Only in Louisiana, perhaps, could advocates of smaller government set in motion a plan that would involve putting not less, but more, politicians on the public dime.
That seems to be the case with a proposal on the Oct. 12 ballot to create a separate city of St. George in the southeastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Backers of the breakaway idea originally floated it as a way to create a separate public school system in the area. The original idea was that creating a city would make it then easier to form a new school system. Those legal issues and the question of a new school system, though, are not on the October ballot.
If voters in the southeastern portion of East Baton Rouge Parish create a new city of St. George, the municipality will be required to have a …
The plan has now gone farther afield to envision how municipal services would be handled for such a separate city. Under state law, a newly incorporated St. George would be required to have its own police chief, even though supporters of the breakaway assume that law enforcement in the area would continue to be handled by the parish Sheriff’s Office. There are no firm plans for the new city to have police officers of its own. It's uncertain whether the St. George police chief would be appointed or elected — presumably something voters would like to know before approving a new city.
In a broader sense, specifics on how the new city of St. George would operate are hard to come by, even though champions of the breakaway have had years to figure out the logistics.
At the very least, in creating a taxpayer-funded police chief who would presumably have little to do, St. George backers could well end up hatching the least challenging law enforcement job since Andy Griffith patrolled Mayberry. The actual work of law enforcement would fall to sheriff's deputies, who now do valuable work in the area.
East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Jill Dyason, who represents much of what could become the city of St. George, passed on the first …
A new city of St. George would also have its own mayor and governing board, too, creating another class of politicians in a state that already has no shortage of them. To the dozens of political subdivisions that already exist in East Baton Rouge Parish, a new city of St. George would add yet another layer of bureaucracy.
The proposed breakaway seems like a pretty expensive answer to frustration over local public education options, and voters would be wise to ask a lot of questions before they vote on St. George this autumn.
Andy Griffith was a likable cop, but then again, taxpayers didn’t have to fund his paycheck.