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Bossier City voters miss another chance for good govt

We have the answer, which leads us to the next question: will Bossier City voters enact any punishment at all to its politicians for their profligacy and wasted opportunities?

As noted previously in this space, voters have good reason, given the history of citizenry abuse of its resources with a number of ill-conceived, wasteful projects and decisions, that culminated in a budget crisis right after the 2009 elections and also led the city to bungle an economic development decision announced at the end of last year that may cost it tens of millions of dollars. So public outcry could have been such that many candidates would have surfaced to challenge the coup-counting, chest-puffing good old boys in power.

One, District 4 councilman David Jones, did call it quits, and sliding right into his spot is local real estate agent Jeff Free. While choice for voters would have been better, it’s hard not consider any outcome as an upgrade, and with Jones’ departure overall on the council we can expect fewer outbreaks of athlete’s mouth.


Good GOP Senate week capped by unity with Cassidy

The Republican scenario to knock off Sen. Mary Landrieu  in 2014 had a dream week, closing with affirmation of a strong candidate with the promise of undivided attention in the quest with her receiving more bad polling news.

Yesterday, Rep. Bill Cassidy formally announced his intentions to contest the seat, perhaps coordinated with Rep. John Fleming who, after letting the Cassidy announcement get covered for a day, then offered his declination. Fleming would have been a competitive candidate but faced a significant disadvantage compared to Cassidy: many fewer dollars currently in the bank with the need to raise a ton of them.

While Fleming is the wealthiest member of the state’s congressional delegation – even including Landrieu – past elections show she will move mountains to spend to stay in office. For the two-year election cycle ending in her reelection 2008, she outspent her main opponent $10.144 million to $4.795 million and in the cycle ending in 2002 she outspent her main opponent $7.540 million to $3.721 million. Having the ability to bludgeon the opposition, which reflects both her fundraising prowess and the relative weakness of the other candidates, has been key to her narrow wins.


Poll results bring smiles to Vitter, troubles to Landrieu

While Gov. Bobby Jindal’s centerpiece tax reform plan looks set to encounter tough sledding on the basis of a recent poll, one of Louisiana’s U.S. senators got similar news from it and another received the exact opposite as they appear to embark on their next elections.

The survey by Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby did not have heartening news for Sen. Mary Landrieu. She received an overall favorable approval rate of 56 percent, but when considering reelection, more crucial to understanding those chances comes from evaluating her against a field and not in isolation. Even with a sample tilted a bit towards Democrat candidates, against any generic candidate more than a third of the sample said straight out it would not vote for her, barely fewer than said they would definitely vote for her reelection in 2014 (and a small improvement over her worse numbers two years ago).

Five years ago, against a weak liberal-Democrat-turned-populist-conservative-Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, she managed to pull out a five-point win with polls in the months prior to the election averaging her vote to reelect rate around 45 percent in a favorable electoral climate. Neither condition exists at this time.


Time running out for Jindal to transform LA political culture?

As is typical, the clash between the transformative ideas of Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana’s political culture makes the voting public appear schizophrenic, with implications for his agenda going forward.

Prior to each legislative session, over the past several years it has become a rite of Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby to commission a survey concerning prominent politicians and issues. However, it must be noted that the sampling of 600 registered voters, not actual intended voters for a future election, did a substandard job in a couple of ways, making some of its conclusions problematic in presenting a valid reading of them.

It did have a tilt in favor of interests that might be expected to support Democrats, given results gathered from the kinds of candidates they typically vote for compared to 2012 election results. More disturbingly, it oversampled tremendously in one way in that one in nine reported having a household member working as a public school teacher when only about 50,000 are employed as public school teachers statewide out of about 2.9 million registered voters or a an actual ratio (assuming the proportion of registered voters of adults at 82 percent is reflected in households, or 1.37 million) of 3.6 percent, meaning the sample actually contained three times the proportion of public school teachers in a household than actually exists in the population.


Unlike Shreveporters, Bossier voters can punish politicians

A month after red-faced as Bossier City officials announced the distinctly unfavorable settlement in a needless lawsuit their actions created, Shreveport officials could have matched that when they announced the city finally was throwing in the towel on its notorious Bioset deal – even if they, unlike most of their Bossier City counterparts, had no direct complicity in the mess.

This saga began a dozen years ago during the first administration of former Mayor Keith Hightower as a response to Environmental Protection Agency concerns over the city’s waste treatment. One alternative was to buy technology to deal with it at a cost of $26 million. But another was to make a deal with Bioset, as the firm had a process by which sludge could be turned into sod.

Hightower did the latter – but on distinctly unfavorable terms for the city. In a total contract of $32 million over 20 years, along with the city backing a $10 million loan, low interest and tax exempt, of then-available small-issue Industrial Development Revenue Bonds from the state’s Louisiana Community Development Authority to build facilities, for an estimated value of $700,000 the city would get sod from Bioset for its use on various city properties. Over time, rumors surfaced that this had been a sweetheart deal for associates of Hightower and/or a result of campaign contributions; certainly it made little economic sense as, in this particular instance, the cost of the city doing this itself actually would have been lower and would have left it with a permanent facility to do it with.


Even if swap fails, Jindal succeeds with transformation

Perhaps Gov. Bobby Jindal has bitten off more than he could chew. Or maybe people have assumed the wrong agenda for him all along.

With criticism from a number of corners, some of it with merit, much of it driven by political calculation, over his tax swap plan that essentially replaces income taxes with (increasingly) higher and broader sales taxation that simplifies the system which together produce greater economic growth, chances are fading that it will make its way into law as he intends it. They are reduced further by distracting sideshows left over from previous bold initiatives of the past year – attempts to have declared the ways in which education reform were enacted unconstitutional and the restructuring of health care delivery with the backdrop of ruinous federal policy, and in this area an investigation apparently into one of the largest contracts let by the state. So much so far so fast may mean some of it gets left behind for the lack of enough political resources to get it into law.

The prevailing assumption, often explicated in cynical and condescending tones, is that Jindal’s public policy is driven primarily by a desire to achieve higher office. Those with little understanding of the philosophy behind his general policy prescriptions – privatizing state functions where it’s best to do so, improving delivery where they should remain operated by the state, or using both approaches by encouraging private provision to compete with and improve public sector delivery, and all against a backdrop of fiscal policy designed to get government out of the way to unleash the fruits of individual autonomy – assign the specific policies from this as props solely created to further political ambitions. This entirely misunderstands.