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16.9.21

Right-size, hike tuition before squeezing public

University administrations change, but the misleading narratives remain the same.

New Louisiana State University System Pres. William Tate has slipped seamlessly into the mode of recent such heads by poormouthing finances provided by taxpayers. Asked about why the flagship campus continues to descend in the magazine U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of universities, he stated “LSU’s overall rank fell largely because of two categories: financial and faculty resources, both of which are tied to funding.” He also alleged that “To improve will require significant state and philanthropic investments in students and faculty members.”

I’ll take his word about the mechanics of the scoring, since the magazine hides many of the details behind a paywall. But the implication that pumping wholesale higher taxpayer dollars into the school to compensate for a dearth of funding doesn’t bear any relationship to reality.

15.9.21

Aggrandizement to blame for hurting LA burgs

Some different players, but same old story: desire by elites for prestige and remuneration hampering solutions to struggling Louisiana municipalities.

In 2019, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor began publicizing distressed municipalities, or those that risked having to come under outside fiscal administration. Although some have crawled out from under their problems, sometimes spectacularly so, several since have degraded into administrative receivership, with the state’s Fiscal Review Committee in its meeting last month having added Powhatan to that category.

That leaves 18 others on the distressed list compiled earlier this year. Eleven in fact repeat from two years ago, including Powhatan. Each has its own reasons for making the list, but one commonality is this desire, mostly strongly rooted among mayors, to retain control over resources that could be allocated more efficiently, manifested in two ways.

14.9.21

Date change to affect LA fall election results

Rescheduling of Louisiana’s 2021 general election date will help certain candidates but especially hurt the chances of a couple of constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Last week, Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin initiated and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards completed the process of kicking back Oct. 9 elections to Nov. 13, and any runoffs needed from Nov. 13 to Dec. 11, due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. That move became even more necessary with the pile-on of Hurricane Nicolas, with the storms wrecking some polling places, displacing voters temporarily, and perhaps even delaying past the original date the restoration of power at some precincts.

To some degree, Louisiana elections in year after a presidential election retain some participation fragility. Without high profile state or national contests on the fall ballot compared to all other years in the quadrennial cycle, turnout tends on the low side. As a point of reference, the typical October general election in the 21st century has drawn, working backwards from 2017, 14.27, 13.22, 10.88, 13.2, and 21 percent of the electorate.

13.9.21

DOJ LSP review bad idea, politically moot

All of the chief of the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and the state’s only Democrat elected to federal office all are open to, if not asking for, a U.S. Department of Justice “pattern or practice” review of the LSP. Bad idea, the data show, and politics may torpedo it in any event.

In July, the Caucus put in a formal request for DOJ to perform this, where the agency looks for a “pattern or practice” of action by a law enforcement agency that violates either constitutional protections or federal laws. It comprehensively evaluates the law enforcement agency’s written policies and actual practices, including its systems for training, equipping, and supervising officers; how it collects and uses data to identify and address problems; its systems for holding officers accountable for misconduct; and the degree of accountability to community voices and democratic government.

The request was spurred by media revelations of highly questionable LSP officer conduct in the traffic stop of Ronald Greene, a black motorist on the road in northeast Louisiana, that appears to have contributed to his death incident to an arrest. Other internal LSP documents also obtained through information requests revealed additional sketchy incidents over the past decade where allegedly excessive force was used.

12.9.21

LSU System proves capital of LA's covidiots

In a state government with a fair amount of covidiots on the loose from the Governor’s Mansion on down, the Louisiana State University System has proven itself their capital.

This week begins implementation of the irrational vaccine passport on its campuses. Students must present proof of vaccination or recent infection from the Wuhan coronavirus or a recent negative test for it or else face disenrollment. Employees at the Baton Rouge campus have until Oct. 15 to do the same or face adverse personnel actions including the possibility of termination (fortunately, some other campuses in the system aren’t as draconian; for example, they foist these requirements only on students and employees who make on-campus physical appearances). For now, at least campuses have arranged for free periodic testing and shots courtesy of the orgy of spending provided through endless money printing by a federal government run by Democrats.

The policy makes no sense at all if it’s done in the name of “safety;” i.e., forcing the unvaccinated to get poked or prove the don’t have the virus so as to protect others, because it is the unvaccinated at risk and they voluntarily have chosen that status (some on medical advice). One could argue that protection could still come against “breakout” infections of those vaccinated, except that there’s no difference between the viral loads of vaccinated and unvaccinated folks recently exposed. Simply, unvaccinated people are no more likely to threaten to spread the virus to others than those vaccinated.

10.9.21

CAO battle lost, Cheatham might still win war

This week witnessed another chapter of The Empire vs. Republican Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler with a minor defeat for the latter, but from that might bring a much bigger win for reform in the future.

Having originally selected Republican Shane Cheatham as his chief administrative officer, who knocked off long-time Republican incumbent City Councilor Scott Irwin this spring that also saw Chandler defeat four-time incumbent Republican Lo Walker, that nomination never even came to a vote. With Cheatham having resigned his School Board seat and turned down the council win, Council graybeards no party Jeff Darby, Republican Jeff Free, the GOP’s David Montgomery, and Democrat Bubba Williams conspired with newcomer and theirs and Walker’s ally Republican Vince Maggio to put Irwin back in temporarily. Then they didn’t provide a second to a motion by GOP newcomer Chris Smith – Chandler’s only friend on the Council so far – to appoint Cheatham.

It was a rookie/outsider mistake to give away a sure Council supporter in this fashion by Chandler asking and Cheatham accepting, and Chandler hung in with his choice for a couple of months. But he finally had to bow to the reality of the intractability of Council Pres. Williams, who publicly gave vague reasons why he wouldn’t support Cheatham, and the other graybeards plus new bootlicker Maggio, and thus nominated Amanda Nottingham for the post.

8.9.21

Cassidy increasingly alienated from Louisianans

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy continues to give a graphic representation of what happens when you stay in Washington too long.

It seems incredible to think that the Cassidy of a year ago running for reelection and the one on display today are the same person. Then, Cassidy was a GOP Pres. Donald Trump and Senate party loyalist, voting with Trump about 89 percent of the time (higher that predicted by a model used by one political forecasting and commentary website), rated about 83 on the American Conservative Union’s scorecard, and enthusiastically backed party positions such as the ascension of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the campaign he sounded all the right conservative themes and cruised to victory.

However, within that ACU rating should have signaled a warning to conservatives. It notes his weakest area was on budget and fiscal policy, where according to it he voted more often for liberal policies. And that became starker not long after Cassidy concluded that Trump had lost his reelection attempt and he became an early backer of an unnecessary spending bill just as his first term ended.

7.9.21

Landry tragedy review brings needed neutrality

Fortunately, Hurricane Ida cost only a few Louisianans their lives. Unfortunately, the circumstances behind most of these deaths leaves uncomfortable as yet unanswered questions that could lead to the Governor’s Mansion.

During the storm, six nursing home clients died in a warehouse in Independence. Seven facilities in the southeastern part of the state, operated by Baton Rouge businessman Bob Dean, in advance of Ida disgorged over 800 clients into the building also owned by Dean. That site had met with Department of Health approval; all group homes in the state (as well as individuals served in waiver programs) must have on file an approved evacuation plan. In fact, LDH reviewed and reaffirmed that plan prior to the evacuations.

However, LDH now claims the facilities didn’t follow the plan. And according to Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, employees there turned away LDH representatives wishing to survey the place – an action that prompted Landry to open an investigation of the entire operation.

6.9.21

Politics explains media's LA disaster coverage

Sixteen years to the day Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Hurricane Ida did the same. But over a week later, political reaction to it has been vastly different because of political agendas.

The storms differed only in strength and location. Ida was the stronger of the two and landed west of New Orleans, while Katrina made landfall to the city’s east. Potentially, this made Ida mor destructive not only because of its strength, but because a hurricane’s rotation in this part of the world makes its northeastern quadrant the most damaging.

Ida did plenty of damage, tearing through a number of communities with extensive damage or complete destruction of most structures that, at this point, looks to take months for life to get back anywhere close to normal for affected individuals. Katrina caused this on a much lesser scale, but infamously supplied s storm surge that knocked out some area levees, with most of the ensuing flooding affecting New Orleans (and Jefferson Parish) and claiming far more lives.

5.9.21

LA crypto mining: less methane, more wealth

Atypically, the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has a chance to get something right, and it has to do with cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin and the many other varieties of this currency, which comes into being through computer algorithms and has no physical manifestation, slowly but surely are gaining acceptance as stores of value for commercial transactions. Their creation processes involve performing extensive calculations on computers, typically barebones setups linked by the dozens if not hundreds or even thousands.

This generates energy demands in two ways: providing the electricity to run the computers and to cool them as the process generates tremendous heat. In fact, mining a typical unit of bitcoin (trading currently around $50,000) for one rig (exclusive of cooling) takes the equivalent 53 days of power for the average US household, or at the average U.S. price per kilowatt about $200.