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20.10.16

Maness claim signals his campaign's death throes

If we needed any confirmation that the vanity campaign of former 2014 Senate candidate Republican Rob Maness survives now only through artificial respiration, that came this week courtesy of a bizarre claim by Maness.

On the day of the major candidates’ debate – to which minor candidate Maness did not score an invitation – he alleged a bribe offering came his way to exit the contest, from somebody supposedly connected to the Better Louisiana PAC, established to support the Senate candidacy of GOP Rep. John Fleming. He contended that an official, Paul Dickson, told him “he would provide opportunities for my future, if I left the race for Senate and endorsed John Fleming;” otherwise, he alleges being told he would be “finished as a politician.” A Maness aide present claims that statement accurately summarizes the conversation, and Maness said he would “file a criminal complaint” about the incident in the near future.

Dickson, a principal in Shreveport-based pharmaceutical distributor Morris & Dickson, has no affiliation with the PAC. However, his company represents the one and only donor to it, of $100,000 a year ago. He confirmed the meeting but denied making such offer, saying that he emphasized throughout the conversation that he promised no deals for a withdrawal.

19.10.16

LA Senate debaters successfully stake out territory


While certainly less shrill and therefore not as entertaining as the presidential debates to date, the Louisiana U.S. Senate debate among the five major candidates broadcast on Louisiana PublicBroadcasting gave viewers a look at distinct strategies to advance themselves. Each may be summed by a single phrase, beginning with the rookie.

Caroline Fayard: I’m not a politician, I’m really not Bobby Jindal, and I’m especially not Foster Campbell

Democrat lawyer Fayard tried to walk an incredibly fine line to make herself appear all things to all voters. By far the least experienced candidate, she tried to turn that deficit around on a question about the necessity of experience to get things done in the Senate by saying she probably could last in it longer than anybody else (she’s about a quarter-century younger than the next youngest). She preached about government not getting in the way of individuals but then offered big government as the solution to education and environmental woes, waxed fictionally about the desirability of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and its spinoffs, supported raising the minimum wage and repeated the unequal wage myth. Nowhere did she say how government would pay for all of this.

18.10.16

LA 2016 amendments: first three up, next three down

If it’s fall, it’s time to contemplate amendments to the Louisiana Constitution and, as always, this space is here to help readers sort it all out. So, what do we have?

Amendment #1 would place educational or experiential qualifications on registrars of voters. None currently exist, making it easier for insiders and relatives of registrars to nab these jobs, to which parish governing authorities appoint. The experiential qualification does nothing to discourage this, particularly in smaller jurisdictions, but the other educational criteria at least prevents blatant favoritism for certain candidates. Yes.

Amendment #2 would move tuition and fee authority in higher education from the Legislature to the four college management boards. While statute gives some authority for this to happen presently, that could change and put Louisiana back entirely into the situation where it and one other state are the only ones whose legislatures micromanage in this fashion, making flexibility more difficult to achieve in optimal pricing decisions. This change would not produce runaway increases, not only because market forces control pricing, but also as elected officials, who will not want that scenario to occur to stay in voters’ good graces, appoint members to these boards. Yes.

17.10.16

New NO housing plan's basis sets it up to fail

As if we needed another example of how both the Pres. Barack Obama Administration nationally and the Mayor Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans fall prey to ideology over how the world really works, here comes an “Assessment of Fair Housing” document that puts wishful thinking ahead of the realities of human behavior.

A few months ago the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs promulgated a final rule under the Fair Housing Act alleging to address the propensity of its Housing Choice Voucher Program – better known as Section 8 – recipients clustering. Most properties participating in the program appear in lower-income, higher-crime areas, and as racial minorities disproportionately comprise recipients (about 25 percent Hispanic and 45 percent black nationally), this tends to concentrate minority participants in those areas given typically lower incomes of minority households. The rule seeks to desegregate racial concentrations by having jurisdictions compile data and make policy to steer minorities involved towards other, typically higher-rent neighborhoods.

As 98 percent of New Orleans program users are racial minorities, concentration particularly occurs. Unlike many local governments who fought the promulgation because it essentially creates an unfunded mandate of record-keeping, the city opened it with welcome arms, becoming the country’s first jurisdiction to cough up the plan required to continue gathering federal dollars to fund the program. It banks change on using new flexibility to increase ceilings on reimbursements to landlords, considering to require builders who utilize the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to guarantee below-market rates for a longer period of time than the law’s minimum (an option left up to jurisdictions, as well as the proportion of low-income residents required), and on creating of a housing registry that could identify units deemed substandard and declared ineligible for program participation.