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5.5.21

Citizens disserved by ignorant excuse-making

If accurate knowledge about the matters you legislate upon were a work requirement for Bossier City Council members, not just two but three of its councilors would be out of a job.

This week at the Council’s meeting, under criticism particularly from the incoming Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler administration for continuing a no-bid contract for three years without a convenience termination option with Manchac Consulting to operate the city’s water and sewerage operations, three councilors spent nearly 20 minutes defending the decision. The Council passed the measure to a final reading with only no party Councilor Jeff Darby in opposition, who argued that contract renewal should be for just a year and that open bidding for the business should occur after that ended.

The gist of their remarks spanning some 20 minutes were that a no-bid deal was pretty standard, a bargain in this instance, and demonstrated a “unique” response. Outgoing GOP Councilor Tim Larkin announced his summary of some “thoroughly” done research. He claimed these kinds of arrangements, where government contracts out functions, worked best with continuity of provider without “capitalistic” competition. “It doesn’t work that way,” he alleged, referring to having multiple entities in consideration to fulfill a government’s desires through contracting.

4.5.21

Feet of Clay Schexnayder must adapt or go

If Louisiana’s legislative Republicans want more than half a loaf, GOP Speaker Clay Schexnayder either must change his tune in a hurry, or get shown the door.

Schexnayder famously scored the speakership with unanimous Democrat support and a minority of Republicans. It’s why he has lent no support, if not indirectly tried to discourage, his party from pursuing several bellwether GOP issue preferences that have generated next to no opposition in other states with similar-sized Republican legislative majorities.

States with concealed carry protections not needing permits have gone from a trickle to a flood. In Louisiana, the Senate already has put into the House SB 118 by Republican state Sen. Jay Morris to do the same. But the House only recently passed a slightly-different HB 596 by GOP state Rep. Bryan Fontenot out of committee, with every non-Republican on it voting against.

3.5.21

Bill keeps parents from helpful disciplining

A bill wending its way through the Louisiana Legislature risks disrupting how families raise children, with potential detrimental effects in schools.

HB 324 by Republican state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty would prohibit corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools. Proponents allege that side effects from it that increase unfavorable outcomes such as facilitating the belief that violence acceptably solves problems and outweigh any disciplinary benefits. Argumentation such as that won over a majority of a House panel that recently advanced the bill.

The research, to a certain point, bears that out. However, the problem studies of this have faced is the inability to ameliorate negative outcomes that occur in the absence of spanking as disciplinary tool. In other words, no alternative child disciplinary technique has been identified that can convey the same benefits as corporal punishment, so schools without it must endure the negative spillover effect of greater disciplinary problems.

30.4.21

Less-awful BC deal still needs improvement

Stuck pigs squeal. And whine. And maybe become a bit more accountable to the people, so it’s no time to let up on the Bossier City Council as it pursues a somewhat less-awful contract at taxpayer expense.

A month ago, the Council put on its agenda renewing a no-bid contract with Manchac Consulting Group for water and sewerage services, with three significant changes: substantially increasing the monthly payout, lengthening it to five years, and removing a provision that would allow the city to walk away from the agreement at its convenience with notice. This came right after an election that saw two incumbent councilors and Republican Mayor Lo Walker defeated for reelection.

Incoming Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler, along with other citizens, complained that this time period would consume most of his term and that he should have much more leeway to make decisions in that area of policy. During that Council meeting, members voted to yank the item from the agenda.

29.4.21

Go beyond policy to blunt neo-racism in LA

The problem of neo-racism posing as anti-racism is worse in Louisiana than commonly realized, debate over a bill in the Legislature showed earlier this week.

Since I began teaching Louisiana politics in the 1990s, I never have witnessed the level of misrepresentation and misdirection applied to any single bill than to Republican state Rep. Ray Garofalo’s HB 564. The bill as amended defines several “divisive concepts” that could not be taught uncontested in elementary or secondary education, or used as part of training materials in those schools and higher education. (The original version included higher education instruction, but Garofalo excised that upon considering that legal authority rested in the Board of Regents to make curricular choices.) These concepts demean people on the basis of their race, sex, or national origin by imputing characteristics allegedly implicit to people of certain races, sexes, or national origins – what might be called harmful stereotypes. Several other states are considering similar bills.

During a hearing of the House Education Committee, proponents faced an onslaught of demagoguery on the bill. Opponents succeeded in sidetracking it because they concentrated their assault on the academic portion by making specious arguments as if they never read it.

28.4.21

Edwards virus policy still too little, late

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards finally edged closer to following the science, almost a year late, and loosened the leash on the people – but not nearly enough.

Today, by proclamation Edwards finally junked much of a set of largely ineffective restrictions on people’s behavior and on commerce, as a response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. This follows similar actions made in neighboring states as long as nearly two months ago – while some states never imposed these at all.

Except for public transportation, schools, health facilities, and the state agencies under control of his office, out goes the face covering mandate (and some narrow exceptions exist to the locations still included). Perhaps to justify these continued shackles, at his announcement of that Edwards lied to the public in saying “the evidence is clear …the science is well-established” that masks “work.” He surely cannot have missed the latest commentary on the matter, which illuminates the shortcomings of research that makes such a claim and reviews the extant literature, that shows masking as publicly practiced has no significant impact on case counts.

27.4.21

Edwards unmasking self as social leftist

Even as Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards continues to make Louisiana the only state within hundreds of miles around to mask up, he’s letting his mask down.

Whether that means a repeat of his hypocrisy last year, when he didn’t wear a mask around others indoors at a country club despite his still-active executive order mandating that behavior, indisputably he’s revealing himself in a metaphorical sense. He’s dropping the masquerade that he would govern as a social conservative which would fool enough voters for him to win two terms in office.

Until this year, Edwards always managed to play his cards on this close to the vest on this. With an ally in the form of Republican former Sen. Pres. John Alario, the only controversial bills addressing social issues that came to his desk related to items that had the effect of increasing abortion restrictions. These he would sign because he knew the Legislature would override any veto, and to veto these courted disaster in his 2019 election for a final term.

26.4.21

LA CD 2 result misdiagnosed as woke loss

Louisiana’s most consequential electoral contest last weekend ended up rife with the national media straining overly to conjure a lesson from it for the entire country, when none really existed.

The favored Democrat District 7 state Sen. Troy Carter defeated his Democrat District 5 counterpart Karen Peterson in the special election to Congressional District Two. Media, both on the left and the right declared this a defeat for the political far left in which most of the candidates’ party seems enthralled. But the data call for a much more nuanced, if not opposite, conclusion.

According to my Louisiana Legislative Log voting scores over the past five years (with all of these scales, lower scores mean more leftist voting, although the LLL’s tries to capture the state’s unique populist political culture by conflating populism and liberalism, and reformism and conservatism), Carter scored on average 29 and Peterson just above 16. Using the American Conservative Union’s scorecard from 2016-19, he averaged around 45, while her number from 2014-19 was about 27.

25.4.21

BC Council on deal: inside job or ineptitude?

No reasons are better than the bad given reasons given for an inept Bossier City Council forwarding an ordinance extending and boosting in cost a politically-connected firm’s contract well into Republican incoming Mayor Tommy Chandler’s administration.

Earlier this month, the Council removed an agenda item that would have renewed the deal with Manchac Consulting to run the city’s water and sewerage for five years at a substantial increase with no change in responsibilities. Last week, it brought back the idea, now at three years, but still including a much larger price tag.

Compared to the expiring deal, payouts would increase by 37 percent over the next 12 months, 17 percent over the next, and 8 percent after that, for a total of 75 percent over the extension’s life. Since contract amendment in 2018, nationwide inflation has risen only 5 percent, or less than 2 percent a year.

22.4.21

No reason for LA to privilege renewable energy

The thing is, with very few exceptions journalists don’t know what they don’t know. Throw in the public policy subject least critically analyzed and most distorted in its wider presentation, and you have a recipe for a good bit of nonsense, as exemplified by a recent media story about Louisiana renewable energy policy.

Elevating the potential for disaster is that it comes from a student journalist at Louisiana State University, whose colleague made a bit of a mess with a story last month about changing amounts of voter registrant affiliations in the state. Unfortunately, although admittedly ultimately the writer’s fault for choosing such sources, in this instance the author was handicapped by the ignorance displayed by some chosen to make comments.

The article tried to put into a Louisiana context the efforts by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden to pursue an energy agenda based upon faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Biden has announced he would like to ramp up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in America by 2030, now proclaiming a goal of around half at present as a palliative to alleged disastrous consequences. But science doesn’t support such a scenario transpiring, and even accelerating the reduction will do little to ameliorate overall temperature gains over the next 80 years. Plus, Biden and any future president stumping for the same will have to convince a skeptical Congress to pass laws and to permit regulations to enforce this.