Wednesday, January 18, 2006
THE SAME OLD POLITICS
A politically connected Baton Rouge, La., motorcycle shop must pay $46,000 in fines for selling recreational vehicles for emergency housing for Hurricane Katrina victims without the proper license, according KLFY-TV, Lafayette, La. The state commission that oversees such sales decided on the fine Tuesday (Jan. 17) against the company, Bourgets of the South. Bourgets, owned by the father and uncle of state Representative Gary Smith, of Norco, can appeal the Louisiana Recreational and Used Vehicle Commission's decision in state district court in Baton Rouge. Smith has denied suggestions that his political position gave the company pull with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which paid Bourgets $105.5 million for travel trailers to house evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. The TV station reported that the commission's executive director, Jack Torrance, said the panel fined the company $2,000 per day for 23 days of violations. Bourgets had a license to sell used trailers but sold new trailers for about a month after the storm without having its license upgraded. Lawyers for Bourgets argued against any punishment, saying the company didn't need the upgraded license because proclamations from Gov. Kathleen Blanco had waived certain licensing deadlines.