Mayoral candidates endure hour of Engster-induced boredom in next-to-last forum before Saturday’s election.

Baton Rouge radio talk-show host and President of the Baton Rouge Press Club, Jim Engster.

Yesterday (November 30, 2020), the Baton Rouge Press Club (BRPC) hosted a forum for the two finalists seeking to be East Baton Rouge Parish’s Mayor-President for the next four years.  The two finalists are incumbent Sharon Weston-Broome (D) and challenger and former three-term State Representative Steve Carter (R).

We seriously considered passing on yesterday’s forum, but we decided that, since it was transpiring literally just down the street from Sound Off Louisiana’s founder Robert Burns’ home, we decided, “Why not?”

We’re glad we did if for no other reason we believe we can save our subscribers some money from not having to purchase over-the-counter medications to assist in falling asleep on any given sleepless night.  All anyone has to do to cure such insomnia is to play yesterday’s forum on his or her iPhone, and sleep should ensue within 10 minutes or less.  It was literally THAT bad, folks!

We believe that a good portion of that boredom can be attributed to forum moderator Jim Engster, who has served as the President of the BRPC since its prior President, Elizabeth Crisp, whom The Advocate relocated to Washington to be its Washington correspondent and who subsequently became a Washington correspondent for Newsweek, resigned.

BRPC Treasurer Linda Benedict called Engster two minutes before the forum was to begin ensuring he would be there.  Notwithstanding the fact that the email promoting the forum could not have possibly been clearer on when and where the forum was transpiring, Benedict had to reinforce the fact that, “It’s in the same place as the prior forum:  outside under the pavilion.”

What became obvious to anyone with two functioning brain cells as the forum progressed was that, notwithstanding Engster’s asking for other reporters and/or members to “please stand up” to pose a question, Engster did his dead-level best to run out the clock to where no such questions could be posed by anyone other than him.

Now, make no mistake, the tactic to attempt to run out the clock was just fine by us as we had zero intention of posing a question.  That fact notwithstanding, we know for certainty that one gentleman, Coleman Brown, was there in the hope to pose one or more questions about his proposal to potentially save taxpayers a ton of money on his I-10 project.  In our opinion, he had every right to expect to be able to pose any such question(s).

Regrettably, Brown would get no such opportunity because, as will be obvious from the video we’re about to present of the forum in its entirety, Engster literally turned the floor over to others for questions with, by his own admission, “a couple of minutes left before closing by the candidates.”

We firmly believe the BRPC and any public member at large choosing to attend (which now is becoming less and less of an occurrence) would have been better served by allowing a question such as Brown would have posed versus Engster’s time-worn, programmed-robotic style of posing such hot-button questions as, “For whom did you vote for Governor last year, and for President this year?”

Perhaps Carter’s most shining moment in the forum was when he looked to Broome and indicated that Engster has a history of posing that question (we told everyone, it’s a time-worn, programmed-robotic style and content when Engster serves as Moderator), and that his response then, as it is now, is, “That’s why we have curtains.”  Broome indicated concurrence by stating, “That’s right!”  Nevertheless, both Carter and Broome accommodated Engster’s question with the literally earth-shattering revelations that Broome voted for Gov. John Bel Edwards and President-Elect Joe Biden, while Cater revealed that he supported Eddie Rispone and, “The only candidate in the race, in my estimation, and I know you (Engster) voted for Biden, and I voted for Trump.”

We think it’s pretty bad when even the candidates have to try to gently let Engster know that many of his questions are simply repetitive, boring, time-worn, and programmed.  In fact, Broome obviously has become so tired of fielding such questions that, on several questions where Carter had to respond first, Broome then politely inquired, “What was the question again, Jim?”  Does that indicate what a lasting impact Engster’s questions have on the candidates’ attention span, or what?  We don’t fault Broome for having to ask for a repeat of the question on occasion because they sometimes have little or no substance whatsoever and, being blunt, we think that was by design.

With that out of the way, here is a video of the forum in its entirety, and we’re going to try and aid our subscribers by indicating the points in the video to go to if there’s a desire to see a specific response to a question because, as we indicated at the outset, the only purpose attempting to listen to the following video in its entirety can serve is a quick and guaranteed fall-asleep remedy at bedtime for anyone suffering from insomnia!

Breakdown of 11/30/20 EBRP Mayoral Forum Segments:

1:01 – Broome opening.

3:14 – Carter opening.

5:43 -Carter’s “softball” question to Broome (VERY poorly delivered as he struggled to merely read) – “How do you still consider yourself the ‘unity candidate’?”

7:35 – Broome’s question to Carter – “What have you done to address those citizens with concerns about disinvestment specifically in North Baton Rouge?

9:39 – Engster 1 – “What is the chief distinction between you and your opponent?”

12:16 – Engster 2 – “What has been your greatest professional setback as a public official and how did you address it?”

15:07 – Engster 3 – “What do you see as the biggest reason for the increase in crime in this community in the last year in particular?” [As if on cue, police sirens began sounding almost immediately after Engster posed the question!!]

18:00 – Engster 4 – “What is the biggest reason for the division that we’re facing now?”

20:45 – Engster 5 – “Who are some of the people you will have in high places in your administration?”

23:32 – Engster 6 – “What is your perception of the performance of Baton Rouge Chief of Police, Murphy Paul?”

26:26 – Engster 7 – “What will you do to address public education in this community?” [Last we checked, it’s the School Board and Superintendent who can influence that!!]

29:42 – Engster 8 – “Are we headed in the right direction on transportation?”

32:47 – Engster 9 – “What will you do to bring people of all backgrounds (race) together?”

35:39 – Engster 10 – “Should we remove all names of Confederate icons from public streets?”

38:03 – Engster 11 – (This is when it became obvious his intent to drain the clock no near zero) – “For whom did you vote for Governor last year and for President this year?”

39:38 – Engster 12 (Engster’s having to “reach” now to try to run that clock out) – NOT verbatim question “Why do you belong to the political party to which you belong?”

42:28 – Engster 13 – “What will you do to stimulate economic growth in our Parish?”

45:30 – Engster 14 (and he indicates this is the last question before final statements) – “What is your opponent’s biggest strength and weakness?”

47:24 (after stating there are “a few minutes left” – Advocate reporter) – not verbatim – “How do you assess drainage now vs. four years ago?”

50:09 – Channel 2’s Chris Nakamoto – “Will you commit to debate on WBRZ between now and the election?” (Carter’s son was diagnosed with COVID causing a WBRZ debate two weeks ago to be cancelled and Nakamoto indicated WBRZ management has stated that the interest on the parts of the candidates to reschedule has been “lukewarm”).

52:14 – LPB’s Beth Courtney (as reiterated by Engster due to loud winds and inability for most attendees to hear) – “Why is it better to live in Baton Rouge rather than New Orleans?”

56:42 – Carter close.

59:07 – Broome close.

Anybody feel like just rushing to the BRPC’s website and completing a membership application?

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