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21.7.11

Good old boy early favorite to lead next LA Senate

Having already reviewed early candidates for next year’s (assuming they win reelection) Louisiana House of Representatives speaker’s job, mentioned Senate President candidates now are on tap and ready for a review of the morning line of them.

While Republicans’ advantage in the House should grow larger as a result of fall elections, the GOP doesn’t have as much upside from the simple fact that, with an additional majority-black district present as a result of redistricting, there are few seats currently held by white Democrats to pick off. One of these planning on returning, state Sen. Ben Nevers, appears to be a candidate to run the chamber. It also may help him that what essentially gave the GOP its majority of moderate size was plenty of party switches from Democrat to Republican in the last year, so these new Republicans may be amenable to voting for him.

Except that one of the switchers, state Sen. John Alario, also has expressed interest in the top job.

20.7.11

Scree reminds of newspaper corporate welfare cost

In other words, the Shreveport Times is mad because politics got in the way of it legally picking the citizenry’s pockets through good old fashioned corporate welfare, in the process reminding us of how this is a waste of taxpayer dollars in the first place.

The Times worked itself up into high dudgeon when last month the Caddo Parish Commission yanked its business from The Times by a narrow vote. Legally, each June on an annual basis, local government bodies are to select an official journal among newspapers domiciled in the parish (if any exist) of the local government’s boundaries that “shall publish all minutes, ordinances, resolutions, budgets and other official proceedings of the police jury, town or city councils, or the school board.” For this, the official journal receives compensation from taxpayers of that jurisdiction, and is required within 20 days of the issuing of the documentation to have it in print.

This year, a combination bid of the Caddo Citizen and Shreveport Sun won the business. The weeklies came in 3 cents an agate line cheaper than The Times at 24 cents, or 9 cents below what can be charged maximally. Getting aced out of this made The Times furious, as evidenced by an editorial long on emoting but short on logic and coherence.

19.7.11

Tenure needs discarding in LA colleges, schools

As institutions in the University of Louisiana System begin to generate controversy through tenure terminations of faculty members in response to streamlining program offerings, tenure elimination as a desirable policy in Louisiana higher education echoes to some degree that in public schools, but with more complications.

Ridding the public schools of tenure, as suggested by Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Chas Roemer, is a no-brainer. The concept of tenure is to prevent firing of teachers at any level for arbitrary reasons, among which are to prevent politicization of education. But there are other methods in the public schools that can prevent that from happening without having to resort to jobs-for-life for all but the worst performers or rule-breakers.

Below the collegiate level, classroom teachers have practically one job: teach. Further, ability to do so can be easily measured, through a combination of student testing, progress reports, and observation by others (and should, in Louisiana, have subject area testing of the teachers themselves added as do many states). As long as clear rules exist to ensure termination occurs only after low evaluations on these categories, all but observation being amenable to objective measurement, this will ensure firings do not occur for arbitrary reasons. As such, teachers need only be offered contracts of a few years after their probationary period to enjoy protection from arbitrary dismissal.

However, serving as a faculty member at a college is more complicated.

18.7.11

Smarter bureaucracy may follow big Jindal state job cuts

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s roundabout plan to squeeze more efficiency out of Louisiana’s bloated, inefficient bureaucracy continues to succeed at great cost savings to taxpayers, and may pick up even more momentum at the beginning of next year after time out for fall elections.

On multiple occasions Jindal has pushed for reform of the state’s civil service system, which does little to tie pay to performance and, until he successfully agitated for the change, previously also only tenuously connected performance to reductions in force. But with a State Civil Service Commission full of members from his predecessor, it failed to present reforms that would produce the wholesale changes he sought.

As a result, he scaled back his efforts and concentrated on reform from the flanks.

17.7.11

EWE helps people validate accepting their own failings

Having investigated why former Gov. Buddy Roemer seems ready to consummate a presidential campaign, why not also try to figure out why Prisoner #28213-034 talks of doing the same? But, most fascinatingly, why is there all the semi-nostalgia for the man who defeated both in the 1991 governor’s contest, Prisoner #03128-095?

As previously noted, Roemer’s dalliance with the presidency stems from a yearning for relevance when, over two decades ago, Roemer was talked of as one of the two rising Southern figures that could return Democrats to the White House (the other one ended up there). The electorate’s multiple rejections of him since has left a bad taste in his mouth and reduced him to nothingness in terms of influence, and for some people they will not rest until they think they have rectified that condition, no matter how improbable their return to power seems.

For former state Rep. David Duke, let’s face it, campaigning always has been money-maker for him.