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21.9.17

Report should spur reduced LA teacher leave

As bad as teacher absences are in Louisiana traditional public schools, it could be worse, data from a recent report show, yet it can become better with enlightened leadership.

It never hurts to state the obvious, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute did just that by comparing absenteeism of Louisiana teachers in traditional compared to charter schools: teachers in traditional schools have a rate almost three times that of those in charter schools. Duh; considering that traditional public school teachers have had a fairly malleable evaluation system where fewer that one in a hundred draw remediation for incompetent performance (although evaluations become more rigorous starting this year), and school districts give off at least ten sick/emergency including two personal days a year, they have every incentive to take all of those days, leaving classrooms in the hands of substitutes largely often without college degrees with districts footing additional costs as a result.

A dozen days are average among the 35 states with significant numbers of charter schools. In Louisiana, the law mandates at least ten sick days with the two days but sick, not personal, days may accumulate. Teachers absent more than five days consecutively must provide documentation of the illness, but days taken here or there they can take one with impunity, up to their banked days.

20.9.17

Cassidy receives reminder of left's agenda

If Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy hadn’t realized it after a decade in politics, he knows it now: these people aren’t your allies, much less your friends.

Some months ago, Cassidy remarked that he would like to see health care insurance reform pass a “Jimmy Kimmel test.” This referred to a sometimes humorous but politically vapid late-night television talk show host whose son was born with a heart problem. Having Cassidy on his show, Kimmel ventured the eponymous test should be “no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.”

If so, the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) fails. It doesn’t provide such a guarantee because it leaves over 28 million uninsured, with more on the way as it continues to drive premium prices higher – up on average 60 percent since full Obamacare implementation in 2013. Further, the related Medicaid expansion does not increase the amount of medical care delivered because insurance and actual delivery are two different things.

19.9.17

Treasurer's choice illustrates Democrats' atrophy

So, it’s come to this: in a treasurer’s field containing one of their own, Louisiana Democrats may vote for a Republican because he seems to them least likely to use that office as a springboard for something more exalted.

That seems like the plan for at least some high-profile New Orleans elected Democrats who back state Sen. Neil Riser in the race to fill out the term of now-Sen. John Kennedy. The Columbia Republican faces off against, among others, fellow GOP former state Rep. John Schroder and past Secretary of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Secretary as well as former Commissioner of Administration Angéle Davis. Also, he competes against a Libertarian, another Republican, and a Democrat.

But the Democrat, Derrick Edwards, has failed to gain the backing of the state party and any of its influential elected officials, even though polling puts him in a runoff. He would seem to have potential: for a party that takes great store in finding “victims” supposedly needing redress for the oppression/discrimination they face, Edwards ticks off the two boxes of racial minority and disability. Additionally, he has an inspirational story of suffering quadriplegia yet persevering to earn advanced college degrees, most recently law in which he currently practices.

18.9.17

All-GOP lineup challenges in LA PSC contest

For Louisiana Public Service Commission District 2, what’s a Democrat or Republican voter to do? 

They face different challenges in the election next month to replace the vacated seat. For Democrats, they not only don’t have a horse in the race, but solely Republicans entered the starting gate. For Republicans, they must figure out how to choose among the three.

Lining up are former state Rep. Damon Baldone, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Craig Greene, and former state Rep. Lenar Whitney. Each has different charms and warts depending upon the partisan leanings of a voter.

14.9.17

Cassidy's option not as good as other tactics

The question posed by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy’s latest effort is whether those wishing to have sanity return to American health care insurance can use this as a bridge to get there or if letting the stench worsen has a better chance of succeeding in that.

Cassidy and three co-sponsors rolled out legislation yesterday to make substantive changes to health care policy, to mixed reviews from his fellow Republicans and conservatives and predictably partisan caterwauling from Democrats and the political left. It will act as an amendment to a budgetary bill and must pass within the next two weeks, but only after vetting from the Congressional Budget Office to ensure it does not raise significantly the national debt.

For that reason, it has slim chances of passing. The compressed time frame leaves little opportunity for analysis and to gather support. At present, a majority of Republicans would vote for it, but all but two would have to commit. Cassidy and his co-sponsors argue that not only does this represent the last chance to alter substantially the failing Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) for at least a year, but also allege that without it a “single-payer” system become probable – a ruinous government-run health care system that promises worse care for at least a trillion dollars a year more.

13.9.17

LA Catholic leaders confuse faithful on politics

Louisiana Catholic Church leaders sometimes make it more difficult for the faithful to align their political views to their spiritual beliefs.

This year, a number of actions taken by politicians have invited Catholics to examine how their faith should translate into the political world. The interrogation a week ago by a pair of Senate Democrats – one nominally Catholic – about a Catholic judicial nominee’s faith as it relates to abortion jurisprudence underscores this.

On this matter, some individuals representing the Church cause confusion rather than clarity. It sometimes comes in the form of publicly-rendered judgments such as with reactions to some executive orders issued by Pres. Donald Trump.

12.9.17

Sportcaster tries hand as social justice warrior

Injecting a full dose of ignorance into the debate over a Shreveport basketball arena, Fox Sports announcer and native Tim Brando recently showed why the world doesn’t come rushing to figures in the sports world to gather informed political commentary.

Last month, Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler proclaimed that the city would pursue building a facility to house a New Orleans Pelicans minor league team. That would cost the city $30 million, with another $100 million spent by the Alabama firm Corporate Realty to build stores and a hotel around it. Pelican management remains undecided about where to locate the squad.

Opposition immediately surfaced as Shreveport has roughly $750 million in infrastructure needs without funding presently for $300 million, meaning the $30 million would displace other priorities. And the $30 million would depend upon roughly $2 million a year in tax collections from the complex for decades; given Shreveport’s troubled history with supporting professional sports franchises – currently none – and the past instability of what the National Basketball Association at present calls the G-League with 46 different team structures that last a little under five years on average, there is no guarantee the team would stay an extended period of time or generate enough money to repay the bonds.

11.9.17

Shore up flood insurance with individual mandate

As debate over extension of the National Flood Insurance Program rages while tropical disturbances that bring flooding rage, lawmakers should keep cognizant of the larger picture and remember what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Historically, almost annually a significant flood hits somewhere in the U.S. Whether it be from sources as gigantic as the recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that just slammed Texas and Florida or as nondescript as the heavy rains that inundated New Orleans a month earlier, or from the Red River in northwest Louisiana to the other Red River in North Dakota, flooding that breaches habitable structures occurs widely in the country under widely different conditions. Indeed, last year every state had at least one NFIP claim.

Yet the U.S. has a schizophrenic policy to deal with these disasters. Almost a half-century ago, policy-makers hoped establishment of the NFIP would create a stable, self-funded regime to take care of the matter. But that rigid, government-run program takes poorly into account actual risk into its pricing, which as a result has failed to accumulate enough reserves to stave off losses triggered by huge weather events. As such, the program has debt of $25 billion.