What to do with drag queens hosted by public
Publicity over story times for children featuring
transvestites provoked the citizenry in one large Louisiana city, while it
largely elicited a yawn in the state’s largest city. In Lafayette,
many in the public expressed concern over the concept, and opposition by
Mayor-President Joel Robideaux
led to the resignation of his appointee to the board that runs parish
libraries. By contrast, similar events in New
Orleans haven’t generated any real controversy.
A board of appointees from local government entities
govern Lafayette’s libraries. It receives about $1.4
million in general fund money from the city and another $14
million from the parish, mostly from a dedicated property tax. In New
Orleans, a dedicated property tax is forecast to pump over $18 million
into its libraries, governed by a board of mayoral appointees.
It has become increasingly clear that change must
come to the Ernest N. Morial New
Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s greased path to raising and spending
recent years, a steady drumbeat of questions has risen over the
ever-increasing pot of money that the organization, which runs the city’s Convention
Center and Exhibition Hall, sits on. At the close of 2017,
it had over $150 million lying around in cash equivalents and for many years running
its revenues have exceeded its expenses by over $20 million annually.
That’s due to taxes which, if there’s any real
need to collect these in the first place, should better go to other pressing
priorities. Instead, with so much dough rolling in the Authority spends some on
matters that have nothing to do with its functions such as nearby roads and
public safety as a kind of peace offering to New Orleans, and banks the rest
with an eye on tremendous pie-in-the-sky capital projects that stray
further and further away from its actual footprint and/or mission.
Yes, taxpayers must pony up more for north Louisiana
charity hospital services. But because that largesse on a continuing basis comes
from the federal level, that begs a very interesting political question.
month, this column mused about the financial ramifications of a pending
deal on University Health hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe. For months, the
state has sought a takeover of these from BRF, and last
week the deal finally came to fruition. Beginning Oct. 1, a combination of
the Louisiana State University System and Ochsner Health System would run both.
The former runs and owns entirely Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center, and the
latter operates Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center.
Legislators had gotten wind that the deal would
throw more money to the new operators. This seemed odd, as the Gov. John Bel Edwards
had cut subsidies to operators, maintaining the existing deals – thrown together
hastily as the state had to respond to a large federal government retrenchment
in health care aid – paid too much.
If in fact Louisiana politics are evolving into so-called
“Washington-style” politics, it seems that has extended to “first spouse” as
Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards
makes an incessant talking point about allegedly more conflict developing
between partisans in the Legislature. Of course, he defines “partisanship” in a
nonstandard way, coming when you disagree with him on something, but he is
correct in that Louisiana is evolving away from a more personalistic style of
politics to one more driven by issue preferences that has marked politics in
the nation’s capital for much of the national government’s existence.
But it seems another “Washington” aspect has crept
into Louisiana’s political scene, that being the unprecedented political
activism of First Lady Donna Edwards. Until
her family moved into the Governor’s Mansion, gubernatorial spouses, if ever
seen and heard, didn’t involve themselves in issuing political statements over
any controversial issue.