(Please note: This is a 15 page document. To view the entire document, click “Read more” at the bottom of the post. Although the document was written by the Mayor, I decided not to block quote the letter in order to make it easier to read. A PDF of this letter will be uploaded to the City’s website within the next few days. It will also appear in the “Mayoral Welcome” section of the site).

Dear Friends,

One year ago, I was elected to serve as the 23rd Mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana. During the past year, we worked together to ensure Alexandria continues to prosper and grow, and we should be proud of the results and work harder on the shortcomings.

Particularly, the Administration is proud of completion of programs for economic and workforce development, which have dramatically impacted the City of Alexandria within the year of 2007.

“Good economic development pays the salaries of its sponsors.” This public assessment of development personnel will occur each year for accountability regarding the newly-hired workforce and economic development officers.

Here are highlights for the year on quality of life, infrastructure, development, and recreation plans and activities:

Earlier today, the Alexandria Zoning Commission voted to oppose the proposed office overlay district for the 2400th block of Jackson Street. Their opposition will be passed along as a recommendation to the City Council, who will vote on the proposal in January.

The meeting was attended by more than sixty people, over half of whom (37) were opposed to the office overlay proposal. Eight people, including four property owners, showed up to express support for an office overlay district.

A few years ago, the City Council approved an office overlay for another portion of Jackson Street, between Bolton Avenue and Chester Street. The designation allows for residential properties to be converted and used for a select group of businesses, primarily professional offices and galleries.

The decision to implement the office overlay designation in this area has led to tangible results: A slew of homes, including at least four “mansions,” have been renovated and brought back into commerce. At least one historic home has actually been moved into the district. And despite what some may believe, property values have increased.

Today, The Shreveport Times reported that Louisiana campaign finance reports receive practically no oversight whatsoever from the (apparently) understaffed Louisiana Ethics Board. This is alarming. From the article (bold mine):

Political analyst Elliott Stonecipher said those and other shortcomings, such as a small annual budget and the agency’s vulnerability to political pressure, are evidence the state is not committed to ethics enforcement.

The Ethics Board’s 2007-08 budget is $1.97 million, up nearly 30 percent from the previous fiscal year. The Times’ review of the agency’s funding over the past four years reveals it had increased moderately, even falling nearly 12 percent in 2006-07.

The system is structurally flawed, and that’s as polite as I can be,” said Stonecipher, of Shreveport. “If you have the kind of problem with corruption and ethics enforcement we know Louisiana has, then your response shouldn’t be less than $2 million, a small staff and a cursory, at best, review of campaign finance reports.”

Governor-elect Bobby Jindal made ethics reform the centerpiece of his successful campaign. If this reform is to be effective, campaign ethics reform should be at the top of the list.

The Shreveport Times also published an editorial today about ethics reform. They suggest:

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