Money matters in upcoming Bossier and Shreveport elections this Saturday, even where it’s not a tax issue that’s being considered. As it turns out, it gives the citizenry in both the parish and the city to send messages to elected officials and wannabes, some with tin ears.
The largest dollar amounts go to the three propositions floated by Shreveport for waters and sewerage infrastructure, streets and drainage infrastructure, and changes made to public buildings, their resources, and parks. Totaling $175 million, the city argues that unless it makes now some improvements for legal reasons dealing with environmental and accessibility concerns, the federal government may force these things on it without warning, as well as tackling deferred maintenance.
These measures have generated some controversy because to some observers they don’t seem quite essential, asserting that no legal action presently exists against the city for the presumed shortcomings to be addressed by the spending and these measures were put together hastily, but perhaps more because of the city’s claim that taxes won’t rise as a result of these new issues.
It seems that Bossier City, of all places, has caught an extremely mild dose of fiscal restraint. Although exportation of its internal disease of big spending probably is not what municipal taxpayers have in mind.
Drawing simultaneously public amusement and outrage, as the nation’s overall economy has stagnated in the past three years local governments have found themselves under pressure to cut back on expenditures that seem to have little justification. The practice of local governments sending phalanxes of officials to hang around the annual Carnival celebrations in Washington, put on by the state’s Congressional delegation, have drawn particular scrutiny.
The lengths to which some of the local officials involved go to try to present these affairs, where these government racks up hotel charges in the thousands of dollars, live high off the hog in dining, and shell out hundreds or many times more of taxpayer dollars to be at or to host parties, can present high comedy.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 07:45
So we assume that the Louisiana Republican Party’s state elected officials want to use their legislative and gubernatorial majorities to ensure redistricting favorable to their future electoral chances? Then why, after yesterday’s activities revealed, did they stop short of this?
To maximize, its legislators had to draw boundaries that did not help the fortunes of other parties’ candidates, specifically Democrats, for the state House, Senate, and Congress. For Congress, they succeeded: the plan that emerged from the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, creating two north-south districts, made for districts that had fewer black residents, who are very reliable Democrat voters, than did the Democrats’ plan of northern- and central-banded districts in the same area. The net effect is zero – as many seats remain favorable to Republicans and black Democrats as before.
For the House, also mission accomplished.
The hammer is coming down. Who operates it and how it will strike remains uncertain, but soon Louisiana redistricting of its Congressional seats and legislature will reveal these power players, and they will work to the advantage of Republicans.
Last week, a balance of interests began ordering in the special session called mainly for this purpose. Republicans seemed willing to go even up in throwing House incumbents together, two pairs for each party, while letting a chance to add an extra electorally favorable Senate seat along with an extra black majority/minority seat go by the wayside, in exchange for creating two north-south Congressional spots rather than northern and central banded districts, where the latter advantaged Democrat contenders.
Then it seemed to fall apart yesterday as enough House members, where the GOP holds a narrow advantage, amended the House plan to force three sets of Republican incumbents together and just one pair of Democrats.
The tragic accidental death of Bossier City Marshal Johnny Wyatt created a net loss for the community, yet brings an opportunity for an efficient reconfiguration of the office’s functions and greater accountability to the citizenry -- especially trenchant for the upcoming special election to fulfill Wyatt's term.
One of the enemies of good governance and the ability of the governed to understand the uses to which government puts their resources and the powers government can exercise over them is lack of clarity in who is responsible for what. Unless citizens easily can identify where their money goes, how it then is used, and who makes the decisions on how it is used, they risk having lack of input into prioritization and implementation of spending decisions. Obscured accountability also can create inefficiency, threatening to waste the public’s dollars through duplication or even by agencies working at cross-purposes.
Touted concerning Wyatt’s tenure in office was the many functions his office performed, most extensively in protecting children against predators via the Internet. But if we review what Louisiana law outlines as the function of the marshal’s office, in fact it is a much smaller portfolio.
Long suffering citizens of Bossier City might have been excused if last year they thought the one new face of their elected officials wasn’t, like the reelected bunch, an idiot and/or con man.
But charging City Councilman James “Chubby” Knight with running a check-cashing scam, it was alleged that he went one-up on the incompetents with which he serves. At least their needlessly spending over $100 million on low priority items over the past decade that with other spending left a mountain of debt whose summit has yet to be reached, which prevented them from using the investment proceeds thereof to mitigate or solve last year’s budget crisis, seem to have done all of their blundering legally.
Knight, the one non-incumbent to gain election, stood accused of knowingly shopping around forged checks for cashing.