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EBR curfew issue brings out political campaigning

Even in situations where electoral politics literally should stop at the water’s edge, their appearance seem inevitable, as events surrounding a curfew in East Baton Rouge Parish indicate.

Earlier this week, EBR Sheriff Sid Gautreaux issued one that looks to last only briefly, after law enforcement made scattered arrests for looting consequent to the flood disaster soaking the parish. This imposition elicited complaints from both businesses disproportionately affected by shutting down commerce early and politicians claiming to look out for the public’s ability to engage in it and for business owners and employees to earn money off of it. In at least one case, both views found representation when Metro Councilman John Delgado penned an open letter to Gautreaux asking him to lift the curfew.

Delgado owns several nightclubs and later said the order closed down a large number of establishments like his, grocery stores, and gas stations (perhaps more to the point, convenience stores that sell gasoline), making it an overblown reaction to few reports of looting. In reality, the 10 PM deadline would affect few grocery stores or any other businesses except bars and convenience stores, so the vast majority of commercial enterprises remained unaffected.


Politics of disaster funding headed LA's way

The good news is state and local government handled well the recent catastrophic flooding in and around Baton Rouge and Acadiana. The bad news will entail paying for it all in a precarious fiscal environment where politics surely will rear its head.

State and local agencies, aided by citizen volunteers, worked commendably to rescue, evacuate, and provide shelter and provisions to those affected by the disaster. Compared to the dysfunctional responses by the state and New Orleans concerning the hurricane disasters of 2005, state and local governments have learned lessons. In this kind of situation, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards showed much more of the cool resolve of his Republican predecessor former Gov. Bobby Jindal than the flustered response of his Democrat predecessor and current appointee former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

But politics seem destined to enter the fray over who pays what. While about a third of the state’s parishes eventually expect to become eligible for federal disaster relief funds, almost certainly state and local governments will have to pay some costs. Federal regulation permits the executive branch to reduce three-fifths of the 25 percent match by state government provided that the total cost, in Louisiana’s case, exceeds around $579 million (although some spending in the first ten days of the declared disaster may receive full reimbursement). Even if substantial, projected costs unlikely will turn out that high, leaving the state on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.


Democrats' response to incidents cowardly, political

There’s nothing like leading from behind, as a number of Louisiana Democrats have demonstrated in the month since the party’s state Sen. Troy Brown racked up his second violence charge in well less than a year. Why belated remonstrations against his behavior only now have started to surface provides a lesson in partisan politics and absent leadership.

His initial arrest came last November concerning striking a woman apparently his mistress. He claimed then that he remembered nothing of the episode due to the after-effects of a car accident a quarter-century ago. Neither his legal difficulties nor his admission of cognitive impairment his Democrat colleagues then found troubling enough to conclude that he could not represent his constituents – as he had done already for four years, having just secured reelection – which would entail his resignation from office.

Then last month, not long after the marathon legislative sessions of 2016 had concluded, he reputedly went primal on his wife with family present, allegedly biting her. During the session, his Democrat colleagues, including Gov. John Bel Edwards and state party officials, self-righteously if not hypocritically found time to criticize a Republican state legislator who could not tell a joke to save his life that only served to objectify women. But after Brown’s second run-in with the law, once again they lost their voices.


More often LA campaign reporting adds little value

In the complicated world of campaign finance reporting, policy becomes unhelpful if misunderstanding the purpose of that disclosure in the first place.

In a piece that explicates recent campaign decisions made by front-running U.S. Senate candidate Republican Treasurer John Kennedy, independent journalist Jeremy Alford notes that Kennedy a huge amount of money from his state campaign account to a political action committee active in electing Senate candidates. This PAC presumably will spend on behalf of Kennedy this election cycle, but Alford points out that state reporting requirements, as 2016 is not a statewide election year, will not reflect the transaction from Kennedy’s account until the filing of annual reports due in early 2017.

Alford doesn’t like that lag and therefore proposes changing state law to require at least quarterly reporting in non-election years. Not only does federal law require that of active federal candidates and officeholders, but many states also do that and often even more, such as mandating monthly reporting.