987|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|I attempted to send this to Myron Lawson of the Alexandria City Council, but the e-mail address he has listed is invalid. Dear Mr. Lawson, I am writing to express my interest in participating in the discussions of downtown revitalization and to inform you of an upcoming column I wrote for the Town Talk concerning this issue. Although I am very critical of our local government's vision and priorities, I believe the problem exists on a collective level, and I respect the fact that there are many dedicated people who, like yourself, truly want what is best for Alexandria. Often, when people criticize the City Council, the perception is that the criticism is directed toward the individual members, and no doubt, people may incorrectly read this into my column. I contend, however, that the government simply needs to reevaluate their priorities and work at building stronger alliances with businesses. That said, our company, Elm Tree Properties, is considering (edited for a good, practical reason....................................) Today, I spoke with Clifford Muller, and I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and other members of the City Council about their hopes for this critical piece of downtown real estate. Please also share with me your opinion of my column. I want to work with the city, but, at the same time, I feel the need to express my opinion as a concerned citizen. I hope the two are not mutually exclusive in Alexandria. It will be appearing in the Sunday edition, I believe. Sincerely, Lamar PS: You may recall that we shared a moment of fame together over a decade ago when you presented me with the Student of the Week award on KALB-TV. Thanks again.|W|P|114194984048853200|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 02:24:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A VERITABLE GOLD MINE! This is: a) hilarious b) sad c) petty d) interesting e) all of the above cenlaantics.blogspot.com Random posts (there are over 2000 gems from which to choose): Anonymous said... We are like Nero, sniping at each other while Alexandria burns. Did anyone read the paper this morning and see what sort of government we have? the city attorney is setting up the mayor to promote a lease that harms the city but benefits some guy that employs Hobbs and Marshall, is a partner with Smith in a bar, and is Myron's insurance customer. And you are talking etiquette??? Tuesday, December 06, 2005 9:41:39 PM Scarlett said... I'm sure everyone has noticed the topic in the TT in the last few days. As we discussed on this blog, as a result of greed and pandering of influence by the council, utility bills are sky high and will be a major topic in this election. It appears someone on the council has been paying attention. Myron, or his cronies, are trying to cover their bases. It is also appears that the TT is a dear friend to the council. Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:21:53 AM Anonymous said... I imagine that Dr. Alex knows what to expect from Myron. Myron's got two kinds of problems: 1. he is running against a guy with absolutely no political baggage - he is a family doc and a popular person with a pleasing personality and a spotless reputation; 2. Myron has screwed so may people with this lies and double-dealings and irresponsible representation (utility bills, consulting contracts, kickbacks, double-crosses) that his biggest problem is not Dr. Alex, its everybody else. I know for a fact that he as personally lied to and shit upon two of the prosecutors in the DA's office. There is usually a heavy price to pay for that. Monday, March 06, 2006 10:19:45 PM Spanky said... We should expect our mayor and council to be honest and serve the people who elect them with honesty and integrity. The electorate as a whole has to understand that local politics is not a spectator sport and that the results will directly affect their fortunes and estates. It is of the utmost importance that everyone participate and be part of the community. When you analyze poll results, 20-25% voter turnout has 10-12.5 % of the electorate making the decisons for the rest of the population. It is my contention that we have the government we deserve by our neglect as citizens. Apply it across racial, gender and party lines. We as the electorate must motivate our neighbors to care. The first question I ask when someone complains about our government is if they voted. If they do, I listen - If they don't, I tell them to vote and I will listen next time. While we bash our elected officials, and lord knows they deserve an additional double scoop, we are guilty for not being more involved and insisting our fellow citizens be involved also. If recent events of the past year don't motivate people around here to put aside differences and work for change, then nothing will. I am well aware of things that occur in this town and could probably expand on many of the subjects discussed in this blog. It is not good to share everthing one knows. Why have sections of Alexandria been left to crack blight. Do I smell a land grab. By doing nothing, whole neighborhoods have been devalued and equity that was built in homes evaporated as sales prices plunged. Would you believe that houses on Levin street that are selling for 15-20K were worth 80K 15 years ago prior to the interstate shifting the population. I would not call that serving the public. I personally feel that the crack plague was allowed to spread. Especially when it is so obvious that people are dealing and walking the street with goods that would appear to be stolen. I will go as far as saying the city allowed whole neighborhoods to be affected and that you will begin to see developers begin to capitalize on the areas of town that can be picked up at sheriffs sale or bought for a pittance. There is more than one way to steal. Monday, March 06, 2006 8:41:14 PM OutSIDE LOOKING IN said... How much will Dr. Sams and Delores Brewer hurt each other? It is beginning to look like Sams is drawing support accross racial and economic lines. That is a surprise but he has a pretty good organization going. Would it be a mistake to think that Ned's supporters are still out there and that they could be delivered to Brewer or anybody else? Ned's popularity was based on the fact that he wasn't John Snyder. Will that emotional issue still hold up. What happens if Harry Siver and Dudley Hixon announce? Has anyone thought of the big picture? What happened to the "Acosta for Mayor" sign. I only saw one and it vanished. Are all the people waiting on Ned to finally publically announce what is a foregone conclusion - that he can't make another round? Questions? Questions? Saturday, March 04, 2006 9:52:20 AM Also worth noting: People are calling Delores Brewer "Hillary Randolf." And the answer is: e) all of the above.|W|P|114194574905236761|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/09/2006 02:12:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| The Town Talk agreed to publish my letter as a guest column on Sunday. This could only mean one thing. ANGRY MOB! I've been wishing for my very own angry mob ever since I moved back. More later.|W|P|114194293945631950|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/08/2006 03:26:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|May be appearing in an upcoming issue of The Town Talk. By yours truly. Right Location, Wrong Projects. I am writing in response to the recent opinion piece written by Scott Curry of Jena ("Wrong Locations Picked for Projects," March 8, 2006). Mr. Curry contends that our local government continually doles out money for projects "in the worst part of town," and he references the riverside walking track as a prime example of this type of mismanagement. I respect Mr. Curry's opinion, but I am discouraged that he considers Downtown Alexandria to be the worst part of town. Alexandria is located on the Red River, and although the city has expanded well beyond its original borders, it is critical that we recognize the inherent value of our downtown. A visitor's impression of Alexandria is shaped by two primary factors: our airport and our downtown. Alexandria's new airport terminal was a fantastic investment. Not only does it accommodate a greater number of flights, it also serves as a reflection of the area's potential for growth, particularly for business travelers and investors. The Downtown Revitalization plans are of equal importance. If you're not from Alexandria, your perception of the city's health, more than likely, is based on your perception of downtown. Unfortunately, Alexandria has struggled with revitalization efforts. Of course, there have been a handful of success stories, like the new Coughlin-Saunders Center, but it’s difficult to appreciate the successes when one recognizes that, for the most part, downtown has not undergone the dramatic changes that were commissioned, planned, and promised seven years ago. There are many reasons for this, but I believe this is primarily due to the community's unwillingness to agree on a coherent vision for downtown's future. The only way Alexandria's downtown will ever reemerge is if our local government works with businesses, both big and small, in achieving a shared goal. Instead of involving local businesses, investors, and developers, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to study the feasibility of projects that do not take priority in any model of downtown revitalization: water parks, fishing trails, and yes, walking tracks. (I agree with you on one thing, Mr. Curry). The point isn't that these projects are in the wrong location; they're simply the wrong projects.They may have been planned with the best of intentions, but for a city attempting to revitalize its downtown, they are not an effective use of our limited resources. The reason people seem skeptical of the walking track, for instance, is because most of the surrounding infrastructure remains depressed. Unless we are committed to making capital improvements to the downtown infrastructure, restoring historic buildings, and converting vacant buildings into commercial and residential property, people will continue to refer to downtown as a bad part of town, regardless of the number of parks and trails we build. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the City Council decided to scrap the plans drafted by Pat Moore in 1999. Alexandria spent time, money, and resources hiring a locally-based, award-winning urban planner, someone who certainly understands the culture and dynamics of Alexandria better than anyone from New York or Atlanta. Seven years later, the city continues to spend our tax dollars on projects that either fail to serve a common need or consultation on half-baked ideas that don't address real problems. Despite the reports of mismanagement, inside deals, and misplaced priorities on both ends of the political spectrum, Alexandria has remained relatively complacent. We're currently in a period of sustained growth and expansion, but most local developers won't even consider downtown; it's simply too much of a headache. I should be clear about one thing: I know and respect many members of our local government, and I believe that most of them feel the same way about the state of local affairs. But too often, the voices of reason are being drowned out by those who seem to believe that spending money is their only responsibility. Alexandria is poised for real growth, but if we allow this philosophy of local government to dictate our future, we'll be throwing away a golden opportunity. If you would like to continue this conversation, please visit cenlamar.blogspot.com, an online discussion forum dedicated to the political and social issues affecting Central Louisiana. --|W|P|114186055067263060|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/08/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger|W|P| Jogging Near the Interstate Source: The Town Talk, March 8, 2006 "Wrong locations picked for projects It will never cease to amaze me how every time Alexandria officials want to build something they think the city’s citizens will use, it invariably ends up in the worst part of town. Case in point: the walking/jogging track that winds along the river and under the expressway/Interstate 49 interchange. As I recall, it wasn’t very long after the trail opened that a woman was raped while she was walking or jogging. I have a feeling money is going to be wasted to build something that will inevitably wind up being used solely by transients, junkies, dealers and prostitutes. Scott Curry, Jena " First of all, this guy is from Jena, which is like 45 minutes away from Alexandria; why does he really care? If he is right (which he's not), it's for the wrong reasons. It's a failure to understand the nature of revitalization and the broken windows syndrome. There is some debate about this issue on a national level, but to me, it makes sense. The argument is best made by way of example. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NYC subway system was kinda scary. People weren't getting murdered left and right, but there was a large number of petty crimes. How did they fix the problem? They cracked down on people who weren't paying for tickets by rounding them up and detaining them for a few hours and then slapping them with a fine. Then, they painted over all the crappy grafitti that covered nearly every subway car. The system began looking better, and guess what? People began respecting it more. Crime went way down, and today, you don't feel like you're going to get mugged every time you ride the subway. (Though you're now more likely to be paranoid about terrorism). The broken windows syndrome is exactly what is affecting Alexandria, and what Scott from Jena doesn't understand is that the only way for the city to clean up downtown is by investing in it. See, there is a basic concept he fails to grasp: these so-called vagrants don't like to loiter in well-lit nice areas; it makes them too high-profile. So Scott from Jena, you're wrong, man. The city isn't picking the wrong places for their projects; they're just picking the wrong projects. A jogging course and a fishing trail and a water park: WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING? It is very important that we clean up the area, but these solutions are half-baked. Surely, they can do better.|W|P|114184122969269773|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 04:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P||W|P|114177873430256472|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|A long, self-referential open letter to the Alexandria City Council. Dear Distinguished Nominated and/or Elected City Officials, I am writing to share my opinions on Alexandria's housing demands and plans for economic development. After living in Houston for the past five years, I have returned to Alexandria in order to work in real estate management, development, and restoration. Currently, our company serves the housing needs of several hundred local residents, and during the past six months, I have gained an extensive knowledge of Alexandria's unique housing demands and plans for future development. On an average day, I speak with at least thirty people who are looking for a place to live, but because our turnover rate is so small, we rarely have vacancies. In other words, based on my experience, Alexandria is in desperate need of expansion. I know that the City Council continues to research the need for affordable housing. However, I am somewhat baffled by the lack of communication and collaboration between local government officials and individuals who, like myself, respond to these needs on a daily basis. It is difficult to deny that there are thousands of individuals in need of subsidized housing here in Alexandria, and I think there are a number of reasons we continue to struggle with this situation. First, management companies are reluctant to rent to people on housing, because for the most part, people have greater respect for their home when they pay for it themselves. Second, I have encountered, on numerous occasions, individuals that receive subsidized housing who, in most other cities our size, would not qualify. I speak as a disabled individual who has received government assistance in the past. The perception that Alexandria lacks subsidized housing is perhaps exaggerated by the number of people who exploit these programs. I understand that for many people, rent is a huge expense, particularly for a single parent with multiple children, and I believe in our community's obligation to ensure shelter for these individuals. However, I also strongly feel that these programs also serve to perpetuate poverty, and I believe that the City of Alexandria should place tighter controls on the criteria for qualification. That said, you should know that I am diehard liberal, and my opinion does not arise from a disdain for the poor, but from a belief in an individual's capacity to succeed. I know this may not be a popular opinion, and it may not win elections. But we have to eventually face the facts: Despite the fact that our community continues to grow, there is a large segment of our population who are left behind. Of course, there is only a certain amount of change that a local government can affect, but it's readily apparant that the policies and programs we have in place are not efficient or solvent. Rather than spend millions of dollars researching and constructing property that segregates the lower class from the middle and upper classes, we should implement creative lease-to-own programs that empower people. Consider this typical scenario: A local investor spends $25,000 for a three bedroom home near Monroe Street. The investor then locates a tenant on housing and rents the home for $550 a month. In four years, the investor collects over $26,400 in profit, not directly from the tenant, but from the Alexandria Housing Authority. After year four, the investor enjoys $6,600 in pure profit, paid directly from the local government. This policy only serves to benefit the investor. Surely, Alexandria can implement the same type of rent-to-own programs already implemented in other cities. I suggest reading Harvard University's reports entitled "Tax Credits and Rural Housing" and "Pursuing the American Dream: Homeownership and the Role of Federal Housing Policy." We wouldn't have to work from the ground up; these programs exist already. Thanks. I love you guys. NOW LISTEN TO ME. please.|W|P|114177782077043003|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com3/07/2006 03:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger|W|P|THE VERY FIRST POST An aerial view of Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana. I created this blog for two reasons: First, there aren't any political blogs in Alexandria, Louisiana, and second, my friends from the outside world don't quite understand the strange culture that exists here (or why I'd be so obsessed with it). Anyone would who like to join this conversation is more than welcome. At its best, I believe this blog is like a case study of contemporary life in a city struggling with its own identity and its future. And to that end, I hope that this will illuminate current social and political issues, serving as both subtext and analysis of the stories and events that affect Central Louisiana.|W|P|114177609373233744|W|P||W|P|LamarW@gmail.com-->