FOR THE RECORD

A black and white illustration of a coffee pot trying to put out engulfing flames. The flames take up most of the frame, and in the middle is a small coffee pot that’s slowly dripping coffee on them, as the flames close in around it. Illustration by Sadie Wiese.

On December 17 the City Council reviewed Folgers’ request for Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) relief, a tax exemption that would have granted the Folgers corporation multi-million dollar tax exemptions over 10 years. None of their applications met the job creation requirements for these exemptions. Folgers requested the exemptions for already completed projects, leaving them with zero incentive to create more jobs moving forward. 

If these applications were denied (which they were on January 14 after being deferred from December’s meeting), another resolution proposed on December 17 stipulated that the funds received from tax money collected from Folgers would be prioritized in eliminating furloughs for “public safety personnel” which includes firefighters, EMS, and police. The following was the first public comment read in response to this resolution. As a staffer read it aloud, councilmembers immediately refocused their attention, walked away, or turned their cameras off entirely. 


Mr. Folger came to town, 

his hat off for more cash

“Oh look here,” he waved with bliss, 

“this city’s surely rash.”

 

For they think they’ve made enough

over the last 10 years

But we’ve been paying taxes 

and this pushes me to tears.

 

“We stimulate, stimulate, stimulate!” 

he proclaims to the council.

“Just let me be tax free, 

for you know that someone else will.”

 

The council shared a sideways glance, 

still a bit unsure

“But wait,” said one who was inspired, 

“This can be the cure.

 

“Our furloughed firefighters 

and our contrary librarians,

could they sustain employment 

in your coffee imaginarium? 

 

For we are sick of them, 

and their demands for books and safety.

But a firefighter roasting beans, 

that doesn’t sound too crazy.”

 

Mr. Folger looked askance, 

not sure what to say

“I supposed I’d look at any application

that comes our way.

 

“But we’re not looking to hire 

more than 30 at the most.

We already have the people 

to create a perfectly mediocre roast.”

 

“So what’s the money for?” 

decried Helena Moreno.

“This city needs some revenue 

that’s not from a casino.”

 

“Your gratitude,” said Folger, 

“is not felt enough

I haven’t gotten mega-rich, 

these last 10 years were rough.”

 

Meanwhile in the city, 

at the coffee factory

a spark fell from a smokestack 

to where nobody could see.

 

The factory burst into flames, 

but firefighters were all far,

for furlough had struck the nearest stations 

as the sky began to char. 

 

“Here’s your millions,” said Cantrell 

with a strong, smug smile

“Why thank you,” said Mr. Folger, 

“Now I won’t see you for a while.

 

“For your infrastructure’s broken, 

and our factory is burnt,

a fire you didn’t care to put out, 

so our trust is not earned.

 

We’re going to move to Bay St. Louis, 

but thanks for all the money

which was all retroactive anyways, 

now isn’t life just funny?”11. Kelsey J.


Follow instructions at council.nola.gov to submit public comments. Tell your neighbors and friends how to do it. Interested in reading all comments after a meeting? You can email your councilmember or file a public records request.