With deadline looming, St. George petition still needs signatures -- and proponents for new city vow to get them _lowres

Lionel Rainey

Lionel Rainey gave an impassioned one-hour interview defending the proposed City of St. George on Podcast225 this week.

In his interview, he discussed the recent discovery of forgeries on the St. George petition, impacts of St. George to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and allegations that the proposed city is racially motivated.

The entire podcast can be heard here. But here are a few snippets:

On the forgeries:

“Nobody’s perfect,” Rainey said.

He said for an effort so large — more than 18,000 signatures — there were bound to be a few rogue signatures.

Rainey floated the theory that opponents of the St. George movement could have signed the petition with the intention of later coming forward to say that it was a forgery in an attempt to discredit the efforts.

“I believe it very well could have happened,” he said. “It’s not outside the realm of possibility.”

He also said the issue has been blown out of proportion by The Advocate and called the headlines “clickbait.”

Only six of the signatures have been identified as forgeries. District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he is investigating the forgeries as potential crimes, based on a complaint filed by one of the victims.

On East Baton Rouge Parish School System:

Rainey said that East Baton Rouge Parish could end up in a better position if St. George leads to the creation of an independent school system.

He said the school system would be smaller and “more nimble,” and with the leadership of new superintendent Warren Drake, they could make strides toward improvement.

“I hope other school systems that are in trouble see what we do and it gives them the belief that they can do it too and it spreads like wildfire,” Rainey said.

Rainey also said that former Superintendent Bernard Taylor couldn’t have been “a worse superintendent.”

On raising taxes in St. George:

Rainey again shot down the idea that St. George would have to increase taxes to operate independently.

He said the group has engaged a national firm to go through the Faulk and Winkler accounting report, released last year that said taxes would need to be raised.

On the accusation that St. George supporters are distancing themselves from the majority-black inner city:

Rainey got emotional as he shot down allegations of racism.

“It’s so lazy and so inaccurate. I’ve seen every race card, I’ve seen a whole deck of race cards when it comes to St. George,” he said.