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4.7.22

Independence Day, 2022

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

With Monday, Jul. 4 being Independence Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.

3.7.22

LA needed roads maybe slowed by Biden wokeism

Woke roads may not be coming to Louisiana, but the attitude behind these might slow down progress to complete the state’s portion of Interstate 49 to link with the rest of the country.

The concept of wokeness – that America from its history, culture, society, and economic system is so irredeemably racist that only replacement at the systemic level led by government (which itself needs a makeover for this reason) can cure it – made its practical appearance in transportation policy when the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration announced over $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to fund pilot projects that remove allegedly oppressive after-effects of highways going through area with majority-minority populations. This could include more portals and connecting access across areas where highways run, beautification, and repurposing of rail lines.

But most controversially, removal of those highways qualifies for the pot. That has been the goal in some urban areas, including New Orleans where Interstate 10 swoops south to skirt the north edge of the Vieux CarrĂ© before curving back to meet the straight-shot I-610, in the process following a stretch of Claiborne Avenue that seven decades ago was much more vibrant and a mecca for commerce in the city’s black community. Activists have argued for destruction of the elevated roadway and restoration of Claiborne.

30.6.22

Court backs Landry, deals alarmist Edwards blow

It’s another win for the rule of law in America aided by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry and a major blow to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ climate alarmism policy.

Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency that any extensive attempts for the EPA to regulate the entire power-producing sector of America would have to have a particular and clear Congressional grant. Specifically, it didn’t have the authority to impose a cap-and-trade regime on states designed to force a shift to renewable energy sources from those based on fossil fuels.

Absent that grant as is the case, the EPA can’t issue sweeping rules, as encapsulated in a plan initially forwarded by the Democrat Pres. Barack Obama Administration that the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration wished in large part to continue, that constrain power production on the basis of carbon emissions. Landry, not long after taking office and along with officials from 15 other states joined West Virginia on the winning side, commented on how the outcome correctly placed the power to regulate in the hands of Congress rather than bureaucracy.

29.6.22

Chavez choices to cost him conservative votes

Assuming it’s behind his choice of (no) labels to run for mayor of Shreveport, perhaps Caddo Commissioner Mario Chavez is taking the Friday Ellis strategy a bit too far and certainly too ineptly.

Chavez, until recently a Republican and local party official, declared his run for the office by asserting he would run without a partisan label. This emulated the Monroe no party mayor, who despite backing from local GOP elites (and the spouse of a Republican state elected official) eschewed a label. Facing an electorate about five-eighths black and dominated by Democrats, he knocked off a long-time incumbent from that party by stressing his business credentials and critiquing the incumbent’s record.

However, for Chavez the dynamics differ somewhat than just refusing to call himself a Republican in the hopes of adding non-Republicans disgruntled with the ethical and policy missteps of Democrat incumbent Mayor Adrian Perkins to Republicans attracted by his conservative voting record on the Commission – until recently. For to prevent too many conservatives from sticking with Republican candidate Tom Arceneaux – Ellis didn’t have to face any quality GOP challenger – Chavez must continue to demonstrate conservative credentials that his Commission work puts on display.

28.6.22

Some ideologues defeated, others warming up

Checkmate on wealthy special interests trying to subvert democracy has come in one Louisiana controversy, but an even more consequential one is just beginning that may cause even greater needless taxpayer, and certainly human, expense.

Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed preliminary injunctions issued by U.S. Middle District Louisiana Judge Shelly Dick on case orders that would force the state, contrary to the output of its democratic processes, to draw two majority-minority congressional districts as a result of decennial reapportionment from 2020 census data. Dick’s opinion, which strayed far from existing jurisprudence, had set up for her as early as Wednesday to impose a two M/M plan onto the state for elections this fall.

Instead, the 6-3 Court ruling put everything on hold until it resolves Merrill v. Milligan, an Alabama case that presents largely the same issues of how prominent a role race must play in reapportionment. There, in a state with about a quarter black population, late last year its Legislature drew only one M/M district of seven, and in February the Court enjoined a lower court ruling tossing that out, saying it needed time to vet thoroughly the issue that meant the enacted map would be used in 2022 elections, being as time was too short given the upcoming election schedule.

27.6.22

Gannett quitting opinion caused by its leftism

Since you’re reading this, you obviously aren’t in the opinion-free zone now increasingly the case for Gannett Corporation newspapers.

Quietly, the 250-or-so-strong newspaper chain has had its individual outlets drop opinion columns over the past several months. A directive went out earlier this year discouraging the running of regular opinion columns and preached that if papers do continue to venture into opinion that these should focus on local issues. It said internal research indicated reader dissatisfaction with eternal arguments over certain subjects, an inability to move to common ground, and irritation to the point that, despite being the least read section of the typical paper, views expressed on opinion pages former subscribers often cited as their reason to bolt.

Nationally, its outlets have begun scaling back entire editorial sections to run as little as weekly. In Louisiana, a review of opinion pages for its several outlets shows the disappearance of all but the occasional guest posting seldom on a national issue, with no regulars except for the leftist wildcatter Jeremy Alford who writes about state politics and syndicates across both newspaper/magazine and television platforms, and its Capitol news reporter (and at the Shreveport Times – where I wrote a weekly column a quarter-century ago before I was told I irritated too many powers that be and was given the boot – a former student of mine on the left is allowed to put it out there every couple of weeks or so).

26.6.22

LA set to enjoy abortion-free environment

It took only about a half-century, but my first foray into political activism finally paid off.

In the spring of 1973, of which the exact date escapes me, as our family did occasionally we visited one of our hometown Alvin’s very few sit-down dinner restaurants. While we waited on the food – the only Mexican restaurant in town at the time – our mother pulled out some information culled from one of the Catholic-oriented magazines to which we subscribed, which contained sample verbiage for a letter to any of several listed addresses of various elected officials concerning the recent Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.

This ruling, which using smoke and mirrors concocted a substantive due process argument creating a constitutional right essentially under any circumstance to abort humans – at that time technical reasoning lost upon a pair of ten-year-olds that wouldn’t be grasped for several more years – upset her deeply. While the bulk of her 15-year nursing career (before our time), mostly in what then was called the Public Health Service in some of its hospitals and after receiving her B.S. then in the Air Force, was spent as a surgical nurse or ward supervisor, she also had a stint in what today would be called a neo-natal unit. She did really well with newborns and loved to take care of them, a desire that manifested in her enduring three miscarriages before hitting the jackpot with a two-for-one payoff.

23.6.22

Gas tax holiday ultimately makes LA worse off

It’s even possible that Louisiana and its residents might in the short-term benefit from a three-month gas tax holiday as proposed by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and supported by the state’s only congressman from that party, but they surely lose big in the long run.

Biden has asked Congress to knock off the 18.4 cent per gallon federal excise tax temporarily as a means to quell surging gas prices. Nationally, they have about doubled since last spring, and in Louisiana as of this writing average about $4.50 a gallon for regular-grade fuel.

This could make for some good political optics, emanating the appearance of lowered prices at the pump, even as in reality it will do little to alter prices except immediately and briefly . Likely, a substitution effect will occur where demand increases because of the lower price, while supply will not have changed, so prices will rise to compensate. As well, “savings” only incompletely would be passed along the supply chain and the move negates Biden Administration policy fixated on preventing the myth of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming from fruition by increasing the amount of carbon burned into to atmosphere.

22.6.22

Edwards veto zeal invites overrides, power loss

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, like last year, has thrown down the gauntlet. But this time, it might get thrown back at him, and then some.

A few days ago, Edwards released his latest round of vetoes for bills from the recently-concluded regular session of the Legislature. That brought the total to 23 – all but one by Republicans with the remaining one innocuous in nature but done against no party state Rep. Roy Daryl Adams as payback for voting to override the Edwards veto of the state’s reapportioned congressional districts – meaning that before the deadline for veto issuance that comes by the end of the month, the number may surpass last year’s 31.

The past two years have ticked higher in number because Edwards lost much control over the Legislature after 2019 elections and the increasing ideological drift to the left his policy-making has exhibited since after that election he could no longer run for reelection. 2020 didn’t feature much discord because practical issues surrounding combatting the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic dominated proceedings, but since then the Republican majorities in each chamber haven’t been shy about legislating their preferences, with the occasional help of dissenting Democrats or no party/independent members, that stand inimically opposed to his.

21.6.22

Edwards shows use of faith as political stunt

In case any doubts lingered, in his latest announcements about disposition of 2022 Regular session bills Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards officially confirmed, when it comes to matters of public policy, his status as a “cafeteria Catholic” who puts political expediency ahead of giving witness to actual faith.

That term refers to someone who calls himself Catholic yet picks and chooses which parts of his faith to which to adhere. It’s widely considered that it’s tough for a practicing Catholic not to act this way; for example, despite the Church’s teaching that any contraceptive method not natural (except in extraordinary circumstances) violates God’s law, one poll a few years back revealed only 8 percent of people who identified as Catholics deemed artificial birth control as morally objectionable.

It's not for anybody to cast scarlet letters on others to castigate them on their supposed infidelities to their religious beliefs; that’s reserved to God and His mercy to offenders is endless in any event. People have enough trouble looking out for their own souls and, beyond bearing witness to their faith as best they can, have no time left over to intrude uninvited into others’ lives over such matters.

20.6.22

Bogus claim fueled unwise teacher pay hike

The argument used to justify granting pay raises for Louisiana teachers as well as making it easier for some retired teachers to double-dip, a shortage, statistics shows is at best specious.

The just-concluded regular session of the Louisiana Legislature featured a number of bills to combat the presumed shortage. Principally, a $1,500 average pay raise went to educators in the public schools, and a new law allows rehiring of former teachers where there exists a “critical shortage,” with some able to keep their entire pensions paying out during their temporary contracts.

Lawmaker after lawmaker emphasized these items addressed a situation where too few teachers chased too many students, requiring too many substitutes or teaching not in areas of certification. Some, along with Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, wanted $500 more thrown in, all to ameliorate the presumed shortage.

19.6.22

RINO Bernard opts out, ushers in Seabaugh

What could have set up as the most controversial state Senate race for 2023 essentially ended earlier this week with evaporation of any drama from the almost-simultaneous announcements of the coming retirement of Republican state Sen. Louie Bernard and candidacy of GOP state Rep. Alan Seabaugh.

Reapportionment threw the term-limited Seabaugh into what will become District 31, which will extend over 10 parishes but mainly takes in populations in small portions of southern Caddo and Bossier Parishes, all of Sabine Parish, and most of Natchitoches Parish. Only the last at present is in the district, which will lose its foothold in much of Rapides Parish, with parts of De Soto, Webster and Bienville added as well to shift the locus of the district north.

This put Bernard on thin electoral ice with the campaign-experienced Seabaugh looking to extend his legislative career in a district whose northern portion with a plurality of voters already has great familiarity with him and his political allies. Within the past couple of years not only did he win reelection comfortably but also allies of his won offices as varied as judicial, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and in Bossier City.

16.6.22

LA reapportionment Hail Mary to change nothing

The dog-and-pony show continues over the use of raw judicial power to force Louisiana to adopt two instead of one majority-minority districts for its six congressional districts starting next year, against which Republicans must hold firm.

Understand that’s all it is, as a consequence of a Hail Mary attempt by the political left to create an environment where it likely could win two rather than one House of Representative seats in the state. Emboldened by the decision of a rogue federal judge, the Louisiana Middle District’s Shelly Dick, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards called the Legislature into special session after she ruled the state had to adopt a two M/M plan, as opposed to the one M/M plan passed by the Legislature over Edwards’ veto in a special session earlier this year.

The adopted plan in concept is similar to one in the state of Alabama, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled would go forward while it would review a suit against it next year. That would address the heart of Dick’s ruling that delivers an unprecedented and ahistorical interpretation that a state’s proportion of congressional M/M districts roughly must match the proportion of black population in it, with the Court making it very clear that it would not rush matters in making its constitutional determination as Dick has done.

15.6.22

Corporate welfare for LA newspapers continues

Another year, another serving of taxpayer paid-for and wasted welfare to Louisiana newspapers is the answer to one Bossier City Council member’s inquiry.

At last week’s meeting, Republican Councilor David Montgomery asked, when it and other governing authorities across the state do this time of year, upon the Council taking up naming an official journal for the coming year whether something could be done about reducing the expense associated with that. Council Clerk Phyllis McGraw said the city spent at least $25,000 annually in legal notices, which she said duplicates what the city puts online. She also spoke that if there were newspapers in an area then these had to appear in one or more of these, which then made the city hostage to their publication deadlines for referrals.

Well, to answer his question, on almost an annual basis for the past several years legislators have brought bills to remove the requirement to publish, in whole or part, in a newspaper a jurisdiction’s public notices. A number of states have broadened eligibility to allow an online format published by nongovernment entities, but recently Florida became the first state to allow bypass of that entirely by allowing governments in larger-populated counties with impunity to publish notices solely through their own websites, while those with lower populations must demonstrate they can do so without unduly impeding public access before being able to avoid use of newspaper publishing of these.

14.6.22

BC at-large system not broken, no need to fix

There’s no good reason for Bossier City to change its present City Council district arrangement of five single-member and two at-large districts.

Months ago, the Bossier City/Parish NAACP chapter began a campaign to initiate a charter change that would create seven single-member districts. Under this organization, demographics and reapportionment principles suggest that two minority – black – candidates could win Council seats, whereas under the current organization with a single majority-minority district historically only that district has elected a black councilor. According to the 2020 census, Bossier City has a black proportion of the population of 31 percent.

(Although not necessarily would a seven single-member district system elect two blacks, assuming blacks almost universally would vote for a black candidate. Demographer and Louisiana State University Shreveport history Prof. Gary Joiner in his plan along those lines presented to the Council couldn’t carve out two M/M districts. The best he could do was one district 58 percent black and another 46 percent black, 30 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic, and the remainder other or mixed races.)

13.6.22

Only veto may save mugshot-reliant newspapers

Instead of better, things got worse for a small number of Louisiana newspapers to the point they now must depend upon Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards for relief.

When it started out, HB 729 by Democrat state Rep. Royce Duplessis wouldn’t have affected many newspapers in the state. Originally, it would have forbidden law enforcement officials from disseminating booking photos of arrestees to publications believed mainly to derive their revenues from publishing these and that charged fees to have these removed from their web sites, except of fugitives.

While some national sites operate in this fashion that don’t really depend upon advertisements or subscriptions for revenues but instead money to make them go away out of a person’s life – making no exceptions for those not found guilty on the charge – in Louisiana typically are publications like Monroe’s Justified Newspaper, which runs only mugshots but doesn’t charge for removal because it doesn’t remove these, or Shreveport’s The Inquisitor/FocusSB, which runs other unrelated content and doesn’t derive revenue directly from publishing such photos.

12.6.22

Predictable decision sets up plan checkmate

Looks like that legalistic Hail Mary pass tossed by leftist special interests concerning Louisiana’s new congressional districts isn’t going to come up a winner, no matter what happens from here.

After a rogue district judge, against the run of judicial play, from Louisiana’s Middle District Shelly Dick struck down the state’s recent such reapportionment because its proportion of majority-minority districts didn’t match the proportion of black population in the state, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel predictably stayed the order. It then set a Jun. 14 deadline to decide whether to make the stay permanent.

Entirely predictable, because four months ago the U.S. Supreme Court handled an almost identical case from Alabama by putting a permanent injunction in place. It did so because a majority wanted to review the case in thorough fashion and wouldn’t do at the time because, according to the Purcell legal doctrine, election deadlines loomed too large to make that possible. In that instance, qualifying for the offices was just about to commence for the primary elections.

9.6.22

GOP LA House governance takes step backwards

Just when you think Louisiana’s legislative Republicans, led in this instance by GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, have gotten the hang of ruling as a majority party, then they show they don’t.

This week, the Legislature wrapped up its regular session with the GOP leadership having outmaneuvered Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards on a variety of fronts. It lined up votes and legislation in ways that neutered his line-item veto power, forced him to swallow his pride and ideology to accept one high-profile bill he opposed, and dared him to veto others that look likely if he did most, if not all of them, would be undone in a veto session.

At the same time, a rogue activist judge, in a ruling running very much against the run of judicial play almost certain to be stayed quickly, declared that the state would have to redraw its congressional boundaries because the proportion of those that are majority-minority would have to match the proportion of black residents in the state, no matter how many traditional reapportionment standards would have to be ditched to do so. Handed the ball, Edwards ran with it by summoning a special session Jun. 15-20, with the judicial deadline set for Jun. 22.

8.6.22

Useless Edwards gesture to cost LA taxpayers

The Louisiana Legislature should refuse to waste more taxpayer dollars triggered by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ attempt to put lipstick on a pig of a court decision.

Earlier this week, Louisiana Middle District Judge Shelley Dick unilaterally tossed out Act 5 of the 2022 First Extraordinary Session, declaring by fiat the congressional districts drawn in it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and demanding as a remedy redrawing of these by Jun. 20. She used a novel interpretation to justify this, heretofore only seen in a similar case alleging that a state, in that instance Alabama, could have drawn an additional majority-minority district without using race as the dominant criterion.

Wherein lies the problem, because in that other case the U.S. Supreme Court slammed the brakes on that proposed solution, putting that on hold until after 2022 elections when it likely will decide on just how much prominence race should have in drawing such maps. The doctrine it used maintains that changes in electoral boundaries too close to elections degrade elections by sowing voter confusion and imposing significant administrative burdens.

7.6.22

Whiny Edwards won't condemn mean-spirited Biden

If you can’t win, at least go out a sore loser. Better, spitefully do so to the detriment of poor families, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards demonstrated at the close of the 2022 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature.

Edwards was peeved that the Republican leadership of the chambers outmaneuvered him in sending through SB 44 by GOP state Sen. Beth Mizell. Almost identical to a measure he vetoed last year, this would prohibit biological males at the scholastic and collegiate level from competing in sports designed for females only. Speaking to the media at the session’s conclusion, he said he would do nothing with it so it would become law, after previously having tried to save face by hinting removing an almost-meaningless application to intramural sports made all the difference in the world in him not casting a veto.

Make no mistake, he didn’t try because he knew he would lose. The damage to the psyches and earnings potential of females became only more apparent over the past year by not having such a protection in law, and the decision by the chambers’ leadership to take his line-item veto power off the table put him in a position where any veto he cast would have been overridden.

6.6.22

GOP strategy neutering Edwards' veto influence

What a difference a little gumption makes, which already has paid off for the Louisiana Legislature this year and may magnify considerably over the next couple of months to the state’s advantage.

Almost unnoticed last week, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards signed off on HB 1, the operating budget, and HB 2, the capital outlay budget, for next fiscal year. He cast for HB 1 five line-item vetoes that made essentially cosmetic changes, and remarkably no vetoes at all for HB 2.

This stands in great contrast with recent years during his two terms, although more so with capital outlay. The five is not that unusual of a number, as the average is only about four and in both 2016 and 2019 (right after and before and election) there weren’t any. The five from the 2022 session essentially removed a duplicative capital outlay request and took money from the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism to give to the three university systems with senior institutions to full fund pay raises without their having to dip into their own resources.

5.6.22

Coming eclipse lost on white LA populist left

There’s a certain irony attached to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ testifying in front of a special legislative panel investigating the death of black motorist Ronald Greene then rushing to New Orleans to host a fundraising event for white long shot Senate candidate Democrat Luke Mixon, whom he just endorsed.

Mixon, of course, has no chance to defeat Republican incumbent Sen. John Kennedy, who in this cycle has raised $16 million, spent nearly half, and had almost $14 million in the campaign kitty as of the end of the first quarter. By contrast, Mixon gathered less than a half million dollars, spent half of it and sits on the other half.

Whether Mixon can win isn’t the central question posed by this election. Rather, it’s whether it will mark the passage of a century-long era in Louisiana politics where white populist elites controlled the fortunes of state Democrats, as formidable black Democrat candidate Gary Chambers, unconnected to the clique now fronted by Edwards, is in the race and by all indications will overwhelm Mixon.

2.6.22

Legislature must thwart recalcitrant local govts

Perhaps it’s because the eventuality actually hasn’t manifested, but when it likely does Louisiana in the near future then must act to put into place laws to prevent local government defiance of its prohibitions against abortion except when the mother’s life is endangered.

With the state poised to join others in making this its law if, as expected, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that regulation of the practice properly belongs in the hands of the states, dissident local governments in those states have begun to plot strategies to circumvent that and encourage abortion wherever possible, even if illegal. For example, a small Philadelphia suburb voted to prevent its police force from arresting anyone breaking a law against performing an abortion, if the state were to have one; it doesn’t, like Louisiana, have any law set to come into force doing this. In a related fashion and in a state with such laws already on the books, Austin would force police to put investigation of a suspected abortion last in priority and prevent the city funds from use to investigate, catalog, or report suspected abortions.

Having a relatively large Catholic population, Louisiana is perhaps the most pro-life state in the country. Still, conceivably some large cities with leftists in the control of the mechanisms of government could try to defy state laws on the matter preparing to come into force, so state policy must cut this off. After all, evil doesn’t stop being evil merely because it occurs in a different physical location.

1.6.22

Panel must fish or cut bait on Edwards' role

Does the “request” by the special Louisiana House of Representatives Committee to have Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards appear to testify about his actions relating to the aftermath of the May, 2019 death of black motorist Ronald Greene signal real business or face-saving?

Wednesday, Republican Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee, the chairman of the Special Committee to Inquire Into the Circumstances and Investigation of the Death of Ronald Greene, announced that the panel would hear from Edwards on Jun. 16. Ostensibly, the reason given was to probe more into when Edwards viewed Louisiana State Police body camera recordings that showed the complete incident and what he did with that information; Greene died subsequent to forceful mistreatment by troopers after a high-speed chase followed by a low-speed crash.

The Associated Press reported that Edwards viewed the most complete recording, which included Greene’s expiry in Oct., 2020 after audio leaks of the incident to the media. However, he and his staff didn’t immediately forward that information to federal prosecutors who had taken over the investigation a year earlier, who didn’t find out about this information until months later. The LSP apparently released this kind of evidence in bits and pieces as a struggle internal to the agency occurred with some elements attempting to suppress knowledge of damaging evidence. Edwards never intervened to assure a comprehensive internal investigation and, despite close staff monitoring of the federal government investigation, seemed to make no effort to ensure as evidence was uncovered that it would come into the hands of the federal reviewers.

31.5.22

Predictable Richmond exit prompts second-guesses

Maybe Cedric Richmond is having second thoughts about giving up his safe Congressional seat and potentially becoming some years down the road as powerful as his ally Democrat Rep. James Clyburn.

A year-and-a-half ago, fresh off of reelection Richmond foreswore his Louisiana Second Congressional District post in favor of heading up the Office of Public Engagement for the incoming Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration. That new gig made him one of the highest-ranking black officials in the White House, a reward for his efforts to elect Biden not just in the general election where he served as a campaign chairman but also in Biden’s triumphing over more than a dozen other competitors for the party’s nomination, including other non-white candidates and those favored by many other black democrats in Congress.

Yet as of the end of May, Richmond had left the building into a nebulous role with the Democratic National Committee aiding party candidates. When his departure was announced last month, all involved went to some lengths to describe the parting as unprovoked and a promotion.

30.5.22

Memorial Day, 2022

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

With Monday, May 30 being Memorial Day, I invite you to explore this link.

29.5.22

Noose tightens around Edwards over Greene death

The noose continues to tighten around Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ governorship, over his conduct concerning the death of black motorist Ronald Greene.

Greene died in the early morning hours of May 10, 2019, after a low-speed crash following a high-speed chase by the Louisiana State Police. After several minutes of brutalized treatment at the hands of a few LSP troopers, Greene, who didn’t resist, died on the way to medical treatment.

Only that a motorist died in custody was communicated to Edwards just hours later, although hours after that LSP released a now-deleted statement naming Greene and a vague description of the incident, as reported by Monroe media. That media days later also began reporting on earwitness statements that contradicted that Greene died in the crash and indicated he begged for his life during his beating.

26.5.22

Schroder should extend defense against wokeism

Republican Treas. John Schroder – also a 2023 gubernatorial candidate – should extend his efforts to remove wokeism from the financial services industry, emulating some of his compatriots in this quest, and enticing the Louisiana Legislature to join in.

Already, with many other chief financial officers, Schroder has guided state investment policy to avoid as best possible placing idle state dollars in the hands of entities that practice viewpoint discrimination in their investment and lending choices. The Legislature also looks set to pass laws to do the same for contracting, although it will have to get by the ideology of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to enact this into law.

Recently, another matter along these lines has popped up and drew Schroder’s attention. S&P Global, one of the three major credit rating firms, has begun to rate government debt on the basis of ESG factors – environmental, social, and governance. Despite the fact that investing on the basis of things such as degree of “green” or “woke” brings no extra return to shareholders and the reality of the speciousness of this due to high subjectivity of ratings on that basis, under pressure from leftist politicians and cultural elites a growing number of corporations and governments are incorporating ESG considerations into their policy preferences.

25.5.22

Perkins bellyflops with pool management fiasco

Just when it seemed things had quieted down somewhat for Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins in a reelection year, he had to start self-inflicting wounds again.

Perkins endured a rocky first couple of years in office after coming from complete obscurity to win. He defeated the incumbent precisely because with no background in politics and almost none in civilian adult life he could appear as a blank slate onto which he invited voters to write their hopes and aspirations.

Then he began to compile a record fraught with questionable decisions, both ethically and in policy output. That appeared to ease up after an electorally-disastrous bid for the U.S. Senate, but after about a year-and-a-half this spring he began to create himself problems again, starting with hiring a chief financial officer with a thin and controversial background that prompted an equally, if not more-qualified applicant to complain to the state about discrimination in hiring and prompted a Louisiana Legislative Auditor review.

24.5.22

Edwards reveals fig leaf to avoid casting veto

Looks like Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards is preparing to beat a full retreat, then declare victory of sorts.

SB 44 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell is set to force him into this mode. The bill, now headed to his desk, mirrors laws enacted in over a dozen states, prohibiting biological males from competing in scholastic and collegiate sports designated for females only. It differs little from a version last year that Edwards vetoed which the Senate, but not the House in a vote essentially echoing party divisions, voted to override.

MacAoidh laid out some pretty good reasons why that won’t happen again in the House, where last year representatives who voted for the bill then turned against it on the override consideration will not replicate that behavior this year if Edwards dares cast a veto, by and large. Add to this that earlier this year Edwards already suffered humiliation with an overturned veto that put the state’s congressional districts in place for the next decade, and it looks less and less likely he will bleed more power as a symbolic sacrifice to his party’s and ideology’s imperative of normalizing transgenderism for all everywhere.

23.5.22

GOP leadership must commit to greater success

If it can do some things right, why can’t the Republican leadership in the Louisiana Legislature get more done?

At least Republican Speaker Clay Schexnayder and GOP Pres. Page Cortez got it together on a few things, as opposed to last year. Then, they had an opportunity to muscle through the operating budget and many bills disliked by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards well prior to the end of the regular session, but didn’t. It led to a veto session where they brought up some of those bills, but none could gather enough votes to override, and line item vetoes went unchallenged.

This year, at least they got some of it right. Last week saw the budget passed, well in time to bring up any line item vetoes for an override, as opposed to last year when they left no time to attempt any. By doing so, they disempower Edwards from using this threat to sway votes on other pieces of legislation, by ensuring targeted members their items are safe.

22.5.22

Shreveport Republicans must choose vote strategy

The Shreveport mayor’s election this fall edged closer to – or maybe farther from – a Friday Ellis strategy last week when former candidate Republican Caddo Parish Commissioner Jim Taliaferro announced he would drop his bid for the office, in favor of another.

The strategy comes from the 2020 Monroe mayor’s contest, when no party Friday Ellis, backed by Republicans, took down long-time incumbent Democrat Jamie Mayo in a city with five-eighths black voter registration. Mayo had built up two decades of questionable decision-making which accelerated in his final term, but with Ellis not running as a Republican this removed a distraction from some voters who wouldn’t consider a Republican merely because of the label and who wanted Mayo out.

Somewhat of a similar situation presents itself with Shreveport’s Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins. While only in his first term, Perkins has made a number of questionable calls that has brought about charges of favoritism and power politics at the expense of taxpayers. This has opened the possibility that a substantial number of voters will gravitate to a quality anybody-but-Perkins alternative.

19.5.22

LA GOP leadership not pursuing popular bills

Louisiana’s legislative Republicans can deal a huge blow to the woke left. Why aren’t they?

A number of bills remain in various stages of viability in this year’s legislative session that could do the job. SB 44 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell that would prohibit biological males from competing in single-sex scholastic and collegiate sports for females has moved along best, which looks to expected Senate concurrence and a trip to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Last year, Edwards vetoed something very similar that the Senate voted to overturn, but with all but one Democrat in the House of Representatives sticking with Edwards, an override fell just short.

Which meant Edwards and legislative Democrats thwarted the will of two-thirds of the population, according to polling. It’s a winning issue for Republicans, and they should dare Edwards to try again.

18.5.22

Toothless bill privileges electric vehicles

Given a chance to pass legislation bringing more sense to electric vehicle policy, the Louisiana Legislature is whiffing big time.

Recent federal government policy has diverted billions of dollars towards putting these vehicles on the road, both with tax write-offs and direct spending on infrastructure to support their use such as throwing money at states to build charging stations. But it has left states high and dry when it comes to EV roads use, because both states and it charge a per gallon retail gasoline excise tax for roads building and maintenance, but EVs avoid contributing to that even as these use the same byways.

So, states have started turning to special per vehicle excise taxes for both EVs and hybrid vehicles. The majority, 30, now have these for EVs, while 14 also include lesser fees on hybrids. Louisiana neighbors Arkansas, $200 annually for EVs and $100 for hybrids, and Mississippi, $150 annually for EVs and $100 for hybrids and indexed for inflation starting last year, are among those with both.

17.5.22

GOP LA Senate augments graveyard reputation

The problem in the Louisiana Senate goes farther than leadership inability to implement an agenda, even a popular and sensible one.

Last week, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee essentially torpedoed a resolution that would have removed Louisiana from outlier status in forcing Wuhan coronavirus vaccinations on school attendees, which no other state will do next year, unless parents affirmatively declare opposition on behalf of their children. It failed because Republican Senate Pres. Page Cortez, despite a better than two to one GOP advantage in the chamber, in making his appointments to it left the committee with just a margin of one more Republican vote, and GOP Sen. Rogers Pope – who didn’t take a leave of absence that day – couldn’t be bothered to show up for the debate.

But this week, numbers and solidarity in opposition among Democrats weren’t to blame when the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee showed the door to HB 438 by Republican state Rep. Tony Bacala. The bill would have started in fiscal year 2024 dropping the 0.45 percent sales tax hike extended from 2018 by a third, then half, in anticipation of its demise by FY 2026.

16.5.22

Edwards blows tax bucks on looking ignorant

It seems that to show the world what a climate alarmist/ignoramus its governor is Louisianans spent $42,000 in taxpayer funds.

A review of public records reveals that the trip that Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards took last fall to the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Glasgow cost nearly $19,000 for his personal entourage over a nearly two week span, with over $23,000 used to divert Louisiana State Police forces to provide protection.

It turns out he spent the most high-profile part of this time sounding like an idiot. After the panel on which he participated sponsored by the climate alarmist and very leftist Environmental Defense Fund he had the group interview him. In it, he cited climate alarmism canards, such as rising seas and more frequent and severe weather events, that he attributed to climate change and this came about to a significant degree because of man’s activities.

15.5.22

Buses to south BC on cloak and dagger agenda

The strange saga of Shreveport’s SporTran bus service extension into south Bossier City continues with an apparent effort to endorse it and a mysteriously on-and-off again agenda.

On May 12, at 2:38 PM the City Council clerk’s office sent notice the agenda for its May 17 meeting was disseminated. Three minutes later, it sent another message about posting a modified agenda. An item that appeared on the second version, visible at least into May 13, would have granted Council approval to adding the route.

But into the afternoon of May 15, the site for agendas had no listing of the meeting and its modified agenda (originally here), with no explanation for its removal. Legally, an agenda must be posted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, giving the city until 3 PM May 16 to post one or to postpone the meeting.

13.5.22

House again rejects bad bill, passes anti-woke one

Two years in a row now the Louisiana Legislature has made the right call on a pair of controversial bills. Now if only it can force Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to back members on one or otherwise push his negativity aside.

This week, as it did last year, the House of Representatives turned back HB 649 by Republican state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty. This would have forbidden a school district from allowing corporal punishment in its schools. This was the second attempt to get the bill over to the Senate, failing both times barely to obtain the absolute majority of the seated House necessary, meaning without suspension of the rules the measure is dead for the session.

That action replicates the bill’s fate from last year, and for good reason. Research demonstrates that as part of a continuum of disciplinary actions, when it occurs sparingly as a last resort, spanking in combination with other methods creates the optimal regimen for discipline. Further, statute makes use of this discretionary by a district, and only when parents approve in the cases of their children.

12.5.22

Errors cost chance to delete burdensome rule

Louisiana remains stuck on stupid concerning required vaccinations of school attendees because Republicans can’t get it together in the state Senate.

This week, the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee rejected HCR 3 by Republican state Rep. Larry Bagley. The bill would have overturned the decision last year by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Department of Health, ratified by Edwards himself, to add Wuhan coronavirus vaccination to its schedule for both elementary and secondary education and higher education.

Much data has accumulated demonstrating the relatively high risk attached to vaccination of children compared to the benefits. As vaccination doesn’t stop the spread of the virus, there’s no reason to impose such a requirement, as to do so interferes with the autonomy of the family to make health care decisions for its children while being forced into certain conduct, school attendance, by the state. Next school year, Louisiana will be the only state in the country requiring this vaccination.

10.5.22

More bonus bucks, less need for LA to spend

That Louisiana has discovered some extra money likely will comes its way doesn’t change the dynamics of why its Legislature shouldn’t start spending like a drunken sailor.

This week, the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference forecast that tax coffers would be a little fuller than previously believed early in the year. It accepted that this year would see an extra $350 million into the general fund and next year another $104 million would come the fund’s way.

Unless the Legislature can find ways to spend the former in the next 50 days, it will have to go to nonrecurring purposes. There’s plenty of use for that, starting with the billions in infrastructure needs, or defeasance of unfunded accrued liabilities due for payoff by 2029, or going a long way towards the state paying off the final installment to the federal government for flood protection due over a year from now. Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards would like to see it used to entice federal funding for Interstate 10 bridge construction over the Mississippi River connecting Baton Rouge, an idea already rebuffed by the Legislature but to which it could become more receptive with the realization of this largesse.

9.5.22

LA must prevent woke abortion subsidization

If Louisianans don’t want their dollars any time soon going to encourage abortion or mutilation of children, they better hope lawmakers figure something out soon.

With correcting of the jurisprudential wrong done by the wholly invented, hardly-baked Roe. v. Wade Supreme Court decision through its reversal seeming extremely likely, some corporations have broadcast their wokeness by announcing they will fund expenses related to procuring an abortion. The Court’s action would bring abortion policy back to a firm constitutional grounding that empowers states to regulate the practice, so some states will ban it while others will let it occur unfettered, and these firms have said they’ll foot the entire bill for their female employees using their company health care plan in those states restricting abortion to travel to another to snuff life from their unborn infants.

Louisiana has a number of provisions that would restrict, even outlaw, abortions except under the most unusual circumstances. Salutary as that may be, the state’s citizens should want to go further to penalize, if not deter, firms that practice the cognitive dissonance of proclaiming abortion is a kind of health care without recognizing it ends up as death dealing for the most vulnerable members of society.

8.5.22

Poor choices put BC over contracting barrel

Years of bad decisions have put Bossier City taxpayers into a trap, and the same dynamic looks set to cost them even more courtesy of elected officials unwilling to treat the people’s money with the respect it deserves.

At last week’s City Council meeting, Republican mayor Tommy Chandler placed on the agenda an item to boost the city’s contracted payment to Manchac Consulting from $12,500 to $20,000. The firm oversees public works, but as part of that also has had its employee Ben Rauschenbach serve as interim city engineer over a series of short-term appointments for nearly two years.

During the meeting, Rauschenbach defended the company’s request, aided by Chandler. He said he was consumed by the job with so many infrastructure projects in the books, about $150 million worth. The extra money, which works out to $90,000 a year, would be less than the city could expect to hire a dedicated outside city engineer, so in essence with the boost the city could get both him and a city engineer (he was thinking of his assistant). Chandler supported him on this, saying he had tried several times to hire a city engineer, but candidates always backed out.

5.5.22

Schizoid legislators' votes aid, betray kids

How could a few Louisiana legislators find themselves able to do the right thing on one bill for children, then betray kids on another?

This week, the House Education Committee dealt with SB 44 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell and HB 837 by GOP state Rep. Dodie Horton. The former would allow scholastic and collegiate athletes to participate in single-sex sports only that align to their biological sex (except that females could voluntarily participate in male-designated sports), while the latter would prohibit discussions during classroom sessions about sexual orientation or gender identity up through eighth grade.

SB 44, a replicant of a bill that both chambers passed last year but which suffered a veto at the hands of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and survived an override attempt, sailed through the panel with only Democrat scold state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman voting against, although her partisan colleague state Rep. Tammy Phelps ducked the vote and state Rep. Ken Brass missed the meeting, leaving only state Rep. Patrick Jefferson also there, who voted for it. The compelling case for it was buttressed further by testimony from a former Shreveport soccer player, Anne Metz.

4.5.22

Edwards heads to last chance on Greene matter

Metaphorically, through some gamesmanship, former Louisiana State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeves asked Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to join him at the Last Chance Saloon to salvage Edwards’ reputation, if not his job.

Both face scrutiny in the coverup at the LSP over the death of black motorist Ronald Greene. He lost his life in May, 2019 after leading LSP troopers on a high speed chase that resulted in a low speed crash. Outside his vehicle, troopers restrained him roughly and beat him for minutes, recordings show, and he died on the way to medical care.

How involved were Edwards and Reeves in the coverup has become the focus of a special legislative panel. Reeves has been coy, although insistent that he didn’t participate in a coverup, in describing his knowledge of the incident and what followed up to his sudden resignation 16 months later, after evidence of LSP behavior was presented to the Edwards Administration. For his part, Edwards has insisted he didn’t even know questions surrounded the event and its aftermath until that time.

3.5.22

LA on brink of proper safeguarding of life

An unprecedented leak from the U.S. Supreme Court as an apparent leftist pressure tactic portends Louisiana coming close to outlawing abortion, and it may come closer yet.

This week, a majority opinion apparently authored by Assoc. Justice Samuel Alito became public. Dated nearly three months ago, it addresses a case over a Mississippi law extremely similar to one on Louisiana’s books that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks gestation except in emergency situations. Neither operate but are designed to if the U.S. Constitution is amended to give states the right to restrict abortion past Roe v. Wade standards or the Court alters or abandons that case.

The opinion, if issued which likely would be at the end of June, would chuck Roe. The wording attributed to Alito comprehensively exposes Roe’s and its successors’ constitutional infirmities, and appears to have support of at least four other court members, those appointed by Republican presidents minus Chief Justice John Roberts.

2.5.22

Poll shows LA Democrats veering far left

Studying the world of politics the thing you find accidentally occasionally turns out more important than what you intended to study, the results of a survey in Louisiana remind us.

Each spring, Louisiana State University’s Public Policy Research Lab conducts the Louisiana Survey, which polls residents on a number of issues of the day in state and national politics. It released the results from this year’s edition in stages, with the final segment addressing views concerning capital punishment and abortion.

It found that for the former a seven-point dip had occurred in approval, down to a bare majority of 51 percent from the last time it asked the question in 2018, although opposition to it didn’t quite increase as much, by four points to 38 percent. More eye-catching, it discovered support for unrestricted or lightly-restricted abortion swung 12 points towards it, from 40 to 46 percent, leaving 49 percent to say they favored many restrictions or a total ban on it.

1.5.22

Latest shots must wake up NO to abandon woke

The wages of “progressive” criminal justice policy continue to mount in Louisiana, with New Orleans still the poster child for the growing legacy of failure yet tolerated by a citizenry that perhaps finally will start to care.

Anyone paying attention in the Crescent City will know matters have gotten worse since Democrat District Attorney Jason Williams assumed office at the start of 2021. Since taking over, numbers of releases without filing charges has increased dramatically, even among those accused of violent crimes. He also has accelerated making pretrial release decisions more lenient.

Compared to 2021, year to date – and 2021 was perhaps the worst year in the city’s recent history for violent crime in the aggregate – show a 13 percent increase in total incidents and a 41 percent surge in murders. But even as things have spiraled out of control over the years – last year differed only in the severity of its spike upwards over rolling multi-year trends going back a couple of decades – many Orleanians could shut their eyes and cover their ears and chant that things like homicides, shooting, and other violent crimes didn’t happen around them, so it wasn’t all that bad.

28.4.22

Good ESA bills expose LA's big govt hypocrites

If trying to make seismic policy changes, you can’t do it all at once, but where you can start in one instance has brought a bonus of exposing the hypocrisy of the opposition.

Over the past two weeks, the Louisiana House of Representatives has made notable progress in expanding educational choice for deserving families. Last week, it passed on to the Senate HB 33 by Republican state Rep. Phillip Devillier, which establishes education savings accounts (ESA) for children of military families, those in foster care, and students attending D- or F-rated schools that have been denied a transfer to higher-rated schools. ESAs would take an amount equal to the state's average per-pupil allocation as provided in the Minimum Foundation Program formula, considering all student characteristics, and set them aside for family use in education at a qualifying nonpublic school.

Presenting this opportunity to these families seems appropriate. Children with a parent actively serve in the military and in foster families often have to switch schools frequently and can benefit from the extra flexibility the ESA provides. Children who otherwise may qualify for transfer out of poorer-performing schools but who can’t find space at another public school also would have increased options for a better education.

27.4.22

Strain's climate alarmism raises questions

Unless he wises up, if Republican Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain keeps talking about climate change as he did earlier this week, he’s begging to forfeit reelection.

Earlier this week in remarks to the media, Strain addressed this subject. Bidding to make the most obvious statement in the world, he noted, “Climate change is real,” and for the most part it went downhill from there.

Perhaps nobody in the world believes the climate will be static until doomsday, so he really went out on a limb there. Where the debate commences is the role of human activity in that. There’s a lot of bad science on the topic, and where there’s quality its conclusions typically are warped by the media and special interests to serve a political agenda. Best we know is there is a lot we don’t know, but that human activity may or may not significantly affect climate, and even if so, other natural factors that we don’t have the technology to affect almost certainly are far more important drivers of it.

26.4.22

LA must restart trimming burdensome licensing

It’s a great first step, but as longtime observers of Louisiana oversaturated occupational licensing regime have advocated, more needs doing to cut the red tape and bureaucracy plaguing entrepreneurs posed by the state’s tradition of overly aggressive and needless requirements on professions.

Monday, a Louisiana House panel passed to the floor two bills that will ease this regulatory burden at least slightly. HB 639 by Republican state Rep. Thomas Pressly would allow previously incarcerated individuals the chance to petition licensing boards before attending school or training to determine if a past conviction disqualifies them from obtaining a license. HB 597, now HB 1062 by substitute, by Democrat state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman would allow individuals to request a review of a regulation from an occupational licensing board to ensure the regulation is the least restrictive method of regulating the occupation.

Both bills try to cut down on the unnecessary hoops to work a trade in the state. HB 639 would prevent situations where somebody spends time and money to train for something and then doesn’t get surprised by a licensing regulation to pursue that trade that excludes ex-convicts. Even more helpfully, it sets up a challenge process that would force licensing boards to justify why a conviction matters and what went into making that determination. Publicizing this could lead to dismantling such requirements where they don’t appear necessary.

25.4.22

Genuine criminal justice reform merits enactment

Now more than ever, changes fronted by Republican state Sen. Jay Morris need to correct mistakes made in the name of criminal justice reform as well as tackle a newer phenomenon threatening public safety.

Five years ago began changes Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards spurred the Legislature to agree upon in the criminal justice system such as reducing sentences, different sentencing, and increased eligibility for release on a periodic (for work release) or permanent basis in the name of cost savings. With fewer people imprisoned and some of the money otherwise spent on that diverted to other programs that supposedly would reduce recidivism, this reputedly “smarter” approach to crime was sold as a way to lower imprisonment numbers, crime rates, and save money all at once.

Half a decade later, evidence on the cost side at least casts doubt on that proposition. The emptying of jails, where in the past local jailers housed roughly half of the state inmate population, hit some sheriffs’ bottom lines hard so they couldn’t cover costs for the larger and newer jails they had built to help incarcerate state prisoners at the previous higher levels, so legislators bumped up the daily rate paid $2 to $26.39 per prisoner. This wiped out the “savings” going back into state coffers.

24.4.22

Dubious bills push LA towards more toking up

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards might be all right with letting biological males prance around female locker rooms, and the former U.S. Army officer may frown upon allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms without government permission, but despite this he’s the Louisiana politician willing to stand up to Big Ganja?

Louisiana legislators seem determined to rush headlong into all but legalizing marijuana use by making medical herb so widespread and easily available in even the most detrimental and least understood forms. A House of Representatives panel last week advanced several measures that cumulatively accomplish this, despite the fact that medical research consistently has demonstrated few effective medical uses for grass, with the most recent research only compounding that trend as well as noting more definitively undesirable spillover effects, including that medical marijuana use may increase risky use of opioids. Indeed, even the nebulous claim that its use reduces pain has come under serious question.

Yet the state has flung itself into permitting its use in any form for any malady, the charge led by legislators who appear ignorant of the science and would rather rely on selective anecdotal evidence to guide their actions on this issue. Their big move this term has focused on creating more pushers, through a myriad of bills that would create more dispensaries, allow more “recommenders,” deal to out-of-state residents looking to take a hit, and even would demand curb service delivery to users.