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For starters, let me state unequivocally that I don't give a duck's rear about Phil Robertson, his family, his religious views, his business or the reality television show he was apparently part of until he said dumb stuff to a reporter. Never seen it, never paid attention to it and, having finally done so, am not much impressed. Bunch of guys marketing camo gear and duck calls and praying on TV. Good on 'em. When's Sherlock Holmes starting back up?

But, being a taxpayer in Louisiana, I help pay for the budget of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism that he runs, and part of my civic duty and self-interest is keeping an eye on his office and how he's spending my dough.

This weekend, the lieutenant governor announced that he would encourage the state to act as a go-between in finding a new network home for the now-suspended Duck Dude and his fowl-blasting family's show, citing the A&E program's importance to tourism.

To which I can only respond, "Not with my money."

Lt. Gov. Dardenne cites no numbers in claiming the program has caused an upswing in tourism in the West Monroe area (which is, note to national writers, not "Cajun country," thank you), saying only that, since the family's television success,

So many fans visit the Robertsons' business offices and warehouse in northeast Louisiana that the family has opened a gift shop on the property. People now come to West Monroe for their spring break vacation, hoping to get a peek at the family.
Though I'm happy that this business may have boosted visitors to the state, to claim that it has had an "inordinate" impact on the economy of the Monroe area, so much so that the state has an interest in investing time and resources in helping the family break their legal contract to one network and jump to another, requires backing with real research.

Economic impact of events and campaigns, while tricky, can be made. For instance, New Orleans' annual celebration of gay pride, the Southern Decadence festival, has an actual, measurable effect in terms of number of event-specific visitors, average amount spent by each attendee and surveyed attitudes of attendees.

With marketing campaigns luring gay newlyweds to the city tied in, and social media campaigns organized by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp (not, it should be noted, with assistance from Mr. Dardenne's state tourism department), it's estimated that this year's festival brought in as may as 125,000 visitors and had an economic impact of over $100 million dollars for the state.

This despite vehement and vocal protests by conservative Christian groups who come to protest the event, ironically adding to its economic punch.

While events like Decadence really are a palpable plus for our state's economy, Mr. Dardenne, who is reportedly planning a run for governor in 2015 and presumably eager to boost his statewide recognition--why else weigh in on a ridiculous controversy about a duck hunter reality TV show?--has, to the best of my ability to research, offered no support, official, personal or lip-serviceable, to the New Orleans event.

Politics, apparently, unmakes strange bedfellows as well.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There, I've weighed in. (24+ / 0-)

    Now, is it too much to ask never to hear about this bunch of, um, quackers again?

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:24:16 PM PST

    •  I'd love to never hear about them again (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor

      which is why I'm not going to rec this diary, or any other diary that has anything to do with DD. Their popularity has soared enough over the past week, and I'll be damned if I'm going to contribute to that.

  •  They were over-exposed last week. (6+ / 0-)

    No need for that to continue.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:32:56 PM PST

  •  Webb Pierce was from West Monroe. (8+ / 0-)

    And the only reason I can think of to visit the area--save for a good friend I have who lives there, but we typically meet in New Orleans. Having been to West Monroe many times for work, even talking ducks wouldn't get me there as a tourist. In my book, Lt. Gov. Dardenne is a bit of a wanker.

  •  Brilliant (5+ / 0-)

    I'm always amazed by the utter disrespect the state government has for New Orleans. IIRC, didn't the state at one point during the 20th century take away New Orleans's ability to govern itself as a city for a few years?

    What you have here is a politician who is going to run against New Orleans when he runs for governor. That would be amusing to watch if there wasn't a real possibility that it would work.

  •  Their ducking 15 minutes are up. (5+ / 0-)

    Anyone who runs for office in LA would do well to remember that.

    Good one, usual.

    ps. I think Sherlock will be back on PBS after the hollydaze.

    We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we refuse to protect the weakest among us.

    by The Marti on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 03:03:49 PM PST

  •  Dardenne is pretty clearly right when he says (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor, VClib

    that the show was a significant boost to tourism in  that area of the state.  One way to demonstrate  whether that show has had a significant impact on tourism.  You could compare tourism to that area before and after the show became popular.  While that's correlation, not causation, I'm not sure that you'd find any other cause.

    And there have been lots of reports, even before this, of the increase in tourism to the Monroe area because of that show.  See, for example, here and here and here and here and here,  and here  and here and here just to link to a few of the many reports talking about increased tourism to the area based on that show, all of those prior to this controversy.

    And just by using Google, you can see a number of localities and hotels and tour companies in that area of the state advertising for Duck Dynasty fans.  

    So, yeah, you really can't argue against the fact that a whole lot of people who would not have thought of coming to the Shreveport/Monroe area of the state (and if you know anything about that area, there's not a lot to attract tourists, except maybe the place where Bonnie and Clyde were killed and that tiny museum on that) started coming to that area because of that show.  

    If you want to argue that he as Lt. Gov. should not be spending state money on this, you ought to find a reason other than "it really doesn't attract tourists."  Because it pretty clearly does.  

    •  You have offered more to support his claim (7+ / 0-)

      than he has. For him to make the claim and back it up with nothing more than "they had to put in a gift shop" isn't reason enough to mobilize the state's resources to act as an agent for an entertainment property.

      I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

      by Crashing Vor on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 03:26:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It took about 3 minutes on Google to prove (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        him right.  And anyone in that area of the state -- and anyone who has been following Louisiana tourism over the last 18 months -- knows he is right without even going to Google.  

        When you have such a widely known fact, he probably saw no need to "back it up" with a lot of details.  Anybody who knows what has been going on in that area of the state over the last 18 months, or who has even been there -- and seen all of the tourism stuff directed to that show -- knows that the show has been a big boost to tourism.  

        So, the bigger point is, given that he's right about the tourism boost, what is the position about whether state money should be spent to back the show?  

        And, by the way, recently  there's lots of promotion for Southern Decadence, and promotion for the city of New Orleans as a destination is specifically being promoted in the gay community, to the consternation of some.  Google is your friend there, too.

        •  So using state $$ to support racists & homophobes (6+ / 0-)

          in your book? And you equate support for an event that welcomes LGBT visitors and is LGBT-friendly with supporting an anti-gay show?? So hate is a fine way to attract more tourists?

          •  I don't know the answer. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Increased tourism for the Shreveport/Monroe area is a good thing for the state -- especially that part of the state -- regardless of the views of the people responsible for that increased toursim.

            If someone does good things for the state as a whole, and lots of good things for the people of the areas of Shreveport and Monroe, is that a good thing for the state regardless of whether I agree with his views?

            If a Koch brother wanted to donate $50 million to LSU to help disadvantaged children go to college, in exchange for naming a building or something after him, should we say, "no, we disagree with your views, so despite the vast good that your $50 million would do for all these kids, keep your $50 million"?  Or should we only accept good things for the state if we agree with the views of the person?

            I can give you a concrete example.  The TOPS program, which says that any student in Louisiana who has a fair -- not necessarily great -- GPA and a fair SAT/ACT score can go to a state college tuition free -- was set up with seed money from a staunch Republican oil man, Patrick Taylor.  It's named after him -- the Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars.  I think that TOPS has been a very very very good thing for lots of kids in this state who could not have afforded to go to college without that.

            Should the state have turned that down?  

          •  Actually, state money is already used (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, Crashing Vor, Tonedevil

            to support the show, around 35 percent, due to Louisiana's generous tax credits for film and T.V. produced in the state. So, if we just go by salaries, the state already pays about $70,000 per cast member on each show. I think they're getting enough state tax money already, especially as the return on that tax credit is 15¢ on the dollar.

            "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

            by cv lurking gf on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 04:43:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmmm (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            And you equate support for an event that welcomes LGBT visitors and is LGBT-friendly with supporting an anti-gay show??
            Wait...what? The show is anti-gay? How?

            I'm serious, I've never seen it. How is the show anti-gay?

            Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

            by Pi Li on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:34:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I specifically mentioned the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too, Tonedevil

          Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp in the diary above.

          These are local agencies. My friend Google did not yield any information on the state agency for which Mr. Dardenne has responsibility having given any support to Decadence. His boss, the current governor, has pointedly, publicly and, with much publicity, NOT attended the event nor offered state support. My friend Google told me about that, as well.

          I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

          by Crashing Vor on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 04:24:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The state doesn't support much that's specific (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to New Orleans.  Most of the promotion of the New Orleans Mardi Gras, for example, is from those local entities.  Same with things like French Quarter Fest, or Voodoo Fest, or any number of purely New Orleans things. Southern Decadence is more akin to the French Quarter Fest or even Voodoo Fest in terms of size and effect on the city, and it's pretty much promoted the same -- except that Southern Decadence, due to the nature of the celebration, is promoted primarily in the gay community.  

    •  If this state has money to spend on this... (4+ / 0-)

      ... then they probably also have the money to spend for the Medicaid expansion these guys won't endorse.  Supposedly our state's financial resources are stretched to the limit, but believing that using the state's resources to keep a TV show about a bunch of millionaires on the air is more important than providing insurance to the citizens these "tourists" are going to encounter is pretty shaky ground for a politician to stand on.  Over 10 years which investment will yield the best return - Duck Dynasty or Healthcare?

      To be clear, money is what Dardenne is looking for, not for the state but from the Richardsons.

      Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

      by Hey338Too on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 04:04:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, the difference is two-fold. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crashing Vor, Hey338Too, VClib

        1.  Dardenne is the state official specifically responsible for tourism.  So that's why he's talking about tourism.

        2.  I think there's a huge difference in degree between a couple of million -- maybe -- spent to film this show (and which is spent for the purpose of bringing more tax money into the state, for a net increase to the state coffers), and what Medicaid costs the state.  It's really disingenuous to say "if we can afford this, we can afford Medicaid." That's like saying if you can afford a  3 day trip to Biloxi, you can afford three weeks in the Caribbean.  Whether we should expand Medicaid is an argument that has nothing to do with this, and needs to stand on its own merits.  

        As I said above, there's a legitimate question about whether to support good things for the state when you disagree with person doing those good things for the state.  But your argument -- "if you can afford to spend money to bring in more money, you can afford to expand vastly more money for Medicaid" doesn't make a lot of sense.  

        •  My point about the funding is the hypocrisy... (4+ / 0-)

          ... of our governor claiming that we don't have a spare penny to spend which will directly impact the health and wellness of our citizens (like the threat to close the state's hospice facilities), while his lieutenant is claiming that the state has the funds available to spend on an infomercial for a bunch of guys who make duck and moose calls.  If the duck call guys want an infomercial, whatever the state plans on paying is probably going to be less than the interest the Richardson's earn from their family's wealth (estimated at around $80 million), they can probably afford it themselves.

          Your post brought up another point.  After this week, there is no guess work required to determine the Richardsons' (and our elected state officials) feelings towards the "G-dless", people of color, and the LGBTQ community.  What is the target visitor demographic we want to lure to northeast Louisiana?

          Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

          by Hey338Too on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:40:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, I think the better question (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Crashing Vor, VClib
            What is the target visitor demographic we want to lure to northeast Louisiana?
            is who is likely to want to come to the Shreveport/Monroe area?  

            And it's the kind of person who watches Duck Dynasty, frankly.  The Branson, MO crowd.  The kind who believe in God, the Bible, all that stuff.  Because that's pretty much who lives there.  And there's not much attractions there besides things like duck hunting or other hunting.  Before that show, that's about all there was to lure tourists there.

            No matter what kind of advertising you do, you aren't going to get the South Beach crowd there.  

  •  Dardenne is an opportunist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, Crashing Vor

    always has been. He's jumping on the band wagon for his bid for Governor. He doesn't give a flip for the duck dudes or the state. The crazy thing is he appears to be a reasonable choice at times and if I didn't know any better. What the #$%$ does that say about our choices and the state in general?

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 04:27:37 PM PST

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