City of St. George leaders hold public meeting

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - While it appears some community leaders are making efforts to slow the progress of the campaign to create the City of St. George, the movement's organizers are moving forward.

In the last few months, there have been several reports showing the damage the creation of the City of St. George would cause to East Baton Rouge Parish.

"To me, it's like a divorce between a married couple," said Metro Councilman John Delgado, R-District 12. "They're going to live in their house, we're going to live in our house, and at the end, all of our expenses are going to go up. Rather than working together for the common good, everybody's going to be pursuing their own aims."

City of St. George proponents say all of this "new research" and these "new concerns" from the city of Baton Rouge is too little too late. According to City of St. George leaders, the campaign is about giving people in the southern unincorporated part of the parish a right to be heard.

Spokesperson Lionel Rainey says the petition has collected more than 9,000 signatures. And, despite recent reports from groups like BRAC, which state creating the city would damage the entire parish, committee leaders are happy with their success so far and ready to take on the New Year.

"Every time someone makes some kind of remark in the media about the people of this area of town - that they're just rich white people who want to get away from the poor, black people - that couldn't be farther from the truth," said Rainey. "That really emboldens people in this area to say, 'You know, that's not us. You don't know who we are,' and it's driving more people to us."

A lot of progress has been made by the group and earlier this month, a map of the proposed school district boundaries was released.

However, Delgado pointed out a few of the schools would be inside Baton Rouge city limits.

"So, even if they are successful in creating the City of St. George and even if after the years of litigation that it's going to involve after the creation of that city - because I can guarantee you there's going to be a lot of litigation involved - even then, it still has to go to a vote of the legislature to create the school district," Delgado explained.

"This is a group that's been put together of people who have special interests within the city who want it to stay exactly the same way it is. This is people who are making a lot of money off of Baton Rouge, off of it staying the same way it is and making sure that the Forward Baton Rouge plan stays the exact same way it is so they can keep those contracts," added Rainey.

The City of St. George leaders will host one of their first public meetings Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Woodlawn Baptist Church. There will be volunteer sign-up sheets and petitions on-site to sign.

The leaders plan to update the public on their progress and debunk myths and misconceptions about their cause.

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