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28.8.14

Holloway CD 5 run may trigger GOP nightmare scenario

The ego of Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway might be what brings about the nightmare scenario for state Republicans in the Fifth Congressional District contest.



That features Rep. Vance McAllister, who invited disgrace this April when discovered that he was committing marital infidelity with a staffer/family friend. At first, he said he would not run for reelection under those circumstances, saying he needed time to repair his family relations and should concentrate on that. But, lo and behold, in record time he seemed to get his mind right and his family reconciled and suddenly by the beginning of July said he was rested, relaxed, and ready to go for another term.



It’s not that McAllister deserves approbation because of his extracurricular activities, for as long as those did not interfere with the performance of his duties, he needs to be judged on the merits of his policy preferences, which are partially but not entirely problematic. It’s that he said he would do one thing – not run for reelection to work on his personal life – and then announced he didn’t really mean it and did another. People vote for candidates because they trust them to do what they say. Events show that you can’t trust McAllister.

27.8.14

Edwards asks that taxpayers pay for campaign stunt


In his never-ending quest to make himself seen as a big boy contender for Louisiana governor next year, state Rep. John Bel Edwards is trying to create another issue that he believes he can exploit for this purpose – at taxpayer expense.



Edwards’ latest ploy is to have the entire House of Representatives return to Baton Rouge out of session to go over coming changes to health insurance plans overseen by the Office of Group Benefits. These are for state employees and retirees (and some school boards’ employees), with changes already announced in benefits and an anticipated rate increase after a decrease of nine percent over the past two years. He says this information would aid House members “to protect our constituents from astronomical cost increases.”



One effect of the rate decreases, about which Edwards curiously never made a peep about in support of the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration’s decreasing substantially health care premiums for OGB participants, was to empty largely the reserve fund for this purpose. This was desirable in that the state was sitting on idle balances far in excess of industry recommendations, but more controversially the benefit changes also would slow the expenditure rate to prevent the fund from going to zero and leave it with a balance in line with industry averages.

26.8.14

Factional politics on display for Shreveport mayoralty


The ending of qualification for November’s Shreveport mayoral election finally has made static a field in flux. A clear favorite stands out, although a wild card can bring unpredictability to the almost-inevitable runoff.



As is typical in urban politics when one political party becomes dominant, two distinct camps have emerged on the local political scene representing different factions within it. Democrats have claimed that in Shreveport, where they comprise 53.4 percent of the electorate, which itself has a 52.7 percent black majority. Thus among black Democrats are the “ins,” allied with term-limited Mayor Cedric Glover, and the “outs,” those not allied with him, with whites having the incentive to ally with one or the other group.



The latest major candidate entry shall be discussed first, with city Councilman Sam Jenkins announcing his bid only days ago. Months ago he was considered a frontrunner from his alliance with Glover but then made a surprise announcement that he intended not to run, citing tax liens that would be political liabilities. His tune now has changed, even as apparently he still owes a number of debts to governments. That he could have run again for the Council but chose this path despite the inevitable questions that will come about his ability to serve as the city’s chief executive given this personal financial record indicates that it’s all-or-nothing time for him politically and he would not mind going out in a blaze of glory.

25.8.14

Unkind qualifying increases electoral peril for Landrieu

A bad month for Sen. Mary Landrieu just got a bit worse in the wake of qualifying for her reelection attempt last week. Down in the aggregate in polls entering the month, during it she began falling behind in the money chase, self-inflicted “Air Mary” took off as a campaign issue, and now with the official entries into the contest the hill to climb back to office got steeper still.



In all, nine qualified, including Democrat Landrieu and her main rival Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, the marginally competitive Republican military retiree/corporate functionary Rob Maness, and six others. Five of them will have no impact on the race. A libertarian will siphon a few votes from Maness, who presents himself as a political outsider, a white male Republican will do the same, two white male Democrats will hardly take from Landrieu, and the same for a black female Democrat.



Her biggest concern comes from the last-minute entry of the Rev. Raymond Brown, the gadfly leader of a New Orleans-based (Landrieu’s stronghold) organization called National Action Now, which once had a disputed relationship with the larger radical civil rights organization National Action Network. Brown has a history of inserting himself into incidents involving presumed racial conflict where the police are involved, most recently (and not for the first time) in New Iberia. In the past Brown has toyed with entering political contests, but committed to this one, at least for now.

24.8.14

Bossier City needs out of the CNG fueling business

It was trendy. It was political. It used lots of “free” money. But in the final analysis, the decision by Bossier City to push compressed natural gas and ethanol vehicle fuels is turning into a taxpayer ripoff.




In 2010 next to city hall, and then a year later south of Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City built stations to provide these fuels to the few vehicles that could use them. The stations cost $5 million to build, but federal government grants chopped a third off of that price. Through 2012, 2 million gallons of these alternative fuels, netting the city a negligible pittance of money, had been dispensed to city and private vehicles.



But the real justification in the city’s eyes was it could fuel its own vehicles with this. The E85 mix generally sells for not much less than regular unleaded gasoline, but the CNG can be half of that. By converting some of its fleet, and for free – about 100 of them new or existing for about $600,000 in state money – then the per gallon savings could add up, not only because of the lower cost, but also the CNG gets about a quarter times more mileage per gallon.