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LPSC new coop rules don't go far enough

Better late than never, and even if not as extensive as necessary, it looks as if the Louisiana Public Service Commission finally will bring some fiscal responsibility to electric cooperatives, although inviting legislative intervention.

Yesterday, the PSC voted in new rules that would shine more light on compensation practices of the dozen coops. These would force coops into membership votes on such packages for directors, and set term limits on their service.

Coops are member-owned providers of electricity, set up under federal and state law to encourage this provision in areas once though difficult to serve. Despite the fact that Louisiana law establishes the part-time nature of directorships and specifies paying them no salaries, average compensation for these positions recently went over $26,000 annually, although some made over twice that and others nothing at all.


States should have split jury decision option

Louisiana finds itself at the forefront of an interesting constitutional issue – with the possibility that bad jurisprudence could result.

The case involves the state’s non-unanimous jury requirement, placed on the ash heap of history last year when voters constitutionally prohibited the practice. Before then, the law had permitted it, and people convicted without unanimity litter Louisiana prisons. Additionally, those whose trials began prior to 2019 also risk conviction – or may gain acquittal – according to the old provision.

Often challenged legally but rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court surprisingly took up this latest attempt. The plaintiff argues that the Court’s interpretation that federal courts must use unanimity it should incorporate to all states, making an equal protection argument that split convictions inherently invite racial discrimination, in that this may negate the voting power of fair jurors not to convict minority defendants against allegedly prejudiced other jurors.


LA leadership discouraging Space Command

Louisiana Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham gets an ‘A’ for creativity and effort on his proposal to make Louisiana headquarters for the incipient Space Command. Too bad Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, whom Abraham challenges this fall, has done what he can to discourage this placement.

Last year, GOP Pres. Donald Trump called upon Congress to stand up what ultimately would become a new branch of the armed forces. His preliminary budget request seeks to carve out Space Command first as an agency in the Air Force, then within a couple of years to launch it into independence.

To that end, Abraham pitched the idea to Trump that Barksdale Air Force Base become the home of the new command. He pointed out that the facility surrounded by Bossier City already has the Global Strike Command, stood up about a decade ago to coordinate the Air Force’s nuclear capabilities. Space Grant university Louisiana Tech is just down the road, he noted, as well as in the state Louisiana State University also has this designation. He also mentioned the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans which has an extensive history in manufacturing space components.


One more reminder to reject high speed rail

With another nail put in the coffin of Louisiana high-speed passenger rail service, when will policy-makers face reality?

This week, a third bus transit company will begin offering service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. FlixBus will join Megabus and venerable Greyhound back and forth that Interstate 10 corridor.

Greyhound offers reasonably-priced trips at $12 and above several times a day with several stops along the way. By contrast, Megabus starts at a couple of bucks more and a couple of fewer trips a day, but operates express service.


And now, for something completely different

Normally, in this space would appear a link to my column that ran in The Advocate. However, The Advocate has let me go as a columnist.

Although I take issue with some of their opinions and news story choices, they are professionals and, for the people I worked with there, about them I have nothing but good things to say. Ultimately, the quality of my work for them was slipping.

Those readers who know something of my life probably can figure out why. Some clues have come from this space; I used to post fairly early each day, and every day Sunday through Thursday. In the past few months, I have been missing on some days and postings have come later and later in the day.


Biology causes sex differences in candidacies

An old parable and an old aphorism explain why Louisiana political offices tend to have fewer women occupying these than elsewhere.

This week, some discussions occurred about women winning elective office. In both Livingston Parish and next parish over at Louisiana State University, groups convened to hash out why it seemed women were underrepresented relative to other parts of the country (or world) in office. It seems particularly odd as not only do women who contest offices win at roughly the same rate as do men, but, in a study of members of Congress, women who did win more often, in terms of prior experience, competence, integrity, and problem-solving abilities, seem to have more of these qualities than do male candidates.

Additionally, among these congressional candidates, it appeared that men slightly less qualified on these bases or as qualified disproportionately defeated females, so (assuming the same applied to candidacies at all levels) some kind of “penalty” intruded on the process. Some of the investigation by the two panels mirrored the parable of blindfolded people stationed at different parts of the elephant, then asked to describe what they felt. Naturally, they came up with a whole host of speculations, all true separately but none close to identify the beast.


St. George pretty much forgone conclusion

No May election date, no problem for the organizers of the city of St. George. Although some might try to make its birth as messy as possible.

Earlier this week, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards refused to certify the May 5 municipal election date for the incipient city that petitioners wish to form in southern East Baton Rouge Parish. While he tried to blame Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s office for not offering assistance that previous holders of that office had supplied as causing the slowdown, Landry effectively rebutted that with a written demonstration on how little time and effort it would take to review the petition for completeness, which is all the law asks.

Delaying the vote also saves the parish money, as having a standalone election in only certain parts of the parish costs more than tucking in the item on a ballot already with other items. However, this departed from precedent in 2005, when a special election created Central. This was the only election in the parish despite one just weeks earlier that included most of the parish’s precincts.


LA correctly puts protection before privilege

A recent report shows that Louisiana cares more about protecting constitutional rights than in promoting privilege for certain groups.

Each year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Equality Federation Institute team up to rate states on their friendliness to the groups’ agenda. Both advocate for laws that encourage acceptance of expressing homosexuality, even if that limits activity protected by the First Amendment.

With the majority of states, Louisiana scores low, but that shouldn’t surprise given the groups’ agenda. For example, the report faults states for having Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, which implement federal law that aids states in protecting First Amendment rights of their citizens. As many sincerely hold religious beliefs that see homosexual behavior as sinful, these acts protect exercise of that belief that doesn’t force adherents to endorse, by word or deed, expressions of homosexuality.


Shreveport should swap recycling for garbage fee

How about a trade, Shreveport’s recycling fee for a solid waste collection fee?

Shreveport’s City Council looks poised to set up procedures at tomorrow’s meeting to collect a garbage fee, after hashing out details at today’s work session. The proposed $7 a month will provide enough to provide most funding for the operation, which would go into an enterprise fund similar to that for water provision, and present an opportunity to give sanitation workers a pay raise.

Almost no cities of Shreveport’s size nationally don’t charge some kind of fee. In fact, the largest cities in Louisiana all charge more.


Dardenne tries to fool again on budget

Over carrying out his statutory duties, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne tried to fool us once. He’s trying to do it again.

My most recent column for the Baton Rouge Advocate took Dardenne and his boss Gov. John Bel Edwards to task for technically breaking the law in their most recent presentation to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Dardenne presented a budget using numbers concocted by economists for his office and for the Legislature, but which had not gained approval of the Revenue Estimating Conference.

The REC requires unanimity to assign revenue forecasts. One member, House Speaker Taylor Barras, has refused to change general fund estimates from those accepted at the Jun. 26, 2018 meeting, although he asked at the most recent meeting to revise numbers associated with dedicated funds, many of which have yet to receive an official forecast. Dardenne and the other two members rejected that.


Raising smoking age will cost LA more

If Louisiana intends to raise the age of tobacco use and possession to 21, it needs to do it for the right reason.

Prefiled HB 38, by state Rep. Frank Hoffman, would do this, and includes alternative nicotine products including vaping material. A few states and a number of local governments already have put this limit into law.

The bill resurrects arguments pitting exercise of personal liberties against the state’s duty to protect its citizens. Already the prohibition applies to alcohol, and with the U.S. Supreme Court pontificating that states can’t automatically sentence to life imprisonment those under 18 who commit horrific crimes because their brains may not have developed enough to distinguish right and wrong in all instances, consistency dictates increasing the age.


Case reminds to pare constables, justices

With the West Bank’s dynamic duo now officially in disgrace, maybe legislators will wake up and reform Louisiana’s small claims court system.

Last week, a court found former Jefferson Parish Second District Justice of the Peace Patrick DeJean guilty of charges related to abusing his office. JPs provide numerous administrative functions in addition to adjudicating cases with minor amounts in controversy, for which they may receive fees. These convictions automatically cost him his position.

Whatever legitimate business DeJean had didn’t seem adequate for a gambling habit he had picked up, thus his crimes of overcharging revenues and falsely inflating expenses (Jefferson Parish, as do others throughout the state, supplement in various ways JPs and their office, although not legally required to do so). While not connected to those felonies, he had a partner in running up business, former Constable Tony Thomassie.


Perkins surrenders his mayoral honeymoon

The honeymoon is over officially for wunderkind Shreveport’s Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins.

Sworn in at the tail end of last year, the first city mayor born after its switch from the commission form of government and who hardly has lived any of his adult life in the city, the precocious Perkins swept into office on a perception that he offered a clean break from stagnation of the recent past. Citizens who saw city government as opaque and infested with cronyism in policy-making hoped he would bring fresh ideas and a fresh start.

Instead, in his first two months on the job, Perkins seemed like one of the good old boys who additionally believed the executive imposes and the legislature disposes. He hit a minor speed bump when he proposed a garbage fee to a public wary but open to the idea. Shreveport is among the very few larger cities that does not have such a charge.


Defective decision highlights sentencing irony

Although a decision on the matter will apply to many fewer defendants across Louisiana now, a needed challenge to a badly flawed decision on jury sentencing points out in passing an unintended consequence of recent change to this policy.

Last year, voters amended the Constitution to sweet away the state’s requirement – shared now only by Oregon – that juries decide cases with only 10 of 12 votes (except, according to the criminal code, cases that could carry a capital sentence). However, the change to unanimity didn’t affect cases already in the pipeline.

Unless you agreed with rogue 41st District Judge Stephen Beasley. In a magnificent display of judicial activism, last fall Beasley declared the 10/12 standard unconstitutional as it disproportionately affected black defendants because – he alone determined despite far more persuasive explanations at hand – it was inherently racist from its origin, thus violating the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause


High-stakes testing doesn't create more crime

So, ditching the practice of social promotion has allowed serious crime to run rampant on the streets? Only if you believe an oversimplified interpretation of an incomplete study performed using Louisiana data.

Recently, researchers released a paper investigating whether preventing social promotion, or the practice of advancing children academically unprepared a grade level regardless, causes more adult crime. They hypothesized that holding back children between grade levels past research had identified as most crucial to lead to high school graduation, eighth and ninth, discouraged desire for schooling got those repeating eighth grade so that later in life they more likely turned to violent crime than did their peers.

Two decades ago, Louisiana halted its practice of social promotion and instituted the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program tests in English and mathematics, where students had to pass both to enter ninth grade. To come as close as possible to having experimental and control groups, these analysts reviewed years of data for students who passed the eighth grade standardized tests needed for advancement by one point to those who failed these by one point.


Zulu schools Landrieu on cultural symbolism

Former Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and those who think like him about cultural symbolism could take a lesson from his former fellow members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

As Democrat activists ponder who to put up against Republican Pres. Donald Trump next year, some stump for Landrieu. For example, one recent booster from outside the party argued that Landrieu’s dismantling of historic monuments in New Orleans while mayor, all connected to the Confederacy, commends him for the nation’s top job.

Only in a world where his party increasingly tears itself away from reality and the real concerns of Americans would Landrieu’s actions in that regard be considered anything but an exercise in intolerance and an avenue to promote social engineering. Unwilling to conceive of the monuments in any terms but his own, he decided to follow the Islamic State model of scarring the city’s landscape and erasing its history.


The Advocate column, Feb. 24, 2019

Before giving statewide raises to teachers, Louisiana schools need to progress


Perkins sacrificing one openness for another

Keeping one campaign promise shouldn’t mean sacrificing another, new Democrat Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins should understand. Especially when the whole thing smells a bit fishy.

During his campaign, which he alluded to in his inauguration speech, Perkins spoke of more openness in city government. Then, a month later, with no consultation he served notice to the city’s two longtime insurance providers that he canned them.

That subsequently brought a flurry of public comments from representatives of the jilted companies, who will lose this business in the hundreds of millions of dollars in a few days, at the last City Council meeting. They pointed out that they had no chance to make offers, contrary to procedures that require a request for proposal when the city contracts in this fashion.


Luddites lose finally on N.O. gas peaker

The New Orleans City Council turned back the Luddites and ensured reliable electric power in the Crescent City.

After nearly a year of going round and round with drama, the Council passed on revisiting a vote to authorize Entergy New Orleans to build a 128 MW gas generator. The city has relied solely on outside power by transmission line for almost three years, and last year the Council approved of this unit and Entergy charging customers for it, but upon discovering the utility had employed unusual lobbying tactics to help win approval, some special interests agitated to redo the process.

The $210 million “peaker” unit Entergy intended for two purposes. First, on days where demand exceeded what outside transmission could bring in, this unit has a quick start capacity that can ameliorate almost instantly capacity issues. Second, in the event of a natural disaster with downed lines and other problems, the unit’s quick starting in short order could supply emergency power for an extended period of time.


Alter LA higher education policy before taxing

A recent plea for more Louisiana higher education funding reminds of the story of different individuals describing an elephant.

In that tale, individuals unable to see stood around an elephant. Asked to describe the beast just from touch various parts of it, obviously they came up with wildly different conjectures.

So it was when Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed addressed the media earlier this week. She noted that Louisiana families here pay 21.1 percent of their income when enrolled in the two-year schools compared to 17 percent in other southern states and 18.2 percent nationally, according to data compiled by the Southern Regional Education Board. She later added that the state should increase need-based aid to make sure more people have access, observing that it spends $161 on average for need-based aid compared to an average of $343 in the region and $376 nationally, and $1,601 for merit-based assistance compared to an average of $416 in the region and $168 in the U. S.


Another black eye for LSU under Alexander

The old college expression, “if you can’t go Greek, go Deke” has taken on a much more sinister connotation at Louisiana State University with horrific revelations potentially untimely for the academic career of the system’s leader.

The early part of 2019 has seen the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter at the state’s flagship university in Baton Rouge first voluntarily disband, then have several of its members arrested for crimes related to treatment of pledges. What some on campus saw as a real-life “Animal House” instead seems likely, if the charges stick, to more accurately carry the label “Felony House.”

Accusations sensational and sickening accuse members of physical and mental of abuse of pledges, allegedly going on for years, until a few recent DKE pledges blew the whistle, emboldened by LSU’s well-publicized reforms concerning pledge treatment after the death by hazing of one at another fraternity. What law enforcement investigators have claimed happened makes the chapter look little more than a conveyor belt for sadism.


Milkovich tome to distract from record

You might think running a law practice and serving as a state senator would leave little time to write a book – unless it helps you navigate a difficult reelection task.

Last year, Democrat state Sen. John Milkovich self-published Robert Mueller-- Errand Boy for the New World Order. At the time, in Louisiana only the Talk Louisiana radio program took notice (disclosure: I’m sometimes a guest on this program), which led to a subsequent dyspeptic review by a far left website in state.

Since then, Milkovich has been busy with it. I haven’t read it, but from what I can glean from various interviews that he has given with a number of conspiratorial-minded outlets, it’s just that – a contrived look at the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director’s and now special prosecutor whose investigation is going nowhere, looking set to burn through tens of millions of dollars without coming close to delivering metaphorically to the far left a Z-list celebrity aspiration.


Edwards plays budget politics, blames Barras

The Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration continues to play politics with Louisiana’s budgeting.

This concerns the ongoing refusal by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Taylor Barras to approve of a new revenue forecast. One of the four members of the Revenue Estimating Conference, which needs all members’ assent to make an official prediction for budgeting purposes, four times now in the past three months Barras or his stand-in have refused to boost that.

Barras has based his refusal on the disappointing performance of oil prices and the inherent inaccuracies that past forecasts have demonstrated. The federal government has lowered its estimate of West Texas Intermediate crude oil for 2019 to around $54 a barrel for most of the year, which would translate into a somewhat lower price over the state’s fiscal year than the REC most recently has figured.


Others cancel while LA wastes on bullet trains

Same old story: as the world moves forward, Louisiana stays stuck in the past.

This week, two high-profile high-speed rail projects became largely sidetracked. California pulled back on most of its overly-ambitious, severely-underfunded plan to have bullet trains running from San Francisco to San Diego. Scrapping the $77 billion price tag that some argued still underestimated costs, it now foresees completion only of segment between the booming metropolises of Bakersfield and Merced, and hopes money will rain from the federal government and private sector to finish the rest in the indeterminate future.

But the state shouldn’t hold its breath on investment dollars, a similar event in Florida shows. There, a firm with a short haul line between Miami and West Palm Beach with hopes to expand to Orlando and Tampa yet again postponed receiving another round of financing, eschewing an initial public offering over skepticism the project would turn a profit any time soon. It already is light years ahead of the California project in that it already owns much of the infrastructure involved, but still at this point can’t see enough of a draw to entice investors.


LA bishops must deliver maximal transparency

Louisiana’s dioceses shouldn’t cop out when it comes to examining sins of the past, given the credibility crisis faced by Roman Catholic Church leaders all the way to the top.

Last year, each of the state’s prince of the Church pledged to remit, at a bare minimum, lists of names of clergy with credible accusations against them of sexual abuse. Since then, most have produced such a document.

Unfortunately, some have done a worse job than others. All should have emulated the model set by the Most Rev. Michael Duca, Bishop of Baton Rouge. He made public dates of birth, dates of ordination, pastoral assignments, dates of allegations, dates of disposition, and – in most cases – the number of victims that each clergy member is alleged to have molested and where the abuse occurred. He also pledges to keep adding to the list as greater verifiable evidence emerges.


Recent events make Bossier tax tough sell

Now may not be the greatest time for the Bossier Parish School District to ask voters to increase taxes on themselves.

Last month, the School Board voted to put on the May 4 ballot a measure that would jack up property taxes by over 26 mils, in two separate votes. One would add $7,200 to every teacher’s yearly pay, and the other would jack up salaries for ancillary employees by $3,000 annually.

Then-superintendent Scott Smith argued area districts could offer more in salary, despite other remunerative avenues where Bossier could compete. In fact, while Bossier base teacher pay ranks 45th statewide according to the latest data (academic year 2016), problematically all districts surrounding Bossier pay much better (largely courtesy of oil and gas royalties): Caddo ranks 17th, DeSoto 1st, Red River 2nd, Bienville 6th, and Webster 7th.


Does Edwards support his party members' bills?

In the spirit of aiding voters for this upcoming Louisiana governor’s contest, this post will solicit answers from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. These questions derive from high-profile legislation his fellow partisans in office have proposed as legislation (although not all yet submitted formally as bills) both in Congress. Simply, I’m asking the governor, yes or no, in the case of state legislation if it came up in Louisiana in identical form whether he would veto the bill, or in the case of national legislation whether he supports that legislation:


Intolerant green agenda alive in New Orleans

Want to understand the totalitarian mindset behind the extreme left’s “Green New Deal?” Just look at its reaction to New Orleans’ backing away from repudiating its own energy deal.

Today, Congressional Democrats on the party’s fringe ideologically unveiled this platform, which seeks to rid the U.S. or fossil fuel power in a decade. Deemed necessary because of alleged catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, it would achieve the hard left’s aim of massive centralized government power over the economy and people’s lives, a brief outline of the program demonstrates.  It would cost at least $7 trillion just to get there, not even minding the extravagant extra expense borne annually to supply entirely renewable energy.

But a microcosm of the movement’s ideology that government must rein in free enterprise to achieve this agenda surfaced last week un the New Orleans City Council chambers. There, councilors debated reconsideration of last year’s vote to authorize Entergy New Orleans to build a 128 megawatt gas generator. At the present time, the city must import practically all its power, leaving it vulnerable to shortages and bereft of power in weather emergencies.


Special elections bellwether for partisan change

A slew of upcoming state House of Representatives special elections could confirm the tightening grip conservatives have on the Louisiana Legislature.

In a matter of days voters can head to polls in seven districts: the 12th vacated by Republican Rob Shadoin, the 17th left by Democrat Marcus Hunter, the 18th cut loose by Democrat Major Thibaut, the 26th set aside by Democrat Jeff Hall, the 27th departed from by Republican Chris Hazel, the 47th traded in by GOP state Sen. Bob Hensgens, and the 62nd jettisoned by Republican Kenny Havard.

With two exceptions, one party has a significant advantage in each. Democrats handily outnumber Republicans in the majority-black 17th and 26th Districts, while Republicans have significant edges over Democrats in the 12th and 27th. Additionally, the 46th District gave GOP Pres. Donald Trump about 80 percent of their votes in 2016. Of these, only the 27th will feature a major party tussle.


LA college expression protection still lacking

Another Louisiana university has gotten into trouble over speech policy, highlighting the incompleteness of a reform process to strengthen First Amendment protections on state campuses.

Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education made the University of New Orleans the dubious recipient of its “Speech Code of the Month” for February. The organization, which assists individuals in exercising First Amendment rights at colleges, faulted UNO for a level of restrictiveness that could make Valentine’s Day-related messages run afoul of its speech strictures. In reality, FIRE notes, it legally can’t ban these kinds of messages without other extenuating circumstances, leading to an unwarranted chilling of expression.

FIRE also observes that Louisiana public institutions collectively fare more poorly than those in most states in protecting First Amendment rights. It rates universities on egregiousness of unconstitutional restriction, and almost all the state’s senior institutions have at least one policy related to this issue that it determines blatantly violates the Constitution.


St. James rejects EBR-like prosperity killing

Maybe Together Baton Rouge ought to speed up plans to expand geographically and combine forces with another equally short-sighted, ideologically mistaken group.

As noted yesterday, the radical leftist interest group has taken not just a public relations hit, but also likely a souring in the mouths of Baton Rouge policy-makers, when its agitprop that sees corporations not as peoples and their lives but as pi├▒atas waiting for bursting caused a real world backfire. Essentially, it goaded enough members on the East Baton Rouge Parish School System Board to deny property tax relief to ExxonMobil, already paying a seriously overburdening rate. In turn, the company signaled it would scale back significantly its area operations, consequently leading to the disappearance of jobs and wealth.

But no such resistance had cropped up in nearby neighbor two-doors-down St. James Parish. Among the parishes it has the sixth-highest property value exempted under this law, the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, and policy-makers there with no opposition recently put it on the hook to relieve an amount that would more than triple the amount of foregone dollars from 2015.


Maybe downhill from here for radical BR group

Baton Rouge policy-makers’ dalliance with the radical leftist interest group Together Baton Rouge has backfired, putting the city-parish and entity on the defensive.

TBR, founded nearly a decade ago, got on its legs courtesy of the Industrial Areas Foundation. The IAF, founded by Saul Alinksy who stridently opposed “dogma” and promoted situational ethics, despite that cleverly markets itself as “faith-based” and pitches itself to religious entities. TBR, which remains affiliated with IAF, adopted this model and as a result the majority of its members, which it assesses annual dues, are religious-based organizations.

But TBR hews to a particularly intolerant model of belief, most closely matching an imagined social Christian gospel that takes precedence over the teachings of the actual Gospels. In essence, it conceives the state as a theocratic instrument to impose its peculiar religious beliefs. This mixing of religion and state echoes that promoted in Islam except that TBR’s creed argues for greater government control over people’s lives, primarily in the taking of what people own and redistributing it, rather than Islam’s having government enforce a code of moral behavior based upon its tenets.


LA may end up traiblazer in abortion regulation

It may take awhile longer, but Louisiana looks set to shape state powers to regulate abortion providers, in a good way.

Last week, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit refused to hear a decision made by a panel from it last September. The case involved operating restrictions upon abortion mills placed by the state back in 2014, but stayed from implementation because of the court challenge. The three-judge panel had ruled the state could proceed with the changes, which would tighten up provision standards on par with other surgical procedures and have doctors involved obtain admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles.

Affirming the panel would have allowed enforcement of the law starting yesterday. But opponents asked for a rehearing, which, although swiftly denied, automatically triggers a seven-day injunction. Undoubtedly, opponents will use that time to petition for the Supreme Court justice assigned to the circuit, Samuel Alito, to issue an injunction that invites the entire court to hear the case at a future date, further delaying enforcement of the law.


Perkins must not reprise Bossier shenanigans

The third time may not be the charm for Shreveporters and paying for garbage pickup.

Democrat new Mayor Adrian Perkins has proposed an $18 per month charge for providing this service. Such a fee, which almost all medium-and-above-sized cities charge – and all do in Louisiana, with larger cities’ levying months bills from $16 to $36 – Perkins says could go to shoring up low sanitation worker wages (some defected recently to Bossier City’s new private contractor) as well as pad the city’s reserves.

Shreveport has gone down this road before. Almost a decade ago, it levied a $2.50 per month assessment, only to have a disappointed citizenry successfully lobby the City Council to remove that within a couple of months. In 2016, the previous administration included a $12 monthly fee in its 2017 budget, only to have to withdraw that ignominiously after a public backlash.


Orleans board caves to anti-Christian bigotry

It’s official: white progressivism and its anti-Christian bias has infected the Orleans Parish School Board, creating an ugly incident of bigotry.

Last week, the body held elections for this year’s officers. In an unusual move, it suspended its own rules to allow holding over last year’s officers. This brought about the unanimous reelection of Democrat John Brown, and a 4-3 vote returning Democrat Leslie Ellison as vice president.

Plenty of controversy preceded the move. Originally, Ellison had wished to move up the ladder one place, following tradition, as Brown could not succeed himself after two yearly terms. Then, publicized past remarks Ellison made concerning students who identify themselves as something other than their biological sex stirred up opposition to her.


Insurance ban needed in proposed coop rules

The spirit of the law backs efforts by the Louisiana Public Service Commission to place significant limits on directors of electric cooperatives, including the prohibition of coop-paid insurance.

Last year, controversy erupted over reports that many directors received large emoluments from coops. The entities provide electricity under a membership model as Internal Revenue Service 501(c)12 organizations, meaning they must operate as nonprofits in order to secure tax-free status and directors serve part-time.

Originally, the federal government launched the coop concept in 1935 through presidential executive order. At the time, while most urban households had electricity, few did in rural areas due to expense. The U.S. government hoped that states would pass legislation establishing a framework for organizations with low overhead that could make power affordable to member/owners.


Barras puts LA needs ahead of Edwards'

Nothing has changed, so nothing should change, despite the histrionics of the Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration.

Last week, Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference met again with an attempt to update forecasting numbers on revenue. The figures produced get fed into the budget process, with Democrat Edwards’ executive plan for state spending in fiscal year 2020 due in about ten days.

Currently, recognized revenues reflect estimates of nearly seven months ago. Two months ago, with the group mandated to meet no later than the end of the year, it gathered to consider an increase because of higher-than-expected oil prices. It had predicted throughout this fiscal year a price of $59.42 per barrel, but the two sources used by the political appointees – the Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras, GOP Senate President John Alario, and university economist James Richardson – representing the Administration and Legislature thought that should increase to the $61-64 range.


Report reminds of group's leftist ideology

In case you’ve forgotten, a recent announcement by the Louisiana League of Women Voters reminds that the organization that claims nonpartisanship nonetheless marches in lockstep with Democrats of the progressive stripe.

Last week, the group at its annual convention released a report noting that charter schools potentially sap education dollars from traditional public schools, calling for changes in charter school board composition and transparency, and wanting greater state stringency in regulating such schools. In effect, the increased, unneeded regulatory details that would follow would hamper the ability of these schools to operate as intended. This adheres to a liberal agenda of protecting the one-size-fits-all model of education that empowers special interests over children.

Not that the study’s quality commends policy-makers to pursue such recommendations. Both the organization that represents the state’s charter schools and the state Department of Education panned the effort, each observing it to relay numerous corrections to the drafters of an early version and subsequently received no feedback. The report’s lead author herself has spoken often and publicly against the concept.


Perkins flubs new approach on garbage

Despite calling himself a modernizing, different kind of chief executive, Shreveport rookie politician Democrat Adrian Perkins flubbed his first big chance to demonstrate that.

Only weeks after taking office, Perkins announced his support for a garbage collection tax. Currently, the city provides the service free for payers of sewerage and water fees, amounts which have seen a large increase over the past several years to fund federal government-ordered updating and improvement. Almost all cities charge separately for basic trash pickup.

That operation has seen a decline in the last few years, first with a significant portion of it sidelined with Bossier City’s decision to decouple from Shreveport in this effort in favor of private provision. More recently, the city has had greater difficulty in keeping the scaled-down enterprise fully staffed because of relatively low wages, with the embarrassment that the departing workers fled to Bossier City’s provider. Worse, with Bossier City changing its providers to one that doesn’t use Shreveport’s landfill, that means a hit of over $1 million annually to city revenues.


Gaines' confused letter insults veterans

I suspect he’s trying to address my remarks, but it’s so hopelessly muddled it’s hard to tell.

A letter to the editor last week in the Baton Rouge Advocate by Democrat state Rep. Randal Gaines stumbled about in trying to defend the recent legal change allowing many felons to vote. I think he filed it as a response to recent my column about how Democrats had bamboozled Republicans into supporting that bad bill, which does nothing to encourage reform of or overall political participation by the felon population, but does give Democrats disproportionately the chance to harvest more votes in elections.

That Gaines, willfully or otherwise, remains ignorant of the literature that shows no link between greater civic involvement and having the right to vote among felons showed clearly in the letter, which falsely alleged that to oppose the law wouldn’t help to prevent recidivism. But he also introduced a new creative reason to make the law acceptable.


Edwards' new pal repeating his strategy

It’s a post-modernist’s delight when a politician can deliver not just one but two levels of hypocrisy.

“Post-modernism” is an academic fad that rejects generally the concept of universalism and more specifically those of objective reality, truth, and reason. The leftist craze to supplant the certainty of one’s biological sex with a self-defined “gender” exemplifies its application to current public policy.

However, it also applies to discourse, when a communicator makes certain charges while at the same time endorsing, if not emulating, the very behavior criticized in that discourse. A recent letter-to-the-editor by Louisiana’s head Democrat, party Chairwoman state Sen. Karen Peterson, illustrates this.