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New year, but same good old boy attitudes in Louisiana

It’s a new year, but too many of the same old attitudes remain in regards to those people in power in Louisiana’s government.

Less than a month ago, Secretary of State Al Ater was issuing all sorts of reasons why New Orleans should delay its elections until around the end of September – it was the federal government’s fault in not providing lists of displaced voters, and also that pre-clearance would take too long, not enough poll commissioners would be around, etc. Suddenly, he now is saying they could happen in March, even though about a week ago he thought elections in April would be a stretch.

Such a dramatic conversion in attitude likely has come from the confluence of outside forces that Ater neither hoped nor thought would occur. He probably knew all along that the federal government would be much speedier in providing clearance and information, taking away these excuses, and considerable pressure by a U.S. district court on his dilatory stance no doubt also caused an attitude adjustment. But perhaps the biggest impact came from the near-universal scorn heaped upon him and Gov. Kathleen Blanco by the public, pundits, and other politicians. Democracy works even in Louisiana, when you have a citizenry willing to inform itself and to prod its policy-makers.

But the good-old-boy attitude that would minimize the voices of the people in their own governance has infested itself strongly among the state’s political elites and, while it was not strong enough in Ater’s case for him to resist, it still has significant redoubts. One such is that of the Gromyko of the State Senate, its president Don Hines, has shown little enthusiasm for changing these ways that, frankly, is what he used to accumulate political power while simultaneously holding back the state. This manifests in his attitude that a Legislative special session is unneeded whose crux rests on levee board governance reform.

This obviously puts Hines on the wrong side of the issue that, besides delaying elections, has most galvanized the public in Louisiana since the Band-Aid special session. Hines did nothing to support meaningful reform in this area and instead focused his energies on making it easier to raid the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund to continue his strategy of shifting monies to favored constituencies rather than undertaking funding reductions which likely would endanger these interests as other needs are much more pressing.

And it should go without saying that Blanco herself remains captive to this ideology. Anybody who observes her televised remarks understands she continues to attempt to shift blame instead of taking responsibility, and at the same time comes off as hypocritical in her desire to say others try to distort her record (she claims because it’s politics, because it’s gender bias, ad naseum) when she herself in front of Congress did her level best to distort her role in the leadership breakdown after Hurricane Katrina. It’s always excuses for what continues to fail, rather than admitting mistakes and, more importantly, embracing sensible change.

It may be a new year, but nothing changes among Louisiana’s Democrat political elites – something voters need to keep in mind when many of these same characters and their ilk offer themselves for reelection next year.

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