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26.10.20

Bill opponents misunderstand roles of govts

In the ashes of the failure of Republican state Rep. Lance HarrisHB 38 from the just-concluded special session of the Louisiana Legislature, most disappointing was the demonstrated ignorance of some opponents to it.

The bill would have allowed the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to review local governments that perform functions of or are law enforcement agencies that decreased spending on that function a quarter or more, unless their tax collections in the period dropped. If the JLCB determined the decrease harmed public safety, the offending government would lose the chance to receive capital outlay money from the state and any appropriations for sale tax dedications.

Harris, who is running for Congress, pitched the bill as a proactive antidote to the actions of a handful of cities nationwide that have made efforts to defund police departments under the allegation that they perform in a systematically racist way. None in Louisiana have attempted this, although extremist elements have called for this in New Orleans.

23.10.20

Bungled session leaves little to commend it

Thanks to monumental leadership ineptitude, if not bad faith, a promising special session of the Louisiana Legislature collapsed to take the political fortunes of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards out of intensive care.

At its start almost a month ago, the session convened by the Republican leadership of Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Pres. Page Cortez looked to make several advancements. Primarily, it could have, through passing a combination of resolutions to commence immediately and laws aimed at the future, pushed Edwards into wiser policy-making concerning the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, made strides towards addressing the unemployment benefits trust fund deficit without weakening the system, and handled matters relative to this year’s hurricane disasters.

Insofar as the disaster legislation went, it got the job done. It failed miserably on the other pair of priorities, and in a way that revived Edwards’ moribund power that it had hamstrung during the regular session and prior special session.

22.10.20

Jefferson school leaders stupidly dig deeper

If you’ve already made yourself look idiotic by digging a hole you’re in, don’t keep digging. That’s a lesson Louisiana’s lobby for school superintendents, and especially the Jefferson Parish school chief and some of its board members, should have learned long ago.

Last month, the parish’s school superintendent James Gray senselessly suspended 4th grader Ka’Mauri Harrison for briefly having a BB gun in view of his computer camera while receiving virtual instruction. Shortly thereafter, 6th grader Tomie Brown got suspended for three days for roughly the same thing.

It boggles the mind in the first place why the district would consider having a gun visible from afar, as opposed to having one in the classroom, an infraction. It’s as if Jefferson school mandarins think children are vampires that must be shielded from a cross lest they endure trauma, as if the image of a firearm in and of itself was something revolting. However do they survive viewing pictures of war from their history textbooks?

21.10.20

Bossier Jury last big NW LA sunshine holdout

Now that the Bossier City Council has dragged itself into the 21st century, it’s past time for that to happen to the last holdout among the large governing authorities in northwest Louisiana that has resisted transparency – the Bossier Parish Police Jury.

Last week, for the first time, the City Council began publishing on its web site descriptions of its agenda items, including the texts of ordinances when introduced and considered. The move brings welcome relief to citizens who now can review easily, without having to trek to City Hall, matters before the Council meets in order to give input before or at the meeting.

Perhaps the change came as a result of looming elections. Three months prior to qualification, already more candidates have committed to challenging incumbents than in 2017. One, District 1 challenger Republican Shane Cheatham who currently sits on the Bossier Parish School Board, in publicly pledged to making agenda item information available online prior to meetings, emulating the Board’s policy as well as that of Shreveport’s City Council. Then, almost simultaneously, the Bossier City Council broke its maiden.

20.10.20

Tweak program to reduce LA's water woes

A promising program that could save Louisiana taxpayers money scored its first success, but it needs a heavier foot on the gas pedal.

Almost a quarter of a century ago, Congress established a program that led to creation of Louisiana’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. Each year, the federal government allocates money for this, matched by the state at a 4:1 ratio. The nearly $20 million combined, as well as monies accumulated from the past loaned and repaid, mainly may go to further low-interest lending to aid in improving the provision of drinking water by both local government and nongovernment agencies, but also can subsidize providers to defined disadvantaged populations, refinancing for government providers, as well as set-asides to secure adherence to regulations to address public health priorities.

Last year, within the program following the creation of a commission to study the issue, the state additionally instituted a mechanism to aid disadvantaged communities, defined as a population that faces an imminent threat to public safety from regulatory noncompliance in its system, has fewer than 10,000 people, and has a median household income below the national figure. It allows these systems to draw upon an interest-free, forgivable loan to consolidate with other systems in better financial and structural shape.

19.10.20

LA needs to stay on education reform course

The fault in Louisiana’s continuing drop in ACT Test scores lies in us, even in the face of a similar national trend.

Louisiana’s decline has gone from 19.5 (out of 36 points) in 2017 to 19.2 in 2018 to 18.8 in 2019 and 18.7 in 2020. However, that trend also appears nationally. Among the other 11 states where all students took the ACT in this period, only two had an increase from 2017-18, one had an increase from 2018-19, one had an increase from 2019-20, and only Nevada’s rose in this period – and it’s the lowest performer. Nationally, which includes all students including those in states they may take it voluntarily (which disproportionately excludes lower performers), scores also dropped from 21 to 20.6.

This can’t be written off as an artifact of fewer students taking it – which has seen a drop every year from 2017 of 2.03 million to 1.67 million in 2020 – because less able students typically eschew it. As well, the pattern downward replicated across the must-take states.

16.10.20

GOP leaders forfeit claim to fiscal prudence

With one boneheaded, tone-deaf piece of legislation, Louisiana’s Republican legislative leadership threw away any chance they had to differentiate clearly a GOP-led Legislature from spender-in-chief Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards – and on a silver platter handed Edwards a means to diffuse criticism of him.

HB 39 in the special session started off innocuously enough. Author Republican state Rep. Zee Zeringue – as head of the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, a top lieutenant of GOP Speaker Clay Schexnayderoriginally asked only to take $15 million out of apparently leftover dollars, from a federal government boost the portion of Medicaid it finances through the end of the year and let the Louisiana Public Defender Board use it to buy office space for its constituent districts. This would free up rent money that could go to supplementing a system chronically short of funds that has triggered a suit over that lacking, which allegedly causes inadequate representation.

The simplicity obscured that the bill would serve as the vehicle for other adjustments in the budget as since the fiscal year commenced the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic continued and the state received two hurricane blows, and cybersecurity matters increasingly gained in importance. Principally – and leaders had articulated this as one of the two major reasons to have the session – it would trigger a refill of the Unemployment Compensation Fund, as economic retrenchment due to restrictions imposed by Edwards had caused a spike in unemployment that increased benefits going out and reduction in business that reduced tax collections from employers going in.

15.10.20

Yet again, Perkins ethics called into question

Democrat Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, also running for the U.S. Senate next month, faces more accusations that deter support for him in this contest as well as in any reelection attempt.

From the moment he entered office posing as a new broom to sweep out old politics, Perkins seemed more like a new good-old-boy. He struck a deal with a political ally on insuring city property, only to stick Shreveport with a higher bill for less insurance for the next year. He tried to fob off campaign expenses onto taxpayers. He improperly claimed reimbursement for automobile use. And, he illegally tried to replace Shreveport Airport Authority members.

Issues over the Authority have continued to spin out of his control. Preceding the contentious appointment saga and allied matter of selecting a new director, hangar owners at the Downtown Airport have complained the SAA wants to renew tenancy with leases that essentially steal their structures, into which many have poured substantial sums of money, driving down their resale values in the process.

14.10.20

Dominatrix, Cantrell wishing away consequences

How is the aftermath of “demonic” altar desecrations and the current dilemma of the ruling leftist elite in Louisiana the same?

Allegedly, on Sep. 30 pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Pearl River Travis Clark, had a rendezvous with a pair of dominatrices based out of Washington and Georgia. At the church near midnight, they chose to play sex games on the church altar – and recorded it. But so did a parishioner curious at lights on in the house of worship at that time with such matters viewable from outside, who called the police. This incident so disgusted the Very Rev. Archbishop Gregory Aymond that, in following canon law, besides suspending Clark, he subsequently had the altar burned and reconsecrated a new one, calling the act “demonic.”

Sad, but the event turned pathetic when one of the dominatrices complained about perceived public persecution. The Atlantan, Melissa Cheng, kvetched publicly that she has suffered physically and mentally for being “vilified.” “My privacy gets violated and I get in trouble. Maybe people shouldn't snoop in windows and then complain about what they see, especially at night. Ridiculous,” she complained, while denying the fact that churches are considered public spaces, that it’s diocesan property, and her activity was visible enough that a cell phone could shoot recognizable footage through a window.

13.10.20

Law can clarify no LA election interference

Louisiana Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry made the right call in preserving unbiased election administration in the state, and the Legislature and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards should follow up.

Last month, Facebook announced its chief would create a grant system that would shuttle $250 million of Mark Zuckerberg’s and his wife’s donated money to local elections officials ostensibly to aid in the conduct of fall elections. This could provide funds for things like paying commissioners, buying protective equipment in light of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, and increasing voting by mail capacity. They said they would give away another $50 million to statewide elections administrators.

These officials had complained about Facebook’s conduct about the time of announcement of the $300 million effort. It had decided to ban “political” ads a week out from the elections, but that includes alerts from officials concerning last minute administrative changes which could ameliorate confusion.