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29.9.11

Blueprint LA's second try may bear more fruit than first

Blueprint Louisiana seems to have learned from its mistakes in 2007, and appear to have made the group more relevant in these upcoming elections, even as it missed an opportunity to increase accountability of some politicians.

The group, which best may be described as pro-reform with an eye on efficient use of government revenues, formed previous to the last election with detailed policy recommendations and invited those running for state office to pledge to follow the agenda. While some candidates accepted, others, particularly the most high-profile, abstained, even though some articulated issue preferences very similar to the group’s. And of some who accepted, a cursory glance at their past records in office made outside observers dubious of these pledges.

Both of these aspects damaged the credibility of the group and so more than being a driver for policy change it ended up as a passenger.

28.9.11

Only Jindal can send right message with Alario rejection

As a grassroots movement begins to gain steam to prevent the naming of state Sen. John Alario, assured of reelection, any hope that this succeeds may rest upon intervention by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Technically, jockeying for the position only begins officially after elections to the Legislature which likely will end in November, because only then will all Senate members be known with certainty, but unofficially it has gone on for months with Alario emerging as the frontrunner. He is not without qualification, having served as Speaker of the House when in that body over two decades ago, is considered quite knowledgeable given he is completing is 40th year of elected legislative service, and, as the chamber has trended more conservatively in producing what appears to be a sure Republican majority for next term, so has Alario increasingly been voting in a more conservative direction, which now makes him on the issues a slightly moderate conservative.

But public detractors point out that placing Alario in this position signals acquiescence to displaying an image of the state that runs against the grain of the promise of Louisiana government as efficient and not ethically challenged.

27.9.11

Little competition only delays Caddo flag issue reckoning

Lost in all the excitement about elections qualifications two weeks ago, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling which may have an impact on the mostly-sleepy, if sparsely-contested, Caddo Parish Commission races next month.

In the middle of that period, the Court ruled on the appeal to overturn the sentence of a convicted murderer because the (Third) Confederate (Battle) Flag flies next to the parish courthouse. Appellants, among other things, argued that having that symbol near the courthouse primed jurors, of whom 11 were white, to levy a verdict of guilty and capital sentence (hence the appeal bypassing the Second Circuit Court of Appeals).

Writing for the unanimous majority, Chief Justice Catherine Kimball affirmed what had been noted in this space previously, that the burden of proof to demonstrate swaying of juror opinions by the flag legally was considerably higher than offered by the defense, which during the trial raised no objections to the flag’s placement.

26.9.11

To please allies, Obama seeks rule change to cost jobs

It turns out that Louisiana has become ground zero of a legal tussle the outcome of which could either promote liberty or empower special interests at the expense of overall economic well-being.

A lawsuit filed by affected businesses of a pending change in the H2-B visa program got postponed last week in federal district court in Alexandria. The change, spurred by a court in Pennsylvania last year, would increase substantially wages of the approximately 66,000 visa holders, who are seasonal workers the employers of which demonstrate there are not enough able and qualified U.S. workers available for the position, and that employing foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Just before the Pres. Barack Obama Administration came into power, the Department of Labor issued new guidelines for the hiring and payment of these individuals, subsequently legally challenged by a collection of interest groups with their major contention that the new rules made it too easy to hire foreign workers at the expense of American workers, because they worked at lower (but at or above minimum) wages.