In case you didn’t know, I worked at the Louisiana Music Commission from 1992 to 2005. I was Assistant Director from 1994-2005. It was an amazing time to be involved in both Louisiana music and technology. We started our website in August 1997 and I was the webmaster. We were the first state agency to post our strategic plan online and worked to provide public access to all our written documents, reports, plans and other useful data. We also provided news, information and links to tons of data, cool sites and historical archives. When the folks at the Louisiana Department of Economic Development decided to get rid of me in May 2005, they didn’t bother to interview me or otherwise allow me to assist them in transitioning the office. Thus, all the LMC computers and data were essentially thrown out.
Three years of dutifully entered music by Louisiana artists was tossed. 14 years of contacts, information and data was disposed of via the state’s surplus property system. Nobody in charge cared about the information. Nobody in charge cared about the work. And today, apparently nobody in charge of state government cares much about music.
During our tenure at the LMC, we spent 10 years working to eliminate the Amusement Tax on live music in New Orleans and succeeded. We strove to pass legislation that would solve problems and stimulate the industry. One of those laws invloved how workers compensation is paid. The state’s main workers comp agency, LWCC, without warning started telling live music clubs that they had to pay workers comp on the musicians and bands that played their clubs. Since the vast majority of clubs hire musicians on an irregular basis, they did not need to pay into this system. Liability insurance adequately covers whatever might happen to a band in the case of accidents. Workers comp is for regular employees, not irregular contractors.
It took a couple of years, but we finally amended state law to clarify how workers comp was to be paid by music venues. And the LMC website provided links to the law in case anyone questioned it. But, today, there is no LMC website and no link to the law. Which is sad because LWCC is again trying to hit struggling clubs with fees for musicians. And it’s going to cause music clubs to close. Thanks to the boneheads at the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, ready access to the needed information is gone and nobody at LDED knows a damn thing about this law.
I’m pissed. These idiots threw out 8 years of archives on the web. 8 years of news of passings, of events, of issues, of Louisiana’s music history. And now the people who orchestrated the elimination of my job and of the work Ellis Marsalis, Bernie Cyrus and our staff aren’t even there to pick up the pieces.
It’s shameful that Governor Blanco, Lt. Gov. Landrieu and LDED Secretary Olivier have allowed this to happen. And it’s a shame that offBeat and other music and news publications didn’t delve deeper into the demise of the LMC.
I don’t intend to sit idly by any longer.