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Incident exposes hypocrisy of Edwards, Democrats

While Democrat state Sen. Troy Brown faces no ethical responsibility to resign his position, his self-inflicted problems expose the hypocrites comprising his political party.

Recently, authorities arrested Brown on a complaint of striking a woman, apparently after a sustained period of partying. Turns out he has carried on an affair with the alleged victim for a decade, according to her. Meanwhile, he appears to spend more of his time at an address outside of the district at the residence where his wife registered to vote, and gave that address to arresting authorities. He also gets his mail there and more often than not in filling out disclosure forms uses that address.

None of this automatically should compel his resignation. A court has yet to find him guilty of any charge, much less a felony that would force him out of the Legislature as dictated by the Constitution. And while someone has filed suit trying to remove him from office for failure to reside in the district he represents, the procedure by law to do this remains not yet invoked.


Caddo must rectify unconstitutional scheme now

The Caddo Parish Commission would end its term on a high note by dismantling what has become increasingly obviously an unconstitutional scheme that enriches its members at the expense of the public and making taxpayers whole.

Last week, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor issued a blistering report castigating the parish for violating the state Constitution with its inclusion of its elected legislators in the Caddo Parish Employees Retirement System. The parish established CPERS in the wake of federal law mandating that local government employees must join Social Security unless they had a specific retirement system run by local or state governments in which to participate.

While Louisiana has the Parochial Employees’ Retirement System that permits unclassified parish employees, a designation that includes elected officials, to join in lieu of Social Security, in 1997 Art. X Sec. 29.1 of the Constitution went into effect that barred part-time public servant membership in any pension plan, which includes Caddo Parish commissioners (even if, because of subsequent legislation, they now pay themselves at a rate as if they had a legally-defined full-time job). Caddo had participated in PERS, forcibly because of a court decision since 1993, until a 1999 change to state law. Yet when in 2000 Caddo set up its own pension system, it included commissioners in that despite the Constitution’s unambiguous language.


Dardenne appointment designed to provide fig leaf

Confirming the worst-kept secret of the past month or so, yesterday state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the incoming governor, named Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne his commissioner of administration starting early next year. While perhaps intended to connote “bipartisanship” from the incoming Democrat in selecting a lifelong Republican for the most important appointive job in an administration, it merely provides a fig leaf for his true agenda.

Both men denied the appointment as the culmination of a deal allegedly struck after the general election, or that they even spoke of it specifically, when Dardenne, having finished fourth, without much delay endorsed Edwards against his fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter. This smacked of 1979 when an endorsement by vanquished gubernatorial candidate Democrat House Speaker Bubba Henry of Republican Rep. Dave Treen in the runoff against Democrat Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert preceded Treen naming Henry to the same job after his narrow defeat of Lambert. However, the governors do not hand out this highly-sought position trivially or by extra-sensory perception; let’s just say a fact checker would give them both zero stars for veracity on that assertion.

Departures from the truth, judging by Gov.-elect Honor Code’s campaigning, don’t represent anything different from him, but a lack of forthrightness marks unusual behavior from Dardenne. As a state senator, Dardenne often backed measures for greater accountability and transparency in a state government then in the thrall of populism. As Edwards and others try to resurrect this fully back into policy, with its emphasis on privileging others at the expense of the people as a whole, Dardenne will find himself asked to facilitate this.


SAVE credit demise may imperil higher education

So Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards, when he assumes Louisiana’s governorship in about a month, wants to have the Legislature repeal the Student Assessment for a Valuable Education tax credit later next year. This should make Louisiana’s higher education interests nervous.

The Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration formulated the SAVE credit as a method to hide large-scale tax increases in the main approved by Edwards and majorities in the legislature last year, making these dollars appear offset by the credit one gets by instituting a new fee for college that students must pay but then allowing its write-off in entirety, conveniently without the enrollee having to do any paperwork.

However, to make it work in that fashion, this produced a practical effect of dedicating $350 million to higher education, or roughly a quarter of all state money budgeted for higher education in fiscal year 2016. Doing this fulfilled the desires expressed by a number of higher education officials, who for years, even decades, found their funding buffeted by the vagaries of a budget that dedicated a large portion of revenues to specific purposes – but except for the Taylor Opportunity Programs for Scholars awards and some grant monies, none dedicated to higher education. This meant that in times of shortfall this area disproportionately took reductions, so dependent upon the general fund and funds sweeps it has become.