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28.11.21

Edwards shouldn't hold breath on Biden swap

One conservative commentator thinks national Democrats should throw a lifeline to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ political career, as unlikely and ineffective as it might be.

Edwards is playing out the string as the state’s chief executive, reduced to reacting against progress when the Republican-controlled Legislature gets up the gumption to force an issue, and unable to forward successfully anything but the most marginal agenda items or purely symbolic gestures such as promoting policies based on climate alarmism. The rest of the time he tries to behave as a one-man Chamber of Commerce to beg the private sector to boost the state’s economic development that has performed dismally under his watch.

While he already has demurred from attempting any future elective office, he has not discouraged speculation about appointive positions. Given the current milieu generated by national Democrats, however, and particularly with his third-rail violation of not opposing measures that have the effect of reducing abortion on demand, he’s found the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration disinterested in his services, even where that background or his prior military service might deliver at least a symbolic advantage for his assuming this kind of post.

25.11.21

Thanksgiving Day, 2021

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. 25 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.

24.11.21

Ill-timed Shreveport tax hikes look tenuous

As Shreveport suffers with one of the worst large-city economies in the country, the last thing it should want to do is increase taxes. Yet that’s exactly what it has queued up for voters in just over a couple of weeks.

Going for a third bite of the apple, Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins, with unanimous City Council assent, wants to put five brand-spanking new property taxes on the menu to fund a range of infrastructure items paid by debt. A similar but smaller package divided into three items narrowly failed in 2019, and earlier this year Council reticence caused Perkins to withdraw a proposal of four measures for an amount a bit smaller than the $236 million now up for voter approval.

Events since the 2019 failure have both aided and conspired against chances of passage. Even with a booming economy under Republican former Pres. Donald Trump, voters rejected the items, one dealing with water and sewerage, another with roads, and an omnibus proposal for buildings addressing public safety and parks and recreation. The package earlier this year split out public safety from other construction, and the current iteration created a separate technology item.

23.11.21

Edwards map hedge seeks to avoid wasted power

Of course Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards won’t commit to vetoing any Louisiana congressional redistricting plan that doesn’t have two majority-minority districts: such a move loses, both politically and practically.

While some Louisianan legislators and special interests have stumped for doubling the number of such House of Representatives districts in the state out of six because its black population almost has reached a third of the population, Edwards publicly refuses to join in definitively. As governor, he has a chance to influence the process because he has veto power over the law implementing any reapportionment. Further, while the Louisiana Senate has a supermajority of Republicans that could override a veto, the House of Representatives comes up two seats short.

However, in practical terms any arrangement that squeezes out two of these would face tremendous constitutional problems, as this would violate Supreme Court jurisprudence that does not allow for drawing boundaries making racial composition the primary consideration while ignoring other desirable criteria. If somehow Edwards could strongarm into life such a plan, it would be challenged legally, elections in 2022 would continue under the current map, and eventually the federal judiciary extremely likely would declare it unconstitutional.

22.11.21

Edwards net zero delusion risks taxpayer bucks

Louisiana state government subsidizing private sector nuclear reactors may be in taxpayers’ future, if Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ “net zero” scheme sees the light of day.

Last year, Edwards jaunted into Climate Derangement Syndrome with his establishment of a task force whose goals included by 2025 reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, by 2030 by 40 to 50 percent of that level; and by 2050 reducing emissions to net zero. So far, the group hasn’t disgorged anything specific, although a final report doing so will come forth early next year, but it appears to pursue both front-end strategies of reducing emissions at their source by turning away from fossil fuel use and at the back end by carbon sequestration.

Never mind these goals are both ruinously expensive – with such a strategy costing the typical ratepayer an estimated $90 a month more through 2035 – and physically impossible to achieve. Just to give one example of the latter, the demand for precious metals needed in batteries to make nonrenewable energy source use feasible gobbles up the world’s entire proven reserves of these – and one of the crucial metals involved, cobalt, China now monopolizes in part thanks to a deal brokered by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

21.11.21

Shreveport rental registry hurts more than helps

Shreveport’s City Council continues to take a step away from reality with its recent endorsement of a rental dwelling unit registration program, on top of an increase in the minimum wage paid to city employees.

Both measures advanced in last week’s meeting. The increase comes not as an ordinance but as part of the 2022 budget, about matching New Orleans’ plans to do the same. Both cities are in economic decline relative to other U.S. cities their sizes, and raising the wage has a demonstrable negative impact on economic growth, even if just limited to municipal employees because of increased taxpayer costs and the knock-on effect it has on private sector wages.

Yet the extra requirements and costs of landlords might do more economic long-term damage. They would have to cough up $65 initially per unit, and then $30 each year, as well as if needed pay to put properties into compliance according to a proposed list of 12 items. This adds definitions to vague state law whose Civil Code orders landlords to ensure maintenance of the property in a “suitable” condition for the purpose for which it was leased. The Metropolitan Planning Commission would administer it, presumably funded by these user fees.

18.11.21

PSC must protect consumers from alarmism

One thing is clear: unless the regional transmission organization that guides the pricing most Louisianans pay for their electricity halts its drift towards placing ideology ahead of customer welfare, the part of the state served by Entergy must find an alternative arrangement.

At last month’s Public Service Commission meeting, consultants registered a warning about the policy direction of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. This RTO is comprised of power providers in 15 states and Manitoba, split into three regions. Entergy’s operations in New Orleans, regulated by the city, and in most of the rest of the state, regulated by the Public Service Commission, are affected; the northwest corner of the state served by American Electric Power subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power is part of another RTO called the Southwest Power Pool.

Ideally, an RTO by integrating power production across multiple providers and borders can increase reliability in provision for customers included by drawing upon more sources. However, member entities sacrifice some control over generation and pricing, most particularly on capital expenditures for transmission. Several such voluntarily organizations exist encompassing over half the states, but not areas of Mississippi not served by Entergy or the remainder of deep south states (except for a swath of North Carolina). These parts of Entergy with its Arkansas and Texas subsidiaries form one of three MISO sub-regions which have some autonomy within the organization.

17.11.21

BC no-bid contract chickens come home to roost

The folly of no-bid contracting when unnecessary for local governments hit home at Bossier City’s latest City Council meeting.

At the last moment, the issue sidelined at its Nov. 2 meeting the Council placed on the agenda. That would close the Union Pacific Railroad crossing at Shed Road, apparently in exchange for allowing the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway, almost complete, to fly over the tracks nearby.

The impetus for this came from a letter received from the railroad. After the last meeting, Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler and some councilors met with UP to see if they could modify the railroad’s insistence on closure, addressed in the letter that read publicly.

16.11.21

Resignations roil Caddo, Shreveport politics

Recent resignations by elected officials in Caddo Parish governments could create a lot of controversy shaping their compositions for years to come.

Last week, Democrat Lynn Cawthorne resigned his Caddo Parish Commission post, and not by choice – he pled guilty to a felony that by law disqualifies his service in an elected capacity. Local Shreveport ordinance forced out Republican (for now) James Flurry when he moved from his City Council district.

This doesn’t change the partisan control of the Council, with currently four Democrats and two Republicans seated. By Dec. 2 the Council must choose a replacement or default to the governor.

15.11.21

Split reform decision confounds expectations

One up, one down for fiscal reform in Louisiana from this past weekend’s election – and in a manner that defied expectations.

Amendment #1 would have centralized state and local sales tax collection by dozens of entities into one, although that new unit itself would have been a committee representing state and local government interests, with future legislation and rule-making further defining the process. That lost by around 15,000 votes.

While a few interest groups stumped for the item’s passage, arguing that the current decentralized system unique among the states discouraged economic development by the complexity involved, no organized opposition arose. Instead, a number of parish government officials behind the scenes discouraged support, contending local governments would find their revenue streams disrupted, with this fear magnified by the nebulous nature of the unestablished regulatory regime.