Among a motley crew of candidates for EBRP Mayor President, Jordan Piazza gets the nod from us at Sound Off Louisiana.

Local businessman Jordan Piazza, Republican candidate for EBRP Mayor President.

In today’s edition of Sound Off Louisiana, we provide a thumbnail sketch of each of the seven (7) candidates for Mayor President of East Baton Rouge Parish (EBRP) and provide the rationale for why we’re opting to endorse the campaign of businessman Jordan Piazza.

CANDIDATES for EBRP MAYOR PRESIDENT

Frank Smith, III (R)

Smith readily admits he’s not in the race to win but rather to merely “send a message.”  We’ll merely trust he was able to accomplish his mission.

 

E. Eric Guirard (I)

Former prominent Baton Rouge attorney who was disbarred in 2009, Guirard was known for his bold advertising.  His license was eventually reinstated in 2016, and he’s certainly back in action, and most especially where the bold TV ads are concerned, to include making fun of his hiatus from practicing law in Louisiana:  taking a less-than-subtle pop shot at fellow trial attorney Gordon McKernanbeing abducted by aliensgrabbing the “Es” from his “former law firm,” and even taking on the role of the Godfather of Baton Rouge lawyers.

Guirard’s marketing ploys would be comical were it not for the serious adverse impacts that Louisiana’s “judicial hell hole” environment has imparted upon Louisiana businesses and drivers on Louisiana highways via sky-high liability insurance rates.

 

Incumbent Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome (D)

All of her opponents complain that crime has been absolutely rampant during her tenure as Mayor-President, and that fact speaks for itself.  Broome’s dream scenario is a runoff between herself and Rep. C. Denise Marcell.  Broome is a near-lock for the runoff, but given an expected drop in voter turnout in that December runoff, unless the Broome/Marcelle runoff scenario unfolds, she’s likely in serious trouble.

 

State Rep. C. Denise Marcell (D)

Marcell will have the black lives matter loyalists’ vote locked up.  If the Republican vote is sufficiently split, there is a very small chance of a Broome-Marcelle runoff, a scenario which all but guarantees Mayor Broome a second term in office.

At a recent forum, Marcell took a mild swipe at Mayor Broome entailing Broome taking what Marcell alleges is improper credit for Baton Rouge Police Officers now having body cameras.  One of her Republican opponents, EBRP Metro Councilman Matt Watson (profiled next) joined Marcell in criticizing Broome on that subject.  Let’s take a look:

Candidates C. Denise Marcell and Matt Watson tag-team to attack incumbent Sharon Weston Broome over allegedly taking improper credit for Baton Rouge Police officers now having body cameras to wear as they perform their duties.

While serving on the EBRP Metro Council, Marcell was also the most boisterous player entailing the litigation of former EBRP attorney Mary Roper.  A public hearing was conducted on September 10, 2014 for the purpose of firing Roper.  After Roper was terminated, she sued several metro council members for allegedly not adhering to Louisiana’s public records laws.  Prior to being fired, Roper served subpoenas upon those members seeking the records.  Let’s take a look at Marcell’s thoughts on Roper’s action in that regard:


Marcell vents frustration at former Parish attorney Mary Roper’s tactics to obtain public records.

Her frustration notwithstanding, Marcell was singled out by 19th JDC Judge Tim Kelley for “arbitrarily or capriciously failing to respond to the requests for public records.”  From that Roper litigation.:

Marcelle also acknowledged that when Roper emailed the August request to her, Marcelle responded with an email calling Roper’s actions “harassment,” apparently because the email was· sent to Marcelle’s place of employment. When Marcelle was subsequently served with Roper’s petition, she threw the pleading on the floor in front of the deputy sheriff who served her.

The defendants did not arbitrarily or capriciously fail to respond to the requests for public records, except for Marcelle, against whom the trial court imposed a civil penalty of $12,000.00, plus attorney fees of $19,707.50, and one sixth
of the court costs.

As noted on the preceding link, upon Roper appealing the trial court’s decision, the First Circuit reversed Kelley’s $12,000 civil penalty against Marcelle; however, it let stand the attorney’s fees and court costs assessment.  First Circuit Judge John Michael Guidry, as outlined on the first two pages of the linked document, did dissent entailing singling Marcelle out for attorney’s fees.

EBRP Metro Councilman Matt Watson (R)

While Marcelle reluctantly accepted service at her place of employment but “threw the petition on the floor” in front of the sheriff deputy who served her, Watson had difficulty being served on having defaulted on an $8,400 bank loan.  From the preceding article:

Councilman Matt Watson has been ordered by a judge to pay Campus Federal Credit Union roughly $8,400 after defaulting in September 2019 on a $15,300 loan.

The lawsuit was first filed in October 2019, though a ruling was delayed after officials repeatedly failed to serve him paperwork. He was finally served in March 2020, court records indicate, at his City Hall office.

Watson, who owns a consulting firm, said the ruling is not a reflection of his financial situation, though he noted that a number of “hardworking men and women all over this community” are suffering due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

Well, if defaulting on a bank loan as small as $8,400 “isn’t a reflection of his financial situation,” then what the heck is it?  If he couldn’t (or can’t) manage his personal finances any better than this, we believe he is abjectly disqualified to serve as Mayor President of East Baton Rouge Parish.

That was not the only embarrassing lawsuit entailing Watson.  There were also  these withdrawn lawsuits entailing Watson allegedly being nearly two years late in filing financial disclosures to the State Ethics Board.  From the preceding article:

But Ethics Administrator Kathleen Allen said Tuesday that Watson was in good standing and had paid nearly $7,000 to resolve any remaining fines on Friday morning — before he officially entered the race for mayor-president.

Piazza said Thursday he didn’t pay for the lawsuit, but, regardless, the public deserved to know that it took Watson more than 600 days to file financial disclosures with the state.

“How’s he going to run our city if he can’t run his own life?” Piazza said.

We believe Piazza’s question is spot on!

Former State Rep. Steve Carter (R)

Carter is certainly the “old money establishment candidate” in the race.  Perhaps best known for sponsoring a massive gasoline tax several years ago, Carter openly questioned, “how Adam Knapp [President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, BRAC] is supposed to recruit new businesses with Baton Rouge’s traffic problems.”

Though never mentioned by name, we can most certainly assume it was Carter to whom Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) took out his frustrations when he (Seabaugh) was told he “was not representing his constituents.”  Let’s listen in on Seabaugh entailing (likely) Carter, shall we?:

Sebaugh blasts massive gas tax increase sponsored by Carter.

We do know one thing for sure.  Carter excels at two things:  #1) avoiding responding to letters from constituents, and #2) talking down to people in a condescending manner.  We make the statement regarding #1 from first-hand experience!  Sound Off Louisiana’s founder, Robert Burns, a constituent of Carter’s during his tenure as a state representative, only sent three letters to Steve Carter in that time.  How many of those letters did Carter respond to?  ZERO!  One of those correspondences outlined some $40 million of itemized pork-barrel spending which Burns felt should be eliminated before taxes are raised.

Of course, one of the primary reasons Carter may not have responded to Burns on the preceding letter was because the preceding letter was part of a grassroots effort entailing Americans for Prosperity’s opposition to the tax.  Since Carter avoided Burns’ letter, Burns gave him an opportunity to address the fact that Carter openly lambasted Americans for Prosperity.  Let’s take a look at how he very craftily pivoted on that matter to how long he’s been a Republican:


Burns questions Rep. Carter on his harsh words for Louisiana-based volunteers working for the group Americans for Prosperity.

Another MAJOR (and we do mean MAJOR, well, make that REALLY, REALLY, REALLY MAJOR) item that sticks in our craw is Steve Carter’s drafting of a letter for convicted felon Larry S. Bankston to have his law license reinstated.  From Carter’s July 18, 2000 letter:

We were shocked when Larry was convicted.

Are you freaking serious, Steve?  Are you freaking serious???  Did you listen to just a few of his comments captured on FBI wiretaps?  Let’s remind you of them by providing this Court Listener Link for Totality of FBI Investigation of Larry Bankston With FBI Wire Tap Contents.

From the preceding link:

1. Bankston: [Bob], I’ve been around this a long time and I have not made a nickel off of any of this. And I  and I wasn’t gonna let uh, this get past me. I mean, that’s what they have been talking to me about for some time.

Miller.[5] Okay.

Bankston: And they trust me implicitly as, as you can imagine for them to tell me “I want you to get this.”

* * * *

2. Miller: What we’ve got to work with is, uh  we got there’s a couple of things we can work with. One is, is percentage of the net. The other thing is to  is to uh, consulting fees. You know, the old fashioned stuff. And uh, that will go on through the life of the project. Counsel in your case.

Bankston: I don’t want to be a lawyer.

Miller: Don’t? What do you want to be?

Bankston: I don’t want  I don’t want to be a lawyer. I, being a lawyer all you can get paid for is your time and my time is  You can’t get compensated adequately as a lawyer.

* * * *

3. Bankston: He (Jackson) wants to be left alone by all the other gaming companies in the state. Let me tell you what, that’s your biggest problem.

Brassett:[6] Oh, I know, that’s why we’ve kept this sucker so quiet.

Miller: Explain to me what that means.

Bankston: That Players will do anything and everything to stop and slow down this project.

….

Miller: So what are you gonna do?

Bankston: I can protect you from those guys.

Miller: Because?

Bankston: Because of who I am.

* * * *

4. Bankston: There are some other people from Louisiana that I will need to take care of as a result of what the Chief tells me to do.

Brassett: I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about obviously. I mean that know about this deal?

Bankston: No.

1. Miller: You know if we do uh, I don’t know, we’ll give you 5% of the 8% that we have, that the three of us have, is that going to be sufficient?

Bankston: Oh, that will be fine.

* * * *

2. Bankston: We’ll take care of it, everybody that needs to be taken care of.

Miller: Okay. Who’s [sic] name do you want this stuff in?

Bankston: Uh, I’m going to give you a corporate name.

* * * *

3. Miller: I’m telling you that we’re going to do this, we’re going to give you the 5% and you’re going to make the crooked ways straight.

Bankston: And I’ll, and I can do that. Because let me tell you what.

Miller: You won, you beat the shit out of us.

Bankston: They gonna, [Bob], they are going to come out like gang busters against us. That is why this thing has to be kept very quiet.

Miller: Well, we’re keep  Who’s going to come out?

Bankston: Everybody and his uncle.

Miller: The other companies, you think?

Bankston: Binion’s all the way to uh, uh, Norbert Simmons. Nobody wants to see anymore of anything.

Miller: You think you can keep them off our backs?

Bankston: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Mr. Bankston: Bob, I’m going to stay away from Mike Brassett and stay away from this entire thing. The thing is going to blow up and I don’t want to be involved when it blows up.

Mr. Miller: Okay.

Mr. Bankston: And I don’t want to be involved with people that fucking tape people’s telephone conversations.

Mr. Miller: That was interesting, wasn’t it?

Mr. Bankston: I mean, I don’t do business that way and I don’t want to be around anybody that does that.

Mr. Bankston: But I just can’t afford to be involved with something, and particularly when the Chief is off in fucking never-never land on stuff, you know. He’s over here; he’s over there; I mean, he wants to do this  he wants to wake up one day and find somebody, have them, you know, give him a million dollars and not have to make any decisions, apparently or something. I don’t know. So, I am fini.

Mr. Bankston: I’ll let you all go fight this battle and see if you all can …

Mr. Miller: Well, I don’t know what to do exactly.

Mr. Bankston: I don’t either. I don’t either. I’m just … I’ve got kinda  I told the Chief that if you won’t, ah, if you get, if you finalize a plan, come tell me what the plan is and then I’ll determine whether or not I might be able to be of service to somebody

Mr. Miller: … Uh, what’s, if I can uh, if I can put uh, you know take, take care of Brassett and take care of Capital Gaming, still want to work on this thing?

Mr. Bankston: Yeah, but I’m, I’m not going to be involved with anything that Mike Brassett’s involved with.

Mr. Miller: I catch your drift.

Mr. Bankston: I mean, I, I, after what he told you, do, do you trust him? And he sent a letter to me kind of th, threatening me.

Mr. Miller: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Mr. Bankston: Yeah.

Mr. Miller: He likes to write letters.

Mr. Bankston: Yeah. Uh, I don’t want to be involved with anybody that wants to talk about suing people.

Mr. Miller … So, let me tell you what our, our plan is, is that uh would be to get somebody to come in and be an angel and uh, take Brassett and this other guy out. I think the Chief wants him out too, don’t you?

Mr. Bankston: He does. He definitely does.

Id. at 5.

Mr. Miller: … Do you have any suggestions?

Mr. Bankston: I, I think you’re doing all right cause uh the Chief is not going to deal with Brassett. Mike Brassett’s out of control.

Bankston: I do want to participate in as many of these locations … as I can.

Goodson: Okay. But see I’ve got down, down, down in uh, down in Marrero and Gretna we’ve got uh Nunez, I was trying to do something in his hometown and we couldn’t. So he said his territory was St. Bernard Parish and those locations are in St. Bernard they’re not in West Westwego. But uh, we went and we went and talked with John about what we were doing down there and got his blessing there right and you there within a stone’s throw

Bankston: Within his office.

Goodson: One of em is of his office. But uh, it appears that it’s all go right now.

Bankston: Yeah.

Goodson: And I don’t want to commit myself to these people and then turn around and, and not be able to produce and I think we’re producing. It’s just taking a little bit longer

Bankston: Yeah.

Goodson: (Inaudible)

Bankston: And that’s the problem, we’ve got to get these in sync. My wife is about to choke me Fred (laughs)

Goodson: (Laughs) For what?

Bankston: She said where is all this happening? (snickers) The worst thing about this Fred is I’m married to a CPA.

Goodson: Oh my gosh.

Bankston: Nothing worse than a CPA for a wife. She’s I mean, she, she understands the 

Goodson: She (inaudible) (laughs) It ain’t gonna be good and I

Bankston: All right.

Goodson: And I hope that other one of three thousand acres, we’re gonna bid on that next month. I hope that comes up. Then we can be productive a little bit.

It would be one thing if Carter had expressed “shock” at Bankston’s conviction at this stage of his life at 78 years old.  We could excuse a little senility starting to creep in.  However, Carter went to bat for Bankston, as evidenced by his recommendation letter above, which is dated July 18, 2000, at a time when Carter was only 58 and presumably on top of his game so to speak.  So, since he was “shocked” when Bankston’s conviction had transpired only a few years before his glowing letter of recommendation and, in light of the FBI wire tap conversations above, for Carter to be “shocked,” causes us to, like Watson, view him as abjectly unqualified to server as Mayor President of East Baton Rouge Parish!

Speaking of Carter’s age, at a recent forum, Jordan Piazza, one of his challengers (profiled next) specifically challenged Carter on whether he was simply too old for the job.  Let’s take a look:

Carter challenger Jordan Piazza challenges Carter on the issue of his age.

We also mentioned above Carter’s propensity to speak to people in a condescending manner.  A prime example is when he educated us voters in former State Senator Dan Claitor’s (now Franklin Foil’s) district entailing how, “your individual vote means something.”  Carter made that statement after he lost by a mere four (4) votes to Foil.  Well, perhaps if Carter chose to take a few moments to at least respond to what few letters Burns sent him (which, again, he provided NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER), perhaps Burns and his family, which resides in that Senate District, may have actually voted for him!  He wants the vote, but he has no qualms ignoring a few letters sent to him during his tenure as a member of the House!  Given that Burns (and presumably other mere peon constituents) don’t carry the sway of an Adam Knapp, it made the choice of pulling Franklin Foil’s lever pretty darn easy for Burns and his family and, as it turned out, provided him with the margin of victory he needed!  Had those few votes flipped and been cast for Carter, he would be a Louisiana State Senator!  So, Mr. Carter, perhaps YOU can take a lesson on just how important responding to ANY constituent just may be!

That about sums it up entailing where we at Sound Off Louisiana stand entailing Steve Carter.  If the race comes down to a runoff between him and Broome, we will very, very reluctantly support Carter over Broome, but his “voter enthusiasm” beyond the core LSU-area crowd (Carter is a former tennis star and tennis coach at LSU) and the old money Baton Rouge Area Chamber crowd is simply nonexistent.  That’s likely why this recent JMC Analytics poll shows that Carter is just barely nibbling at Broome’s moderate white vote!

Local businessman Jordan Piazza.

Most long-time Baton Rouge residents will immediately recognize the Piazza name entailing Jordan’s father, Gus, as the owner of a very popular restaurant once located on Government Street called Phil’s Oyster Bar.  It was well-known as a hangout for LSU sports fans.  In fact, that was the case to such an extent that, when former LSU basketball player Jordy Hultburg was teaming with Tom Hammond to broadcast an LSU basketball game some 30+ years ago (before Jordan was even born), Hultburg suddenly and out-of-the-blue said, “After the game, why not come and join me and some of my friends at Phil’s Oyster bar?”  Hammond immediately chastised Hultburg in stating, “Jordy, you know we can’t give free plugs like that!”

Phil’s eventually closed the Government Street location.  It was briefly revived years later at what was a former BBQ place on Concord Avenue right off College Drive.  It would be impossible for any restaurant to make a go at that location because there is ZERO visibility and, unless you know it’s there beforehand, you’ll never know of its existence.

Four years ago, Jordan and some other investors reopened Phil’s Oyster Bar at a very prominent location on Perkins Road, and the restaurant appears to be performing quite well.  In early 2020 Jordan sold his interest in Phil’s to focus his efforts on a project that he and several friends and business partners embarked upon to revitalize Uncle Earl’s Bar, which is also located on Perkins Road.  Anyone is welcome to learn more about the Piazza campaign at  Piazza for Progress.

Now, we’re going to go ahead and address the 800-pound gorilla that routinely appears on various Facebook pages entailing Piazza’s candidacy.  We’ve seen numerous posts on Facebook (most especially on a closed group to which we were invited and joined) that Piazza is serving as a plant for Mayor Broome, with one poster even saying Broome provided the staff to run Piazza’s campaign.

One poster said Broome was doing this, “to ensure a sufficient split of the Republican vote to ensure she wins in the primary without the need for a runoff.”  That post demonstrates an abject failure to comprehend how Louisiana’s open primary system works.  Any anti-Broome vote for ANY candidate has the same effect irrespective of for whom that vote is cast (including Marcelle).  It’s mind-boggling to us that such a post can be made by someone who simply lacks the ability to comprehend how Louisiana’s open primary system works!  Broome can avoid a runoff only by capturing 50 percent plus one vote!  It’s that simple!  Republicans could place 500 candidates in the race, and any vote for any one of them serves as an impediment to Broome winning in the primary.  Hence, to make an asinine statement that “by splitting the Republican vote” Broome obtains a clearer path to reelection “without the need for a runoff” is simply a statement that has absolutely no basis or foundation where logic is concerned.

Now, if Broome is behind the Piazza candidacy, and we don’t know whether she is or not but merely that posts of such are present on Facebook pages we monitor, then what her goal could be is to try and split the Republican vote sufficiently such that C. Denise Marcelle would finish second and be her runoff opponent!  That scenario, which is certainly Broome’s dream scenario, would most certainly assure her of a reelection victory.  If the previously-linked JMC analytics poll above is any guide, however, it would seem that Marcelle’s chances of ending up in a runoff with Broome are slim and none, and slim just left town!

Now, just as we have no idea if Broome may be behind the Piazza candidacy or not, we also have no idea whether he’ll make a great Mayor President for Baton Rouge or not.  He certainly has the youthful energy and drive and, in our opinion, he represents the best option given the motley crew of candidates in this year’s race for Mayor President of East Baton Rouge Parish.  For that reason, we at Sound Off Louisiana formally endorse his candidacy for the November 3, 2020 election.

If anyone would care to watch a recent forum of the EBRP Mayor President race (if one can stomach it), feel free to do so by CLICKING HERE.

In closing, we are actively conducting research on another race on the November 3, 2020 election ballot.  We’ve reviewed a number of campaign finance reports, and we’re going to continue gathering more information and crunch more numbers to make sure we’re accurate, after which we plan to release a feature on that race sometime early next week.  We think you’ll find it very intriguing!

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