Former State Rep. Erich Ponti, now Executive Director at the Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association
Former State Rep. Erich Ponti was the guest speaker at the Baton Rouge Press Club (BRPC) on Monday, April 1, 2019, to promote an entire series of gas tax increases, increased registration fees for hybrid cars (to $200), increased registration fees for electric vehicles (to $300), all in an effort to increase revenues for funding highway and bridge construction and repair in Louisiana.
Though Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns posed several questions of Ponti (outlined below), he also chose to take an action he’s never yet taken in covering a BRPC speaker.
Burns found himself both livid and insulted at much of Ponti’s commentary on “legislator accountability.” For that reason, he chose to lay the foundation for challenging Ponti away from the BRPC because of his own reservations about being able to “maintain civility” in light of Ponti’s commentary. On Sunday, April 7, 2019, Burns let loose on Ponti’s commentary in the following video produced that same day:
Burns lets loose on Ponti’s open call for taxpayers to “demand legislator accountability” in openly pondering why such “accountability” was sorely lacking on both his part and Rep. Steve Carter’s part regarding the rampant abuses of Louisiana State Police regarding blatant nepotism and other assorted waste pertaining to Senate President John Alario.
In the preceding video, Burns makes the analogy of a customer leaving Academy Sports with a new fishing rod and, at the check out counter right after he forks over the money, the cashier states, “That’s nice that you thought you could use this money to buy this nice fishing rod, but I’ve got another customer I really like over here and he needs a gun so, sir, I’m keeping the money you just handed to me, taking it over to him so he can buy a nice shotgun, and you can go ahead and take your rear end right on out the front door!”
That scenario is a prime example of both Ponti and Carter being perfectly willing to take the money that we taxpayers paid under the premise we were to get roads and bridges constructed and repaired, and they gave it to Alario, his family, and consulting contracts through the roof (see last entry on link above). They then simply nodded their heads up and down while former Gov. Bobby Jindal was in England “educating” the folk over there about Sharia Law while disgraced former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson was simultaneously back home throwing together on a napkin a near 35% raise to LSP Troopers which they readily agreed to. It is therefore beyond infuriating that these two gentlemen would have the unmitigated gall to stand up and lecture to taxpaying citizens to, “call your legislator and demand accountability.”
What really set Burns off (to the point that, as he said, he had to leave the room while Ponti made his presentation) was an excellent question posed by relatively-new (four months or so) BRPC Member Coleman Brown regarding the historical Louisiana Legislature’s spending priorities as well as Ponti’s take on Baton Rouge’s recent “gift” to other taxpayers in approving a 1/2 cent sales tax to make repairs and improvements to roads, “over 50% of which are STATE-OWNED or Federally-owned” in Baton Rouge. Let’s take a look at Ponti’s response to Brown:
Ponti responds to Brown’s excellent question.
We’re looking very forward to Brown being active in the BRPC and posing similar such questions of other guests. As for Ponti’s answer of, “that’s the past,” we express extreme animosity toward him regarding that answer. He served in the Legislature and let $600 million of our taxpayer funds designated to road and bridge construction and repair be diverted to LSP! We really don’t give a flying flip that there’s any so-called assurance that the money will be “in lockbox” to prevent such garbage in the future! Mr. Ponti and Rep. Carter, you gave our money away, now YOU find a way to get it back! Otherwise, don’t ask us for a freaking dime! Would that fishing rod Academy customer continue to patronize the store merely by management explaining it away as, “that’s the past?”
When we see massive traffic backups across the Mississippi River Bridge, we don’t think to ourselves, “Well, that’s what happens when people won’t vote for a tax to fix the problem.” Instead, what we say is, “Well, everyone is sitting in this traffic in order than Senate President John Alario’s family can live high on the hog off our Transportation Trust Fund and, as if that’s not bad enough, while we’re told there’s simply no money to fund highway and bridge construction and repair, just look at the $40 million + in pork barrel projects Kevin Boyd identified in this Hayride article!” In fact let’s just take a moment to itemize it from Boyd’s article, shall we?:
Here are some things JBE did find money for in HB 2:
- $9,236,300 for a soccer stadium in Algiers
- $1,100,000 for the C.C. Antoine Park in Shreveport
- $60,900 for a junior golf course in Shreveport
- $66,600 for a farmer’s market in Westwego
- $1,450,000 for parks in Westwego
- $1,004,400 for an arts and community center in Westwego
- $203,800 for a farmer’s market in Winnsboro
- $971,200 for a sports complex in Youngsville
- $1,500,000 for Tulane University, which last time I checked was private
- $700,000 for the Baton Rouge metro airport, which no one uses
- $13,928,100 for the National World War II Museum, a NGO
- $4,117,900 for Kingsley House, another NGO
- $15,000 for Efforts of Grace, a NGO
- $100,000 for the McKinley High School Alumni Association
- $2,850,000 for Lighthouse For The Blind
- $100,000 for the Baton Rouge YMCA
- $300,000 for the Archdiocese of New Orleans
- $55,000 for Reconcile New Orleans, Inc.
- $200,000 for the Louisiana Association For The Blind
- $405,000 for the Opportunities Industrialization Center
- $35,000 for the Boys and Girls Club
Notice how much of the preceding pork is within Sen. President John Alario’s District; furthermore, every single fiscally-conservative Louisiana citizen has got to be disheartened beyond belief that Alario, who has been in the Louisiana Legislature since 1972 (that’s 47 years for anyone counting) has announced that he is once again going to switch back to the other Chamber of the Legislature (the House of Representatives this time) to seek yet another term. Further, we hear he plans to either put the full-court press on to be Speaker or else designate a puppet for that role and him push for the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee (whose Chairman is term-limited Cameron Henry, who plans to serve in the Louisiana Senate). That secnario would permit even more wasteful pork barrel appropriations such as Boyd outlined above! One member of the House of Representatives confided in us to being queasy about the House of Representatives, in 2020, “becoming the equivalent of the present-day Senate.” What an absolute nightmare scenario!
As mentioned three paragraphs up, Ponti wants us all to get a “warm and fuzzy” feeling that the diversion he and Cater permitted to happen won’t happen again. Here’s his assurance if anyone wants to give it any credibility:
Ponti attempts to provide a “warm and fuzzy” feeling to taxpayers that the LSP fleecing he and Cater permitted to transpire won’t repeat itself.
As mentioned above, despite Burns’ self-admiited anger at Ponti and Carter for their condescending appeals for taxpayers to call legislators and essentially demand a gas tax increase (as part of their assessment of legislators being “accountable” to taxpayers notwithstanding the total lack thereof entailing Ponti and Carter and Transportation Trust money diverted to LSP on their watches), he did manage to pose two civil questions to Ponti. The first question was an assessment of Ponti’s confidence and belief that he can actually pass the measures he’d talked Carter into sponsoring for him. Here’s Ponti’s response:
Ponti responds to specific questions by Burns regarding the proposal’s viability and the public’s ability to get a list of members to his organization.
Notice that Ponti admits to not having a tick-sheet tally on whether he can get the measure out of the House Ways and Means Committee and that, despite this massive collection of coalitions pushing the initiative, we’ll have to wait until “a later date” to see a list of members of his organization’s membership. He also totally avoided the question entailing having 70 votes in the House to pass the measure! Translation: He knows he’s not even remotely close to having the 70 votes needed to pass the House, and he won’t ever come close to getting them this session either!
Burns’ second question entailed Ponti reconciling his optimism that his measure will pass notwithstanding the fact it’s an election year with Gov. Edwards’ statement made on January 7, 2019 before the BRPC that, “We’re not going to have to raise taxes this year.” Edwards’ statement is incorporated into the following video seeking Ponti’s reconciling of the inherent conflict between his optimism and Gov. Edwards’ emphatic statement:
Ponti attempts to reconcile his optimism of passage of his tax measure with Gov. Edwards’ statement about not raising taxes in 2019.
Next, in what was an almost-certain plant question, Ponti is asked where he expects opposition. His response really, really T’d Burns off, a fact which is readily evident beginning at the 9:00 mark of the first video on this page, and we want to STRONGLY, STRONGLY recommend our members watch from the 9:00 on in the first video above to see just how angry Ponti’s response made Burns! Here is Ponti’s response that generated Burns’ wrath:
Ponti is vague on the “outside influence” he believes will constitute his opposition. As Burns states on the first video (beginning at the 9:00 mark), “anyone with two functioning brain cells knows he’s referencing American’s for Prosperity (AFP).”
As mentioned in the first video above (start at 9:00 mark), Rep. Steve Carter has already let it be known his disdain for AFP. Let’s take a 30-second review of his hostility at this time since he wants to be the next State Senator for Senate District 16:
Rep. Steve Carter, a candidate for Senate District 16, vents his EXTREME anger directed at AFP.
Also as mentioned in the first video above (again, start at 9:00 mark), Rep. Ted James made a TOTAL FOOL of himself entailing his commentary on AFP which, as demonstrated below, Burns quickly called him on the carpet on:
Rep. Ted James makes utterly bone-headed statements about AFP!
Here’s Ponti’s statements that we taxpayers, “want a gas tax and don’t care that it’s an election year,” and also that we need to “reach out to our legislators to hold them accountable,” if anybody cares to watch:
Ponti insists Louisiana citizens want their gas taxes raised.
CLICK HERE if you’d like to view Ponti’s presentation in its entirety, but we can’t blame anyone who either #1) gets furious at what he says, or #2) suddenly feels nauseous!
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