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11.12.18

Lack of will, not money, explains LDH failures

Go to the dictionary and look up “audacity,” and there you’ll find the Louisiana Department of Health under Gov. John Bel Edwards.

That’s the conclusion drawn from the department’s latest attempts at damage control after scathing audits of its Medicaid provision. One identified very likely at least $62 million in improper payments on behalf of the Medicaid expansion population through the first part of 2018. In fact, because the figure looked at just a fraction of all enrollees, about five percent, the figure could be much higher.

The audit illuminated that LDH’s headlong attempt to qualify and stuff as many people as possible into the program unnecessarily led to that waste. In particular, under Edwards it reversed a decision that the state verify eligibility from an “determination state” to an “assessment state,” which the state only had implemented at the end of the former Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration because of the high error rate.

10.12.18

Perkins experiment exception in NW LA results

With one huge exception, elections in northwest Louisiana’s two most populous parishes changed things little.

Last weekend culminated the election season, marked by Shreveport city and Caddo Parish School Board elections, plus the latter in Bossier Parish. The Bossier contests featured next to no excitement whatsoever; even with a few incumbents opting out (one after qualifying), all but one of those districts drew just one qualifier and just one incumbent ended up with a challenge, which he beat back. With this conforming to Bossier’s eccentric small town/apathetic dynamics, it didn’t even need last Saturday’s elections to have wrapped up the Board’s composition for the next four years, which remains in partisan terms ten Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent.

Caddo and Shreveport city council contests provided little more excitement or change. In the school district, fewer than half the seats had competition and none of the challenged incumbents lost who had won previous election. The anomalous appointed member, Durwood Hendricks, did see his district with which his views and its didn’t exactly mesh dump him in November. But when the dust settled, the Board reverted to its form for most of last term – five white Republicans, one white Democrat, and six black Democrats – with nine old faces returning.

6.12.18

Abraham poses serious threat to Edwards

If Louisiana Republican activists had seen the GOP’s Sen. John Kennedy as the toughest challenger to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham shouldn’t disappoint them.

Earlier this week, Kennedy took a pass on running for the state’s top job, disheartening some hoping to dump Edwards. Today, Abraham, after saying for months he gave serious consideration to taking on Edwards, made the plunge.

Epitomizing his penchants both for pettiness and hypocrisy, Edwards commented “[f]or the sake of the people of Louisiana, it is my hope that he seriously considers whether or not he is capable of running for governor while fulfilling his duties in Washington, DC.” Of course, Edwards ran for governor while a state representative, and he seemed unconcerned at the time about whether he could do that job while splitting time with campaigning for two years.

5.12.18

Left's hatred of America consensus fuels divide

The nation mourned former Pres. George H.W. Bush today, and part of the reason he received praise after his death a recent article illuminates, unpacking a key observation about today’s American politics.

Last week, the Baton Rouge Advocate ran a piece about how Republican Bush’s political career intersected with Louisiana. Several of its interviewees, which included officeholders and activists of both major parties, remarked on how Bush had personal friendships with Democrats and a couple lamented that they no longer saw a political environment that encouraged such cross-partisan relationships.

These still exist – look no further than the palling around between Louisiana Reps. Steve Scalise of the GOP and Democrat Cedric Richmond, who share a district fence and a number of similar interests – but in vastly reduced incidence as compared to Bush’s era of the late 1960s to early 1990s. Unquestionably, ideological polarization among political elites has contributed to this.

4.12.18

Crony capitalists predictably help fund Edwards

Is it really news in Louisiana when those who benefit from big government and/or with lengthy service in it support a tax-and-spend governor?

A recent article in the Baton Rouge Advocate listed a few nominal Republicans said to back Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards (I write a column on Sundays for that outlet). It included someone who has worked in high-ranking capacities for governors of both parties; a former Gov. Bobby Jindal cabinet appointee who now shills for an engineering firm with extensive state contracts; a nonprofit head who received tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for the building that houses his organization and has hustled throughout its history for government assistance; a former elected official whose tenure in that position spawned approbation for ethical lapses; and some businessmen whose livelihoods are shaped considerably by government policies and spending decisions (and a few of them have received plum appointments by Edwards to government panels).

That these people have a history of working for election of Republicans or giving generously to Republican candidates have pledged support for Edwards in his reelection efforts might at first glance seem surprising. Then again, most also historically supported Democrats at times, as their crony capitalism makes them swoon for anybody think can deliver the goods.

3.12.18

Lessons for LA even in flawed climate study

It may have a GIGO quality, but some thoughts relevant for Louisiana policy-making come forth from the fourth National Climate Assessment.

Quadrennially,federal government agencies collaborate to produce this document, with preparation of this one launched under the former Pres. Barack Obama Administration with its penchant for politicizing science. The first part, mainly methodological, came out last year.

Unfortunately, that effort suffered from faulty assumptions and selective use of data, with its authors enthralled in the faith of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. With this previous part containing little useful information, this left the more policy-based conclusions of the current part of suspect validity and relevance.

29.11.18

LA policy-makers must extend smoking ban

The good news is the smoking ban in East Baton Rouge Parish, including Baton Rouge, is producing the intended effect. The bad news is some renegade metropolitan areas in Louisiana still discriminate against individuals with pulmonary limitations – but state policy-makers can do something about it.

About a year-and-a-half after the ban, mirroring state law except it included casinos and bars, went into effect, air quality in a sample of those businesses showed indoor air pollution dropped 98 percent. The group that sponsored the testing hailed these results as victory for people employed in those establishments in their avoiding second-hand smoke.

But the real winners are the growing segment of adult Americans who suffer from some kind of respiratory ailment. About three in ten have one of emphysema, asthma, hay fever, sinusitis, or chronic bronchitis. A much smaller proportion have much more serious conditions that require consistent medical intervention to allow them to breathe.

28.11.18

Edwards politicizes by calling others political

Politics were on display when Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference met last week ironically with the agent politicizing the process accused another member of doing just that.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his panel designee Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne didn’t like that the REC – which also has as members the Speaker of the House or his designee, the Senate President or his designee, and an independent economist – refused to bump up the official revenue forecast by $40 million. Both an economist from the Division of Administration and from the Legislature recommended that emendation to the forecast.

The REC sets the revenue baseline for the governor’s executive budget for next fiscal year, released a month into a calendar year, as well as affects whether government may spend more or have to cut in the current fiscal year. An extra $40 million added to the existing forecast helps Edwards politically in three ways: by making it appear the state enjoyed increased prosperity under him, by hiking the baseline thereby giving him more to distribute to favored constituencies next year, and – in an atypical budget arrangement in effect only this year – allows spending contingency funds for specific purposes that total (perhaps not coincidentally) $43.3 million.

27.11.18

Leger likely to challenge Landry, lose

Louisiana Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry likely will draw a high-profile Democrat challenger, but is unlikely to lose his reelection bid.

Recently, Landry announced his intentions to run for a second term, and (insert here customary declaration the statement that follows next is certainty unless the candidate in question gets caught with a live boy or dead girl) is pretty close to a lock to winning that. In part, it’s because of the historic nature of his first three years in office.

Until Landry assumed the Department of Justice helm by defeating seasoned two-term incumbent Republican Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana attorney generals had a marginal role in defining the exercise of state government power. Constitutionally, the officer mainly deals with civil law, although a district attorney or court may invite him to deal with criminal matters. Statute also gives him a variety of powers not inconsistent with these in the Constitution.

26.11.18

Kennedy correct: voting a privilege, not right

When Louisiana’s junior Republican Sen. John Kennedy calls voting a “privilege,” constitutionally he’s correct.

Kennedy, who occasionally moonlights teaching constitutional law at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, made that remark incident to a feud over which felons may vote between GOP Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin (currently standing for his current job on Dec. 8) and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. His statement came under question in a column by the Baton Rouge Advocate’s Mark Ballard (I am contracted to write a weekly opinion column for The Advocate).

Ballard’s allegation reads in full:

23.11.18

Audit deals blow to Nungesser reelection hopes

The agency overseen by Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser in responding to a tough state audit probably gave a good hint of a combative reelection strategy for its boss.

That wouldn’t deviate from his past statewide runs, where for this office Nungesser had a strategy of making feisty ideological proclamations, even if much had nothing to do with the duties of the office itself. But now as the incumbent, he has to defend his record in office, and, ironically enough, one big mark against him to many comes from an issue preference he expressed in carrying out his official duties.

This came from a Bond Commission vote not to disallow bond merchants whose financial businesses discouraged exercise of Second Amendment rights, a motion which failed in April by his single vote. Another attempt in August that succeeded found him absent. In more symbolic ways, Nungesser also has perturbed conservatives, such as a reluctance to criticize Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards over questions of taxes and spending.

22.11.18

Thanksgiving Day, 2018

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday around  noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Thursday, Nov. 22 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.

20.11.18

LA blanket primary won't go away anytime soon

Louisiana’s blanket primary election system won’t be going away anytime soon because, for now, elites dependent upon it want it.

Officially, it isn’t even a primary at all, with it technically being a nonpartisan general election with a runoff should no candidate receive a simple majority of votes. All candidates regardless of party affiliation (if any) participate. A trio of other states have similar systems, except they are of the “top two” variety where a primary prior to the general election sorts out which two appear in the general election, regardless whether one receives a simple majority in the primary.

Rumblings among state politicians on this issue caught the attention of my colleagues at the Baton Rouge Advocate (I am a contracted to write a weekly opinion column for it), who produced a story about whether the state should change. It has used the blanket primary since 1975, except for all political party and presidential preference primary or caucus elections since then and in 2008 and 2010 a closed primary system for Congress.

19.11.18

Modest proposal to end LA film tax credit waste

Here’s the solution to ameliorating the damage from Louisiana’s porous Motion Picture Investors Tax Credit – defeat Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards for reelection next year.

It’s not that Edwards has proved an impediment to reforming the giveaway, which returns about a quarter of every dollar subsidizing filmmakers, many of whom come from out of state. He might well be, given his past support of the corporate welfare that he reiterated recently in a jaunt to Hollywood. But lawmakers haven’t ever challenged him to do so, only instituting tepid reforms last year.

Instead, it would be the act of keeping him from retaining office. That’s the model that nearly worked in Georgia. Over the weekend a number of Hollywood’s dimmest bulbs called for an industry boycott of the state, since it declared former Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp the winner over Democrat lawmaker Stacey Abrams for governor.

15.11.18

BR citizens disserved by catering to racist myth

This week provides a reminder of how a few Baton Rouge-area politicians and administrators buckled to political correctness reminiscent of the city’ racist past.

During this time, the city has hosted the Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association 2018 Training Conference. The group seeks to educate on a range of issues involving homicides, with the conference covering areas such as cold cases, DNA searches, serial killers, and mass shootings.

However, although having announced the event as one of its centerpieces, the conference canceled a presentation headed by Betty Shelby, now of Oklahoma’s Rogers County Sheriff’s Office. She would have given her perspective on her experience, when with the Tulsa Police Department, of unfortunately mistakenly shooting to death an unarmed man at a traffic stop.

14.11.18

Desisting better serves careers of LA GOP stars

One Louisiana politician made the right call. If the other gets a call, he should desist as well.

National politics churned unusually in the last week and a day. Election results prompted an unwise change in U.S. House of Representatives leadership, and Republican Pres. Donald Trump asked for a received a change of leadership in the Department of Justice.

With the GOP losing its House majority, Rep. Steve Scalise will take on a diminished role in the chamber’s governance, with any real influence over its coming business in the next two years a consequence of his relationship with Trump. This downgrading has led to speculation that Scalise might take a stab at Louisiana’s governorship, which wouldn’t require him to leave his congressional post to run.

13.11.18

LA partisanship still mediated by personalism

Of course a no-party designation costs candidates elections, because voters aren’t fools.

After election results came out, my Baton Rouge Advocate colleagues noted that a seemingly-popular incumbent for a Livingston Parish school board spot, running without a party label, lost to a Republican (although one with vast schools experience). In another school board matchup there, Republican Devin Gregoire defeated a no-party candidate who appeared to do more campaigning, although neither apparently raised or spent enough to have to file a campaign finance report.

This prompted a political consultant based in Baton Rouge to proclaim “The politics of Livingston Parish is changing in that not only the Democratic Party label, any label but the Republican party has become toxic.” While the first part is valid, the second misunderstands the nature of Louisiana politics.

12.11.18

Veterans' Day, 2018

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Wednesday, Nov. 12 being observed Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.

8.11.18

Elections in 2018 bring LA winners and losers

As always, elections bring winners and losers. Relative to struggles for power between different interests, who triumphed and who saw their political fortunes in retreat in Louisiana after this round?

School reform: For several years, those wishing to expand from monopolistic government schools have slowly expanded a majority in East Baton Rouge Parish, while the conflict has flip-flopped between sides in Jefferson Parish, with backers of unions and a more closed system most recently having prevailed.

Tuesday handed victories to reformers. In Baton Rouge, they extended their school board majorities with education administrator Tramelle Howard dumping Kenyetta Nelson-Smith from District 3 and education consultant Dadrius Lanus nearly avoided a runoff against Vereta Lee for District 62 but almost certainly will win the runoff.

7.11.18

Shreveport poised for major immediate break

A couple of high-profile Shreveport incumbents didn’t have a good election day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean new faces and ideas will come on board city government.

One does certainly look headed out the door. Democrat Mayor Ollie Tyler drew a measly 24 percent of the vote, making the runoff but behind Democrat lawyer Adrian Perkins, This constitutes a massive repudiation of Tyler, made more stinging in that voters elevated past her vote total someone half her age with zero political experience and next-to-none at all outside of the military and school. More would rather have a blank slate than her.

These numbers – over three-quarters of the electorate rejecting her and a newcomer leading her by five points in the general election – give her little chance to win the runoff. Only if she absolutely scares voters by pointing out Perkins’ inexperience and less becoming aspects of his commitment to Shreveport, such as he hardly has lived there his adult life and when he voted for himself that marked the first time he ever had voted, can she make voters that already rejected her reject him – but that doesn’t mean they’ll then change their minds about her.

6.11.18

Curfews, parental accountability to reduce crime

An idea from Caddo Parish deserves replication across Louisiana to deal with juvenile crime.

In response to a recent murder allegedly committed by juveniles, the district attorney’s office said, if possible, it would prosecute their parents as well. That response follows a pledge by District Attorney James Stewart, who last year announced his willingness to enforce local curfew ordinances.

Stewart practices what he preaches. Three months after his pronouncement, he followed through with an arrest and subsequent conviction of a mother of two pre-teens accused of a string of crimes. He also has gone after parents who miss court dates dealing with children’s excessive truancy.

5.11.18

Peacock feeling capital projects pressure

Could a Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards power play be getting to taxpayer stalwart Republican state Sen. Barrow Peacock?

Peacock appeared on KEEL radio’s morning show last week to discuss an option for funding the Inner City Connector Interstate 49 route in Shreveport. Earlier last month, the interchange between I-49 and I-220 officially opened, joining the I-49/I-20 interchange about four miles south that opened nearly two decades ago, leaving just the space between – the Connector – undone to complete I-49 in Louisiana.

Related to the opening, Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson had spoken on the program. In that interview, he cast doubt on finishing the Connector any time soon. Although one reason had to do with ongoing federal studies, Wilson also said a tight funding environment had pushed the item back in the queue.

2.11.18

N.O. must avoid tax hike mistake made by EBR

New Orleans need not make the same mistake as Baton Rouge did with dedicating funds to its Council on Aging.

Last month, the City Council unanimously approved placing a tax proposition in front of voters next spring. The measure would add two mils to property taxes then direct that money towards the New Orleans Council on Aging. This nonprofit agency acts as a quasi-governmental entity with its latest annual report showing over 90 percent of its revenues came from government grants, of which nearly $1.4 million or around a quarter of all agency funding came from the city.

But it seems that’s not enough. The tax would raise an estimated $6 million and presumably release the current stipend for other uses by the city. Councilors didn’t even hide the fact that this would increase taxes, commenting about how this doubling of the NOCOA budget could provide more services. Some didn’t even commit to refrain putting forward any other city monies for NOCOA if voters approved it.

31.10.18

Consequences of increased LA early turnout

If it’s October except for years after the presidential election, it’s time to debate the meaning of early voting again.

Louisiana saw a record midterm election year turnout this year in the decade of early voting’s existence. In fact, the total of 307,237 only fell about 50,000 short of the 2012 cycle, although the 2016 cycle surpassed that by almost 75 percent.

At first glance, this may seem remarkable, considering that the 2018 cycle features the least exciting passel of contests in a long time. As occurs every six even-numbered years, it has no Senate race, and none of the House of Representatives faceoffs hold any drama as all incumbents seem poised to win handily. The only statewide contest, for secretary of state, shouldn’t generate much enthusiasm for the least glamorous office in state government. Four of the five highest-populated parishes have school board races, but none feature parish contests and only one major city, Shreveport, has municipal races.

30.10.18

Work, not show, horse mode best for LPSC

Maybe the Louisiana Public Service Commission, especially its more vocal members, will start acting more as work horses instead of show horses on director compensation and related matters for the state’s rural electric cooperatives.

A couple of months ago, the PSC attracted attention when its members launched criticism of such practices. They complained about supposedly high salaries and compensation for key employees but, more controversially, excessive remuneration paid to directors. Each of the 11 chartered coops must have members appoint a board of directors to oversee management.

A few PSC members fulminated about this, questioning whether pay, travel expenses, and benefits like health insurance for part-time board members were excessive, and ordered the coops to provide that kind of information. Members wished to review such documents for consideration in setting future rates of these utilities that it regulates.

29.10.18

Tarver assent key to Shreveport mayor's race

As if on cue, Democrat state Sen. Greg Tarver did his best to lay rest to rumors that he disavowed less than completely Democrat lawyer Adrian Perkins’ candidacy for Shreveport mayor.

First in print, then over the air, Tarver tried to dispute conjecture that he staged a public break with Perkins, who as of May was dating his daughter (although apparently in long-distance fashion as Perkins recently graduated from Harvard Law School), while supporting him behind the scenes. For months some observers had linked the two together, and questioned the genuineness of a summer statement by Tarver announcing his withdrawal of support.

Tarver cited two reasons for his rejection: that Perkins, a Caddo Parish registrant since 2007 (just after he reached the age of voting eligibility), never had voted, and that he actually didn’t really reside in the parish and lied to Tarver about that. Before entering school, where one can live outside a parish but still be considered a resident while attending a higher education institution, Perkins’ military career had him stationed in Georgia, where he has owned a house for several years. However, since 2016 he has had registration at his mother’s house in Shreveport.

28.10.18

The Advocate column, Oct. 28, 2018

New Orleans' bail 'reform' has been a detriment to public's safety
https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/jeff_sadow/article_f891c460-d87e-11e8-bd95-c35dd97362fe.html

Links:
https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/courts/article_4b981330-d195-11e8-841f-47fdd1e4ebb6.html
https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/courts/article_6398b902-5528-11e7-8707-afdbcde77a50.html
https://www.aiasurety.com/bail-bond-blog/charitable-bail-funds-latest-dangerous-bail-reform-idea/
https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/bail-disrupters-have-plan-free-thousands-u-s-jails-n822481
https://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2016/261/385/2016-261385792-0e242fd7-9.pdf
http://static1.squarespace.com/static/54e106e1e4b05fac69f108cf/t/5681561eb204d52319b86854/1451316766890/2015+Annual+Report.pdf
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/new-orleans-great-bail-reform-experiment/544964/
https://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2018/10/bail_reform_new_orleans_1.html
https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/investigations/bail-out-rape-suspect-among-100s-of-arrestees-freed-from-jail-with-help-from-mayors-aide/289-604934151
https://www.theadvocate.com/gambit/new_orleans/news/article_fc11a1d6-9059-11e8-a826-0b55e879d68e.html
https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/courts/article_62fb3ac0-99b9-11e8-80fc-8fa40bdfb3da.html
https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/courts/article_4b981330-d195-11e8-841f-47fdd1e4ebb6.html
http://www.fox8live.com/2018/10/18/freedom-fund-members-explain-why-they-post-bond-some-criminal-suspects/
https://www.theadvocate.com/gambit/new_orleans/news/the_latest/article_7061d46d-7586-5cf7-a983-7d73526bbfcf.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5560530/
https://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2013/01/13/new-study-shows-a-quarter-of-dallas-county-criminal-defendants-fail-to-show-up-for-court
https://www.badgerinstitute.org/Reports/2013/Should-Wisconsin-Allow-Commerical-Bail-in-Pretrial-Release.htm
http://www2.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/new-jersey-cash-bail-risk-assessment-20180216.html
https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/local/investigations/mike-perlstein/bail-out-is-bail-reform-catch-and-release-or-the-solution-to-overcrowded-prisons/289-599298094
https://www.nola.gov/sjcreport/
https://www.arnoldfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/3-Predictive-Utility-Study.pdf
https://jeffsadow.blogspot.com/2018/10/no-nearly-at-bail-free-status-poses.html

25.10.18

Uncertain Shreveport race can make history

With fewer than two weeks to the election and early voting already underway, nobody really can guess whether the Shreveport mayor’s contest will make history.

That’s because, even at this late date, no independent public polling of the race has occurred. Featuring several candidates, the presumed major ones are incumbent Democrat mayor Ollie Tyler, Democrat Parish Commissioner Stephen Jackson, Democrat lawyer Adrian Perkins, Republican businessman Lee Savage, and Republican retired law enforcement officer Jim Taliaferro.

The mix of nonpublic and politically-affiliated polls seem to confirm this. They agree only in that Tyler leads the way, with Perkins and Taliaferro somewhat behind, and Jackson and Savage further back. One surrogate for electoral support brings partial confirmation, in that Tyler and Perkins far and away led in the last batch (30 days prior to the election) of campaign finance reports, while the other three collectively hadn’t even approached what either of those two individually has raised.

24.10.18

Greed drives putting wants over children's needs

And this explains why the East Baton Rouge Parish School System wallows in mediocrity while other Louisiana school districts pass it by.

Yesterday, a few hundred system employees vowed to walk out of classrooms on, fittingly, Oct. 31. These people, marshalled by organized labor, said they would do so in protest of Industrial Tax Exemption Program awards to ExxonMobil, if made at an Oct. 30 meeting of the state’s Board of Commerce and Industry. However, the BCI doesn’t have those requests on its agenda for that meeting, meaning a walkout might occur at a later date after it finally does take up the matter.

Leftist groups blame these exemptions, which could run into the millions of dollars annually of foregone revenue for the system, for preventing salary increases. The latest (2015) data of classroom teacher salaries in the system for nine months was $51,754 (excluding benefits except for professional development funds), or almost $6,000 higher than the state’s median household income for that year.

23.10.18

Vote for first three, against last four LA measures

Over the next month, Louisianans will vote on six statewide amendments and one common local ballot measure. Here follows a summary of each and recommended voting.

Amendment #1 would prohibit felons from public office for five years after serving a sentence. This puts back into place an amendment nullified by Supreme Court ruling on a technicality, except that one lasted 15 years and this actually expands the prohibition to appointed individuals and in local governments as well.

Five years to earn back public trust seems appropriate, as serving in office is a privilege. A vote for will reestablish something similar to what the state operated under for nearly two decades.

22.10.18

Flawed judicial decision oversimplistic, imprudent

Fourteen years later, the wisdom of north Louisiana voters became more apparent when 11th Judicial District Judge Stephen Beasley issued a flawed ruling on a hot issue.

Beasley, who ran as a Democrat for the Second District of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2004 and for reelection to his current post in 2008, but as a no-party candidate in 2014, sided with the plaintiff in a case concerning the state’s non-unanimous jury standard. At present, concerning major crime only 10 of 12 must vote for guilt except, by the state’s criminal code, for a crime that can carry a capital sentence. A constitutional amendment to be decided next month could change that to requiring unanimity.

In this case, the plaintiff had netted a conviction with the 11 white jurors in the majority, but the lone black juror dissenting. His lawyer Richard Bourke, better known for his strident opposition to capital punishment, also has for an extended period argued against the constitutionality of the non-unanimity requirement.

18.10.18

N.O. nearly at bail-free status; poses challenge

Those criminal justice savings perhaps the state should have skewed towards New Orleans. Already one of the most dangerous major cities in the country (ranking 23rd in violent crime rate of cities above 200,000 people) a perfect storm of legal rulings, elected official attitudes, and ideological activists may launch its crime rate even higher.

The state yesterday announced the distribution of over $8 million gained from lower incarceration bills courtesy of changes to divert more convicts from prison and shortening imprisonment sentences. Fortunately, the Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration appeared to resist the temptation to spread the money out for political reasons, resulting in local funds going only to entities in the five largest parishes in population terms (which also have the highest numbers of offenders).

All told, Orleans Parish operations received close to $3 million. But perhaps that should have gone higher, because of the turn pretrial procedures have taken over the past year-and-a-half.

17.10.18

Hype artists try to scare Bossier water consumers

So, if you live on the east bank of the Red River in and around Bossier City, instead of taking a shower you should pour bottled water over your head? Listening to some first-class hype artists using second-hand science, you would get that impression.

At the end of last month, state health officials announced that it had found in a system hooked up to Bossier City’s water naegleria fowleri, more popularly known as the brain-eating amoeba. A recommended 0.5 mg/l chlorine level in water systems should prevent its presence, but because of biofilter buildup (essentially, organic slime lining pipes) it can hang around in pipes even with that additive and it was detected in a previously dormant line of the water system in question.

In that case, pursuant to best practices research, a system should have a flush double that level for 60 days, to ensure that all lines, even those the farthest away, receive such water and that it penetrates any biofilter. That Bossier City began doing a few days later.

16.10.18

Brown resignation ends colorful career

The controversial political career of the chief appellate judge in north Louisiana has come to a sudden end, with electoral reverberations for others to follow.

Earlier this month, former Second Circuit Court for Appeals Judge Henry Brown abruptly resigned. He could have served through 2020, winning his first term in 1990, although because he would have been well above the age of 70 for the next election he couldn’t have run again. The circuit includes all of north Louisiana, although his particularly district stretched from Bossier to Caldwell Parishes.

The state’s Judiciary Commission stood poised to discipline him, with him apparently ordered by the Supreme Court not to carry out the duties of his office. It appears complaints against him that he tried to interfere in a case heard by some of his colleagues led to that command, triggering his resignation.

15.10.18

Regents should (mostly) hold line on admissions

To understand better the poor judgment Louisiana State University Baton Rouge used in relaxing its admission standards, it’s helpful to understand the context of university admissions and concerning those students granted exceptions – a task the Louisiana Board of Regents will undertake.

First, clearly LSU violated Regents’ policy, which states that only four percent of admitted students could come in as exceptions. LSU reported the class of 2018, judged by the surreptitiously relaxed standards that did not automatically reject those with an American College Test score of 22 and a grade point average of 3.0/4.0 and 19 core hours, contained nearly twice that proportion of exceptions.

The Regents have launched audits of admissions in all senior institutions, where they will find LSU’s transgression. Then they may choose whether to penalize LSU or to accede by adjusting downwards the standards.