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Renamed shindig tests hypocrisy of LA Democrats

Perhaps inevitably, Louisiana Democrats have dumped the names of Pres. Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from their state party’s annual fundraising dinner. The future will tell what hypocrisy emanates from this action.

In order “to reflect the progress of the party and the changing times,” henceforth they will call it the “True Blue Gala.” Changed times indeed, as the appellation replacing the name of Jefferson, who strung together the Democratic-Republicans to challenge successfully Pres. John Adams (while in the process dispatching his fellow partisan Aaron Burr into the vice presidency given a Constitutional quirk resolved by the 12th Amendment), and Jackson, who modernized the party from a top-down to bottom-up organization that set the shape for all modern mass political parties, only came into being this millennium as attached to the party (along with associating “red” with Republicans).

It’s quite fitting in a way, since today’s party looks little like the one from a half-century ago. Back then, it still believed in the inherent desirability of U.S. strength abroad, traditional values, and in the ideas that individuals should take responsibility for their own success in a free market system that needed marginal adjustments here and there. Slavish adherence to identity politics, conspiracy theories pitting classes against each other, and blaming America first for the world’s ills belonged only to its fringe elements.


EBR voters must view skeptically room tax redux

Baton Rouge officials seem enthralled with the notion of hotel occupancy taxes. Voters necessary to approve imposition of these must take a more skeptical view.

Mixed results have resulted from the two most recent attempts to hike these taxes in the parish. Last December voters in north Baton Rouge approved a two percent levy on rooms only within that area of the city, with proceeds devoted to financing economic development there. On the same day, a parishwide proposition failed that would have done the same to hotels in Baton Rouge not in that district with proceeds devoted to funding the River Center and tourism efforts.

Tourism officials hope to try again later this year. They attribute the narrow defeat of last year to a lack of voter “education,” or a formulation that many in the electorate didn’t realize the tax supposedly affects only tourists. In fact, significantly lower levels of support registered in precisely the areas unaffected by the tax: Baker, Central, Zachary, and north Baton Rouge.


New pay system compounds LA govt inefficiency

Another alleged reform hits the books, but nothing really changes with Louisiana’s civil service system that continues to perform inefficiently.

Last month, at the behest of Gov. John Bel Edwards along with narrow backing by Legislature, Louisiana’s State Civil Service Commission ratified a new pay plan. Proponents assert it will save the state money by reducing turnover, although no evidence exists to demonstrate this.

It has two components: a salary scale adjustment and alterations to compensation related to performance reviews. The adjustment at the beginning of next year elevates all salaries two percent up to their classification’s maximum, then for lower-paid classifications bumps those scales up further. The alteration for a year abolishes the performance adjustment component – four percent paid out to all but a handful of classified employees if appropriated – then comes repackaged as a “market adjustment” with a sliding scale where only lower-paid civil servants can get a four percent increase and higher-paid ones settle for three or two percent increases, plus provides for a very few the possibility of receiving a one-time bonus. Only the tiny number of poorest performers would receive no raises.


Stokes exit leaves LA Democrats empty-handed

What’s a Democrat to do in Louisiana, where only extraordinary circumstances can get one of their own elected to statewide office? Even worse, when their preferred non-Democrat can’t follow through?

Such vexation they encountered last week when GOP state Rep. Julie Stokes just before qualifying begins later this week passed on the special election for the vacant treasurer position made necessary by the office’s former occupant Sen. John Kennedy ascending to his current post. Regrettably, Stokes discovered she had breast cancer, and while the prognosis for curing that kind is good, it will take a physical toll on her that would make campaigning impossible for the October election.

At present, no major Democrat had declared an intention to contest the office. Former minor Senate candidate Derrick Edwards, no relation to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, actively pursues the post, but despite being a black Democrat, party activists will shy away from him. He received just a smattering of votes in his previous run, and his endorsement of views close to the public’s views and therefore way out of step with party regulars, such as the state has not a revenue but spending problem, make him a non-starter in their eyes.