Search This Blog

1.3.21

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.

28.2.21

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: 

Statistic

Edwards

Jindal 1st

Jindal 2nd

Per capita income

27th (3.9)

32nd (2.9)

46th (1.8)

Population

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.

25.2.21

Useless climate panel asks to waste our time

If you want a textbook definition of a rigged game that inevitably will follow GIGO, look no further than the appeal sent out by Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel EdwardsLouisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force – with the whole operation on the taxpayer dime.

This panel, filled mostly with true believers of the unscientific theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, was charged with finding a way of eliminating greenhouse gases in the state by 2050, matching a United Nations’ goal now adopted by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden. This operates under the unverified assumption that the fewer than 5 percent of GHG emissions by humans of the total planetary amount somehow tip things so out of balance that significant temperature elevation occurs.

That hypothesis fails as historically temperatures changes have not tracked, even remotely, changes in human GHG output. However, temperature changes do track well the observed cyclical activities of the sun and its radiation releases and those consequences. As solar magnetic activity decreases, more cosmic rays hit the Earth, causing more clouding and volcanic activity (which produces another form of clouds), thus cooling temperatures. The GHG amount released increases as do temperatures, depending upon soil moisture as well as how the oceans, which trap the vast majority of heat on the planet, exchange heat with the atmosphere, which contains a far smaller amount.

24.2.21

Brumley to foist woke theory on LA schools

Add Louisiana Superintendent of Elementary and Secondary Education Cade Brumley to the roll call of the woke.

Brumley signaled fealty to the notion that systemic racism built into law and the Constitution on behalf of the white majority against non-white minorities when he proclaimed a reeducation program wouldcommence for public school teachers and administrators. Ostensibly to reduce student suspensions, particularly among blacks whose rate is twice that of whites, it seeks to show adults and students how to set goals, demonstrate empathy for others, establish positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

All well and good. But the intended program contains a unit on social and emotional learning utilizing a “racial equity” approach. This paradigm claims that “implicit bias” towards minorities results in unjust outcomes in educator actions such as punishing through suspensions, that end up prejudiced unfairly against minorities – although statistics routinely show students of Asian background receive suspensions at lower rates than white students – in addition to the impact of explicit bias, although such overt racism supposedly emerges far less frequently.

23.2.21

Nungesser, Landry coming; Edwards staying

The big news surrounding the filing of 2020 campaign finance reports concerns the office of governor – both present and future.

With Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards term-limited, several candidates could jockey their way into succeeding him. The best gauge of that comes from the amount of money picked up three years out, because you have to start early to win this one. (Edwards’ out-of-nowhere win in 2015 being very much the historical exception; he didn’t start raising money in earnest until two years out).  Money doesn’t determine elections, but it does demonstrate breadth of support and faith in that candidacy. It won’t tell you who will win, but can tell you who can.

If several hundred thousand dollars raised in 2020, the candidate will be a serious contender in 2023. A couple of hundred thousand means that one could turn into a serious threat, but will have to pick up the pace. Below that, chances are pretty much zero unless you’re a big name in politics already and/or you can fund yourself approaching eight figures.

22.2.21

Bad LA weather cancels columnist's CAGW faith

If nothing else, arch-leftist Mark Ballard of the Baton Rouge Advocate has a lousy sense of timing that should shake his faith.

On Feb. 13, Ballard – who also files state government stories for the newspaper that often but not always hold his biases in check – used his weekly opinion column to discuss a Feb. 10 joint meeting of the Louisiana Legislature’s National Resources committees. He seemed none too pleased about the subject matter, comparing its breadth and depth to exercises performed under the auspices of the Communist Party of China, because it featured critiques of Democrat Pres. Joe Biden’s restrictive forays against the fossil fuel industry and little else.

Such is the blinding tunnel vision of a true believer of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, as Ballard verified when insinuating in his first three paragraphs that gases from burning such fuels causes the state to lose a “football field of wetlands … every 100 minutes.” In fact, science finds no such connection at all; if anything, the causality is reversed where rising temperatures come from changes in oceanic and atmosphere heat exchanges and soil moisture. These explain much better why almost next to no statistical correlation exists between amount of carbon dioxide produced by human activities and global temperature changes. And some of the acreage loss has a far more certain provenance: a slow, constant rise in sea levels for two centuries, beginning well before human-caused change theoretically occurred.

21.2.21

Futile storm response threatens BC incumbents

The recent lashing Mother Nature gave to northwest Louisiana also struck a blow against Bossier City politicians running for reelection.

Nearly a week’s worth of some of the coldest temperatures combined with some of the most voluminous wintry precipitation in Bossier City history paralyzed the city. During its worst couple of days, travelling major thoroughfares became impossible except for drivetrain-enhanced vehicles with experienced drivers, the city suffered rolling but short blackouts, and some residents lost water service entirely while the entire city underwent an extended boil order because of breaks in city water lines that reduced water pressure to half normal.

Things were so bad that the Bossier City Council cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting on Mardi Gras. It wouldn’t have to do that absent the negligence of Republican Mayor Lo Walker and the Council through their failure to prepare for these circumstances.

18.2.21

LA dodged TX overreliance on renewable energy

Texas may have made itself unprepared for extreme wintery conditions, but years ago it saved Louisiana from itself that made the latter suffer much less from the Mardi Gras freeze of 2021.

Across the Bayou State, the dip well below freezing with ample precipitation in some places triggered intermittent power outages left as many as three percent of the population without power for more than a short period of time. The cold can affect the extraction and transport of nonrenewable fuels that keep generators going, as well as generator operation itself, plus demand increases to stave off the cold, both from consumers and operators who need heating to keep transport and generation going. Yet few Louisiana consumers, fortunately, went without power for more than a few hours.

However, in the Lone Star State around a tenth of the population suffered sustained power outages. This was exacerbated by the state’s nonparticipation in any of the regional power grids, although some parts are outside of it, which doesn’t permit it to import power into about 90 percent of the state. That system also has few incentives to increase resiliency in transport and generation, including provision at peak times such as this.

17.2.21

Kennedy riles Cassidy-like Never Trumpers

Although Louisiana’s junior senator has stirred a lot of controversy this month, don’t sleep on the state’s senior senator who stimulated debate about populism in politics, particularly among conservatives. And in the end, the topic loops back unto itself.

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy shocked his political base first by accepting the fair-to-middling contention that the Senate could try an impeached private citizen, then by assenting to the extraordinarily weak case that GOP former Pres. Donald Trump incited insurrection. Wiser heads prevailed to reject that, including Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

However, Kennedy provoked his own hullabaloo when he held forth on national television about the new U.S. special climate envoy, former Sec. of State, and failed Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry. Kerry travelled to and from Iceland by private plane in 2019 to receive an award for his environmental activism, and faced questioning from the local media about the appropriateness of it all, which he defended as necessary “for somebody like me.”

16.2.21

Cassidy missteps encouraging closed primaries

Louisiana’s Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy’s votes to proceed with an impeachment trial of GOP former Pres. Donald Trump and to convict will affect his political career, perhaps fatally. If so, a major contributor to that extinguishing may come from a spillover effect regarding the state’s election system.

Republican elected officials, party organs, and activists almost universally have condemned Cassidy for his actions. And they appear ready to visit punishment on Cassidy through changing the method by which the state votes for federal elected officials.

After using it in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles for national elections, Louisiana abandoned a closed primary system and reverted to its current blanket primary system. Elected officials at all levels of government have revived talk of reinstituting it, at least for national elections.

14.2.21

Unprincipled votes jeopardize Cassidy future

Can Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy rehabilitate himself, or does he want to?

In the span of a few days, Cassidy put himself in hot water with a significant segment of his constituents by first assenting to the constitutionality of an impeachment trial for GOP former Pres. Donald Trump, then by voting to convict him. He and six other Republicans ended up on the losing side, joining all Senate Democrats.

Perhaps more significantly, while three of those GOP votes came from swing-state senators – two planning on retiring and one who always has displayed unpredictablilty, and three others came from red states from senators who in the past had a pattern of criticism of Trump, Cassidy’s was the only one from a red state with a history of strong support for Trump’s actions. Further, on a prior motion in January to dismiss the impeachment on the grounds of unconstitutionality, Cassidy voted against holding the trial.

13.2.21

Disingenuous Cassidy completes his disgrace

His explanation, and he, were bogus all along.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy drew an avalanche of criticism concerning his vote to proceed with the Senate trial attendant to (another dubious) impeachment of GOP former Pres. Donald Trump, Cassidy took to social media to attempt a defense of it. He had the raw material to do a credible job; while the case that trying a former officer of the U.S. has merit through a reading of the Constitution and past argumentation during impeachment trials, the case against is stronger. Still, he could have offered a principled defense of his decision that he used reasoned judgment to make the call.

Instead, he mostly rehashed his initial explanation. He said the Democrats who comprised the majority in the House of Representatives managing the trial – the prosecutors, in essence – spoke to an learned case for permissibility of late impeachment, although briefly adding that the sources for this came from Constitutional scholars, including some allied with the Federalist Society which is an organization that promotes interpreting the Constitution through original source materials supplemented by learned extrapolation, often favored by conservatives. By contrast, he said the defense lawyers provided little of the same, which clinched his affirmative vote.

11.2.21

Another failure to justify LA gas tax hike

When somebody starts disgorging any and every argument to buttress his position, you know he’s losing the debate. Recently, Republican state Rep. Jack McFarland exemplified that concerning his putative bill to jack up the gasoline tax at the pump.

Speaking to the media earlier this week, McFarland outlined his conception of the as-yet unfiled bill for the Louisiana Legislature’s 2021 regular session, which would increase the gas tax by 10 cents, then add 2 cents a year until the increase reaches 22 cents. Besides the usual litany that the state has a huge road maintenance backlog – he said $15 billion – and a wish list for new capacity on top of that – he said $13 billion – he tossed in a new wrinkle: that relieving drivers and consumers of this additional money would help the state recover from the negative economic effects of commercial restrictions laid down by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

That statement only goes to show how McFarland misunderstands the nature of this man-caused crisis. When Democrat former Gov. Huey Long suggested something similar, spending more for a massive increase in roads improvement and building that would increase the state’s transportation capacity, and eventually to dovetail under his successor with New Deal demand-stimulative policy pursued by the federal government, that came in response came from a perceived liquidity trap holding back the economy. That is, with an undersupply of investment resources due to adverse equity declines, an oversupply of labor from economic contraction, and low confidence in future business success, the private sector had reduced incentive to engage in capital-intensive economic activities. People preferred to hold onto cash rather than invest because they saw perceived future returns as too close to zero, so they don’t invest in enterprises that create jobs.

10.2.21

Cassidy derelict in thoughtless trial vote

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy isn’t unthoughtful about his view concerning the constitutionality of GOP former Pres. Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The problem is he is so thoughtless about it.

This week, on a pivotal Senate vote on a motion to scrap this second, and equally as idiotic, impeachment of Trump, along with five other GOP senators Cassidy joined in opposing the move, which contested whether impeachment could occur against a former officer of the United States. The Democrat-led House of Representatives had impeached Trump just prior to his departing office, but the constitutional question remained of whether the Senate could try him after he became a private citizen.

Jurisprudence and legal thinking on the issue produce a mixed picture. Good arguments exist for and against, although the latter has more validity. Proponents have argued that even if removal has disappeared as a rationale for trial, disqualification from future office remains as a means of deterrence for bad behavior in office. However, the Framers of the Constitution gave no indication that the two punishments existed independently of each other, through the record of their debate nor in a reading of The Federalist.

9.2.21

PAR reforms: right ideas, wrong path to these

The best way to sum up (yet) another effort by the interest group Public Affairs Research Council to improve Louisiana’s governance is right ideas, wrong way to get there.

PAR has a long-time obsession with constitutional reform which, as its latest installment demonstrates, isn’t unreasonable. About every decade it cranks out arguments about how this should happen and why that would benefit Louisiana, even as it has varied in approach (such as the utility of a convention or whether a limited one legally may exist and should be pursued). The latest effort, its most extensive ever, started in 2019 with a report on general principles that should guide a constitution in the process of which asserting that Louisiana’s needs more fiscal flexibility, and at the beginning of this month issued the latest that mainly deals with restructure of constitutional funds to acquire that freedom to match better funding with priorities.

Insofar as its basic argument that few of the present 28 dedicated funds protected in the Constitution should stay unchanged, a few more should stay but with proceeds more widely distributable, and the remainder downgraded into statute or thrown into the dumpster, there’s little reason to dissent. However, more interestingly this second part delves into the question of how constitutional change should occur, which expands upon cursory remarks PAR made on the subject almost two decades ago.

8.2.21

LA needs to initiate emergency legal revisions

The Louisiana Legislature needs to take a cue from its counterparts in several states to improve its emergency policy-making.

As the sciences, both of the hard and social kind, continue to confirm that heavy-handed responses to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic don’t do much to limit transmission while foisting burdensome costs to life and liberty, a number of governors before, during, and after revelation of this information didn’t follow the knowledge base. In many cases, states vested insufficient checks on gubernatorial power in use of these emergency powers that led to poor policy-making choices.

Emergency policy-making should be centralized in the executive, for more efficiency and the greater holistic view of the state. At the same time, these full-time executives are distant from the population over which they may have near dictatorial emergency powers, and face greater temptations to make these decisions on political bases, as reactions to the pandemic have illuminated.

7.2.21

Bad times mutate bad bill into better option

The unusual nature of the times may make a bill that should be unacceptable to the Louisiana Legislature in more ordinary days now agreeable.

Such is the case with SB 1 by Republicans state Sen. Barrow Peacock. The bill would divert, starting in fiscal year 2023 and for the following two, respectively four-ninths, seven-ninths, and all of the avails from the 2018 sales tax hike renewal of 0.45 percent to infrastructure spending, directly on projects equally among the state’s nine transportation districts.

We’ve seen this before. After the 2018 increase, in the 2019 and 2020 regular sessions Peacock made basically the same proposal, except portioned over five and four years, respectively. There’s a defensible logic to this: government should treat a temporary tax, no less one propping up government larger than necessary, as a windfall and spend it accordingly on nonrecurring items, with paring an extensive transportation backlog a great place to employ this strategy.

4.2.21

LA needs regular local option gaming votes

Three years later, it’s déjà vu all over again as the now-closed DiamondJacks Casino currently interred in Bossier City looks to bust a move south, which should open debate on Louisiana’s legal approach to gaming.

Back then, its owner wanted to move the sick man of Louisiana’s floating casinos to the banks of the mighty Amite River in Tangipahoa Parish. In 1996, local option elections in 17 parishes assented to riverboat gambling, although the law already restricted the siting of such vessels to venues with existing boats plus a few others. Although Tangipahoa Parish (barely) assented to riverboat presence, the law hadn’t included the Amite. That initial hurdle the Legislature didn’t cross in 2018, and the uprooting withered.

Now it’s back. With DiamondJacks having closed it doors last year, the owner now wants to head to Slidell. The whole idea previously had been having a boat in that neck of the woods would suck in crowds that presently head to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and its multiple options, even though the journey would be no shorter for many out to the boondocks. Its current manifestation plays to that capture of gamblers and likely would have greater success, locating the boat more centrally to the gambling population in an area with greater infrastructure.

3.2.21

Bad choices propel NO to more lawlessness

Only one Louisiana city, New Orleans, faced any citizen unrest in 2020. Regrettably, the policy response to that and the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic created self-inflicted wounds that significantly increased the amount of homicides in the city, and have set the stage for more of the same in the future.

While a report for the Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice didn’t include New Orleans data, analyses of these from many other larger American cities noted that “homicides, aggravated assaults, and gun assaults rose significantly beginning in late May and June of 2020.” Observing that homicides surged by 42 percent during the summer and 34 percent during the fall, as well aggravated assaults went up by 15 percent in the summer and 13 percent in the fall of 2020, while gun assaults increased by 15 percent and 16 percent.

Even as warmer months with their longer days often produce more crime, the surge in 2020 was particularly notable in that it spiked in the late spring. As researchers noted, in part this could have come from lockdown policies that discouraged provision of social services and conflict resolution attempts, but these largely had been lifted before the spike.

2.2.21

Biden-Edwards energy agenda destructive to LA

There are governors who see the stupidity and destructiveness in executive orders about energy promulgated by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and act to mitigate their ill-effects. Then there’s Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

In his first week in office, Biden halted energy leasing activity for 60 days on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, calling for review of policy. He could hardly have made it last longer; federal law requires quarterly lease sales. But getting permits to drill is another thing, and although stockpiled permits will permit exploration to continue on federal lands for some time, deliberate slow-walking of that process such as bans like this can hinder production.

About a quarter of all fossil fuel energy production, which grew substantially under Republican former Pres. Donald Trump and thereby allowed the U.S. to become energy-independent for the first time in decades, occurs on federal land. And another Biden executive order dumbs down the process of justifying new regulations, which for decades have required comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, that could expedite regulations on energy production based more on subjective whimsy than objective economic factors. There’s even talk that the Biden Administration would try through regulatory action make the ban permanent, although that remains dubious legally.

1.2.21

Taliaferro challenge shows Perkins weakness

The announcement by Republican Caddo Parish Commissioner Jim Taliaferro that he has thrown his hat into Shreveport’s mayoral ring speaks both to a strategy and the weakness of Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins.

Incumbents don’t need to worry much when a political unknown announces a bid against them even when just under two years out. But it’s another matter entirely, and a bad sign, when an experienced politician declares his intention with the election so far away. Regarding Taliaferro, the seriousness of his challenge comes not so much from his elected position – he’s been on the Commission just over a year, the sum total of his experience in elective office – but that he ran for mayor in 2018 and finished third with over a fifth of the vote.

Taliaferro acted quickly because of the growing perception that Perkins, politically speaking, is a walking corpse. Unknown and unvetted in 2018, he could become a blank slate for the gullible to read into him whatever they wanted. With that illusion gone and his leftist credentials on full display, he has no hope of reconstructing the fusionist coalition that not only powered him to office with a nontrivial portion of Republican votes, but whose presence in his column denied Taliaferro the chance to advance to the runoff.

31.1.21

Marvin owes answers to Bossier, Webster

Taxpayers saw over $20,000 flushed down the bayou by an injudicious, if not illegal, decision by Republican 26th District Attorney Schuyler Marvin or somebody in his office. Will he reimburse his employers, with or without prodding by the Bossier and Webster Parish Police Juries?

Last year, a 2013 Toyota Sequoia was found damaged and half-submerged in Red Chute Bayou, accompanied by floating beer cans. Within hours, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s deputies traced the operator to Lyn Lawrence, a lawyer who practices out of Bossier City. But the vehicle was registered to Schuyler’s office.

Following ethical precepts, Marvin passed over investigation and potential prosecution across the Red River to Democrat 1st District Attorney James Stewart. Earlier this month, Lawrence pled no contest to a charge of failure to report an accident, netting the 26th District a $100 fine and court costs.

28.1.21

Trump gone, Edwards now can follow science

You can start paying attention to the science now, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards: Republican former Pres. Donald Trump doesn’t live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue anymore.

For months, the evidence has mounted regarding the impact of lockdown policies typically touted by Democrats in governors’ mansions, Edwards included, showing their marginal effectiveness in stemming the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic doesn’t compensate for their costs in human suffering. A couple of recent research efforts reinforces that point. (These National Bureau of Economic Research papers are preliminary, without completed peer reviews.)

University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan measured the impact in terms of excess “deaths of despair,” which likely has claimed by now at least a couple of hundred Louisianans, caused by policies that restrict or shutter businesses. He discovered that these restrictions isolate people, wherein those with more fragile psyches became more likely to abuse substances and commit suicide and may account for a 10 to 60 percent increase in excess deaths nationally.

27.1.21

Caddo Commission sliding towards dysfunction

Days of dysfunction have returned to the Caddo Parish Commission, with some commissioners more eager to launch filibusters than to govern.

Over a quarter of a century ago, the Commission became hijacked over personal issues centered around the performance and policy choices made by the parish’s then-administrator. This led to lengthy meetings where members would launch soliloquies both about various issues of the day, some having nothing to do with the body’s responsibilities, and personalities involved. Elections in 1995 swept out or forced into retirement some involved, and others who remained quieted down afterwards.

That tendency has made a comeback, as last week’s meeting exemplifies. Two weeks earlier, half of the commissioners – all black Democrats – refused to adopt a resolution proclaiming National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (set nationally for Jan. 9), with one explaining some law enforcement actions of the prior year made it impossible for him to vote for blanket laudatory language. Earlier in the meeting, several last-minute resolutions consisting of current leftist talking points never made it to debate, with Republican Commissioner Todd Hopkins consistently preventing these from making it onto the agenda (late agenda additions require unanimous consent).

26.1.21

PSC tilt tops congressional races for intrigue

Of the three regional elections occurring in Louisiana this spring, the least of the bunch should prove the most fascinating.

The pair of special elections for Congress will have little to no drama. In the Second District, the departure of Democrat former Rep. Cedric Richmond attracted 15 contestants, including several repeat performers. And it actually provides, unusually, faint hope for Republicans.

Featured are past candidates Democrat state Sen. Troy Carter and Karen Peterson, who differ not much in their extreme liberal ideology (over the past five years he has averaged 29 and she just over 16 on their Louisiana Legislature Log ratings), but Carter comes off as less strident, more congenial, and does have Richmond’s backing, making him the favorite. But a scenario exists where Republican Claston Bernard, who is black as is Carter and Peterson, could win in the majority-black district.

25.1.21

Perkins tips reelection gambit: sprint to left

Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins, signaling his reelection strategy, has dropped any pretense that he won’t campaign and thereby govern ideologically from the hard left – as well as that he has any clue about economics.

Perkins in the main won in 2018 because he could present himself as a blank slate to voters. Having hardly spent any time in Shreveport as an adult, he magically appeared in town months before the election – just as he finished up law school, having spent his entire career either in school or in the armed forces – babbling about newness and change. With insecurity common in the Shreveport electorate, it was enough to convince many blacks, enough white Democrats, and some Republicans wearing rose-colored glasses to hand him the keys to the city.

Two years later, after a series of missteps and a disastrous U.S. Senate run, Perkins recently announced he wanted to keep the job after all, even as the city continued to hemorrhage residents without any resolution to economic development and other problems. Days later, he demonstrated his weakness by yanking a tax-increasing bond proposal he had floated less than a week earlier after it became clear he couldn’t muster a City Council majority to put it on the ballot.

24.1.21

Bossier City finally seeing electoral choices

It’s been two decades since Louisiana’s sixth largest municipality Bossier City has seen this much electoral competition, but will it end the same by sweeping a significant portion of incumbents out of office, or even go farther, in the most significant partisan contests not special elections in the state in 2021?

In the aftermath of those municipal elections, three City Council members left their jobs as a result of voter dissatisfaction principally over the decision to build and where the now Brookshire Grocery Arena. But current councilors independent Jeff Darby and Democrat Bubba Williams stayed on, and still in office from then are the two victorious at-large councilors Republicans Tim Larkin and David Montgomery. Joining them in a special election a year later was Republican Scott Irwin.

The revolt didn’t trouble Democrat Mayor George Dement, who won his record fourth and final term. That kept city Chief Administrative Officer Lo Walker in business, who as a Republican succeeded Dement in 2005 and has won reelection ever since.

21.1.21

Temple rejection needed absent his clarification

If he doesn’t clarify his remarks adequately, Louisiana state senators need to reject later this year appointment of Collis Temple, Jr. to the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors.

Every year, the Senate considers gubernatorial nominees to various positions. When a vacancy occurs, either because a term expires or somebody leaves a post, the governor can make an interim appointment who may serve through the end of the next legislative regular session. If by the end of that session a nominee hasn’t received a favorable vote by the chamber, the position becomes open again.

Temple gained a place on the Board, which governs the LSU System, when Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards tabbed him about a month after the Legislature adjourned for 2020. He then became renominated for a different spot on it three weeks later because another nominee chose to decline in order for his firm to continue to compete for system business.

20.1.21

Deviant LA keeping bad blue state company

One of these things is not like the other, which is bad news for Louisiana now and in the near future.

Earlier this month, U-Haul released its 2020 statistics for rental surface transport units, from which it calculates (essentially by computing incoming and outgoing traffic) a measure of state migration growth. It has done this for states off and on since 2007, but has made it a regular practice from 2015 on.

And, with one exception, Louisiana has fared poorly since then. Starting then, among the 49 North American states and the District of Columbia (Hawai’i obviously not included), it has ranked 35th, 8th, 40th, 47th, 40th, and last year 44th in terms of arrivals vs. departures.

19.1.21

Science shows harm from Edwards virus strategy

Even when the outcomes stare him straight in the face, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards still ignores the science attached to government handling of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. That ethos and the playbook it spawns, embraced by his fellow Democrats helming their states, bodes ill for human freedom and dignity going forward.

Last week, Edwards took the opportunity to extend gubernatorial restrictions on state citizens that have constituted his policy response to the virus, which include compulsory face coverings for most individuals in most public settings, limitations on public gatherings and commerce, and the outright closures of some targeted businesses. Things have improved slightly, as the state has fallen to only seventh in per capita deaths among the states – a trailing indicator that should show relative decline as an early adopter now burning through a reduced uninfected population pool – but Edwards’ policy more than anything else has caused this lamentable statistic.

Because it doesn’t follow the science, as confirmed days prior to his announcement with the release of some follow-up research from the middle of last year. Stanford University researchers compared the heavier-handed policy response of eight countries, including the U.S., with the lighter touch of two, Sweden and South Korea. The former has logged statistics equivalent with other developed states and better than many while instituting partial public gathering bans and face coverings in certain situations rarely and mostly only recently, and the latter has done much better compared to almost anywhere in the world while only recently introducing any restrictions at all outside of isolated instances and regarding the most packed social environments (although many of its population voluntarily began wearing masks in public starting about a year ago).

18.1.21

Old wine in new bottles stings LA taxpayers

Swapping old wine into new bottles didn’t make the grape harvest any less bitter, according to a new release from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

That office studied state classified personnel expenses from fiscal years 2013 through 2020. These employees comprise just over three-fifths of the state’s full-time equivalent workforce, although the study excluded some such as those employed in higher education institutions. What it discovered confirmed the corrosive effects of pay policy changes starting in 2018.

After he had made half of appointments to the State Civil Service Commission (and could count upon the sympathy of the elected classified employee representative), Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards took a pay plan in need of reform and, if anything, made it worse (ratified also by narrow legislative majorities). In a new form, it perpetuated the masquerade of performance pay raises for cost-of-living boosts, because almost no employee in the state receives a rating making him ineligible for a raise, much less triggering eventual separation.

17.1.21

Foolish Caddo officials threaten public safety

And this is how irresponsible politicians decrease public safety, in this case in Caddo Parish.

Earlier this month, the Parish Commission – unlike the other major government bodies in the state’s northwestern-most two parishes, still refusing to meet in person – rejected a proclamation supporting in the parish National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was Jan. 9 nationally. It stated that “the Parish of Caddo is the proud home to many dedicated law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep our community safe … these officers stand as leaders and teachers in the community, educating the citizens about the importance of public safety; and the Caddo Parish Commission appreciates the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by officers and their family members on a daily basis in order to protect our schools, workplaces, roadways, and homes.”

A last-minute agenda item offered by Republican Commissioner Mario Chavez, at least it drew the unanimous support for addition at a late date – unlike a few Angry Left talking points offered up parroting national Democrat policy preferences in the form of resolutions sprung at the last minute without text brought by Democrat Commissioner Ken Epperson. They received a varying number of vetoes, but Republican Commissioner Todd Hopkins voted nay on all, later stating he wouldn’t approve of any resolution for which he hadn’t seen the text.

14.1.21

Shreveport tax desire another sign of decline

Democrat Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins better had hope that a scheduling glitch is the only thing that goes wrong with a proposed $206 million in new taxes on city property owners, as tenuous as voter approval of these is.

The four proposals echo three for $186 million each defeated by small margins in 2019. Yesterday’s City Council meeting could have cued these onto the Apr. 24 ballot, but didn’t because of an agenda drafting error that disallowed introduction and final passage together. Because the city faces a hard Jan. 19 deadline to make the municipal election runoff ballot, the Council will have to try again in a special meeting next week.

The categories of items don’t differ much from the previous version. The old covered water and sewerage; public facilities and equipment for parks and recreations, public buildings, and the police and departments; and streets, highways, bridges, and drainage systems. The new are for streets, highways, bridges, drainage systems, and water systems; the police and fire departments; parks and recreation and public transportation; and economic development including but not limited to industrial park and workforce development facilities. The combined millage actually is lower at 10.60 compared to 11.68, but reduced interest rates ate providing more bang for the buck over the 20 years.

13.1.21

Illegal leader not district's biggest problem

Hopefully, a bit better legal sense from Louisiana’s judiciary finally will make the right call on a case involving separation of powers and conflict of interest in northwest Louisiana, but that tussle only illustrates a larger problem.

Predictably, the case centers on that bastion of unaccountable government, the Cypress-Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District. It runs – badly, given the near-chronic deficits produced – the recreation area of the same name in Bossier Parish and regulates land use around the bodies of water and the water itself. Girded with a dedicated property tax – and was the only government body in Bossier Parish last year to increase that rate – citizens who hold approval power over that have no direct voice in governing use of that money. The five commissioners receive appointments from various local governments.

One of those commissioners, Robert Berry there by the grace of the Bossier Parish Police Jury until mid-2023, also serves as its executive director and pulls down a six-figure salary as a result, which represented last year almost seven percent of the entire nearly $1.9 million budget. That he has both offices has drawn the scrutiny of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry.

12.1.21

On protests, LA Democrats' blame shift fails

Besides her day late and dollar short foray into the fray, undoubtedly the leader of Louisiana Democrats Katie Bernhardt assiduously avoided all mirrors when alleging blame for Washington, DC protests that escalated into violence last week.

At the time Congress met to certify election results, several thousand people converged on the Capitol to express frustration that it would accept Electoral College votes that would declare the election for Democrat former Vice Pres. Joe Biden without adequate investigation of potential fraud. Due to changes made in many states in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, this possibility ramped up considerably in the 2020 election, but at the same time legal deadlines left insufficient time to vet thoroughly the question.

A few dozen people, perhaps subversively directly influenced by violent leftists attached to groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa (one such admitted activist, previously arrested elated to a violent protest at Utah’s Capitol, said he was on the scene after illegally entering the Capitol documenting on film the event) present, turned antagonistic and briefly occupying various part of the Capitol, causing minor property damage along the way and sufficiently scaring Members so that they hunkered down in the chambers or fled them.

11.1.21

LA mustn't squander higher education largesse

Now given two bites of the apple, Louisiana higher education has a better chance to hit its latest master plan’s goal – if it and its overseer Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards don’t act capriciously and squander the opportunity.

Last year, in addition to the $1.8 billion the received for general purposes from the federal government in the CARES Act designed to address the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the state racked up $147 million allocated to its higher education institutions. About 45 percent of that went to students – meaning subsidizing tuition and fees – and 45 percent more to institutions to adjust to delivery under pandemic conditions. Almost all of the remainder fanned out as additional supplements to boost minority enrollment and services.

Then at last year’s end, Congress passed a consolidated appropriations act within which lay a replay of the CARES Act with over 50 percent more funding dedicated to higher education, although with several notable differences. Its specific funding formula included part-time students unlike the first version, expanded the institutional portion use – it retains the provision that an equal amount must be spent on student financial relief – to include things like defraying revenue lost to the pandemic, and the financial aid component also may extend to distance learning enrollees.

10.1.21

Shreveport cancel culture rightly challenged

Cancel culture officially has arrived in Shreveport city government, courtesy of its police department.

Days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, which occurred incident to his arrest that included an office placing him in a chokehold for several minutes, Shreveport Police Department then-Sgt. Brent Mason made a social media post about it. Although not a lawyer, Mason argued that the officers involved shouldn’t face a murder charge. Mason, a department trainer who has a training business on the side and has been featured in the media for it, opined that the hold alone didn’t cause Floyd’s death, but likely contributed to it, concluding that the “poor technique … normally does not result death” but might if Floyd “had health conditions and toxins in his blood.”

Which, weeks later, was confirmed. The coroner’s report on Floyd showed recent methamphetamine consumption and fentanyl intoxication – video of the event showed Floyd ingesting a substance consistent with that the moment of his restraint, similar to his actions in an arrest a year earlier – which the coroner said, although classifying death as heart failure due to choking, by itself could have produced a fatal overdose.

7.1.21

NOLA Schools stuck on stupid with closure

And now NOLA Public Schools, the name used for the Orleans Parish School District, has chosen to stay stuck on stupid – with a political goal in mind.

With its all-charter status cemented into state law, its School Board, which hires its superintendent Henderson Lewis, can’t make a whole lot of policy, but with its operational powers intact its decisions can have the same effect. And the ruling by Lewis which forces all district schools into distance learning only by week’s end shows that, despite massive changes in education delivery over the past 15 years, resistance to increased accountability remains the same.

Because there never has been any good reason to keep classrooms empty during the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, even as Lewis justified his decision in that Orleans Parish shows a steady rise in cases per capita. The corresponding news release intones that the call “was driven by data and the advice of our public health experts.”

6.1.21

2020 results presage rough ride for Edwards

If Georgia U.S. Senate runoff results hold up, Democrats may have won somewhat increased policy-making power nationally, but in Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards ends up the eventual loser.

Should the final vestiges of the 2020 election play out this way, it will produce the narrowest majority margins in the country’s history. Democrats will control the House by only eight votes, where any defection of four scuttles their plans. The Senate ends up evenly split, ultimately decided by just a few thousand votes out of four million cast, and incoming Pres. Joe Biden essentially won the office by about 43,000 votes in three states.

Don’t expect Democrats to acknowledge they won in a photo finish. They know the history that in the last two of their administrations they lost an average of 57 House seats and seven Senate seats two years after a member of their party reached the White House initially. They will go for broke in the vain thinking (of some) that suddenly a history of bad policy magically goes against type and works to allow them to keep a Congressional majority in 2022, or (with others) at least getting in as much damage as possible before being shown the door for the next several years.

5.1.21

Data note more failure of LA Medicaid expansion

But, Medicaid expansion!

This occurring in Louisiana supposedly would make the world all right. Objective observers knew differently, and time has demonstrated their critiques correct. Supposedly, expansion would save money; it hasn’t and now costs state taxpayers (most recently) $312 million a year extra on behalf of many people who once had their own insurance. One reason it would is that uncompensated care costs would come down; these haven’t and Louisiana’s actually have increased slightly compared to historical averages prior to expansion. Increased wasted payments and thousands more vulnerable lives lost, as a result of shifting dollars and attention away from them in order to shovel these to the expansion population, because of expansion also have cost the Louisiana polity.

Despite all these shortcomings, expansion’s apologists still could try to cling to the idea that it brought better outcomes to the target population. Yes, it makes some people worse off, redistributes wealth especially to the detriment of the lower middle class, and strips the state of resources to tackle other needs, but as wasteful and inefficient as expansion is, advocates still could argue that it makes the health of the target population better.