Search This Blog


Partisanship appears to lie behind Ater's actions

When I was in graduate school in New Orleans, whenever with certain of my friends and we remarked on something unfortunate happening, there would be a standard articulated response. For example:

Me: “Reuben Mayes rushed for over 200 yards and the Dolphins still beat the Saints!”
Randy (or Tom, Mark, A.J., etc.): “I blame Reagan.”

This, of course, made fun of the penchant of Democrats then who always tried to connect anything, no matter how totally unrelated, to an imagined misdeed of our fortieth president. I get the same feeling whenever I hear yet another Louisiana Democrat (and some Republicans) complain about “FEMA” to deflect from their own inabilities to perform their jobs in a competent, impartial fashion. At the rate they blame the federal government, those outside the state are going to stop calling us “Louisianans” and start calling us “Iblamefemans.”

The latest to succumb to this disease is the temporary Secretary of State Democrat Al Ater, who alleged presumed Federal Emergency Management Agency intransigence in part lay behind his decision to recommend delaying New Orleans elections until perhaps as late as November, 2006. Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco has said she’ll follow whatever recommendation Ater makes.

While Ater also cited other concerns such as logistics as a reason behind his recommendation, he seemed miffed that FEMA would not abandon privacy guidelines and turn over information about the locations of alleged displaced persons to his office. Further, he seems nonplussed that FEMA does not hand over to him a wad of money to pay for contacting these individuals and to enable him and his staff to engage in “outreach” and to barnstorm across the country to see them.

What this shows is Ater seems to show a curious selectivity in performing his job. Does the state conduct information campaigns such as the one he envisions with its two recognized classes of out-of-state voters, college students and those in the military? No; it’s incumbent upon these individuals to gather their own information about how to vote absentee. Why should Ater get $750,000 of taxpayer dollars that could be used for other reconstruction purposes to help displaced people when it never has been state policy to do what he proposes for others in a similar kind of situation?

But Ater probably is unconcerned with those individuals because college students participate in small numbers and the military, well, it’s unreliable because it typically strongly votes Republican. Ater would prefer to boost Democrat turnout because the majority of displaced individuals are Democrats. Worse, many of these displaced people probably have no real intention of ever returning to the state yet Ater is trying to single out these people and pump them for a vote.

Further, the timing he suggested, particularly singling out the Sep. 30 date as it is one where there already will be statewide elections and would cost little extra, raises questions. Democrats believe the farther in the future an election is held, the greater the chances will be that the displaced people who are disproportionately Democrat will be able to return, making their likelihood of voting greater and improving Democrats’ chances at getting elected.

However, if Ater truly were concerned about the integrity of the process. i.e. to stay as close to the original date as possible, he would have instead championed the newly-established statewide Apr. 29, 2006 date. After all, the Legislature went to the trouble of creating this date to allow dealing with constitutional amendments coming out of the special session, and it buys about three extra months past the original Feb. 4 date which should be more than sufficient to overcome any logistical problems now present, and cost no more extra than the Sep. 30 date.

Definitive proof of Ater’s partisanship laying behind these decisions may come if he assumes the chairmanship of the Louisiana Democratic Party as has been rumored. Even if that never happens, his actions regarding elections in Louisiana cast serious doubts on his impartiality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Note: learn difference between lay and lie.