Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler responded this week to complaints from backers of the proposed city of St. George who received a mailer last week asking them to withdraw their support for the city.
Those who received the mailer signed a petition that asks voters to decide whether to create a new city in the southern portion of the parish. An anti-St. George group, Better Together/Residents Against the Breakaway, was behind the mail pieces.
Schedler said in a Facebook post that the Secretary of State’s Office cannot regulate how third-party groups, such as the one who sent the mailer, behave. He said his investigation confirmed that a third-party group obtained the petition via a public records request.
“Please be assured that the Secretary of State’s Office does not disclose any confidential information from our statewide voter registration database according to law,” he wrote. “Confidential information includes your social security number, driver’s license number, day and month of date of birth, mother’s maiden name, electronic mail address, cell number and whether you are entitled to assistance in voting.”
Many angry St. George backers complained on social media after receiving the mailers, saying they felt like their privacy was invaded. Some questioned how Better Together/Residents Against the Breakaway knew that they signed the petition.
Petitions are public records, and anyone can request the full petition to vote on the city of St. George from the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Office. In order to request the petition from the registrar, the interested party needs to provide 25 signatures from registered voters in East Baton Rouge.
TV production given free use of former hospital
Sundance TV will get to use the former Woman’s Hospital for free for the next six months as the production company shoots a new show, “Hap and Leonard.”
The Metro Council signed off this week on allowing the AMC Network station to use Woman’s Hospital, but several council members questioned the economic impact the show will bring to Baton Rouge. For now, it’s relatively none.
Sundance TV will film a pilot episode and then the following six episodes while using Woman’s Hospital rent-free. If the show is a hit and gets picked up, Baton Rouge Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel said, the city-parish will renegotiate the terms.
“If it is picked up, that’s when they start doubling down,” said Liza Kelso, executive director of the Baton Rouge Film Commission. “The key is that it is a long-term deal.”
Kelso told the Metro Council that the move is to stay competitive with other Louisiana cities that offer tax credits for filming movies and television shows. While the state offers several incentives for production crews to film here, Baton Rouge does not offer its own additional incentives.
Kelso said the benefit of luring a television show, rather than a movie, to the capital city is that is has the potential for longevity and could create 75 to 100 jobs in the future.
“Mayor (Kip) Holden and I have been working for a long time to make a partnership with not only a feature film but also a television network,” she said.
The show is based on a Joe Lansdale series of novels, and it will transform Baton Rouge into East Texas in the 1980s. It will follow two best friends — one a white working-class man, the other a black, gay military veteran — as they try to stay out of trouble.
Andrea Gallo contributed to this report.