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State wisely lets go of park money sinkhole

Finally, a park that entered the state’s realm under suspicious circumstances will return to where it came, eroding little its value to Louisiana’s recreational system while relieving taxpayers of a large load.

Confirmation came this month that Hodges Gardens State Park would close and transfer back under control of the previous owners. A private citizen had developed the area initially as a private home, and over time opened it to the public. Known mostly for its horticultural offerings, under state control it would expand on amenities that provided camping, oversight lodgings, boating and fishing, and an amphitheater.

The foundation that had run it offered it to the state around the time of the hurricane disasters of 2005. A number of aspects should have discouraged the then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco Administration from accepting it. Money would be tight for a couple of years, yet the state would incur startup costs of over $1 million and roughly the same in operating expenses each year. Much of the park had features similar to several within a few dozen miles in a sparsely-populated area of the state, but this one would cost much more to run in order to service the botanical gardens, the one unique feature not only in comparison to the nearby alternatives, but also statewide.


Litmus test strikes again for LA Democrats

You would think Louisiana Democrats would embrace Derrick Edwards as the perfect candidate for state treasurer. But the party’s litmus test plus its aversion to looking impotent instead makes him an outcast.

At its most recent meeting, the party’s executive committee failed to endorse Edwards despite his qualifying as the only Democrat in the contest. Moreover, he ticks off two victim class boxes, racial minority and person with disability; Democrats generally allege that American society discriminates against minorities and the disabled, mandating increased government efforts to redistribute resources their way. And, Edwards seems competitive as he polls in the lead for the spot.

Historically, the party has abjured endorsing even those statewide candidates who show strength. In 2011, it refused to back the contestant who would garner the second-most votes in the governor’s race, Tara Hollis, claiming it did not want to coronate a candidate in a field with multiple Democrats running. But it also didn’t endorse Democrat Donald Hodge, the only opponent to Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, where Hodge would go on to capture around a third of the vote. And in 2015, in a governor’s race with multiple Democrats running, it did endorse current Gov. John Bel Edwards (no relation to Derrick) months earlier than typical.


Shreveport chases team at taxpayers' expense

In the latest iteration of a northwest Louisiana’s build-it-and-they-will-come fantasy, Shreveport has decided to go all in on attracting a minor-league basketball team by spending up to $30 million in taxpayer money. How this provides a net benefit to the taxpayer remains unexplained.

Mayor Ollie Tyler cajoled a City Council majority to approve of the courtship with the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association. Many league teams sponsor a second-division club in the newly-renamed G-League, and, after an initial pitch by Tyler, the team has narrowed its choices to Shreveport and Pensacola.

Landing the squad would provide quite a boost for a metropolitan area that has seen a long list of failed minor league professional franchises in recent years. The 1990s turned out as the golden era of area pro sports, when Shreveport boasted teams in second-division football and basketball and in third-division baseball and hockey, plus a second-tier golf tournament.


Liberal Landrieu not enough so for hard left

Clear-headed, politically-knowledgeable Louisianans surely are scratching their heads over a piece in a national opinion journal that declares New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu insufficiently liberal.

Appearing in the decreasingly center-left New Republic (which has had to head further left to recapture the luster lost through the Glass Affair, among other problems), the article by one Michael Stein – who has demonstrated far left chops in work for the extremist web site Truthout – complains Landrieu hews too close to the political middle. He calls Landrieu a “run-of-the-mill centrist Democrat, one who appeals to the left with illusory calls for progress even as he ingratiates himself with center-right supporters by straddling the ideological line.”

Really? A review of Landrieu’s issue preferences and actions as mayor reveals otherwise. Let’s check them off: