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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.

11.10.18

Funding, privatization would fix NO water woes

Failing infrastructure. Common system breakdowns. Design and implementation mistakes. Inability to maintain a workforce. Gross overbilling. Gross underbilling. Failure to enforce customer payment. Administrative follies. It all should add up to privatization for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. The only problem is ….

By now, the city’s public water provider and drainer has become a joke. Widespread publicity over a number of issues has revealed an extraordinary range of incompetence:

10.10.18

Edwards draws first, perhaps significant, foe

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards drew his first opponent today – certainly not the last, but probably not the winner despite some deep pockets.

Republican Businessman Eddie Rispone filed ethics reports that will allow him to raise money for next year’s contest. Not that he’ll need to haul in some bucks anytime soon, as he says he already has $5 million bankrolled for the effort.

Rispone has helped substantially Republican and conservative causes throughout the years, and recently founded a heretofore low-key effort to counter the Alinskyite Together Baton Rouge, but this represents his first foray for elected office. He eventually will further explain his reasons for running, but for now simply notes that “we can do better” than Edwards.

9.10.18

Regents must force LSU off declining path

In ratifying unanimously Louisiana State University Baton Rouge’s decision to lower admission standards, the LSU Board of Supervisors showed both tone deafness and disingenuousness.

Last year, LSU surreptitiously altered the state-mandated requirement that, with few exceptions, entering freshmen score at least a 22 on the American College test or its equivalent, arguing that Board of Regents standards permitted dropping that as a hard and fast rule. The Regents set policy but the Supervisors manage LSU System schools.

LSU argues that “holistic” admissions, through the use of other criteria that in its mind justifies admission of students scoring below 22 without any special circumstances, will preserve academic quality. It notes that a number of universities (although most much more highly selective in admissions) have headed in this direction and says the experiment of last year produced a class at or near all-time highest average test scores and grade point averages.

8.10.18

Kenner can enhance park, encourage homeless

While Kenner has abandoned plans to introduce an anti-loitering law, it and other Louisiana municipalities can pursue other means to reduce problems created by vagrancy.

The city council had considered passing an ordinance that would have prohibited “remaining in essentially one location for no obvious reason, to linger, to saunter, to dawdle, to stand around ... or to otherwise spend time idly” in any public place. The effort came in response to complaints about individuals, presumably homeless, lingering around areas of a city park including full-blown camping, who also trundle over to the nearby parish library to use the bathrooms.

However, anti-loitering laws have a high constitutional burden to overcome, compounded by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in the related area of panhandling, at least concerning outdoor public spaces. Laws against loitering in indoor public spaces, such as the library under an existing Jefferson Parish statute, have faced a much lower constitutional burden of proof. Simply, such laws typically criminalize way too much potential behavior to withstand constitutional challenge.

4.10.18

Cassidy supplies model against left's bullying

Louisiana’s Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy’s center-left origins have resurfaced, and that’s actually a good thing.

Perennial candidate Rob Maness, who launched his string of defeats by losing to Cassidy for the Senate in 2014, kept telling anybody who would listen that Cassidy was too liberal ideologically. While his voting record in the House of Representatives belied that, others asserted he had a leftist streak in him that certainly he had more than a decade ago.

Cassidy’s Senate tenure has given no reason to believe he acts anything as a conservative, with a lifetime American Conservative Union voting scorecard rating of over 82. But the leftism he once flirted with came out strongly in his actions concerning the nomination of Appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

3.10.18

St. George opposition disbelieves own rhetoric

That seems to have developed as strategy for special interests trying to stop the incipient city of St. George from coming into being. Currently, an effort taking place in much of southern and eastern East Baton Rouge Parish seeks to make that unincorporated area into that municipality, joining other successful past attempts that created Baker, Central, and Zachary.

A similar try occurred three years ago, over a slightly larger land area. Some shenanigans by the East Baton Parish registrar’s office, taking advantage of ambiguity then existing in state laws regarding incorporation elections, denied bringing the matter to a vote. So, proponents retooled and now go for it again, with a Nov. 27 deadline to collect the necessary number of residential signatures to trigger an election to decide whether St. George may form.

This has caused remobilization of opponents, many of whom don’t live in the area. And, as a recent presentation by a group representing such interests shows, a mixture of shoddy assertions and illogical premises has taken the forefront in their resistance.

2.10.18

Media criticism an American political tradition

Democrat Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has objected to elected officials who “continuously berate the media” as the right of free expression is “enshrined in the First Amendment,” a position both contradictory and, in his case, somewhat hypocritical.

Edwards made these comments on his monthly call-in radio show, in apparent reference to Republican Pres. Donald Trump’s frequent castigation of some national media outlets for the quality of their news stories. No president ever (but perhaps now with technological advancements to make direct public communication easy) has so consistently berated the fourth estate for supposed inadequacies in impartial reporting.

But if Edwards saw anything unique or inconsistent with American political history, then there’s much he doesn’t know. Presidents and other prominent politicians throughout history have criticized the media – and gone beyond just that.

1.10.18

Review panel should ditch its manager idea

Architects of the East Baton Rouge Parish Plan of Government review should look skeptically upon the notion of adding a city manager.

The committee responsible for any updates of the charter that runs Baton Rouge and some affairs parish-wide has floated the idea of adding this position to the current government. It appears to think this job would act in concert with the existing chief administrative officer, a mayoral appointee, to perform unspecified but managerially-oriented tasks. The current iteration appears to recommend that the Metropolitan Council hire the manager but the mayor could dismiss him.

The whole debate reeks of confusion, beginning with an apparent misconception that officials can separate politics from administration. If possible, then it might make sense to have a council-appointed manager. But that’s a myth; the manager reflects the politics of whoever hires, although more insulated from this tendency when overseen by a collective because of the fractious nature of committees and that members (in this instance) serve on a part-time basis that grants such a manager greater governing latitude.

27.9.18

SOS polls duel on sampling, turnout model

You couldn’t have gotten two more different results from polls a week apart in Louisiana’s fall secretary of state race. Why these differ and what this means fascinates.

As noted last week, a poll for The Hayride website by Remington Research produced the following results:
Kyle Ardoin: 13%
Renee Fontenot Free: 10%
Heather Cloud: 8%
Julie Stokes: 8%
A.G. Crowe: 7%
Gwen Collins-Greenup: 6%
Rick Edmonds: 3%
undecided: 45%

And this week, a poll by JMC Analytics for the state Rep. Rick Edmonds campaign gave these results:
Fontenot Free: 22%
Stokes: 11%
Edmonds: 11%
Collins-Greenup: 4%
Ardoin: 3%
Cloud: 2%
Crowe: 1%
Other candidate: 1%
undecided: 46%

26.9.18

Court loss to dilute improved education outcomes

Louisiana law sometimes helps charter schools maintain their independence and facilitates the benefits of school choice, but sometimes it works against this.

Earlier this year, these schools won a battle to maintain public funding for some of them when the Louisiana Supreme Court correctly ruled them as public schools, even if run privately. A union and school district filed a legal challenge alleging they weren’t, but the Court astutely noted that the schools in question, which fell into a special chartering category, contrary to the plaintiffs argument met the test that they were as “public schools” didn’t equate to “city and parish school systems.”

Thus, one attempt by anti-choice forces to knock out a segment of charter schools failed. But on another front they succeeded last week in federal court.

25.9.18

LA bishops must follow through on disclosure

Now they just have to mean what they say by following through with action.

Louisiana’s Roman Catholic bishops seem poised to implement a ground-breaking policy on dealing with sexual abuse accusations against clergy, religious, and secular employees. The new tack comes in the wake not only of increased national attention to the issue brought by law enforcement investigations in other states, but also with additional revelations in the past month of new abuse claims in Louisiana and of older ones that led to church legal settlements.

In St. Martin Parish, accusers have gone to court over the behavior of one long-time priest. In Orleans Parish, information has come out about a settlement over the behavior of Jesuit High School employees, including priests. In Jefferson Parish, abuse revelations surfaced about a layperson for decades employed as a teacher in New Orleans and River Ridge and who served as a deacon in Metairie.

24.9.18

Differing motives separate Edwards, Landry styles

Yesterday, I compared the governing of Democrats former Pres. Barack Obama and current Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Today, I get to compare the styles of Edwards and Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry to amplify a point further.

In the pages of The Advocate, I noted two similarities between Edwards and Obama: they both subscribed to an imperialistic view of a chief executive’s powers and they both used their offices to campaign permanently and constantly. For the latter, I gave a couple of examples where Edwards delivered criticism about a potential opponent, Landry, over issues that had nothing to do with the governor’s office: whether the state’s attorney general could initiate an investigation of potential crimes despite constitutional prohibitions on that and Landry’s joining the state with others to a dispute over the constitutionality of the (misnamed) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Yet others I know saw irony over using incidents with Landry as an example of Edwards’ permanent campaign, because they believed Landry displayed the same penchant. No doubt Landry does publicize activities of his office as these relate to political issues of the day. For example, when last week he issued an opinion on Edwards’ powers as these relate to appointing a member of the Red River Waterway Commission, which declared a recent Edwards appointment open to legal challenge, unlike most he made a news release for it. He also held a news conference over it and reiterated its contents in a social media post today.

20.9.18

Campbell finds way to mitigate past controversies

Louisiana District 5 Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell reversed what they might believe around the National Football League: the best defense is a good offense.

Yesterday, Campbell led the charge of his fellow commissioners against alleged extravagance practiced by board members and employees of electric cooperatives. The PSC regulates these ten customer-owned nonprofits that provide power mainly in rural areas across the states.

The PSC reviewed rates and granted some increases, but only after receiving information about their finances. Some coops paid out a large portion of their retained earnings to board members, whose roles are supposed to be part-time, and in high salaries to their executives.

19.9.18

Poll suggests electoral peril for LA govt elites

A recent poll of upcoming statewide elections provides one surprise and two grimmer confirmations.

The Hayride website commissioned a survey on a variety of issues and contests, including this fall’s secretary of state contest and next year’s governor and lieutenant governor races. It was done over two nights last week with 1,615 likely voters responding.

MacAoidh has reviewed the results thoroughly here, but some points need amplification. While Republican incumbent Kyle Ardoin expectedly leads in an SOS field at 13 percent with Democrat former SOS administrator Renee Free expectedly running second at 10 percent with about half the respondents expectedly undecided, the surprise comes in the form of (tied for) third placing GOP Turkey Creek Mayor Heather Cloud at 8 percent.

18.9.18

NW LA controversies call for prudence

In north Louisiana it’s a different arena, but the same questionable dynamic, regarding battles over display of religious belief in the public schools into which Republican state Sen. Ryan Gatti has thrust himself.

For a couple of years the Bossier Parish School Board has battled a lawsuit that the district allows impermissible transmission of religious messages. It steadily closed in on trying to settle the case where it would admit fault and mandate changes of practices concerning a case that consumed taxpayer resources with no real chance of winning.

However, that all appeared to change last week, over a related incident. A local business by the name of Christ Fit Gym had paid for a sponsorship logo, which also contained a Biblical reference, on the Benton High School football field. In fact, it had done so the previous year without incident.

17.9.18

Court evolution prompts confirmation histrionics

Constitution Day is a good time to review the evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court’s place in American government, as illustrated by remarks made by Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

Louisiana’s junior senator appeared on Fox News Channel yesterday to offer his assessment of the Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee vetting the promotion of Kavanaugh from the appellate court level to the Supreme Court, Kennedy offered as good as a summation as anybody: “an intergalactic freak show,” adding that many Americans watching the spectacle would think “Congress has hit rock bottom and started to dig.”

Perhaps Kennedy’s sense of valor made him obscure the real reason why people might think so: antics by his Democrat colleagues that, during the hearings, ranged from absurd fakery to absolute genuine fictional political theater. One might expect such posturing from individuals starting presidential campaigns who realize they cannot win on the actual issues so either must manufacture fake ones or distract from their agendas that lose on the merits.

13.9.18

LA admissions exceptions need monitoring

While recent publicity about Louisiana State University’s Baton Rouge campus lowering its admissions standards has caught people’s attention, state universities doing this neither is new nor may end with LSU.

LSU announced it would institute holistic admissions, or removing fixed standardized test score minimum requirements, in favor of adding in essays, recommendations, and potentially other inputs to make a decision on admission. Designated as a “flagship” university according to the Board of Regents, most students don’t receive consideration unless they score at least a 25 on the American College Test, although in some circumstances that score can be as low as 22.

The institution can do this because it set its own standards prior to the creation of the three-tiered categorization system first implemented in 1990. The Regents wanted to give each level its own distinct mission that would suit best the needs of students at varying levels of development.

12.9.18

Law correctly discourages totalitarian impulses

Louisiana environmentalist tinpot totalitarians got a taste of their own aggressive medicine, and they didn’t like it.

Such individuals, operating through a group called L'eau Est La Vie Camp, have run afoul of a new law that, under felony penalties, prevents interference with construction and operation of pipelines. Utilizing the new statute, authorities have arrested a baker’s dozen trying to obstruct building of the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

Along the way, some of those arrested may have encountered government overreach. Some arrests, while legal, appear to have exceeded a state mandate for personnel use, which caused the state to withdraw off-duty law enforcement officials working on pipeline security. Others arrests may have occurred on land where questions have arisen about whether the builders have legal rights-of-way, which the courts may have to sort out.

11.9.18

LA tax relief must precede hiking teacher salaries

Political campaigning for elections later in the year generally picks up after Labor Day. But, regardless of impending 2018 contests, it appears some Louisiana politicians have decided to beat the rush for 2019 and start more than a year out.

In the case of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, that’s an understatement. Edwards has run a perpetual campaign that never stopped after his 2015 win. Trust him to take an issue no matter how unrelated to his political fortunes and find a way to appropriate it to achieve his next goal, in this case reelection.

Several states have launched investigations into alleged coverups of patterns of abuse by Catholic priests and others associated with the Church. In Louisiana, Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, in response to queries, said his office did not have the authority to do such a thing until it received a criminal complaint forwarded by a local law enforcement agency.

10.9.18

Kenner correct to protest against narcissism

Why shouldn’t a local government just do it to strike a blow against a culture of narcissism?

Last week, in a move that doesn’t appear to have its origins in publicity-seeking, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn dispersed a memo to donors of apparel and equipment for the city to use in parks and recreation. It requires city approval of such items and bans outright anything from Nike.

While the letter doesn’t mention the event specifically, recently the company started a marketing campaign honoring the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” slogan. This featured one of its representatives for the next several years, who will receive a reported tens of millions of dollars million for his trouble: Colin Kaepernick, an ex-professional football quarterback known for having one good season and a penchant for using the pregame playing of the National Anthem as a prop to air personal grievances against his country’s policies and political system.

6.9.18

Libraries shouldn't subsidize drag queen story time

What to do with drag queens hosted by public libraries?

Publicity over story times for children featuring transvestites provoked the citizenry in one large Louisiana city, while it largely elicited a yawn in the state’s largest city. In Lafayette, many in the public expressed concern over the concept, and opposition by Mayor-President Joel Robideaux led to the resignation of his appointee to the board that runs parish libraries. By contrast, similar events in New Orleans haven’t generated any real controversy.

A board of appointees from local government entities govern Lafayette’s libraries. It receives about $1.4 million in general fund money from the city and another $14 million from the parish, mostly from a dedicated property tax. In New Orleans, a dedicated property tax is forecast to pump over $18 million into its libraries, governed by a board of mayoral appointees.

5.9.18

Unneeded corporate welfare tempts tax redirection

It has become increasingly clear that change must come to the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s greased path to raising and spending money.

In recent years, a steady drumbeat of questions has risen over the ever-increasing pot of money that the organization, which runs the city’s Convention Center and Exhibition Hall, sits on. At the close of 2017, it had over $150 million lying around in cash equivalents and for many years running its revenues have exceeded its expenses by over $20 million annually.

That’s due to taxes which, if there’s any real need to collect these in the first place, should better go to other pressing priorities. Instead, with so much dough rolling in the Authority spends some on matters that have nothing to do with its functions such as nearby roads and public safety as a kind of peace offering to New Orleans, and banks the rest with an eye on tremendous pie-in-the-sky capital projects that stray further and further away from its actual footprint and/or mission.

4.9.18

Politics likely part of operator replacement

Yes, taxpayers must pony up more for north Louisiana charity hospital services. But because that largesse on a continuing basis comes from the federal level, that begs a very interesting political question.

Last month, this column mused about the financial ramifications of a pending deal on University Health hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe. For months, the state has sought a takeover of these from BRF, and last week the deal finally came to fruition. Beginning Oct. 1, a combination of the Louisiana State University System and Ochsner Health System would run both. The former runs and owns entirely Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center, and the latter operates Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center.

Legislators had gotten wind that the deal would throw more money to the new operators. This seemed odd, as the Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration previously had cut subsidies to operators, maintaining the existing deals – thrown together hastily as the state had to respond to a large federal government retrenchment in health care aid – paid too much.

3.9.18

Donna Edwards breaks LA first spouse mold

If in fact Louisiana politics are evolving into so-called “Washington-style” politics, it seems that has extended to “first spouse” as well.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards makes an incessant talking point about allegedly more conflict developing between partisans in the Legislature. Of course, he defines “partisanship” in a nonstandard way, coming when you disagree with him on something, but he is correct in that Louisiana is evolving away from a more personalistic style of politics to one more driven by issue preferences that has marked politics in the nation’s capital for much of the national government’s existence.

But it seems another “Washington” aspect has crept into Louisiana’s political scene, that being the unprecedented political activism of First Lady Donna Edwards. Until her family moved into the Governor’s Mansion, gubernatorial spouses, if ever seen and heard, didn’t involve themselves in issuing political statements over any controversial issue.

30.8.18

History gives Fields chance of Senate resurrection

He’s back, and he can win, although it’s less likely to happen than in another similar case seven years ago.

Democrat former Rep. Cleo Fields, who also served 14 years in the state Senate, will hold a fundraiser soon to reclaim his legislative post. Removed via term limits in 2008, his successor Democrat state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb must vacate for the same reason.

Despite nearly two decades in office, the most lasting image of Fields has him accepting an envelope with $20,000 in cash from Democrat former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who would later go to prison over charges presumably involving the source of those funds. Fields never faced charges and never has explained the transaction.

29.8.18

Confusion catches out LA foster children policy

If you get queasy when considering the old saw that the process of making laws is like watching sausage get made, imagine passing two bills that overlap on the same issue. That’s a wreck that caught up foster children policy this past legislative session.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services has considered the feasibility of extending foster care from age 18 to 21. It worked with Democrat state Sen. Regina Barrow, who has long taken an interest in children’s policy, to introduce a resolution to study this at the start of that session. In early May, both chambers had signed off on it, scheduling the report’s completion by Feb. 1, 2019.

But even before this, Republican state Sen. Ryan Gatti filed a bill to do the same for any foster child enrolled in high school or something equivalent. That passed out of the Legislature only days later, although it hinged upon receiving funding for implementation.

28.8.18

LA local hyper-governance causing problems

An incident regarding a Livingston Parish board reminds Louisiana of the hazards of hyper-governance.

Last week, the Livingston Parish Council removed a member of the parish’s Gravity Drainage District No. 5. He had spoken vituperatively to the body’s clerk after she reminded it of state law regarding open meetings and cast unwarranted aspersions over the accreditation of the board’s attorney.

As its members serve at the pleasure of the Council, now parish commissioners will have to find someone else for that position. But wouldn’t it make more sense not to have to go through all of this in the first place?

27.8.18

Banning felons from running improves governance

Louisiana’s voters should pursue reform lite, and better that they understand why they should.

This fall, the state’s electorate will pass judgment on Act 719 of the 2018 regular session, which prohibits unpardoned felons from running for any elective office until five years have elapsed since completion of sentence. In essence, it serves as a replacement for a similar constitutional standard struck down two years ago over a technicality in its presentation to voters, except that the ban lasted 15 years.

Its detractors generally fall back onto two arguments to defeat it, one of which makes no sense. A case brought by former state legislator Derrick Shepherd, convicted of a felony for activities in office, excised the previous stricture. His lawyer, former state Rep. Robert Garrity, calls the amendment “feel-good” and claims it’s “worthless” that will do nothing.

23.8.18

Data show huge Medicaid expansion redistribution

Gov. John Bel Edwards won’t give up in trying to con the public into believing Medicaid expansion netted a win for Louisiana.

Periodically, his administration breathlessly announces with positive spin some new factoid about the program, which has put approaching a half million more Louisianans on the public dole. The latest comes from a survey that extrapolates the adult uninsured rate in the state has fallen by just about half from six months prior to expansion through 2017.

Fixating only on insured status does miss the larger point of access to health care. Perhaps less than in any other state, because of Louisiana’s archaic public hospital system, does the lack of insurance translate into no health care; plenty of those uninsured people had access to health care – for free – prior to expansion.

21.8.18

LA must appraise realistically ex-con homelessness

In addressing homelessness of ex-prisoners, now a growing concern with Louisiana’s recent changes in its criminal justice system, solutions that misunderstand the human condition will not alleviate this problem.

A recent report highlighted difficulties ex-convicts face in finding permanent housing. A report by the Prison Policy Initiative determined that about one percent were homeless, and another one percent lived in temporary shelter. The combined proportion doubles for freed multiple offenders. This contrasts with the general public, in which about 0.2 percent lived in one of these conditions.

Granted, two percent represents a very small portion of the overall formerly incarcerated. Still, if that exceeds the general population by 10 times, some factors must work to cause that. The question then becomes what public policy options may ameliorate this.