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U.S. House try best bet for Angelle, LA GOP chances

Author of columns that appear next to mine in his newspapers, publisher Sam Hanna has an interesting review of the future of perhaps another gubernatorial contender, or even Senate contender, as Louisiana’s campaign cycle gets going.

While other candidates for the state’s top office, such as state Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and now the latest Treasurer John Kennedy, have admitted if not volunteered interest in the job, and Sen. David Vitter allows speculation of his interest in it to run rampant, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, as Hanna demonstrates by his piece, gets mentioned as a possibility but never himself addresses the subject. As a candidate who has won as both a Democrat and Republican from the local to state level, Angelle has shown broad electable appeal and has done little on the issues to disqualify him from getting conservative support in a right-of-center state.

The coy Vitter would be the favorite were he to announce, given his strong conservative support among both the principled and populist winds of the party that would eat at the populist’s Kennedy’s support, that has led no other principled conservative to contest to this point, and would leave too little left over for the moderate conservative Dardenne with the liberal Edwards in the race. Angelle could take support further from Dardenne but he also could gather principled conservative support that otherwise would coalesce around Vitter.


Meeting hypocritically pans diversity from free inquiry

Ironically, even though the Botanical Society of America’s annual conference ongoing in New Orleans this week assigns itself the tagline “Diversity!” the annual event's contents make clear that the group countenances no diversity when it comes to actual free inquiry.

It also provides more evidence of the decidedly anti-intellectual strain increasing its infestation of the academy in America, and not just because it devoted one of its several symposia slots to the burning plant-related issue of “Yes Bobby, evolution is real!” That specific meeting devoted itself to “railing against and ridiculing” the Louisiana Education Science Act, for which I’m sure the taxpayers footing the bill for university-related attendees were glad to have funded this politicized spleen venting.

This whining and moaning became a triumph of emotion over reason, because the law does nothing that its accusers allege. It mandates that Louisiana science educators should make maximal efforts to induce critical thinking into their classrooms. As anybody who cares to read the statute itself can observe, it does not in any way make obligatory the teaching of creationism, as its febrile critics maintain.


Suit without merit reminds of wages of fiscal straitjacket

A lawsuit filed over 2012 legislative act may not win on its merits, but it should provide a push again to reform Louisiana’s inefficient fiscal structure.

The Louisiana Probation and Parole Officers Association filed suit to negate Act 597 from 2012, better known as the “funds sweep” bill from that year. In it, $3.8 million is transferred from the Adult Probation and Parole Officer Retirement Fund, created in 2009 to enable a potential method to enhance benefits for probation and parole officers. By statute, money has been collected from non-incarcerated individuals under penal supervision from fiscal year 2010 on, $65 an open case, to fund this.

Sweeps occur when undedicated monies do not match the desired level of spending by legislators. There are over 300 dedicated funding streams existing, with only a very few (and growing slowly in number) protected constitutionally from having funds taken from them. The problem occurs when the amount of money pouring in to the funds exceeds the genuine need for the function defined under statute, when ranked relatively by legislators to all other state needs. This creates surplus funds while other more important priorities otherwise would go under-funded if funded at all. The sweeps correct this statutorily-created straitjacket.


Politicized LA board subverts accountability, responsibility

The irony, of course, is that a body created presumably for nonpolitical functions acted in a very political way, all the while deluding itself into thinking it is serving a democratic system that its very actions subvert.

Last week, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed suit against dozens of extraction companies to scoop money from them to fund its activities – never mind, naturally, that the majority owners of them directly or indirectly are millions of small investors and they and consumers would pay for any such transferring. The suit claims that exploration for decades has caused a greater magnitude of flooding, impaired levees, and culminated in breach of contract for insufficient restoration actions. Damages awarded could run into the billions of dollars if it succeeds.

The Authority candidly admits that it fears it doesn’t have money to fund its ambitious flood protection ideas and so wants to grab some. The Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration, from where approval from the governor which must be given (even as the Authority claims a novel status within state government that obviates that) for a suit to proceed, has expressed opposition and at the Authority’s next meeting will lay out the consequences of its going rogue.