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Bizarre incident won't change LA governor's race

No doubt if Sen. David Vitter truly had the power to control newsroom personnel Louisiana would be littered with jobless former reporters. Instead, the gubernatorial derby got treated to a bizarre episode instigated by an apparently unprofessional television journalist.

When Vitter showed up for qualification for the contest on Tuesday, lying in wait was one Derek Myers, then working for NBC’s Baton Rouge affiliate. Myers, who alludes to himself in his Twitter feed as a deliberately aggressive reporter, has done some job hopping this year, beginning in Ohio, then Florida, and, less than a month ago, landing in Louisiana.

And now, maybe elsewhere. Independent reporting reveals a chain of events where, as Vitter departed, he asked him about Congressional hearings in Louisiana that also could serve as campaign opportunities and then about whether Vitter dallied with prostitutes. In 2007, Vitter expressed remorse for commission of a “serious sin” believed to be related to availing himself of prostitution services.


Edwards packaging to test Democrat playbook

Louisiana’s 2015 governor’s race may tell us whether the standard playbook of southern Democrats needs permanent revision.

The party’s endorsed candidate for that office, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, finally joined his major Republican opponents in running a television ad – perhaps so late because he trails them on in fundraising. In it, we discover, as testament to being a “born leader,” that he was the all-American boy in high school, a West Point graduate who served his country in elite capacity in the Army, and is “pro-life” and “pro-Second Amendment.” Also, he’s a “fighter for education, health care, and working families.”

How nice, but aren’t we all? Time constraints I imagine precluded the spot from telling us he’s attentive to his aged, widowed mother and he doesn’t kick stray dogs. And this gloss is all the campaign will disseminate, because the only way a candidate like Edwards can be competitive is to create an impression at odds with the essential ideology of a candidate like him: he’s a liberal Democrat that wants in his communications to the mass public to sound like a Republican as a solid majority of Louisianans are right-of-center in political views.


If LA budget troubled, pursue spending cuts first

Advocates of tax-and-spend government ought to be increasingly happy at the turn of fiscal events in Louisiana. Not only did they get several hundred million dollars in tax increases for this current budget, they might be in line to do it again with next year’s – if the public buys their specious argument that this represents the only alternative.

A couple of months into fiscal year 2016, already budget problems have cropped up. The effect of the tax increases, largely of the pass-through variety that will affect almost everybody, was forecast slightly too low, as were expenses for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars. So was the price of oil, which so far is running on average a good $10 below the figure on which the budget was based. Throw in health spending that did not get about $350 million in projected expense increases, and this year’s version might be a half-billion dollars out of balance when all is said and done.

While some help with the health care expenditures may come in the form of a legal settlement to the tune of over $100 million for this year, the next year’s looks perilous as well. Projections combining the effects of tax changes, legal settlements, and funds sweeps about doubles the amount of money not available for FY 2017 to make the revenue-expenditure gap around $1 billion, should current revenues and expenditures in the aggregate otherwise stay the same.


Joke mayor Landrieu keeps disserving N.O.

Riddle me this: what’s the difference between Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of court held in contempt of court for refusing to sign certificates for same sex marriages, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, found in contempt of court for not having the city pay what is due to the city’s firefighters and firefighter retirees? Answer: nothing; neither are doing their jobs.

Of course, that’s nothing new for Landrieu, who carries about him a fantastic obtuseness when it comes to doing what matters most for New Orleans. This is the guy, after all, who has spends rhetorical capital and publicity trying to take down monuments because some see them as symbols of racial oppression, a removal which would cost millions of dollars that the city doesn’t have (although, ironically, one such target’s object of commemoration actually preached racial reconciliation), rather than to address the city’s crime rate (undoubtedly exacerbated by Landrieu’s acquiescence to New Orleans acting as a “sanctuary city”). Then, when Sen. David Vitter calls him on it, he tries to link Vitter to racial animus.

On the matter of crime he also enjoys picking fights with another Lincolnesque statesman, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, who faces a court order to reduce his prison population. While New Orleans must pay for its prisoners, Gusman decides whether to take some state prisoners that balloon the prisoner census but who bring in compensation. That cost would increase if city prisoners would have to be located elsewhere. Landrieu petitioned the state to intervene and threatened a suit if the state kept housing its prisoners at OPP. With its silence, the Department of Corrections basically told Landrieu to go pound sand.


The Advocate column: Sep. 6, 2015

A hollow case against school reform