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Dardenne tries to fool again on budget

Over carrying out his statutory duties, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne tried to fool us once. He’s trying to do it again.

My most recent column for the Baton Rouge Advocate took Dardenne and his boss Gov. John Bel Edwards to task for technically breaking the law in their most recent presentation to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Dardenne presented a budget using numbers concocted by economists for his office and for the Legislature, but which had not gained approval of the Revenue Estimating Conference.

The REC requires unanimity to assign revenue forecasts. One member, House Speaker Taylor Barras, has refused to change general fund estimates from those accepted at the Jun. 26, 2018 meeting, although he asked at the most recent meeting to revise numbers associated with dedicated funds, many of which have yet to receive an official forecast. Dardenne and the other two members rejected that.


Raising smoking age will cost LA more

If Louisiana intends to raise the age of tobacco use and possession to 21, it needs to do it for the right reason.

Prefiled HB 38, by state Rep. Frank Hoffman, would do this, and includes alternative nicotine products including vaping material. A few states and a number of local governments already have put this limit into law.

The bill resurrects arguments pitting exercise of personal liberties against the state’s duty to protect its citizens. Already the prohibition applies to alcohol, and with the U.S. Supreme Court pontificating that states can’t automatically sentence to life imprisonment those under 18 who commit horrific crimes because their brains may not have developed enough to distinguish right and wrong in all instances, consistency dictates increasing the age.


Case reminds to pare constables, justices

With the West Bank’s dynamic duo now officially in disgrace, maybe legislators will wake up and reform Louisiana’s small claims court system.

Last week, a court found former Jefferson Parish Second District Justice of the Peace Patrick DeJean guilty of charges related to abusing his office. JPs provide numerous administrative functions in addition to adjudicating cases with minor amounts in controversy, for which they may receive fees. These convictions automatically cost him his position.

Whatever legitimate business DeJean had didn’t seem adequate for a gambling habit he had picked up, thus his crimes of overcharging revenues and falsely inflating expenses (Jefferson Parish, as do others throughout the state, supplement in various ways JPs and their office, although not legally required to do so). While not connected to those felonies, he had a partner in running up business, former Constable Tony Thomassie.


Perkins surrenders his mayoral honeymoon

The honeymoon is over officially for wunderkind Shreveport’s Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins.

Sworn in at the tail end of last year, the first city mayor born after its switch from the commission form of government and who hardly has lived any of his adult life in the city, the precocious Perkins swept into office on a perception that he offered a clean break from stagnation of the recent past. Citizens who saw city government as opaque and infested with cronyism in policy-making hoped he would bring fresh ideas and a fresh start.

Instead, in his first two months on the job, Perkins seemed like one of the good old boys who additionally believed the executive imposes and the legislature disposes. He hit a minor speed bump when he proposed a garbage fee to a public wary but open to the idea. Shreveport is among the very few larger cities that does not have such a charge.