So now the truth is out: Mark Smith, former director of the film office for Louisiana, is a crook. (See the FBI Bill of Information here) And, when he walked into the offices of the Louisiana Music Commission (LMC) on May 18, 2005 to fire me, he was actively stealing money from the citizens of Louisiana. Smith was on a roll then, working with Scott Aiges and others to take over the LMC. He was in the middle of successfully passing legislation creating music tax credits (and letting Aiges get the glory) mirrored after the film credits he was actively scamming.
So, would he have pulled the same scam with music that he was doing with film? And what cast of characters might he have tapped to do his skim? We’ll probably never know. One, because to date not one single entity has taken advantage of the music credits; and, two, his scheme got interrupted when Bernie Cyrus got wind of it and told the secretary of the then-newly appointed head of economic development, Mike Olivier, whose signature was needed to complete the scam. Mark resigned from state service once word began to circulate in the halls of economic development. He moved on to a private sector job in the film business where he could lobby for the tax breaks and perhaps get paid legally.
The overall result for music in this tawdry scheme was the demise and purging of the LMC (See R.I.P. LMC). And, to this day the agency has not recovered enough to accomplish a damned thing.
As Louisiana reels from yet another public official on the take, further sullying our reputation, know this: Mark Smith is not from Louisiana, he’s from the Northeast. But make no mistake, Louisiana will once again be smeared.
I can almost smell the corruption and cynicism when people have all too often said to me (regarding Bernie’s whistleblower suit) “Why did Bernie do that? He’s going to hurt our film industry.” And I know that the folks saying this are more concerned with the bottom line than with honesty and stopping crime.
Let me say this, unequivocally and with all the passion and rage I can muster: CORRUPT POLITICIANS MUST BE STOPPED. I don’t want to live in a state where people turn a blind eye to political corruption. I don’t want to live in a state where people accept inferior government. And I wish my “friends” and colleagues would treat political housecleaning as being as necessary as wiping your ass. It’s ain’t pretty; but, if you don’t do it…well, misery is sure to follow.
So, now, Jan Ramsey, Scott Aiges, Lynn Ourso, Maggie Warwick, Johnny Pallazzotto, and whoever else out there plotted, schemed and stabbed us in the back for years….what have you got to say now?
I bet not much. And that’s too bad, because it represents business as usual and the same old same old.
I didn’t stand for it then. And I won’t stand for it now. We deserve better.