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8.11.06

Race mattered in 2006 Caddo-area elections

As it did in the instance of the Shreveport mayor’s contest, race played a role, although subdued, in other voting in and around Caddo Parish on Nov. 7.

Shreveport mayor-elect Cedric Glover’s impressive turnout train almost carried City Council District B candidate Sheva Sims into the station. In that district, the Sep. 30 election brought incumbent Monty Walford a lead of 42-30 percent on a white turnout exceeding black turnout by about 7 percent, negating the 331 black voter advantage of whites in the district, total turnout being 32.23 percent.

But in the general election, overall turnout jumped to 40.15 percent, lagging overall city turnout a fraction. While we don’t have the official turnout statistics yet by race, the 8 point gap achieved by whites over blacks in the primary was approximately halved in the general election and we can assume the same happened in amount to the District B almost 7 point gap. Given the existing margin in favor of black voters, that should have drawn the candidates even, and the historic pattern of 15 percent of whites voting for black candidates in a white vs. black matchup, against about half that the other way around, should have given Sims the win.

Black solidarity, higher turnout keys to Glover win

Turnout and racial solidarity won the Shreveport mayor’s race for black Democrat state Rep. Cedric Glover over white Republican Jerry Jones.

Heading into the contest, if one took registration numbers by race (whites with about a 1,500 lead), turnout statistics from the primary election (whites 48 percent, blacks 40 percent), and historic crossover voting in a white Republican vs. black Democrat matchup (7 percent of blacks vote for the Republican, 15 percent of whites vote for the Democrat), Jones would have won this race 51-49 percent.

But both turnout and crossover statistics changed dramatically in Glover’s favor. The fact that total turnout increased almost 10 percent over the primary election, in an environment where it seemed reduced turnout was more likely, indicates Glover’s camp did an outstanding job in getting out the vote, even as Jones seems to have incrementally increased his numbers there as well. In 13 almost all-black precincts, turnout increased by an average of 10.8 percent, while in 4 almost non-black precincts it increased just 7.6 percent.

6.11.06

This time, most amendments worthy of passage

Whereas in the Sep. 30 round of constitutional amendments only a few items were hotly debated on their merits, the Nov. 7 round facing Louisiana voters features much dissension among many.

Right off the bat, #1 draws protests that another exception concerning the homestead exemption complicates the process and reduces revenue for local governments. The same kinds of criticisms get registered against #3 and #4.

However, this is permissible if the proportionate good outweighs the reduction in revenue and in two cases that occurs. For #1, the disabled often have lives whose expenses would be unimaginable to people blessed with all of their natural abilities, so the small savings afforded to them by locking in their taxes regardless of increases in value of their homesteads is proper. With #4, the ability to tax moving vehicles as property is unwieldy and probably costs more in enforcement than it’s worth for all but extortionist rates. The argument in both cases that this reduces government revenues is spurious; local governments could ask voters to increase their property taxes in both instances if it were serious about making up such “lost” revenue.

But in the case of #3, its defeat is appropriate. The benefits it would bestow would help just three facilities (in writing off medical equipment for certain hospitals narrowly defined) to the point it seems tailor-made for them. The proportionate good is too small to justify passing these.

Efficiency in government is the standard used against #6 and #8. Proponents claim the former would fragment judicial systems, while the latter would fragment the East Baton Rouge school system. Again, both arguments are wanting. For the former, more specialized courts actually would increase efficiency in case-flow management and, in regards to claims they might become places for more patronage, voters can see to that by their judicious choices in electing officious judges to those positions. For the latter, this kind of maneuver (allowing the city of Central to set up its own school district) is precisely the medicine to reinvigorate the sadly-underperforming East Baton Rouge school district to shape up, while at the same time affording Central residents the chance for increase quality of schooling of their children (is this not similar to the philosophy behind the situation of New Orleans schools, split among straight-up local public, charter, and state-run institutions?)

Finally, while much fuss is made by some about #2, it amounts to simple bookkeeping. If by its passage, which would allow parishes to keep up to $100,000 more a year from severance taxes, indexed by inflation, the state feels it will lose too much money ($3 million which equates to – gasp! – a little more than one ten-thousandth of last year’s state spending), it can adjust revenue-sharing formulas to the parishes by that much. First principles are if government’s going to confiscate your money, better that it be done at lower rather than higher levels justifies voting for this amendment.

Jones' philosophy gives him edge over Glover

Come election day, Democrat Rep. Cedric Glover is likely to lose to Republican former city attorney Jerry Jones in the Shreveport mayor’s race. To date, both candidates have shied away from making overtly partisan appeals but inescapably their partisanship acts as a shorthand for their policy preferences, in word and deed.

Glover cannot escape the fact that, in his elective political career, overall he has supported more government spending and power rather than less. Jones, although without an elective office to his name, consistently has articulated a vision of less intrusive government that is present less to redistribute resources than it is to create a structure by which individuals may maximize their talents and creative energies for the good of the entire community. Glover wishes to empower government; Jones wishes to empower people.

Jones’ view likely will prove to be the winning issue. Already, the realities of registration statistics (about 1,500 more whites than blacks), monoracial voting (historically in black Democrat vs. white Republican matchups, about 86 percent of whites vote for the white candidate, and around 93 percent of blacks vote for the black candidate in Shreveport mayoral contests), and a historical turnout differential of about 3 percent lower black to white, Glover has a lot of ground to make up (especially since black turnout in the primary was even lower than historical figures, only a shade over 40 percent, while white turnout was at 48 percent.).

Glover has been trying to cast the contest as much as he can in “brick-and-mortar, filling potholes, fighting crime” rhetoric, but Jones has done the same and promoted the smaller government vision (plus selectively reminded voters of Glover’s electoral record). The difference could come if Glover could articulate a vision along the lines of Jones, but he doesn’t have the material nor core beliefs to do so. It’s the only way he could bridge the gap, and that’s why he won’t.

And, if Jones succeeds, he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for taking the chance and prognosticating correctly. A couple of years ago, it seemed as if a black voting majority would be present in Shreveport by Oct., 2006, which would be enough for the turnout propensity that favored whites and the monoracial pattern which favored blacks to cancel, meaning a white candidate had a tough row to hoe. Then, the disproportionate black displacement of the metropolitan New Orleans area from Hurricane Katrina added some unanticipated black voters to the Caddo voting rolls. Regardless, Jones had the vision and wherewithal to forge ahead, and it looks like it will pay off in four years of a white, Republican mayor in a city with a black, Democrat plurality.

5.11.06

Blanco lawsuit political ploy costing state plenty

No doubt Louisiana taxpayers will be thrilled to know the state already has thrown away at least $580,000 on the nuisance suit brought by Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco against the federal government’s Minerals Management Service. The suit was to delay oil lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico until a revised environmental impact study was done, until a settlement was reached where the federal government said it would do such a study again.

Which, of course, brings Louisiana nothing. The real reason Blanco took this route was to make it appear that she had the ability to bring the state a greater share of royalty monies from oil extraction offshore of Louisiana. But, in reality, the action has no bearing on that topic which is a political sore spot with Blanco, especially since the extremely likely competitor for her job next year, Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal, with others, is closing in on bringing those extra funds to the state, leaving Blanco out in the cold.

So now the Blanco Administration has shifted its rhetoric. It claims as a result of a “proper” study that the federal government will owe some mitigation money. Whether that is the case is, at best, debatable; at worst, unlikely. The simple fact is the activity of drilling and extracting offshore has nothing to do with the onshore environment of the state. Activities related to lease usage may have an impact, but not the actual activity itself.