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Cultural change explains LA turnout decline

An interesting informational nugget about Louisiana’s voting turnout amplified by the New Orleans Times-Picayune deserves fuller scrutiny: participation by Louisianans in elections has spiraled downwards, and it’s worth figuring out why.

Louisiana State University Assistant Professor of Political Communication Michael Henderson, who also directs the Public Policy Research Lab that cranks out some useful survey data from time to time, made the observation that since the 1980s turnout in elections has dropped significantly. He points to voting eligible population proportions voting that, for example, have fallen by about a third in governors’ general elections since 1983.

His figures aren’t quite precise, and it gets a little arcane to explain that. There are three measures of turnout: by registrants, by voting age population (VAP), and by voting eligible population (VEP). Registration provides the least precision, as a number of demographic, cultural, and legal factors affect it across the states; in other words, because Louisiana (all data from 2016) has the ninth-highest registration totals among the states, using this as the basis to calculate turnout may allow an actual higher proportion of the population that voted in it to seem lower than in a state with a lower registration figure but higher registered voter turnout, because by definition the latter’s larger relative pool of non-registrants can’t vote.


Low turnouts won't eliminate LA elective offices

With the absurdly-low turnout for the Louisiana treasurer special election, some talk has emerged about eliminating as elective minor statewide elective offices like that. That will prove daunting in a state with a political culture built upon office-holding.

Almost every state goes beyond the federal government model of two elected executives because of presumed “good government” movements in the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries. Then, because of rampant corruption in many state governments, reformers decided by fragmenting power in state governments this would prevent its concentration that made graft inviting and possible. Louisiana’s rich history, if anything, encouraged this multiplicity from reformers.

States vary in the number of elected singular executives, ranging from New Hampshire electing only its governor to South Carolina and Washington having nine. When it enacting its 1974 Constitution, Louisiana remained part of that highest tier, including the seven still elected today plus a commissioner of elections and a superintendent of education.


Ties to Jindal unhelpful, to Edwards unpenalized

Oversimplified and grossly stated, the lesson this past weekend for Louisiana state elections was some connection to former Gov. Bobby Jindal turned into a penalty, while you got a pass if you had connected yourself to current Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Although lawyer Democrat Derrick Edwards racked up the most votes in the special election for treasurer, Republican former state Rep. John Schroder turned out the winner. Edwards, no relationship to the governor, ran a shoestring campaign but put some egg on the face of a state party that refused to back him by parlaying merely his position as the only Democrat running to capture 31 percent of the vote, with Schroder trailing at 24 percent.

But that bested both former Jindal Administration official Angéle Davis and state Sen. Neil Riser, who had 22 and 18 percent, respectively, both of the GOP. Analysis by regions in Louisiana reveal how Schroder gained the runoff, where he becomes the massive favorite to triumph and complete the term to 2019.


New Orleans vote results promise further decline

While New Orleans continues its pursuit of mediocrity, Jefferson Parish makes a bit of progress away from it, local election results this weekend revealed.

With a statutory change since its last elections, New Orleans now has these in the fall previous to the year in which terms end. The final numbers reveal a depressing acquiescence to greater government control and collectivism, placing redistribution ahead of wealth creation: of the 48 candidates for mayor and City Council, 37 ran as Democrats with just one Republican. Needless to say, the next mayor and seven councilors all will be Democrats spanning the ideological scale from moderate liberal to very liberal.

The mayoral candidates that went into a runoff, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and former judge Desiree Charbonnet, of the serious contestants ran the furthest left ideologically. Their platforms of items such as supporting a “living wage,” using government fiat to control housing provision, promising greater expenditures without realistic plans to pay for these other than tax increases, diversion of city contracting money based upon race and sex of contractors along with other appeals to identity politics, and committing the city to expensive, economic development-unfriendly and unnecessary environmental schemes barely distinguish themselves from each other.


More hotel unionization harmful to New Orleans

Great; just as New Orleans finally has struggled past its pre-Hurricane Katrina tourism benchmarks, it takes a step backwards with an unnecessary escalation in some lodging prices that will deter visitors.

That will happen as a result of unionization of its largest hotel, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. UNITE HERE and management currently negotiate a contract for around 500 workers, although bringing them into the cartel’s fold increases union penetration into the city’s overall hospitality industry only to four percent.

Advocates of the development spent some effort blowing sunshine up people’s skirts. Leftist interest groups took note and booked more business at it. Workers obviously ignorant of how the world works crowed about how they could get a “fair share” Hilton’s profits. Even an academician, clearly not trained in economics, thought this could make more jobs into “middle class.”


On LA juries, racism argument proves insufficient

If the U.S. Supreme Court someday were to incorporate the Sixth Amendment in its entirety, the facile argument to do so that it recently dismissed without even granting it a hearing should play no part.

Last week, upon announcing its agenda for its 2017-18 session, the Court notified that it would not hear a Louisiana case challenging the exceptional nature of the Sixth Amendment’s application, which governs conduct of criminal trials. This case asked that the high court incorporate through the Fourteenth Amendment the unanimous jury requirement that justices in 1972 ruled applies to federal trials. Uniquely among the Bill of Rights’ contents, the Sixth Amendment contains the only right split between federal and state governments and therefore treated differently.

Only Louisiana and Oregon have opted to use non-unanimous juries for convictions, both born from allegedly racist motives. One theory floated in Louisiana’s case argues that it standard, ten of twelve for conviction, came because the state had a population then about 15 percent black; thus, a typical jury would contain two blacks (men, in those days).


Only one LA amendment merits voter approval

This upcoming Saturday, Louisianans have just three constitutional amendments to wade through at the voting booth, although these hit on the all-too-familiar themes of state and local taxation.

Amendment #1 would preclude levying taxes on property under construction and not yet in use. Currently, the Constitution and statute give next to no guidance on this matter, nor do any rulings by the Louisiana Tax Commission. This leaves subject to local interpretation what an assessor should do in the case of incomplete projects that can take a long time for building to conclude, with treatment ranging from no taxation at all on improvement until finished to taxing on the entire value of the end result even if not entirely operational and everything in-between.

The amendment would allow assessors to use discretion in determining the usefulness of the improvement and value it all from there. It seems to strike a good balance between having a known standard and allowing for tackling matters on a case-by-case basis. Further, the relative predictability it would bring will encourage economic development, as it will remove incertitude on this issue for decision-makers regarding locations and expansions. Yes.


Case remains to merge, demote LA universities

President of the University of Louisiana System Jim Henderson recently made some remarks regarding the role of higher education in the state which deserve comment and challenge.

Meeting with the Baton Rouge Advocate’s editorial board, Henderson answered questions over his first year on the job. In particular, two topics brought up merit amplification.

During the interview, he shilled for a plan devised by the system that, among others things, pledged to increase the number of graduates. It hopes to increase by 20 percent this figure by 2025, a number which comes from two inputs: the amount of individuals eligible for university education and the skill at which institutions utilize to confer degrees upon them.