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New woke LSU president may need restraining

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

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

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


Dodgy bill no substitute for closed primaries

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

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

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


Citizens disserved by ignorant excuse-making

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

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

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


Feet of Clay Schexnayder must adapt or go

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

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

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


Bill keeps parents from helpful disciplining

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

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

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