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Stupid remark may doom Claitor bid from start

The omnipresent yet mythical tome on conducting a political campaign says you kick it off by wrestling into your possession all of the low-hanging fruit in sight, creating a first impression that dunks it home for your partisans and intrigues those who may have soured on other parties’ candidate offerings. Then here comes state Sen. Dan Claitor who in introducing himself to Sixth Congressional District voters decided he should scale the highest, most dangerous ladder to pick fruit high up the tree, risking an immediate fall onto his ….

And he may have done just that. Claitor, after well-publicized hesitation, yesterday announced he would contend for this spot, the contest to date having attracted no one in elected office, and immediately launched into alienating key Republican constituencies, the party label he claims, using the language of the left. It wasn’t so much that he swore he would not serve as a doctrinaire Republican or conservative – even as his voting scorecard average for the Louisiana Legislature Index of 65 for his five years of service is around the GOP average for the chamber and definitely more conservative/reform than liberal/populist – but that for reasons of poor political judgment he disempowered his own effort while helping his opponents.

At the very time when he needed to make a good first impression, Claitor said a reason he chose to run was that he was “not excited” about unannounced opponents, who in his estimation “have questionable associations with ‘hate groups.’” This apparently referred to a rumored candidacy of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which advocates for public policy based upon traditional social values, as it is defined by the group of hypocrites that comprise the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Same story, different views aid LA public, print media

Isn’t it just swell that New Orleans and Baton Rouge have sort-of turned into two two-newspaper towns? It increases the chances of readers to receive multiple perspectives – and provides the opportunity of the legacy media to reverse its diminished influence in state politics.

As it has begun doing in recent months, the Legislative Fiscal Office released its internal publication (and no doubt one it paid huge sums to consultants to name) “Focus on the Fisc,” wherein staff members take state fiscal topics, shoot out some information, and mix in a little opinion to produce analyses of varying qualities. The latest edition, among many other fascinating topics (as opposed to the previous one, between this set of parentheses is content not facetious; most of the newsletters’ content is pretty interesting to me, but, as my bachelor’s degree is in public administration, my masters’ is in business administration, and then there’s the doctorate in political science, consider the source), discussed the state’s forecast tax revenue performance and whether the state may have to chip in more money to pay for medical expenses.

The New Orleans/Baton Rouge Times-Picayune took the glass half-full approach. Its story about the latest issue concentrated on the slowly but surely brightening state revenue picture that produced a $175 million actual surplus to forecast for the Fiscal Year 2013, which the newsletter typified as “seems to be more good news than bad news” and then went out on a limb to argue that “cautions are not immaterial” that could serve to squelch the “optimism for only modest improvement.”


Elite instransigence cause of possible EBR breakaway

Has it come to this: people exercising their constitutional rights, whose policy preferences are given second-class status because they are less numerous than those in the wagon that they pull, are selfish for doing so?

That’s an apt description of the reactions from opponents of the drive for south East Baton Rouge Parish to incorporate itself into its own separate municipality, proposed to be named St. George, removing itself from a metropolitan government that would have only the northern and central parts of the parish that are not the municipalities of Baker, Central, and Zachary and the city of Baton Rouge remaining. This presently southern unincorporated area of the parish would create a city of around 107,000 people and become almost as large in land area as Baton Rouge itself.

The process is simple: collect signatures on a petition without time limit representing a quarter of the registered voters in the area, which then triggers an election where a majority of those voters can approve of the new municipality. The politics behind it, by contrast, are complex.


Move beyond SPS data to understand vouchers' impact

As Louisiana progresses through its second year of its statewide Student Scholarships for Education Excellence program, data produced still can’t reveal whether the program is improving significantly the lot of children or what effect if any it may have, even as it succeeds on a cost basis.

Some data came out this week from the Department of Education, in the form of School Performance Scores for students who accepted vouchers through the program. Children who once attended subpar schools are eligible to receive state money to attend a nonpublic or higher-ranked public school, if space is available. DOE for each school where adequate data could be collected computed a ranking of that voucher cohort, as if it were its own school, and released that data.

They showed a wide range of success for the cohorts treated as schools, but overall most were not terribly different from the underperforming environments that the students had left. Almost half were scored at the D or F level, equivalent by definition to the scores of their previous schools (students at C-ranked public schools also are eligible for the program, but only if space is available after the pool of students from the lower-ranked schools in an area is exhausted).


Privatize waste pickup, water rather than milk Shreveporters

At least Bossier City seems to get it some of the time, whereas Shreveport can't even make that much progress.

Last year, Shreveport politicians discussed charging fees, including an extra buck on water bills, to deal with residential waste pickup that often was out of bounds from ordinance. Originally, significant cost hikes were talked of to Shreveport households for those with multiple containers and those disposing of significant yard waste and furniture curbside. Heretofore these actually have been against ordinance but never enforced. The $1 monthly fee was discussed to be added to water bills, which was claimed would go to paying for street cleaning and litter abatement, but the city seemed to lose enthusiasm for that rate increase as well.

Some reform made sense. Putting out large immovable items does put a strain on solid waste collection for the space but even more for the time involved to get it in and compacted in a truck. Eventually, the city decided to issue fines rather than extra charges.