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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