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Maness claim signals his campaign's death throes

If we needed any confirmation that the vanity campaign of former 2014 Senate candidate Republican Rob Maness survives now only through artificial respiration, that came this week courtesy of a bizarre claim by Maness.

On the day of the major candidates’ debate – to which minor candidate Maness did not score an invitation – he alleged a bribe offering came his way to exit the contest, from somebody supposedly connected to the Better Louisiana PAC, established to support the Senate candidacy of GOP Rep. John Fleming. He contended that an official, Paul Dickson, told him “he would provide opportunities for my future, if I left the race for Senate and endorsed John Fleming;” otherwise, he alleges being told he would be “finished as a politician.” A Maness aide present claims that statement accurately summarizes the conversation, and Maness said he would “file a criminal complaint” about the incident in the near future.

Dickson, a principal in Shreveport-based pharmaceutical distributor Morris & Dickson, has no affiliation with the PAC. However, his company represents the one and only donor to it, of $100,000 a year ago. He confirmed the meeting but denied making such offer, saying that he emphasized throughout the conversation that he promised no deals for a withdrawal.


LA Senate debaters successfully stake out territory

While certainly less shrill and therefore not as entertaining as the presidential debates to date, the Louisiana U.S. Senate debate among the five major candidates broadcast on Louisiana PublicBroadcasting gave viewers a look at distinct strategies to advance themselves. Each may be summed by a single phrase, beginning with the rookie.

Caroline Fayard: I’m not a politician, I’m really not Bobby Jindal, and I’m especially not Foster Campbell

Democrat lawyer Fayard tried to walk an incredibly fine line to make herself appear all things to all voters. By far the least experienced candidate, she tried to turn that deficit around on a question about the necessity of experience to get things done in the Senate by saying she probably could last in it longer than anybody else (she’s about a quarter-century younger than the next youngest). She preached about government not getting in the way of individuals but then offered big government as the solution to education and environmental woes, waxed fictionally about the desirability of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and its spinoffs, supported raising the minimum wage and repeated the unequal wage myth. Nowhere did she say how government would pay for all of this.


LA 2016 amendments: first three up, next three down

If it’s fall, it’s time to contemplate amendments to the Louisiana Constitution and, as always, this space is here to help readers sort it all out. So, what do we have?

Amendment #1 would place educational or experiential qualifications on registrars of voters. None currently exist, making it easier for insiders and relatives of registrars to nab these jobs, to which parish governing authorities appoint. The experiential qualification does nothing to discourage this, particularly in smaller jurisdictions, but the other educational criteria at least prevents blatant favoritism for certain candidates. Yes.

Amendment #2 would move tuition and fee authority in higher education from the Legislature to the four college management boards. While statute gives some authority for this to happen presently, that could change and put Louisiana back entirely into the situation where it and one other state are the only ones whose legislatures micromanage in this fashion, making flexibility more difficult to achieve in optimal pricing decisions. This change would not produce runaway increases, not only because market forces control pricing, but also as elected officials, who will not want that scenario to occur to stay in voters’ good graces, appoint members to these boards. Yes.


New NO housing plan's basis sets it up to fail

As if we needed another example of how both the Pres. Barack Obama Administration nationally and the Mayor Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans fall prey to ideology over how the world really works, here comes an “Assessment of Fair Housing” document that puts wishful thinking ahead of the realities of human behavior.

A few months ago the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs promulgated a final rule under the Fair Housing Act alleging to address the propensity of its Housing Choice Voucher Program – better known as Section 8 – recipients clustering. Most properties participating in the program appear in lower-income, higher-crime areas, and as racial minorities disproportionately comprise recipients (about 25 percent Hispanic and 45 percent black nationally), this tends to concentrate minority participants in those areas given typically lower incomes of minority households. The rule seeks to desegregate racial concentrations by having jurisdictions compile data and make policy to steer minorities involved towards other, typically higher-rent neighborhoods.

As 98 percent of New Orleans program users are racial minorities, concentration particularly occurs. Unlike many local governments who fought the promulgation because it essentially creates an unfunded mandate of record-keeping, the city opened it with welcome arms, becoming the country’s first jurisdiction to cough up the plan required to continue gathering federal dollars to fund the program. It banks change on using new flexibility to increase ceilings on reimbursements to landlords, considering to require builders who utilize the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to guarantee below-market rates for a longer period of time than the law’s minimum (an option left up to jurisdictions, as well as the proportion of low-income residents required), and on creating of a housing registry that could identify units deemed substandard and declared ineligible for program participation.


Different dynamics distract Democrats from playbook

The leading Democrats running for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate open seat have a renewed chance to run their party’s decades-old campaign playbook that worked so well last year in electing Gov. John Bel Edwards – except the election dynamics of 2016 differ so greatly from those in 2015.

America’s political left understands that its agenda cannot win elections in most states or nationwide because the factual record and logic support conservative policy preferences. Hence, liberals’ political party, the Democrats, seeks to turn elections into referenda about Republican candidates’ personalities in order to distract from issues.

Edwards did that to perfection against pre-race favorite GOP Sen. David Vitter, whose admitted “serious sin” likely meaning dalliance with prostitutes over a decade ago, provided the perfect example to argue that Vitter lacked character and dimmed the spotlight on issues. However, Edwards could not have won without the aid of major Republican candidates: Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, now running for Congress, and his current Commissioner of Administration, then lieutenant governor, Jay Dardenne.


More controversy spurs LA ending marriage regulation

Louisiana’s policy-makers should understand that a law designed to discourage illegal bigamous situations that also has made it too difficult for some non-citizens to apply for marriage licenses does not need alteration but, because of larger judicial trends, needs excision.

Act 436 of 2015 changed standards for issuance of marriage licenses, in part impacting those applied for by non-citizens. It continued to require those not born in the U.S. to produce additional documentation that included a birth certificate, but removed a passage that permitted almost any state or local judge to waive this criterion. Its sponsor, state Rep. Valarie Hodges, noted that without that documentation – useful for where applicants did not have a Social Security number – this made more likely the possibility that a person already married elsewhere could not be identified as such.

But while the law could verify someone illegally in the country tried to obtain a license, it also made the process impossible some legal resident and nonresident aliens in the U.S. A number of plausible situations could prevent these individuals from obtaining a certified birth certificate, such as having fled from war that additionally could cripple the capacity of their country of birth from sending verification of their natality – to the point of making the law possibly conflict with a 2007 federal court ruling that allows those who cannot prove U.S. citizenship or legal immigrant status to marry.


Tax study group seeks to ratify unneeded bigger govt

Increasingly clearly, a special state panel convened to study recommendations changing Louisiana’s tax code serves little more than an excuse to lock in overgrown government, specifically paying for Medicaid expansion, by making a temporary tax hike permanent.

Twice now the Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy, put together by the Legislature, has postponed its final product originally due Sep. 1. If it stays on schedule legislators can analyze its product Nov. 1. Some of its members, however, have spoken of what should appear in the report to come.

Most prominently, it will recommend to make proceeds of a one cent hike in the sales tax permanent. The Republican-majority Legislature forced Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to accept this increase only through Jun. 30, 2018, balking at making it perpetual and/or putting any increased taxation in a form depending upon higher income taxes. Edwards and Democrats never liked this because of their belief that higher-income individuals should bear the costs of expanded government, and a greater proportion of sales taxes come from households outside of this category of people than in the case of income taxes.


Probe demonstrators display wages of liberalism

If you want to see the fruits of liberalism and how it has warped the culture, you needed to look no further than Baton Rouge’s City Hall a couple of weeks ago at a semi-rally addressing the probe into the police shooting of ex-convict Alton Sterling.

Three months ago two Baton Rouge police officers wrestled Sterling onto the ground, apparently as he resisted arrest after a call had gone out saying he had threatened somebody with a gun. Tragedy ensued when it seems one officer felt it necessary to fire his weapon into Sterling. A short while later the federal government took over the investigation into potential police misconduct.

There it sits at present, which did not sit well with relatives of Sterling and community organizers. They planned to march for answers to the Governor’s Mansion two Mondays ago, only to chuck that in concluding the heat made such a venture too taxing. Instead, already at City Hall they made their way to a chamber where officials and local ministers discussed in a scheduled meeting the larger question of potential police reform.