Friday, May 18, 2012

In Regards to the Hospitality Zone

Hey there. 

My Name is Jacob Germain, I’m a resident of the Seventh Ward in an area that is called the “St. Bernard Crescent” by realtors and landlords who want to distance it from being in the seventh ward.
My apartment is inside the original hospitality zone as it was introduced, though not much hospitality happens here and I’ve since been written out of the bill. I live in one of those parts of town that we warn tourists away from because presumably the people of my neighborhood are going to rob and shoot them. My immediate neighborhood used to be up and coming, but this and that happened and it ended up falling to the wayside. The streets are busted, there’s a blown out former adult education center down the street, every other lot is abandoned or blighted. 

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about this bill and why two thirds of the revenue from this bill is NOT going towards infrastructure improvements. I understand some representatives are here from the CVB, purportedly to support hospitality in general and the wonder and glory that is a service economy. What they’re not here to talk about is the fact that they stand to make an additional 5 million in taxpayer dollars every year if this bill passes. They’re not interested in fixing the broken streets, the busted sidewalks, the damaged infrastructure of any part of this city, let alone the French quarter. They’re here to line their pockets with public money.

I’ll be frank with you: I’m already aware that this legislature is the result of a number of backroom deals. Just look at where the money is going. It’s not cleverly hidden or obscured, but laid bare in the law. This is Louisiana politics as usual; the kind of political profiteering that makes it possible for some people to be rich in a city of minimum wage service jobs and rampant unemployment.

You should rethink this legislation. You should reconsider what its purpose is and why you’re passing it. You took an oath to serve the people of Louisiana; people like me and my fellow hospitality zone residents. You did not take an oath to serve the highest bidder.

Thank you for your time. 

[editor's note: I wrote this as public comment for the committee hearing on the Hospitality Zone bill. the bill was amended at the hearing to feature a newer 50/50 split between infrastructure and marketing, with 20 percent going to the CVB, who hired around 50 people to wear red shirts with the phrase "tourism matters" and stand around during the hearing. The bill is vastly improved, but they still stand to make $2 million a year from taxpayers. Not mentioned here is the Convention Center holding $30 million in infrastructure improvements for ransom unless this bill passes. It's a whole lotta fucked, folks.]

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