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17.7.14

McAllister manages to top whiners' stupid remarks

Looks as if an idiot magnet popped up in Pineville, attracting a motley iron-headed bunch that wants to loot Louisiana taxpayers and to discourage improved health care delivery even as they have no hope of attaining their ultimate goal.




Last week, a gripe session over the closure of the state’s Huey P. Long Medical Center was sponsored by Pineville Concerned Citizens, which has a history not only of pushing leftist causes but also of flouting Internal Revenue Service regulations. Heartened by a state district court ruling that the closing violated open meetings law, even as the court allowed the closing to proceed at the end of June, many participants clamored for reopening the facility regardless of consequences to taxpayers and clients.



While it’s been only a couple of weeks since the hospitals functions have been farmed out to other local providers and with plans to have some medical care delivered by other providers on the site in a smaller footprint, the sane people involved discussed ways how to preserve the three-quarter-century-old facility and to find incentives to put it into use again. By contrast, the wackos present pledged in different ways to restore some semblance of income and power redistribution now made less possible by the state getting out of, except in one instance, the business of providing health care directly.

16.7.14

Shreveport plan to shore up pension fund deserves approval



While the relatively picayunish matter over the recoupment of $53,000 to the city opposed by Mayor Cedric Glover may grab headlines, a much more fundamental transformation of city finance goes on much more quietly and harmoniously even as it is much more desperately needed.



As noted previously in this space, Shreveport faces a ticking time bomb in its employee pension fund (which excludes public safety employees). Barely half funded, at least it’s in better shape than it was a few years ago, courtesy of investment earnings, and is mandated to be fully funded by 2039. But, problematically, under current rules that won’t matter; it’ll be drained completely by 2026.



Thus, the board that oversees the Employees’ Retirement System – City of Shreveport has brought up ideas for city government to consider in trying to erase the gap, which admirably place the emphasis on doing that where it needs to be. One prong is to change the multiplier that allows a city employee to draw full retirement pay (usually based on an average of the last two years’ salary) with as few as 30 years worked (meaning one could retire in their late 40s) to more like a little over 36 years (still meaning a full pension as early as one’s mid-50s), starting with hires for next year. The other increases by a percentage point a year from the current nine percent of salary to fund the pension up to 12 percent by 2017. As a majority on the board are the mayor or his appointees and a City Council member, what the board decides almost certainly will be approved by city government.

15.7.14

Hollis exit doesn't change Cassidy control of Senate race

It’s not surprising that Republican state Rep. Paul Hollis announced his exit from the U.S. Senate race this fall, because it never made much sense for him to enter it in the first place if he thought he could win.



That’s not because Hollis is not a conservative, with a three-year average score on the Louisiana Legislature Log voting index of just under 75 (well above the chamber and a bit above the GOP legislative averages, where 100 shows always voting for the conservative/reform preference). That’s not because Hollis has not demonstrated that he can win elections and has experience in a significant elective office, as he got himself elected to his position in 2011. It is that he got in the contest later than the two other Republican candidates who carved out space in both of these areas.



Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy has proven conservative credentials and almost six years’ experience in national government, including putting into law a significant item or two (for example, being one of the main forces behind getting markedly higher flood insurance rates for some homeowners delayed and lowered). But if somebody doesn’t like that Cassidy didn’t vote the conservative issue preference every single time and/or that he’s been in Congress all that time, then for you there’s absolutely politically inexperienced Republican Rob Maness who claims he can vote more conservatively than Cassidy.

14.7.14

Offer erodes political utility of Jindal's anti-PARCC stance

The conflict between the irresistible force and the unmovable object might be headed to a denouement sooner than realized, increasing the chances that Gov. Bobby Jindal turns out as the political loser.



This refers to the struggle between him and Superintendent of Education John White, Chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Chas Roemer, and a majority on BESE, over giving standardized tests next year to Louisiana schoolchildren that align with the Common Core State Standards through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Jindal, after some former low-key support of the exams for years, now has become a high-profile critic of them, saying they threaten to allow too much federal intervention into the state function of education.



Unable to stop test administration through political or administrative means, as neither BESE nor the state Legislature agree with him, Jindal has resorted to bureaucratic ploys via executive order such as layering contract review provisions onto getting the test paid and into classrooms next spring. The sheer obstinacy and disruptiveness of the machinations to halt dissemination when clear majorities in the appropriate policy-making organs of state government favor use of the PARCC tests makes it a high-risk strategy, where any inability to stop this makes Jindal look petty and unlike a statesman, but where success may give him an aura of ability to get the job done in preventing what some consider bad policy from getting inflicted on the people.

13.7.14

LASC ruling invites U.S. Supreme Court intervention

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision regarding a civil matter may end in a monumental First Amendment decision setting a landmark for future jurisprudence in the area.



At issue is the court’s ruling in case #2013-C-2879, which orders a Catholic priest to answer questions potentially about the content of information he heard from a then-minor female five years ago. The girl allegedly was abused sexually, told the priest in confession, who then it is argued did not follow the law. This is relevant to a suit filed by the girl’s family against the family and business of the reputed abuser and, later added as plaintiffs, the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the priest; the alleged abuser died not long after the reputed confessional sessions took place.



Louisiana law generally grants an exception to its mandatory reporting law to clergy when the communication of possible abuse of a minor or other crime comes as part of confidential communication relevant to the performance of a professional duty; in this instance, the sacrament of confession. However, the law (Code of Evidence) also states that the receiver of the communication “shall encourage that person to report the allegations to the appropriate authorities.” Also (Children's Code) stated is that "Notwithstanding any claim of privileged communication, any mandatory reporter who has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare is endangered" by alleged conduct has a duty to report.

The suit seeks to discover whether that advice was given and if the priest thought there was endangerment, being that this at best is a judgment call and it's entirely possible the way it was communicated he did not think so. The Court says these may be discovered because it interprets the law to put the locus on what is treated as such communication in the hands of the sender of that communication, and the girl has made public what she said was communicated by both parties in a series of confessional sessions.