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Perkins must find money to put with mouth

Wonder Boy has arrived. Political neophyte Adrian Perkins took the oath of office last weekend to run the country’s 126th largest city, leaving as many questions as he answered with his inaugural remarks.

In his acceptance speech, the 33-year-old Democrat taking over the helm of Shreveport gave some details about his priorities. General platitudes he expressed during the campaign focused on seemingly eternal agenda items of crime reduction and increased economic development, but in a way utilizing more technology.

His statement elaborated marginally. He said more police officers would blanket higher-crime areas of town and downtown, with a greater emphasis on interactive community policing. As part of that, he told of increasing efforts to uphold property standards. Employing federal tax incentives, cutting red tape, and promoting greater online access and information provision he promised to kickstart business opportunity. He pledged to pursue an international airport designation for Shreveport Regional, and to appoint a full-time official to find and employ technological solutions to attract business, which especially included accurate billing for water and sewerage which had eluded his predecessor Ollie Tyler. Accentuating that the city had to appeal to a new generation, he stated initiatives such as city-wide broadband provision and downtown/riverfront revitalization would attract young talent.


Congress resolves own-goal issue for Edwards

Congress resolved a self-inflicted political wound to Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, which could impact marginally his reelection chances.

Last week, S. 1520 went to Republican Pres. Donald Trump for his signature into law. This would make small but significant changes to fisheries management. Specifically, the Modern Fish Act would give greater input to recreational fishing interests in determining quotas, as well as deriving a new regime in determining limits that likely would increase them, which probably would allow a greater amount of fishing by recreational interests.

Both industry and environmental interests opposed the bill and a complementary measure in the House, authored by Louisiana’s GOP Rep. Garret Graves, as it allowed most coastal states through their regional fisheries councils to adjust catch limits higher that likely would have favored recreational fishers. But environmentalists dropped resistance upon emendation of the Senate bill to remove those provisions.


Pattern emerges after another subpar audit

As an election swings into place, it has become clear that appointees of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards will defend aggressively – if unconvincingly – missteps made by state government under his watch.

Earlier this month, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor issued a rather critical report about Department of Public Safety activities. Some of its officials tried to wiggle out of the blame, citing inconvenience and alleged shortcomings of past administrations, but what it really came down to was a failure of will of Edwards appointees to take seriously proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

The pattern repeats now with an audit released earlier this week concerning the Department of Revenue. This reviewed procedures in place to ensure accuracy in preparation of the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The state uses this information to predict revenues for the fiscal year, among other things. Inaccuracies could lead to surprise budget deficits.


Wrong about it, Edwards resists system change

I can’t do it. Not with this governor, at least.

On his call-in radio program last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards fielded a question about changing Louisiana’s blanket primary system. The Democrat said, “Somebody has got to really come in and convince me that there is something that I am unmindful of in terms of a benefit that we would have if we went back to that system.”

“That system” referred to closed primaries, in which party primary elections occur to nominate candidates for a general election, wherein only voters who choose to affiliate with a party may participate in one party’s primary. Louisiana’s blanket primary system, unique among the states, technically serves as the general election instead, where all voters regardless of affiliation may vote on all candidates regardless of affiliation running together in which the winner receives a simple majority, but if not secured then the two with the most votes advance to a runoff.


Christmas Day, 2018

This column publishes usually five times Sunday through Friday after noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Tuesday, Dec. 25 being Christmas Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Board shouldn't expand ethics exceptions

The truism that you should stick by the choices you make in life and not expect others to subsidize you for them applies to a future electoral candidate request to the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

Last month, the Board ruled that candidates cannot use campaign funds on child care expenses. Almost two decades ago, the board ruled differently; it has discretion over this issue because the state’s Ethics Code doesn’t address the matter. A majority of the board now in place saw differently from the past.

The request came from a putative candidate next fall for House District 66, Morgan Lemandre. She also affiliates with the group Emerge Louisiana, which supports hard left Democrat women running for office, and as a result will lose big to incumbent Republican state Rep. Rick Edmonds.


Officials whiff opposing Viet refugee policy change

You always can count on politicians to create a crisis where there isn’t one and to paint stripes on a horse and call it a zebra, exemplified recently by reaction to a Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration policy change.

National media began circulating stories earlier this month about how the Trump Administration was going to start deporting some non-citizen Vietnamese who had lived in America for 23 or more years. Some had immigrated almost 45 years ago when the Vietnam War ended as refugees from the victorious North Vietnamese communists.

The new Vietnam hasn’t wanted these people back, given their anti-communist sentiments that could challenge the government’s oppressive political rule. And there’s another motivation as well: the Trump Administration wants to deport those who have committed crimes, so Vietnam would have to integrate criminals ideologically opposed to their government.


Needless cancer scaring reprehensible politics

Take bad science, charge it with loopy ideology, and you have off-the-wall remonstrations made by a Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council member, backed by her interest group allies.

Democrat Chauna Banks has continued a running campaign to close a landfill with allegations that it causes cancer. An environmental alarmism groups, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, has joined her cause.

Banks claims that everybody in a neighborhood near Ronaldson Field, St. Irma Lee, in “recent” years who has died has done so from cancer. She also asserts that landfills like that pose unusual cancer risks to nearby residents. She opposes renewal of the landfill’s permit, due next year.


LA indigent defense must help itself first

No year would be complete without attention drawn to Louisiana’s shaky model of indigent defense funding. Which leads to a reminder about how public defenders have to help themselves before they can expect taxpayers to render further assistance.

Last year at this time, the state’s Public Defender Jay Dixon gave notice to the rapid increase in diversion programs not just for minor, but many, traffic cases. Because court fees assessed in districts account for much of the local government contribution, which itself comprises about five-eighths of all public defense revenues, any loss of revenues this way can significantly impact defenders.

This year, Dixon repeated the message that local ticket-writing that leads to court actions has continued its decline, to a legislative task force looking at statutory dedications like the court fee. While some of the 42 districts (overseen by 39 offices, as in three instances two districts run combined) still have stable local revenues sources, more and more have started to dip into reserves that, Dixon warned, will dry up for some in the next couple of years.


Clarity on LA Bond Commission role needed

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell brought up an issue that deserves a fuller answer for Louisianans.

Last week, a request went to the State Bond Commission to schedule a tax election in New Orleans. It came from the City Council, which passed over Cantrell’s objections a measure increasing property taxes to fund senior services, intending to pass through proceeds to the city’s Council on Aging.

Cantrell has opposed the move because she sees such a dedication as too limiting of policy option. She prefers integration of that service provision with a broader social services agenda that could require a tax increase, but not one separately for that discrete task and directed to an entity outside of city government.


LA DPS needs fewer excuses, more action

Transparency isn’t optional. Excuse-making should be. Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety needs to understand this, the latest audit of the agency and its constituent parts shows.

This week, the Legislative Auditor issued that report, which proved so fertile that the Baton Rouge Advocate found material for two separate stories about it. One highlighted that the agency couldn’t document over $2 million spent on patrolling New Orleans’ Vieux Carré.

After a surge in crime in 2014, the state began sending in state troopers and allocating state taxpayer money to fund partially this purpose. The fiscal year 2017 allotment DPS recorded all went to agency-wide fuel expenses, which the auditor flagged as questionable.


Latest scores debunk revanchist education myth

When you use this fact to dismantle a common argument made by defenders of Soviet-style education, kindly do so.

Apologists for school systems that resist reform, kowtow to unions and other special interests that owe more fealty to adults than children, and who blame everything but themselves for failing schools, often try to defend their failure by arguing they can’t do better because of the kind of bulk product – children – they have to work with. Frequently, the excuse takes two forms: minority children (read: black or Hispanic but not Asian) are more difficult to educate well because of the cultural environments their community historically has faced or even continues to deal with today, and/or poverty creates difficult learning conditions.

Worse, the two things interact and only dramatic solutions involving much greater spending on education and wealth redistribution outside of education policy can solve for that, it is asserted. Thus, poor performance largely is out of the hands of school districts and therefore exempts present systemic practices and policy from blame.


Lack of will, not money, explains LDH failures

Go to the dictionary and look up “audacity,” and there you’ll find the Louisiana Department of Health under Gov. John Bel Edwards.

That’s the conclusion drawn from the department’s latest attempts at damage control after scathing audits of its Medicaid provision. One identified very likely at least $62 million in improper payments on behalf of the Medicaid expansion population through the first part of 2018. In fact, because the figure looked at just a fraction of all enrollees, about five percent, the figure could be much higher.

The audit illuminated that LDH’s headlong attempt to qualify and stuff as many people as possible into the program unnecessarily led to that waste. In particular, under Edwards it reversed a decision that the state verify eligibility from an “determination state” to an “assessment state,” which the state only had implemented at the end of the former Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration because of the high error rate.


Perkins experiment exception in NW LA results

With one huge exception, elections in northwest Louisiana’s two most populous parishes changed things little.

Last weekend culminated the election season, marked by Shreveport city and Caddo Parish School Board elections, plus the latter in Bossier Parish. The Bossier contests featured next to no excitement whatsoever; even with a few incumbents opting out (one after qualifying), all but one of those districts drew just one qualifier and just one incumbent ended up with a challenge, which he beat back. With this conforming to Bossier’s eccentric small town/apathetic dynamics, it didn’t even need last Saturday’s elections to have wrapped up the Board’s composition for the next four years, which remains in partisan terms ten Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent.

Caddo and Shreveport city council contests provided little more excitement or change. In the school district, fewer than half the seats had competition and none of the challenged incumbents lost who had won previous election. The anomalous appointed member, Durwood Hendricks, did see his district with which his views and its didn’t exactly mesh dump him in November. But when the dust settled, the Board reverted to its form for most of last term – five white Republicans, one white Democrat, and six black Democrats – with nine old faces returning.


Abraham poses serious threat to Edwards

If Louisiana Republican activists had seen the GOP’s Sen. John Kennedy as the toughest challenger to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham shouldn’t disappoint them.

Earlier this week, Kennedy took a pass on running for the state’s top job, disheartening some hoping to dump Edwards. Today, Abraham, after saying for months he gave serious consideration to taking on Edwards, made the plunge.

Epitomizing his penchants both for pettiness and hypocrisy, Edwards commented “[f]or the sake of the people of Louisiana, it is my hope that he seriously considers whether or not he is capable of running for governor while fulfilling his duties in Washington, DC.” Of course, Edwards ran for governor while a state representative, and he seemed unconcerned at the time about whether he could do that job while splitting time with campaigning for two years.


Left's hatred of America consensus fuels divide

The nation mourned former Pres. George H.W. Bush today, and part of the reason he received praise after his death a recent article illuminates, unpacking a key observation about today’s American politics.

Last week, the Baton Rouge Advocate ran a piece about how Republican Bush’s political career intersected with Louisiana. Several of its interviewees, which included officeholders and activists of both major parties, remarked on how Bush had personal friendships with Democrats and a couple lamented that they no longer saw a political environment that encouraged such cross-partisan relationships.

These still exist – look no further than the palling around between Louisiana Reps. Steve Scalise of the GOP and Democrat Cedric Richmond, who share a district fence and a number of similar interests – but in vastly reduced incidence as compared to Bush’s era of the late 1960s to early 1990s. Unquestionably, ideological polarization among political elites has contributed to this.


Crony capitalists predictably help fund Edwards

Is it really news in Louisiana when those who benefit from big government and/or with lengthy service in it support a tax-and-spend governor?

A recent article in the Baton Rouge Advocate listed a few nominal Republicans said to back Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards (I write a column on Sundays for that outlet). It included someone who has worked in high-ranking capacities for governors of both parties; a former Gov. Bobby Jindal cabinet appointee who now shills for an engineering firm with extensive state contracts; a nonprofit head who received tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for the building that houses his organization and has hustled throughout its history for government assistance; a former elected official whose tenure in that position spawned approbation for ethical lapses; and some businessmen whose livelihoods are shaped considerably by government policies and spending decisions (and a few of them have received plum appointments by Edwards to government panels).

That these people have a history of working for election of Republicans or giving generously to Republican candidates have pledged support for Edwards in his reelection efforts might at first glance seem surprising. Then again, most also historically supported Democrats at times, as their crony capitalism makes them swoon for anybody think can deliver the goods.


Lessons for LA even in flawed climate study

It may have a GIGO quality, but some thoughts relevant for Louisiana policy-making come forth from the fourth National Climate Assessment.

Quadrennially,federal government agencies collaborate to produce this document, with preparation of this one launched under the former Pres. Barack Obama Administration with its penchant for politicizing science. The first part, mainly methodological, came out last year.

Unfortunately, that effort suffered from faulty assumptions and selective use of data, with its authors enthralled in the faith of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. With this previous part containing little useful information, this left the more policy-based conclusions of the current part of suspect validity and relevance.


LA policy-makers must extend smoking ban

The good news is the smoking ban in East Baton Rouge Parish, including Baton Rouge, is producing the intended effect. The bad news is some renegade metropolitan areas in Louisiana still discriminate against individuals with pulmonary limitations – but state policy-makers can do something about it.

About a year-and-a-half after the ban, mirroring state law except it included casinos and bars, went into effect, air quality in a sample of those businesses showed indoor air pollution dropped 98 percent. The group that sponsored the testing hailed these results as victory for people employed in those establishments in their avoiding second-hand smoke.

But the real winners are the growing segment of adult Americans who suffer from some kind of respiratory ailment. About three in ten have one of emphysema, asthma, hay fever, sinusitis, or chronic bronchitis. A much smaller proportion have much more serious conditions that require consistent medical intervention to allow them to breathe.


Edwards politicizes by calling others political

Politics were on display when Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference met last week ironically with the agent politicizing the process accused another member of doing just that.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his panel designee Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne didn’t like that the REC – which also has as members the Speaker of the House or his designee, the Senate President or his designee, and an independent economist – refused to bump up the official revenue forecast by $40 million. Both an economist from the Division of Administration and from the Legislature recommended that emendation to the forecast.

The REC sets the revenue baseline for the governor’s executive budget for next fiscal year, released a month into a calendar year, as well as affects whether government may spend more or have to cut in the current fiscal year. An extra $40 million added to the existing forecast helps Edwards politically in three ways: by making it appear the state enjoyed increased prosperity under him, by hiking the baseline thereby giving him more to distribute to favored constituencies next year, and – in an atypical budget arrangement in effect only this year – allows spending contingency funds for specific purposes that total (perhaps not coincidentally) $43.3 million.


Leger likely to challenge Landry, lose

Louisiana Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry likely will draw a high-profile Democrat challenger, but is unlikely to lose his reelection bid.

Recently, Landry announced his intentions to run for a second term, and (insert here customary declaration the statement that follows next is certainty unless the candidate in question gets caught with a live boy or dead girl) is pretty close to a lock to winning that. In part, it’s because of the historic nature of his first three years in office.

Until Landry assumed the Department of Justice helm by defeating seasoned two-term incumbent Republican Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana attorney generals had a marginal role in defining the exercise of state government power. Constitutionally, the officer mainly deals with civil law, although a district attorney or court may invite him to deal with criminal matters. Statute also gives him a variety of powers not inconsistent with these in the Constitution.


Kennedy correct: voting a privilege, not right

When Louisiana’s junior Republican Sen. John Kennedy calls voting a “privilege,” constitutionally he’s correct.

Kennedy, who occasionally moonlights teaching constitutional law at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, made that remark incident to a feud over which felons may vote between GOP Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin (currently standing for his current job on Dec. 8) and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. His statement came under question in a column by the Baton Rouge Advocate’s Mark Ballard (I am contracted to write a weekly opinion column for The Advocate).

Ballard’s allegation reads in full:


Audit deals blow to Nungesser reelection hopes

The agency overseen by Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser in responding to a tough state audit probably gave a good hint of a combative reelection strategy for its boss.

That wouldn’t deviate from his past statewide runs, where for this office Nungesser had a strategy of making feisty ideological proclamations, even if much had nothing to do with the duties of the office itself. But now as the incumbent, he has to defend his record in office, and, ironically enough, one big mark against him to many comes from an issue preference he expressed in carrying out his official duties.

This came from a Bond Commission vote not to disallow bond merchants whose financial businesses discouraged exercise of Second Amendment rights, a motion which failed in April by his single vote. Another attempt in August that succeeded found him absent. In more symbolic ways, Nungesser also has perturbed conservatives, such as a reluctance to criticize Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards over questions of taxes and spending.


Thanksgiving Day, 2018

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday around  noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Thursday, Nov. 22 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.


LA blanket primary won't go away anytime soon

Louisiana’s blanket primary election system won’t be going away anytime soon because, for now, elites dependent upon it want it.

Officially, it isn’t even a primary at all, with it technically being a nonpartisan general election with a runoff should no candidate receive a simple majority of votes. All candidates regardless of party affiliation (if any) participate. A trio of other states have similar systems, except they are of the “top two” variety where a primary prior to the general election sorts out which two appear in the general election, regardless whether one receives a simple majority in the primary.

Rumblings among state politicians on this issue caught the attention of my colleagues at the Baton Rouge Advocate (I am a contracted to write a weekly opinion column for it), who produced a story about whether the state should change. It has used the blanket primary since 1975, except for all political party and presidential preference primary or caucus elections since then and in 2008 and 2010 a closed primary system for Congress.


Modest proposal to end LA film tax credit waste

Here’s the solution to ameliorating the damage from Louisiana’s porous Motion Picture Investors Tax Credit – defeat Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards for reelection next year.

It’s not that Edwards has proved an impediment to reforming the giveaway, which returns about a quarter of every dollar subsidizing filmmakers, many of whom come from out of state. He might well be, given his past support of the corporate welfare that he reiterated recently in a jaunt to Hollywood. But lawmakers haven’t ever challenged him to do so, only instituting tepid reforms last year.

Instead, it would be the act of keeping him from retaining office. That’s the model that nearly worked in Georgia. Over the weekend a number of Hollywood’s dimmest bulbs called for an industry boycott of the state, since it declared former Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp the winner over Democrat lawmaker Stacey Abrams for governor.


BR citizens disserved by catering to racist myth

This week provides a reminder of how a few Baton Rouge-area politicians and administrators buckled to political correctness reminiscent of the city’ racist past.

During this time, the city has hosted the Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association 2018 Training Conference. The group seeks to educate on a range of issues involving homicides, with the conference covering areas such as cold cases, DNA searches, serial killers, and mass shootings.

However, although having announced the event as one of its centerpieces, the conference canceled a presentation headed by Betty Shelby, now of Oklahoma’s Rogers County Sheriff’s Office. She would have given her perspective on her experience, when with the Tulsa Police Department, of unfortunately mistakenly shooting to death an unarmed man at a traffic stop.


Desisting better serves careers of LA GOP stars

One Louisiana politician made the right call. If the other gets a call, he should desist as well.

National politics churned unusually in the last week and a day. Election results prompted an unwise change in U.S. House of Representatives leadership, and Republican Pres. Donald Trump asked for a received a change of leadership in the Department of Justice.

With the GOP losing its House majority, Rep. Steve Scalise will take on a diminished role in the chamber’s governance, with any real influence over its coming business in the next two years a consequence of his relationship with Trump. This downgrading has led to speculation that Scalise might take a stab at Louisiana’s governorship, which wouldn’t require him to leave his congressional post to run.


LA partisanship still mediated by personalism

Of course a no-party designation costs candidates elections, because voters aren’t fools.

After election results came out, my Baton Rouge Advocate colleagues noted that a seemingly-popular incumbent for a Livingston Parish school board spot, running without a party label, lost to a Republican (although one with vast schools experience). In another school board matchup there, Republican Devin Gregoire defeated a no-party candidate who appeared to do more campaigning, although neither apparently raised or spent enough to have to file a campaign finance report.

This prompted a political consultant based in Baton Rouge to proclaim “The politics of Livingston Parish is changing in that not only the Democratic Party label, any label but the Republican party has become toxic.” While the first part is valid, the second misunderstands the nature of Louisiana politics.


Veterans' Day, 2018

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Wednesday, Nov. 12 being observed Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.


Elections in 2018 bring LA winners and losers

As always, elections bring winners and losers. Relative to struggles for power between different interests, who triumphed and who saw their political fortunes in retreat in Louisiana after this round?

School reform: For several years, those wishing to expand from monopolistic government schools have slowly expanded a majority in East Baton Rouge Parish, while the conflict has flip-flopped between sides in Jefferson Parish, with backers of unions and a more closed system most recently having prevailed.

Tuesday handed victories to reformers. In Baton Rouge, they extended their school board majorities with education administrator Tramelle Howard dumping Kenyetta Nelson-Smith from District 3 and education consultant Dadrius Lanus nearly avoided a runoff against Vereta Lee for District 62 but almost certainly will win the runoff.


Shreveport poised for major immediate break

A couple of high-profile Shreveport incumbents didn’t have a good election day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean new faces and ideas will come on board city government.

One does certainly look headed out the door. Democrat Mayor Ollie Tyler drew a measly 24 percent of the vote, making the runoff but behind Democrat lawyer Adrian Perkins, This constitutes a massive repudiation of Tyler, made more stinging in that voters elevated past her vote total someone half her age with zero political experience and next-to-none at all outside of the military and school. More would rather have a blank slate than her.

These numbers – over three-quarters of the electorate rejecting her and a newcomer leading her by five points in the general election – give her little chance to win the runoff. Only if she absolutely scares voters by pointing out Perkins’ inexperience and less becoming aspects of his commitment to Shreveport, such as he hardly has lived there his adult life and when he voted for himself that marked the first time he ever had voted, can she make voters that already rejected her reject him – but that doesn’t mean they’ll then change their minds about her.


Curfews, parental accountability to reduce crime

An idea from Caddo Parish deserves replication across Louisiana to deal with juvenile crime.

In response to a recent murder allegedly committed by juveniles, the district attorney’s office said, if possible, it would prosecute their parents as well. That response follows a pledge by District Attorney James Stewart, who last year announced his willingness to enforce local curfew ordinances.

Stewart practices what he preaches. Three months after his pronouncement, he followed through with an arrest and subsequent conviction of a mother of two pre-teens accused of a string of crimes. He also has gone after parents who miss court dates dealing with children’s excessive truancy.


Peacock feeling capital projects pressure

Could a Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards power play be getting to taxpayer stalwart Republican state Sen. Barrow Peacock?

Peacock appeared on KEEL radio’s morning show last week to discuss an option for funding the Inner City Connector Interstate 49 route in Shreveport. Earlier last month, the interchange between I-49 and I-220 officially opened, joining the I-49/I-20 interchange about four miles south that opened nearly two decades ago, leaving just the space between – the Connector – undone to complete I-49 in Louisiana.

Related to the opening, Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson had spoken on the program. In that interview, he cast doubt on finishing the Connector any time soon. Although one reason had to do with ongoing federal studies, Wilson also said a tight funding environment had pushed the item back in the queue.


N.O. must avoid tax hike mistake made by EBR

New Orleans need not make the same mistake as Baton Rouge did with dedicating funds to its Council on Aging.

Last month, the City Council unanimously approved placing a tax proposition in front of voters next spring. The measure would add two mils to property taxes then direct that money towards the New Orleans Council on Aging. This nonprofit agency acts as a quasi-governmental entity with its latest annual report showing over 90 percent of its revenues came from government grants, of which nearly $1.4 million or around a quarter of all agency funding came from the city.

But it seems that’s not enough. The tax would raise an estimated $6 million and presumably release the current stipend for other uses by the city. Councilors didn’t even hide the fact that this would increase taxes, commenting about how this doubling of the NOCOA budget could provide more services. Some didn’t even commit to refrain putting forward any other city monies for NOCOA if voters approved it.


Consequences of increased LA early turnout

If it’s October except for years after the presidential election, it’s time to debate the meaning of early voting again.

Louisiana saw a record midterm election year turnout this year in the decade of early voting’s existence. In fact, the total of 307,237 only fell about 50,000 short of the 2012 cycle, although the 2016 cycle surpassed that by almost 75 percent.

At first glance, this may seem remarkable, considering that the 2018 cycle features the least exciting passel of contests in a long time. As occurs every six even-numbered years, it has no Senate race, and none of the House of Representatives faceoffs hold any drama as all incumbents seem poised to win handily. The only statewide contest, for secretary of state, shouldn’t generate much enthusiasm for the least glamorous office in state government. Four of the five highest-populated parishes have school board races, but none feature parish contests and only one major city, Shreveport, has municipal races.


Work, not show, horse mode best for LPSC

Maybe the Louisiana Public Service Commission, especially its more vocal members, will start acting more as work horses instead of show horses on director compensation and related matters for the state’s rural electric cooperatives.

A couple of months ago, the PSC attracted attention when its members launched criticism of such practices. They complained about supposedly high salaries and compensation for key employees but, more controversially, excessive remuneration paid to directors. Each of the 11 chartered coops must have members appoint a board of directors to oversee management.

A few PSC members fulminated about this, questioning whether pay, travel expenses, and benefits like health insurance for part-time board members were excessive, and ordered the coops to provide that kind of information. Members wished to review such documents for consideration in setting future rates of these utilities that it regulates.


Tarver assent key to Shreveport mayor's race

As if on cue, Democrat state Sen. Greg Tarver did his best to lay rest to rumors that he disavowed less than completely Democrat lawyer Adrian Perkins’ candidacy for Shreveport mayor.

First in print, then over the air, Tarver tried to dispute conjecture that he staged a public break with Perkins, who as of May was dating his daughter (although apparently in long-distance fashion as Perkins recently graduated from Harvard Law School), while supporting him behind the scenes. For months some observers had linked the two together, and questioned the genuineness of a summer statement by Tarver announcing his withdrawal of support.

Tarver cited two reasons for his rejection: that Perkins, a Caddo Parish registrant since 2007 (just after he reached the age of voting eligibility), never had voted, and that he actually didn’t really reside in the parish and lied to Tarver about that. Before entering school, where one can live outside a parish but still be considered a resident while attending a higher education institution, Perkins’ military career had him stationed in Georgia, where he has owned a house for several years. However, since 2016 he has had registration at his mother’s house in Shreveport.


The Advocate column, Oct. 28, 2018

New Orleans' bail 'reform' has been a detriment to public's safety