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LA constitutional convention dos and don'ts

From media accounts, a discussion over a constitutional convention for Louisiana summarized arguments going back decades, but perhaps missed the optimal approach.

Sponsored by the Pelican Institute, it featured panels that reviewed topics associated with the question of whether and, if so, how to bring such a thing and a new constitution into fruition. It seemed all participating joined a large, although not unanimous in missing chiefly the political left, consensus that Louisiana needs significant changes to its governing document, principally involving fiscal matters.

The event appeared to hit all of the past arguments’ highlights. Such a lengthy and detailed document makes for too much rigidity in state government, in essence locking in policy priorities of at least four decades ago if not of more distant provenance, which may not reflect today’s wishes. Further, incremental change likely will not work; i.e. with a large amount of dedicated revenues and expenditures built into the Constitution, different constituencies can mobilize into majorities to prevent varying measures from excision, so altogether nothing changes. Finally, even if a consensus emerged for revision, various issues regarding selection of convention participants could scuttle the whole effort, if not produce a document that doesn’t address the fundamental problems.


Mistrust in Perkins may sink bond proposals

It’s better, but voters still should have some skepticism about Shreveport’s $186 million bond proposal to go in front of voters during the fall’s runoff elections.

Last week, the City Council narrowly approved putting up to voters the three measures, which had jettisoned $34 million worth of items, some dealing with nonessential “smart” technology but the remainder suspiciously looking like a slush fund to fund a private concern’s economic development project on Cross Bayou. Now pegged at 11.68 mills to start, while the deletions improved the package, it’s still not out of the woods.

Part of the problem stems from the overtaxed nature of Shreveport. It has the second-highest city property taxes in the state (around 36 mills, but that trails New Orleans by more than half), and it doesn’t help that Caddo Parish has the state’s second-highest as well (at about 146 mills, barely behind Orleans Parish). Given the chance, an overburdened citizenry might take a step towards relief with rejection of at least one item.


Amend LA constitution to reveal misbehavior

For now it’s the wrong way to make something right, but eventually Louisiana policy-makers must invite the people to do the right thing.

Last week, a candidate for the Louisiana Supreme Court sued to overturn a law that prohibits making public records involved in the investigation of a lawyer. As part of his campaign the candidate wishes to discuss (perhaps against an opponent) a complaint he filed.

He argues that the Legislature can’t alter the Constitution’s grant of power to the Louisiana Supreme Court to make rules concerning the Judiciary Commission. Art. V Sec. 25 gives the Court power to “make rules implementing this Section and providing for confidentiality and privilege of commission proceedings.”


Kathleen Blanco, 1942-2019

As regular readers of this space know, when someone involved in Louisiana politics who I know in some personal way goes on to their reward, I write a few words about her. Unfortunately, Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco now must make an appearance here for that reason.

All readers of this space may labor under the misimpression that I chat regularly with policy-makers, conservatives in particular, compiling terabytes worth of correspondence and hours of listening time for the National Security Administration (at least under Democrat presidents). In fact, my communications with such people are extremely modest. Just about all of the time that I devote to gathering information for my posts and columns comes from solitary research, not from commiserations with insiders.

And of the time spent communicating with policy-makers past and present, among those who have served as governor of the state, you might think I’ve spent the most time chatting with Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal. I have had the pleasure of chatting with him in person a few times for a few minutes each, both before and during his governorship.


Tarver boots Norton, benefits conservatives

Democrat state Rep. Barbara Norton discovered it’s never a good idea to be unprepared when sticking your head into the lion’s mouth.

The term-limited Norton over her three terms developed a reputation as not one of the sharpest tools in the shed, repeatedly making gaffes and not helped by her eccentric use of the English language. But having lost multiple attempts for office before winning this one, she did learn how to campaign at the grassroots level.

Thus, she had a realistic chance at knocking off Democrat state Sen. Greg Tarver when hoped to extend her legislative career by qualifying against him earlier this month. Himself a masterful campaigner after seeing it all over a four-decade career in elective office – although with an eight-year break after he beat a similar rap that took down Democrat former Gov. Prisoner #03128-095, known outside the walls as Edwin Edwards – that time in Shreveport politics also has brought him a number of enemies, including very ideological liberals annoyed that he sometimes aligns with conservatives on fiscal issues.