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22.3.12

Process may make LA presidential primary count for zip

Soon, Louisiana Republicans can hit the precinct locations across the state to vote for presidential nomination preferences in the party’s primary – and may have it count for nothing.

That’s not because the scheduling of it pushed the shelf life of meaningful input into the process past its due date. A clear frontrunner certain to take the nomination has yet to be established, partly because of wariness over candidates in an election cycle that ought to produce a layup win against the incumbent, partly because the calendar itself produced a more evenly-distributed lineup of contests, and partly because few winner-take-all contests remain on the ballot compared to quadrennial exercises of the recent past. The environment exists to give the state more influence than it has in 16 years, when it allocated some delegates through one of the first caucuses held.

But dramatically reducing influence of the popular vote results could result as an artifact of subsequent congressional district meetings on Apr. 28, and decisions at the Jun. 2 state convention. The state can supply 46 total delegates – 20 allocated from the primary, 18 from the district caucuses, five selected by the party’s Executive Committee, and three (state chairman and two Republican National Committee members) by virtue of their offices.

21.3.12

Reform opponents sabotage selves with bigoted discourse

If he thought polite listening to his views constituted “intimidation,” it’s a wonder Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards didn’t fall into catatonia when he heard public records requests had been filed concerning his correspondence with teachers’ unions and for addresses of teachers in his parish. Apparently, despite his words he must not feel so, for if his rants are to be characterized they seem more indicative of his protesting too much in a way that moots any gain Democrats try to get out of framing this particular debate.

This we can tell from the paranoia infused in his remarks about the incident, which attempts to feed a narrative about this presumed “intimidation.” On the floor of the House, Edwards complained that the removal of another legislator from a committee post by the House Speaker, that having administration opponents listen to a news conference of his and having fellow legislators deliver a rejoinder to it, that communications into his district made by an interest group in favor of the reform legislation, and that having this public records request filed by a lawyer who is partner to the executive director of the state Republican Party, were all part of a master plan by that wily, dastardly Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal to stamp out opposition whipped up his poor own little self.

While Edwards may have been channeling his inner Huey and/or Earl Long, fulminating against forces said to inveigh against him, besides giving way too much credit to Jindal as some kind of Svengali, and as well greatly overestimating his own importance, such a spleen venting ignores that the only of these actions taken by Jindal was to have his aides listen to his unpersuasive arguments. With this at least Edwards only hinted at anti-Semitic attitudes (apparently casting the dark-skinned but Catholic Jindal in the role of the “wandering Jew” who manipulates others to his own ends); his Democrat colleague state Rep. Sam Jones went all the way when he compared these supposedly intimidating tactics to those practiced against their own dissident people but especially against Jews by the Nazi Germany regime.

20.3.12

Weakness in own arguments intimidates anti-reformers

It’s hard to decide whether the narrative that Democrats who oppose education reforms championed by Gov. Bobby Jindal are trying to establish is born of simple paranoia, or actual introspection that admits the weakness of their argument.

Yesterday, in public at the Capitol caucus leader of the party state Rep. John Bel Edwards with others launched another round of criticism of the reform, using the same tired and discredited arguments as they have ever since it became obvious this legislation was coming. At the commencement of the tirade, Jindal Administration officials arrived, and quietly listened.

Yet perhaps Edwards had some kind of falshback and thought these guys wore white suits and held restraining devices intended for him. One might have thought so given his remarks afterwards, where he said the polite listening constituted “part of a pattern of trying to intimidate legislators.”

19.3.12

Amend bill to eliminate newspaper corporate welfare

It’s not that the bill is bad because it reduces the longevity requirement, but because the whole notion that certain interests need to be given taxpayer dollars just to republish information that already can be disseminated cheaply, easily, and widely is wasteful corporate welfare.

State Rep. Ray Garafalo’s HB 943 would scale back the time requirement for being in business for a print media outlet to become a governing authority’s official journal. State law requires all entities must bid out these contracts, including state government’s. He argues it would permit a recently-established local outlet to bid for the work, which now is performed by out-of-parish owners.

This attitude precisely illustrates the moral objection to this whole notion that a physical printing must be performed at taxpayer expense when far cheaper and as available alternatives exist in this era of electronic archiving. Here, government is making choices about which private interests may reap the benefit of policy. That happens all the time, but those who prize limited government should recognize that appropriate policy should minimize this, that government should do the function itself if it can be done more inexpensively without loss of quality.

18.3.12

School reform opponents resort to red herring argument

With the express train of education reform in Louisiana thundering their way, opponents of it representing special interests – teachers’ unions, subpar teachers, and politicians wishing to maintain power and privilege and/or ideological purity – who ride the gravy train of more costly, less effective education have sought means by which to derail the express. One such tactic, relying on an idiosyncratic interpretation of constitutional language, in the end may distract but fails as a valid complaint and discouraging factor.

HB 976 by state Rep. Steve Carter and SB 597 by state Sen. Conrad Appel expand a program where families whose children attend adequate or worse schools may attend a higher-ranked public school or private school on money supplied by the state up to a certain level. This structure would improve public education by creating incentives for schools to perform better by wringing out unproductive practices and customary behavior. This allocated money in the instances of the private schools would come from the state Minimum Foundation Program, a formula created by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that only can be accepted or rejected by the Legislature.

But opponents argue that these measures run afoul of the Louisiana Constitution, specifically Art. VIII, Sec. 13(B), which reads, “The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or its successor, shall annually develop and adopt a formula which shall be used to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of education in all public elementary and secondary schools as well as to equitably allocate the funds to parish and city school systems.” By this reading, since money for private school tuition – under the legislation thought to be reimbursed maximally at $5,000, well below what the state pays on average per student although above the junior high level private school tuition often is above that – would not be coming from the MFP going to a “public” school, allocating money for that purpose cannot occur.