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3.11.11

Backwards step on state pay plan invites Jindal veto

Once more, the third time in the past three years, the State Civil Service Commission has come up a pay plan to change from the current blunt, mostly useless current instrument. And, once again, past history suggests that, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal now having most members of it appointed by him, that he will veto the measure.

The current system sets five gradations for evaluation of classified employees, where anyone scoring in the top three merits a four percent pay raise, no more, no less. Supervisors perform evaluations just prior to the employee’s hiring anniversary. Historically, around 99 percent of employees who outside of their first year of employment have gotten placed in the top three categories, but any raise occurs only when funded through the budget process, which it has not been for the past two years.

Past criticisms of the system, among them levied by Jindal, include that the rolling, ongoing evaluation process created confusion, the fixed amount allowed no flexibility, and that all agencies had to accept the same amount.

2.11.11

Analysis shows Jindal did get 2011 electoral mandate

Observers of the recently-conducted Louisiana state elections have wondered whether Gov. Bobby Jindal’s victory constitutes a mandate. Some have suggested, by pointing out that Jindal actually drew several thousand votes fewer than in his similar 2007 general election win, and that overall turnout for the contest was lower by about a fifth, that his win did not. Statistical analysis, however, proves otherwise.

One method that could reveal definitively that 2011’s results did not produce a mandate, or an overwhelming agreement to back Jindal’s agenda, is to look at the comparative change in turnout among all statewide elective single executive office contests. According to the logic of no mandate, increased nonvoting signals a lack of interest in the contest and, by implication, tepid endorsement by the entire public of the winner’s platform.

If that is the case, then the comparative loss to turnout in the governor’s race should be greater than for other executive offices.

1.11.11

Voters may not see luck on their side with new casino

Bossier City voters may be forgiven if they feel as if they are staring down the barrel of a .44 magnum, held by their city government snarling, “You’ve got to ask yourself a question: do you feel lucky?” The answer either can lead to adding a little economic boost to the underperforming suburb, or end up being yet another economic development mistake in a city that has made a habit of unwise spending and frittering away genuine opportunity.

Because, in reality, it’s multiple questions needing answers as a result of the state deciding to allow transfer of a casino license to a projected operation in Bossier City, which would make it the fourth riverboat docked at least partially in the city. State law requires an affirmative local option vote in the parish of the berthing.

The antecedent question for voters addresses the moral aspect of the decision, whether increased gambling opportunities make, in the aggregate, the parish a better place in which to live.

31.10.11

Jindal pick shows he should stay, will aim very high

Now that Gov. Bobby Jindal won a second term in historic fashion, creating a mandate if a nebulous one, does his backing of state Sen. John Alario signify renewed emphasis in creating a record in office worthy of higher things, and then pursuing them?

As observers vent and exercise over the choice of the increasingly conservative, obviously skilled, but very baggage-laden good-old-boy for Senate president, one view to understand the choice (besides the fact that the master politician Alario had made his election an accomplished fate that only substantial Jindal exertion might have stopped) is that Jindal recognizes in a body where perhaps half the members can be counted upon to vote for conservative principles most of the time, he needs an experienced hand to guide his agenda through. And, it is asserted, this agenda at the very least aims to leave a lasting imprint on the state, and perhaps promotes Jindal as ready for high office at the national level.

It’s a logical thesis, and, given that conservative policy is good for what ails Louisiana, its people will be better off for it.

30.10.11

Huge money advantages aided Democrat incumbent wins

Much has been made about the fact that Republican operatives, statewide officeholders, and interest groups hoped to target and knock off several Democrat incumbents with strategic infusions of money into Republican challengers’ campaigns, and none of these attempts succeeded. Yet nothing has been made about the real reason only one such race ended up with the challenger close to the incumbent – because of the vast disparity of resources in favor of the Democrats.

Any, but in many cases all, of organizations led by Republicans Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. David Vitter, the state Republican Party, and organizations sympathetic to conservative policy, sent resources, in some instances totaling as much as five figures, to GOP candidates challenging incumbent Democrat state Sens. Eric LaFleur and Ben Nevers, incumbent state Rep. Gary Smith vying for an open Senate seat, and incumbent state Reps. Robert Johnson, James Armes, Bernard LeBas, Jack Montoucet, and Neil Abramson. Only Nevers faced a squeaker to win reelection, while the others won with much more breathing room.

While some observers cite these results due to the races being local in nature and thus more resistant to outside resources swaying them, or that incumbency delivers an extra resource, in reality these incumbents enjoyed significant, if not monstrous, money advantages in the final three weeks of the campaign, enabling them to outspend enormously their challengers in the most crucial segment of the contest. In the majority of instances, the advantage was overwhelming.