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13.12.05

Blanco closes barn door, runs after levee reform horse

In a classic example of closing the barn door after the horse gets out, Gov. Kathleen Blanco over the weekend suddenly decided she was all for consolidation of powers and functions of the disparate levee boards in the state. She didn’t mention whether the fact the state had been under withering criticism since she made no effort to help support a similar measure in the last special session, state Sen. Walter Boasso’s SB 95, had anything to do with her change of heart.

Blanco even asserted she was now going one better by asking her newly created, do-little-or-nothing Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which previously she thought was all that was needed to bring efficiency and effectiveness to the process of building and maintaining levees in the state, to reinvent the wheel by coming up with legislation to combine districts and their governance in the form of a constitutional amendment. SB 95 only intended a statutory solution which just needs a majority vote as opposed to the two-thirds in the Legislature for an amendment, the latter of which the governor crowed was better because it was harder to undo.

Given that SB 95 passed the Senate unanimously and that nothing along these lines, whether requiring a simple or two-thirds majority, would pass the House without Blanco’s active support, as long as she does give her support it doesn’t look like it would be undone anytime soon and, like all bureaucratic institutions, would be difficult to eliminate after a short period of time. This is a classic example of a straw man argument, arguing a point that doesn’t really exist. That is, whatever improvements Blanco claims to be bringing to the idea now she could have brought during the past special session.

But according to Boasso, she’s still behind the curve. Now he’s stumping for a statewide, as opposed to regional, levee board that intelligently does not necessarily allocate on the basis of funding source. As well, he wants that taken care of sooner, rather than later. Blanco, ever the decisive decision-maker, even with SB 95’s text easily available on the Internet, wants to give her new bureaucracy apparently until the beginning of the regular session, Mar. 27, to come up with something. Boasso prefers another special session, sensing time is of the essence, to take care of this.

So perhaps tomorrow Blanco will announce that the Louisiana Recovery Authority is going to study the idea that income tax cuts will lead to greater economic growth, with an eye towards writing up legislation implementing that. Or that the state’s Board of Ethics has been charged with investigating whether legislation prohibiting elected officials from profiting from their positions in the use of recovery contracts from the federal government will make for more honest government. Just remember that, when it come to leadership, the “B” in Blanco never stand for “bold” but more likely for “behind,” if not “befuddled.”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, the "B" stands for Blanco. Last time I checked a name is not an acronym.

Jeff...slow down and think about what you want to say before you press the "Send" button. Today, I'll tackle this gem:
"Given that SB 95 passed the Senate unanimously and that nothing along these lines, whether requiring a simple or two-thirds majority, would pass the House without Blanco’s active support, as long as she does give her support it doesn’t look like it would be undone anytime soon and, like all bureaucratic institutions, would be difficult to eliminate after a short period of time. This is a classic example of a straw man argument, arguing a point that doesn’t really exist. That is, whatever improvements Blanco claims to be bringing to the idea now she could have brought during the past special session."

Could someone please explain to me what this is supposed to mean?

How do you support your conclusion that SB 95 would not pass the House without her active support next time its brought before them? While I understand that her indifferent attitude may have caused it to fail the first time, circumstances this time around are a little different given the increased exposure. Also, that "point" is pretty much irrelevant given the fact that she HAS COME OUT IN FAVOR OF REFORM. Not to be out-done you continue with your odd argument by saying that even with her support the idea is no good because it will just create a "bureaucratic institution." So Blanco screwed up by not supporting the bill before (necessarily implying that it would be a good thing) and she's screwing up now by supporting a beefier version of the previous bill. NOW who is trotting out the straw man?

The third sentence is just mind-blowingly ridiculous. So you're arguing that her idea would be better if she would have just brought them earlier? Why? That is just odd.

The two articles you linked to do not indicate taht Boasso said anything close to "she's still behind the curve." He doesn't say anything about Blanco's proposal in the Picayune story and the Advocate story just seems to indicate that he's pissed that he may not be able to take credit for what eventually passes. Is there really any substantive conflict between Blanco's and Boasso's proposal?

I think you're just pissed that Blanco seems poised to neutralize her critics by offering her own, stronger reform measure.

Jeff Sadow said...

Going in reverse order ...

When Boasso goes on the record saying to scrap SB 95 and to come out with a statewide, not regional, body, he's gone beyond what Blanco suggested. Thus, she's behind the curve. (Not only is the column called "Bewteen the Lines," it's what I do in it. Glad to be of service to you on this point.)

Louisiana politicians are a stubborn lot, and since levee districts often encompass several House members, they get really picky about losing this source of patronage. Even with the bad press the state got about the House's effectively killing SB 95 (I'd say that's pretty strong evidence she needed to throw her active support behind it; her doing nothing did not get it to pass), I'd say in the next go-around a bill like SB 95 still would have no better than a 50/50 chance of passing. Her support is crucial, and apparently with it now, the point is academic.

If you're trying to defend that she "has come out in favor of reform" by supporting SB 71, that won't fly because, I as wrote in this post and in previous ones, it is largely cosmetic in scope and all it did was create a new bureaucracy that will have no meaningful impact in the near future and very little in the coming years. Note that if she had done supported SB 95, already steps could be taken to address the problem.

(And, were she serious about ridding boards of patronage, she would have done that herself with her own appointments. Instead, guess what, she reappoints Jim Huey to the Orleans board, and now she's acting as Aaron Broussard's hatchet woman. So she simply has no credibility on that particular issue.)

SB 95 of course does not amend districts out of existence. It's beauty is that it could have implemented solutions immediately by taking the existing structure and neutering it to varying degrees (or, not really at all in a couple of cases, unfortunately). Blanco, by contrast, wants to study the issue and maybe come up with something in time for a September election (provided another excuse isn't found to forgo that election, too). The only guarantee is a lot of talk. At the rate she's going, she may not even be in office by September. We need action now.

Neither is this proposal stronger in scope nor in timeliness. I'll give you credit for trying, though. And run fast so you can catch up with that reform horse, too.