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Making runoff best reelection shot for AG Caldwell

Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell’s making it to a runoff in his reelection bid presents his best chance of succeeding in that regard, independent polling information suggests.

The recent media poll of a few of Louisiana’s statewide elections shows the Republican incumbent leading with 30 percent, followed by main challenger Republican former Rep. Jeff Landry at 20 percent, with Democrat lawyers and former government officials Ike Jackson and Geri Broussard-Baloney at 11 and 5 percent, respectively, and with Republican former prosecutor Marty Maley joining her at 5 percent. A significant 28 percent called itself undecided.

Often, these are terrible numbers for an incumbent, not only because after eight years in office Caldwell only draws three-tenths of the intended vote, but because two-sevenths of it says itself to be undecided, which often translates to they don’t want to vote for the incumbent but can’t decide upon which challenger to support (although some will not vote at all). In this case, these merely are only bad numbers, because in a lower-interest contest such as this one a decent portion of the undecided simply have not paid attention to this race and may yet decide to vote for the incumbent.


Education issues figure prominently in NW LA races

Education issues will play a big part in at least a couple of contests this fall in northwest Louisiana, according to campaign rhetoric that voters must consider carefully.

Obviously these will in the race for District 4 of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. This one features three Republicans: the appointed incumbent principal Mary Harris, challenger teacher Glynnis Johnston, and challenger businessman Tony Davis.

Whether to support reforms implemented in the past few years to Louisiana’ historically worst-in-the-nation educational system has created a fault line across the state in BESE competitions. These changes for the first time demand meaningful accountability out of schools and teachers, through the use of valid and more objective performance measurements and in increased parental schooling choices for their children. As such, these have become bitterly resisted by teacher unions and teachers unwilling or unable to raise their levels of performance, by administrators and school board members whose jobs and reelections are threatened, and by ideologue policy-makers who prefer government command and control that places the desires of adults over the needs of children.


Questionable poll illustrates left's fear of Vitter

Mass-production pollster Public Policy Polling, which works for Democrats and leftist causes, recently put out a poll that showed in hypothetical runoffs with Republicans major Democrat gubernatorial candidate state Rep. John Bel Edwards hanging in there and, in the case of frontrunner Sen. David Vitter, decisively defeating him. Is this believable?

Probably not, for a number of reasons, one of these being the quality of PPP surveys regarding state-level elections. PPP produces a high number of these by using less-rigorous methodology that serves to lower cost. As a result, their products often are all over the map, sometimes pretty accurate and sometimes wildly off, with the latter represented by its final effort in last year’s Senate contest that significantly over-predicted support for former Sen. Mary Landrieu. In fact, the 2014 cycle produced a great amount of inconsistency for it. As such, of the 21 outfits that have produced at least such 50 polls since 1998, it ranks in about the middle for accuracy.

Further, it seems that its recent trend towards increased chances of less accuracy has occurred as it practices fiddling with sampling frames to fit a preconceived notion of the electorate that leans in the direction of favoring Democrat candidates in these contests. Finally, keep in mind that this effort came at the behest of the political action committee set up expressly to defeat Vitter and is run by the guy who was formerly the head administrator of Louisiana’s Democrats and the campaign manager of Vitter’s vanquished main 2010 Senate challenger.


Barring felons as candidates improves governance

It’s possible that Prisoner #30609-034 will skate his way onto a ballot this fall, but whether he does he and those like him in the future should not have this chance that degrades the quality of governance in Louisiana.

Better known as former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, he recently exited the slammer after having served felony time for corruption in office. However, despite the Constitution making him ineligible to run for state office for 15 years after finishing his sentence without a pardon from the appropriate official, he signed up to run for his old House seat. A series of court maneuvers then ensued trying to throw him off the ballot or him trying to stay on it, based upon the Constitution’s provision.

These have come on two tracks, one weighing his status on how he thinks he should qualify within the provision, and the other on the constitutionality of the provision itself, where plaintiffs claimed the actual legislative instrument got lost in translation on the way to the ballot language to amend it into the document, which should nullify the successfully amended-in passage. The Louisiana Supreme Court is expected to rule on both questions in the near future.


CABL's shoddy analysis pushes sick tax onto people

Usually, the Council for a Better Louisiana makes solid policy recommendations. But sometimes it comes up with a clunker when the prejudices of the organization’s members come to the forefront, and such is the case with an item in its 2015 Election Agenda.

Among the various salutary ideas in this appears a real stinker, that in early 2016 the state should opt to institute a “sick tax” on users of health care in most state hospitals. A one percent assessment on these institutions’ net patient revenues (in most cases) will get passed along to consumers, causing rises not only in health care premiums they pay but also in taxes to support health care insurance made available to state employees.

This taking more of what people earn seems not to trouble CABL, which advocates for the trigger to be pulled that would have to happen prior to the end of the first quarter of 2016 by assent of the new governor and by the newly-constituted Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Instead, it justifies this new intrusion on liberty by painting a picture of financial desperation.


SOS challenger's agenda degrades elections

Defined more by candidate image in 2011, the 2015 contest for Louisiana’s Secretary of State finds itself notable for publicizing issues that would promote detrimental change to the state’s democratic health.

Current Republican Sec. of State Tom Schedler looks to keep the job after scraping by four years ago. Then, he faced outgoing House Speaker Jim Tucker, whose position gave the term-limited legislator extensive political capital and produced the most competitive race of that cycle. This time, none of his opponents have quite the resources Tucker brought to the challenge, but Schedler’s main competitor relies upon hawking a change in voter registration laws to convince the electorate to replace him.

Law professor Chris Tyson, a Democrat from a politically-connected family and environment who worked for former Sen. Mary Landrieu, criticizes Schedler mainly on two counts. First, he alleges that Schedler wastes funds on a lawsuit brought by the federal government, now four years in the running. Also, he argues that Louisiana ought to adopt same day voter registration, saying it would boost turnout as opposed to the current 30-day residency period required, claiming the state has high registration levels but relatively low turnout. He asserts that Schedler has resisted this change out of concerns of fraud Tyson dismisses.


Lt. gov. candidates offer little concerning office

As typical this time every four years, candidates for Louisiana’s lieutenant governorship emphasize to the public the high-profile things they’d like to make happen from their office – except that they can’t because the powers of it have nothing to do with the policies they promote. And, given what little of relevance they have had slip, it may be with this field that’s a good thing.

Last week, the four contenders for the most insignificant statewide office met at a fourm to answer a variety of questions. At it, we learned that in order to combat crime against tourists that Jefferson Parish President John Young wanted an anti-crime unit placed in New Orleans’ Vieux CarrĂ©, that Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden suggested stationing plainclothes policemen there, and that state Sen. Elbert Guillory desired more police presence there. Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser went a step further by leaving out the executive branch entirely and instead blamed judges for going too easy on too many criminals.

Yes, the lieutenant governor oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, and the current occupant, in a cost-saving move, even dispensed with appointing a commissioner to run the thing and does so himself. But he has no power over crime enforcement, much less the judiciary.


Scorecard confirms wisdom of LA tuition hikes

Last week the federal government released its long-publicized College Scorecard, promoted multiple times by Louisiana State University System President F. King Alexander. While not all that it promised, it still gives an instructive read on the condition of Louisiana-based institutions of higher education.

The web site takes some basic facts about schools, which includes all that deliver higher education for which data were collected such as costs, graduation rates, and subsequent graduates’ salaries, and makes them available in various categories. For example, one could request a listing of all Louisiana senior institutions that are not for-profit, and for each the basic facts appear. Clicking on a specific school introduces more detailed information. However, unlike what once was touted, the system does not stamp a grade on the school, confining itself to information presentation.

Nonetheless, crude metrics can be developed to assess school quality on a comparative basis. A simple one can take three statistics – the “net price” per year (tuition and fees plus weighed living expenses minus typical financial aid), graduation rate (of non-transfer students), and median salary of graduates ten years after graduation (of those who accessed financial aid) – and can compute a measure of the salary divided by the price multiplied by the graduation rate to give a rough measure of quality. Presumably, better schools are those that produce higher salaries at lower pricing while graduating more students.