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Edwards delivers for Perkins, his agenda

Invited by the Shreveport City Council faction backing Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins to appoint a fill-in to their liking, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards obliged, reshaping the course of city government and boosting his ally Perkinsflagging chances at reelection next year.

When GOP former Councilor James Flurry, almost always a Perkins opponent, resigned his City Council District E last month, the generally anti-Perkins bloc of Republicans Grayson Boucher and John Nickelson and Democrat LeVette Fuller lost its majority. With just three of six seated voted, earlier this month on a tie vote it failed to put its preferred candidate into the seat of the Republican-leaning district.

This tossed the decision to Edwards, who wasn’t crass enough to tab a Democrat, but who did pluck a campaign contributor in tune with the other Council Democrats – Jerry Bowman, James Green, and Tabatha Taylor. No party Alan Jackson got his official nod just before yesterday’s Council meeting and in doing so Edwards provided a bit of irony if not outright hypocrisy: after deeming important having two minority-majority congressional districts in Louisiana because of the state’s racial proportions in population, Edwards picked a black man to represent a majority white district.


Cash benefit increases sustainability uncertain

Decisions regarding cash assistance to low-income families with dependent children by the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration have put Louisiana on the hook for new spending commitments in the tens of millions of dollars that may not be sustainable.

Recently, the state’s Department of Children and Family Services announced it essentially would double cash benefits paid for the two programs associated with the federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families program. In Louisiana, DCFS issues TANF benefits through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and Kinship Care Subsidy Program. The former awards money to low-income households that nominally work or prepare for working, while the latter provides cash to household where the head is not a parent but a reasonably close relative.

Until the end of the year, Louisiana will pay one of the lowest FITAP rates in the country, although it is not far below the southern average. Starting in 2022, that rate will jump to the highest in the region and well above that average, settling in around the national average, which for a family of three is $484 monthly. In part, this will offset the relatively low proportion of the total TANF funds the state receives, $163 million in the last year, going to cash assistance, around $13 million, compared to other states; Louisiana spends a much higher proportion on programs and subsidies directly related to child welfare.


LA finances must dodge viewpoint discrimination

Louisiana needs to extend the wisdom expressed by its State Bond Commission to other state administrative financial aspects, as other states have commenced doing.

Years ago, and recently reaffirmed, the SBC’s majority vowed that the panel, which decides how bond sales takes place at all level of government, would not permit lenders to participate in state borrowing who discriminated against businesses legally operating under Second Amendment protections. It has yet to address applying the same to financiers who discriminate against lending to businesses that don’t adhere to a certain viewpoint in their activities, such as producing fossil fuels when that lender has said it will reject loans to businesses related to that activity, but the SBC should.

As the head of the panel, Republican Treas. John Schroder can lead the charge. That would dovetail nicely with a related effort of his regarding investing state dollars; the treasurer oversees over $6.5 billion in over 30 state funds. Led by West Virginia, this coalition with Louisiana and 13 other states pledges to “scrutinize or potentially curtail future business” with banks that have policies against financing for the coal, oil, and gas sectors. “Corporate agendas that attack our oil and gas industry, which has been so vital to our state, must be called out…I will stand with other financial officers to fight against these job-killing policies that harm our economy,” he said.


Christmas Day, 2021

This column publishes every Monday through Friday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Saturday, Dec. 25 being Christmas Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Shreveport looks to compound wage hike mistake

Shreveport’s City Council next week will conclude its 2022 budget debate, where the question isn’t whether to deplete its reserves, but whether recklessly so in order to raise how many employees’ pay, including boosting minimum wages to over twice the legal limit.

Last week, the four Democrats and two Republicans (the seventh member still as-yet undetermined after a resignation last month) agreed that no city employee should receive less than $13 an hour. This meant hiking the lowest grade’s starting pay by about $1.70 per hour, but then salary compression would set in, meaning other grades would have to see increases as well. The plan eventually adopted would apply to 750 workers and cost just over $1 million a year.

Those funds were worked into the budget. However, that it seems wasn’t enough for some councilors. Councilors Republicans Grayson Boucher and John Nickelson plus Democrat LeVette Fuller wanted a 13 percent pay raise for police and fire employees, whose compensation operates in a different system which Resolution 149 didn’t affect. They tried to insert this into Ordinance 154, the operating budget, as an amendment.


Fatigue present in Edwards map, virus actions

As he turns the quarter pole down the homestretch of his gubernatorial tenure, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards continues to come to grips with his constrained diminishing power that inches him towards cipher status when it comes to policy-making.

Leftists both in Louisiana and across the land surely perked up when last week Edwards commented about the looming special session for reapportionment. Republicans who control the Legislature are in the process of scheduling this at the crack of February.

In an elaboration of past comments alluding to “fair” redistricting for Congress, Edwards got liberals’ hearts fluttering when he said, “Fairness, if it can be done, would be to have two out of the six congressional district be minority districts.” Since the state has nearly one-third black population, by the numbers that theoretically wouldn’t pose problems.


Report signals how LA can improve elections

While it’s good to see Louisiana near the top of a list of states for a change, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, in this instance for election integrity.

The Heritage Foundation recently vetted the states on this issue, compiling a scorecard that reviewed 36 areas related to it and weighing these by importance, with the most importance at 6 points being photo identification for in-person voting. In aggregate, Louisiana scored 75/100, or seventh best.

This good relative placement prompted Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin to applaud his staff and the 64 registrar offices. But before he breaks his arm patting himself and others on the back, the real value of the exercise with the state coming up a quarter short lies in showing where Louisiana can improve, something he can lead along with legislators.


NO ups ante on abusive child vax requirements

It’s as if after seeing the state of Louisiana embark on state-sponsored child abuse, New Orleans decided it should up the ante. Hopefully, legal action may thwart both.

Last week, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards overrode a House of Representatives panel to allow bureaucrats in the Department of Health to add vaccines for the Wuhan coronavirus to the immunization schedule for all levels of schooling. It would take effect for the 2022-23 school year, although parents may opt children in elementary and secondary education out of this, and at present it would apply only to those 16 and older, although this could change to essentially all ages by then depending upon federal government full authorization for vaccine use at younger ages.

This requirement makes little scientific sense. Vaccines don’t stop transmission, so they don’t protect others from getting the virus. Further, the vaccines themselves have a limited range of effectiveness, both in duration and in coverage of ever-mutating strains, unlike any other immunization on the schedule which lasts far longer and almost perfectly suppress the underlying malady. In essence, this virus behaves like its relative influenza, only slightly more lethally to children, yet no one ever has proposed adding flu shots to the schedule.


BC must pare debt that smothered its growth

While it looks as if the move to issue $30 million in debt to fund a recreation center in north Bossier City has withered, that shouldn’t bring debate over city borrowing to a halt.

In early December, the Council witnessed a two-front offensive to bring about this project. At that meeting, members unknown asked for the Northwest Louisiana YMCA to pitch for the building that the Y would run – despite uncertain demand and that city residents not only would end up footing the bill for the building but also would have to pay hundreds of dollars a year to use it except by participating in a select few city programs.

Following that, members unknown also asked for representatives of agencies the city works with for bond issuance (the ones for work “we don’t bid”) to give their opinions about the city’s debt load. The latest authorization of $75 million combined with scheduled paying down outstanding debt in 2021 puts the available debt load at around $535 million, or over $8,500 per resident, by far the highest of any medium or large city in Louisiana.


Social media spat displays liberal fragility

Call it “liberal fragility.”

As Democrats have swung violently to the political left, party elites and ideological fellow-travelers have embraced a fringe intellectual movement known as “critical theory,” although in the context of political debate it often is referred to as Critical Race Theory. Despite a wholesale lack of empirical evidence to back its assertions, this alleges that racism against non-whites – although almost always making blacks as a group the locus – is so hardwired into American institutions, including those of government, and society that only extensive and intrusive intervention by government can bring fairness in treatment of racial minorities (even as most racial minority parents oppose the core beliefs of CRT).

Further, it borrows the Marxian concept of “false consciousness,” with a structuralist twist, to explain why protest by whites against the presumed “truth” of CRT. In Marxism, false consciousness describes why the allegedly exploited cooperate in their own exploitation, as they haven’t had their consciousnesses raised to the point of realizing this. The structuralist version expands the idea to compensate for the development of the affluent society after World War II, which extends false consciousness to much of the bourgeoisie, who don’t comprehend that they cooperate in oppressing the masses because the official capitalist state ideology has so infused all institutions, particularly public education.


No logic behind bad school vax decision

If you want to view a case study of how illogic and skewed information combine to create bad policy, look no further than Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to add Wuhan coronavirus vaccines to the required schedule for school and college attendees.

Proposed by his Department of Health, the House Health and Welfare Committee as allowed by law vetoed this, in bipartisan fashion. Members and other critics cited the overly intrusive nature of the requirement, questioned the wisdom with little long-term research on the effects of vaccination of children coupled with the known negative side effect of increase myocarditis risk, and noted that vaccines don’t prevent transmission or in a significant number of instances protect the injected person, especially as the many mutations of the virus have made its presence endemic rather than pandemic, like influenza that Edwards seems to have no worries about.

Also as allowed by law, Edwards overrode it, but admitted both directly and indirectly that the opponents were right. Vaccine development “in time to help us put this pandemic behind us also requires us to do everything we can to add COVID-19 to the list of diseases that no longer pose a serious threat. This rule does just that, and it should remain in place,” he argued.


LA must eschew "progressive" prosecution

Crime problems plaguing New Orleans at present don’t come just from lenient bail policies, but also from putting a “progressive” chief prosecutor in place – a problem that also might have contributed to the marked increase in homicides haunting Shreveport as well.

As recently noted, bail policies that have ratcheted down amounts paid and increased release on recognizance – implemented by New Orleans – while crime has increased follow a pattern in other jurisdictions doing the same. The same phenomenon appears to have Baton Rouge in its clutches as it, along with 11 other larger cities in the country, have hit record numbers of homicides, a condition its police chief Murray Paul attributes to lenient bail conditions.

Yet increasing the numbers of accused out on the streets by forgoing adequate means to make them appear in court, some with lengthy and/or dangerous criminal histories, isn’t solely the province of lax standards. Prosecutorial discretion also contributes, a review of large city statistics and policies though 2020 shows. And it has gotten worse in 2021.


Bail laxness in NO endangering community

If data from other cities indicate anything, New Orleanians’ suffering only will grow because of ill-considered bail reform policies.

The numbers continue to accumulate for a number of cities that over the past few years, several in just the past year or so, have sought to minimize, if not eliminate, the role of cash bail in determining the pretrial circumstances of criminal defendants. They don’t look good; across America, significant increases in criminal activity, especially homicides, and in repeat offenses have occurred in cities that very publicly ratcheted down the likelihood of requiring bail and/or its amounts for those accused of crime, including violent crimes.

Bail as a concept tries to encourage trial appearance. Paying a refundable amount upon appearing discourages becoming a fugitive, and typically if a defendant doesn’t have it a bondsman will front the money for a fee something like 12 percent of the balance. If not paying bail, the charged person is incarcerated until and through the trial. The amount theoretically is set so that it’s low enough that people not a threat to the community can secure release, but for those that are (and in a few instances the law doesn’t allow for bail because of accusation of such a heinous crime assumes a person inherently dangerous to the community) it will keep them jailed and unable to harm society.


NW LA voters act sane, NO bunch go crazy

In Louisiana’s final elections of the year, northwest Louisiana voters largely hewed to fiscal restraint, while their New Orleans counterparts cautioned people seeking quality local governance to look elsewhere.

Bossier City’s District 1 City Council contest delivered a second ally to Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler with Republican Brian Hammons’ runoff win. He almost avoided a runoff against no party Mike Lombardino, and garnered endorsements from area GOP bigwigs – most notably from known consistent conservatives – which now puts Chandler a Council vote away from having enough panel backers to uphold vetoes, and Hammons taking the seat slows further the big-spending tendencies of the Council majority.

Hundreds of miles away, a decision made by voters in St. Tammany Parish also impacted Bossier City. Down south, voters overwhelmingly rejected changing their rejection of casino gambling in that parish a quarter century ago, thus keeping the former DiamondJacks boat high and dry up north. It shut down operations almost two years ago and its owners have said they won’t reopen it there, and they lobbied hard to send it south. But many political and social elites in St. Tammany opposed altering the parish status, and the people ratified that rejection at about the same proportion as they had originally.


Democrats force hidden roads tax onto LA

Without increasing Louisiana’s retail gasoline tax, roads and bridges will crumble! Traffic jams will form everywhere! Uh, never mind, we’ll take care of it with hiking the inflation tax instead.

Up until recently, all one heard from the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration confronting a $15 billion assumed backlog in transportation was how the gas tax had to go up to address that. In the background, the Legislature turned away multiple attempts to do so, one as recent as earlier this year.

But then, lawmakers passed a measure adjusting the flow of most vehicle sales taxes away from the general fund and towards transportation spending that over three years eventually will boost commitments roughly $400 million more a year. And then came the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act from Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and his party that runs Congress (with an assist from select Republicans like Sen. Bill Cassidy), which at the very least will provide the state over the next five years $5.8 billion will towards roads and bridges.


Panel vote puts good policy ahead of ideology

Give credit where credit is due: when Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his health care apparatchiks are wrong, they won’t back off no matter how unconvincing their arguments and evidence, to the detriment of Louisianans.

That became apparent through a marathon session of the House Health and Welfare Committee this week. It met in response to a proposed rule by the Department of Health that would put vaccines for the Wuhan coronavirus on the required list of immunizations for public education, an action over which the committee has veto power. Such a decision, however, the governor may overrule.

In practical terms, at present that would subject only children aged 16 and older to injection, as official federal government authorization of these vaccines applies only to that age and above. However, officials have under consideration reducing that to 5. Further, legal ambiguity exists whether such an order pertains to this particular case; as Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry has noted, the current “vaccines” act more as mostly-effective prophylactics that don’t prevent infections or transmission.


Impasse gives Edwards chance to boost Perkins

The deadlock over the Shreveport City Council appointing itself a new member underscores the fault line in city politics produced by Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins and approaching election year maneuvering.

The resignation last month of Republican James Flurry due to a residence change opened up the Council’s District E seat, to which Flurry narrowly won reelection three years ago. In a special meeting earlier this week, the six remaining members coalesced around applicants Democrat Durwood Hendricks, who grabbed votes of three Council Democrats but not of Democrat Councilor LeVette Fuller, who joined the two remaining Republicans to back Republican Matt Kay.

It wasn’t Hendricks’ first rodeo trying for appointment to an elected position. Flurry defeated him in 2014, after which Hendricks won an interim appointment to the Caddo Parish School Board in a historically Republican-voting district, which he promptly lost in the ensuing election. Kay has won elections to local and state party offices and managed media for GOP Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler’s winning campaign earlier this year.


Edwards wants to waste more on dubious projects

It’s not quite such an egregious pig in a poke that Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to foist upon taxpayers this time, but it still likely will end up wasting tax dollars.

Last week, Edwards announced the firm Venture Global LNG would pump as much as $10 billion into a liquified natural gas facility in Cameron Parish. This actually was old news, as the company had signaled its intent months ago, so the recent reiteration just confirmed some numbers and that the state would kick in to see the thing built. Tossing about those numbers puts the state on the hook for nearly $1.5 million annually for as many as ten years through its Quality Jobs Incentive Program, plus perhaps over $100 million in construction rebates.

Expansion of natural gas export provision makes sense. Global demand for it continues to rise, especially from Asian countries where Louisiana has a competitive advantage. In fact, Venture Global’s largest customer, China, already has committed to a short-term increase in importation from Calcasieu Pass where the new facility will sit alongside others of the firm’s, as well as more extensively from another new company project in Plaquemines Parish, so the market seems there to sustain such lofty plans.


BC must reject unneeded rec center giveaway

This week the Bossier City Council will hear version 2.0 of how to waste $30 million.

It comes in the form of an idea recycled for years by the longtime free spenders of the Council, who have driven up the city’s debt, if entirely issued, to over a half billion dollars and nearly $7,000 per resident. Contrast that with the two cities in Louisiana of similar size, Kenner and Lake Charles, whose per capita debts respectively are about $1,300 and $800.

This extra $400 or so per person would go to the next iteration of what a few months ago was termed the “Bossier City Recreational Center and Senior Center.” The proposal put on the Apr. 6 agenda of the Council by Republican Councilor David Montgomery, but never heard over other councilors’ concerns about cost and need, envisioned tapping existing borrowing authority and interest earned to build over 95,000 square feet that would include a competition pool, family pool, gymnasium, elevated jogging track, and other amenities (but didn’t include about $5 million in furnishing costs).


LA looks better off with coming abortion ruling

Which of the four directions the U.S. Supreme Court takes on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will determine what abortion law will look like in Louisiana, with the odds heavily favoring a coming change.

The Court heard this case earlier this week, concerning a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks from conception. This runs counter to court precedents Roe v. Wade that continued into Planned Parenthood v. Casey that set a limit of 24 weeks. The Court likely will announce a decision prior to the end of Jun., 2022.

The least likely outcome would be to follow the Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling that the precedents definitively discovered a “right to privacy” in the Constitution that creates a right to abortion prior to “viability” of the preborn, and that the dividing line resides at 24 weeks. This logic roundly has drawn criticism for its utter disregard for what the Constitution says and how its defenders have to torture the document to get there. The composition of the Court at present suggests a majority willing to set aside decisions bereft of constitutional anchoring.


Data show LA can stop drain by cutting taxes

Now that most Louisianans will get a tax cut, it’s time to cut them further and across the board, the data show if the state wants to minimize its outmigration.

Last month, voters passed a constitutional amendment that will cap income taxes and excise a deduction for federal income taxes paid, triggering legislation that reduces rates and total payments for most filers. It resulted in a small net tax decrease. Corporate rates also declined marginally.

But according to data crunched by the National Taxpayers Union, the higher the effective rate paid in state and local taxes, the greater net outmigration in raw numbers by taxpayers over the last two years for which there are data, 2018-19. And Louisiana keeps very bad company in the rankings, where in terms just of raw numbers outflows exceeded inflows by nearly 10,000, the tenth-worst among the states. The numbers are worse still when comparing the percentage change for all filers; here, its negative gap of 0.59 percent of all filers is fifth-worst.


LSU football hire risks problem redux

The drama that surrounded the Louisiana State University head football coach search underscores its vigorous commitment to athletic success that has created both academic and ethical problems that continue to reverberate.

Its hiring of Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly sent an aftershock through the college football world. Kelly’s move, who essentially made three national championship playoff rounds in his decade-plus there, followed that of another name to which LSU was connected, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, whose teams made three such appearances in the past five years and who has the winningest record ever for a coach through his first five years as head man. Only a day earlier, Riley had decamped the Sooners for Southern California.

Attention-grabbing was two typically rare events in 24 hours: a coach leaving a “destination school.” Two qualities distinguish this handful of schools from the rest of the college football world: historically, these (1) have coaches with long employment runs because they have over the decades few seasons where they don’t compete for conference and national championships late into a season, and so (2) these hardly ever need to fire the boss. Further, destination school coaches leave only by poaching from another destination school (as in the case of Riley), a move to the National Football League, or they retire.


Nixing new rule good policy, helps LA GOP

Maybe Louisiana’s Republican legislative majority finally has figured out opposing Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwardszero COVID fantasy wins both morally and politically.

Earlier this fall, Edwards’ Department of Health served notice that it would add to the Office of Public Health’s immunization schedules vaccination for the Wuhan coronavirus, both for those delivering education through high school and beyond. This has drawn scrutiny from the GOP-run Legislature, who vowed to hold hearings on the matter next month and to search for ways blunt this move.

At present, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given full approval for vaccines just for people aged 16 and older, it wouldn’t have much impact. Further, in schools below higher education, families can opt out for any reason, further diluting the impact.


Edwards shouldn't hold breath on Biden swap

One conservative commentator thinks national Democrats should throw a lifeline to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ political career, as unlikely and ineffective as it might be.

Edwards is playing out the string as the state’s chief executive, reduced to reacting against progress when the Republican-controlled Legislature gets up the gumption to force an issue, and unable to forward successfully anything but the most marginal agenda items or purely symbolic gestures such as promoting policies based on climate alarmism. The rest of the time he tries to behave as a one-man Chamber of Commerce to beg the private sector to boost the state’s economic development that has performed dismally under his watch.

While he already has demurred from attempting any future elective office, he has not discouraged speculation about appointive positions. Given the current milieu generated by national Democrats, however, and particularly with his third-rail violation of not opposing measures that have the effect of reducing abortion on demand, he’s found the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration disinterested in his services, even where that background or his prior military service might deliver at least a symbolic advantage for his assuming this kind of post.


Thanksgiving Day, 2021

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Thursday, Nov. 25 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Ill-timed Shreveport tax hikes look tenuous

As Shreveport suffers with one of the worst large-city economies in the country, the last thing it should want to do is increase taxes. Yet that’s exactly what it has queued up for voters in just over a couple of weeks.

Going for a third bite of the apple, Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins, with unanimous City Council assent, wants to put five brand-spanking new property taxes on the menu to fund a range of infrastructure items paid by debt. A similar but smaller package divided into three items narrowly failed in 2019, and earlier this year Council reticence caused Perkins to withdraw a proposal of four measures for an amount a bit smaller than the $236 million now up for voter approval.

Events since the 2019 failure have both aided and conspired against chances of passage. Even with a booming economy under Republican former Pres. Donald Trump, voters rejected the items, one dealing with water and sewerage, another with roads, and an omnibus proposal for buildings addressing public safety and parks and recreation. The package earlier this year split out public safety from other construction, and the current iteration created a separate technology item.


Edwards map hedge seeks to avoid wasted power

Of course Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards won’t commit to vetoing any Louisiana congressional redistricting plan that doesn’t have two majority-minority districts: such a move loses, both politically and practically.

While some Louisianan legislators and special interests have stumped for doubling the number of such House of Representatives districts in the state out of six because its black population almost has reached a third of the population, Edwards publicly refuses to join in definitively. As governor, he has a chance to influence the process because he has veto power over the law implementing any reapportionment. Further, while the Louisiana Senate has a supermajority of Republicans that could override a veto, the House of Representatives comes up two seats short.

However, in practical terms any arrangement that squeezes out two of these would face tremendous constitutional problems, as this would violate Supreme Court jurisprudence that does not allow for drawing boundaries making racial composition the primary consideration while ignoring other desirable criteria. If somehow Edwards could strongarm into life such a plan, it would be challenged legally, elections in 2022 would continue under the current map, and eventually the federal judiciary extremely likely would declare it unconstitutional.


Edwards net zero delusion risks taxpayer bucks

Louisiana state government subsidizing private sector nuclear reactors may be in taxpayers’ future, if Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ “net zero” scheme sees the light of day.

Last year, Edwards jaunted into Climate Derangement Syndrome with his establishment of a task force whose goals included by 2025 reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, by 2030 by 40 to 50 percent of that level; and by 2050 reducing emissions to net zero. So far, the group hasn’t disgorged anything specific, although a final report doing so will come forth early next year, but it appears to pursue both front-end strategies of reducing emissions at their source by turning away from fossil fuel use and at the back end by carbon sequestration.

Never mind these goals are both ruinously expensive – with such a strategy costing the typical ratepayer an estimated $90 a month more through 2035 – and physically impossible to achieve. Just to give one example of the latter, the demand for precious metals needed in batteries to make nonrenewable energy source use feasible gobbles up the world’s entire proven reserves of these – and one of the crucial metals involved, cobalt, China now monopolizes in part thanks to a deal brokered by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden’s son Hunter.


Shreveport rental registry hurts more than helps

Shreveport’s City Council continues to take a step away from reality with its recent endorsement of a rental dwelling unit registration program, on top of an increase in the minimum wage paid to city employees.

Both measures advanced in last week’s meeting. The increase comes not as an ordinance but as part of the 2022 budget, about matching New Orleans’ plans to do the same. Both cities are in economic decline relative to other U.S. cities their sizes, and raising the wage has a demonstrable negative impact on economic growth, even if just limited to municipal employees because of increased taxpayer costs and the knock-on effect it has on private sector wages.

Yet the extra requirements and costs of landlords might do more economic long-term damage. They would have to cough up $65 initially per unit, and then $30 each year, as well as if needed pay to put properties into compliance according to a proposed list of 12 items. This adds definitions to vague state law whose Civil Code orders landlords to ensure maintenance of the property in a “suitable” condition for the purpose for which it was leased. The Metropolitan Planning Commission would administer it, presumably funded by these user fees.


PSC must protect consumers from alarmism

One thing is clear: unless the regional transmission organization that guides the pricing most Louisianans pay for their electricity halts its drift towards placing ideology ahead of customer welfare, the part of the state served by Entergy must find an alternative arrangement.

At last month’s Public Service Commission meeting, consultants registered a warning about the policy direction of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. This RTO is comprised of power providers in 15 states and Manitoba, split into three regions. Entergy’s operations in New Orleans, regulated by the city, and in most of the rest of the state, regulated by the Public Service Commission, are affected; the northwest corner of the state served by American Electric Power subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power is part of another RTO called the Southwest Power Pool.

Ideally, an RTO by integrating power production across multiple providers and borders can increase reliability in provision for customers included by drawing upon more sources. However, member entities sacrifice some control over generation and pricing, most particularly on capital expenditures for transmission. Several such voluntarily organizations exist encompassing over half the states, but not areas of Mississippi not served by Entergy or the remainder of deep south states (except for a swath of North Carolina). These parts of Entergy with its Arkansas and Texas subsidiaries form one of three MISO sub-regions which have some autonomy within the organization.


BC no-bid contract chickens come home to roost

The folly of no-bid contracting when unnecessary for local governments hit home at Bossier City’s latest City Council meeting.

At the last moment, the issue sidelined at its Nov. 2 meeting the Council placed on the agenda. That would close the Union Pacific Railroad crossing at Shed Road, apparently in exchange for allowing the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway, almost complete, to fly over the tracks nearby.

The impetus for this came from a letter received from the railroad. After the last meeting, Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler and some councilors met with UP to see if they could modify the railroad’s insistence on closure, addressed in the letter that read publicly.


Resignations roil Caddo, Shreveport politics

Recent resignations by elected officials in Caddo Parish governments could create a lot of controversy shaping their compositions for years to come.

Last week, Democrat Lynn Cawthorne resigned his Caddo Parish Commission post, and not by choice – he pled guilty to a felony that by law disqualifies his service in an elected capacity. Local Shreveport ordinance forced out Republican (for now) James Flurry when he moved from his City Council district.

This doesn’t change the partisan control of the Council, with currently four Democrats and two Republicans seated. By Dec. 2 the Council must choose a replacement or default to the governor.


Split reform decision confounds expectations

One up, one down for fiscal reform in Louisiana from this past weekend’s election – and in a manner that defied expectations.

Amendment #1 would have centralized state and local sales tax collection by dozens of entities into one, although that new unit itself would have been a committee representing state and local government interests, with future legislation and rule-making further defining the process. That lost by around 15,000 votes.

While a few interest groups stumped for the item’s passage, arguing that the current decentralized system unique among the states discouraged economic development by the complexity involved, no organized opposition arose. Instead, a number of parish government officials behind the scenes discouraged support, contending local governments would find their revenue streams disrupted, with this fear magnified by the nebulous nature of the unestablished regulatory regime.


LA city contests provide both despair, hope

The meaningful Louisiana municipal elections this past weekend point both to some reasons for both despair and hope.

No one can view the outcome of New Orleans elections with any degree of optimism, but that was foreordained when candidate qualifying ended. As city government increasingly becomes an exercise in satisfying leftist elite preferences while defaulting on basic services like picking up trash, the question was how pessimistic case for city revitalization would become as a result of the elections.

As it was, unfortunately more. Reelection of Democrat Mayor LaToya Cantrell highlighted the basic self-governance dysfunctionality etched into the electorate’s psyche, with her drawing only token opposition and a few challengers not otherwise policy clones who largely avoided criticizing most of Cantrell’s social progressivism and government activism except on pandemic restrictions. That guaranteed wretched executive governance for the next four years, but the initial outcomes of councilor elections just made matters worse.


Veterans Day, 2021

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Thursday, Nov. 11 being Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.


Reformers must keep stumping for second item

The small, but most significant in decades, fiscal reform on Louisiana’s ballot this weekend will falter or survive on the basis of differential turnout.

Amendment #2 would reduce income taxes for most individual filers, raising them only for the small number who benefit substantially from allowing deduction of federal income taxes. Likely every single lower-income filer who pays any income tax will see a reduction.

Yet that isn’t good enough for the political left that alleges to champion this demographic group. Leftist elites despair that the change would reduce slightly the amount of revenue absconded by state government and that it could make more difficult raising income taxes on the middle class and above in the future. As a result, they launched a campaign to prevent passage of #2.


Edwards displeases climate alarmists, realists

Bad enough that Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards continues to fabricate on the issue of climate change; worse, even doing so he can’t placate climate alarmists.

Edwards recently concluded his jet-setting to the United Nations’ climate freakout meeting in Scotland, where sufferers of Climate Derangement Syndrome could bloviate and hyperventilate to their hearts’ content about the alleged imminent disaster headed the world’s way, unless we turned back the clock a few hundred years through excising use of fossil fuels. He contributed to this group therapy session with some boiler plate fibs often heard from this crowd.

“We know that the frequency and severity of these severe weather events [storms and flooding] is increasing. And we know that it’s because of climate change,” he charged. Both statements are false.


What, when did Edwards know of LSP misconduct?

The increasingly uncomfortable question for Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards – magnified by revelations last week – remains: what did he know about the death of black motorist Ronald Greene, when did he know it, and what did he subsequently do about it?

Greene died at an intersection of highways in Union Parish for no reasonable cause while in custody of Louisiana State Police. Events that unfolded leave little doubt that of a coverup.

From the moment of the May 10, 2019 incident, a pattern was established. The LSP started by claiming Greene died from a crash running from them, although earwitnesses said they could hear Greene at the scene of the arrest begging not to be struck and his autopsy showed death by cardiac arrest with injuries inconsistent with a crash. Over the next two years the LSP at several points walked back elements of that story, driven by leaks of audio and video that supposedly didn’t exist, in the shadow of a federal investigation launched 15 months after his death.


Democrats' media subsidy to protect selves

It may not be a coincidence that Washington Democrats want to throw lifelines to the fourth estate/column as a means to protect their crumbling citadel of power, that Republican Rep. Steve Scalise is more than willing to challenge.

As newspaper revenues have gone into steep decline and with that employment, much handwringing has occurred among media elites. The vast changes in the infrastructure of news delivery have disempowered outlets dependent upon print and empowered electronic media, both of the old kind (radio and television) and of the new (Internet and direct dissemination such as by podcasting), because these delivery costs are much lower.

Yet that’s only part of the reason why newspapers have disappeared and outlets have shed coverage. If they delivered what customers wanted, they could fight this trend. But they don’t because of an agenda more and more skewed ideologically away from daily concerns and towards leftist talking points, leading to record levels of distrust. As the media as a whole has alienated consumers not on the political left, this has created a vicious cycle where many outlets print ever further to the left in coverage choices so as to capture the only segment of society with willingness to believe what the mainstream media deliver, liberals.


Delay invites scrutiny of BC no-bid contracting

Why the Empire lost its first vote by the Bossier City Council since the body’s new term began cannot be separated from the ongoing issue of the increasing amount of no-bid business it has awarded to Manchac Consulting.

This week, controversy erupted over a seemingly-arcane issue. The Walter O. Bigby Carriageway project, designed to extend the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway to create an unimpeded north-south corridor across almost the entire city, at present requires closure of the Shed Road Union Pacific railroad crossing. Federal law gives railroads the upper hand in determining crossings of its right-of-ways by local roads, whether over or above.

When an agenda item proposed closing this crossing, debate erupted. Having to answer for the decision was Ben Rauschenbach, the Manchac Consulting Group employee in charge of the project. He also has served through a series of short-term contracts as city engineer, a questionable arrangement according to the city charter, for almost a year-and-a-half just after Manchac took over the project. Manchac already holds a contract to run city water and sewerage services.


LA, backing rule of law, gets high court lift

Louisiana finds itself part of the breakwater against the assault of the undemocratic managerial state, with signs being successfully so in one instance.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to set a trial for West Virginia et. al., Petitioners v. Environmental Protection Agency, et. al. Louisiana is one of seventeen other states or officials joining West Virginia as a petitioner. The case concerns the authority the EPA has asserted over regulating emissions, with the Court’s decision interestingly enough coming on the eve of the United Nations’ global confabulation of climate alarmists.

To make a long story short, in 2007 the Court ruled that the EPA did have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as part of its legislative grant of power. Trying to do so, the Democrat Pres. Barack Obama Administration set up a heavy-handed regime to attempt that, but the Republican Donald Trump Administration scrapped that and put out its own more constrained version, only to have the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals throw that out on the basis that it construed EPA powers under the Clean Air Act too narrowly. In essence, it said statute permitted other interpretations that could increase EPA power because Congress didn’t exactly specify a particular one, granting the EPA a “no limits” authority.


Media aided, Edwards doubles down on alarmism

As increasingly has become the habit of the political left, when caught out on the facts, just double down on the misinformation and depend upon sympathetic media to cover for you. Thus, we have a recent story in the New Orleans Advocate about Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ junket to Scotland for the United Nations’ gathering of climate alarmists.

Ostensibly, Edwards went to pitch business opportunities related to the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hysteria shared by other participants and hangers-on. He argues that the state could serve as a way station under the imaginary nightmare scenario on which the conference is based for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half within the decade and eliminated on a net basis within three, because of its abundance of hydrocarbon-based yet relatively cleaner energy sources.

But this turns into a wasteful, expensive, and harmful policy agenda because CAGW is a scientifically unsupported fantasy, one to which Edwards clearly is captive. Says he, “There is no state more adversely affected by climate change than Louisiana in the country. And it manifests itself in things like sea level rise, the increasing frequency and severity of weather events like Laura, Delta, Ida. The two strongest hurricanes ever recorded happened in back-to-back years.”


LA must discourage viewpoint discrimination

Louisiana should extend its leadership in prohibiting viewpoint discrimination by addressing cancerous inroads regarding climate alarmism, among other things.

A few years ago, the State Bond Commission began to refuse letting business to financiers that discriminated against entities engaged in constitutionally-protected business, specifically concerning the Second Amendment, a policy it recently reaffirmed. While other states have encapsulated this into law, Louisiana hasn’t but should and extend this into a general protection against viewpoint discrimination.

An instance of this rising intolerance from the woke business world comes from efforts of banks to refuse to serve customers whose business they deem insufficiently climate alarmist. Some, including some of the country’s largest, have made pledges to lend only in ways consistent with the ideology of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, such as not to finance Arctic drilling by energy companies, and potentially could extend this in even more suppressive ways. For example, a lender could decide not to let a business borrow to expand its fleet of vehicles unless these didn’t have internal combustion engines.


Parish nixing puts shakedown on life support

The smash-and-grab attempt by environmental leftists and trial lawyers using Louisiana parishes as useful, if not greedy, idiots hit another roadblock as one of the parishes continues its refusal to play along.

The saga started many years ago in the wake of the hurricane disasters of 2005, when the left and its trial lawyer enablers hit upon trying to entice governments into using energy companies as pi├▒atas to achieve their agendas, acting on contingency for these agencies to sue corporations over alleged environmental damage – even though some of the activities involved that supposedly did this were duly authorized under state and federal government auspices, others weren’t even covered, and didn’t in the main cause coastal erosion. After an attempt failed to use newly-established flood protection agencies as vehicles to accomplish this, eventually trial lawyers behind that turned their attention to coastal parishes.

After years of pressure, as it went out the door leaving the state where it was founded Freeport-McMoRan became the first and to date only of over 200 firms sued to buckle, offering a settlement of $100 million to the state and a dozen parishes, only seven of which actively took part in the case. On behalf of the state, Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry intervened, joining  the state’s Department of Natural Resources as another party. Earlier this year, Landry approved the framework.


LA climate policy paper mugged by reality

On the heels of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards skipping off to a meeting dominated by climate alarmists comes news of his wasteful Climate Initiatives Task Force’s mission already getting mugged by reality.

Before departure, Edwards delivered a bizarrely ignorant spiel about how Louisiana had to join the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming bandwagon because of a presumed huge worldwide move towards renewable energy in the next decade that otherwise would leave the state behind economically, and also miss out on shedding other energy jobs for those on the renewable side. He didn’t acknowledge this transition would happen very slowly because of increasing global energy demand, huge physical challenges, and tremendous costs that voting publics won’t tolerate, nor that the transition would cost jobs and leave worse ones in the place of those that survived.

As if on cue, preliminary conclusions released by this group he created and appointed that operates on taxpayer funds, loaded with CAGW fellow-travelers with a couple of deer-in-the-headlights representatives of industry, showed the state would miss Edwards’ self-imposed net zero carbon deadline of 2050, or any of his interim goals – and would have to hit the jackpot on several minor miracles even to get close. In essence, that would require extensive government intervention, both at the state and federal level, both in terms of heavy-handed regulation and lavish subsidization, that would be enormously expensive and rely on technology that doesn’t even exist.


Edwards renewable delusion wasting tax dollars

After signaling to the world his continued infatuation with his zero Covid fantasy, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards left the state to chase his other zero fantasy, after making comments that would be risible if they didn’t promise punishment to Louisiana.

That road trip heads to Scotland, where a gathering of governments and nongovernmental organizations infested with climate alarmists will commit further propaganda wedded to the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming belief system that prompts mania for a net zero carbon regime. At Louisiana taxpayer expense, Edwards will troop there with other members of his administration to pledge his fealty to this faith.

But also, he insists, he’ll use his time there to stump for Louisiana to jump onto the economic opportunities engendered from the hysteria. “I want to be in front of people from all over the world who are making decisions about where they are going to deploy their capital over the coming years and decades as they seek to invest in these opportunities that will decarbonize,” he said in the days before his departure.


Edwards order keeps fantasizing, harming kids

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards bowed to reality in mostly scrapping the face covering mandate he dictated months ago, but even in partially doing the right thing his action betrays the fundamental misunderstanding that has shaped his botched response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

His announcement papers over that the scientific case for reimposing the mask mandate nearly three months ago was weak, besides the obvious facts that such an order does little to reduce transmission. That it included children bordered on state-authorized child abuse, as children almost never become seriously ill from the virus but face coverings cause developmental drawbacks for some.

At the time, Edwards and his appointees stirred up visions of apocalyptic scenarios without revisiting the mandate, despite the real-world evidence that showed with no new government intrusions a peak in new cases would occur soon, followed shortly thereafter by hospitalizations, and finally deaths (which, predictably, unlike the other two indicators didn’t reach an all-time high precisely because disproportionately the healthier population comprised the new cases). That’s exactly what happened, with the mask mandate (the research argues) contributing little to that.


LA Downs sale illustrates state track problems

Completing the sale of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs illustrates the massive problems facing Louisiana’s once-mighty horse racing industry.

The state’s Gaming Control Board signed off on the $22 million deal last week, and the state’s Racing Commission is expected to follow suit this week. The new owner, Rubico Acquisition, pledged as part of the deal to keep the thoroughbreds and quarter horses running, and hopes to expand casino gaming.

For the once-proud racetrack really has become a racino first and foremost. Handle from both live and simulcast racing in the first half of fiscal year 2020 totaled just short of $13.2 million, while revenue from slot machines (of which 15 percent gets kicked back to supplement race purses) for the whole year nearly tripled that at $37.6 million. That source in FY 2019 also exceeded the FY 2019 total for racing including off track betting, at Bossier City and the satellite location just west of Mississippi in Mound, by a few hundred thousand.


More new LA higher education spending unwise

Last year, it worked, but at long-term expense to Louisiana taxpayers. Legislators need to decide more wisely this year when it comes to Louisiana higher education.

With a legal requirement to submit budgetary suggestions, the Louisiana Board of Regents for Higher Education traditionally has launched its annual version well in advance of budget formulation and quite publicly in October or November. In recent years, this typically involves asking for the moon when it appears the state could run a surplus, but then settling for peanuts. In other apparently leaner years, it asks for restoration of recent cuts and some more, and hopes for the best.

But last year, things were different. Backed by $331 million in federal government largesse from Democrats sending the country  much deeper into debt, higher education scored a $175.7 million increase, with more than $80 million coming from the general fund. Unlike every other state agency, almost all higher education funding comes from self-generated funding and the volatile general fund as opposed to dedications, so when it makes ongoing new commitments, it risks not having money available to fund that when budgets become tighter. Worse, higher education has to compete with other parts of government for general fund dollars, agencies less dependent upon these.


Panel prepares to bat away leftist power play

As the Joint Governmental Affairs Committee of the Louisiana Legislature hits the road to start discussing reapportionment of the state’s congressional districts next year, one of its leaders thanked members of the state’s political left for playing as it started the process of posterizing them.

Earlier this week, a group of the usual suspects issued an open letter to the panel of members of the governance committee in each chamber, who are charged with deriving the state’s new map for discussion – and inevitable passage almost entirely unchanged – for the six districts. This occurred just before the committees began a tour of metropolitan areas across the state to gather public input on their task.

The note stumps for the drawing of two majority-minority districts, where one now exists, presenting several scenarios. Selectively drawing from reapportionment jurisprudence, it alleges the law “likely requires” that, given that 31.4 percent of the state’s population according to census data are ethnically alone black, two such districts must come into fruition, and issued a veiled threat of litigation if that doesn’t happen.


LA local govts should commit to bid competition

The next round of the great competitive bond issuance bidding debate overshadowed introduction of Bossier City’s 2022 budget, providing insight into the insider style of governance promoted by the City Council majority yet highlighting a path forward to save citizens money not just in that municipality but in any Louisiana local government.

Concerning a pair of introduced bonding items, in the previous meeting Republican Councilor Chris Smith had queried about competitive bidding for such professional services. Appearing to speak for the Council majority, GOP Councilor David Montgomery dismissed the idea, claiming that this was unneeded when a reliable provider was engaged.

Smith persisted at this meeting, when the items came up for final consideration. He noted the 2018 Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report that summarized the use of competitive bidding is considered a best practice in local government debt contracting, estimated it would save local governments money if universally adopted, and recommended adoption of this practice in debt financing. Instead of offering motions for competitive bidding on these items, he announced he would vote against them because they didn’t have such a provision that he thought might result in taxpayer savings.


LA surplus best used on flood, retirement debts

Don’t let Louisiana’s artificial economy fool you, nor misdirect on where surplus funds should go.

The Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration recently announced a budget surplus for the past fiscal year that came in around $850 million, minus certain dedications. Not that elected officials had much to do with that; unprecedented levels of borrowing by the Democrat-controlled federal government followed by flushing that cash to state and local governments and directly to citizens created a huge monetary injection into the economy, with states and their local governments the beneficiary of $500 billion of that directly with more coming from government raking taxes from people spending their granted borrowed funds.

Nor did Louisiana distinguish itself among its peers. While spooling out surpluses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, many states did much better on a per capita basis, largely as a consequence of lackluster discipline among Louisiana policy-makers by the Republican-controlled Legislature too easily acquiescing to the big government vision of Edwards. Things would have been worse except for the series of strictures the Constitution lays down for use of surplus dollars.