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21.3.19

LPSC new coop rules don't go far enough

Better late than never, and even if not as extensive as necessary, it looks as if the Louisiana Public Service Commission finally will bring some fiscal responsibility to electric cooperatives, although inviting legislative intervention.

Yesterday, the PSC voted in new rules that would shine more light on compensation practices of the dozen coops. These would force coops into membership votes on such packages for directors, and set term limits on their service.

Coops are member-owned providers of electricity, set up under federal and state law to encourage this provision in areas once though difficult to serve. Despite the fact that Louisiana law establishes the part-time nature of directorships and specifies paying them no salaries, average compensation for these positions recently went over $26,000 annually, although some made over twice that and others nothing at all.

20.3.19

States should have split jury decision option

Louisiana finds itself at the forefront of an interesting constitutional issue – with the possibility that bad jurisprudence could result.

The case involves the state’s non-unanimous jury requirement, placed on the ash heap of history last year when voters constitutionally prohibited the practice. Before then, the law had permitted it, and people convicted without unanimity litter Louisiana prisons. Additionally, those whose trials began prior to 2019 also risk conviction – or may gain acquittal – according to the old provision.

Often challenged legally but rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court surprisingly took up this latest attempt. The plaintiff argues that the Court’s interpretation that federal courts must use unanimity it should incorporate to all states, making an equal protection argument that split convictions inherently invite racial discrimination, in that this may negate the voting power of fair jurors not to convict minority defendants against allegedly prejudiced other jurors.

19.3.19

LA leadership discouraging Space Command

Louisiana Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham gets an ‘A’ for creativity and effort on his proposal to make Louisiana headquarters for the incipient Space Command. Too bad Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, whom Abraham challenges this fall, has done what he can to discourage this placement.

Last year, GOP Pres. Donald Trump called upon Congress to stand up what ultimately would become a new branch of the armed forces. His preliminary budget request seeks to carve out Space Command first as an agency in the Air Force, then within a couple of years to launch it into independence.

To that end, Abraham pitched the idea to Trump that Barksdale Air Force Base become the home of the new command. He pointed out that the facility surrounded by Bossier City already has the Global Strike Command, stood up about a decade ago to coordinate the Air Force’s nuclear capabilities. Space Grant university Louisiana Tech is just down the road, he noted, as well as in the state Louisiana State University also has this designation. He also mentioned the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans which has an extensive history in manufacturing space components.

18.3.19

One more reminder to reject high speed rail

With another nail put in the coffin of Louisiana high-speed passenger rail service, when will policy-makers face reality?

This week, a third bus transit company will begin offering service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. FlixBus will join Megabus and venerable Greyhound back and forth that Interstate 10 corridor.

Greyhound offers reasonably-priced trips at $12 and above several times a day with several stops along the way. By contrast, Megabus starts at a couple of bucks more and a couple of fewer trips a day, but operates express service.

17.3.19

And now, for something completely different

Normally, in this space would appear a link to my column that ran in The Advocate. However, The Advocate has let me go as a columnist.

Although I take issue with some of their opinions and news story choices, they are professionals and, for the people I worked with there, about them I have nothing but good things to say. Ultimately, the quality of my work for them was slipping.

Those readers who know something of my life probably can figure out why. Some clues have come from this space; I used to post fairly early each day, and every day Sunday through Thursday. In the past few months, I have been missing on some days and postings have come later and later in the day.

15.3.19

Biology causes sex differences in candidacies

An old parable and an old aphorism explain why Louisiana political offices tend to have fewer women occupying these than elsewhere.

This week, some discussions occurred about women winning elective office. In both Livingston Parish and next parish over at Louisiana State University, groups convened to hash out why it seemed women were underrepresented relative to other parts of the country (or world) in office. It seems particularly odd as not only do women who contest offices win at roughly the same rate as do men, but, in a study of members of Congress, women who did win more often, in terms of prior experience, competence, integrity, and problem-solving abilities, seem to have more of these qualities than do male candidates.

Additionally, among these congressional candidates, it appeared that men slightly less qualified on these bases or as qualified disproportionately defeated females, so (assuming the same applied to candidacies at all levels) some kind of “penalty” intruded on the process. Some of the investigation by the two panels mirrored the parable of blindfolded people stationed at different parts of the elephant, then asked to describe what they felt. Naturally, they came up with a whole host of speculations, all true separately but none close to identify the beast.

13.3.19

St. George pretty much forgone conclusion

No May election date, no problem for the organizers of the city of St. George. Although some might try to make its birth as messy as possible.

Earlier this week, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards refused to certify the May 5 municipal election date for the incipient city that petitioners wish to form in southern East Baton Rouge Parish. While he tried to blame Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s office for not offering assistance that previous holders of that office had supplied as causing the slowdown, Landry effectively rebutted that with a written demonstration on how little time and effort it would take to review the petition for completeness, which is all the law asks.

Delaying the vote also saves the parish money, as having a standalone election in only certain parts of the parish costs more than tucking in the item on a ballot already with other items. However, this departed from precedent in 2005, when a special election created Central. This was the only election in the parish despite one just weeks earlier that included most of the parish’s precincts.

12.3.19

LA correctly puts protection before privilege

A recent report shows that Louisiana cares more about protecting constitutional rights than in promoting privilege for certain groups.

Each year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Equality Federation Institute team up to rate states on their friendliness to the groups’ agenda. Both advocate for laws that encourage acceptance of expressing homosexuality, even if that limits activity protected by the First Amendment.

With the majority of states, Louisiana scores low, but that shouldn’t surprise given the groups’ agenda. For example, the report faults states for having Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, which implement federal law that aids states in protecting First Amendment rights of their citizens. As many sincerely hold religious beliefs that see homosexual behavior as sinful, these acts protect exercise of that belief that doesn’t force adherents to endorse, by word or deed, expressions of homosexuality.

11.3.19

Shreveport should swap recycling for garbage fee

How about a trade, Shreveport’s recycling fee for a solid waste collection fee?

Shreveport’s City Council looks poised to set up procedures at tomorrow’s meeting to collect a garbage fee, after hashing out details at today’s work session. The proposed $7 a month will provide enough to provide most funding for the operation, which would go into an enterprise fund similar to that for water provision, and present an opportunity to give sanitation workers a pay raise.

Almost no cities of Shreveport’s size nationally don’t charge some kind of fee. In fact, the largest cities in Louisiana all charge more.