Baton Rouge is a great town. I know, I know—statistically speaking Baton Rouge is a city, but I still have a difficult time looking at any part of Baton Rouge and think “Yeah, I'm in the city!” NYC, Washington, DC, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago… those places are cities. To me, cities have giant skyscrapers, mass transit systems, interstate loops, and a perpetual sense of activity generally irrespective of the time or day. Baton Rouge doesn't have these things; either not at all or not at the scale one would expect from an area referred to as a city. For that reason, I like to think that we live in a town.
One thing, in particular, that makes Baton Rouge most feel like a town to me is the local political scene. Seriously, we have some of the most interesting, outrageous, hilarious, and depressing (all at the same time) political shenanigans and maneuvering that you'll find in the region. About the only category we don't take the prize in when competing against the other smaller area towns is in the nickname department. Sure, we have our “Smokie” and “Bones” (and have had our “Spider” too), but we can't hold a candle to nicknames like “Pee Wee,” “Sassy,” and “Dewey” (which seriously sound like the unbilled 8th, 9th, and 10th dwarfs from Snow White who didn't make it past the editing room). But ultimately, it's the issues our government chooses to pursue that really make this place feel like a town rather than a city. Add in some of the hijinks that typically occur and our political battles feel more like an inflatable sumo wrestling match than the knife fighting you usually see in larger cities.
As interesting as our scene is, it seems that only a few (almost certainly undiagnosed masochists) really bother to follow the goings on of our local government. To be fair, some parts of the local scene are pretty boring, but the meetings of our elected officials are always a great place for schadenfreude, if nothing else (until you realize that, ultimately, those suffering are the citizens of EBR Parish). So, my goal with this blog is to highlight areas of our local government that are probably of interest to you in an accessible and entertaining way. Let's face it, 225 recently published a list of “11 Ways to Improve Baton Rouge” and a not insignificant number of those 11 ideas are going to require serious support from our local government to accomplish. If you want to see change, choosing to understand our government is not an option, it's a requirement.
So who am I? My name is Slater McKay, a 34 year old business operations analyst. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge. I'm a product of our local public school system, refined through Centenary College in Shreveport. My time in North Louisiana was great in that it provided me with perspective on what Baton Rouge would look like devoid of Louisiana culture and any affinity for the New Orleans Saints. I enlisted in the US Army for six years after graduating from college and was stationed in New Mexico and Washington, DC. The military provided me with a perfect “Goldilocks” experience of living in cities that were smaller and bigger than my hometown before moving back to Baton Rouge about six years ago. Since moving back, I've been involved in a number of local groups, including a year-long stint as the President of Forum 35, which provided me great insight into the inner workings of our local government. Not a professional political scientist, pollster, or lobbyist, I'm just a fan and observer of the body politic of Baton Rouge. I hope you'll join me on this adventure; it's election season so you know it's going to be exciting!
Most recent The Spoils of Progress blog posts
Bad Guys, Good Eats! Pop-Up Dinner at Restaurant IPO
Chef and 225 contributor Jay D. Ducote and Chef Chris Wadsworth hosted the Bad Guys, Good Eats! dinner at Restaurant IPO Wednesday night. The dinner was themed around famous movie villains, pairing cocktails and ales with plates of food resembling famous baddies like The Joker, Lord Voldemort, Hannibal Lector, and many others. The highlights of the night were the three middle courses—a black bean soup laced with blood sausage to signify Lord Voldemort, a brace of coneys on black eyed peas resembling Sauron, and lamb medallions atop a fava bean puree to pay homage to the famous favorite of Hannibal Lector.
Elizabeth Arkley Hammett, a local nursing student and Fur Ball co-coordinator, and her husband Grey Hammett III, who works in commercial real estate, will take you through our summer guide. And they'll look good while doing it, too. Where noted, their clothes and accessories are available from local retailers.
These swimsuits will keep you stylish all summer long
Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.