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Bossier juror illegal actions issue in contests

Ambiguity over Louisiana law regarding boards of library control, and unambiguous illegal activity of Bossier Parish police jurors possibly not serving legally on it, have become issues in Police Jury contests.

Since 2016, the Jury has had members serving on the parish’s Library Board of Control. At present, the entire composition of the Board is made up of jurors: Republicans Glenn Benton, Bob Brotherton, Julianna Parks, Doug Rimmer, and Democrat Charles Gray. All ran for reelection this fall, with Benton and Rimmer drawing no opposition.

By state law, the parish if it chooses (or enough citizens petition it) to have a library system must have this panel with five to seven citizens of the parish appointed by it. State statute also grants the board some powers independently of the parish: to elect and employ a librarian, and, upon the recommendation and approval of the latter, to employ assistant librarians and other employees and fix their salaries and compensation; provided that no contract of employment shall be made for a longer period than four years nor with any person as head librarian, or director, who has not been certified by the State Board of Library Examiners. Otherwise, the parish controls all other aspects of library operation that it chooses to do so.


LSU puff piece misleads on admission outcomes

Louisiana State University Baton Rouge would like you to believe its holistic admissions system has led to its most “academically accomplished” freshman class in history. Don’t drink this misleading Flavor Aid.

Last week, the school released information about the incoming class, noting an average ACT score of 26.5 and grade point average of 3.82. This was said to set records in both categories and has come despite the decision five years ago to move to admissions that deemphasized test scores and GPA in favor of intangible criteria, making utilization of such scores optional. This has been in direct violation of Louisiana Board of Regents minimum admission standards which requires an ACT (or SAT equivalent) score of 25 for first-time freshmen, although as many as four percent of all entering students may not meet that and/or any other admission criteria.

The impact was felt immediately as the school retreated further away from meeting the four percent criterion, which BOR had and continued to ignore enforcing. In 2017, the year before the change, the average ACT was 25.6, although the lowest quarter of percentiles was just 23, which demonstrates the school wasn’t close to the four percent standard or else that would have been close to 25 (keep in mind that with 25 as the theoretical floor for at least 96 percent of entering first-time freshmen, a distribution of scores would be, in graphic form, long-tailed to the right, pulling up the mean and various other percentile measures).


Reports predict pair of close NW LA House races

It’s a sure thing the Louisiana House of Representatives candidate in the northwest part of the state that either spends the most or second-most money on campaigning this fall will lose.

That has become apparent from the campaign finance reports filed earlier this month, which don’t hold many surprises. Of the area’s ten contests, four have been decided with just one candidate qualifying, while a couple of others seem unlikely to be competitive.

In House District 7 in Caddo and parishes south, Republican state Rep. Larry Bagley seems set to win a final term, having raised over $100,000 this year, spent over half of it, and still having over $200,000 available. By contrast, energy employee Republican Tim Pruitt hasn’t even garnered five figures and, while an endorsement from the Louisiana Freedom Caucus Political Action Committee will help, he faces quite an uphill battle.


Approve all but locally-oriented amendments

On both the general election date of Oct. 14 andthe its runoff date of Nov. 18 voters will be asked to approve four constitutional amendments. Louisianans should grant that approval for all but the two that address local finances.

Oct. 14, #1 – would clarify current statute prohibiting elections funding not from direct legislative appropriation, preventing election outsourcing to private funders whose targeting of dollars could influence outcomes. Its need is obvious. YES.

Oct. 14, #2 – would elevate from law into the Constitution and clarify that restrictions to constitutional freedom of religious worship operate under strict scrutiny. This would prevent any restriction unless it dealt with a compelling government interest, one narrowly tailored using the least restrictive means available. This important right deserves such a safeguard. YES.


Desperado Waguespack facing ticking clock

It’s a visit to the Last Chance Saloon for anybody not named Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry in the 2023 Louisiana race, and the Republican with perhaps the best chance to try to supplant a Democrat (if not by actual label) in the runoff has joined the ranks of the desperate to attempt that.

Former senior administration official under Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal, Stephen Waguespack, at least according to a poll conducted to determine participation in it, has done in an independent survey what no other GOP candidate other than Landry has: nearly crack into double digits of support. He received nine percent in that, trailing Landry at 40 percent and Democrat former cabinet member Shawn Wilson with 24 percent, while no other candidate pulled better than four percent, in the form of the candidacy of no party (but stealth Democrat) trial lawyer Hunter Lundy.

Those three above five percent were invited to the Gray Media television station consortium debate this week, but Landry declined. This leaves a two-up match that, for Waguespack, has the advantage of making him appear to be the alternative to Wilson by default.


Conversation there about Landry outright win

So, Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson pulled the plug on his gubernatorial candidacy. It changes little that GOP Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry and Democrat former cabinet member Shawn Wilson are heading to runoff, with Landry having a decisive advantage.

Nelson, whose campaign best fits a libertarian mold, never cracked two percent in polling, with the latest survey for Gray Media television stations in Louisiana not even including him in its summary of voter preferences that occurred a few days before he announced his withdrawal. Given the state’s political culture with a history of liberal populism that emphasized social conservatism and liberal economics, reversing the pair doesn’t fit well.

Low on funds, Nelson recognized the obvious and went out endorsing Landry. That seems odd on the surface, for why run against the front runner if you ultimately think he’s better than all other challengers? It may have been for strategic purposes, with Nelson now out of electoral politics and perhaps searching for a way to stay in governance with an appointment and Landry the likely one to do the appointing come next year.


Pressured BC Council graybeards still defy law

As its legal woes mount, once again the Bossier City Council violated the city charter, although on this third occasion one councilor decided it was time to cut his losses.

At its last meeting, once again Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler placed on the agenda an item to put on the Nov. 18 general election runoff ballot a referendum on a three-term lifetime and retroactive limit on elected officials. A petition, following the charter’s stipulations, was certified by the registrar of voters to force the Council to do this if it did not itself resolve into an amendment this change within 30 days of certification.

It has 90 days after that to call the election or piggyback onto another. And it failed to follow the charter for a third time, which had the practical effect of pushing the matter off the Nov. 18 ballot and now placing it on the Mar. 23, 2024 presidential preference primary ballot. Given the presence of the certified petition, legally it must do so by early November, although the same majority bloc of the Council that so far has blocked this muscled through a resolution to go to court to try to declare the petition invalid because it didn’t follow the letter of the law in its format although it had all the information required by law.


Arceneaux wounds self over Carnival changes

Carnival krewes often venture into politics as a subject of their parading. But in Shreveport, politics has ventured into carnival krewes’ parading.

In great contrast to his predecessor, Republican Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux has kept things low key and not tried to induce drama into his governance. Until recently, when he began dictating terms to the area’s two oldest and largest Carnival krewes, sticking his head into a hornet’s nest somewhat voluntarily.

About half a year prior to their next parading, the Krewes of Gemini and Centaur received notification of these changes. For many years now they have marched on the first and second Saturdays of Carnival, typically towards the later afternoon beginning at the southern end of downtown on the Clyde Fant Parkway, then hanging a right at Shreveport Barksdale Highway until going left onto East Kings Highway and ending up at Preston Avenue, typically finishing around 8:30 PM. They used to start in Bossier City and crossed over the Shreveport Barksdale Highway Bridge until city officials on the east bank didn’t like to be inconvenienced and kicked them out.


Better debate, leaves Landry & Wilson in lead

While the second televised candidate forum for Louisiana governor on the was better executed, it only marginally provided greater insight and information into the candidacies.

Nextstar television stations produced this one eight days after the first and featured two additional candidates to the first, which had Republicans state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Treas. John Schroder, and former gubernatorial official Stephen Waguespack; Democrat former cabinet member Shawn Wilson, and independent trial lawyer Hunter Lundy. Front runner GOP Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry joined this one, along with the candidate that polling shows drags the rear, GOP state Rep. Richard Nelson.

As opposed to the previous one, this forum perhaps even more sparsely viewed focused more narrowly and more in depth on subjects, and the journalists asking questions did a better job of removing themselves from the topics of debate. Still, a minute for answers and rebuttals even shorter don’t provide much, and some decisions on questions were puzzling, such as spending almost a third of the entire program on the issue of abortion, which in a recent survey ranked as only the seventh-most important issue to state residents while the debate ignored third-ranked education.


NW LA Senate campaign reports prove interesting

Collectively, according to recent campaign finance reports perhaps the most competitive Louisiana Senate races are happening in northwest Louisiana, although clarity has begun to emerge in the contests mainly in Caddo Parish.

Those are the three-candidate Senate District 38 and 39 contests. Less certain in outcome are the paired matchups in sprawling Senate District 31, which has a plurality of its voters in Caddo and Bossier Parishes, and District 36, with mainly a Bossier constituency.

The reports filed last week importantly for most of these candidacies reveal for the first time campaign donations and expenditures. These give an idea of the relevant potency of a candidacy and the kinds of supporters it draws, if any.