Search This Blog


Surprise Riser runoff opponent rides anti-politician wave

Perhaps we should have seen this coming when the early voting totals showed little interest, but while practically every prognostication concerning the Fifth Congressional District special election focused only on some combination of state Sen. Neil Riser and any of a few other candidates with electoral office-holding backgrounds, one name that seldom came up because of his unknown quality was businessman Vance McAllister. And then the odd dynamics of this contest intervened to put these two Republican businessmen into the runoff.

With about a third of the vote, Riser moves on to the Nov. 16 runoff. But joining him about 14 points behind, a couple ahead of the third-place Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, was McAllister. Turnout appears only to have been little more than 20 percent, of which half voted for candidates other than this pair moving on.

That low turnout was key for McAllister’s surprise besting of Mayo, three state representatives, and a Public Service commissioner, for of these others, he appealed to the narrowest constituency most intensely interested in the election. Not that some of the other candidates wanted it to turn out this way, because they wanted at least part of that constituency.


Donations, demographics point to Riser, Mayo CD 5 runoff

This Saturday the winner of the special election for Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District is unlikely to be determined, but in that case we may have a pretty good idea of who that might be eventually.

The sprawling territory is being contested by over a dozen people, and despite its short campaign window they have attracted well over a million dollars in donations. Way out in front, each having raised a bit over a half million each, are Republicans state Sen. Neil Riser and state Rep. Jay Morris. With a little less than half of their totals is Republican Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway, a former member of Congress. At half of that again sits state Democrat Rep. Robert Johnson. Less than half of his was Democrat Weldon Russell, a member of the state House from 1984-88, and dragging the rear of those who raised anything significant enough to report was Monroe Mayor and Democrat Jamie Mayo, who had raised about a thirtieth of either Morris or Riser.

Which means that Mayo is a good bet to make the almost inevitable general election runoff. The district has about 33 percent black registration but a history of black turnout trailing white, by 5 percent in the last regular congressional election. Given this election may not even hit one-third of the last election’s 68 percent overall turnout, according to early voting numbers, that gap might increase even more, especially as no other races of consequence are on the ballot (sorry, Ouachita Parish Justice of the Peace candidates, the one guy who filed for mayor of Glenmora, etc.) and none that might stimulate black turnout.


Voters should reject Caddo tax renewal, looser term limits

Saturday, Caddo Parish officials are wanting voters to approve both parish-wide measures on the ballot. The public needs to resist the blandishment.

One is a renewal for 20 years of a 1.75 mill property tax used for capital items. Even though the parish sits on reserves that exceed greatly the projected over $23 million this would draw, in theory it’s defensible to have this revenue stream available. Many of the projected uses listed by the parish are worthy, although some represent non-critical enhancements that financial prudence dictates should not be financed by debt when you have that choice.

But two disturbing aspects of the requested renewal should disturb voters. One is the failure to ask for a rate that represented any rollback from the expiring rate. Louisiana’s Constitution dictates that whenever property reassessments that occur every four years during the years of presidential elections that, unless a governing authority acts otherwise, property tax receipts remain flat overall by having millage rates decrease if necessary.


Suit adds to growing conservative doubts about Caldwell

While the jackpot justice quest by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East is well known, another such spin of the wheel by a school district and teacher union threatens to land Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell in hot electoral water.

Months ago, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the Minimum Foundation Program could not be used to fund the Louisiana Scholarship Program that paid for education at private schools for qualifying students. As part of that ruling, it engaged in a bit of judicial activism by redefining the Constitution to allow resolutions as legislative instruments to be treated as laws for procedural purposes, which in essence meant the resolution to fund the MFP of last year was invalid. Because of another series of events, this meant the formula reverted back to that of 2010, using the logic of the ruling.

Grubbing for funds, the St. John the Baptist School Board decided to file suit to get extra funds, because in these previous years no automatic 2.75 percent funding boost was contained as part of the formula, unlike 2010. But the Court seemed to anticipate somebody might be thinking along those lines and inserted some language that it could use to wiggle out of declaring some extra $200 million in spending must occur on education, contrary to the will of the Legislature and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Thus, this suit seems doomed.


Commissioners preparing to suck more money from the people?

It’s kind of a surprise that this summer only a couple of people applied for appointment to the Caddo Parish Commission seat of the late Joyce Bowman, subsequently awarded to her son Jerald who this week will try to entice voters to make it a full-time gig. Because, as it turns out, you can make a pretty good living at it off of other people’s money.

The Commission brought up in June the idea of increasing the members’ salaries $6,000 to $28,000 annually, and additionally other benefits. This pay is almost three times the figure commissioners made when I ran for the body 18 years ago (and pledged not to take a salary) – and it doesn’t include per diem expenses for travel to meeting and other trips they may take.

Their pay has crept higher because parish ordinance ties their pay to cost-of-living increases granted to all parish employees – a nifty incentive for steadily rising income for all concerned. And made much more possible over the past few years with the growing, and some retrenching, Haynesville Shale production, the continuing royalty payments from which have enabled the parish to be quite generous in this and other ways.


Lack of GOP interest in Sixth CD should not worry party

Just more than a year out for election to the U.S. House, what one inside-the-Beltway publication called a “safe” Republican seat in Louisiana has attracted surprisingly little interest from putative GOP candidates – which doesn’t mean a quality Republican may not get elected.

As far as announced intentions, only three people have expressed interest in running for the Sixth Congressional District spot, centered around Baton Rouge. Two Republicans, first term Baton Rouge Metropolitan Councilman Ryan Heck and businessman Paul Dietzel, and Democrat real estate broker Richard Dean Lieberman have declared such in intention. Incumbent Rep. Bill Cassidy is running for the U.S. Senate.

Between the announced Republicans, they hardly have any elective experience. A couple of others who currently sit in the state Senate had expressed interest, but one recanted quickly and another seems poised to do so. State Sen. Norby Chabert remains interested, but being from the southern end of the district a distance from Baton Rouge puts as many obstacles to his candidacy as the benefits from his less-than-a-full term tenure in his current position would bring him.