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30.8.12

Jindal needs to help Ethics Board end campaign loopholes


It seems like the investigation, under its own volition, of the Louisiana Board of Ethics concerning changes and its implementation of campaign finance law is beginning to bear fruit. You can tell because legislators are starting to carp about it.

Starting in January with a target date to finish by the end of the year, the Board hopes to provide clearer guidance in the way it interprets the law. Comments coming from its members indicate they believe current interpretations, such as the one offered by state Sen. Robert Adley, that “[t]he law says that campaign dollars can be used to anything that is part of the cost of serving your office,” is unclear and deserves more precision.

In fact, that is not at all what the law intends on the matter. R.S. 18:1483 broadly defines an expenditure as “a purchase, payment, advance, deposit, or gift, of money or anything
of value made for the purpose of supporting, opposing, or otherwise influencing the nomination or election of a person to public office,” and in R.S. 18:1505.2 is related to contributions in that “contributions received by a candidate or a political committee may be expended for any lawful purpose, but such funds shall not be used, loaned, or pledged by any person for any personal use unrelated to a political campaign, the holding of a public office ….”

29.8.12

Isaac to test berm decision, reliance on gouging law


So, seven years after the last hurricane to strike southeast Louisiana took its epic toll, Isaac has rolled onto its land and will test a couple of policy decisions made since.

Among other casualties of Katrina, it had accelerated loss of coastal land. Unfortunately, only the federal government had the wherewithal to start immediately with restoration, and a deal legislatively struck shortly after the event would not start providing Louisiana with significant funds to accomplish this until 2016. But out of bad luck came the potential for good with the Macondo well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Obviously negative was the oil spill that hit Louisiana shores, but an opportunity for one positive outcome was possible when the company for whom the drilling was done, BP, said it would pay for all reasonable damages.

Gov. Bobby Jindal seized the opportunity by getting the firm to pay for berms to catch oil, but cleverly planned their deployment in a way that they could be leveraged into full-blown coastal restoration infrastructure. At no cost to any taxpayer, Louisiana quickly got years ahead in preserving the coast.

28.8.12

Change law to prevent legal, illegal speed trap revenues


There’s more than one way to skin a cat if you are a Louisiana municipality in the business of financing yourself by shaking down out-of-town motorists – even if it seems illegal.

After a year-long investigation, state officials lowered the boon on the top two police officials in Henderson, part of whose town limits were extended a few years ago to patrol Interstate 10 around where the highway begins/ends its stretch over the Atchafalaya Basin, for an alleged illegal scheme to kick back money to officers writing traffic tickets. The more written, the more income from a state grant could be funneled under the table.

Besides feathering their own nests, another reason why a regime like this would be created is it helps the town coffers as well. Previous to the middle of 2010, municipalities could write up outrageous amounts for alleged speeding, but then R.S. 32:266 came into force, which directed fine money for infractions 10 miles below the speed limit on an interstate highway to the state for highway safety purposes for municipalities not operating under a home rule charter.

27.8.12

Ignorant APSA note damages further LA higher education


Thanks a lot, American Political Science Associations Executive Council, for making the professional lives of specifically political scientists and generally anybody in higher education harder by making us look stupid.

First, I would like to apologize to the reading public, and Gov. Bobby Jindal, legislators, and state Supreme Court justices, on behalf of political scientists everywhere who can think logically and for themselves for the ignorance shown by the APSA Council’s letter to these policy-makers, criticizing the state for its prohibition of same sex “marriages” and saying it will not hold its annual meeting again in the state until that changes. Believe me, many of us are not as intellectually lacking or divorced from the real world as the letter implies political scientists generally are.

That meeting, occurring this week in New Orleans, was planned with the city as its site almost a decade ago, before the state by an overwhelming popular vote amended its constitution to make sure marriage was defined as a union of one man and one woman. By 2008, some APSA members got around to protesting the arrangement, but the organization, which has backed out of other host cities because of its liberal orthodoxy, decided to stay to prevent disruption.

26.8.12

Landrieu reminds of her vulnerability on education issue


Some Shreveport Times journalists got a reminder of Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s hypocrisy on education in a recent meeting with her as she cruised through the state’s Gannett affiliates, ammunition that, in particular, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal might find useful should he determine her office suitable as the next act in his political career.

To the assembled scribes, Landrieu reiterated her criticism of Jindal’s backing of the new voucher scholarship program, where students of lower-income families from low performing schools are given an amount less than what the state pays public schools to educate them to attend any willing and eligible school of their choice, even if a non-public school. She said again that it was too big of a part of state education reform and not accountable enough.

But at both policy and personal levels, on this issue Landrieu speaks with forked tongue. When a Senate candidate in 1996, she then expressed unqualified support for the general idea that government should “Provide parents with vouchers to send their children to any publicly funded school,” according to Project VoteSmart’s National Political Awareness Test. But shortly after election, she apparently had repudiated this preference, for she opposed consistently legislation that eventually would bring such a program to the District of Columbia.