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1.12.22

Edwards pandemic policies cost youngest readers

The wages of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ overly-oppressive Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policy continue to accumulate, this time at the expense of the youngest children.

This week, the Louisiana Department of Education released its annual Reading Report, which evaluates reading ability for children in kindergarten through third grade. While the older children made gains, the youngest showed a decline. Superintendent Cade Brumley fingered a pandemic policy that effectively caused closure of early learning centers and face covering mandates that may have delayed speech development and language acquisition.

Both conditions Edwards needlessly foisted onto families. Actually, very early in the pandemic while schools exited in-person instruction in the last two months of the spring, 2020 semester, many centers remained open. The problems began when Edwards didn’t lift commercial restrictions and then imposed masking that summer and kept these in place far too long, becoming one of the last states to ditch such policies two years later even as considerably earlier the relative lack of efficacy of restrictive policies had become apparent.

30.11.22

De Soto jurors must scrap unconstitutional plan

For those hollering about Louisiana’s reapportionment over the past several months, the shoe now is on the other foot in De Soto Parish.

This week, aggrieved residents notified the parish’s Police Jury that unless it reconsidered its reapportionment within two weeks they would file an injunction to prevent its reapportionment, decided at its Apr. 18 meeting, from going forward. They alleged the jurors drew districts that substantially didn’t have equal populations, violating a 10 percent deviation standard (the highest and lowest being over 17 percent apart) which intentionally awarded more representation to the parish’s largest municipality at the expense of the parish’s northern part.

As a result, the Jury will address the topic at its meeting next week. It very well should, for the citizens have an excellent case, starting with the obvious 10+ percent spread. That isn’t an absolute standard, but to go beyond that limit requires some compelling reasons that don’t appear to apply.

29.11.22

Dueling endorsements maintain Tarver advantage

Democrat state Sen. Greg Tarver, in a runoff for Shreveport mayor, should hope that his latest association with a politician named Edwards works out better than it did a quarter of a century ago.

Tuesday, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards appeared at a news conference to endorse Tarver for the city’s top job, with the election coming on Dec. 10. Tarver pretty consistently has backed Edwards’ agenda, perhaps most controversially when he voted to uphold a veto Edwards cast against a bill that would have promoted competition fairness in women’s sports by not allowing biological males to compete in those, but which the year later passed into law with Tarver’s support and Edwards’ refusal to sign.

Tarver’s last experience with Prisoner #03128-095, formerly known as Democrat Gov. Edwin Edwards, for him turned out less satisfactorily. That Edwards earned his new moniker at the same trial that exonerated Tarver on similar corruption charges, after which Tarver didn’t run for reelection, sitting out for eight years before regaining office in 2011.

28.11.22

Legislature must excise favoritism scholarships

Bad enough that in general academia increasingly has become immersed in politics replacing scholarship and learning. Worse, in Louisiana politics still drives too much even basic decisions in the realm of academia, a condition that should be eliminated recently illuminated by another example of unethical behavior.

The politicized nature of Louisiana higher education is well known, with Louisiana State University alone the scene of attempts to suppress free speech of students, of faculty members, and giving athletics the run of the place. But politicians and their appointees also intervene in the more mundane aspects of administration in order to convert power into favoritism, with former LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Chancellor Larry Hollier having been revealed as a crass practitioner of this.

An internal investigation last year revealed Hollier intervened to help arrange scholarships for each of his grandsons and thousands of dollars in awards for his grandson’s girlfriend. Hollier denied giving them any assistance and remains a faculty member with a salary in the half million-dollar range after having served in the top spot from 2005-21. He left that abruptly amid charges he pushed for improper pay bumps for his inner circle, underpaid women, and violated the university’s policies while hiring and firing people, as another report indicated.

27.11.22

Fiscal crisis looms for high-tax Bossier schools

Over the past four years, things deteriorated for the high-tax, burgeoning-deficit, above average-performing Bossier Parish School District. That recent elections returned largely the same cast of School Board members calls into question whether the situation will improve any time soon.

Only two new faces will grace the Board when it convenes in the near future, although one of the remaining ten joined only last year and was the only one to face a reelection challenge, and another newcomer slid in unopposed. In essence, nine incumbents sailed back into office without opposition despite some uninspiring data concerning their policy-making.

On the performance side, in academic year 2018 Bossier schools ranked 21st out of 70 in the state with a district performance score of 82.8 (state average: 76.1) or graded “B.” Last AY, the district jumped to 11th out of 64 (Lafourche, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and Terrebonne didn’t report; four ranked ahead of Bossier in AY 2018) with a score of 86.4 (state average: 77.1). Both in an absolute sense and relative sense, there was minor improvement.

24.11.22

Thanksgiving Day, 2022

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Thursday, Nov. 24 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.

23.11.22

GOP leaders need to get serious on Greene matter

Barring a dramatic reversal, it has become increasingly clear that the select Louisiana House of Representatives committee to investigate state police and Governor’s Office responsibility regarding the death of a black motorist and their subsequent actions appertaining to that is a sham designed to promote political careers rather than accountability.

The Special Committee to Inquire into the Circumstances and Investigation of the Death of Ronald Greene has been meeting off and on for nearly half a year, with the most recent such empaneling last week. Greene died at the hands of the Louisiana State Police in May, 2019 and any state investigation since has been slow-walked, if not attempted shunting away, by officials all the way up to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, who knew far more about the matter than he let on for about two years and as late as 14 months ago still kept backing in public a discredited theory that Greene’s death didn’t come from brutal treatment by the LSP.

The sum of total of this has featured (1) very few revelations not already disseminated by the media, (2) plenty of venting about the inexcusable treatment of Greene and subsequent stonewalling by the LSP and executive branch, and (3) intransigent obfuscation and evasion by LSP and executive branch officials called upon to deliver answers. The latest gathering was just more of the same, with the LSP head Col. Lamar Davis (who was not in charge when Greene met his demise) being tight-lipped about LSP culpability about the incident and instead focusing on procedural changes since, and Greene’s mother again excoriating the LSP.

22.11.22

Vote to keep LA elections, govt employment pure

For many Louisianans, the only reason to vote on Dec. 10 comes in the form of constitutional amendments, where deciding their merit is more complicated than first appears.

Amendment #1 – would prohibit allowing non-citizens to vote in elections in the state. None can in state or local elections currently in Louisiana, but a handful of cities across the country allow it. This would make the prohibition ironclad.

Typically, constitutional provisions should exist only when essential to operating a representative democracy; otherwise, statute is their rightful place (if that). Many such in the Louisiana Constitution aren’t, but this one is. There’s nothing more fundamental to the health of a republic than to ensure voting integrity, where even one counted vote not properly cast by an American citizen and resident of that jurisdiction is an intolerable injury to all Americans. It’s best to rule out the possibility of future mischievous majoritarian branches permitting noncitizens to vote in elections at any level without the people’s approval. YES.

21.11.22

Kennedy hint may make Democrats' lives worse

While waiting on Republican Sen. John Kennedy to make up his mind, a review is in order of where the Louisiana’s governor’s race and others below stand for next year.

Last week, both he and GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy stated they were giving serious consideration to running for governor. The timing wasn’t accidental: both had hoped to be in the Senate majority party and the greater power that brings, but elections days before didn’t turn out that way. Even though the GOP has a very strong chance of becoming the majority in two years, two years is an eternity in politics, so suddenly without warning both made this announcement.

Almost always such a pronouncement serves as a prelude to jumping into a race, and Cassidy certainly needs a lifeline to stay in politics past 2026 at this point. Right after his 2020 reelection, he began to make a series of puzzling decisions that perhaps have made him unelectable statewide, starting with laying out a solid case not to vote to convict Republican former Pres. Donald Trump on spurious impeachment charges then inexplicably recanting, followed by votes favoring detrimental legislation.

20.11.22

Bossier jurors must address fiscal time bomb

It’s a race against time for Bossier Parish Police Jurors: find ways to obscure enough the inevitable negative fiscal impact from years of careless water and sewerage policy so as not to impair their reelection chances next year while actually doing something to solve the problem.

Raising impact fees, as the Jury initiated last week for commercial customers, is but a drop in the bucket compared to the massive funds injection necessary to pay for years of careless capital budgeting. Back in the mid-aughts, the parish created what today is termed the Consolidated Waterworks/Sewerage District No. 1 (which extends west from Princeton), adding a later spinoff No. 2 (serving around the Linton Road and Linton Cutoff area), to address state complaints about service quality from the patchwork of nongovernment operators serving outside of municipalities. Since then, the parish has built out infrastructure to tie together and extend services from operator after operator it has acquired, with the latest being Village Water System and potentially Benton’s in the future.

That has created a ticking time bomb. For years, the parish essentially subsidized system operation using tax dollars even of those not system users, by its own admission around $10 million through 2019, and financial records suggest subsidization of around $1.7 million in 2020 but a narrow gain in 2021 have occurred since. This may have stabilized operating deficits for now, but that’s not the whole picture.