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6.12.16

Out-of-touch Campbell Senate candidacy sinking fast

As it suffers its death throes, the campaign of Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell has turned increasingly bizarre, lurching into an Orwellian mode entirely tone deaf about why he will lose this election in uncompromising fashion.

With polls showing a healthy lead for fellow runoff contestant Republican Treasurer John Kennedy and early voting trends not on Campbell’s side, he and his allied political action committee Defend Louisiana have banked everything on hopelessly desperate and tellingly self-unaware advertisements and statements. These appear desperate because they spin fantastic assertions that strain credulity and lack awareness because they bring up Campbell’s own vulnerabilities as a candidate.

For example, even though Kennedy has publicly voiced pro-life attitudes since 2004 and has the endorsement of the leading pro-life group National Right to Life, the PAC ran ads claiming Kennedy harbored pro-abortion sentiments more than a dozen years ago. That Defend Louisiana would employ a tactic attacking Kennedy on inconsistency on this issue seems ironic given that the organization initially formed to back Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards last year, who himself evinced pro-abortion sentiments in a contemplated 2006 run for Congress and in 2009 as a legislator supported weakening a pro-life conscience protection bill yet now claims staunch pro-life views.

5.12.16

Conflict coming between Edwards' approval, agenda

Something’s going to have to give, and likely that means public approval of Democrat John Bel Edwards will fall unless he changes his agenda.

In a recent poll, Edwards checked in with about five-eighths of registered voters approving of his job performance, versus a third who disapproved. His rating came in a bit overstated, however, as the sample contained 49 percent Democrats compared to just 44 percent statewide, and that a significant gap appeared in judging him favorably between Democrats much more friendly to him and Republicans. Also worth considering: Democrats tend to turn out to vote in disproportionately fewer numbers than Republicans, by a small margin.

Still, it’s better than being barely above water as he was months ago, when then well under half approved. But going forward his agenda the public soundly rejects, creating a major problem for his elective career.

1.12.16

Legislative leaders too comfortable with road tax hike

If it already isn’t, for conservatives it should be pretty close to last straw time for Republican state Rep. Kenny Havard, with perhaps some disgust left over for Louisiana’s GOP legislative leadership on the issue of transportation policy.

Although he burst into the consciousness of many with his ill-timed sense of stripper-based humor during the past session of the Legislature, Havard during his career on numerous occasions championed big government inimical to conservatism: sponsoring legislation that essentially would halt privatization efforts, supporting Medicaid expansion, and voting to keep letting unions use taxpayers as their bill collectors.

Still, he managed to wangle a prestigious committee chairmanship, Transportation, Highways, and Public Works, by playing both sides of the street. He publicly endorsed Democrat liberal then-colleague, now-Gov. John Bel Edwards last year to take the state’s top job, but cannily refused to back Edwards’ choice for House Speaker Democrat state Rep. Walt Leger in favor of staying loyal to his party that led to the installment of Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras.

30.11.16

Campbell's strange debate strategy unlikely to pay off

There’s no mystery as to why Republican frontrunner for Louisiana’s Senate seat Treasurer John Kennedy may not enthusiastically wish to participate in a debate with his Democrat runoff counterpart Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. More curious is why Campbell seems not to want the joint appearance to come off as well.

With polling giving Kennedy a commanding lead in the Dec. 10 runoff election, he can fall back on the tried and true tactic of running out the clock. When in the situation that dynamics favor you and the only way to lose is to make some tremendous mistake, you limit your chances to make these, while not looking like you completely want to ignore campaign events.

By contrast, someone as deeply down as Campbell would want to emulate Democrat former Sen. Mary Landrieu, who as soon as she found out she fell well short of winning without a runoff against Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy in 2014, even though she led him narrowly in the general election she immediately asked for an absurd six debates in the month prior to the runoff. Cassidy laughed that off and they had one a few days prior to the final election where he blew her out.

29.11.16

Disgust at Shreveport garbage fee should go further

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler will have to reassess old spending priorities to shore up a leaky 2017 city budget buffeted by property tax and garbage fee subtractions.

During quadrennial periods coinciding with presidential election years, Louisiana assessors perform a mandatory reassessment on all property in their parishes, reflected in that year’s billing. In Caddo, as with some other parishes in the wake of flooding during the year and a general economic slowdown in the oil patch, its assessor Charles Henington reduced marginally property values parishwide.

In typical years where assessments rise – either because of the reassessment or because property sales occur at values higher than the property’s previously-assessed values – governing authorities on their own may roll forward millages in order to capture more tax revenue. Even if they do nothing, rates automatically roll back to produce a constant stream of dollars. But in a situation where property tax proceeds actually will go down because of changed assessments, they cannot do anything unilaterally to prevent that.

28.11.16

Back to the future appointment reminds of regression

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards made the old new with a recent appointment, continuing to demonstrate the retrogression his administration brings to Louisiana.

In agencies part of the Division of Administration, leaders serve at the pleasure of the governor, so with Edwards’ assuming the job at the beginning of the year, one by one heads selected by Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal, unless told not to by the incoming regime, stepped aside. For his pick to helm the Office of Group Benefits, which oversees employment benefits of state employees save for retirement matters, he chose former OGB Chief Executive Officer Tommy Teague.

Previously appointed by Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Jindal assented to him continuing in the job until he began to buck the Jindal Administration on streamlining the agency and reining in excess balances held back from ratepayers. Officials wanted to privatize most functions as had almost every state and to institute a more realistic reserve level; at around half a billion dollars, this was at least twice as high as industry norms, a trend Teague had tried to feed by asking for rate increases annually that DOA usually pared down considerably.

24.11.16

Thanksgiving Day, 2016

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday around  noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Thursday, Nov. 24 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.

23.11.16

Delay appropriate to resolve constitutional question

A Louisiana House panel last week wisely held off on approving health insurance provider contracts, but the prudential value of this action will decay rapidly.

The House Appropriations Committee refused to act upon approval of these, which relate to the state providing health insurance to its employees beginning Jan. 1, because of legally-questionable language. The documents incorporate phrasing from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive order JBE 16-11, that states “contracts for purchases of services … shall include a provision that the contractor shall not discriminate on the basis of … sexual orientation, gender identity….”

The authority a governor has to create protected classes of individuals undefined by law, as are sexual orientation and gender identity, runs counter to opinion #16-0078 issued by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry. He has taken the matter has to court to resolve the ambiguity, with the case’s next hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.