Days before Congress adjourns for October recess, the word among lobbyists was that a proposal for flood recovery funding for Louisiana would not even get a vote for inclusion in the continuing resolution (short term budget).
Then, according to Together Baton Rouge, sister IAF organizations across the country began contacting their congressional representatives and senators urging them to support the funding package -- even across partisan lines. Together Baton Rouge posted a video that, in less than one day, was viewed 55,000 times as leaders quickly spread its message urging people to contact their congressional representatives. TBR additionally credits the Louisiana Governor and congressional delegation for "working tirelessly across party lines to make the case for flood recovery."
48 hours after the funding was declared dead on arrival, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, threw his full support behind the funding and announced it would receive a vote.
At stake is tens of thousands of homes and potential foreclosures.
Great Flood of 2016 and What We Need to Rebuild, Together Baton Rouge
Before a packed house of leaders from Together Louisiana, and after eight intense rounds of public testimony, the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry voted to defer all renewal applications for industrial tax exemptions, including an application for property tax breaks by Koch Industries which would have cost (disaster-declared) East Baton Rouge Parish $1.9 million in revenue.Read more
A 'crazy' idea from 70-year-old Betsy Smith amidst the lack of an automated federal response sparked the effort: "Rather than just donate money....donate $120 to pay an unemployed person $15 an hour for an 8-hour day's work helping with the cleanup effort."Read more
At Governor Bel Edward's request, Together Baton Rouge will lead a discussion on police tactics and race relations, a conversation the Times-Picayune editorial board says "is important to have." Towards that end, the governor arranged a meeting between the organization and the Department of Justice Community Relations Service, which will convene public meetings to get input on what needs to change.Read more
A piece by the Christian Science Monitor digs into the question and includes a quote by Rev. Lee Wesley: "Policemen are going to have to get out of their cars, walk the street, and have a conversation with the black guy on the corner â€“ the black guy who has his pants hanging down â€“ and get to know him as an individual, not as a stereotype. Until we get those types of relationships going, we're never going to get our community moving forward."
TBR will soon hold meetings about community policing to address "how we employ people in our law enforcement agencies, how we vet them" and more. Together Baton Rouge also plans to address this issue with all mayoral candidates running this fall.Read more
On the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Together Baton Rouge's community gathering was described as giving "a sense of hope and openness" as leaders listened to each other (regardless of race and age) in a mutually professed desire to move the city forward.Read more
Over 300 leaders of Together Baton Rouge called for both law enforcement and economic reforms at a luncheon meeting held at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. The call to action occurred after breakout sessions in which leaders substantively listened to each other. Said Rev. Lee Wesley, "It is not our goal to return to where we were before Alton Sterling was shot. It is not our goal to get back to business as usual. It is our goal to move forward."Read more
Shortly after leaders of Together Baton Rouge called on the Justice Department to widen the scope of its investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, saying it should include possible state criminal violations, a spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards responded, saying that the U.S. attorney's office will not only investigate whether civil rights were violated, but also potential state and federal violations. "If the U.S. attorney's office finds any violation of state laws and believes the officers should be charged with battery, assault or murder, it will refer that back to the local district attorney for prosecution."Read more
Reforms include requirements that impacted local tax authorities approve the subsidy, including municipal government, school boards and law enforcement; exemptions demonstrate a Return on Investment (ROI) for new jobs or retention of good jobs; and that subsidy applicants sign contractual agreements based on promised investments and local hires.Read more