The trick, however, is on them. They've been duped into doing the bidding for a bunch of businessmen profiteering on tourism. There's a reason Darryl Berger--the hotel mogul--is chairman of the French Quarter-Marigny Historic Area Management District (FQMHAMD), which is pushing the "public safety" tax. (If you want documents about the district or tax, you have to go by his office at 100 Conti St.)
VCPORA, the largest organization of residents in the Quarter, says it "found no compelling reason to support" the tax being voted on Oct. 2.
What you've got to realize is, this "security district" is just the camel's nose in the tent. The legislation that created the FQMHAMD did so with the idea of giving it all sorts of power to regulate life in the French Quarter at the expense of residents, run by profiteers, to benefit tourism businesses.
You notice improving "public safety" was only one of its mandates. But who would vote for this new tax if they thought it was going to benefit tourism profiteers, rather than residents? Instead, these very clever men (and women) singled out "public safety" as the target of the tax. Who, after all, wouldn't be willing to pay for a safer Quarter?
Every residence and business in the Quarter will be taxed upwards of $185 a year, with the district taking in over $1 million annually. But the tax is flawed in two ways:
- Almost 29% of that will go for an executive director and assistant, plus other staff, office, and accouterments to create the bureaucracy that will perpetuate the district and help it further its agenda of boosting the profits of its cabal of businessmen. In other words, a big chunk of its revenue will go to things totally unrelated to "public safety."
- The rest of the money will go to hire a private contractor who will put 2+ rent-a-cops on the beat in the Quarter. They will have no arrest powers, and when armed will not be able to take their guns out of their holsters. They will have no more authority than the average citizen; they can call 911, you can call 911.
- The tax rate proposed is the second lowest of 22 neighborhood taxing districts in the city; that could very well be an argument for raising the tax in 4 years when it will be up for renewal at the polls.
- If you don't like the "security district" you could vote it out in 4 years; that's not a very good argument to present to voters who allowed Ray Nagin to overstay his welcome in 2006.
Download the public safety proposal by the French Quarter/Marigny Historic Area Management District.
Link to the statement by Kalen Wright of Lower Quarter Citizens Against Crime opposing the taxing district.
Your "NO" vote this Saturday Oct. 2 will restore some sanity to making the French Quarter safer--without exorbitant cost.