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Bungled session leaves little to commend it

Thanks to monumental leadership ineptitude, if not bad faith, a promising special session of the Louisiana Legislature collapsed to take the political fortunes of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards out of intensive care.

At its start almost a month ago, the session convened by the Republican leadership of Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Pres. Page Cortez looked to make several advancements. Primarily, it could have, through passing a combination of resolutions to commence immediately and laws aimed at the future, pushed Edwards into wiser policy-making concerning the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, made strides towards addressing the unemployment benefits trust fund deficit without weakening the system, and handled matters relative to this year’s hurricane disasters.

Insofar as the disaster legislation went, it got the job done. It failed miserably on the other pair of priorities, and in a way that revived Edwards’ moribund power that it had hamstrung during the regular session and prior special session.


Jefferson school leaders stupidly dig deeper

If you’ve already made yourself look idiotic by digging a hole you’re in, don’t keep digging. That’s a lesson Louisiana’s lobby for school superintendents, and especially the Jefferson Parish school chief and some of its board members, should have learned long ago.

Last month, the parish’s school superintendent James Gray senselessly suspended 4th grader Ka’Mauri Harrison for briefly having a BB gun in view of his computer camera while receiving virtual instruction. Shortly thereafter, 6th grader Tomie Brown got suspended for three days for roughly the same thing.

It boggles the mind in the first place why the district would consider having a gun visible from afar, as opposed to having one in the classroom, an infraction. It’s as if Jefferson school mandarins think children are vampires that must be shielded from a cross lest they endure trauma, as if the image of a firearm in and of itself was something revolting. However do they survive viewing pictures of war from their history textbooks?


Bossier Jury last big NW LA sunshine holdout

Now that the Bossier City Council has dragged itself into the 21st century, it’s past time for that to happen to the last holdout among the large governing authorities in northwest Louisiana that has resisted transparency – the Bossier Parish Police Jury.

Last week, for the first time, the City Council began publishing on its web site descriptions of its agenda items, including the texts of ordinances when introduced and considered. The move brings welcome relief to citizens who now can review easily, without having to trek to City Hall, matters before the Council meets in order to give input before or at the meeting.

Perhaps the change came as a result of looming elections. Three months prior to qualification, already more candidates have committed to challenging incumbents than in 2017. One, District 1 challenger Republican Shane Cheatham who currently sits on the Bossier Parish School Board, in publicly pledged to making agenda item information available online prior to meetings, emulating the Board’s policy as well as that of Shreveport’s City Council. Then, almost simultaneously, the Bossier City Council broke its maiden.


Tweak program to reduce LA's water woes

A promising program that could save Louisiana taxpayers money scored its first success, but it needs a heavier foot on the gas pedal.

Almost a quarter of a century ago, Congress established a program that led to creation of Louisiana’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. Each year, the federal government allocates money for this, matched by the state at a 4:1 ratio. The nearly $20 million combined, as well as monies accumulated from the past loaned and repaid, mainly may go to further low-interest lending to aid in improving the provision of drinking water by both local government and nongovernment agencies, but also can subsidize providers to defined disadvantaged populations, refinancing for government providers, as well as set-asides to secure adherence to regulations to address public health priorities.

Last year, within the program following the creation of a commission to study the issue, the state additionally instituted a mechanism to aid disadvantaged communities, defined as a population that faces an imminent threat to public safety from regulatory noncompliance in its system, has fewer than 10,000 people, and has a median household income below the national figure. It allows these systems to draw upon an interest-free, forgivable loan to consolidate with other systems in better financial and structural shape.


LA needs to stay on education reform course

The fault in Louisiana’s continuing drop in ACT Test scores lies in us, even in the face of a similar national trend.

Louisiana’s decline has gone from 19.5 (out of 36 points) in 2017 to 19.2 in 2018 to 18.8 in 2019 and 18.7 in 2020. However, that trend also appears nationally. Among the other 11 states where all students took the ACT in this period, only two had an increase from 2017-18, one had an increase from 2018-19, one had an increase from 2019-20, and only Nevada’s rose in this period – and it’s the lowest performer. Nationally, which includes all students including those in states they may take it voluntarily (which disproportionately excludes lower performers), scores also dropped from 21 to 20.6.

This can’t be written off as an artifact of fewer students taking it – which has seen a drop every year from 2017 of 2.03 million to 1.67 million in 2020 – because less able students typically eschew it. As well, the pattern downward replicated across the must-take states.