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Luddites lose finally on N.O. gas peaker

The New Orleans City Council turned back the Luddites and ensured reliable electric power in the Crescent City.

After nearly a year of going round and round with drama, the Council passed on revisiting a vote to authorize Entergy New Orleans to build a 128 MW gas generator. The city has relied solely on outside power by transmission line for almost three years, and last year the Council approved of this unit and Entergy charging customers for it, but upon discovering the utility had employed unusual lobbying tactics to help win approval, some special interests agitated to redo the process.

The $210 million “peaker” unit Entergy intended for two purposes. First, on days where demand exceeded what outside transmission could bring in, this unit has a quick start capacity that can ameliorate almost instantly capacity issues. Second, in the event of a natural disaster with downed lines and other problems, the unit’s quick starting in short order could supply emergency power for an extended period of time.


Alter LA higher education policy before taxing

A recent plea for more Louisiana higher education funding reminds of the story of different individuals describing an elephant.

In that tale, individuals unable to see stood around an elephant. Asked to describe the beast just from touch various parts of it, obviously they came up with wildly different conjectures.

So it was when Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed addressed the media earlier this week. She noted that Louisiana families here pay 21.1 percent of their income when enrolled in the two-year schools compared to 17 percent in other southern states and 18.2 percent nationally, according to data compiled by the Southern Regional Education Board. She later added that the state should increase need-based aid to make sure more people have access, observing that it spends $161 on average for need-based aid compared to an average of $343 in the region and $376 nationally, and $1,601 for merit-based assistance compared to an average of $416 in the region and $168 in the U. S.


Another black eye for LSU under Alexander

The old college expression, “if you can’t go Greek, go Deke” has taken on a much more sinister connotation at Louisiana State University with horrific revelations potentially untimely for the academic career of the system’s leader.

The early part of 2019 has seen the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter at the state’s flagship university in Baton Rouge first voluntarily disband, then have several of its members arrested for crimes related to treatment of pledges. What some on campus saw as a real-life “Animal House” instead seems likely, if the charges stick, to more accurately carry the label “Felony House.”

Accusations sensational and sickening accuse members of physical and mental of abuse of pledges, allegedly going on for years, until a few recent DKE pledges blew the whistle, emboldened by LSU’s well-publicized reforms concerning pledge treatment after the death by hazing of one at another fraternity. What law enforcement investigators have claimed happened makes the chapter look little more than a conveyor belt for sadism.


Milkovich tome to distract from record

You might think running a law practice and serving as a state senator would leave little time to write a book – unless it helps you navigate a difficult reelection task.

Last year, Democrat state Sen. John Milkovich self-published Robert Mueller-- Errand Boy for the New World Order. At the time, in Louisiana only the Talk Louisiana radio program took notice (disclosure: I’m sometimes a guest on this program), which led to a subsequent dyspeptic review by a far left website in state.

Since then, Milkovich has been busy with it. I haven’t read it, but from what I can glean from various interviews that he has given with a number of conspiratorial-minded outlets, it’s just that – a contrived look at the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director’s and now special prosecutor whose investigation is going nowhere, looking set to burn through tens of millions of dollars without coming close to delivering metaphorically to the far left a Z-list celebrity aspiration.


Edwards plays budget politics, blames Barras

The Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration continues to play politics with Louisiana’s budgeting.

This concerns the ongoing refusal by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Taylor Barras to approve of a new revenue forecast. One of the four members of the Revenue Estimating Conference, which needs all members’ assent to make an official prediction for budgeting purposes, four times now in the past three months Barras or his stand-in have refused to boost that.

Barras has based his refusal on the disappointing performance of oil prices and the inherent inaccuracies that past forecasts have demonstrated. The federal government has lowered its estimate of West Texas Intermediate crude oil for 2019 to around $54 a barrel for most of the year, which would translate into a somewhat lower price over the state’s fiscal year than the REC most recently has figured.


Others cancel while LA wastes on bullet trains

Same old story: as the world moves forward, Louisiana stays stuck in the past.

This week, two high-profile high-speed rail projects became largely sidetracked. California pulled back on most of its overly-ambitious, severely-underfunded plan to have bullet trains running from San Francisco to San Diego. Scrapping the $77 billion price tag that some argued still underestimated costs, it now foresees completion only of segment between the booming metropolises of Bakersfield and Merced, and hopes money will rain from the federal government and private sector to finish the rest in the indeterminate future.

But the state shouldn’t hold its breath on investment dollars, a similar event in Florida shows. There, a firm with a short haul line between Miami and West Palm Beach with hopes to expand to Orlando and Tampa yet again postponed receiving another round of financing, eschewing an initial public offering over skepticism the project would turn a profit any time soon. It already is light years ahead of the California project in that it already owns much of the infrastructure involved, but still at this point can’t see enough of a draw to entice investors.


LA bishops must deliver maximal transparency

Louisiana’s dioceses shouldn’t cop out when it comes to examining sins of the past, given the credibility crisis faced by Roman Catholic Church leaders all the way to the top.

Last year, each of the state’s prince of the Church pledged to remit, at a bare minimum, lists of names of clergy with credible accusations against them of sexual abuse. Since then, most have produced such a document.

Unfortunately, some have done a worse job than others. All should have emulated the model set by the Most Rev. Michael Duca, Bishop of Baton Rouge. He made public dates of birth, dates of ordination, pastoral assignments, dates of allegations, dates of disposition, and – in most cases – the number of victims that each clergy member is alleged to have molested and where the abuse occurred. He also pledges to keep adding to the list as greater verifiable evidence emerges.


Recent events make Bossier tax tough sell

Now may not be the greatest time for the Bossier Parish School District to ask voters to increase taxes on themselves.

Last month, the School Board voted to put on the May 4 ballot a measure that would jack up property taxes by over 26 mils, in two separate votes. One would add $7,200 to every teacher’s yearly pay, and the other would jack up salaries for ancillary employees by $3,000 annually.

Then-superintendent Scott Smith argued area districts could offer more in salary, despite other remunerative avenues where Bossier could compete. In fact, while Bossier base teacher pay ranks 45th statewide according to the latest data (academic year 2016), problematically all districts surrounding Bossier pay much better (largely courtesy of oil and gas royalties): Caddo ranks 17th, DeSoto 1st, Red River 2nd, Bienville 6th, and Webster 7th.