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LA Democrats' leadership choice ensures continued slide

The new overseer has got different equipment and is a couple of shades darker than the old one, but the party’s fortunes seem very unlikely to change for Democrats in Louisiana.

The state party witnessed a coup when former Chairman Buddy Leach got the heave-ho at the quarterly meeting of the party’s state central committee. Clearly, something was afoot as these meetings (as with the Louisiana Republican Party) are plagued with attendance problems where quorums are less common than not, but this issue appeared to get enough members mobilized to oust Leach in favor of state Sen. Karen Peterson 85-75.

Just so. Some months ago, the party attained a black plurality of registrants and by the end of the summer will be black majority. One-legislator majorities of black Democrats exist in both chambers of the Legislature. For the foreseeable future, blacks will be in the majority both in the party’s electorate and officeholders. Peterson is black; Leach is white, and it was about time for a representative change in the running of the plantation.


Obama budget blows to LA subvert his fiscal agenda

Louisiana can’t help that Pres. Barack Obama served up a one-two punch to the state’s economy. What can be dealt with is its response, with some clues as to what that might be.

The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference met Tuesday to ratify that in the fewer than 70 days left in this fiscal year the state was short $210.5 million on what it had been budgeted for. Even with that lower baseline, it also said next year’s budget would still have to be constructed with $92.8 million less than even that, compared to the previous forecast.

State budget analysts noted one problem as a lingering national recession. That was the first punch by Obama, whose economic policies have caused this. His follow-up was with the placement of ideology over people with policies designed to slow the extraction of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, in order to throw some red meat (maybe tofu in some cases) to environmentalists and to make a greater case to shift energy production to alternative energies (and all the crony capitalism that involves). While the former has hurt the entire country, the latter additionally persistently has hurt disproportionately Louisiana.


Normally compliant voters send Bossier schools message

It was a tale of several northwest Louisiana local governing authorities this weekend concerning funding propositions for local governments, with very different fates. Of around 140 ballot propositions across the state for a dizzying variety of jurisdictions and purposes, only nine failed to pass. Interestingly, five of them were in this part of the state.

Some authorities around here won, and big. Multiple propositions renewing nearly half of the projected revenues for the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office breezed by the voters by margins that make Russia look like a healthy democracy by comparison.

This is a testament to the leadership of Sheriff Steve Prator, whose tenure now of over a dozen years has featured putting a brake on spiraling costs while expanding services. He even did something seldom seen around these parts by governing authorities with property tax renewals – rather than renew them at their previous authorized millages, he put up to the voters the millages at which they had been rolled back.


Image before issues backfires on LA Democrats

It seems very likely that Pres. Barack Obama will wrap up the Democrats’ nomination for the presidency after today, regardless of the eventual outcome of an incident in Louisiana where the state branch of the party, famous for its ability to construct omelets on its face, just went and cracked a few more eggs to add to its embarrassment.

Last month, ironically driven by voters who will not support the party in the general election, a hard leftist Tennessee lawyer named John Wolfe appeared to have won delegates in the state’s presidential preference primary, the rules stating that anybody who earned more than 15 percent of the vote in a state congressional district was entitled. By the rules, he seemingly won three, the first that would have been awarded not to Obama.

Democrats at all levels, knowing Obama faces trouble in reelection, desperately want every advantage they can muster and strongly desire the appearance that Obama has perfectly solid support within the party, thus making it imperative that nobody but Obama wins delegates to their national convention. With Wolfe’s results threatening this chimera, the state party decided to shut him out, announcing that his failure to file relatively simple if somewhat tangential requests regarding his candidacy (although no forms are provided in the delegate selection plan) that it claims was available prior to its due dates (an assertion disputed by another candidate) voided his opportunity to receive any delegates.


Electioneering note reminds educrats need supervision

Passing reform legislation is one thing. Getting it implemented when those who have benefitted from the previous system are part of that equation is another thing, as a recent incident reminds.

About the time Gov. Bobby Jindal was readying himself to sign Act 1 and Act 2 of the 2012 regular legislative session, which among other things would reduce school board influence over certain decisions made by school superintendents, Livingston Parish School District Superintendent Bill Spear stood up before the local Chamber of Commerce and lied about activities of the Jindal Administration, making the fantastic claim that, according to the Livingston Parish News, it “already made a public records request for e-mails sent out to Livingston Parish school employees concerning proposed changes.”

Apparently, the reporter lacked any critical perspective on the matter and accepted the charge at face value (nor did she show much accurate knowledge about the whole issue, such as claiming charter schools “are public schools run by private businesses” when in fact most in the state are run by nonprofit organizations). More on the ball were Gannett News Service reporters Mike Hasten and Barbara Leader, who actually investigated the claim and found it, if not outright fabricated, badly distorted. Instead, they learned the request had been about electioneering activities by Spear in the fall elections and from a law partner of a state Republican Party official.


Populist hypocrisy should not stop prison privatization

Populism and hypocrisy can make for a potent mix, but it still may not be enough to derail efforts to improve Louisiana state government efficiency, as long as Gov. Bobby Jindal stays committed to achieving it.

Jindal and his legislative allies had to trim sail a bit on a measure that would allow for selling the Avoyelles Correctional Center that could have pumped $35 million into the Budget Stabilization Fund, but have retained the option for it to be operated by the private sector, as are Allen and Winn Correctional Centers presently, at an estimated $7 million a year. Unfortunately, legislators don’t get much political mileage out of telling the folks back home they stuffed away more money into a savings account for a rainy day, as compared to what small but intense constituencies can bring to oppose such items. It’s those special interests that want to scuttle the savings as well.

The leading loudmouth in this regard is state Rep. Robert Johnson, who has Avoyelles in his district. In floor debate on HB 850 that would set the stage for that facility’s private sector operation, Johnson said of private correctional facilities operators, “They're trying to make profits, they're not worried about safety,” and claimed staff turnover was almost nonexistent at Avoyelles, compared to high turnover at Winn, thereby arguing that as the profit motive encouraged lower wages, therefore higher turnover that resulted led to less safe conditions.