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Lawmakers must close local govt records loophole

What is characterized as a slip-up at a recent Bossier Parish Police Jury meeting illustrates a yawning gap in Louisiana’s public records laws that the Legislature needs to fix next year.

If you weren’t in the Jury’s chambers of the Bossier Parish courthouse for its meeting this week, you’re out of luck in knowing any details about some vital issues. At it, the fiscal year 2023 budget was dealt with, as well fee changes and restructuring its utility arm the Consolidated Waterworks/Sewerage District No. 1, and also the outcome from the Jury placing a new member on the parish’s Library Board of Control, which over the past couple of years has seen citizen members depopulated in favor of jurors.

Perhaps the most important meeting of the year citizens only can find out about if they wait around about a month to have posted in print and online the official minutes, which contain ordinance texts and vote results, but no real detail about discussions. If they want any details, they will have to resort to copious and burdensome public records requests.


LA might produce another reapportionment case

Possibly, Louisiana could find itself at the forefront of two attempts to redefine electoral reapportionment over the coming year.

This year, the state faced a challenge to its reapportionment of congressional districts. Although the state’s black population comprises nearly a third of the total, the state drew only one of six districts with a black majority. Given the dispersion of black population statewide, trying to carve two majority-minority districts, with extremely slim majorities only possible, would rupture established reapportionment jurisprudence, particularly the ability of a jurisdiction to keep communities of interest together.

Nevertheless, deep-pocketed special interests sued the state, arguing an extremely race-conscious, results-determined view that, contrary to established jurisprudence, race must take precedence over all other traditional criteria or, more specifically, wherever an M/M district could be drawn to ensure the proportion of such districts was close to if not exceeded the racial minority population that a jurisdiction had to do that. A few other such cases in different states also were launched by largely the same special interests.


Bank, don't spend, LA's stagflation largesse

It’s another chance for Louisiana to show some fiscal sanity, an opportunity it often misses and only partially took advantage of last year.

Although the country is wracked by stagflation caused by massive government borrowing and spending by Washington Democrats, state and local governments benefit from direct payments and by pushing larger tax collections off that into their pockets as well. That has added up to a budget surplus for Louisiana for the past fiscal year concluded and promise of surplus for this one, the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference ruled last week. It predicts the final FY 2022 numbers will come in $727 million extra and forecasts an increase of about $900 million over the last estimate for FY 2023.

The former figure is spoken for constitutionally by a half-dozen nonrecurring potential uses, but the latter is wide open for exploitation into making new recurring commitments. Faced with a similar situation last year, lawmakers blew part of it on new but mostly unneeded new commitments such as educator pay raises. That occurred recklessly as the state not only faces some daunting long-term commitments but also a major, if perhaps temporary, revenue reduction starting in 2025 with the temporary 0.45 percent sales tax increase of 2018 rolling off the books that will send lower sales tax collections by an estimated almost $300 million.


Safe seat LA Democrats must go woke or broke

For Louisiana Democrats and safe seat elections, it truly has become go woke or go broke.

Going “woke,” or subscribing to far leftist conspiracy theories that many current government policies propagate systemic racism, oppress the poor, discriminate against people who want to be treated according to a sex identity category that differs from their actual biology, doom the planet to catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, etc. spells electoral disaster statewide and in most district elections. In statewide contests and a large majority of districts, a center-right electorate easily spots and defeats candidates who subscribe to and articulate these fantasies and instead almost always elect Republicans.

That has become increasingly true as state and local elections have become nationalized, a trend strengthened by closer association with party labels to candidate ideology and greater ease in the ability of national political agents to intervene in these contests. But in some districts, mostly majority-black and in all of which Democrats can win, nationalization has spurred on woke candidates.


Few gain, most lose from more BC tennis courts

The reasons why Bossier City wants to bill taxpayers $1.5 million for six tennis courts (plus parking) are Republican City Councilor David Montgomery wants a little more glory, Department of Parks and Recreation Director Clay Bohanan wants a little more control, and Bossier Tennis Center contractor Todd Killen wants a little more money.

This week, the City Council takes up the request, expanding the center by half. The Council conducted a workshop on the matter last week where it heard mostly from proponents from city government and from Killen, who three months ago had his operating contract renewed to the tune of $36,000 annually for three years.

Which, going by the last three years of statements submitted to councilors, doesn’t bring home much for him. Strictly by these numbers, in the 2019-21 period, all he made including the subsidy was $13,184.05 on $528,656.06 in revenues. In fact, he made have lost money over this interval because the 2020 statement uses curious math, registering prior to accounting fees income of just $1,782.84 and then an accounting charge of $17,000 (much higher than the other two years) but which on the statement instead of subtracting as a cost was shown as additional income. Back that out and he lost in reality $20,815.95.