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Double standard appears to support political agenda

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a habit. Lack of political courage by some and lack of character on the part of state Sen. Troy Brown may yet reveal knocking around women as habitual for him as is his political allies' penchant for acting hypocritically.

For the second time in a year, Democrat Brown faces charges of domestic violence; this time concerning his wife after last year’s incident involving his mistress. Neither case has come to trial, and while he deserves the presumption of innocence until judicial resolution, he already had garnered a small punishment by Republican Sen. Pres. John Alario who withheld any committee chairmanships of vice chairmanships, which usually come to a reelected senator of the governor’s party.

The Constitution grants the Senate the ability to discipline or to expel a member, by a two-thirds vote. No other body of law relative to the Senate has information about various disciplines available, but Alario made no move to invoke any since last year. Again, this may be appropriate given no conviction of Brown at present, but at the same time the alleged impropriety has brought shame to the institution.


Curb impractical BR boycott that promotes injustice

Sometimes the right thing doesn’t get done for the appropriate reason, but better that than doing the wrong thing. That describes the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s national office suspending the head of the organization’s Baton Rouge chapter in calling for a boycott of some area retailers in the wake of the shooting death of black resident Alton Sterling two weeks ago at the hands of white Baton Rouge police.

Rev. Reginald Pitcher, along with leaders of the local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Nation of Islam, called for residents to refrain from shopping at the Mall of Louisiana, Cortana Mall and area Wal-Mart stores over the Jul. 8 weekend to protest Sterling’s shooting. The SCLC has a policy that local actions must receive clearance from the national organization when it involves a national issue or agent; Wal-Mart has a nationwide presence and a large portion of mall tenants also represent national corporations.

Even deposed, the defiant Pitcher said the chapter planned to continue rolling boycotts aimed at various sellers in the near future, with the idea of putting economic pressure on businesses until the arrest of the white officers that struggled with Sterling. The campaign pause came as a result of the assassination of area law enforcement officers by a disturbed black nationalist, ironically once affiliated with the Nation of Islam, who apparently became upset over Sterling’s death and travelled specifically to Baton Rouge to wreak some twisted form of revenge.


Film credit review must not reverse progress

When Gov. John Bel Edwards announced earlier this month he would launch a review of Louisiana’s Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit, policy-makers should have responded by telling him to cut to the chase in making the program efficient with its state subsidization.

We don’t need to study the issue more; we already know the film tax credit wastes taxpayer dollars – a lot of these. Unusual among any of the other hundreds of such breaks, the law requires biannual reporting of these and the related music, sound, and digital credits. Every report since introduction of these has found a tremendous negative return on investment for the state, although the last of those, through 2014, revealed the least bad news ever – credits now only lose 77 cents for every buck given out (maybe 10 cents fewer if including local tax revenues, although local incentive programs also affect this number).

That loss, about $172 million in fiscal year 2014, will find itself trimmed over the next three years, due to legislation that tightened up program eligibility rules and put a cap on reimbursement – which differs from issuance as reimbursement may occur at any time in the indeterminate future – at $180 million annually (although a halt in automatic state buyback of credits at 85 percent for FY 2015 crowded that figure a bit) through FY 2018.


BR advances from tragedy by discouraging extremism

If Baton Rougeans can find any solace in the senseless murders of Officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald and Deputy Brad Garafola, it didn’t spring from the city’s loins. What else is known provides guidance so that the city can move beyond simmering tensions left from the event that apparently precipitated this heinous crime, the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of Baton Rouge police.

A federal government investigation will determine whether the shooting of Sterling, a black man, came as a result of police negligence or misconduct. On the surface, it would seem the white officers involved, having to make a quick judgment in a matter of seconds in chaotic conditions, very well may have felt a legitimate threat to their lives that led to the fatal decision to use deadly force. Sterling was a career criminal engaged in a criminal enterprise and known to have an illegal gun when police approached him; also having had a recent arrest for possession of drugs, he may have been in an impaired state at that time and not using good sense by not following police orders and then struggling even after having a Taser used upon him.

But having a record and acting illegally doesn’t deserve getting killed. The events as understood by some in the community, particularly among blacks, pointed to insufficient provocation to justify lethal force. The investigation will sort this out, mistake or accident, but almost certainly will not proffer a third option: the white officers killed a black man because of some deep-seated, if not recognizable on the surface, racial animosity.


Irresponsible BR politicians reap violence

You reap what you sow, a lesson some candidates running for political office around Baton Rouge need to learn, to the community’s regret.

While many area politicians called for peaceful protesting over the death of Alton Sterling, a black man allegedly shot by a white Baton Rouge police officer, a few of them went further. Democrat state Reps. Ted James and Denise Marcelle attended marches where meritless accusations, often made by frequent-flyer protesters from outside Louisiana but also issued from some local leaders, flowed about alleged state-sponsored oppression of blacks. James called the shooting “murder” and questioned “what it really means to be land of the free and home of the brave.” Marcelle wore a shirt with Sterling’s name over mimicked gunshots wounds. Marcelle is running for mayor-president of Baton Rouge later this year; James flirted with the idea before passing.

At the funeral for Sterling, Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond echoed the theme, calling America “this discriminatory system that under-educates, over-incarcerates, a system that perpetuates income inequality,” or a repeating of tired talking points that attempt to blame “the system” (presumably run by non-blacks) for lower quality of life among blacks generally, when in fact liberal policy failures stemming from Democrat leadership have produced this. Richmond seeks reelection this fall against Democrat current and term-limited Mayor-Pres. Kip Holden, who did not attend and has made only brief, nonpolitical comments about the incident except to note that, in his opinion, Richmond’s travel from his New Orleans base only served to aggravate the situation.