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Short leash on Arceneaux won't fix big problems

The possibilities of and limits to what Republican Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux can do quickly have become apparent – and voters this weekend may make his life more difficult still.

Arceneaux succeeded Democrat Adrian Perkins, who from the very start when he didn’t appear distracted or disinterested in governing wanted to hook up allies and/or pursue a quasi-progressive agenda at the expense of mundane but needed city tasks, behavior that produced a steady stream of drama. By contrast, Arceneaux already has made the trains run on time and stressed accomplishing the basics without latching onto pie-in-the-sky ideas.

In his first three months in office he appropriately handled a suspicious police shooting that has led to charges against the former officer, who recently resigned. He demurred over a project to bring professional baseball back to Shreveport that Perkins had hyped in the final days of his failed reelection bid. He junked another Perkins tout, a real-time crime center, as it appears it didn’t operate by statute because of security concerns, and will reevaluate the idea. He began the process of reviewing city policy about use of parks for private functions, which for years has allowed a for-profit festival to take place in one that he seemed to know little about. And he expeditiously set in motion getting city pools open on time later in the spring; last year, under Perkins the city initially yanked the contract from the long-time operator because it appeared not to have enough racial diversity in its management only to restore that under public criticism after the initial winner backed out over the controversy, which caused a late start.


Wins, not switches, to help LA GOP conservatives

Historically, Republicans now have supermajority status in the entire Legislature, thanks to the defection of state Rep. Francis Thompson from Democrats. Exercising that in fact rather than name, however, is another story.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Thompson created a House supermajority since he’s the only member of the House ever to have served in one prior. That was in 2003 when Democrats had that status, when he had been a legislator already for 28 years after starting at a time only four Republicans sat in the chamber.

While Thompson described his switch as a product of Democrats moving away from his core beliefs, it’s easy to forget that two decades ago today’s supermajority-maker once was a confirmed big-spending good-old-boy leader of that legislative party. Inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2005, in the years immediately following that Thompson continued to pursue government-as-economic-engine policy, such as propping up a government-run sugar mill subsidized by taxpayers and wanting to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on creating reservoirs emulating Poverty Point (in his district and in the process of getting it built would eventually land his family in legal trouble), as well as supporting squandering taxpayer dollars in subsidizing milk production, ethanol production, and state institutions warehousing people with disabilities when less expensive and restrictive options for them exist. The Thompson of 15 years ago was no fiscal conservative.


Bossier City needs to reject Port's all wet deal

Even as the Bossier City Council conducted a workshop over a controversial financial deal with the Port of Caddo-Bossier that resulted in some changes to the proposed deal, too many questions have been answered unsatisfactorily or left unanswered for the city to accede to the imprudent arrangement.

In essence, the Port wants to borrow $35 million to build a water distribution and wastewater treatment plant on its property as a means of attracting future tenants. It wants to hook this to Bossier City’s utilities and have the city run the facility. The terms create a rate structure where the city surrenders from it half of all revenue after expenses (both operating and capital) to the Port up to an equivalent of the bond payments’ cumulative amount, whereafter it keeps the entirety, but regardless it must pay the entire amount. It also may use the facility to distribute water and treat wastewater for its own purposes.

Understanding the recklessness of the deal is best done by asking discrete questions:


Ardoin's toughest test may topple him this time

The only Republican incumbent statewide officer driven to a runoff election in 2019, Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin will be hard-pressed to avoid that fate again this year – if he can win reelection at all.

Two GOP challengers recently made formal their entrances into the contest, both echoing similar themes that Ardoin could run elections better. Brandon Trosclair, whose previous electoral experience consists of making the runoff in a 2019 House contest, complains that electoral integrity is left wanting under Ardoin that would solve largely by reverting to more intensive ballot-counting and less reliance on outside parties for elections administration.

While the conservative Heritage Foundation ranks Louisiana highly in elections administration, sixth among the states, it also faults it mainly in accuracy of voter lists, voter identification loopholes, and the state not having a law explicitly banning private money influencing election administration. However, Ardoin’s office can’t do much about a lot of that, with it subject to state law and the whims of local registrar of voters, although around the margins verification could be improved.


Donelon deferral doesn't give Temple upper hand

With Louisiana Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon opting out of a fifth full term, past and present challenger Tim Temple shouldn’t count on frontrunner status, much less triumphing this fall.

Donelon will call it quits in a not-entirely surprising move. He would have been into his eighties at term’s end and he faced a tough battle with the GOP’s Temple in 2019, who essentially never stopped running. In the meantime, his department faced increased scrutiny over a burgeoning population of the state’s property insurer of last resort that likely could have been ameliorated and a solution he backed to reduce that may not represent the best option. This recent history of departmental shortcoming wasn’t the greatest publicity surrounding a potential campaign.

Still, Donelon remained an upgrade over what Temple promises to bring. Donelon helped mitigate a streak of about half a century prior to his assuming command where nearly every of his predecessors went to jail or, in the case of his former boss Democrat Robert Wooley, vacated his post under a cloud of suspicion. Temple has been backed by Wooley, who became a lobbyist but who also lapsed into his previous activity as a campaign manager, and as well as by many of Wooley’s cronies.


Candidates must disavow Edwards' ITEP changes

Absent major tax reform addressing this concern, Louisiana’s gubernatorial candidates will need to fix a problem introduced by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards involving the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

Relatively high property taxes hamstring commercial and industrial activities in the state. Comparative data are scarce among counties across the country, but the latest version of the most comprehensive study of these rates, which takes the largest city in each state as representative of all that in most cases, Louisiana included, represents adequately the overall rate picture, New Orleans/Louisiana had the 20th highest business property tax rates but, worse, the eighth highest rate imposed on industry.

The ITEP idea seeks to attract commerce, to offset these high rates, by allowing an exemption of the entirely of the tax up to ten years. It’s cumbersome and far better ways of ensuring everybody pays their fair share exist, such through amending the Constitution to lower the homestead exemption and also eliminate the corporate income tax while reducing state dollars going to local governments, a related version of a proposal by gubernatorial candidate Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson. This could allow for junking ITEP and while this means corporate local property taxes would go up their state income taxes would go down to compensate in the aggregate.


Bossier kids find sex buffet at parish libraries

It’s bad enough that Bossier Parish’s Board of Library Control operates illegally. If legislators have their way, whether legally constituted the Board will have to institute policies that prevent minors from accessing what many parents deem age-inappropriate materials, which it currently doesn’t do and should even without legislative prodding.

SB 7 by Republican state Sen. Heather Cloud would define objectionable sexual content in library materials for minors according to First Amendment jurisprudence, create a review process for patrons requesting that judgment of the board for disputed material, give parents the option of restricting that material to their children, and would penalize noncompliant boards by negating their ability to have capital outlay bonds approved. It builds upon a report issued by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s office – the same document that reaffirms that appointing police jurors as a board as the Bossier Parish Police Jury has done is illegal – that notes some books with extremely explicit written and graphic depictions of sexual activity parish libraries across Louisiana make available.

The bill wouldn’t prevent libraries from making accessible such material, only that they put policies in place that give parents the ability to prevent their children from accessing these if they wish. Many parish library systems have regimes that classify at least some materials like DVDs as not borrowable for patrons under 18, so the bill merely would extend something like that to all materials but allow younger patrons access only if parents so desire. Many also already have a review process for disputed materials.


Edwards pandemic response adds to failure legacy

Three years have passed since Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards launched the initial of 26 months’ worth of emergency declarations surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Much of what he proclaimed was dead wrong in mitigating its impact. Tragically, science knew as bogus some of that well before the last of his executive orders, some within months of, and some even before, the first of these, yet he and his lieutenants and other policy-makers disregarded that to the detriment of the health and safety of Louisianans – and continue to do so.

Even before the pandemic became recognized internationally, plenty of past research demonstrated that wearing face coverings did little to prevent transmission of airborne viruses because only a minority of individuals wore these correctly and even for those that did that couldn’t stop totally transmission. Subsequent research has reinforced that and that as it turned out virus impact hardly differed between jurisdictions with mask mandates and those without.

Yet for well over a year Edwards ordered these worn indoors in most places and sometimes outdoors. This proved more than a minor inconvenience especially for preschool children where evidence continues to mount that some suffered developmental delays because of that.


Critic validates need of child protection law

It’s a classic example of a critic on an issue, in this instance of empowering parents to ensure their children have access to public library materials they consider age-appropriate, demonstrating the necessity of the idea he criticizes.

This spring, the Louisiana Legislature will take up legislation that would have public libraries create a system assigning age-appropriate categorizations according to First Amendment jurisprudence for materials held out as intended for minors and a process for review on patron request of these categorizations, would give parents the chance to restrict their children’s access to these, and would penalize library boards of control that fail to implement such systems. It doesn’t restrict in any way a library’s choice of which items to buy using taxpayer dollars for lending.

Especially with the advent of electronic circulation which makes parental monitoring impossible, establishing these procedures would help families who pay these taxes for this government service. Even more trenchantly, an increasing proportion of materials, as documented in Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation by Bethany Mandel and Karol Markowicz released last week, pitched to children have graphic portrayals of sexual activity – and Louisiana libraries are purchasing these.


Edwards food stamps neglect costs taxpayers

Besides dysfunction in child protective services, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration has left another negative legacy in the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services – high error rates in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program that cost both federal and state taxpayers.

Heads rolled in DCFS when shockingly lax casework endangering children was uncovered. The condition persisted for years under Edwards’ purview, and fortunately now appears to be on the mend.

But another casualty from neglect there deals with food stamps. Both major error rates in benefits distribution soared during his second term, indicating both the federal government particularly upon Democrat Pres. Joe Biden entering the White House turning a blind eye towards fraudulent, whether intended, successful applications and Edwards’ indifference in preventing waste of the federal dollars which entirely comprise the payouts.