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Jindal politically goes all in with risky CCSS gambit

Gov. Bobby Jindal has staked perhaps his whole political future on a battle where he doesn’t exactly have a lot of cards to play to win the hand. But maybe his political calculus tells him that emerging victorious in the battle isn’t essential to winning the war.

Yesterday, Jindal announced several actions through executive orders BJ 2014-6 and BJ 2014-7 designed to interfere with the Louisiana’s ability to administer exams designed through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, based upon the Common Core State Standards initiative. Despite having once been a supporter and with the state’s own testing used as a model for constructing the PARCC exam, he has become a critic of the effort, arguing that, even if CCSS does not impose any content standards in curriculum, PARCC somehow could be used as a tool to impose a nationalized curriculum, which he opposes. Thus, in stopping PARCC, CCSS falls on its own accord, the thinking goes.

These are interesting as much for what they include as what they leave out. First, they order the Department of Education – directed by the separate Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and its hired superintendent that runs DOE – essentially to rebid the contract for testing. The argument used is that DOE allegedly failed to follow state law in allowing a group procurement for the PARCC organization, because it could skirt competitive bidding laws -- despite the fact that the contract started with the same firm for using previous tests in 2003 and was renewed regularly since.


Abolishing judicial retirement age needs rejecting

Yet another exercise in bad public policy joined others on the fall constitutional amendment election ballot this past session of the Louisiana Legislature which would decrease the quality of justice in the state.

HB 96 by state Rep. John Bel Edwards would repeal the age restriction on service currently for state and local judges. Now, they cannot run for office if they would be sworn into it after their 70th birthday. This joins on the ballot a pair of other clunkers, one that locks the state into spending more on nursing homes even as their need becomes reduced, creates pressure for tax increases, and/or increases the threat of legal action against the state, and another that has the effect of increasing bureaucracy and the size of government with the establishment of an unneeded cabinet department.

Opposition mainly is driven by existing judges themselves, as they enjoy the job’s flexibility, stability, high rate of pay for work required, but perhaps most importantly because of the power they can wield politically, especially in rural areas, which allows them to parlay the infrequent elections to them into almost never losing reelection. Thus, they resent forcible retirement from these plum positions, and legislators are more than happy to assist them because among the roughly third of the Legislature that are lawyers, many eye post-legislative careers either as judges or elected to offices that work with them regularly.


Burrell nonprofit service may reflect on mayoral bid

Shreveport television station KTBS may have just scratched the surface when it ran a story about unannounced announced city mayoral candidate state Rep. Roy Burrell’s involvement with a nonprofit organization the activities and accounting for which raise substantial questions about his potential service as the city’s chief executive officer.

Burrell, since his days as a city councilman, has lead an organization known as the Inner City Entrepreneur Institute, for which he appears not just to make a decent living off its only activity,  a two-week yearly event currently in progress called BizCamp, but also in a way that seems, relative to other organizations and their leadership pay, unusual. KTBS reports since 2005 the city of Shreveport has given ICE a total of $315,000, and since 2006, the Caddo Parish Commission has given it a total of $112,000.

But trawling through the group’s required, as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for each year since 2001 (excepting 2002, for which a filing could not be found) reveals a murky picture sometimes obscurant in details. For these years, the organization garnered $995,702 (and including 2002 figure reported in 2003, over $1 million) – from 2005 on over half of which came from government grants varying from $66,191 in 2007 to $15,000 in 2009 (forms previous to 2005 are unclear as to whether government grants comprised revenues). With public support (that is, contributions from outside government) making up the rest, this has led to wide ranging total figures, of a high in 2008 of $135,818 to a low of $36,890 in 2002, and thus also in terms of expenditures – the vast majority of which are for the director Burrell and the annual event – the most in 2008 of $169,226 to the least in 2009 of $65,134.


Analysts whistle into wind on fading Landrieu hopes

Hope springs eternal and generals always are fighting the last war. This explains why a number of Louisiana-based observers continue to miss the obvious: that Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is in deep trouble in her reelection bid, as confirmed by a recent poll.

This one commissioned by an interest group through a firm that usually conducts polls for Republicans showed GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy leading Landrieu 50-44, significantly putting him at pulling a simple majority of the vote, It continues a trend for months now where the combined vote of all announced Republicans (the two also-rans from the GOP picked up 5 percent of the remainder, which means the pollsters prompted initially undecided respondents to make a choice) exceeds the vote for Landrieu.

But the state’s mainstream media hardly touched the significant breakthrough for Cassidy. It was mentioned briefly by New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Bruce Alpert, who then immediately dismissed it as “it should be taken with a grain of salt” because it “seems to over-represent Republican voters and under-represent African Americans.”


Jindal treats bills of same rationale differently

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of HB 1091 is unfortunate not only as a matter of bad public policy, but insofar as it contradicts the logic correctly justifying his signature of HB 388.

The latter bill introduces more stringent and constitutional restrictions on the operation of abortion clinics, with an eye on making it safer for its surviving human, the adult female patient. Currently, three of the state’s five operating mills without modifying their buildings or practices would not meet the new requirements. Critics, legally unsuccessfully in other states with similar laws, have complained that these amount to limiting abortions so severely as to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court declaration that abortion can’t be made always illegal. Proponents contend that these reduce the risk of adult deaths added to those of the unborn, to which critics respond by saying women dying as a result of complications from legal abortion is rare.

Maybe rare, but it does happen even when done according to the law. And if erring on the side of life when considering unborn humans is not respected adequately in American jurisprudence, there’s no excuse not to do so when it comes to a female already born voluntarily choosing an elective if unsavory procedure. Abortion cannot be justified by putting even more innocent lives at needless, avoidable risk.