Public administration has a theory regarding the
behavior of executives overseeing discrete policy areas, that over time these
individuals’ focus shifts away from more ideological approaches to greater
alignment with the culture and interests of the agency directed. After almost a
decade of running the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, current boss Mike Strain fits
The Republican entered office in 2008 promising to
clean up after former head Democrat Bob Odom, who left a legacy of waste and
patronage. He largely has accomplished this, slimming down department numbers
(perhaps more than he preferred, given recent state budgetary struggles) and
managing a spending drop from $102.7 million in fiscal
year 2008 to last fiscal year’s
But in recent remarks
to the Baton Rouge Press Club, Strain indicated that he has checked some other
conservative issue preferences at the door to his office, specifically
regarding the issue of Cuba. Still run by the Castro dynasty for almost six
decades, despite extremely modest changes from its Soviet model, Cuba’s
government and economy remain exceptionally closed and oppressive. In fact, the
very tepid reforms launched under Raúl
to have run out of steam – ironically, in part because former Pres. Barack Obama
removed travel restrictions and set to normalize relations.
He took his time, but Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards three
months after losing an injunction mooting his executive order JBE 16-11 got
around to appealing the ruling – a move seemingly more for political
consumption than with any real hope of prevailing.
At the end
of last year, District Judge Todd Hernandez ruled favorably for injunctive
relief sought by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry concerning the
order, which, among other things, added language to contracts that barred
discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” –
terms not defined in Louisiana jurisprudence. Landry refused to approve of such
contracts, noting in an official attorney general’s opinion that, because of
the terms’ absence in Louisiana law or in its Constitution, the order had the
effect of creating new law beyond the scope of the governor’s powers.
Hernandez agreed, although he deferred on ruling
whether it violated aspects of the U.S. Constitution regarding the Commerce
Clause or the First Amendment. Citing no actual controversy, he did deny the
contention of Edwards that the governor was superior to the attorney general
where a dispute about legal matters defaulted to the governor’s position, and
granted only that once the attorney general had acted to approve of private
counsel the state’s top justice officer could not retroactively review their
Standing out like a boil in the old Confederate
South, no wonder Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards attracts
attention, good and bad.
With Republicans controlling every legislative chamber
in these states and only Virginia’s Terry
McAuliffe and North Carolina’s Roy Cooper joining
Edwards as a Democrat chief executive – although among the deep South states
the only Democrat-run branch of government comes courtesy of Edwards – such an
outlier does not go unnoticed. The odd
and unique 2015 election that sent him to the Governor’s Mansion and his
trials and tribulations since have prompted both speculation about his future
and actions to shape it in ways he would not like.
After the 2016 election confirmed the steep downward
trajectory of Democrats over the past six years – propped up from falling
into an electoral crevasses only by the concept known as former Pres. Barack Obama –
some argued that the way back would come from accepting less liberal
candidates, with Edwards standing out. He explicitly ran on God and guns, even
anti-abortion stance seemed somewhat manufactured, while maintaining thoroughly
liberal views on the size of government and economics. Possibly, some observers
suggest, he may serve as a model to enable his party to come back.
Finally, the tunnel has light at the end, regarding
the nuisance suit attempted by a once-rogue state subdivision that sought
jackpot justice to fund coastal protection.
of the U.S Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed
with a lower district court that the Southeast
Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lacked standing to bring suit
against nearly 100 energy firms for alleged environmental damage they caused. A
few years ago the agency, a subdivision of the state, hired lawyers on contingency
to try to collect possibly billions of dollars with a poison pill in that
contract stating if its board dropped the suit it owed expenses that could
reach into the eight figures.
Prior members of the SLPAE-E board, despite disputes
over whether companies had acted illegally or negligently, whether the state
had felt they had acted illegally or negligently in the past, or how much, if
any, damage the energy extractors actually caused, saw these entities as piñatas ready to bust
to fund agency activities. After they brought suit, Republican former Gov. Bobby
Jindal when their terms expired began replacing members supportive of the
action with others who took a more circumspect approach to government activism.
Eventually, lawmakers enacted a measure to moot the suit, giving the state
control over any such maneuvers.