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Presumed strength turns to weakness in CD 5 race

The clash of experience vs. enthusiasm renews in the Fifth Congressional District contest, resulting in a hair-splitting exercise that shows, as usual, experience can give you a leg up in these showdowns.

The central problem for both candidates in the race, Republicans state Sen. Neil Riser and newcomer Vance McAllister, is to distinguish themselves from each other as their announced conservative ideologies create little policy distance between the pair. As the frontrunner from the start, various opponents prior to the runoff tried two related strategies to contrast themselves with Riser.

One was predicated on the existence of large distaste for elected officials in general, or in practical terms trying to paint Riser as some part of political establishment. The problem was that Riser didn’t fit this profile well, having only been in office a grand total of six years and prior to that and continuing being a successful businessman. Thus only McAllister, an equally successful businessman who was unlike the other major candidates who all had elected office experience, could get any traction out of this strategy.


Voters school Caddo Commission for its arrogance

When the Caddo Parish Commission decided to ask voters to lengthen term limits from three to five, it gambled with extension of the property tax for debt on capital improvements on the same ballot. On Oct. 19, it lost in the worst way possible.

Hubris has crept over the Commission in recent years, fueled by the natural gas bonanza. Pay has crept up to a level far beyond what part-timers should earn running an outfit far smaller than Shreveport or the Caddo Parish School District, courtesy of it being tied to parish employee salary increases. The large surpluses of the people’s money they socked away began to loosen their wallets differently when they found a way to give millions of dollars to a manufacturer of three-wheeled automobiles turned down by other governments. But while the roughly $50 million banked was enough from which to speculate, it wasn’t enough to scale back or eliminate the renewal of the 20-year levy projected to bring in almost $24 million over that span put in front of the voters

And perhaps because of the $22,000 annual part-time salary, under the cover of the recent charter review panel that said the question could be looked at, the move was on first to eliminate term limits, but then in the face of negative public reaction and from some commissioners, that was compromised to present voters with a charter amendment to set the number at five – demonstrating the feet of clay of the commissioners who had opposed wiping out limits entirely, for few members in the 175-year history of the parish of the Commission or its predecessor ever served more than 20 consecutive years. Substantively, it was little different from having none at all.


Legislators should cut losses over scholarship records

Members of the Louisiana Legislature were sticking pins into their New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu dolls after his making them look foolish in their effort to prevent release of consent forms signed by students that score a Tulane University scholarship that are doled out by legislators.

Landrieu without quibble released all of these forms from his years as mayor, where he has assented to 20 different recipients for a year’s worth over the past four years. The mayor times five and each legislator are allowed to present an annual full scholarship to a Louisiana resident in an ancient arrangement between Tulane and the state. City regulations actually present Landrieu a choice from a list of eligible recipients vetted by a board frequently refreshed designed to erase as much politics as possible from the process.

Contrast this with the sinking ship policy presently being perpetrated by Legislative staffers, who surprisingly and contrarily to the opinion of every other lawyer or person who can read the English language have declared such documents are not a public record, despite a broad waiver of confidentiality by applicants and a court ruling nearly two decades old that seems to leave little ambiguity as to these being public records. Yet neither House Clerk Butch Speer (who was on the losing end of the 1994 case) nor Senate Secretary Glenn Koepp could give any convincing reason related to the law (R.S. 44:1 et seq.) that would justify their refusal. Even so, they exactly have refused to release such records from 2010 as requested by media outlets.


Continue quest for right-sized LA govt with Library review

This Saturday the 2013 edition of the Louisiana Book Festival will come off, and the circumstances of its reemergence provide an example to Louisiana government in general, and to the State Library of Louisiana in particular.

The Festival is an all-day affair that showcases Louisiana-authored books, those connected with the state, and those who write about it. Beginning in 2002, through 2009 it relied mostly on state funding, but with the Pres. Barack Obama-inspired non-recovery of the country’s economic fortunes, budget pressures on Louisiana cut out that funding and 2010 saw no such event.

But Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who also has the portfolio of overseeing tourism and culture efforts in the state and as such also has the State Library under his aegis, took the lead in arranging for private funding of the event that was leveraged into obtaining federal government funding. Since 2011, the Festival has gone on without any state funding.


Partisan diatribes disserve improving LA outlay results

How the state ended up committing $1.825 million to build a Louisiana first, a kind-of gubernatorial library/parish historical center, illuminates both the political intricacies that can imprint themselves on the capital outlay process and how observers who do not or who do not care to understand that process can end up promulgating a distorted and unserious view of it.

Last week, five months after the idea first surfaced in legislation, the legacy media became aware that the state had authorized this amount, in conjunction with $75,000 from the city of Franklin, to renovate the top floor of its town hall for a combination archive of documents from and historical center presenting information about the gubernatorial terms of former Gov. Mike Foster. Additionally, it is planned to present some information about the terms of his grandfather, former Gov. Murphy J. Foster, in that office, as well as items about parish history that include a number of other prominent political figures.

This upset the partisan chattering class, although not without reason. Nearly $2 million is a chunk of change that can make a substantial difference, and whether this use of it as opposed to alternatives certainly is debatable. But the tenor of the commentary heaped sole blame on Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose first jobs in state government were as an appointee directly and one step removed by Foster, postulating that their long-standing friendship provided motive for Jindal by his own fiat to implant that money into the budget, and then subsequently to get an initial $300,000 of it appropriated through the State Bond Commission to get the project underway, which only afterwards the issue seemed to come to public consciousness.