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17.10.21

Lafayette needs different tack on panhandling

For now, Lafayette has secured a legal win in its effort to cut down on panhandling, but that might not last unless it shifts its strategy.

Last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected an attempt to invalidate the city-parish consolidated government’s Ordinance 62-32(7). That makes illegal “Acting in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others.” In the past few months, law enforcement has used that to arrest panhandlers.

Since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 in an unrelated case, local governments haven’t been able to ban panhandling, as soliciting for noncommercial purposes has become protected speech where government has a high burden of proof to restrict. As a result, they have sought means that are neutral in regards to content of the speech conveyed and with an objective important enough to override First Amendment concerns, while leaving adequate alternative channels for speech dissemination.

14.10.21

LA still vulnerable to outsourced democracy

If not for Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, Louisiana might have found its democracy outsourced in last year’s elections, and it has work to do to prevent that entirely.

Crunching numbers shows the deleterious impact of $419.5 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan on election fairness. Most of that money went to a special interest group favored by technology titans with a history of advocating for leftist voting policies in elections administration which receives its funding from large donors for liberal causes, the Center for Tech and Civic Life. Another group garnered the rest, doled out more specifically to inform the public on changes to election procedures and polling locations, and to recruit poll workers in response to the pandemic, which appeared neutral in impact.

Because the CTCL grant criteria clearly attempted to put a thumb on the scales of election outcomes. The strings it attached were for jurisdictions to maximize use of methods that compromised ballot integrity, including mass mail balloting, ballot harvesting, ballot “curing,” and unsupervised dropbox use, favored by Democrats and leftists.

13.10.21

Biden work policies exacerbating LA problems

Louisiana continues to suffer disproportionately from Democrat Pres. Joe Biden economic policies eagerly ratified by a compliant Congress, recent employment data reveal.

Last week, national numbers for September disappointed again in terms of job creation, even as the country’s unemployment rate dropped deceptively, as exiting the labor force mainly drove the decline that set the lowest workforce participation numbers since 1977. That low number came from women disproportionately and in large relative terms leaving the labor force.

August data measuring other employment parameters confirmed this dismal picture. Job postings fell, led by hospitality, and the quit rate, or people leaving employment, rose to its highest level since 2000 and setting a record in raw numbers. While this can be a positive indicator when the labor market tightens since people have to quit a job to move on to a better one, it is negative in the current slack environment by showing people are exiting the workforce.

12.10.21

N.O. minimum wage hike another economic blow

It might be good for some city employees and incumbents in city government running for reelection, but New Orleans’ minimum wage hike for city workers will make its citizens suffer even more.

Deciding to step on the gas on the matter, the City Council ratified a pay schedule that would push the wage to $15 an hour in 2023. Years ago, it established a minimum much higher than the state’s, which defaults to the federal level of $7.25, and indexed it to inflation. It will bump up more than a couple of dollars next year from the current $11.19 and then complete the rise, costing taxpayers around $10 million more.

It’s a sucker punch delivered to citizens as the city continues to reel from the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic’s impact its government’s overreaction to that. With its economy disproportionately dependent upon leisure and hospitality discouraged by the virus, compounded by a ridiculous vaccine passport requirement to patronize these kinds of commercial establishments, city quality of life has suffered more deeply. Just as one indicator that likely reflects worse numbers specifically for New Orleans, statewide 84 percent of restaurants reported reduced profits over the past three months while none noted an increase. Anecdotally, in New Orleans after the requirement kicked in sales dropped 30 to 40 percent.

11.10.21

LSU admits bankruptcy of its vaccine passport

The fa├žade has started to crumble. Yet the Louisiana State University System administration continues to back superstition over science, reason, and logic.

Last week, the school renounced its policy of requiring anybody (although presumably not the visiting team) entering its football stadium for a home game to show either proof of vaccination from or recent negative test of the Wuhan coronavirus. The official story for the move was explained as a declining number of cases and hospitalizations for the affliction.

This fig leaf should generate mirth among thinking people. These rates have fallen from levels that rivaled all-time highs to relatively moderate levels during the pandemic’s course, but almost every parish in the state, East Baton Rouge included, the state still rates as high risk for community spread. And theoretically gathering 100,000-plus people in a small space, even outdoors, still counts as a super-spreader.

10.10.21

Lowering business costs in LA achievable now

Once again, Louisiana finds itself on the wrong side of the fence keeping some bad company. Fortunately, fairly immediately some things can happen to improve matters.

Cloud software platform Approve.com released rankings for states where doing business is most and least costly. For the continental U.S. plus the District of Columbia, it reviewed four factors – average annual wage, top corporate income tax rate, and average prices for utilities like internet and non-residential electricity, equally weighed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Louisiana’s western neighbor Texas came out on top. Equally predictable, among the top 20 states in the ranking politically red states comprised 18 with the other two being purple, and included most of the southern states.

7.10.21

Other Edwards zero delusion to impoverish LA

Besides his delusional zero COVID fantasy, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards presses on with another pipe dream – Louisiana’s future energy production featuring zero carbon emissions that doesn’t cause significant hardship.

This week, Edwards announced that the state would join the United Nations’ “Race to Zero” campaign, as part of the organization’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. This dovetails with his executive order designed to drive the state to zero emissions by 2050 that also set up a task force to find ways to do that, whose report should arrive early next year.

Forget for the moment that the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming scenario on which Edwards has based all of this is scientific hogwash and concentrate instead on how ruinous the costs will be to achieve this, especially when compared with the consequences of the mythical apocalyptic scenario currently shopped around, and that even if zero emissions were achieved today everywhere (according to the CAGW methodology) that wouldn’t even reach the target for slowing the presumed rate of warming by the end of the century. In fact, not only no policy to achieve this does not create more impoverishment, but these choices also disproportionately hit poorer people harder.

6.10.21

Overleveraged BC must cut costs, bid services

Especially given the amount of these Bossier City has outstanding, it makes sense to shop for the best bonding deals – unless you’re Republican City Councilor David Montgomery.

The city’s highly leveraged position turned into an issue of incumbent competence during this spring’s city elections. At almost $487 million or $6,827 per capita, of Louisiana’s ten largest cities (some of which operate under consolidated governments with the surrounding parish), Bossier City citizens owe the most per head (using 2019 data, as some have yet to file their legally-required audits for 2020). Shreveport trails by over $1,500, and only Baton Rouge’s Metropolitan Government also cracks the $4,000 level (for 2020, Bossier City’s fell to $6,561).

Worse, according to revenues available, Bossier City will come under pressure to pay it all off. Its debt-to-annual revenue ratio is 3.14, just exceeding East Baton Rouge but trailing its neighbor to the west at 3.85. The higher the ratio, the less money the city will have available to pay operating expenses in future years, thus tempting tax increases (whether by individual debt authority renewal or rolling forward property tax rates) to cope.

5.10.21

New flood insurance rules overall benefit LA

Although some of Louisiana’s members of Congress oppose the implementation of National Flood Insurance Program reform at this time, it’s happened and, if rolled out properly, will reduce overall taxpayer risk and bring comparative rate relief to many clients.

Since its most recent significant alteration nearly a half-century ago, the NFIP has proven a fiscal nightmare. Only property owners with a federal government-backed mortgage legally in zones defined as particularly flood-prone must have it, with it over time having received $60 billion premiums but paying out $96 billion. Further, because of data and technology abilities in that era, policy pricing didn’t reflect individual properties but instead followed a crude blanket approach that itself tended to underestimate risk in higher-risk areas and overestimate it elsewhere, which effectively meant lower-risk properties subsidized higher-risk ones.

Another factor also historically skewed pricing: federal government willingness to pass one-off disaster aid legislation to reimburse owners wracked by flooding, such as the bill last week that addressed a host of recent disasters to hit Louisiana and some other states. And yet one other has allowed for pricing that doesn’t properly account for risk: the willingness of Congress simply to write off NFIP debt as it did in 2017 and has proposed doing again. Both serve to make some taxpayers subsidize the living choices of others by assuming part of the latter’s risk.

4.10.21

LA treating condemned better than children

Worse than sad, it’s shameful that Louisiana treats its condemned inmates better than its children in school.

The past 18 months have brought unique problems for education of the state’s children, with draconian measures taken at first in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. After closing doors everywhere at the end of the spring 2020 semester, in some districts these would remain shut for the entire 2020-21 school year. Even where classrooms reopened, policies such as quarantining if a child had been anywhere close to someone who came down with the virus remained in effect.

This segregation took a noticeable toll. Comparing test scores with 2019, those of 2021 dropped nearly five percent, largely driven by increased pervasiveness of remote instruction in the interim.

3.10.21

Rare LA positive leadership needs extension

In a break from the usual news about how Louisiana trails other states in sensible policy-making, it’s nice to see the state lead on at least one issue.

Taking effect last month, a law in Texas mirrors the administrative decision made by Louisiana’s State Bond Commission in 2018. The law requires that underwriters for bond sales by government entities in the state comply with a non-discrimination clause relative to gun manufacturers: an underwriter who has a policy of refusing lending to that industry can’t bid on underwriting government debt.

The SBC voted on such a restriction at a time when two such discriminating entities, Bank of America and Citigroup, planned to bid on $600 million in state business. Since then, JPMorgan has proclaimed a similar discriminatory policy.

30.9.21

Fantasy virus ending continues needless pain

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards continues to fight the last war, unable if not unwilling to surrender the zero COVID fantasy underpinning his political party’s and liberalism’s ideological assault.

This week, Edwards continued a face covering mandate until Oct. 27 in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. This came despite new case growth slowing dramatically and, of course, relies on suspension of disbelief when it comes to the efficacy of mask mandates in the first place; at the micro level, masks do a moderate to poor job of stopping transmission, and at the macro level mandates fail to have any measurable positive effect because the attenuated micro impact is diluted further by improper wearing and not wearing. Worst of all, potentially physically but certainly psychologically mask wearing harms children, and Edwards’ order extends to any kids in school.

Most importantly, at a theoretical level, insistence on this mandate betrays propagation of the belief that public policy can eradicate the virus. If you understand, as health officials in other countries increasingly have come to, that this horse left the barn a long time ago and the virus is now endemic, mandates do nothing; certainly individuals can wear them for their own protection, as little as this may provide, but doing this will not alone, nor in combination with anything and everything, wipe out the virus. That’s why public health authorities increasingly have ditched them, even in jurisdictions with higher case rates.

29.9.21

Caddo overtaking NO as most ridiculous LA govt

It looks like New Orleans has competition for the most ridiculously leftist local government in Louisiana – Caddo Parish.

Because on one important metric – implementing a pilot program for a universal basic income – while Orleans has talked a good game, Caddo has walked the walk, pulling along its main population center of Shreveport. Last year, both New Orleans and Shreveport’s mayors signed up for participation in this program organized by Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (headed by a former mayor turned out of office because of his support of ideas like this) with money donated largely by Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square founder.

The idea of paying every family a fixed amount of money every month, when as a sole means of income security without any additional public welfare programs, isn’t bad. But this program seeks not to replace but to supplement existing programs, to negative effect as research has demonstrated. Nevertheless, in the middle of a statewide drubbing in his running for U.S. senator, Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins signed on, later joined by Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

28.9.21

Better guidance needed to avoid tragedy

The frustration Louisiana legislators have with the Department of Health must turn into regulation and legislation that protects better vulnerable patients in nursing homes.

Last week, a joint committee that oversees Medicaid service provision met to review the tragedy surrounding several nursing homes that evacuated clients to decrepit facilities with the coping of Hurricane Ida. Over a dozen have died since, although at this point only the perishing of five has been attributed directly to occurrences at the evacuation site.

That site essentially was a warehouse ill-equipped to handle over 800 patients, with a number of them designated under the Louisiana Administrative Code Tit. 48 Sec. 9767 as code “red” or high-risk, intensive need patients. Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry has opened an investigation as to whether criminal charges should come over the incident, while Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose office ultimately oversees the department, also said scrutinization was in the offing.

27.9.21

Partisan Campbell hypocritically chides GOP

When Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell penned his latest jeremiad about partisan political actions, no doubt he stood in front of a mirror to get a good idea of what a political partisan looks like, and a hypocritical one at that.

Campbell recently fobbed off an opinion piece onto some northwest Louisiana media outlets, in it complaining about Louisiana Republicans elected to Congress. He wrote that the state needed federal disaster aid owing to a string of destructive storms, but that its House Republican members voted against a bill that contained such relief. He alleged that these highly-paid representatives turned their backs on constituents due to GOP orders, letting partisanship get in the way of fulfilling the state’s needs.

Then there’s the rest of the story that Campbell deliberately leaves out. The bill to which he referred has as just one part authorization to spend on disaster-related matters. It also extends several expiring programs and continues funding federal government activities, with the existing budget expiring at the end of this month, through Dec. 3 at those current levels.

26.9.21

Bring virus policy sanity, emulate Scandinavia

The political left of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards often points to the more-taxing, freer-spending, greater-regulated Scandinavian states as worth emulating. In Louisiana, Edwards needs to put his money where his fellow ideologues mouths are by following Scandinavia on Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policy.

Last week, Norway joined Denmark in stripping just about every restriction placed on their societies and economies designed to combat the virus. Over the past 18 months, each varied tremendously in response where at some points they had so few as to emulate almost entirely restriction-less Sweden and then at other times (briefly) clamped down as hard as the current vaccine passport regime in New Orleans. But now just about all restraints are gone, unless a future huge spike in cases occurs. For its part, Sweden already has announced it will join them in ridding its few at the end of the month.

Health officials in these countries noted higher vaccination rates, such as having at least half of people over age 50 with complete immunization, led them to begin dispensing with restrictions over a month ago. Most notably, Norway’s official in charge in assessing the danger presented by the virus has proposed terming it a as one of several respiratory illnesses with seasonal variation, much like influenza.

23.9.21

LA should vote aye on three crucial amendments

Had Louisiana’s fall elections remained at their original dates, early voting for the general election would be in the offing. That has been kicked back over a month because of the change necessitated by Hurricane Ida, but mail-in voting has been open for about a month, so now’s as good as any time to review the four constitutional amendments on the ballot now scheduled for Nov. 13. Regardless of when, these offer some easy decisions.

Amendment #1 – creates a commission consolidating two existing overseers of the state’s highly decentralized sales tax collection system that would permit centralized filing of sales taxes then distributed to state and local entities, after implementing legislation passes. This would ease greatly business compliance costs, both in administrative submissions and in dealing with multiple taxing agency jurisdictions, such as with audits. It’s a slam dunk. Yes.

Amendment #2 – sets the stage to engineer a tax swap of lower income taxes for inability to deduct federal income taxes from those. The amendment itself sets the individual rate ceiling at 4.75 percent, down from 6, and jettisons required deductibility, but a whole raft of companion legislation triggers on its passage. Under this legislation, the statutory deductibility disappears; individual rate brackets go from 6 to 4.25, 4 to 3.5, and 2 to 1.85 and could go lower the higher the growth rate of state revenues; excess itemized deductions for them disappear except for medical expenses; corporate rate brackets go from five to three by eliminating the highest ones and the rest diminish by a half point; and the corporate franchise tax goes away for the majority of filers and for those remaining still paying can go down further depending upon future state revenue growth.

22.9.21

Enlightened MS choice makes LA seem like joke

The punchline often quoted, out of relief, by Louisianans about Mississippi has gone flat as far as higher education goes.

Conscious of their place as one of the least economically and socially backwards among the states, Louisianans traditionally have reverted to gallows humor to commemorate that distinction. The joke takes a variety of forms, but it always invokes Mississippi as a foil as to a worse place to be. For example, it might take the form of “We might be among the nation’s leaders in unemployment, poverty, and overall health, but at least we’re not Mississippi where they’re just now getting indoor plumbing.”

But recently the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning decided the state’s eight public universities can’t mandate a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine for enrollment or employment at these institutions. It actually stipulated the policy in August, but some confusion over the motion to do so and the language of the measure in its minutes prompted a restatement. It allows an exception for health care-related employees and students.

21.9.21

Cassidy pleads to let him evade responsibility

When Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy voices concern over his party’s messaging for the 2024 elections, he really is delivering his relying on misdirection to promote a 2026 reelection attempt.

Since voting for conviction on impeachment of GOP former Pres. Donald Trump earlier this year, amplified recently by his acceptance of a demonstrably bad spending bill, Cassidy has won Strange New Respect from America’s leftist mainstream media, opening the doors for television appearances from networks in need of a pet conservative who will debase the principles he supposedly holds dear on air when needed. Such an opportunity arose for Cassidy this week on controversy about the fidelity of the 2020 election.

That came up on NBC’s Meet the Press, in the context of Ohio Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s retirement in the face of a difficult intraparty battle to retain his seat. As did Cassidy, Gonzalez essentially voted to remove Trump from office – after, of course, Trump already had left office – in voting to send forward the impeachment.

20.9.21

CAGW hysteria advantages LA comparatively

And here’s another trend Louisiana can take advantage of regarding the climate alarmism sweeping the Luddites of the world.

Highlighted recently, Louisiana enjoys an economic comparative advantage in mining cryptocurrency. This opportunity magnified recently when red China, perturbed that the process used so much energy, essentially kicked miners out of the country.

Now another opportunity to reap economic and quality-of-life benefits continues to grow, courtesy of a related development. Elite- and media-driven hype over the most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report – built upon confirmation bias – has ratcheted up fear and panic among the overwhelmingly uninformed public or those of it in denial about the actual science behind climate study. So much among some, in fact, that they despair their current living situations as they envision fires, floods, gales, and possibly hordes of insects as part of their futures promised by their faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

19.9.21

Stuck on stupid woke NO causing own problems

If there’s a textbook example of Louisiana elected officials stuck on stupid, look no further than Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her lapdog City Council whose mistakes point to the city’s bleak future.

Cantrell has caught more heat than usual in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s blustery attack. The storm plunged the city into darkness for days, an aftermath which itself serves as an indicator of Cantrell’s idiocy because she and the all-Democrat Council have steered deliberately away from provision of reliable power by their fixation on renewable energy.

Yet as this problem became slowly and haltingly resolved, another began to pile up. Trash, and lots of it, some from the storm but also the normal output from households and businesses began accumulating because the city wouldn’t pick it up. Worse, the problem began days prior to Ida’s landfall.

16.9.21

Right-size, hike tuition before squeezing public

University administrations change, but the misleading narratives remain the same.

New Louisiana State University System Pres. William Tate has slipped seamlessly into the mode of recent such heads by poormouthing finances provided by taxpayers. Asked about why the flagship campus continues to descend in the magazine U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of universities, he stated “LSU’s overall rank fell largely because of two categories: financial and faculty resources, both of which are tied to funding.” He also alleged that “To improve will require significant state and philanthropic investments in students and faculty members.”

I’ll take his word about the mechanics of the scoring, since the magazine hides many of the details behind a paywall. But the implication that pumping wholesale higher taxpayer dollars into the school to compensate for a dearth of funding doesn’t bear any relationship to reality.

15.9.21

Aggrandizement to blame for hurting LA burgs

Some different players, but same old story: desire by elites for prestige and remuneration hampering solutions to struggling Louisiana municipalities.

In 2019, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor began publicizing distressed municipalities, or those that risked having to come under outside fiscal administration. Although some have crawled out from under their problems, sometimes spectacularly so, several since have degraded into administrative receivership, with the state’s Fiscal Review Committee in its meeting last month having added Powhatan to that category.

That leaves 18 others on the distressed list compiled earlier this year. Eleven in fact repeat from two years ago, including Powhatan. Each has its own reasons for making the list, but one commonality is this desire, mostly strongly rooted among mayors, to retain control over resources that could be allocated more efficiently, manifested in two ways.

14.9.21

Date change to affect LA fall election results

Rescheduling of Louisiana’s 2021 general election date will help certain candidates but especially hurt the chances of a couple of constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Last week, Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin initiated and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards completed the process of kicking back Oct. 9 elections to Nov. 13, and any runoffs needed from Nov. 13 to Dec. 11, due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. That move became even more necessary with the pile-on of Hurricane Nicolas, with the storms wrecking some polling places, displacing voters temporarily, and perhaps even delaying past the original date the restoration of power at some precincts.

To some degree, Louisiana elections in year after a presidential election retain some participation fragility. Without high profile state or national contests on the fall ballot compared to all other years in the quadrennial cycle, turnout tends on the low side. As a point of reference, the typical October general election in the 21st century has drawn, working backwards from 2017, 14.27, 13.22, 10.88, 13.2, and 21 percent of the electorate.

13.9.21

DOJ LSP review bad idea, politically moot

All of the chief of the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and the state’s only Democrat elected to federal office all are open to, if not asking for, a U.S. Department of Justice “pattern or practice” review of the LSP. Bad idea, the data show, and politics may torpedo it in any event.

In July, the Caucus put in a formal request for DOJ to perform this, where the agency looks for a “pattern or practice” of action by a law enforcement agency that violates either constitutional protections or federal laws. It comprehensively evaluates the law enforcement agency’s written policies and actual practices, including its systems for training, equipping, and supervising officers; how it collects and uses data to identify and address problems; its systems for holding officers accountable for misconduct; and the degree of accountability to community voices and democratic government.

The request was spurred by media revelations of highly questionable LSP officer conduct in the traffic stop of Ronald Greene, a black motorist on the road in northeast Louisiana, that appears to have contributed to his death incident to an arrest. Other internal LSP documents also obtained through information requests revealed additional sketchy incidents over the past decade where allegedly excessive force was used.

12.9.21

LSU System proves capital of LA's covidiots

In a state government with a fair amount of covidiots on the loose from the Governor’s Mansion on down, the Louisiana State University System has proven itself their capital.

This week begins implementation of the irrational vaccine passport on its campuses. Students must present proof of vaccination or recent infection from the Wuhan coronavirus or a recent negative test for it or else face disenrollment. Employees at the Baton Rouge campus have until Oct. 15 to do the same or face adverse personnel actions including the possibility of termination (fortunately, some other campuses in the system aren’t as draconian; for example, they foist these requirements only on students and employees who make on-campus physical appearances). For now, at least campuses have arranged for free periodic testing and shots courtesy of the orgy of spending provided through endless money printing by a federal government run by Democrats.

The policy makes no sense at all if it’s done in the name of “safety;” i.e., forcing the unvaccinated to get poked or prove the don’t have the virus so as to protect others, because it is the unvaccinated at risk and they voluntarily have chosen that status (some on medical advice). One could argue that protection could still come against “breakout” infections of those vaccinated, except that there’s no difference between the viral loads of vaccinated and unvaccinated folks recently exposed. Simply, unvaccinated people are no more likely to threaten to spread the virus to others than those vaccinated.

10.9.21

CAO battle lost, Cheatham might still win war

This week witnessed another chapter of The Empire vs. Republican Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler with a minor defeat for the latter, but from that might bring a much bigger win for reform in the future.

Having originally selected Republican Shane Cheatham as his chief administrative officer, who knocked off long-time Republican incumbent City Councilor Scott Irwin this spring that also saw Chandler defeat four-time incumbent Republican Lo Walker, that nomination never even came to a vote. With Cheatham having resigned his School Board seat and turned down the council win, Council graybeards no party Jeff Darby, Republican Jeff Free, the GOP’s David Montgomery, and Democrat Bubba Williams conspired with newcomer and theirs and Walker’s ally Republican Vince Maggio to put Irwin back in temporarily. Then they didn’t provide a second to a motion by GOP newcomer Chris Smith – Chandler’s only friend on the Council so far – to appoint Cheatham.

It was a rookie/outsider mistake to give away a sure Council supporter in this fashion by Chandler asking and Cheatham accepting, and Chandler hung in with his choice for a couple of months. But he finally had to bow to the reality of the intractability of Council Pres. Williams, who publicly gave vague reasons why he wouldn’t support Cheatham, and the other graybeards plus new bootlicker Maggio, and thus nominated Amanda Nottingham for the post.

8.9.21

Cassidy increasingly alienated from Louisianans

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy continues to give a graphic representation of what happens when you stay in Washington too long.

It seems incredible to think that the Cassidy of a year ago running for reelection and the one on display today are the same person. Then, Cassidy was a GOP Pres. Donald Trump and Senate party loyalist, voting with Trump about 89 percent of the time (higher that predicted by a model used by one political forecasting and commentary website), rated about 83 on the American Conservative Union’s scorecard, and enthusiastically backed party positions such as the ascension of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the campaign he sounded all the right conservative themes and cruised to victory.

However, within that ACU rating should have signaled a warning to conservatives. It notes his weakest area was on budget and fiscal policy, where according to it he voted more often for liberal policies. And that became starker not long after Cassidy concluded that Trump had lost his reelection attempt and he became an early backer of an unnecessary spending bill just as his first term ended.

7.9.21

Landry tragedy review brings needed neutrality

Fortunately, Hurricane Ida cost only a few Louisianans their lives. Unfortunately, the circumstances behind most of these deaths leaves uncomfortable as yet unanswered questions that could lead to the Governor’s Mansion.

During the storm, six nursing home clients died in a warehouse in Independence. Seven facilities in the southeastern part of the state, operated by Baton Rouge businessman Bob Dean, in advance of Ida disgorged over 800 clients into the building also owned by Dean. That site had met with Department of Health approval; all group homes in the state (as well as individuals served in waiver programs) must have on file an approved evacuation plan. In fact, LDH reviewed and reaffirmed that plan prior to the evacuations.

However, LDH now claims the facilities didn’t follow the plan. And according to Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, employees there turned away LDH representatives wishing to survey the place – an action that prompted Landry to open an investigation of the entire operation.

6.9.21

Politics explains media's LA disaster coverage

Sixteen years to the day Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Hurricane Ida did the same. But over a week later, political reaction to it has been vastly different because of political agendas.

The storms differed only in strength and location. Ida was the stronger of the two and landed west of New Orleans, while Katrina made landfall to the city’s east. Potentially, this made Ida mor destructive not only because of its strength, but because a hurricane’s rotation in this part of the world makes its northeastern quadrant the most damaging.

Ida did plenty of damage, tearing through a number of communities with extensive damage or complete destruction of most structures that, at this point, looks to take months for life to get back anywhere close to normal for affected individuals. Katrina caused this on a much lesser scale, but infamously supplied s storm surge that knocked out some area levees, with most of the ensuing flooding affecting New Orleans (and Jefferson Parish) and claiming far more lives.

5.9.21

LA crypto mining: less methane, more wealth

Atypically, the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has a chance to get something right, and it has to do with cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin and the many other varieties of this currency, which comes into being through computer algorithms and has no physical manifestation, slowly but surely are gaining acceptance as stores of value for commercial transactions. Their creation processes involve performing extensive calculations on computers, typically barebones setups linked by the dozens if not hundreds or even thousands.

This generates energy demands in two ways: providing the electricity to run the computers and to cool them as the process generates tremendous heat. In fact, mining a typical unit of bitcoin (trading currently around $50,000) for one rig (exclusive of cooling) takes the equivalent 53 days of power for the average US household, or at the average U.S. price per kilowatt about $200.

2.9.21

LA shouldn't duplicate laudable TX law

It was brilliant construction and strategy, but there’s no reason for the Louisiana Legislature to rush to special session, or even wait and do it during the 2022 regular session, to implement a potentially life-saving law like the Texas Heartbeat Act.

The law prevents, except for cases of medical emergency, abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat, often in as few as six weeks after gestation. However, state officials can’t enforce it. Instead, in state court any private citizen may engage in a civil action against an offending abortion provider, with damages of at least $10,000 an incident plus fees against those aiding and abetting in the act, but not against the female undergoing termination of the human life inside her.

Passage of the law basically set a trap for anti-life special interests. Because the matter goes to state court, it allows for a much broader assignment of standing. And as it doesn’t involve the state, no government officials may be enjoined in executing the law. Essentially, it makes abortion mills police themselves. And when the law took effect Sep. 1, that’s what those in Texas did by turning away clients.

1.9.21

Shape policy for endemic, not pandemic, virus

To understand the uselessness of the virtue signaling made by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards by the extension of his face covering mandate now in effect, it is necessary to comprehend his entirely mistaken conception, widely shared on the political left, of the course run by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

At an instrumental level, policy studies tell us mask mandates do little to slow the spread of this virus relative to their absence (and much evidence suggests these overall hurt children, who have a greater chance of dying through a lightning strike sometime in their lives than from a virus in their childhood that has an infection fatality rate for the population hardly higher than seasonal influenza). The only thing that does work to a significant degree are economic and social lockdowns, which Edwards is unwilling to do because of the severe public reaction that inevitably would occur.

And the reason this reaction would happen is because, unlike Edwards and many of his leftist friends in power, the public has grasped or is willing to admit the reality why at the theoretical level such policies do more harm to society and the polity than good. This is because such draconian policies misalign with the realities of the present situation.

31.8.21

Politics impedes B.R. refund on Sterling case

Hammered by Hurricane Ida, Baton Rouge government sure could use the millions of dollars it designated for, among others, an indicted child rapist. At least that’s what the federal government’s handling of the Capitol Police fatal shooting of an unarmed protester would indicate.

In 2016, former Metro officer Blane Salamoni shot to death Alton Sterling while the latter struggled against an attempted arrest by the former and another officer. Sterling possessed drugs, had ingested some, and appeared to be reaching for a concealed handgun, which triggered the decision to fire.

Numerous reviews, inside and outside of public safety agencies, determined that while Salamoni deployed tactics questionably that likely served to escalate rather than defuse the situation, his action to fire was reasonable. Nonetheless, the department pressured him successfully to resign, and Sterling relatives sued Baton Rouge for wrongful death, claiming improper training of the officers involved and too much racism tolerated in the department – the officers involved were white and Sterling was black – lead to that outcome.

30.8.21

Ida shows N.O. stuck on stupid with energy

Fortunately, Hurricane Ida largely spared New Orleans from destructiveness of life and property. Unfortunately, New Orleans didn’t save itself from its own politicians’ stupidity in the aftermath.

The entire city plunged into the dark after the storm made landfall, with the only power coming from generators. This included Sewerage and Water Board pumps needed to keep flooding at bay. While power likely will become available within the next few days for the majority of the city, some areas, mostly outside the parish, could take much longer.

The southeastern area of the state, through which Ida ripped, saw about a million customers lose power. Transmission line failure caused this, with Orleans comprising the plurality of people affected. Yet Orleans is exceptionally vulnerable to this because of deliberate policy decisions made by politicians chasing an unnecessary and expensive goal.

29.8.21

Latest LA tragedy exploited to back nonsense

Hurricane Ida has struck Louisiana, plowing inland. Hopefully no deaths or injuries will occur, but property damage will be great. And insult added to injury when catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hucksters try to use the event to popularize their unscientific, destructive agenda.

These acolytes started the drumbeat prior to landfall, and undoubtedly will continue it for the indeterminate future. The hot air they project goes something like this: greenhouse gas emission will hike temperatures, all in the air, land, and oceans, to provide increased fuel for more hurricanes to form, to allow these to strengthen more, and to make them endure longer.

The only problem with this line of reasoning is the scientific evidence doesn’t back it up. Were the above scenarios to play out, this means hurricane data could serve as indicators that increased emissions create CAGW. Setting aside that gas increases seem to show little relationship to temperature changes (and more to other natural phenomena, such as solar activity), the hurricane hypotheses rest upon measurable and significant temperature increases exclusive and unaltered by other natural phenomena, as well as records of storm frequency and intensity.

26.8.21

LA drug message both protects, risks lives

In its warning about the drug ivermectin, Louisiana’s Department of Health both potentially helped protect people and put lives at risk.

Echoing a recent reminder distributed by the national Food and Drug Administration, LDH “strongly” advised not to use this drug, authorized by the FDA for use in humans and animals to battle parasites, for prevention and treatment of the Wuhan coronavirus. Several states have done the same, and reports of increased volumes of calls to a few states’ poison control centers have emerged logging incidents from taking the drug for this purpose and a few precautionary hospitalizations have occurred from this, although no reports of medical intervention have surfaced as a result.

The LDH news release notes that dosage for animals and human differs, that “[u]sing any treatment for COVID-19 that is not approved or authorized by the FDA, unless part of a clinical trial, can cause serious harm,” and urges “do not take ivermectin unless you have a prescription for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed for the condition it was prescribed for.” These kinds of uses ensure a correct dosage and unadulterated product, such as through a compounding pharmacy.

25.8.21

Conservatives rightly flex bond panel muscles

Elections have consequences, and it’s good to see Louisiana’s elected conservative majority break from its typical pattern by stamping its authority onto opponents to try to stop them from doing the wrong thing – even if that majority avers that’s not the intent.

This rare display of power occurred during last week’s State Bond Commission meeting. Usually a sleepy affair, over the past few years it has become perhaps the most visible instrument by which Republicans, who control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices, have used to rein in the leftism of state Democrats led by their only official with power, Gov. John Bel Edwards – despite having huge majorities in both legislative chambers, which until this year largely have hesitated in throwing their weight around.

Most prominently, a couple of years ago it reined in anti-Second Amendment actions by changing its rules to penalize bidders for bond business that discriminated against firearms makers and sellers. Now, it has acted to prod Edwards’ sister-in-arms Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell into abandoning its useless and counterproductive Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policies.

24.8.21

BESE shirking duty creates campaign issue

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s sudden adjournment last week looks to be on the way to becoming a campaign issue in 2023.

At its regular meeting, BESE rapidly plowed through a number of items witnessed by a much larger than usual audience. A large portion of the attendees didn’t wear masks, in apparent violation of a proclamation by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards ordering face coverings be worn in state office buildings, which included where BESE meets.

After a nearly hour-and-half foray into executive session to discuss the performance of Superintendent Cade Brumley, the body reconvened in public. At that time, Republican Ronnie Morris reminded the audience that matters had to remain orderly or the meeting would be adjourned.

23.8.21

LA print media political relevance fading

So, the Shreveport Times has a new editor; what’s the big deal? Because it clues us in on the direction of Louisiana’s print media and how its ongoing decline will impact state politics.

Understanding the significance requires knowing the bleak context of print media. The rise of the Internet and technology companies that control the bulk of advertising revenue on it have crushed the newspaper industry. Since the mid-aughts, print advertising revenues have plunged by nearly three-quarters, and this is reflected by newsroom staff being cut in half and a quarter of all newspapers have disappeared. Worse, many survivors have become “zombies,” where they hardly generate any hard news, instead relying upon content from elsewhere with local stories largely produced from the outside and many from non-media sources.

The Times is getting there. A quarter century ago, about a decade after the Gannett chain bought it from local owners, in the course of any given year I might have been interviewed by three different Times reporters covering various beats. Now, outside of entertainment and sports, it has just two reporters and an intern to cover the entire metropolitan area. Its daily edition has trouble reaching 30 pages, with almost all of those mainly taken up by advertising and the majority of content in the form of sports or entertainment.

22.8.21

BC councilors putting political careers first

The Bossier City Council shows it remains committed to working for its own members’ interests rather than the people’s, a recent rejection of changing its meeting times confirmed, reinforcing the necessity of term limits for the body.

Republican new at-large member Chris Smith offered up a resolution to change meeting times on the first and third (and fifth if existing) Tuesdays of each month from 3 PM to 6 PM. He argued that it would bring grater citizen participation, both in meeting access and in candidacies to serve on the Council.

Opponents – the rest of the Council – responded with a weak counterargument. They asserted that in the unspecified past the panel had met at that time but with little visible improvement in attendance, backed by almost of citizen communications advocating for the change. And, they claimed, it would cost more with overtime for city employees meeting after the normal work day ended.

19.8.21

BESE succeeds, whiffs on trenchant issues

Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education may declare itself woke, but at other times it actually gets the job done correctly … when overenthusiastic members of the public don’t allow it to dodge a politically sensitive issue .

Last week, BESE – through one of its committees where technically all 11 members sit on it – wisely deferred full implementation of a program aimed at improving reading and literacy at the kindergarten through second grade levels. A pilot program already has shown promising results.

Yet while the overall concept seemed sound, six of the seven members who comprise the accountability and choice caucus of BESE objected to administrative aspects of it (the other as chairman didn’t vote). Principally, they objected to how it coordinated with accountability measures, in particular the extra costs to achieve this for nonpublic schools who accept Louisiana Scholarship Program students for which the state pays only approximately half in voucher form of what it doles out for regular students in public schools.

18.8.21

More data, same story: Medicaid expansion bad

But, Medicaid expansion!

Salivating proponents of Louisiana accepting this praised Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to the skies his doing so when assuming office. They alleged it would propel the state from the bottom among its brethren in healthiness by claiming large swaths of the public without health insurance suddenly would become healthier with access to it.

This view ignored reality, and more than five years after its implementation data continue to confirm the whole mess is one big wealth redistribution scheme that does little to improve health outcomes at exorbitant cost. The latest bit comes from a report issued by the Mercatus Center that focused on the amount of regulation in health care among southeastern states. Louisiana ranks high in regulation but low in health care quality metrics, not just within the region but nationally. In fact, despite having doctor availability well above the lowest-ranked states and reasonable access relative to them, it ranked second in the southeast for patient difficulty in regard to finding treatment with managed care visits. It ranked 47th out of 50 states with respect to preventable hospitalizations, and last among all states in health outcomes.

17.8.21

Vaccine passport anywhere in LA bad policy

Louisiana is hurtling towards an unwise, counterproductive, and constitutionally-suspect “zero covid” policy, and it must be halted before wasting more resources and real harm to people is done.

In recent days, Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared that adults in the city would have to carry “vaccine passports” in order to engage in many forms of commerce, enforced by merchants and government. That means proof of Wuhan coronavirus vaccination or a recent negative test. The Louisiana State University System is signaling that if and when any full authorization for vaccines come to fruition, it will expect the same of students and employees.

But steps like these ignore reality to the detriment of the state’s people and visitors. Unfortunately, while Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a bill in the past legislative session that would have prevented this, policy-makers should reject such things anyway.

16.8.21

LA census data advantage legislative GOP

More specific, parish-wide census data for 2020 are in, and from this the contours have become set for state legislative reapportionment in Louisiana.

These data contain population counts by race and age. The data at the most specific levels will be released by the end of September, and because of the much lower tolerances for these regarding congressional districts, as well as the specificity needed for local contests, until then only the impact of the data on reapportionment for the legislature, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Public Service Commission can be scrutinized. (Judicial reapportionment is not required and historically often isn’t done every decade.)

Certain to confuse many casual observers will be the way the census changed its definition of race/ethnicity. In the past, the Census Bureau has caught flak for the way it categorizes people, particularly Hispanics, as being too narrow. For 2020, it tried to address this by creating a matrix of racial backgrounds that specifically allows for combinations.

15.8.21

Natural selection favors saner climate policy

You just can’t make this stuff up. And to the extent that its contents will improve policy-making in Louisiana, that’s a good thing.

The initial hand-wringing from the unbridled hysteria launched by release of the Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from the United Nations apparently has had an especially robust impact on snowflakes. Understanding its extent requires reading snippets from the actual text of the news story (my comments in brackets):

A growing number of people are reluctant to bring a child into a world that’s set to be ravaged by climate change in the coming decades ….

12.8.21

LA climate alarmists to take note of report

If you listen to those with a political agenda granted a megaphone by incurious media, before the century ends what part of Louisiana doesn’t get swallowed up by rising seas will scorch under the sun lashed by extreme weather. Fortunately, unfiltered science casts extreme doubt on this.

This week, the Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out, just in time to jumpstart a whole new wave of panic for policy-makers meeting later this year to try to lobby for more draconian solutions for a problem greatly exaggerated. Of course, that’s the issue of climate change, and the document that relies far more on adherence to a political agenda than scientific inquiry fits the pattern of its previous editions: cautious evidence of marginal changes hyped into extremism.

Political hacks aside trying to use this to the advantage of their ideological agendas, this tribal response comes from many working in both science and media. So, it wasn’t too difficult for one of Louisiana’s media outlets to find an academician who took cursory note of the conclusions derived for and by policy-makers and extrapolated these to the state. She said at least a six degree temperature rise would buffet the state’s crops and marine life, river flooding would become more common from storms, and sea level rise of four feet would occur unless curtailing drastically the use of fossil fuels with the use of technology.

11.8.21

Edwards surge policy hypocritical, cynical

If you’re going to promote hypocritical policy, don’t pull your punches, even if it contradicts the observable facts.

That’s the mantra the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration has employed as Louisiana faces another surge of the Wuhan coronavirus. This challenge appears courtesy of the virus’ delta variant, which is more transmissible, and has taken advantage of the 59 percent of the state’s population not vaccinated.

The population segment being affected disproportionately is healthier, but with record numbers of cases this has led to the same in hospitalizations. This has caused capacity constraints that threaten to move beyond having to delay elective procedures to create space and could begin interfering with treating more critical non-virus-related cases. (But because of the healthier affected population, deaths have not approached record levels.)

10.8.21

Parents must protect kids from Edwards order

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwardsface covering mandate reimposition has put parents in a pickle who wish to prevent the child abuse that it advocates

After Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry publicized Louisiana law that allows parents to have students opt out from school vaccination schedules, Edwards doubled down on his insistence that children as young as 5, and his preference that this include children as young as 2, should wear masks in school most of the time. He did so in sending a letter to Superintendent Cade Brumley to remind districts about the content of his latest order, emphasizing the intent was to stop the spread of the virus – despite what public policy studies have concluded on the matter.

Even though the law he mentioned doesn’t cover a mask mandate, Landry released guidance for parents to make written dissent to both masking and vaccination mandates, pointing out deficiencies in mask wearing insofar as affecting transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus. It didn’t go into details, but the latest information specifically relating to children shows they transmit the virus at a far lower rate than do adults, that a comparison of schools with masks mandated and not didn’t show any different in number of virus cases, and that studies conflict on whether requiring masks on children – who get sick from the virus at a tiny fraction of the rate that even vaccinated adults do and are 3.2 times less likely to die from the virus than a person would suffer death from a lightning strike – harms them psychologically and/or physically.

9.8.21

Bossier residents score legislative wins

Lost in all the excitement the Louisiana Legislature’s historic veto session were two significant wins for Bossier Parish brought home by Republican state Sen. Barrow Peacock and GOP state Rep. Dodie Horton.

For years, south Bossier City in particular has agitated for a new Jimmie Davis Bridge, ideally replacing the decades-old two-lane purveyor of traffic with a new four-lane structure. The current bridge can’t be refurbished because federally-protected barn owls refuse to stop nesting on it.

Throughout his decade in office, Peacock, who represents both ends of the bridge, had fought to make the new doubled span a reality. Costing an estimated $125 million, about a fifth of that had been secured for the canceled refurbishing, meaning around $100 million more needed funding.

8.8.21

Democrats' work disincentives to hit LA hard

In Democrats’ headlong rush to bring increased socialism to America, Louisiana looks poised to suffer disproportionately.

Last week, the national jobs report highlighted this effort pointing to Louisiana’s vulnerability. While the national unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent to 5.4 and nearly a million more jobs came online, the labor force participation rate didn’t move, even as average wages continued climbing, now up 4 percent for the year and stoking inflation. All in all, estimates are that there are 1.2 million more job openings than people willing to work, which has made employers scramble to offer a whole host of nonpecuniary benefits in addition to wage hikes that will further drive up prices to consumers.

Louisiana is even worse off. While the country as a whole still lags on jobs and unemployment with levels lower than when Republican former Pres. Donald Trump took office, the state fell farther and has more slowly come back. Its number of jobs is lower than that of 15 years ago, its labor force participation rate is the lower than that seen at the end of 1989, currently ranking seventh worst among the states, and its unemployment rate remains higher than nine years ago, currently ranking ninth worst. Obviously, the state’s ability to get people working is lagging is even worse than the national economy’s slow response to the policies of Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress.

5.8.21

Required state worker vaccination impractical

If Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards feels like he can buck political tides additionally on the issue of vaccination requirements for state employees, he’ll have a lot more difficulty imposing his will.

Edwards last week became the first governor on the country, in a largely useless gesture if not harmful to children, to reestablish a face covering mandate in indoor public areas. Days later, as word began to spread that one Wuhan coronavirus vaccine may receive full approval for use in about a month, he floated the idea that he might emulate Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell who issued orders that their workforces, including contractors, prove vaccination or show proof regularly of negative virus testing.

But as both of these examples reveal, administration of such a mandate poses problems in its failure of specificity that greatly limit a faithful implementation such an the order, as well as raises broader questions of fairness. By way of example, the federal regulations leave undefined a number of important areas, such as obtaining verification of vaccinations or testing, noncompliance penalties, and implementation dates. New Orleans has issued no details at all about administrative issues such as these.

4.8.21

Petty, immature councilors disserving Bossier

Unless some of the clowns part the circus that never leaves Bossier City, better known as its City Council, accept the electorate’s choice of mayor, citizens have a long four years ahead.

This Tuesday’s Council meeting seemed an opportunity to have recede into the background the acrimony evident between three councilors – no party Jeff Darby, Republican David Montgomery, and Democrat Bubba Williams – and Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler. This spring Chandler upset incumbent Lo Walker, the strong ally of Montgomery and Williams often backed by Darby, to win executive control of the city.

Since then, whenever an opportunity has presented itself, those three have taken the lead in obstructing Chandler’s agenda, principally in rejecting his choice of Shane Cheatham as the city’s chief administrative officer, a post that remains unfilled. Joining them has been newcomer and Walker ally Republican Vince Maggio and Republican interim member Scott Irwin, another Walker ally who lost this spring to Cheatham but when Cheatham abjured taking the seat in anticipation of becoming CAO Irwin’s council buddies placed him back in it until mid-October.