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Long shot suit dissapates; still waiting on needed one

One suit deservedly stops, another necessary one has yet to begin, and another year in Louisiana politics is under way.

As 2014 dawned, plaintiffs alleging that Louisiana had racially gerrymandered congressional districts quietly dropped that suit. It claimed that because of a recent judicial ruling that declared the process of evaluating reapportionment plans was invalid, including a portion that gave weight to creating minority-majority districts to provide for minority representation.

But the attempt was doomed from the start because it asked for a fundamental redefinition of redistricting jurisprudence, essentially that judges discount inordinately other factors important in the process and essentially take the view that if a state did not have the same proportion of M/M districts as there was racial minorities in the population, this alone was evidence of gerrymandering to dilute minority voting strength. The shill involved, former head of state Democrats Chris Whittington, put a brave face on the withdrawal, saying despite the thin jurisprudence behind the argument that “the legal merit of the suit has never been questioned by the clients” and asserted they simply didn’t want to do it now.


New Year's Day, 2014

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday after noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas.

With Wednesday, Jan. 1 being New Year's Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Dynamics make Hollis Senate attempt quixotic at best

Quixotically, state Rep. Paul Hollis has launched himself into the U.S. Senate race of next year. Unless he’s entirely misreading the political environment, it can’t be because he thinks absent something on the order of a miracle he can win.

The Republican is entering his third year as a legislator, and during that period he scored last year 70 and his initial year 85 on the Louisiana Legislature Log’s ideology/reform index, where higher scores indicate more fealty to a conservative/reformist agenda. This averages out as among the highest in this period. But with just two years as an elected official, a just opened federal campaign account and his state equivalent having fewer than $5,000 as this year began, the obvious question to ask is why he’s running if he thinks he can win.

With Rep. Bill Cassidy already in the contest, and at last count his having about $3.5 million in the bank, Hollis must know that he stands to draw nothing close to that in 10 months as an alternative GOP contender – and also be able to compete for money against incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu as well. Hollis isn’t hurting as far as family wealth goes, but he must know that he would have to commit likely millions of his own resources into the campaign to be competitive.


Incorporation effort way to leverage new school district?

Might the whole effort to create a new city in southern East Baton Rouge Parish really be just to overcome the last resistance now cracking to create a breakaway school district there?

From the beginning, organizers of the effort to create the city of St. George, which would be comprised of unincorporated land, have said this is a way to facilitate formation of a district separate from the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. Within the past couple of weeks, at a gathering of area leaders, a couple of them reiterated that very point.

Historically, the state never has had a school district that was not coterminous with the boundaries of a parish or municipality, and the last one to come to life, Central Community School System, did so only after the separate city of Central was formed. In order to have a separate district in education, the Legislature must enable it by statute, and the Constitution must be amended to provide a funding mechanism. On its second try earlier this year, the enabling legislation was passed, but it cannot operate until funded.


Shreveport squanders through inattentiveness, gamesmanship

At year's end, it's useful to hold out Shreveport over the last 13 months as an object lesson to the lengths that government will go to keep their troughs full -- and why citizens are to blame to allow it to keep happening.

In 2013, Shreveporters ended up having to cough up, or beggar from surely other more pressing uses, a buck a person more because the Mayor Cedric Glover Administration was caught napping and he and the City Council want to increase chances of no revenue haircuts by the citizenry. In October, 2012 it was determined that the city was about to lose its tax collection authority for a quarter cent of sales tax, scheduled to expire after six years at the end of 2012. Because notification is required four weeks prior to the beginning of early voting in the case of a primary election, this made the City Council having to pass a resolution to approve of this occur within that period, meaning it could not be offered up without special state approval until the next scheduled election, termed the “general,” Dec. 8, 2012 where the deadline had to be 46 days out.

Ordinarily, that might not have necessitated any extra expense. The state and local government entity split expenses on local matters that piggyback on any state or federal matters. But as it turned out, no state or federal contest could have gone to the Dec. 8 election given the only electoral contests had just two opponents. By failing to make the deadline, the city had to pay at least a quarter of the $160,000 tab when it could have been less.