Rolfe McCollister should mind his own business

Rolfing has been characterized as QUACKERY.  It is not known whether Rolfing is safe or cost-effective. (Wikipedia)

On August 1 Rolfe McCollister penned a venomous attack piece on seven Ascension Parish Council members who rejected A Better Ascension’s (ABA) proposal to replace the parish presidency with a manager.  His publication, Baton Rouge Business Report, was in the bag for ABA from the beginning which is understandable given the Baton Rouge business interests behind what was packaged as a grass roots movement by local citizens.  Why does Rolfe McCollister think his opinion should matter to the people of Ascension Parish?

He’s got a lot of them, opinions that is, when it comes to Baton Rouge’s neighbor across the Bayou Manchac.  Maybe that is due to the mass exodus from the Red Stick to Ascension.  Since Prairieville ran out of room south Baton Rougeans are considering forming a whole different city.

“The old politics and self-centered politicians still rule in Ascension Parish, and they are leading it nowhere,” McCollister wrote about the Council’s 7-3 rejection of ABA’s plan on July 19.  “The voters in the next election should toss out everyone who voted no—because they basically told voters they were too stupid to make a decision about their own plan of government, and didn’t deserve that right.”

McCollister mischaracterized (whether intentionally or not is a question since no one from his publication bothered to attend) the Home Rule Charter Revision Committee deliberations that resulted in a 6-4 pro-ABA recommendation to the Council.  That recommendation came prior to ABA’s document being discussed, not that much discussion ensued after the vote.  Momentous changes were included in the ABA Home Rule Charter, so drastic as to demand “thorough vetting” which never occurred.

“This is the kind of thing you’d expect in China or Russia, not Ascension.  Shame on these small-minded politicians who don’t trust their own voters…” McCollister wrote.

And our favorite: “If a business was looking at Ascension and watched this circus with these clowns, it would likely turn and run.”

Unlikely so long as the Mighty Mississippi churns its way through Ascension Parish and parish taxing authorities are handing out those Industrial Tax Exemptions but, hey, if the BR Business Report says so (“Business” is included right there in the name)…Counterfactual hyperbole and faux-indignation without facts to support his patronizing diatribe, McCollister went on to blast two parish presidents and one hopeful.

“You should be outraged. Even if you would vote against this proposal, you deserved the right to speak at the ballot box. It’s your government, not theirs.”

ABA was not McCollister’s first foray into Ascension politics.  Along with key ABA players he pimped Baton Rouge’s own Chris Loar in a failed 2015 bid for Ascension’s presidency…

Bill Dawson, third from left at Chris Loar campaign announcement in 2015

most notably Council Chairman (and native of Baker) Bill Dawson.

Without Baker Bill’s thumb on the scale ABA’s proposal would never have appeared on any Council meeting agenda.  In fact, Dawson had taken up the Council-Manager governance cause before there was a Non-Profit Corporation called A Better Ascension.  He and Loar’s sometime fishing buddy, Aaron Lawler, met with individual(s) who would become ABA’s corporate officers prior to…

Dawson’s convening a Committee of the Whole (Council) failed to get him what he wanted, so he proposed the February 15 resolution creating the Home Rule Charter Revision Committee.  Certain of Dawson’s colleagues, Todd Lambert in particular, claimed to have been snookered since he perceived the committee’s task to be suggesting non-ABA revisions.

Leaving nothing to chance Dawson appointed himself to the committee, as did Lawler and Councilwoman Teri Casso.

Nobody had gushed over Chris Loar like Casso, understandable given Council Chairman Loar appointed her to head up the Finance Committee within days of Casso’s 2012 inauguration.  It was all part of the grand design, a meteoric ascendancy to the presidency for Loar; and a Big City takeover of Ascension government from the local yokels who need to be told what’s good for them.

We natives are left to wonder why all our new neighbors moved to Ascension in the first place, not that you’re unwelcome.

In 2015 Baker Bill Dawson, as President of Pelican Point’s HOA, barred Loar’s opponents from walking the large subdivision while hosting meet and greets for the Boy Wonder who was heir apparent to then president Tommy Martinez.  When the Golden Boy got embarrassed at the polls on October 24, 2105, two months from moving back to Baton Rouge, Dawson and Casso played ball (we suspect Lawler would have joined them but he was in a runoff election for Loar’s old Council seat)…

awaiting the chance to grab at power by other means.

The opportunity arose with ABA and they pounced, no matter that proposed revisions left a multitude of questions unanswered:

  • Why was it a good idea to require eight Council members to fire a Parish Manager?
  • What benefit is there in eliminating the Human Resources Department; and Finance Department?
  • Did ABA mean to give an unelected Manager authority to hire as many administrative employees as he/she wanted?
  • What about empowering that Manager to set salaries at any amount he/she deemed fit?
  • And the Council would not even have the authority to ratify any department heads?

None of those questions were asked by the Charter Revision Committee, much less answered.  It was irresponsible of Dawson, Lawler and Casso to vote for a proposal which had never been vetted and their constituents should remember it next October.

We applaud Councilmen Oliver Joseph, Travis Turner, Daniel “Doc” Satterlee, Randy Clouatre, Todd Lambert, John Cagnolatti, and Benny Johnson.  Dempsey Lambert was not present for the July 19 vote.  Here’s hoping they oust Dawson from the Council chair prior to the requisite vote every January (it takes eight to do it before then).

And take heart gentlemen, Ascension’s electorate knows Rolfing for the quackery it is.  McCollister hasn’t backed a winner in Ascension yet and it’s not likely to start anytime soon.