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Flawed judicial decision oversimplistic, imprudent

Fourteen years later, the wisdom of north Louisiana voters became more apparent when 11th Judicial District Judge Stephen Beasley issued a flawed ruling on a hot issue.

Beasley, who ran as a Democrat for the Second District of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2004 and for reelection to his current post in 2008, but as a no-party candidate in 2014, sided with the plaintiff in a case concerning the state’s non-unanimous jury standard. At present, concerning major crime only 10 of 12 must vote for guilt except, by the state’s criminal code, for a crime that can carry a capital sentence. A constitutional amendment to be decided next month could change that to requiring unanimity.

In this case, the plaintiff had netted a conviction with the 11 white jurors in the majority, but the lone black juror dissenting. His lawyer Richard Bourke, better known for his strident opposition to capital punishment, also has for an extended period argued against the constitutionality of the non-unanimity requirement.


N.O. nearly at bail-free status; poses challenge

Those criminal justice savings perhaps the state should have skewed towards New Orleans. Already one of the most dangerous major cities in the country (ranking 23rd in violent crime rate of cities above 200,000 people) a perfect storm of legal rulings, elected official attitudes, and ideological activists may launch its crime rate even higher.

The state yesterday announced the distribution of over $8 million gained from lower incarceration bills courtesy of changes to divert more convicts from prison and shortening imprisonment sentences. Fortunately, the Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration appeared to resist the temptation to spread the money out for political reasons, resulting in local funds going only to entities in the five largest parishes in population terms (which also have the highest numbers of offenders).

All told, Orleans Parish operations received close to $3 million. But perhaps that should have gone higher, because of the turn pretrial procedures have taken over the past year-and-a-half.


Hype artists try to scare Bossier water consumers

So, if you live on the east bank of the Red River in and around Bossier City, instead of taking a shower you should pour bottled water over your head? Listening to some first-class hype artists using second-hand science, you would get that impression.

At the end of last month, state health officials announced that it had found in a system hooked up to Bossier City’s water naegleria fowleri, more popularly known as the brain-eating amoeba. A recommended 0.5 mg/l chlorine level in water systems should prevent its presence, but because of biofilter buildup (essentially, organic slime lining pipes) it can hang around in pipes even with that additive and it was detected in a previously dormant line of the water system in question.

In that case, pursuant to best practices research, a system should have a flush double that level for 60 days, to ensure that all lines, even those the farthest away, receive such water and that it penetrates any biofilter. That Bossier City began doing a few days later.


Brown resignation ends colorful career

The controversial political career of the chief appellate judge in north Louisiana has come to a sudden end, with electoral reverberations for others to follow.

Earlier this month, former Second Circuit Court for Appeals Judge Henry Brown abruptly resigned. He could have served through 2020, winning his first term in 1990, although because he would have been well above the age of 70 for the next election he couldn’t have run again. The circuit includes all of north Louisiana, although his particularly district stretched from Bossier to Caldwell Parishes.

The state’s Judiciary Commission stood poised to discipline him, with him apparently ordered by the Supreme Court not to carry out the duties of his office. It appears complaints against him that he tried to interfere in a case heard by some of his colleagues led to that command, triggering his resignation.


Regents should (mostly) hold line on admissions

To understand better the poor judgment Louisiana State University Baton Rouge used in relaxing its admission standards, it’s helpful to understand the context of university admissions and concerning those students granted exceptions – a task the Louisiana Board of Regents will undertake.

First, clearly LSU violated Regents’ policy, which states that only four percent of admitted students could come in as exceptions. LSU reported the class of 2018, judged by the surreptitiously relaxed standards that did not automatically reject those with an American College Test score of 22 and a grade point average of 3.0/4.0 and 19 core hours, contained nearly twice that proportion of exceptions.

The Regents have launched audits of admissions in all senior institutions, where they will find LSU’s transgression. Then they may choose whether to penalize LSU or to accede by adjusting downwards the standards.


Funding, privatization would fix NO water woes

Failing infrastructure. Common system breakdowns. Design and implementation mistakes. Inability to maintain a workforce. Gross overbilling. Gross underbilling. Failure to enforce customer payment. Administrative follies. It all should add up to privatization for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. The only problem is ….

By now, the city’s public water provider and drainer has become a joke. Widespread publicity over a number of issues has revealed an extraordinary range of incompetence:


Edwards draws first, perhaps significant, foe

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards drew his first opponent today – certainly not the last, but probably not the winner despite some deep pockets.

Republican Businessman Eddie Rispone filed ethics reports that will allow him to raise money for next year’s contest. Not that he’ll need to haul in some bucks anytime soon, as he says he already has $5 million bankrolled for the effort.

Rispone has helped substantially Republican and conservative causes throughout the years, and recently founded a heretofore low-key effort to counter the Alinskyite Together Baton Rouge, but this represents his first foray for elected office. He eventually will further explain his reasons for running, but for now simply notes that “we can do better” than Edwards.


Regents must force LSU off declining path

In ratifying unanimously Louisiana State University Baton Rouge’s decision to lower admission standards, the LSU Board of Supervisors showed both tone deafness and disingenuousness.

Last year, LSU surreptitiously altered the state-mandated requirement that, with few exceptions, entering freshmen score at least a 22 on the American College test or its equivalent, arguing that Board of Regents standards permitted dropping that as a hard and fast rule. The Regents set policy but the Supervisors manage LSU System schools.

LSU argues that “holistic” admissions, through the use of other criteria that in its mind justifies admission of students scoring below 22 without any special circumstances, will preserve academic quality. It notes that a number of universities (although most much more highly selective in admissions) have headed in this direction and says the experiment of last year produced a class at or near all-time highest average test scores and grade point averages.