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16.11.17

Crybaby illegal alien not kind of citizen LA needs

Break out the violins for a criminal facing likely deportation from the U.S., who created his own problems and now hides out in a New Orleans church claiming victim status.

One Jose Torres has sought sanctuary in First Grace United Methodist Church. First illegally travelling through Mexico to get here, the citizen of El Salvador has lived in this country illegally for about a dozen years, a crime. Most of that time he has lived around New Orleans and started a family with his wife, also apparently illegally in the country, which produced two anchor babies. He says that his two American citizen daughters are unfortunate enough to have medical problems.

Despite having been here since 2005, Torres apparently never sought out American citizenship. He did, however, find enough time to get convicted on drunk driving charges in 2015, a crime, as well as to assist fellow criminals in organizing a method to flout their illegal status while selling their labor to another set of criminals, businesses who knowingly employ undocumented workers.

15.11.17

Change ticket policy to enhance LA academics

Louisiana State University athletic department leaders hyperventilating over a change in the tax code reminds us of the lack of seriousness behind providing quality higher education in the state.

As part of tax reform in Washington, Congress is considering whether to eliminate the tax deductibility of donations to collegiate charitable sports foundations, worth 80 percent off income. Interestingly, LSU pioneered the idea three decades ago and now rakes in tens of millions of dollars a year by having a surcharge for tickets to seats to contests for several of its athletic squads.

The effort to do so has sent LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva into apoplexy, telling anyone who will listen that it would cost $50 million a year and send LSU athletics into the poorhouse. He and other flaks also remind anyone who will listen that athletics contributes millions a year to the academic side of the school.

14.11.17

LA higher education privatization moves desirable

With its announcement of two major gifts to establish an entrepreneurship program taking center stage, it might have been easy to overlook the salutary path taken by Louisiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business towards privatization.

Years ago, prompted by efforts in Oregon to remove state oversight of the operations of the state’s eight public senior/graduate institutions, suggestions were made that Louisiana ought to do the same. As of two years ago, Oregon had set up each of its institutions with independent governing boards, with its three largest also taking over all organization maintenance functions and responsibility for capital outlay. Altogether, only about 10 percent of revenues now come from the state, with the proportion of state funds going to the schools that have gone the furthest in controlling their own business even lower. This compares to about three times that figure for Louisiana schools, not counting Taylor Opportunity Program for Students money that acts like a general fund contribution. 

The Ourso College plans something like that for itself, bolstered by the recent donations. Not counting TOPS money, only 20 percent of its revenues now come from the state. Theoretically, a combination of private giving, tuition increases, and efficiency savings from being able to run its own affairs could bridge that gap, following the path of some other universities’ business schools, some of whom accomplished this years ago.

13.11.17

LSU abstains from drama in accepting gift

Let’s hope Louisiana’s political left and its members ensconced at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge act maturely regarding a recent gift to the school’s E.J. Ourso College of Business.

The school will receive $5.6 million to launch hiring of faculty, staff, and graduate assistants for a program in entrepreneurship. The money will give it unprecedented authority in these personnel decisions. Officials praised their largesse and outlined for this area of study an exciting future, possible in part because of such generosity.

That reaction stands in great contrast to the one people in some places have given to awards from the Charles Koch Foundation. Yes, it was founded by that Koch, head of Koch Industries, worth about $100 billion now, assisted by his brother David whom together the left regards as evil incarnate for their willingness to put their money where their conservative public policy mouths are.

9.11.17

LA saves for real with Medicaid user responsibility

Members from Louisiana’s House of Representatives blocked immediate approval of Medicaid managed care contracts over cost concerns, but requests for more efficient delivery only scratch the surface of how state government can save money.

The Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget last week asked the Department of Health to come back with better offers to the five providers of these services. Almost all Medicaid enrollees in the state potentially at least partially have services rendered to them mediated by these outfits. Without dramatic changes in spending patterns, the 23-month deals worth $15 billion will eat up a quarter of all state expenditures in this period.

Republican members of the committee, comprised of budget leaders from each chamber, led the charge to slow the process. Their Senate counterparts had no objection, but majorities of both must agree and the GOP makes up most of the House contingent. They argued the state should negotiate more savings and tighter oversight, pointing to recent audits that revealed problems in enforcing accountability.

8.11.17

Better chance lightning strikes than Schroder loses

It ain’t going to happen, unless he gets caught with a live boy or dead girl.

My Baton Rouge Advocate colleague Mark Ballard recently mused about whether Republican former state Rep. John Schroder possibly could lose the Nov. 18 special election for treasurer. While he finished runner-up to lawyer Democrat Derrick Edwards, trailing Edwards’ 31 percent by 7 points, other GOP candidates drew the remaining votes in this race. Schroder spent about 100 times what Edwards did and may do so again in the runoff; he remains a heavy favorite.

Ballard did his best to come up with a scenario that gave Edwards, who received votes merely as the only Democrat on the ballot, the victory. He figured that if statewide turnout could dip by almost half but Orleans Parish saw an increase by one third – stimulated by a mayoral runoff election – if the proportions voting for Edwards stayed the same, then it would be neck-and-neck.

7.11.17

Prator right to note how reform can go wrong

Last week Pandora’s box opened, according to some northwest Louisiana crime-fighters, when Democrats Gov. John Bel Edwards took the next step in making good on a risky campaign promise.

On Wednesday, the state began to release prisoners as a result of new guidelines. Legislation passed earlier this year shortened sentences for some, an estimated 1,900 or a bit over 5 percent of the state’s total prison population. Designed to give a break to non-violent, non-habitual offenders who did not misbehave while in prison, this meant the vast majority would come from parish prisons housing state offenders. Given that the typical month sees 1,500 or so set free, the freeing acted as if an extra month’s worth appeared, distilled into a few days.

Skeptics including both sheriffs and district attorneys spoke warily of the event’s impact. Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator emerged as perhaps the biggest critic, maybe as Caddo saw the most convicts of any parish released early courtesy of the new law. He gained a lot of publicity for his negative remarks about it, including lamenting that the ones leaving early disproportionately could work on jail duties or on work release, saving or earning his office money.

6.11.17

Data must drive policy to halt LA STD epidemic

Grasping fully the implications and necessities of public policy in combatting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) requires some amplifications and extensions of remarks I made in my recent Baton Rouge Advocate column.

Online publication not tied to a physical presentation liberates one from space constraints. Yesterday, I had published a barebones argument about government’s shaping and pursuing policy that would ameliorate Louisiana’s alarmingly-high rates in the three most commonly tracked STDs, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. To quote:

Political, civic and religious institutions must do what they can to affirm the values of chastity and self-respect for all citizens. By promoting government policies that advance self-reliance and celebrate the sanctity of life, the state’s leaders can nurture a culture that values delayed gratification as a personal and civic good. More aggressive enforcement and prosecution of sex trafficking and prostitution would help, too.