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17.10.21

Lafayette needs different tack on panhandling

For now, Lafayette has secured a legal win in its effort to cut down on panhandling, but that might not last unless it shifts its strategy.

Last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected an attempt to invalidate the city-parish consolidated government’s Ordinance 62-32(7). That makes illegal “Acting in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others.” In the past few months, law enforcement has used that to arrest panhandlers.

Since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 in an unrelated case, local governments haven’t been able to ban panhandling, as soliciting for noncommercial purposes has become protected speech where government has a high burden of proof to restrict. As a result, they have sought means that are neutral in regards to content of the speech conveyed and with an objective important enough to override First Amendment concerns, while leaving adequate alternative channels for speech dissemination.

14.10.21

LA still vulnerable to outsourced democracy

If not for Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, Louisiana might have found its democracy outsourced in last year’s elections, and it has work to do to prevent that entirely.

Crunching numbers shows the deleterious impact of $419.5 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan on election fairness. Most of that money went to a special interest group favored by technology titans with a history of advocating for leftist voting policies in elections administration which receives its funding from large donors for liberal causes, the Center for Tech and Civic Life. Another group garnered the rest, doled out more specifically to inform the public on changes to election procedures and polling locations, and to recruit poll workers in response to the pandemic, which appeared neutral in impact.

Because the CTCL grant criteria clearly attempted to put a thumb on the scales of election outcomes. The strings it attached were for jurisdictions to maximize use of methods that compromised ballot integrity, including mass mail balloting, ballot harvesting, ballot “curing,” and unsupervised dropbox use, favored by Democrats and leftists.

13.10.21

Biden work policies exacerbating LA problems

Louisiana continues to suffer disproportionately from Democrat Pres. Joe Biden economic policies eagerly ratified by a compliant Congress, recent employment data reveal.

Last week, national numbers for September disappointed again in terms of job creation, even as the country’s unemployment rate dropped deceptively, as exiting the labor force mainly drove the decline that set the lowest workforce participation numbers since 1977. That low number came from women disproportionately and in large relative terms leaving the labor force.

August data measuring other employment parameters confirmed this dismal picture. Job postings fell, led by hospitality, and the quit rate, or people leaving employment, rose to its highest level since 2000 and setting a record in raw numbers. While this can be a positive indicator when the labor market tightens since people have to quit a job to move on to a better one, it is negative in the current slack environment by showing people are exiting the workforce.

12.10.21

N.O. minimum wage hike another economic blow

It might be good for some city employees and incumbents in city government running for reelection, but New Orleans’ minimum wage hike for city workers will make its citizens suffer even more.

Deciding to step on the gas on the matter, the City Council ratified a pay schedule that would push the wage to $15 an hour in 2023. Years ago, it established a minimum much higher than the state’s, which defaults to the federal level of $7.25, and indexed it to inflation. It will bump up more than a couple of dollars next year from the current $11.19 and then complete the rise, costing taxpayers around $10 million more.

It’s a sucker punch delivered to citizens as the city continues to reel from the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic’s impact its government’s overreaction to that. With its economy disproportionately dependent upon leisure and hospitality discouraged by the virus, compounded by a ridiculous vaccine passport requirement to patronize these kinds of commercial establishments, city quality of life has suffered more deeply. Just as one indicator that likely reflects worse numbers specifically for New Orleans, statewide 84 percent of restaurants reported reduced profits over the past three months while none noted an increase. Anecdotally, in New Orleans after the requirement kicked in sales dropped 30 to 40 percent.

11.10.21

LSU admits bankruptcy of its vaccine passport

The fa├žade has started to crumble. Yet the Louisiana State University System administration continues to back superstition over science, reason, and logic.

Last week, the school renounced its policy of requiring anybody (although presumably not the visiting team) entering its football stadium for a home game to show either proof of vaccination from or recent negative test of the Wuhan coronavirus. The official story for the move was explained as a declining number of cases and hospitalizations for the affliction.

This fig leaf should generate mirth among thinking people. These rates have fallen from levels that rivaled all-time highs to relatively moderate levels during the pandemic’s course, but almost every parish in the state, East Baton Rouge included, the state still rates as high risk for community spread. And theoretically gathering 100,000-plus people in a small space, even outdoors, still counts as a super-spreader.

10.10.21

Lowering business costs in LA achievable now

Once again, Louisiana finds itself on the wrong side of the fence keeping some bad company. Fortunately, fairly immediately some things can happen to improve matters.

Cloud software platform Approve.com released rankings for states where doing business is most and least costly. For the continental U.S. plus the District of Columbia, it reviewed four factors – average annual wage, top corporate income tax rate, and average prices for utilities like internet and non-residential electricity, equally weighed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Louisiana’s western neighbor Texas came out on top. Equally predictable, among the top 20 states in the ranking politically red states comprised 18 with the other two being purple, and included most of the southern states.

7.10.21

Other Edwards zero delusion to impoverish LA

Besides his delusional zero COVID fantasy, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards presses on with another pipe dream – Louisiana’s future energy production featuring zero carbon emissions that doesn’t cause significant hardship.

This week, Edwards announced that the state would join the United Nations’ “Race to Zero” campaign, as part of the organization’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. This dovetails with his executive order designed to drive the state to zero emissions by 2050 that also set up a task force to find ways to do that, whose report should arrive early next year.

Forget for the moment that the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming scenario on which Edwards has based all of this is scientific hogwash and concentrate instead on how ruinous the costs will be to achieve this, especially when compared with the consequences of the mythical apocalyptic scenario currently shopped around, and that even if zero emissions were achieved today everywhere (according to the CAGW methodology) that wouldn’t even reach the target for slowing the presumed rate of warming by the end of the century. In fact, not only no policy to achieve this does not create more impoverishment, but these choices also disproportionately hit poorer people harder.

6.10.21

Overleveraged BC must cut costs, bid services

Especially given the amount of these Bossier City has outstanding, it makes sense to shop for the best bonding deals – unless you’re Republican City Councilor David Montgomery.

The city’s highly leveraged position turned into an issue of incumbent competence during this spring’s city elections. At almost $487 million or $6,827 per capita, of Louisiana’s ten largest cities (some of which operate under consolidated governments with the surrounding parish), Bossier City citizens owe the most per head (using 2019 data, as some have yet to file their legally-required audits for 2020). Shreveport trails by over $1,500, and only Baton Rouge’s Metropolitan Government also cracks the $4,000 level (for 2020, Bossier City’s fell to $6,561).

Worse, according to revenues available, Bossier City will come under pressure to pay it all off. Its debt-to-annual revenue ratio is 3.14, just exceeding East Baton Rouge but trailing its neighbor to the west at 3.85. The higher the ratio, the less money the city will have available to pay operating expenses in future years, thus tempting tax increases (whether by individual debt authority renewal or rolling forward property tax rates) to cope.

5.10.21

New flood insurance rules overall benefit LA

Although some of Louisiana’s members of Congress oppose the implementation of National Flood Insurance Program reform at this time, it’s happened and, if rolled out properly, will reduce overall taxpayer risk and bring comparative rate relief to many clients.

Since its most recent significant alteration nearly a half-century ago, the NFIP has proven a fiscal nightmare. Only property owners with a federal government-backed mortgage legally in zones defined as particularly flood-prone must have it, with it over time having received $60 billion premiums but paying out $96 billion. Further, because of data and technology abilities in that era, policy pricing didn’t reflect individual properties but instead followed a crude blanket approach that itself tended to underestimate risk in higher-risk areas and overestimate it elsewhere, which effectively meant lower-risk properties subsidized higher-risk ones.

Another factor also historically skewed pricing: federal government willingness to pass one-off disaster aid legislation to reimburse owners wracked by flooding, such as the bill last week that addressed a host of recent disasters to hit Louisiana and some other states. And yet one other has allowed for pricing that doesn’t properly account for risk: the willingness of Congress simply to write off NFIP debt as it did in 2017 and has proposed doing again. Both serve to make some taxpayers subsidize the living choices of others by assuming part of the latter’s risk.

4.10.21

LA treating condemned better than children

Worse than sad, it’s shameful that Louisiana treats its condemned inmates better than its children in school.

The past 18 months have brought unique problems for education of the state’s children, with draconian measures taken at first in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. After closing doors everywhere at the end of the spring 2020 semester, in some districts these would remain shut for the entire 2020-21 school year. Even where classrooms reopened, policies such as quarantining if a child had been anywhere close to someone who came down with the virus remained in effect.

This segregation took a noticeable toll. Comparing test scores with 2019, those of 2021 dropped nearly five percent, largely driven by increased pervasiveness of remote instruction in the interim.