Bad Week for Louisiana Taxpayers!

September 2, 2009


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


by Jim Brown

Louisiana taxpayers just can’t get a break.  It’s bad enough that the economy continues to languish, unemployment rates are on the rise in the Bayou State, and home foreclosures are increasing.  Even the movie business in the hottest month of the year is way off.   One would think that in the midst of the economic turmoil, state agencies would lay low, and not add to the financial turmoil.  But it was not to be.  Louisiana officials continue to dole out state funds and leave federal dollars on the table for other states to gobble up.  And with next year’s budget deficit predicted to be well over one billion dollars, the choices could rapidly come down to a major ax falling on spending or a call for tax increases.

Tax amnesty kicks off this new month with an archaic, inefficient and unfair concept of letting delinquent tax cheats pay up years of back taxes with no penalty.  What kind of message is it that one can just refuse to pay your state taxes, set the money aside and earn interest, and then wait for the tax holiday that seems to crop up every few years?  Isn’t it the law that one pays taxes or it is a crime if you do not?  The tax cheats get off the hook with no penalty, and the law abiding taxpayer thus carries an even larger burden to make up for the guy who violates the law.

And why does the state even consider such a tax holiday?  Where is the creative thinking to tie the hands of delinquent taxpayers in any number of ways?  Haven’t paid your taxes?  No drivers license, no hunting license, no welfare checks, no building permit, no hand gun permit, no business license of any kind.  The Department of Revenue computer list should be made available to any agency or business who deals with any public agency.  LSU football tickets?  Not if you owe back taxes.  Go to register for college?  You are refused if back taxes are owed.  The list is extensive where the public has dealings with public entities. All it would take is a simple check of the computer delinquency list. No pay, no play.  If such a system was in place, delinquent taxes would be flowing in.  And law abiding taxpayers who follow the law would not be carrying an undue load.

What about the decision by the state Department of Transportation to reject any plans for high-speed rail between New Orleans and Baton Rouge?  States all over the country are seeking a slice of the billions of dollars in the federal stimulus package for similar train service.  California alone submitted 42 applications seeking $1.1 billion and other states the size of Louisiana are seeking as much as $400 million for such faster passenger rail service.  Louisiana officials say the plan would not pay for itself.  So what mode of transportation does?  Do state and local highways run self sufficiently?  Don’t taxpayers subsidize airports all over the state including New Orleans and Baton Rouge?

And wouldn’t rail service between the state’s two largest cities relieve highway traffic that crowds the same routes?   As the population grows south of the state capitol, adding a lane to I-10 will cost billions because it is necessary to build numerous bridges along the route.  A good comparison can be made in New Mexico where a rail line was built between Albuquerque and Santa Fe to avoid adding lanes to I-25.  The length is 90 miles, the same distance between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  A number of critics blame the Governor for putting his national aspirations ahead of the state’s interests.  That would be regrettable for as the head of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber said this week:  “There isn’t a better project than intercity rail to illustrate the future of these two regions being linked.”

“Ya want fries with that?”  That’s what they are saying in Northeast Louisiana, my old stompin’ grounds, where some $37 million dollars in state economic development funds will be spent on a sweet potato plant to produce french fries by a Nebraska company.  Legitimate questions are being raised as to why a similar request by Louisiana’s largest sweet potato producer, Bruce Foods, has been put on the back burner.  I listened to Bruce Foods president Si Brown on the radio last week saying he would have built just as big a facility and hired as many or more workers than the Nebraska company for only $1 million.  And keep all the profits here in Louisiana.  Some real troubling questions are being raised here, but so far only a blasé’ shrug of the shoulders from legislators.

And how bout them Saints?  They remain the only NFL team getting state help as legislative approval for tax dollars was given last week.   The new Saints contract is a better deal than owner Tom Benson had under Gov. Mike Foster.  State funding is direct in the amount of $6 million.  But the side deals of concessions, more luxury boxes for the Saints to sell paid for by taxpayers, garage revenue and a fully paid for office building that Benson owns and the state will lease adds up to a whopping package of some $23 million a year. But how about those 4000 jobs?  Yeah, if you want to work parking cars, and selling beer and pretzels.  It’s a bad business deal for the state.  It only makes sense if there is enough value in bragging rights of having an NFL team.

And if state dollars were not being thrown around enough, the state insurance department announced last week that all homeowners statewide could well see a significant increase in insurance rates if the state run Citizens Property Insurance Company had to pay penalties for not paying legitimate claims on time. Citizens was a creation of the insurance department and the legislature, and has proven to be the biggest financial disaster in the state’s history with losses through mismanagement exceeding $1 billion.  Kafka would find a great story line for his novels about ineptitude as would anyone who studies the Citizens fiasco.  State Treasurer John Kennedy is one of the few state officials calling for the abolishment of Citizens.  If he is successful, policyholders will have a much better shot at lower insurance rates.

Is all this too depressing?  Please do not get too worked up or to upset.  There is some good news on the horizon as the weekend approaches. LSU is a 16 1/2 point favorite over Washington. After all, we do have our priorities.


Money has lots of friends, hanging round the door.

When it’s gone and the spending ends, they don’t come round no more.”

          Jazz Singer Billie Holiday


Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the south.  To read past columns going back to 2002, go to  


The Beacon News – Aurora (IL) June 24, 1998 Robert W. Sundlof, Jr. — Robert W. Sundlof, Jr., 48, of Aurora passed away on Tuesday June 23, 1998. He was born May 5, 1950 in Peoria, IL. Bob owned and operated Frazier and Evans Insurance Co. He was an active lifelong member of Wesley United Methodist Church.

He was also active in Boy Scout Troop #11 at Wesley United Methodist Church and had achieved rank of Eagle Scout as a youth.

He was a graduate of West Aurora High School class of 1968 and subsequently earned his bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

Bob had very strong ties to the Aurora community.

He was a proud member of the Aurora Kiwanis Club where he was a past president and prior to that he was a member of the Aurora Jaycees.

He served on the board of Directors of Mutual Ground, Visiting Nurses Association, Waubonsee Community College, Foundation and Easter Seals where he participated in several Easter Seal telethons.

Bob was also involved with the United Way and the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce, where he served as Treasurer, as well as serving as past president of the Jonathan Trumbull Insurance Society. cave creek az

Bob was an avid organist and pianist.

He played for many local community and church events over the years.

He was also a member of the Aurora Country Club.

Survivors include his wife, Lindy of Aurora; his son, John Robert Sundlof of Aurora; his mother Lacille Sundlof of Aurora; two brothers, Dr. Stephen (Sandra) Sundlof of Silver Spring, MD, Douglas (Lori) Sundlof of Highlands, CO; a sister, Christine (Jerry) Hamilton of Phoenix, AZ; his father and mother-in-law, John and Helen Harbaugh of Lebanon, OH; his brother and sister-in-law, Steve (Diane) Harbaugh of Chesterfield, MO; several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Robert W. Sundlof, Sr. in 1996 and his grandparents.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 26, 1998 at Wesley United Methodist Church.

Rev. Frederic Lippert will officiate.

Interment will take place in Lincoln Memorial Park. Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 at The Healy Chapel 332 W. Downer Pl. Aurora 897-9291.

Memorial donations may be directed to Wesley United Methodist Church or to The Waubonsee Community College Foundation.

Genevieve I. Krauspe Genevieve I. Krauspe, age 72 of South Padre Island, TX passed away at Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield, Sunday morning, June 21, 1998 where she was admitted having recently been diagnosed with lung cancer.

She was born March 27, 1926, in Oshkosh, WI, the daughter of Byron and Mary (Burt) Ising.

Genevieve grew up in Oshkosh where she graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and promptly left for Washington, D.C. where she landed a summer internship with the FBI. She went on to attend Northwestern University where she studied sociology and met Harry F. Krauspe Jr. They were united in marriage, September 9, 1946, in Oshkosh, WI. Through the years that followed, they made their home in Chicago, Dixon, Skokie and Sandwich.

Genevieve devoted her life to her six children and twelve grandchildren and to filling their lives not only with love but with memories of a life well lived.

Her wit and wisdom left a trail of remarks and reminders that move friends and family as easily to laughter as to tears.

The consumate hostess at any gathering, Genevieve had a gift for making people feel at home and single handedly kept everyone entertained and well fed.

She even managed concessions for the Little League for years and managed to coach a season as well.

She was a former member of the Federated Church, Sandwich, and the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, was past president of the Fox Valley Girl Scout Council, several times President of the Sandwich Hospital Auxillary and President of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Through her years in Sandwich she became famous for her Halloween witch costume and Christmas holidays found her making dozens of donuts for her husband’s employee’s and customers at the Sandwich State Bank.

She is survived by six children, Harry “Duke” F. (Cheryl) Krauspe of Elburn, John (Patty) Krauspe of Cataumet, MA, Mary (Karl) Jobe of Lodi, CA, George (Nancy) Krauspe of Milwaukee, WI, Gordon (Claudia) Krauspe of Wheaton, IL, Liese (Jim) Braun of Menomonee Falls, WI; one sister, Janet (Russ) Merrill of Cave Creek, AZ; one brother, Burt (Marie) Ising of Ft. Worth, TX; twelve grandchildren, Christian and John Krauspe of Elburn, Carol and “Duker” Krauspe of Cataumet, MA, Joey Ann and Laura Jobe of Lodi, CA, Christian Krauspe of Milwaukee, WI, Emily and Ethan Krauspe of Wheaton, IL, Sarah, Kate and Hannah Braun of Menomonee Falls, WI.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Harry F. Krauspe, Jr. and her parents.

A memorial visitation will be held at the Community Congregational Church, Main and Shannon Streets, Elburn, on Saturday, June 27, 1998 from 5-7 p.m. The Rev. Katherine Lawes will officiate, memorial services at 7 p.m. and a time of refreshment will follow in the fellowship hall at the church. Arrangements in care of Conley Funeral Home, Elburn 365-6414. in our site cave creek az

Memorials in her name may be made to the American Cancer Society and mailed in care of P.O. Box A, Elburn, IL 60119. Hazel V. Kaptain Hazel V. Kaptain of Elgin, IL, died Tuesday, June 23 at Alderwood Care Center in S. Elgin.

She was born December 5, 1911, in Batavia, IL to Gustav & Julia Klingberg Eckblade.

She was a homemaker and graduate of Batavia High School in 1929.

Survivors include her husband, John P. Kaptain, whom she married on April 25, 1936; one son, David (Sandra) Kaptain of Elgin; and one daughter, Lois (William) Horn of Elgin; one sister, Helen Peterson of Batavia; and grandchildren, Scott (Julia) Horn and Penny (Jeff) Beam.

Mrs. Kaptain was preceded in death by her parents and one brother, Willard Eckblade.

The funeral will be held Friday, June 26, at 2 PM at the Wait Ross Allanson Chapel in Elgin, IL, with the Rev. Thomas Potenza of Epworth United Methodist Church officiating.

The burial with be at Lakewood Memorial Park.

Visitation will be held on Friday, after 1 pm, at the chapel until the time for the services.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Charity of Choice.

Mark W. Knoebel Mark W. Knoebel, age 33, of Newark, passed away suddenly, on Saturday, June 20, 1998 in Mountain Home, Arkansas.

He was born September 21, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois the son of Walter and Joanne (Talty) Knoebel.

Mark was united in marriage on August 15, 1997 in Yorkville, Illinois, to the former Beth Brusveen.

Mr. Knoebel attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Plano.

He was employed as a Carpenter, with Builders Concrete, in Naperville, which is owned and operated by his family.

Mark loved nothing better than being in the outdoors, as an avid fisherman, hunter and rider of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

He will always be remembered as a big hearted guy who loved everyone, no matter what their ages.

Survivors include his wife, Beth, of Newark; his parents, Walter and Joanne Knoebel, of Sandwich; three brothers, Timothy (Carolyn) Knoebel, of Oswego, Daniel Knoebel, of Sandwich and Jack Knoebel, of Marseilles; his nieces and nephews, Cati, Jonathan, Claire, and Alexander Knoebel, Zachary Guzman, and Justin Souers; as well as aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends who will miss him dearly.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Donald and Zelda Talty and his paternal grandparents, Howard and Muriel Knoebel.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, June 27, 1998 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Plano, with Father Jerome Zalonis, M.I.C., officiating.

Interment will be private.

Friends may call from 4 to 9 pm on both Thursday, June 25, 1998 and Friday, June 26, 1998 at the new location of the Larson-Nelson Funeral Home, 1010 W. South St., in Plano.

In lieu of flowers a memorial fund is being established in Mark’s memory, to help children understand and enjoy wild life and the outdoors, so that his love for these may continue through them.

Donations may be made to the Mark W. Knoebel Memorial Fund, c/o NLSB Naperville Bank, 2975 Cedar Glade Dr., Naperville, Illinois 60564.

Arrangements by Nelson Funeral Homes, 630 552-7211 Philip S. Nelson, Owner and Director.

Benjamin S. (Melvin) Feltes Benjamin S. (Melvin) Feltes, 47, of Louisville, Kentucky, passed away at his home in Louisville on Monday, June 15, 1998. He was born October 21, 1950 in Aurora, the son of Laurie (Ogren) Feltes and the late Herbert Feltes.

He was a graduate of Marmion Military Military Academy in Aurora, received his B.S. Degree in Applied Behavioral Science from George Williams College and his M.S.S.W. Degree from Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville.

Survivors include his mother, Laurie, his children, Ben and Elizabeth of Louisville; three step-children, Jenna, Leslie and Scott; three brothers, Michael (Barbara) of Elburn, Martin (Melody) of Aurora, Christopher of Aurora; and five sisters, Jenny of DeKalb, Josephine Feltes (Richard Starke) of Aurora, Annette (John) Morse of Aurora, Laurie (Timothy) Strong of Yorkville; Peggy Revolorio of DeKalb; and sixteen nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Herbert Feltes and an infant brother, Kurt.

Memorial services were held for the immediate family at the Daleiden High St. Mortuary, conducted by Fr. Mario Pedi with interment in St. Joseph Cemetery.

An education fund has been established for Ben’s children at the Old Second Community Bank, 1350 North Farnsworth Ave., Aurora, IL 60505.

Florence Harriett (Schiess) Stokes Florence Harriett (Schiess) Stokes, 94, of Lake Holiday, Sandwich, passed away on Saturday, June 20, 1998 at Sunrise Hillside Care Center in Yorkville.

She was born on September 4, 1903 in Chicago, the daughter of Henry and Marie (Nelson) Schiess.

Florence married William H. Stokes in Chicago in 1923. In 1982, Florence’s husband passed away and Florence continued to live in Warrenville until 1989. At this time, she moved to Lake Holiday and had resided with her daughter and son in-law, Beverly and Louis Mayer.

Florence was a member of the Salem Lutheran Church in Sandwich and also a member of the Women of the Lutheran Church.

Survivors include two daughters, Beverly (Louis) Mayer of Sandwich, Shirley (Thomas) Dreis of St. Charles; seven grandchildren, Gregory (Judy) Mayer of Sandwich, David (Linda) Mayer of Oil City, Pennsylvania, Jeffrey Mayer of Warrenville, Philip (Betsy) Mayer of Warrenville, Judy (Jim) Burki of St. Charles, Debbie (Keith) Luedke of Owensboro, Kentucky, Dan (Rose) Dreis of Bluffton, Indiana and 11 great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, William Stokes and a son in-law, Thomas Dreis.

Funeral services for Florence will be held on Monday, June 29, 1998 at 10:30 a.m. at the Salem Lutheran Church in Sandwich.

Rev. Gregory Mayer will officiate.

Burial will be in the Warrenville Cemetery in Warrenville.

Visitation will be on Monday from 9 a.m. until time of service at the Salem Lutheran Church.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons.

Memorials may be directed to the Salem Lutheran Church in Sandwich or Fox Valley Older Adults Services.

Arrangements by Burkhart Funeral Home in Sandwich.


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