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New woke LSU president may need restraining

So, the Louisiana State University System decided to take a chance on someone unproven and trendy as its next president. In light of this, if you care about quality higher education in the system, what is to be done?

With its announcement earlier this week of three finalists for the position, the LSU Board of Supervisors staked out significantly diverging approaches to the leadership question. University of Louisiana System Pres. Jim Henderson has extensive higher education management experience at all levels, including running a university system with more students and schools than the LSU system, plus knows well the environment in which he must operate.

More out of the box, former science and technology leader in the Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration, Kelvin Droegemeier would provide an outsider perspective but with impressive academic credentials and long tenure at the highest levels of government.  He also served for nearly a decade at a senior level at my alma mater. In some sense this would have replicated LSU’s approach when it went with Sean O’Keefe in the first decade of the century.


Dodgy bill no substitute for closed primaries

When it comes to repairing Louisiana’s broken electoral system, ineffective half-measures won’t cut it.

That will come as bad news to Republican state Rep. Barry Ivey and his HB 557. The bill seeks to finesse its way around Foster v. Love, the 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision that makes the state hold its general election for federal offices on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years, which federal law establishes.

The congressmen the state sends to Washington complain that, particularly when an open seat gets filled, this causes a delay in the scramble for committee assignments and, for new members, playing catch-up and orientation and staff hiring. This situation occurs as the state’s majority election rule can force a runoff between the top two candidates in the general election that masquerades as the blanket primary, requiring an election five weeks later.


Citizens disserved by ignorant excuse-making

If accurate knowledge about the matters you legislate upon were a work requirement for Bossier City Council members, not just two but three of its councilors would be out of a job.

This week at the Council’s meeting, under criticism particularly from the incoming Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler administration for continuing a no-bid contract for three years without a convenience termination option with Manchac Consulting to operate the city’s water and sewerage operations, three councilors spent nearly 20 minutes defending the decision. The Council passed the measure to a final reading with only no party Councilor Jeff Darby in opposition, who argued that contract renewal should be for just a year and that open bidding for the business should occur after that ended.

The gist of their remarks spanning some 20 minutes were that a no-bid deal was pretty standard, a bargain in this instance, and demonstrated a “unique” response. Outgoing GOP Councilor Tim Larkin announced his summary of some “thoroughly” done research. He claimed these kinds of arrangements, where government contracts out functions, worked best with continuity of provider without “capitalistic” competition. “It doesn’t work that way,” he alleged, referring to having multiple entities in consideration to fulfill a government’s desires through contracting.


Feet of Clay Schexnayder must adapt or go

If Louisiana’s legislative Republicans want more than half a loaf, GOP Speaker Clay Schexnayder either must change his tune in a hurry, or get shown the door.

Schexnayder famously scored the speakership with unanimous Democrat support and a minority of Republicans. It’s why he has lent no support, if not indirectly tried to discourage, his party from pursuing several bellwether GOP issue preferences that have generated next to no opposition in other states with similar-sized Republican legislative majorities.

States with concealed carry protections not needing permits have gone from a trickle to a flood. In Louisiana, the Senate already has put into the House SB 118 by Republican state Sen. Jay Morris to do the same. But the House only recently passed a slightly-different HB 596 by GOP state Rep. Bryan Fontenot out of committee, with every non-Republican on it voting against.


Bill keeps parents from helpful disciplining

A bill wending its way through the Louisiana Legislature risks disrupting how families raise children, with potential detrimental effects in schools.

HB 324 by Republican state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty would prohibit corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools. Proponents allege that side effects from it that increase unfavorable outcomes such as facilitating the belief that violence acceptably solves problems and outweigh any disciplinary benefits. Argumentation such as that won over a majority of a House panel that recently advanced the bill.

The research, to a certain point, bears that out. However, the problem studies of this have faced is the inability to ameliorate negative outcomes that occur in the absence of spanking as disciplinary tool. In other words, no alternative child disciplinary technique has been identified that can convey the same benefits as corporal punishment, so schools without it must endure the negative spillover effect of greater disciplinary problems.


Less-awful BC deal still needs improvement

Stuck pigs squeal. And whine. And maybe become a bit more accountable to the people, so it’s no time to let up on the Bossier City Council as it pursues a somewhat less-awful contract at taxpayer expense.

A month ago, the Council put on its agenda renewing a no-bid contract with Manchac Consulting Group for water and sewerage services, with three significant changes: substantially increasing the monthly payout, lengthening it to five years, and removing a provision that would allow the city to walk away from the agreement at its convenience with notice. This came right after an election that saw two incumbent councilors and Republican Mayor Lo Walker defeated for reelection.

Incoming Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler, along with other citizens, complained that this time period would consume most of his term and that he should have much more leeway to make decisions in that area of policy. During that Council meeting, members voted to yank the item from the agenda.


Go beyond policy to blunt neo-racism in LA

The problem of neo-racism posing as anti-racism is worse in Louisiana than commonly realized, debate over a bill in the Legislature showed earlier this week.

Since I began teaching Louisiana politics in the 1990s, I never have witnessed the level of misrepresentation and misdirection applied to any single bill than to Republican state Rep. Ray Garofalo’s HB 564. The bill as amended defines several “divisive concepts” that could not be taught uncontested in elementary or secondary education, or used as part of training materials in those schools and higher education. (The original version included higher education instruction, but Garofalo excised that upon considering that legal authority rested in the Board of Regents to make curricular choices.) These concepts demean people on the basis of their race, sex, or national origin by imputing characteristics allegedly implicit to people of certain races, sexes, or national origins – what might be called harmful stereotypes. Several other states are considering similar bills.

During a hearing of the House Education Committee, proponents faced an onslaught of demagoguery on the bill. Opponents succeeded in sidetracking it because they concentrated their assault on the academic portion by making specious arguments as if they never read it.


Edwards virus policy still too little, late

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards finally edged closer to following the science, almost a year late, and loosened the leash on the people – but not nearly enough.

Today, by proclamation Edwards finally junked much of a set of largely ineffective restrictions on people’s behavior and on commerce, as a response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. This follows similar actions made in neighboring states as long as nearly two months ago – while some states never imposed these at all.

Except for public transportation, schools, health facilities, and the state agencies under control of his office, out goes the face covering mandate (and some narrow exceptions exist to the locations still included). Perhaps to justify these continued shackles, at his announcement of that Edwards lied to the public in saying “the evidence is clear …the science is well-established” that masks “work.” He surely cannot have missed the latest commentary on the matter, which illuminates the shortcomings of research that makes such a claim and reviews the extant literature, that shows masking as publicly practiced has no significant impact on case counts.


Edwards unmasking self as social leftist

Even as Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards continues to make Louisiana the only state within hundreds of miles around to mask up, he’s letting his mask down.

Whether that means a repeat of his hypocrisy last year, when he didn’t wear a mask around others indoors at a country club despite his still-active executive order mandating that behavior, indisputably he’s revealing himself in a metaphorical sense. He’s dropping the masquerade that he would govern as a social conservative which would fool enough voters for him to win two terms in office.

Until this year, Edwards always managed to play his cards on this close to the vest on this. With an ally in the form of Republican former Sen. Pres. John Alario, the only controversial bills addressing social issues that came to his desk related to items that had the effect of increasing abortion restrictions. These he would sign because he knew the Legislature would override any veto, and to veto these courted disaster in his 2019 election for a final term.


LA CD 2 result misdiagnosed as woke loss

Louisiana’s most consequential electoral contest last weekend ended up rife with the national media straining overly to conjure a lesson from it for the entire country, when none really existed.

The favored Democrat District 7 state Sen. Troy Carter defeated his Democrat District 5 counterpart Karen Peterson in the special election to Congressional District Two. Media, both on the left and the right declared this a defeat for the political far left in which most of the candidates’ party seems enthralled. But the data call for a much more nuanced, if not opposite, conclusion.

According to my Louisiana Legislative Log voting scores over the past five years (with all of these scales, lower scores mean more leftist voting, although the LLL’s tries to capture the state’s unique populist political culture by conflating populism and liberalism, and reformism and conservatism), Carter scored on average 29 and Peterson just above 16. Using the American Conservative Union’s scorecard from 2016-19, he averaged around 45, while her number from 2014-19 was about 27.


BC Council on deal: inside job or ineptitude?

No reasons are better than the bad given reasons given for an inept Bossier City Council forwarding an ordinance extending and boosting in cost a politically-connected firm’s contract well into Republican incoming Mayor Tommy Chandler’s administration.

Earlier this month, the Council removed an agenda item that would have renewed the deal with Manchac Consulting to run the city’s water and sewerage for five years at a substantial increase with no change in responsibilities. Last week, it brought back the idea, now at three years, but still including a much larger price tag.

Compared to the expiring deal, payouts would increase by 37 percent over the next 12 months, 17 percent over the next, and 8 percent after that, for a total of 75 percent over the extension’s life. Since contract amendment in 2018, nationwide inflation has risen only 5 percent, or less than 2 percent a year.


No reason for LA to privilege renewable energy

The thing is, with very few exceptions journalists don’t know what they don’t know. Throw in the public policy subject least critically analyzed and most distorted in its wider presentation, and you have a recipe for a good bit of nonsense, as exemplified by a recent media story about Louisiana renewable energy policy.

Elevating the potential for disaster is that it comes from a student journalist at Louisiana State University, whose colleague made a bit of a mess with a story last month about changing amounts of voter registrant affiliations in the state. Unfortunately, although admittedly ultimately the writer’s fault for choosing such sources, in this instance the author was handicapped by the ignorance displayed by some chosen to make comments.

The article tried to put into a Louisiana context the efforts by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden to pursue an energy agenda based upon faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Biden has announced he would like to ramp up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in America by 2030, now proclaiming a goal of around half at present as a palliative to alleged disastrous consequences. But science doesn’t support such a scenario transpiring, and even accelerating the reduction will do little to ameliorate overall temperature gains over the next 80 years. Plus, Biden and any future president stumping for the same will have to convince a skeptical Congress to pass laws and to permit regulations to enforce this.


Edwards comments deny his faith's doctrine

I guess it’s true, from his latest opining about legislation before the Louisiana Legislature: Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards does want to abandon his current post and become ambassador to the Holy See.

Some observers have speculated as such, and now we have evidence to support that. That’s because Edwards has taken a position at odds with his professed Catholic faith, bringing him into alignment with the ”Sunday Catholic” who would appoint him, Democrat Pres. Joe Biden.

Earlier this week, Edwards criticized – and implied vetoes if such bills ever came to his desk – measures such as HB 542, HB 575, and SB 156 that would limit sports participation of children and young adults of one sex to competitions for that sex and that would prevent medical interventions designed to change or impede sexual development of children. He hopes “the Legislature will not seek to advance those bills” because “I am really concerned about emotionally fragile people and the idea that the weight of the state would be put behind something that to me is unnecessary and discriminatory and very hurtful for those individuals when there’s not a compelling reason to do it.”


LPSC repeats mistake that may cost ratepayers

Louisianans dodged a bullet on the Windcatcher project. They might not have such luck concerning the junior version.

Last week, Southwestern Electric Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power which provides electricity in northwest/west/central Louisiana, announced that its Sundance project had come online. This 199 megawatt addition is the opening salvo of the North Central Wind project in Oklahoma that eventually will ramp to 1,485 MW, of which Louisiana will receive as much as 464 MW while SWEPCO and AEP customers in Oklahoma and Arkansas will divvy up the rest.

This comes as part of a SWEPCO strategy to replace coal and gas-fired generation with renewable energy. The utility plans to take several such units offline in Louisiana and Texas over the coming decade, plus a wind farm. It insists that this eventually will have the state’s customers come out ahead, with the maximal cost borne by ratepayers at $624 million but reaping $1.15 billion in savings.


"Elect" Landrieu still woke, still nonsensical

Old boss same as the new boss.

That’s the inescapable conclusion from reading a screed by Democrat former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who was woke before woke became fashionable. Since leaving office in 2018, Landrieu, incapable of winning any electoral office outside of the confines of surreal New Orleans, has drifted into obscurity, lecturing on city management with a special emphasis on race relations to anyone gullible or bored enough to pay attention.

His latest sermon appeared as a CNN opinion piece, stumping for a “truth and healing” panel in America to “examine the systems and institutions that operate at the detriment of Black Americans and other minorities.” It is a jeremiad chock full of ignorance and disingenuity, beginning with that statement.


Chandler pick risks reform agenda success

Incoming Bossier City Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler got his man. In the process, he may have let slip away his agenda’s success.

Chandler surprised political watchers by tapping Bossier Parish School Board member Republican Shane Cheatham to serve as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer when Chandler’s term commences Jul. 1. This will send the City Council’s District 1 voters back to the polls in the fall at least once, for Cheatham soundly defeated incumbent Republican Scott Irwin for that spot in last month’s elections.

Cheatham, along with incoming at-large Republican Councilor Chris Smith, would have served as an ally of Chandler’s on the seven-member body. The Council seldom deviated from initiatives springing from outgoing Republican Mayor Lo Walker over the past 16 years, nor even the previous 16 years to that when Walker served as CAO, with the large majority of its decisions made unanimously across this era of low Council turnover.


Good bill limits critical race theory primacy

This regular legislative session provides an opportunity to prevent a Trojan Horse of racism from insinuating itself into Louisiana education. Legislators, with slight modification, have the instrument in hand to achieve this.

HB 564 by Republican state Rep. Ray Garofalo would prohibit the primary use of “divisive concepts” in student education or staff training in education from kindergarten through graduate school, for any institution that receives any state dollars. It responds to the viral infection of “critical race theory” as it attempts to make a leap from the labs of faddish higher education to the general public.

Critical race theory posits that racism – defined as emanating only from whites against people of all other races (including Hispanics and those of Middle Eastern descent, who technically biologically don’t come from a separate category) – is inseparable from all American institutions that whites have shaped and control. Indeed, according to it the consensus methods of combatting racism such as neutrality in treating individuals as individuals rather as people ineluctably defined by their racial background are racist features of these systems.


Bill could make rogue agency accountable

Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton put her money where her mouth with HB 630 that could result in a severe clipping of the Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District’s wings.

Over the past year, the growing notoriety of this special district incorporating the reservoir in its name has prompted state policy-makers to intervene in its controversies. Having run into budgetary difficulties as a result of past bad decisions – which it recently passed on to most Bossier Parish taxpayers by raising their property tax rates, the only parish agency with that power to do so in the latest quadrennial reassessment – the highhanded nature of its board, whose members aren’t elected but selected by various local governments, and board member/Executive Director Robert Berry have continued to flummox citizens.

Berry has come under fire from Republican Atty. Gen Jeff Landry, who launched an ongoing suit to have Berry removed from an office with the claim under law Berry can’t fill these two offices simultaneously. The grievances that Horton – whose district takes in some of the property under the jurisdiction of the District and many parcels where residents get taxed by it – relayed on behalf of constituents fueled Landry’s move.


Speech highlights Edwards' declining relevance

This year’s state of the state address by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards illustrates his continued slide towards irrelevancy, both in the reach of his policy agenda and its messaging and in its increasing distance from reality.

The agenda is unambitious. His disinterest in tossing red meat to the political left while simultaneously pretending real problems don’t exist was best exemplified by not even mentioning, after his humiliation on tort reform for individual vehicle insurance last year, a bill by one his allies designed for show on that account that actually likely would create a less efficient insurance market on the agenda he didn’t mention. Yet his address also didn’t mention other genuine vehicular tort reform issues, such as the growing crisis with commercial insurance.

Leaving out this and other things like sales tax administration reform, protection of children from faddishness, and a bare mention on income tax reform, much of what does appears on it piggybacks onto largely non-controversial items and even the recurring liberal wish list items of dealing with illusory pay inequity between sexes and increasing the minimum wage seem almost perfunctory in their presences. Edwards treated these as such by mentioning them only in passing.


Demand equal treatment as GA; save tax bucks

Quick, before they change their minds! It didn’t seem to work out over laws promoting increased pro-life protections. But maybe this time Hollywood will be serious and take Louisiana taxpayers off the hook … and you can help!

In 2019, Louisiana and other states passed such laws, although not all survived Supreme Court scrutiny of the recent past. Hollywood grumbled about boycotting such states, with Georgia and Louisiana being the two most generous in passing out subsidies to film and television producers, but nothing really came of it.

Almost two years have passed and the same threats have reappeared, this time over Georgia’s changes to strengthen ballot integrity. A handful of industry movers and shakers said they didn’t plan on producing there, but now one who actually had planned on doing so has pulled the plug, citing the new law.


Cost metrics demand pause on justice changes

Contrary to what the state’s public may think, the day of reckoning for Louisiana’s criminal justice policy changes of four years ago is drawing nigh: sold as a way to reduce costs without damaging public safety, those costs sooner rather than later actually look to increase.

These changes, such as reducing sentences, different sentencing, and increased eligibility for release on a periodic (for work release) or permanent basis, adherents such as main sponsor Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards claimed would save money that could be used to pad the state’s budget but mainly for “reinvestment” into strategies that supposedly would reduce the crime rate. While the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic postponed last year’s report on the changes, until then the state estimated cost reductions of $30 million.

However, these early optimistic monetary returns distracted from a looming reality. Unlike all but one other state, Louisiana houses a significant portion of state prisoners in local jails, historically hovering around the 50 percent level. With this a persistent feature of the state’s criminal justice system, parish sheriffs got into the business in a big way, often ambitiously expanding capacity.


Fleeing system explains LA GOP voter losses

A significant number of Louisianans leaving the GOP because of its presumed association with violent activity around the U.S. Capitol? Absolutely fake news.

Even just a surface knowledge of Louisiana politics and electoral behavior in general should brought skepticism to a headline screamed by the Louisiana Radio Network: “State GOP membership sees trend-breaking dip post January 6th US Capitol attack.” Its content argued, apparently reviewing first quarter 2021 numbers, that Republicans shed registrants disproportionately, with most of that occurring in January, hence the association with the episode of unrest (see the stylebook). It noted drops of that magnitude didn’t happen in 2017 (slight gain) and 2013 (slight loss), true for both the first month and first quarter.

However, insofar as voting partisanship has little meaning in Louisiana state politics. With the blanket primary system in place, little reward or punishment accrues to registering a certain way. One could argue, as one of my colleagues at Louisiana State University (who probably didn’t look at the data himself) that changing a registration could serve as a symbolic penalty on the party, but when the symbol means so little substantively relative to the act of voting in the first place, that seems unlikely as a response.


Leftists inadvertently endorse LA flat tax

Even in manure you sometimes can find a gem here and there. That describes the latest advocacy attempt by the leftist Louisiana Budget Project, with the very policy problems it identifies amenable to solving by legislation before the Legislature that the group would reject.

Last week, the group that champions redistribution of wealth took advantage of woke trendiness in issuing a report about state tax policy. It rehashed the oft-made observation that the lower income a household, the greater proportion of its cash income goes to pay taxes. This it attributes to state tax policy that charges too high of a sales tax and insufficiently redistributes wealth, but adds a new wrinkle to this critique: that this policy causes “racial injustice in Louisiana’s tax system.”

The report blithely assumes, consistent with the attempted redefinition ongoing by leftist elites of what constitutes confirmatory evidence of racially prejudiced policy, that outcomes define this and thus differences in outcomes by race have no other explanation than prejudicial policy – despite the large amount of evidence that invalidates this notion in a vast number of policy areas. Not only is that a bad assumption, but also the data the reports presents also contradict it.


Bossier City sore losers defying voters' will

In his military career, Bossier City Republican Mayor received and gave many salutes. Now, as his 16-year tenure approaches its end, he is giving Bossier City residents a Bronx salute.

Walker and his city hall gang, many of whom will lose their power and prestige when Republican Mayor-Elect Tommy Chandler who defeated Walker last month takes office, don’t appear willing to make a graceful exit. That’s the implication of an ordinance scheduled for introduction this City Council meeting, with final passage set for Apr. 20.

The ordinance would make adjustments to contracted services rendered by the Baton Rouge-based Manchac Consulting Group. Over the past five years, Manchac has overseen sewerage and wastewater administration under a private-public partnership agreement, to net over $7 million by the time the agreement expires on Walker’s last day in office, Jun. 30.


LA govt policy must protect unvaccinated

Let’s try to understand correctly why a significant portion of Louisianans won’t take a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine presently without lapsing into overly simplified argumentation, avoidance of which will produce optimal public policy in combatting the virus.

A recent pair of studies pointed out that about a third of the state’s population didn’t intend to receive a vaccination. One of these, the 2021 Louisiana Survey, also provided data on the party and ideological identifications of respondents, which revealed liberals and Democrats much more likely to want to get vaccinated than do conservatives and Republicans. The same pattern was observed on the issues on approval of a mandate to wear masks in public and on state government response to the pandemic, with liberals and Democrats much more in approval.

The common nexus behind all three of these is government fiat. More than most states, Louisiana has responded with a heavy-handed approach of government control that statistically has brought a low payoff, and vaccine development had heavy government involvement. Unfortunately, the short-term, risk averse nature of politicians at all levels of government – many recoiling at the idea what could happen to their political careers if they received blame for anybody’s death because they “didn’t do enough” – plus the opportunity playing up the risks of the pandemic by the political left in order to increase its ability to control and magnify the power of government served a political end.


Easter Sunday, 2021

This column publishes five days weekly after 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 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 Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Sunday, Apr. 4 being Easter, I invite you to explore this link.


Demagogic insurance bill aims to distract

It’s not even old wine in new bottles; it’s old wine in old bottles and still sour. And it’s the same old story of distraction to enable continued transference of wealth from ratepayers and consumers to trial lawyers.

SB 55 by Democrat state Sen. Jay Luneau essentially warms over some corpses from last year, combined into one bill. It would prevent insurers from basing rates on individuals for vehicles on the status of an insured being a widow or widower, the insured's credit score/rating, or the gender (which really means “sex,” but insurers refer to it as “gender”) of an insured over the age of twenty-five.

The facts haven’t changed to make any of these changes any more redeemable or sensible. To start with the banning using of widow or widower status that typically confers higher rates on previously married individuals, that simply reflects that in general single people drive more, which raises rates. Individual cases vary, but insurers often can’t distinguish among individuals and so are permitted to use this grouping.


Panel stops short with LA elections advice

A legislative task force made a very small step in improving Louisiana policy outcomes by recommending the state move its congressional elections to a modified closed primary system.

Currently, the state operates under a blanket primary system, which really isn’t a primary at all. It’s a general election without party nominations where any candidate may run regardless of label (or none), and if no candidate secures an absolute majority heads to a runoff between the highest two finishers.

And it’s extremely problematic from a policy-making view because it devalues the single most effective concept in aggregating, articulating, and clarifying issue preferences and holding politicians accountable: the political party. This tarnishing occurs because the state’s blanket primary system (except for presidential preference primaries) provides no incentives for voters to think in programmatic terms and reduced penalties for disloyalty by a candidate to his articulated preferences, of which these may not match those generally of other candidates running under that label for similar offices.


Honesty needed on gas tax failure, Biden suit

Honesty would be the best policy in Louisiana politics. You’re not likely to get it, as those who want bigger and more intrusive government illustrated last week.

Perhaps the defeat of his wife for a spot on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in a special election the previous weekend convinced Republican state Rep. Jack McFarland to pull the plug on his legislative attempts to hike the gas tax. Associating the family name with increasing taxes may have cost her a spot in the April runoff by making her conservative claims less credible compared to those of her conservative Republican opponent lawyer Michael Melerine, who almost certainly will capture the seat.

Regardless whether that result demonstrated a paucity of support for hiking taxes while the state’s economy shrinks year-over-year, McFarland announced he would abandon the effort publicized by a special interest group intent on seeing increased government spending on building roads. The group, which counts among its members many entities who would receive that taxpayer largesse, claimed that other legislation could meet its goals and the recent federal spending bill also would provide the state with potential one-time funding for roads.


Trucking tort reform needed to avert crisis

Unless the Louisiana Legislature acts soon, trucking operators in the state will find themselves becoming extinct.

Over the past decade, industry costs have spiraled upwards dramatically, largely fueled by exploding liability costs. The average size of jury verdicts increased nearly 1,000 percent from 2010 to 2018, rising from $2.3 million to $22.3 million. Worse, runaway juries are stretching the bounds of liability, with the most notorious case being a 2014 incident where a passenger vehicle crossing the median and striking a truck, killing a child in the vehicle, yet the family successfully sued the trucking company and won a $90 million judgment, now on appeal.

Any interstate truck must carry $750,000 in primary liability. In Louisiana, for those who don’t leave the state, the limit starts $300,000. Just for that minimum, the average annual rate is $13,143 per rig.


Harmful agenda threatens LA higher education

Louisiana leaders should rebuff attempts to cheapen higher education delivery on the basis of racist argumentation.

Last year, a panel authorized by law to study dual enrollment – allowing qualified high school students to take courses for college credit – issued a report aiming to increase this incidence. It made many recommendations, but the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic made any movement on these impossible last year.

With a new year, legislative action could occur. And certain special interests have seen this as an opportunity to advance a destructive agenda for both taxpayers and students.


Bogus "Equal Pay Day" encourages bad LA bills

The inevitable caterwauling, fueled by bleating from earlier this week, about a nonexistent problem inevitably will end up ready to waste Louisiana legislators’ time.

About as inevitably as herpes recurring, every year since 2003 with the exception of 2008, and sometimes in multiples, the Legislature has seen introduction of a bill purporting to address “pay equality.” Filers have included a pair of past Members of Congress (one returned to the Senate last year), the frontrunner for a House seat (vacated by the other former Member), and the current Mayor-President of Baton Rouge.

These haven’t varied much. They all base themselves on a statistic that women make only X cents on the dollar to men in pay, and therefore government regulation becomes necessary to stamp out the alleged “discrimination.” This year’s version, as unveiled by activists testifying to Congress vetting this foolishness and echoed during yesterday’s “Equal Pay Day,” is 82 cents. Activists select the day as an indicator of how many extra days into the next year a woman supposedly must work to match a man’s compensation.


King fleeing pressures LSU prez, Board, Edwards

Sic semper regibus. And the King goes down, which will have political repercussions in Louisiana even though the former Louisiana State University president vacated the state well over a year ago.

Yesterday, the Oregon State University Board of Regents took the resignation tendered by its former president F. King Alexander, who had headed up the LSU System from 2013-19, over his inaction regarding LSU administration knowledge and concealment of sexual misconduct, if not criminal activity, among its student athletes and coaches. It shows the risks that two-faced, mealy-mouthed administrators face as they grapple desperately up the academic ladder.

Alexander exemplified the new breed of high-level university administrator. He had little in the way of classroom experience, obtaining his terminal degree in higher educational administration and getting grooved his first job leading a university by succeeding his father. His career became hopping from one job to another looking for something better, becoming a chameleon in the process.


Edwards ignoring science on mask mandate

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards still won’t let his people go, despite the growing consensus that his Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policy doesn’t follow the science and has failed – even taking into account the increased incidence of self-destructive lifestyle choices by Louisianans.

While nearby governors jettison mask requirements and most, if not all, economic lockdown restrictions they had in place (which in most instances were fewer than Edwards still imposes), he stubbornly refuses to do the same. Asked last week about the policy, he proclaimed his mask mandate isn’t going away any time soon, despite that vaccinations against the virus continue steadily, the new case amount has dropped by over 75 percent since mid-January, and daily deaths fell to average single digits last week.

Already well established that economic restrictions do little good – the latest academic study showed in a comparison across jurisdictions that these had a significant positive impact in less than two percent of cases – utilizing face coverings has greater scientific backing. Still, as a recent exchange in U.S. Senate hearings demonstrated, an improper understanding of the science can prompt even the top medical official in the U.S. to make mistaken policy recommendations.


Regional LA special elections end predictably

Regional special elections went much to form across Louisiana last Saturday, leaving the state’s conservative dominance largely untroubled.

Most pro forma of the bunch came in the contest for the Fifth Congressional District. Predictably, Republican administrator Julia Letlow swept into the seat that remained vacant when her husband Luke, elected last fall, tragically died just before his swearing in. She rang up nearly two-thirds of the vote in a contest where the only drama involved whether she could win without a runoff, given the dozen candidates in the contest. She answered that rather decisively and shamed Democrats whose sole entrant could muster just 27 percent of the vote.

Less predictably but rounding into expected form, the Second Congressional District race ended in a runoff matchup between Democrat state Sens. Troy Carter and Karen Peterson. Carter racked up 36 percent of the vote while Peterson trailed with just 23 percent, edging out Democrat community organizer Gary Chambers at 21 percent.


BC voters make down payment on policy change

In the clash of competing philosophies, generations, and campaign strategies, Bossier City election results showed the tide has begun to turn against the parish’s old guard.

This weekend’s municipal contest at best presented the chance to put a down payment on dismantling the long-standing old Bossier power structure. While over the past two decades the city underperformed fiscally, allowed debt to put every resident in hock nearly $7,000 each, and saw crime become increasingly problematic, this cabal was more committed to counting coup on Shreveport, puffing their chests out, and breaking their arms trying to pat themselves on their backs than to addressing those deficiencies.

However, three members of the City Council – independent Jeff Darby, Republican Jeff Free, and Democrat Bubba Williams – didn’t draw any opponent. And in the one open seat contest, old Bossier support coalesced around Republican Vince Maggio against Republican reformer Marsha McAllister. Meanwhile, Republican at-large councilors Tim Larkin and David Montgomery drew challengers Republican Chris Smith and Democrat Lee “Gunny” Jeter, and District 1 incumbent Republican Scott Irwin faced GOP challenger School Board Member Shane Cheatham.


Leftist media fearful of Landry promotion

Scared to death that he will ascend to the state’s top spot in 2023, the Louisiana political left’s long knives have come out for Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, aided by sympathetic media mouthpieces.

Landry convincingly leads in fundraising for that election cycle over any other sitting official or declared candidate, and it’s a great bet that he hasn’t collected $2 million or so just to run for reelection. As a staunch conservative, he would prove a nightmare to the left that barely hangs onto relevancy in the state currently with only Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in the way to thwart reform efforts.

So, liberals look for every opportunity to cast aspersions, any aspersions, onto Landry. By way of example, they’ve snagged a couple of recent issues to serve that purpose.


Spending law to hike costs to LA taxpayers

While national Democrats misnamed the bill the “American Rescue Plan,” in Louisiana it really should bear the moniker the “Louisiana Left Rescue Plan” – to the detriment of Louisiana taxpayers.

This new spending law addresses an economy well on the rebound, throws lots of money to states many of which have done better than expected in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic (whose economies suffered largely self-inflicted wounds for political reasons in the first place), and spends less than a dime on the dollar for direct payments combatting the virus. Little needed “rescuing,” much less the bonanza of debt-fueled benefits almost American will receive.

It’s part of a political strategy. Democrats will try to run for reelection by reminding folks about how many goodies they flung their way, distracting from their pursuit, even if it turns out unsuccessfully, of an extreme leftist agenda in Washington. Regardless, the damage already may have been done.


Spending spree to test LA school reforms

The recently-enacted federal spending bill that Democrats barely pushed Congress through won’t help the country economically. But it will pursue a leftist agenda that includes suppressing school choice and accountability to the detriment of Louisiana children.

Less than 10 percent of the money in the new law directly addresses immediate effects imposed by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. As for the rest: expansion of unemployment benefits to simulate a universal basic income, check; money to states that increases the more a state taxes and spends and locked down its economy over the past year, check; pension bailouts for unions, check; subsidies to offset the hemorrhaging of socialized health care spending, check; all sorts of progressive pet projects, check.

But perhaps the most insidious part of the spending law, of which schools in Louisiana may garner half of the state's allocationforce-feeds dollars into traditional public schools while discriminating against non-traditional options. Before the bill became law, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards raised some eyebrows when his recent budget presentation massaged one-time money – use of which he previously characterized as not “honest budgeting” – to include $40 million for education pay raises. This would create a continuing commitment for which future dollars aren’t available, unless taxes rise.


Spending bill to inhibit right-sizing LA govt

National Democrats have done their best to back Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ attempts to thwart right-sizing state government with provisions in their recently enacted spending bill.

That new law, which will toss around a half-billion dollars onto the state and its local governments ostensibly to address economic difficulties presented by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic – even as the large majority of dollars don’t even indirectly address the problem, most of the spending doesn’t occur for at least a year, the economic problems stem from supply attenuated by largely ineffective commercial restrictions that won’t respond to a nightmarishly-large taxpayer- and debt-fueled cash infusion, and states have yet to spend much generated by previous such efforts – carries with it a host of restrictions on the money’s use, geared to keep state and local governments as inflated as possible. Some encourage this policy generally, with others more targeted.

A number of states, Louisiana included, as a response to slower economic growth and higher unemployment in their legislative sessions this year have come up with supply-side responses designed to lower the cost of doing business to increase the supply of jobs and goods and services produced. Other measures attempt to steer money towards pent-up problems. The federal law does its best to sabotage those.


BC incumbents cut police, see more crime

One challenger in Saturday’s city elections in Bossier City wants the public to know that city emperors running for reelection have no clothes on the issue of public safety and crime. And the data back him.

If you can get past the imagery of Republican incumbent Mayor Lo Walker without a stitch on – he’s 87 years old – consider that he and other incumbents running to keep their jobs, including at-large councilors Tim Larkin and David Montgomery and District 1 councilor Scott Irwin, all Republicans, to varying degrees tout the city’s supposedly low crime rate due to their policies. Some publicize endorsements netted from the parish’s chief law enforcement office and another political insider, GOP Sheriff Julian Whittington.

Chris Smith begs to differ. The Republican challenger to Larkin and Montgomery, through flyers and social media, points out some facts inconvenient to that argument. Using data from city financial information and crime data reported to the federal government, he points out that in 2008 the city had 241 police department employees or one for every 259 residents, while in 2019 the number had fallen to 197, or one for every 350 residents. It’s a point Walker challenger Republican Tommy Chandler also makes.


Reluctant Edwards must make LSU do right

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards did his best Pontius Pilate routine, while a bipartisan group of Louisiana legislators weren’t so dismissive about a history of botched sexual misconduct investigations at Louisiana State University, centered around student-athletes.

Yesterday, a select legislative committee reviewed a report about all of this LSU hastily authorized after adverse media accounts began flowing late last year. The lengthy document details an institution possessing policies unclear about dealing with these matter, if not having the effect of producing a conflict of interest or discouraging plaintiffs with valid concerns; having employees routinely not following that policy even when reasonably clear; receiving repeated reports urging the system to clean up these deficiencies; and permitting occurrence of a number of incidents, with several included for expository purposes illustrating the breakdowns that resulted, that pointed out a number of culpable individuals who in some cases for years acted in ways that they should have known better subverted the goals of minimizing harassment and physical harm as much as possible.

Even if a day late and a dollar short, the system has responded by a pledge to follow the 18 recommendations provided. Beyond institutional error, the report also addressed penalties attached to human mistakes by not addressing these, declaring that discipline was best left to LSU to determine.


Forum shows two GOP BESE contenders in command

The race for Louisiana’s District 4 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education post remains in flux, with only days to go to the election, as to which Republican will win.

Practically speaking, that means the winner will be either businesswoman Shelly McFarland or lawyer Mike Melerine. Others include independent former state Sen. John Milkovich, Republican teacher Cody Whitaker, and Democrat university professor Cassie Williams. They met at an online forum put on by the Bossier Parish School Board.

Fundraising numbers, from about a month ago, can tell much especially concerning low-information contests. Only McFarland and Melerine have raised any substantial money, with him having a small advantage, and in their own funds added more than they have had donated. Additionally, Melerine has picked up several northwest Louisiana elected officials’ endorsements, some of whom also made donations to his campaign. McFarland has scored some dollars from GOP luminaries as well, but from individuals considered more old line than the newer figures behind Melerine.


GOP must corral Edwards on bloated largesse

The stubborn refusal of Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to follow the science, mirroring other political leaders of his party pursuing ideological goals, is about to receive its payoff. Now, it’s up to the heretofore milquetoast leaders of the Republican Legislature to minimize the damage.

This week, Democrat Pres. Joe Biden looks set to put Americans another $1.9 trillion in hock on a spending bill he alleges necessary to combat immediate economic dislocations from the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, but which in reality spends a minority of dollars on anything remotely connected to that task, of which most won’t be spent for at least a year, unnecessarily so as the American economy is hardly doing any worse than it was a year, and with any ongoing damage largely self-inflicted. By policy-makers like Edwards, who needlessly keep in place economic restrictions proven overbroad and largely ineffective.

But that’s in order to get the payoff, as in the spending bill in its current form states will receive $350 billion dollars, or more than everything allocated in all measures combined over the last year (“allocated,” because much has yet to be spent; witness the state’s plan to dole out $161 in federal rental assistance just now a year after the pandemic took hold). If proportionally doled out, that means Louisiana would receive over $5 billion – over half the entire general fund revenues for a single year.


On vaccine, Edwards ignores faith's demands

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards isn’t content with only acting as the state’s top elected official. He also aims to be its Catholic spiritual adviser, even if he has to put his fellow Catholics in a bind on the matter of licit vaccine use.

The same week Edwards announced that the state would receive the newest federal government-approved Wuhan coronavirus vaccine, a one-shot variety from Johnson & Johnson, and that the state would distribute free doses of it over the weekend, among other dioceses across America the Archdiocese of New Orleans, through Archbishop Gregory Aymond, declared this vaccine “morally compromised.” Aymond and others declared it as such because its development relied upon cell lines collected from aborted fetuses several decades ago.

Ongoing debate within the Church’s hierarchy and its commentators explores whether it crossed an ethical line to use such material derived from those cells, but the relevant Church institutions in this case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, have declared that such vaccines illicit unless they are the only reasonable option in an environment where acquiring or transmitting the virus poses a real threat to the lives of others. Falling into this category are several being used throughout the world although just this one of the three authorized in the U.S. (all of which were tested on the same cell line) was derived that way.


BC incumbents not conservative, but con men

Don’t believe what you read from Bossier City politicians running for reelection, at least their claims of fiscal “conservatism.”

With substantial multiple challenges for the first time in two decades, having to run opposed, all Republicans, are Mayor Lo Walker, at-large Councilors Tim Larkin and David Montgomery, and District 1 Councilor Scott Irwin. As such, the direct mail has been flying through the post promoting their candidacies with assertions about their records.

Excepting Larkin, whose pieces trumpet keeping Bossier City “NUMBER ONE!”, these are replete with references to the deep Christianity of the sender and how he has governed in a fiscally “conservative” manner. While their challengers occasionally use the same language in their fliers, and it’s difficult to look into people’s hearts to assess their religiosity, insofar as fiscal governance has transpired over the past 20 years, the incumbents have records easily assessed – and found wanting relative to their claims.


Edwards' selective ignoring imperiling clergy

Better late than never doesn’t cut it for the callous selective disregard Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has displayed regarding the safety of Louisiana members of the clergy.

Two waves into vaccination for the Wuhan coronavirus, and Louisiana clergy (unless they meet another criterion already approved for reception) still don’t qualify under Edwards’ edict. He has lined them up for the next round of availability. (Not that he’s alone; about half of all states didn’t make clergy a priority.)

Edwards says he follows federal government guidelines in choosing the ordering of recipients, which also plays into the recommendations made to him by a secretive Vaccine Action Collaborative. He consistently has claimed reliance on such guidelines to form his restrictions on commercial and public behavior as a response to the pandemic, even as less restrictive policies have proven as or more effective in other states while not damaging the economy as severely.


Edwards keeps emergency going to hold power

There’s rule on behalf of the people. Then there’s rule by inculcating fear to further your own agenda. Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards knows all about that.

Yesterday, Edwards finally relaxed his grip around the necks of Louisianans more than he had for the past eight months. Vested with the power to issue emergency restrictions as a response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, he said in his next proclamation of these when the current one expires later this week, he would allow higher, although not full, capacity for commercial and social venues, and even would allow bars to reopen. However, a mandatory face covering in public would remain in effect. And, local governments still can have stricter rules.

Edwards said he would loosen things because indicators were trending in the right direction, plus the aggregate number of vaccinations against the virus steadily has increased. He wouldn’t go further, he noted, because new strains of the virus potentially not amenable to current vaccines could attack, and that he would tighten up limits if he felt it necessary.


LA must protect youth from leftist excesses

Louisiana must join other states to stop far-left Democrats in Congress and the White House from harming children and young adults.

Having captured that party at its national level, the extreme left has set it on a mission to erase immutable biological differences between the sexes. Democrats have passed out of the House of Representatives a bill that would erase such distinctions legally, based upon the creative (if excessively so) reasoning behind the 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County decision. That, focused on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and “transgender status” in employment.

The bill, which far exceeds the reach of the ruling, is dead on arrival in the Senate. As a backup, Democrat Pres. Joe Biden has issued an executive order essentially reversing one of his predecessor’s. While not going as far as the bill, this extends the creative definition of Title VII promulgated in Bostock to other laws, including Title IX of the Act. That governs education, and specifically purports to allow students who claim a gender identity in contradiction with their actual physical sexual state to participate in educational activities, including athletics, under their self-assumed identity.


Concealed permit repeal to stress Edwards

There’s no good excuse for the Louisiana Legislature to hold off on removing the permit requirement to carry a concealed firearm – which puts Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in a bind.

HB 16 by Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick would make it legal for any adult otherwise not convicted of a crime that disqualifies possession of a firearm to carry a concealed firearm. Since Edwards assumed office, he has signed several pieces of legislation into law incrementally increasing the scope of legality of having concealed firearms without a permit. But neither a constitutional amendment nor a statute essentially mimicking HB 16 of 2021 made it out of committee.

Other states have moved ahead. Indiana looks well on its way to become the 19th state to adopt this, and Tennessee seems poised to follow. Opponents keep offering the same stale arguments that somehow mayhem will increase with permit-less carry.


Unreal Edwards budget seeks to grow LA govt

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards last week presented a budget that begs the state not to look behind the curtain and asks that it keep digging itself a deeper hole.

A good portion of the statutorily-required presentation made by Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget comprised of shoulder-breaking attempts to have the Edwards Administration pat itself on its own back. After a brief excursion into how budget projections bounced around in the past year because of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the impact of Edwards’ restrictions on commercial activity, a variety of data attempted to demonstrate improvement in various economic and social indicators. Tellingly, he emphasized government-led projects obtained while hardly speaking of larger private sector trends – for reasons made obvious below.

However, this provided an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of how recent budgeting may have affected the state’s economic health. Largely federal policy influences all states’ economies, so to understand the impact of an individual state’s economic policy, as influenced by fiscal policy promulgated through a budget, all states must be compared.

Below is a table listing five measures of economic health for a state, including changes in per capita personal income, population, total employment, and in the unemployment rate. The first column gives the ranking and statistic (percentage change, except for unemployment rate) in parentheses for the first term of Edwards, the second for the first term of his predecessor Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the third Jindal’s second term. As budgets enact during the state’s fiscal year and it is assumed it takes six months for their policy effects to infiltrate the economy, except for unemployment rate, the appropriate years for analysis are, respectively, 2017-19, 2009-13, and 2013-17 (except for population, which is taken mid-year and doesn’t include 2009 because of data limitations). Unemployment rate is not ranked by change but by its listed average for the year; thus, the intervals for it are 2008-12, 2012-16, and 2016-20 with the last year’s statistic reported. State spending (exclusive of federal dollars) at these interval endpoints also is listed, in per capita terms: 



Jindal 1st

Jindal 2nd

Per capita income

27th (3.9)

32nd (2.9)

46th (1.8)


45th (-0.2)

27th (0.6)

29th (0.3)

Total employment

42nd (0.9)

19th (1.1)

44th (0.5)

Unemployment rate

36th (7.2)

16th (6.4)

47th (6.1)

State spending per capita

$4,257 (11.3)

$3,946 (-8.2)

$3,826 (-3.0)

Two things are worth noting here. First, Louisiana is performing below average to poorly compared to other states over Edwards’ terms and budgets. Second, it is no better than Jindal’s second term, and much worse than his first. The slight advantages the Edwards years has on Jindal’s second set in terms of employment and greater one on income are offset by the depopulation of the state under Edwards: less competition for jobs and fewer people that relatively boosted the average income (which is calculated by population into GDP).

So, relative to other states, Louisiana’s fiscal policy as reflected in its budget hasn’t delivered under Edwards. It didn’t under Jindal’s second term, either, but that was marked as a period like Edwards with tax increases even as per capita spending decreased a bit, while Edwards more than doubled the inflation rate in spending increases. Clearly, Jindal’s first term of tax cuts and spending cuts brought the best economic results to the state.

With this historical data available for analysis, after the rapid growth in taxing and spending under Edwards the best strategy – especially with economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and a predicted dire revenue drop of $660 million from this time last year from taxes, fees, and licenses – would hold the line on, if not cut, spending. Plus, special one-time monies propped up the budget last year and this one that Dardenne asserted will come again for fiscal year 2022 may not return for the next. If things turn out better than expected, there are plenty of nonrecurring needs to which those monies could go. Otherwise, the prudent approach at the very least would refuse authorizing new commitments, if not make reductions.

Yet that mode of thinking goes against every fiber in Edwards’ being. So, Dardenne in his presentation acknowledged this reality, then tried to spin his way out it. Thusly explaining the sunshine blown up legislators’ skirts when in reality the state lags – badly – most others explicitly, precisely because of the ethos contained in Edwards’ past budgets. You don’t turn things around by doing more of the same that has caused you to underperform. Indeed, he argued against decreasing the size of government when the Legislature’s Republican leadership announced they would purse tax reform in the upcoming session.

Instead, he emphasized how leftovers from the federal government created more one-time money for FY 2022, about $200 million more in general fund monies, that the plan largely plowed into new continuing commitments. Therefore, the package lards up $400 across-the-board pay raises for educators and half of that for other school employees (despite the state ranking in the middle of the pack of spending per pupil yet about at the bottom of student achievement), and pay raises for higher education (despite institutions receiving separate money from the federal government in the hundreds of millions of dollars) and the civil service. More money would be shoveled into the Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars (the quasi-merit, quasi-entitlement program paying for college tuition) and GO Grants (need-based college costs program).

Most audaciously, after discussing how changes advocated by Edwards that would empty jails did accomplish that, Dardenne admitted what the Edwards Administration had refused to acknowledge previously: the changes would foist increases in spending on this, as reflected by a request for an increase of nearly $24 million. And, the budget didn’t really incorporate other costs that could crop up in fiscal year 2022, such as replenishing the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund in which the state currently rests in a $133 million hole (and when pressed by questioning, Dardenne begged off estimating costs for disaster bills due).

All in all, the plan presented rejects sound fiscal sense in favor of an ideological agenda focusing on bigger government. By trying to install new continuing commitments that can’t be sustained after the disappearance of federal gifts and by fiscal policy that doesn’t achieve acceptable economic growth as measurable by historical data, this budget attempts to bake in future tax increases that keep unnecesarily-inflated government.