Search This Blog


If GOP candidates sound like Democrats, seat jeopardized

Two notable and connected things emerged when the dust settled around qualifying for the Fifth Congressional District special election in Louisiana – the contest attracted a number of whiners if not ignoramuses, and it may be that some of these could give a Democrat the best chance imaginable to win the seat.

Triggered by the sudden upcoming resignation of Rep. Rodney Alexander, as previously noted the race was bound to attract a lot of interest given that any Member of Congress from the state who stays at least one term in office who runs for reelection has not lost since the World War II period and, as a result, open seats open up only rarely. This once-in-a-generation opportunity in the district sucked in 14 contestants, and perhaps six of them may be regarded as competitive – state Sen. Neil Riser, state Reps. Marcus Hunter, Robert Johnson, and Jay Morris, Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway, and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.

Riser, Morris, and Holloway are white Republicans, Johnson is a white Democrat, and Hunter and Mayo are black Democrats. The district’s registrant composition is about two-thirds white, one-third black and about a half Democrat and a quarter Republican, although in recent statewide and presidential elections Republican candidates, as did Alexander in his elections, have outpolled considerably Democrats.


Johnson unlikely to fool voters in Fifth District tilt

As qualifying for the U.S. House Fifth District seat being vacated by Rep. Rodney Alexander wraps up, a white potentially competitive Democrat plans to enter the contest so that his party may dream of picking off the district. Can this guy make it a reality?

Simply, a black Democrat is unlikely to win, given none of them are close to conservative enough to attract anything beyond the paltry numbers of the hard left/Angry Left among whites within the district. Thus, the party’s only hope is in getting a white Democrat who could demonstrate some crossover appeal to more conservative whites.

And into the ring last week went the hat of State Rep. Robert Johnson, a white Democrat from around former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ old stomping grounds. Johnson perhaps is best known for attacking the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration’s plans to privatize prison operations in central Louisiana. Although he and others succeeded in stopping that efficiency measure, he did provide a truckload of asinine comments that can be exploited by opponents in his current endeavor by his repeated demonstrably erroneous assertions that streamlining corrections would cost more and by claims that taxpayers had the obligation to pay more in order to increase the number and remuneration of state employees. Making matters tougher, he had less than $15,000 as of the end of 2012 in his state campaign account, which he can use for this contest, and his 2011 personal disclosure form (having filed for an extension for the 2012 edition) shows he might have difficulty in self-financing a sprint to the Oct. 19 election.


Arrests should prompt Shreveport review of its procedures

While there are mishaps all around that led to the awful situation that has led to five arrests and the investigation of additional Shreveport firefighters, it does all begin and end with them and suggests the city has not done enough to prevent potential future similar problems from occurring.

In the past three weeks, arrests have been made connected to the alleged abuse of a couple of intellectually developmentally disabled individuals at Fire Station 8, located at the Fairgrounds, purported to be from the simply cruelly juvenile (stranding the individual on the roof for days) to the morally disturbing (goading the individual into illegal sexual activity while observed). Too many unsettling questions have arisen as these revelations emerged.

The first of which being how the presumed incidents came to the public consciousness. Details about the arrests apparently came from leaked court documents, and while a day later First District Attorney’s spokesman and fellow Fax-Net columnist Pat Culverhouse tendered his resignation, there apparently was no connection between the two events. But as the SFD had received notice of the allegations in late June and over a month passed before any arrests were made, this has led observers to wonder whether the SFD tried to downplay, if not quash, a criminal investigation.


Focus on support, tuition misses real LA college problem

As the academic year begins for most Louisiana public universities, we get another dose of alarmism: tuition is going up and Louisiana is among the quarter of states not increasing state funding of higher education; indeed, it continues to reduce that. It’s assumed that these ought to be worrisome trends and therefore should be altered by state policy, meaning stop raising rates (or at least as much) and start shoveling more state money at Louisiana higher education.  Wrong.

When a condition is misdiagnosed, you get the incorrect treatment. And beyond increases in tuition and fees over the past few years (for example, tuition and fees at my institution for a state resident taking a 12-hour load have gone up a third from three years ago) and a decline in state support (of four-ninths over the same time period for all Louisiana higher education), it’s another set of data that provide insight into guiding higher education policy in the state in the near future.

The latest data from the Southern Regional Education Board, which tracks particularly the 16 states considered with Louisiana as part of the region, that are fiscal year 2012, confirm the downward trend of state-funded spending, even relative to all other states. Since FY 2009, Louisiana in percentage terms has had the second highest reduction among SREB states and fourth highest among all states.


Money spent wisely if LA tax reform idea still pushed

It’s correct to say both that taxpayer expenses paid to research and publicize Gov. Bobby Jindal’s unsuccessful tax reform plan of earlier this year were a victim of the state’s populist streak in its political culture and provided value as long as lessons learned do get applied.

The idea was, in general, to flatten and broaden the tax code by getting rid of many exemptions and eliminating the income tax by a swap for higher sales tax rates. Intellectually, the idea absolutely was correct if the goal was to create a more robust economy by encouraging better, more efficient use of inputs by the nongovernment sector. Unfortunately, that was not a goal shared with a significant number of policy-makers and special interests.

Populism prevented that, and stood in direct contrast with the basic theory behind the swap based on the idea that economic gains measured in an absolute sense were the most desired. That is, the best economic system was the one that produced the most overall wealth, because that meant most would be better off. However, century-old populism infused into Louisiana’s political culture derives from a relativist view: one group gains at the expense of others, where the political process determines the winners and losers (such as by having a progressive tax code or in carving out exemptions and subsidies for favored constituencies). Whoever flexes the most political muscle shapes economic outcomes, causing conflict and division, instead of embracing a unifying paradigm that gives all an equal chance to succeed economically in proportion to the contribution they make to that effort (although skewed somewhat by government to ensure that those willing but least able to contribute enjoy charity from others that supplies them with basic necessities, although in practice usually much more than just that).