Race, weed and tax evasion topics at Wednesday Metro Council meeting
BATON ROUGE - In what is a relatively short agenda for Wednesday's Metro Council meeting, city leaders started discussing some potentially controversial topics.
One item to be discussed is a report from various Baton Rouge government offices about the possibility of providing financial incentives to lure a hospital to North Baton Rouge. City leaders are trying to create a special economic opportunity zone for the area and want a hospital. The proposed North Baton Rouge Economic Opportunity Zone could offer loan guarantees, grants, tax credits and rebates, fee waivers and/or transfers of surplus property to a hospital. Leaders received a report on the proposal.
North Baton Rouge lost the state-run Earl K. Long Hospital when the state dismantled its charity hospital. Also, Baton Rouge General closed the emergency room located in the nearby community of Mid City. Medical needs for the mostly African American community of North Baton Rouge has become a racial argument. Most recently, racial tensions were tight at a council meeting where city leaders discussed plans to develop a medical corridor along Perkins Road near Bluebonnet - an affluent, white area of the parish.
"We need health care in North Baton Rouge, and we can accept nothing less," Alfreda Tillman Bester of the NAACP said then.
Councilwoman Chauna Banks hosted a town hall meeting a day after the meeting to talk about improving the economic well-being of north Baton Rouge.
Councilman John Delgado is sponsored the measure at Wednesday's meeting. Delgado is a candidate for the upcoming city-parish mayor's race.
Also Wednesday, the council began discussions about going after fraudulent homestead exemptions and the recovering unpaid taxes along with amending the penalties for first conviction of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or chemical derivatives, as well as synthetic cannibanoids. The city prosecutor's office, which is handling the drug request, said the change in the city code makes it consistent with the state statue. Both items were introductions and will be discussed and voted on later.
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