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The 100th Entry (And The Things You Learn When You Shut Up And Start Paying Attention): I started this blog in order to provide a venue in which to express my experiences and opinions of living in Central Louisiana. It's taken time to convince people that I'm not just using this as a way of promoting myself and my business interests. And I admit that this has been a learning experience. When I first entered the "scene," if you will, I walked into an environment ripe with paranoia, division, and political pandering. Like many people (particularly people in my generation), I want to see Downtown Alexandria revitalize and rebound. When I write about revitalization, I am writing about my business interests. I don't think this is a crime. I want to see the Hotel Bentley regain its status as Central Louisiana's premiere hotel. I want to see large-scale conversion projects in downtown: luxury lofts and apartments, office space, restaurants, and boutique stores. And I don't just want to talk about this vision, I want to participate in it. At times, I have listened to the wrong people. There are many good people in the world who happen to be dead wrong about their beliefs and their concept of government. Instead of turning away from these people, I engaged them in conversation. For example, when I first began this blog, I wrote about a meeting I had with Martin Johnson and Myron Lawson, two people who share my enthusiasm about downtown and provide a wealth of knowledge on revitalization plans. (By the way, I hate to disappoint anyone, but this entry isn't about Myron. If you want to bash me for listening to him, feel free to post your ignorance on the other blog). Based on the responses that I received, both on this blog and on the other one, people seemed to think that I had committed a terrible sin. Here is a sampling: To Lamar White, Jr...you were much too kind to Myron in your assessment of his care for the citizens of Alexandria. I don't actually think Myron cares one whit about anyone but himself and his own ilk. He's pretty much made that clear to us already. ..... 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". ..... if you think that he is going to unload/develope 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. .... One of my personal favorites:

What if Harry were to sell his building to a group of "investors" (none have surfaced in the past 35 years, even when the Bentley was thriving and Charlie Damico had his establishment) and they were to sell it to the city or GAEDA. Wouldn't that be a stroke of luck and a coincidence?? In two years you won't even remember the screw job. .... 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. .... Lamar and Lawson are in a lovefest? Lamar you just lost whatever thin support you ever had. Selling out little boy? Damn shame. On the Dorn thing, he's running against Dixon for Curtis's seat in the House. I'd put money on it that he's Myron's boy in the race. Myron apparently sees Dixon as a huge threat to his throne. ....

Initially, I was upset at the remarks carelessly spat in my direction. After all, many of these people seemed to know what they were talking about. But now that I have taken some time, shut up a little bit, and really researched the facts, I think I have a better grasp of the dynamics in place. During the past few months, I haven't just written about the political scene; I've participated in it. I've met with Harry Silver, Myron Lawson, Roosevelt Johnson, Martin Johnson, Delores Brewer, Ned Randolph, and a slew of others who make and/or broker decisions. I've listened to their opinions and their vision of Alexandria, and the vast majority of the time, I am in complete agreement with their assessments. I guess what I am getting at is this: I want downtown to revitalize. My city government wants the same thing. If working with government in order to achieve a shared objective (an objective, I believe, that will benefit our entire community) is a crime in this town, then we've really lost our perspective. I may not agree with some of the decisions our government has made in recent years, and I haven't made up my mind on the upcoming elections. But I have learned this truth: We're better working together than we are apart. I'm sure some of you may think, "Sure, good government is what is good for Lamar." Let me preemptively strike: --I'm not asking for a handout. I'm not begging for the government to provide me with a job or a steady source of income. I'm making suggestions and speaking my mind. --Good government is good for everyone. I happen to think downtown revitalization is good for everyone for a number of reasons. --But it's really risky and speculative. Although there's perfectly sound logic behind downtown revitalization, most developers are reluctant to even approach it. Right now, if you have money to invest in Louisiana, you're investing in the GoZone, cities like Lafayette, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Why? Because federal incentives programs are severely reducing the risks of investment in order to promote growth. And for those who are currently developing in Alexandria, they're spending money along 28W, because of the $100 million Lakes District development and the prospect of Wal-Mart. --So we need to be able to compete if we're planning on sustaining this growth. --And, in order to do this, we must work with our government at ensuring the solvency of revitalization programs. To the person who predicted that a group of investors would suddenly appear and receive a GAEDA grant in order to convert Mr. Silver's building: This hasn't happened. But if it did, why do you care? GAEDA was established in order to help fund downtown revitalization. It's not ALWAYS a mafia of good ol' boys intent on lining one another's pockets; sometimes, it's about reducing the risk of investment through government cooperation. Most of my critics, I realize, don't have the foggiest notion of managing a real estate asset for maximum value and cashflow, but suffice it to say, even the best case scenario for large-scale conversions and renovations in downtown won't make a reasonable return unless the government actively assists... and even then, it's still a big risk. But if we're able to set up lucrative programs that will appeal to downtown development (thus increasing tourism, convention traffic, and outside investment), people will be standing in line to invest in Alexandria. There are countless examples of this occurring in other similarly sized cities, and it works. It doesn't just make a handful of people a lot of money; it makes the entire community a lot of money.