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24.1.21

Bossier City finally seeing electoral choices

It’s been two decades since Louisiana’s sixth largest municipality Bossier City has seen this much electoral competition, but will it end the same by sweeping a significant portion of incumbents out of office, or even go farther, in the most significant partisan contests not special elections in the state in 2021?

In the aftermath of those municipal elections, three City Council members left their jobs as a result of voter dissatisfaction principally over the decision to build and where the now Brookshire Grocery Arena. But current councilors independent Jeff Darby and Democrat Bubba Williams stayed on, and still in office from then are the two victorious at-large councilors Republicans Tim Larkin and David Montgomery. Joining them in a special election a year later was Republican Scott Irwin.

The revolt didn’t trouble Democrat Mayor George Dement, who won his record fourth and final term. That kept city Chief Administrative Officer Lo Walker in business, who as a Republican succeeded Dement in 2005 and has won reelection ever since.

21.1.21

Temple rejection needed absent his clarification

If he doesn’t clarify his remarks adequately, Louisiana state senators need to reject later this year appointment of Collis Temple, Jr. to the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors.

Every year, the Senate considers gubernatorial nominees to various positions. When a vacancy occurs, either because a term expires or somebody leaves a post, the governor can make an interim appointment who may serve through the end of the next legislative regular session. If by the end of that session a nominee hasn’t received a favorable vote by the chamber, the position becomes open again.

Temple gained a place on the Board, which governs the LSU System, when Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards tabbed him about a month after the Legislature adjourned for 2020. He then became renominated for a different spot on it three weeks later because another nominee chose to decline in order for his firm to continue to compete for system business.

20.1.21

Deviant LA keeping bad blue state company

One of these things is not like the other, which is bad news for Louisiana now and in the near future.

Earlier this month, U-Haul released its 2020 statistics for rental surface transport units, from which it calculates (essentially by computing incoming and outgoing traffic) a measure of state migration growth. It has done this for states off and on since 2007, but has made it a regular practice from 2015 on.

And, with one exception, Louisiana has fared poorly since then. Starting then, among the 49 North American states and the District of Columbia (Hawai’i obviously not included), it has ranked 35th, 8th, 40th, 47th, 40th, and last year 44th in terms of arrivals vs. departures.

19.1.21

Science shows harm from Edwards virus strategy

Even when the outcomes stare him straight in the face, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards still ignores the science attached to government handling of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. That ethos and the playbook it spawns, embraced by his fellow Democrats helming their states, bodes ill for human freedom and dignity going forward.

Last week, Edwards took the opportunity to extend gubernatorial restrictions on state citizens that have constituted his policy response to the virus, which include compulsory face coverings for most individuals in most public settings, limitations on public gatherings and commerce, and the outright closures of some targeted businesses. Things have improved slightly, as the state has fallen to only seventh in per capita deaths among the states – a trailing indicator that should show relative decline as an early adopter now burning through a reduced uninfected population pool – but Edwards’ policy more than anything else has caused this lamentable statistic.

Because it doesn’t follow the science, as confirmed days prior to his announcement with the release of some follow-up research from the middle of last year. Stanford University researchers compared the heavier-handed policy response of eight countries, including the U.S., with the lighter touch of two, Sweden and South Korea. The former has logged statistics equivalent with other developed states and better than many while instituting partial public gathering bans and face coverings in certain situations rarely and mostly only recently, and the latter has done much better compared to almost anywhere in the world while only recently introducing any restrictions at all outside of isolated instances and regarding the most packed social environments (although many of its population voluntarily began wearing masks in public starting about a year ago).

18.1.21

Old wine in new bottles stings LA taxpayers

Swapping old wine into new bottles didn’t make the grape harvest any less bitter, according to a new release from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

That office studied state classified personnel expenses from fiscal years 2013 through 2020. These employees comprise just over three-fifths of the state’s full-time equivalent workforce, although the study excluded some such as those employed in higher education institutions. What it discovered confirmed the corrosive effects of pay policy changes starting in 2018.

After he had made half of appointments to the State Civil Service Commission (and could count upon the sympathy of the elected classified employee representative), Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards took a pay plan in need of reform and, if anything, made it worse (ratified also by narrow legislative majorities). In a new form, it perpetuated the masquerade of performance pay raises for cost-of-living boosts, because almost no employee in the state receives a rating making him ineligible for a raise, much less triggering eventual separation.

17.1.21

Foolish Caddo officials threaten public safety

And this is how irresponsible politicians decrease public safety, in this case in Caddo Parish.

Earlier this month, the Parish Commission – unlike the other major government bodies in the state’s northwestern-most two parishes, still refusing to meet in person – rejected a proclamation supporting in the parish National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was Jan. 9 nationally. It stated that “the Parish of Caddo is the proud home to many dedicated law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep our community safe … these officers stand as leaders and teachers in the community, educating the citizens about the importance of public safety; and the Caddo Parish Commission appreciates the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by officers and their family members on a daily basis in order to protect our schools, workplaces, roadways, and homes.”

A last-minute agenda item offered by Republican Commissioner Mario Chavez, at least it drew the unanimous support for addition at a late date – unlike a few Angry Left talking points offered up parroting national Democrat policy preferences in the form of resolutions sprung at the last minute without text brought by Democrat Commissioner Ken Epperson. They received a varying number of vetoes, but Republican Commissioner Todd Hopkins voted nay on all, later stating he wouldn’t approve of any resolution for which he hadn’t seen the text.

14.1.21

Shreveport tax desire another sign of decline

Democrat Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins better had hope that a scheduling glitch is the only thing that goes wrong with a proposed $206 million in new taxes on city property owners, as tenuous as voter approval of these is.

The four proposals echo three for $186 million each defeated by small margins in 2019. Yesterday’s City Council meeting could have cued these onto the Apr. 24 ballot, but didn’t because of an agenda drafting error that disallowed introduction and final passage together. Because the city faces a hard Jan. 19 deadline to make the municipal election runoff ballot, the Council will have to try again in a special meeting next week.

The categories of items don’t differ much from the previous version. The old covered water and sewerage; public facilities and equipment for parks and recreations, public buildings, and the police and departments; and streets, highways, bridges, and drainage systems. The new are for streets, highways, bridges, drainage systems, and water systems; the police and fire departments; parks and recreation and public transportation; and economic development including but not limited to industrial park and workforce development facilities. The combined millage actually is lower at 10.60 compared to 11.68, but reduced interest rates ate providing more bang for the buck over the 20 years.

13.1.21

Illegal leader not district's biggest problem

Hopefully, a bit better legal sense from Louisiana’s judiciary finally will make the right call on a case involving separation of powers and conflict of interest in northwest Louisiana, but that tussle only illustrates a larger problem.

Predictably, the case centers on that bastion of unaccountable government, the Cypress-Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District. It runs – badly, given the near-chronic deficits produced – the recreation area of the same name in Bossier Parish and regulates land use around the bodies of water and the water itself. Girded with a dedicated property tax – and was the only government body in Bossier Parish last year to increase that rate – citizens who hold approval power over that have no direct voice in governing use of that money. The five commissioners receive appointments from various local governments.

One of those commissioners, Robert Berry there by the grace of the Bossier Parish Police Jury until mid-2023, also serves as its executive director and pulls down a six-figure salary as a result, which represented last year almost seven percent of the entire nearly $1.9 million budget. That he has both offices has drawn the scrutiny of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry.

12.1.21

On protests, LA Democrats' blame shift fails

Besides her day late and dollar short foray into the fray, undoubtedly the leader of Louisiana Democrats Katie Bernhardt assiduously avoided all mirrors when alleging blame for Washington, DC protests that escalated into violence last week.

At the time Congress met to certify election results, several thousand people converged on the Capitol to express frustration that it would accept Electoral College votes that would declare the election for Democrat former Vice Pres. Joe Biden without adequate investigation of potential fraud. Due to changes made in many states in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, this possibility ramped up considerably in the 2020 election, but at the same time legal deadlines left insufficient time to vet thoroughly the question.

A few dozen people, perhaps subversively directly influenced by violent leftists attached to groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa (one such admitted activist, previously arrested elated to a violent protest at Utah’s Capitol, said he was on the scene after illegally entering the Capitol documenting on film the event) present, turned antagonistic and briefly occupying various part of the Capitol, causing minor property damage along the way and sufficiently scaring Members so that they hunkered down in the chambers or fled them.

11.1.21

LA mustn't squander higher education largesse

Now given two bites of the apple, Louisiana higher education has a better chance to hit its latest master plan’s goal – if it and its overseer Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards don’t act capriciously and squander the opportunity.

Last year, in addition to the $1.8 billion the received for general purposes from the federal government in the CARES Act designed to address the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the state racked up $147 million allocated to its higher education institutions. About 45 percent of that went to students – meaning subsidizing tuition and fees – and 45 percent more to institutions to adjust to delivery under pandemic conditions. Almost all of the remainder fanned out as additional supplements to boost minority enrollment and services.

Then at last year’s end, Congress passed a consolidated appropriations act within which lay a replay of the CARES Act with over 50 percent more funding dedicated to higher education, although with several notable differences. Its specific funding formula included part-time students unlike the first version, expanded the institutional portion use – it retains the provision that an equal amount must be spent on student financial relief – to include things like defraying revenue lost to the pandemic, and the financial aid component also may extend to distance learning enrollees.

10.1.21

Shreveport cancel culture rightly challenged

Cancel culture officially has arrived in Shreveport city government, courtesy of its police department.

Days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, which occurred incident to his arrest that included an office placing him in a chokehold for several minutes, Shreveport Police Department then-Sgt. Brent Mason made a social media post about it. Although not a lawyer, Mason argued that the officers involved shouldn’t face a murder charge. Mason, a department trainer who has a training business on the side and has been featured in the media for it, opined that the hold alone didn’t cause Floyd’s death, but likely contributed to it, concluding that the “poor technique … normally does not result death” but might if Floyd “had health conditions and toxins in his blood.”

Which, weeks later, was confirmed. The coroner’s report on Floyd showed recent methamphetamine consumption and fentanyl intoxication – video of the event showed Floyd ingesting a substance consistent with that the moment of his restraint, similar to his actions in an arrest a year earlier – which the coroner said, although classifying death as heart failure due to choking, by itself could have produced a fatal overdose.

7.1.21

NOLA Schools stuck on stupid with closure

And now NOLA Public Schools, the name used for the Orleans Parish School District, has chosen to stay stuck on stupid – with a political goal in mind.

With its all-charter status cemented into state law, its School Board, which hires its superintendent Henderson Lewis, can’t make a whole lot of policy, but with its operational powers intact its decisions can have the same effect. And the ruling by Lewis which forces all district schools into distance learning only by week’s end shows that, despite massive changes in education delivery over the past 15 years, resistance to increased accountability remains the same.

Because there never has been any good reason to keep classrooms empty during the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, even as Lewis justified his decision in that Orleans Parish shows a steady rise in cases per capita. The corresponding news release intones that the call “was driven by data and the advice of our public health experts.”

6.1.21

2020 results presage rough ride for Edwards

If Georgia U.S. Senate runoff results hold up, Democrats may have won somewhat increased policy-making power nationally, but in Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards ends up the eventual loser.

Should the final vestiges of the 2020 election play out this way, it will produce the narrowest majority margins in the country’s history. Democrats will control the House by only eight votes, where any defection of four scuttles their plans. The Senate ends up evenly split, ultimately decided by just a few thousand votes out of four million cast, and incoming Pres. Joe Biden essentially won the office by about 43,000 votes in three states.

Don’t expect Democrats to acknowledge they won in a photo finish. They know the history that in the last two of their administrations they lost an average of 57 House seats and seven Senate seats two years after a member of their party reached the White House initially. They will go for broke in the vain thinking (of some) that suddenly a history of bad policy magically goes against type and works to allow them to keep a Congressional majority in 2022, or (with others) at least getting in as much damage as possible before being shown the door for the next several years.

5.1.21

Data note more failure of LA Medicaid expansion

But, Medicaid expansion!

This occurring in Louisiana supposedly would make the world all right. Objective observers knew differently, and time has demonstrated their critiques correct. Supposedly, expansion would save money; it hasn’t and now costs state taxpayers (most recently) $312 million a year extra on behalf of many people who once had their own insurance. One reason it would is that uncompensated care costs would come down; these haven’t and Louisiana’s actually have increased slightly compared to historical averages prior to expansion. Increased wasted payments and thousands more vulnerable lives lost, as a result of shifting dollars and attention away from them in order to shovel these to the expansion population, because of expansion also have cost the Louisiana polity.

Despite all these shortcomings, expansion’s apologists still could try to cling to the idea that it brought better outcomes to the target population. Yes, it makes some people worse off, redistributes wealth especially to the detriment of the lower middle class, and strips the state of resources to tackle other needs, but as wasteful and inefficient as expansion is, advocates still could argue that it makes the health of the target population better.

4.1.21

Cassidy, Kennedy both right in different ways

Everybody wins, including Louisianans, over the differing positions taken by the state’s Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy regarding whether to ratify immediately the 2020 Electoral College results.

That presidential and vice-presidential contest gave, respectively, Democrats former Vice Pres. Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris a narrow win, which particularly hinged on the vote in three of six closely-contested states that gave him a winning margin of fewer than 44,000 – just as Republican Pres. Donald Trump in 2016 had run up about the same electoral college totals where his win came from a margin in three of those six states of around 80,000. But having confidence in the 2020 results is more difficult, because of expanded fraud opportunities afforded by individual state decisions to change election parameters in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

With degraded election integrity, it’s axiomatic that more fraud occurred in 2020. The problem comes in being able to prove it might have affected the election’s outcome. States with laws or imposed regulations making it easier to commit fraud ran up large Biden wins, while those with less-degraded integrity featured the narrow margins that even if eliminating the improperly-validated ballots still likely would have gone Biden’s way.

3.1.21

Holes in LA election integrity need plugging

Once again, Louisiana tempts fate with unserious absentee ballot rules that could produce election results determined by fraud, but the good news is some minor housekeeping by the Legislature can increase the integrity of state elections.

This week, the Legislature chambers’ respective governmental affairs committees will vet emergency – which given its increasing seeming permanence brings Louisiana closer to emulating the old joke that it is the northern-most banana republic – rules regarding a series of upcoming elections, including for a state House seat in February, a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and almost certainly two U.S. House spots along with municipal elections in March, and any runoffs for that in April. This set echoes the flawed batch under which the state conducted the last three such pollings, as imposed by an activist judge.

These standards differ from the previous version only in that they don’t extend the early voting period, but do share the same legalistic faults – most notoriously, allowing unverified new registrant names to stay on the voting rolls that makes it easy for fictitious voters to cast fictitious votes. Additionally, rather than create a new kind of problem, the rules also, by perpetuating essentially excuse-free absentee voting by mail, stretch a larger loophole through which to drive fraudulent votes.