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Court clears race redo likely favoring Whitehorn

In Louisiana politics this year, perhaps the only thing more inevitable than a Republican Jeff Landry gubernatorial victory was the Louisiana Supreme Court denying an appeal of lower courts’ decisions rerunning the Caddo Parish sheriff’s contest. By contrast, successfully picking a winner in the Mar. 23 faceoff is very much evitable, an exercise that will be determined more by forces outside of the contest than the campaigning and dynamics within the parish.

After the Nov. 18 runoff, Democrat former Shreveport police chief and chief administrative officer Henry Whitehorn led Republican former city councilor John Nickelson by a single vote. However, a district court found enough irregularities under law to order another election, and the Second Circuit agreed. This week, the Louisiana Supreme Court ratified that with its action.

Given the undisputable proof and wording of Louisiana law, as was the case with the appellate court. the only real question was whether the non-Republicans on the Court would try to bring the matter to a potential reversal. Once again, they tried. Democrat Assoc. Justice Piper Griffin voted to hear and in a dissent essentially repeated the same objections made by the dissenters at the appellate level: elections with illegal ballots have these sanitized into legal ones if the unrealistic laws in place to challenge these can’t be followed. No party Chief Justice John Weimer provided a further rationale in his for empowering tainted election results and dispensing with common sense by saying procedures to overturn certified election results should be onerous, if not unworkable, such was the sanctity of the process compared to the desirability of judicial intervention.

Arguments which Republican Assoc. Justice James Genovese easily slew in his concurring opinion:

In a two-candidate race, the mere fact that one candidate ends up with one or more votes than his opponent, without regard or consideration given to proven fraud and unqualified voters casting ballots, does not equate to a just and fair election under our law and jurisprudence. A just and fair election can only be had when one candidate wins by a majority vote of qualified electors ….

… this election was not a free and fair election. A one-vote margin of victory supported by clearly established eleven unqualified voters cannot be said to constitute a fair election.

What is fair and essential to the candidates and the electorate, and to preserve election integrity, is to have a new runoff election with a winner decided by qualified voters.

As clear-cut as the case for a new election was, who will win is anything but. The date is significant in that it will coincide with the state’s presidential preference primaries, which for both parties will come later rather than sooner in the national delegate-collection process.

This means the most likely outcome of that process would be both nominees – almost certainly Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and Republican former Pres. Donald Trump – mathematically will have been decided by then, leaving little on the ballot to generate enthusiasm for the mass public and lowering turnout for all partisans. The next most likely scenario is that Biden has things wrapped up, but that Trump still hasn’t sealed the deal although it may be only a matter of time. Less likely still is neither has unassailable leads, and the least of all that Trump has secured the nomination but Biden hasn’t.

Reviewing the general and runoff elections this fall, Nickelson did better the higher the turnout. Reviewing those turnout figures with past Louisiana presidential preference primary turnouts under the varying competitive environments, this means if the GOP’s nomination remains in doubt, he will have the edge; otherwise, Whitehorn likely does, all things equal.

Money initially seems to be. Nickelson plunked down $565,000 throughout but held only $16,000 at year’s end. Whitehorn spent only $140,000 and raised nothing after the general election, but has $50,000 banked. Nickelson likely can outraise Whitehorn, but the latter seems to be able to gather enough to offset the former’s advantage.

Yet Whitehorn has a better rallying cry to mobilize partisans, regardless of exogenous turnout factors or money. Look for his campaign to trot out some version of he was robbed of a win, coupled with the race card played in some diluted version that stands the best chance of mobilizing his largely black voting base. Note that as soon as the news of the Court’s declination came out, he began going very negatively against Nickelson and his supposedly favored treatment by the courts, and earlier he alleged, using a racial dog whistle, that prospective voters in the runoff supporting him needed to vote “Because Your Life May Depend Upon It.”

It may well work. Excepting that one scenario where the GOP presidential nomination remains somewhat competitive, the turnout cards are held by Whitehorn. Nickleson will have to come up with an excellent strategy to outplay those.


Reverse sentencing subversion to deter murder

Life in prison doesn’t mean life in prison in Louisiana, even for murder. Given the current state of capital punishment in America, this translates into more heinous criminal activity and is something incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry and Legislature need to fix.

Just before Christmas, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards commuted the sentences of 40 murderers. This requires four of five votes from the Board of Pardons prior to that choice and has the practical effect of allowing out of prison people sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, in essence making a mockery out of the original sentence specifically but more generally eroding the deterrent effect of that punishment for first and second degree murder on the incidence of commission of homicide.

In recent years with Edwards at the helm and with the chance to appoint or reappoint members to the Board, who serve four-year terms concurrent with the governor, it has tilted more and more towards granting commutations and for murderers. Excepting 2020 when the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic limited activity, Board approval of commutations and gubernatorial approvals have increased steadily. Most notably, reviewing the more than 50 years sentenced category of commutations which is murderers, he commuted only 17 in his first term and none in 2018 the year before his attempted reelection, whereupon his commutations in this category skyrocketed to 28, 12, 49, and at least 40 this year once he had achieved reelection and became term limited.


Edwards legacy may moot LA Congress map tussle

Maybe all the controversy over reapportioning Louisiana’s congressional districts will become moot by the end of the decade, the latest national apportionment data suggest – which also increases the urgency of the incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry to turn around the more than 100,000 population loss suffered under current Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Currently, the state is locked in a legal battle with special interests challenging the state’s last reapportionment. In a state where almost a third of the population identifies with at least some black ancestry, only one out of six Congressional districts has a majority-minority composition. Plaintiffs argue there should be two, and with some legal backing to their side the process continues that for now rests in the hands of the state but which could be decided by the federal judiciary.

But whatever comes from this, which likely won’t confirm the present map or rely on a new until 2026, it may then only apply for that and the next two elections. Because according to a group researching reapportionment, after 2030 Louisiana may be entitled only to five seats in the House of Representatives.


Set rates to curb BC property tax hike temptation

Not only will the start of 2024 greet Bossier City with a decision whether and how to extend the city’s public-private partnership with Manchac Consulting, but also a chance to signal to a beleaguered citizenry that holds taxing decision-making power that its days of splurging on questionable spending priorities are over and the consequences mitigated.

Until recently for two decades, an out-of-control City Council majority, aided by past mayors, spent several hundred million dollars, with a couple hundred million of that – on a money-losing arena, a parking garage for a landlord that went into receivership, on a high-tech office building that never lived up to inflated promises, on a road to nowhere, and for other less grandiose schemes – going to what charitably might be called questionable priorities, but perhaps more realistically can be described as wasted and unneeded. Debt owed at the end of 2022 was almost $435 million and has left residents with the highest per capita debt of any city in Louisiana at just under $7,000 each.

Operating monies as well show a pattern of dubious use. Besides the Manchac contract, the city subsidizes tennis playing and out-of-towner use of parks at residents’ expense. And a new hybrid, potentially giving away to the Port of Caddo-Bossier a water distribution facility unless an unlikely chain of events occurs to compensate fully the city, is an unforced error looming over the city for decades to come. Meanwhile, many city employees can’t receive pay raises in an era of higher inflation, or retired firefighters get stiffed on the city contributing to their health insurance premiums due to overbearing debt and poor current spending choices.


Christmas, 2023

This column publishes every Monday through Friday 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 Easter, 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 Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Monday, Dec. 25 being Christmas Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Con man Edwards saves biggest lie for last

With Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards having produced a track record of mendacity so obvious that his schtick has become knee-slapping to the guffawing informed public in Louisiana, he saved his best for last at his end-of-year news conference/end-of-office funerary, its ridiculousness punctuated by the most recent census data release.

This obloquy represented another segment of his ongoing propaganda campaign to convince any of the gullible within earshot that his two terms weren’t an undisputed failure. At it, he topped what had been his previous most egregious of many fibs – when he told a radio audience he doubted black motorist Ronald Greene had died at the hands of Louisiana State Police without resisting arrest all the while having to know that was the case within hours of the incident over two years before – when this week he blithely and with all seriousness declared, “I can tell you that by any metric you can come up with and objectively speaking, we are much better off today than the day I first took office.”

Let’s count the many ways in which this assertion strays so far from truthfulness:


Landry interested in exciting Medicaid reform

Incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, for now, is showing he’s seeking a home run when it comes to smaller, more efficient yet as effective government when, as part of his introduction of new (and solid) appointees to his administration, he noted willingness to establish co-payments and work requirements for Medicaid recipients in Louisiana.

Medicaid blows away any other single spending item in the state’s budget. The latest projections have it spending $3.75 billion this year in state taxpayer dollars, which in terms of those dollars only elementary and secondary education rivals, but throwing in $13.5 billion in federal dollars means about three-eighths of total state spending goes out the door for this program.

Both cost sharing by and community engagement requirements of some program recipients not only could return a little offsetting revenue but also could results in wiser utilization that reduces costs, as clients behave more responsibly in their consumption of health care on the dole. Research profusely demonstrates over a variety of welfare programs that asking for exchanges of resources with clients, whether that be cash, labor, or action or desire to participate in the paid or unpaid workforce reduces dependency on welfare without a decline in well-being of the clients.


BC extending transparency, Jury still obscurant

While Bossier City continues to make progress with its transparency, Bossier Parish’s easily-fixed struggles continue.

In its meeting this week, the City Council approved a measure that ultimately could make ordinances and other legal items readily available. This will enable digitization of decades-old material, as part of a preservation effort, that potentially could make it all available online.

At present, for these records Bossier City’s online access is hit and miss. On its Municode website that presents the charter and ordinance, the listing for ordinances by year and number is maddeningly incomplete. For example, all passed in 2016 are archived, but there are none for 2015, and even the most recent 2022 only has seven out of 127. Hopefully, this will lead to an online searchable database that lists every passed ordinance and resolution text going several decades into the past.


LA universities need better free speech policies

Louisiana State University System President William Tate IV, on the eve of a change in gubernatorial administrations to one which he doesn’t see eye-to-eye, is saying the right things. Still, he needs to put his money where his mouth is on others.

With the cocoon in which higher education exists catching out some prominent university leaders recently over their schools’ reactions to anti-Semitic activities, Tate has avoided any such problems with a very sensible attitude that should be made official policy at all Louisiana public institutions: the Kalven Principle of university neutrality regarding public issues. Recently, he spoke to his faculty members at the Louisiana State University campus about how he’ll not comment on political controversies but then try to defend faculty and student commentary.

It shows he’s come a long way from almost three decades ago when his academic publications complained about how math education, an allegedly white-created/"Eurocentric" pedagogical environment, stultified and misjudged black children’s learning, as well as missed opportunities to become an agent of social change. With a woke worldview dimly looked upon by incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, in his over two years leading the system Tate hasn’t publicly articulated an opinion for any agenda related to his past published views or any others, including his silence over a measure that failed this year in the Legislature for a report about “diversity, equity, and inclusion” efforts in state higher education criticized by two other system heads.


Another week, another chance to derail LA case

The rollercoaster ride that is the suit against Louisiana for its congressional apportionment continues, although the real drama for this week came courtesy of parties completely unconnected to the case.

Last week, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the state’s request – backed by a dozen others who signed on to argue in its favor – to have the entire circuit hear whether the case should be reconsidered in light of its northern neighbor the Eight Circuit’s ruling on a similar case. In that other case, a panel of the Eight Circuit held that plaintiffs, backed by private special interest groups, had no right to intervene in a reapportionment case by taking literally the wording of statute to rule that only the U.S. government could bring such cases against states and local governments.

A Fifth Circuit panel had said the issue didn’t warrant throwing the case out, and after the state had asked for an en banc hearing the federal government had joined the plaintiffs, for the moment seemingly making the matter moot. In the meantime, the district court which officially has the case in its hands ruled that the Louisiana Legislature had until Jan. 30 to make another attempt to draw a map conforming to reapportionment jurisdiction as it stands at the moment, and if it didn’t act then the court would draw the map, but if it did and the plaintiffs protested, a trial over it starting Mar. 24 that could lead to the imposition of a new map if the revised one was found wanting could be done by the court shortly thereafter.


Shreveport Democrats rule for Arceneaux failure

Republican Mayor Tom Arceneaux may helm Shreveport, but its gerrymandered Democrat supermajority City Council keeps spending more money than the city has that puts off a more severe day of reckoning which perhaps cloaks a cynical exercise.

This week, the Council approved the 2024 budget, making several changes to Arceneaux’s plan that had the effect of spending more or putting off debts. In all, for its general operations the city will shell out $283 million, down $11 million budgeted for this year, but overall spending is pegged at $676 million, up $81 million, largely as a result of increased revenue projections for water and sewerage and righting retained risk costs, which in the past couple of years ate into general fund reserves.

But Arceneaux’s plans to begin replenishing general fund reserves, which dove by two-thirds over that period to around $25 million, the Council thwarted by amending away a 20 percent increase in water and sewerage rates, a $3 monthly solid waste charge, and retaining open positions in public safety, with police particularly understaffed, altogether which could have recaptured $25 million. The Council unanimously wanted to keep open proactively the ability to hire into public safety departments, and in the cases of the higher charges felt the public not sufficiently prepared to endure the increases at this time.

Arceneaux and the two Republican councilors acquiesced, but with the Administration warning that revenues attached to bonds in water and sewerage for the past two years didn’t cover those debt costs and without the rate increase that would continue. That imbalance is courtesy of the city’s consent decree over water and sewerage provision for quality violations that must be repaired, even as the costs keep on growing. Democrat former Mayor Adrian Perkins preferred to raid reserves that now approach the minimum legal level for the general fund and make more difficult paying off revenue bonds in the future.

The mayor knows this and is trying to fix it, but the Council Democrats won’t let him. Forestalling rate increases blocks most of his solution while kicking the can down the road, although while a small portion of that would have come from not filling the public safety vacancies, which at least is money that can be saved if not spent on new hires, which Arceneaux would have handled through supplemental appropriations.

And the reason he’s not allowed to pursue his solution may derive from partisan political opportunism. Council Democrats shy away from being seen as foisting rate hikes, while at the same time by not acting to prevent the crisis from magnifying allows them to blame Arceneaux for it a couple of years down the road when likely he tries for reelection and rate or tax hikes and/or service cuts become more obviously needed from failure to address problems today. Yet they also can claim they were addressing public safety concerns by keeping job slots open, even if hiring is lackluster due to the city’s reputation as a violent crime hotbed and past police foibles. Indeed, at the same meeting the Council called upon Arceneaux to declare a state of emergency over crime, whatever that could accomplish.

Democrat partisans loathe the idea that a white Republican serves as mayor over their black-majority and Democrat-plurality city. Making him appear as a failure in time for the 2028 makes it easier for the more ambitious among them to take his place in what appears to be a golden opportunity for a black Democrat politician. Continually rebuffing his sensible plans to put the city back on more solid footing rather than it careening further towards fiscal crisis may be part of a plan like that.


Leftist group's beliefs, not message, fail in LA

The story remains the same, and helps explain why the group dedicated to putting leftist women in office has crashed and burned in Louisiana.

It seems the national group Emerge America is in retreat. In its decade of existence, it has established chapters in over half the states, recruiting and training female Democrats to run for office. It has roughly 1,300 of serving in elected office, eight members of Congress and 24 statewide officials among its alumnae. But discord has set in among a few of its state chapters, and some essentially have been cut loose.

That’s happened in Louisiana, in which the organization began operating in 2017, where almost two years ago the then-leader of the state’s branch left and hasn’t been replaced, with the organization asserting its strategic profile was served better by having the state’s leftist women interested in its services attend regional and national training, as well as having alumnae available for mentoring. This has disconcerted some, who see the move as surrendering and selling out leftist activist women to whom it had proffered promises of assistance.


Dubious dissent attaches to wise election ruling

The dissenting judges on Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals advanced a novel and quite possibly ruinous interpretation of election law rooted in the wisdom of the 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen, when a five-judge panel of the Court ruled upon the ongoing suit to determine the winner of the Caddo Parish sheriff’s contest.

In the film, renegade officer Maj. John Reisman is given the job of taking twelve Army prisoners held for serious crimes during World War II to conduct a near-suicidal mission, in exchange for commutation of their sentences. One, Joseph Wladislaw, landed in prison because he shot an officer displaying cowardice in battle that threatened his entire unit. Upon hearing this during his pitch to Wladislaw to join the unit, Reisman commented that Wladislaw had done right, but made only one mistake: he let someone see him do it.

That’s the philosophy endorsed by Democrats Marcus Hunter and Shonda Stone in their dissent to the majority’s decision in the case authored by Republican Jeff Robinson and backed by Republicans Jeff Cox and Craig Marcotte. The majority upheld the district court decision of ad hoc District Judge Joseph Bleich, who ruled a new election was in order.


Subversion underscores need to repeal bad policy

Like rats leaving a sinking ship, bad policies continue fleeing the state’s executive branch as Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ time in office melts away – and even from unlikely sources.

One example is the loosening of high school graduation standards promulgated by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education scheduled to take effect this week. Until now, if students didn’t score barely better than fogging a mirror on two standardized tests – 38 percent and 10 percent – they didn’t qualify for graduation.

But this fall BESE, which through almost all of his eight years in office rebuffed measures favored by Edwards and his allies, awarded them a win by putting into place a highly subjective appeal process with little oversight that would waive that requirement. It narrowly passed only because as governor Edwards appointed three members who shared his view that government should maintain a monopoly on education that puts adults’ desires ahead of children’s needs – in this case, trying to make government-run schools look better and less likely to face sanctions by having higher graduation rates.


Another legal issue to slow LA map challenge

Another joker popped out of the deck last month concerning the increasingly-voluminous and complex litigation surrounding Louisiana congressional reapportionment that likely makes the odds even more certain that resolution won’t come until the 2026 election cycle.

North of the state in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel agreed in an Arkansas case that only the federal government can file judicial action against maps under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Louisiana case, which seeks to invalidate the state’s current map with one out of six majority-minority districts in a state where residents claiming some black ancestry make up almost a third of the population, was filed by a private group, not the federal government.

That case, which has ping-ponged between the state’s Middle District and the Fifth Circuit, as part of its deliberation by a separate three-judge panel briefly addressed this issue, known as a private right of action. It conceded that as other jurisdictions had acknowledged the right exists that it would assume the same in this instance.


Calcasieu P3 toll bridge idea needs canceling

A threatened de facto tax increase mainly on denizens in the Lake Charles area now seems set to wither away by the time incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry takes command.

That was the proposal by the outgoing Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to have tolls finance $1.3 billion of a projected $2.1 billion to construct a new Interstate 10 bridge across the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles, as well as perform some widening around its bases. The remainder of the money the state planned to leverage with a mix of state and federal dollars, primarily complemented by a $40 million a year revenue stream from the switchover of vehicle taxes from the general fund to transportation.

The plan announced this summer raised hackles immediately. The economics behind it weren’t all that bad, in that users rather than general taxpayers statewide would foot the bill, and likely it could have been completed at lower cost through a public-private partnership relying on tolls to keep the state’s maintenance costs close to zero for a half-century.


Potemkin group to try subverting BC petitioners

The race is on, as the Bossier City Council this week launched its Potemkin attempt to run down citizens who threaten to end the political careers of a majority of its members.

The Council unanimously voted to establish the second charter review committee in this city’s history. Mind you, a year ago this was the furthest thing from the minds of graybeards Republicans Jeff Free and David Montgomery, Democrat Bubba Williams, and no party Jeff Darby. But then a group of citizens loosely organized as the Bossier Term Limits Coalition, with the support of Republican rookie councilors Chris Smith and Brian Hammons and republican Mayor Tommy Chandler, came together to gather enough signatures to amend the city charter by slapping a lifetime three-term limit retroactively on city officials, with an affirmative vote by the electorate. None of the graybeards could run in the Mar. 29, 2025 city elections if this passed by the Dec. 7, 2024 election, as it almost certainly would.

By a series of legal maneuvers and open defiance four times of the charter, the graybeards plus Republican rookie Vince Maggio so far have kept the matter off the ballot, hoping to extend that for more than the upcoming year by tying up the matter in the courts. Undaunted, the Coalition has launched another as well as a separate petition amending the charter to drop the petitioning requirement from a third to a fifth of registered voters participating in the last city-wide election that would make even easier outflanking the Council.


Likely rerun Caddo sheriff contest tossup

With a rerun of the 2023 Caddo Parish sheriff’s election now a virtual certainty, the question turns to whom seems the likely winner between Democrat former Shreveport chief administrative officer and police chief Henry Whitehorn and Republican former city councilor John Nickelson.

Today, retired and ad hoc judge Joseph Bleich ruled a new election would have to take place, which fulfilled as big a legal slam dunk as there ever was. The law is quite clear that if illegal votes were cast in a contest in numbers beyond the margin between one or more sets of candidates that, barring the highly unlikely chance that such votes for whom could be identified and their excision would change the outcome, a new election would be ordered, a circumstance that featured in this election which Bleich vetted thoroughly in his ruling.

Given that Whitehorn emerged after the election and machine recount with a single vote lead, the Nickelson campaign’s legal team thoroughly documented irregularities, finding at least 11 suspicious enough, that convinced Bleich to order a new election. In large part, this was the fault of the Caddo Parish Registrar’s Office, who disregarded procedures that could have removed those votes from being cast or counted. Still, with a single vote margin, it would have been difficult to avoid any slipup that could have triggered a new contest.


Data betray claim 2023 not conservative mandate

As Louisiana leftists continue to move through their stages of grief over this year’s statewide election, they pursue yet another narrative that fails under the cold hard light of data.

So far, liberals among Democrats, within the media, and in academia have tried to comfort themselves over their blowout losses that leave perhaps the most conservative governor, Legislature, and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in history about to take over. They do this by telling themselves they delivered their message poorly – when in reality it’s the message itself at fault – and by bolstering themselves over the illusion that outgoing Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards had notable lasting accomplishments – only if you believe during his years in office fewer jobs, fewer people choosing to work, many fewer residents, tepid personal income growth well behind most states, pandemic policy that cost more lives than preserved, and government growing at three times the rate of inflation are good things.

The other narrative is that the victory of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry to replace Edwards, as well as legislative gains, is somehow less legitimate because overall turnout was the lowest since 2011 (slightly lower in the general election, slightly higher in the runoff). You have journalists and academicians propagating that “apathy” suggests there isn’t a groundswell to follow diametrically different options than with which Edwards tried to outflank the GOP-run Legislature.


Bossier needs rethink of school clinic policy

What appears to be the signature initiative of Bossier Parish’s new school superintendent threatens to bring controversy if not implemented correctly and for the right reason.

Last week, the Bossier Parish School Board unanimously awarded the job to assistant superintendent for administration and personnel Jason Rowland. Oddly, he was the only applicant in contrast to the last several occasions when the district hired a superintendent, perhaps because the district over this span only promoted from within and this discouraged outside candidates and in-home potential candidates who considered Rowland’s ascension as inevitable.

In the months leading up to his promotion Rowland worked on establishing school-based health clinics, both permanent and rotating, on the belief that this would discourage absenteeism. Indeed, since the onset of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and lingering beyond that, nationally truancy (defined as a student missing at least 10 percent of class days) has doubled to about one in five.


Edwards leaves LA worse off than he found it

It’s legacy-salvaging time as the embers die on the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration, with a full-bore effort to turn impossibly a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

At the specific policy level, for example, you have its Commissioner of Administration trying to stave off the undoing by incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry of a costly and counterproductive taxpayer-funded parental leave scheme for state employees while proclaiming “History is going to look very favorably on … Edwards and what he’s done.” This shilling is backed more broadly by a propaganda campaign using tax dollars touting alleged accomplishments, if not reframing failures.

Dardenne is dead wrong: if history is kind, it will relegate the Edwards years as a footnote; if bluntly realistic, it will register the 2016-23 period as one where his policies botched economic growth and development and coarsened society while privileging special interests at the expense of Louisianans – all in all, a retreat into the past following an agenda that disserved the state for decades. The data leave no other assessment possible.


Unwelcome paid leave time bomb needs excising

Don’t expect, in the dying days of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ misrule over Louisiana, that we won’t see more attempts to lock in bigger and more redistributive government than just attempting to create generous paid parental leave that incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry needs to curtail.

Starting in 2024, almost 38,000 classified state employees will gain this perquisite at taxpayer expense. It allows up to six weeks of this following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. That comes through regular channels: the State Civil Service Commission, which quietly promulgated the rule in September, then somewhat more publicly signed off and expanded by Edwards earlier this month.

Another roughly 4,000 unclassified employees which includes the other two branches of government, those of other statewide elected officials, and non-civil service employees in higher education, Edwards included through executive order, leaving just under 27,000 uncovered in the executive branch. All in that branch could be covered at the discretion of elected officials and higher education management boards, and the several hundred in the other branches could be covered by assent of the two chamber leaders of the Legislature or of the Louisiana Supreme Court.


In BC, monuments come before employees, people

It’s not just Bossier City employees who find the city’s staggering debt load forestalling their abilities to receive pay raises; retired Bossier City firefighters face the same hurdle with paying for their health insurance.

Last week, the city approved a budget without a cost-of-living pay raise to employees, but did use one-time money to provide a bonus, costing about $2 million. A downturn in revenues, mainly from reduced sales tax collections, not only prevented locking in higher pay but also forced the city to dip into other funds that normally paid for capital expenses to shore up the budget. Also hampering this was continuing to siphon general fund dollars, around $4 million, to pay down a high amount of debt.

But money that would have been available for raises eaten away by debt servicing also could have gone to maintain the city’s subsidization of retired firefighters’ health insurance. A recent television news story brought to light that several years ago the city halted this, forcing retirees to pick up the entire tab. Louisiana state government picks up a portion that grows the more years a retiree worked for the state, and local governments do the same for the most part. By way of example, twenty years of service for a state employee usually means the retiree pays just a quarter of the monthly premium.


Knife-edge Caddo sheriff race poised for redo

It’s still advantage Democrat Henry Whitehorn, but, if allegations made by his opponent for Caddo Parish Sheriff Republican John Nickelson prove correct, that may end up switching things for good – eventually.

Initial tallies on Nov. 18 gave Whitehorn a single vote lead out of over 43,000 cast. Certification by the parish could occur as late as 4 PM Nov. 27, which involved the board of election supervisors verifying machine totals and early voting and absentee totals, with the additional task of conducting a recount as requested by Nickelson. Keep in mind that a recount only comes from absentee ballots, 7,780 in this instance, because these are the only ones not entered electronically but are scanned.

This put Nickelson at a partisan disadvantage. The board is comprised of the clerk of Court, Democrat Mike Spence; Registrar no party Dale Sibley, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ appointee Democrat Brenda Traylor, and representatives one each from the major political parties. The board as part of its duties reviews absentee ballots that initially didn’t optically read correctly to discern, if possible and by majority vote, the intent of the voter – a process engineered by a “recopying” technique.

That equated to adding three votes to each candidate, leaving the Whitehorn one-vote margin intact. Nickelson immediately sued, citing a number of irregularities. Clearly, Nickelson’s legal team had done its homework. Its petition noted problems including at least two voters voting both early and on Nov. 18, some voters claiming their votes didn’t register, at least one voter saying he supposedly was registered legally at a precinct but denied being able to vote even provisionally, at least four voting unable to do so legally as interdicted under law, and as many as six votes cast on election day from people deceased.

Further, the filing questioned the administration of the recount. It alleged imprecision in the machine recount that demanded a hand recount of all absentee ballots that the board denied in the interests of time, improper retention for counting of ballots with disqualifying marks, and improper witnessing and voter signing on the envelopes in which ballots were sealed.

The filing asked the district court, which by law will hear the case at 10 AM Dec. 1, to order a hand recount, and declare a winner if possible, or schedule a new election which would be held on the statutorily-designated day of Dec. 16. This almost certainly guarantees a new election, because unless the hand count is allowed and shows a remarkably large swing in favor of one candidate, the other who then otherwise would be declared the loser can claim that so many irregularities exist that even a small lead leaves open the possibility with so many tainted votes out there that this makes the original election’s outcome unknowable.

And if it does come to that, Nickelson may come out the winner. Nickelson in the general election racked up 45 percent of the vote because in precincts where white Democrats and Republicans made up at least 70 percent of registrants, Republican candidates averaged 91 percent of the vote, while Whitehorn got 35 percent because in precincts where black Democrats made up at least 70 percent of registrants, black Democrats averaged 88.8 percent of the vote. In that election, turnout in precincts where at least 75 percent of the registrants were white averaged 27.9 percent of the vote, while in precincts where at least 75 percent of the registrants were black averaged 14.8 percent.

But in the runoff, turnout in those mostly-white precincts fell 5.3 points while in those mostly-black precincts actually rose 1.2 points. If these numbers reverted even slightly to the general election form, Nickelson wins a special election.

On the one hand, as overall turnout slipped between elections 2.4 points, Whitehorn did better with his base, so another election that could be expected to feature even more reduced turnout the trend would indicate he would do better still. But on the other hand, and perhaps more compellingly with just a single contest on the ballot, fewer than ten days before Christmas, and where Nickelson by the latest campaign finance reports would appear to hold a significant funding advantage necessary to drive turnout of his base, he might be in better shape to hold onto voters.

That resolution may or may not happen anytime soon. Depending on what happens in district court, appeals could go all the way to the state Supreme Court, and may push any election into 2024. Its certification may have been completed, but this contest is far from over.


Bossier Jury jumps from pan to fire on library

On the issue of its Library Board of Control, maybe the Bossier Parish Police Jury is jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Just how hot, we may find out soon.

At its last meeting earlier this month, the Jury without discussion voted unanimously to appoint all of its members onto the parish’s Board. Currently, unlike any other such board in the state, jurors serve on it and in all five of its slots, and there have been at least two jurors on the Board since 2016.

The law provides for a maximum of seven positions, so the Jury apparently will try to dodge this requirement by rotating members in and out, although the law also specifies the lengths of terms at five years. Perhaps it could utilize the provision that allows for the Jury president or his designee to serve ex oficio and give different jurors that role each month. It also means that Democrat Juror Charles Gray, defeated in his reelection attempt last month, will be kicked off the Board as soon as possible unless he resigns earlier.


Thanksgiving Day, 2023

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 Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, 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 Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Thursday, Nov. 23 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.


New views, not leaders, can salvage LA Democrats

So, who from Louisiana’s political left is right about the morass of the state’s Democrats? The veteran political analyst who foresees the light at the end of the tunnel as very distant? Or the academician who thinks the party’s political fortunes can improve dramatically?

As part of his television gig, longtime editor of the shopper New Orleans Gambit – no longer a shopper since The Advocate chain gulped it up a few years ago – Clancy DuBos doesn’t see much hope for the party that ruled the state uncontested starting over a century ago for six decades, and still was in the majority until about 15 years. He declared the party on “life support” and, boldly asserting perhaps the surest thing in state political history, foresaw a major shakeup in state party leadership within the next few months.

That’s axiomatic for a state party with a single out of eight members of Congress, without a single statewide executive, standing on the wrong sides of supermajorities in each legislative chamber, soon to be down 9-2 on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and in three years likely to lose ground on the one elected body where it isn’t in a steep minority, the Public Service Commission. Having no candidate come within 25 points of Republican winners in any statewide race and ceding even more supermajority ground to the GOP in the Legislature as a result of this year’s election makes leadership change a question not of if, but of when.


BC debt blows budget hole, stops pay raises

In Bossier City, a debt-fueled spending binge now approaching two decades in length continues to take its toll, depleting significantly reserves derived from the half-cent sales tax paid in the city since 1991 while fire fighters have to make do and city employees keep losing ground to price inflation.

This week, the City Council passed its 2024 budget, which contained a lot of bad news. Compared to the 2023 version, general fund revenues were down over $3 million to $61.7 million, or 4.8 percent. This came mainly as a consequence of sales tax revenues falling over $5.5 million or 15.7 percent to just under $30 million, so even though property tax revenues rose $900,000 or 5.8 percent to $15.5 million, overall revenues took a significant hit. Almost three-quarters of general fund revenues come from these two sources, so more than trivial changes in these have a magnified impact.

Yet spending on public safety increased some $3 million to $42 million despite the reduced revenues. In part, this came from increased state supplemental pay of a few hundred thousand bucks but the rest came from robbing the three funds set up largely to fund capital items for fire operations, the city jail, municipal buildings, and streets and drainage with money derived from the 1991 dedication. Legally the city may use these collections to pay operations and maintenance of fire, jail, and buildings structures and equipment and did so with a vengeance for 2024. Typically, 70 percent of collections is earmarked for this, but for 2024 all of it and $3.4 million from reserves, totaling $6.7 million, will go out the door, reducing collectively the reserves of those funds by a third, to prop up the general fund so that only about half a million fewer dollars are spent.


LA conservatives in place for closed primaries

With Louisiana state elections complete for the next four years (outside of rolling Public Service Commission contests), state government partisan balance changed in just one significant way, but the political dynamics transformed a lot.

That’s as Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry last month won the governorship, flipping the post from term-limited Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. This had the additional impact of assuring essentially a 9-2 advantage on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, as the governor appoints three members to it, along with election results that returned a 6-2 GOP advantage.

This means the slim majority held by reformers becomes quite safe, in that with the elections of Republicans Stacey Melerine and Kevin Berken this added two more to their ranks. One consequence will be substantial change to a policy just implemented, where a term-limited Republican defector was the deciding vote in putting through a weak and subjective appeal mechanism to the requirement of low standardized test scores to graduate. Expect that soon to be tossed out, or at least toughened into something meaningful.


Caddo result increases instructors' credibility

Us political scientists found ourselves another teaching tool courtesy of northwest Louisiana election results this past weekend that, despite this being the runoff balloting, still haven’t been decided for one contest.

Caddo and Bossier Parishes mostly had these for state and local elections settled last month, if not a couple of months earlier during qualification, Still, a half-dozen relevant contests remained to be decided. Almost all of them were.

The one race confined to Bossier saw Democrat Julius Daby, for many years a fixture on the parish School Board, edge out political neophyte Democrat Mary Giles to succeed his brother on the Police Jury. Only 415 people voted, under 10 percent of the district electorate, a proportion only somewhat lower than the 17 percent parish-wide who participated. Clearly without compelling top-level races at either the state or parish levels Bossier turnout suffered, and the District 10 runoff drew even fewer because parish governance seems less important to residents in an urban district within Bossier City.


Landry signals realistic climate policy ahead

The hits just keep coming from Louisiana’s governor-elect, signaling major and welcome changes from the policy path of the current chief executive.

Yesterday, Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry announced that he would appoint Aurelia Skipworth Giacommetto as head of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. Giacommetto served as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Republican Pres. Donald Trump, is trained as a biologist and lawyer and has extensive experience working in the chemical and public policy areas. As with all gubernatorial appointees prior to receiving Senate confirmation, she will retain the job unless the Senate doesn’t vote to confirm her by the end of its 2024 regular session.

The choice will discomfit the political left, because Trump! In its bizarre worldview, anybody or anything having to do with Trump not only is a terrible thing for mankind, it’s entirely illegitimate within the American political system. That’s why it has loathed Landry, who Trump likes, and this selection likely will be the first of many to work it into a lather.


End minority party committee head practice

With the accession of both legislative chamber leaders for the 2024-28 term of the Louisiana Legislature now settled, a question of whether to retain the practice of granting minority party members committee chairmanships is up for debate – and change.

This practice almost no other state follows. A few here and there will place a minority party member at the head of a temporary committee, or perhaps give one a vice chairman’s slot. Some allow for minority reports to be issued about legislation. But in today’s era, the only states that appear to do this (absent special situations where party representation in a chamber is even between the two major parties, or Nebraska’s unicameral/nonpartisan organ) are Louisiana and Texas.

Texas legislators appear to be making a conscious effort to back away from the process. This year, its Senate Republican leadership shed the last minority member who had been a chairman, while its House Republican leadership reduced its number to eight of 34 standing committees, and a deliberate emphasis to shunt Democrats as chairman to low-profile panels. Texas has small GOP majorities in each chamber at present.


BC Council wise to delay questionable renewal

The Bossier City Council’s decision to allow plenty of time to vet a propose four-year extension of its public-private partnership with Manchac Consulting appears wiser than ever as more details and analysis emerge about it – all of which buttresses the case that competitive bidding take place to manage city most engineering, public works, and utilities functions.

Last week, the Council stalled an attempt to begin the process of considering the no-bid extension. As originally cued, the Council could have signed off on a rate representing an increase of 50 percent over the deal that started in mid-2021, or $195,000 monthly, as early as Nov. 21. Instead, it will deal with the deal at the beginning of 2024, about three weeks prior to the agreement automatically extending for the existing three years at $169,000 monthly, starting mid-2024.

The extra time will give the city time to work through some issues, beginning with city ordinance allowing for only a three-year maximum on the life of a contract. However, state law allows local governments to use five years as a maximum, and as state law takes precedence over ordinance, the city could violate its ordinance and still have a legal contract as long as it doesn’t span more than five years. When the city initiated the arrangement in 2016, which then only covered utilities, it was for five years, and when it renewed in 2021, incorporating previous amendments and adding others, a three-year term was used after initially setting it at another five and a whopping increase to more than $303,000 per month that the Council quickly yanked.


Call extra session in 2024 before court deadline

Louisiana’s reapportionment saga rumbles on, now with the politics of electoral succession mixed in.

Last week, after the U.S. Supreme Court the previous month had ruled a district court that originally at the behest of special interests had ruled invalid the state’s latest congressional reapportionment had moved too fast to impose an alternative, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel drew up a calendar for state action on the matter. It said the state had to come up with a new map by Jan. 15, although the “district court will also have discretion to grant limited additional time if requested,” or else then a redraw would fall to that court.

This creates an interesting political timeline. Jan. 8 will turn over a new Legislature and install Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry as governor. An extraordinary session would be required, since the regular session won’t convene until mid-March. There’s general agreement that the new batch of elected officials should handle the matter, as they will have to deal with the aftermath of anything that happens as a result of any actions, or inaction, taken.


Veterans' Day, 2023

 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 Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, 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 Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Saturday, Nov. 11 being Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.


Competitive Caddo contests cued in runoffs

Somewhat surprising results in October Caddo Parish elections left some very competitive runoff contests on Nov. 18.

The sheriff’s race to replace retiring Republican Sheriff Steve Prator classifies as one of these – not surprising that it produced a runoff between Republican former Shreveport Councilor John Nickelson and Democrat former Shreveport police chief and chief administrative officer Henry Whitehorn, but surprising that Nickelson pulled 45 percent, 10 points clear of Whitehorn in a race on paper that favors the Democrat. A major factor here appears to be differentially reduced turnout between partisans, with Democrats more likely not to have voted. If that pattern repeats, and it may well given Prator and his considerable influence backed Nickleson, the general election leader will win.

However, this hot race may affect the dynamics of other contests in the parish, although few remain unsettled. While most parish commission races drew multiple candidates, only one had more than two. Incumbents and favorites held off challengers – including past District 8 Democrat appointed Commissioner Ronald Cothran, who ran in District 10 this time and barely knocked off two challenging Democrats, including one who barely lost four years ago – the only big surprise came with District 1 Republican Todd Hopkins losing to the GOP’s Chris Kracman in the race with the highest turnout. A gerrymander solidly favoring Democrats created almost no interparty competition, leaving only one contest not internecine and all settled without a runoff.


Don't let carbon capture, hydrogen mania cost LA

It’s not going so well for climate alarmists in Louisiana at the other end of the continuum, either.

While one strand of alarmism focuses on a ruthless propagation of non-fossil fuel-based sources for energy, no matter the costs or inconvenience, another seeks to mitigate fossil fuel outputs, such as carbon and methane, by circumventing or diverting production of these in the energy production process. Two such tools in pursuit of the latter are hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration.

Hydrogen can be used as a method to carry another fuel or by itself, burning without natural carbon dioxide or methane release unless the process of its production – it rarely exists in nature purely, so otherwise it has to be detached from some other elements like from oxygen in water – causes this. CCS works around processing release by collecting it before atmospheric emission, in making hydrogen or straight combustion.


BC has chance to improve contracted services

New owner, but same old Manchac Consulting Group: shielded by its political allies on the Bossier City Council, it continues to enjoy privileged status and an ever-deeper reach into Bossier City taxpayers’ pocketbooks that an embattled Council majority bloc wants to impose without considering any other options.

The firm that has worked on Bossier City projects since 2010 and which took over public works through a formal public-private partnership agreement in 2016 a couple of months ago was bought out by Waggoner Engineering but remains as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Waggoner is based in Jackson, MS but for many years has had a Louisiana presence in Baton Rouge where Manchac is located. It and its original owner and founder Joe Waggoner and his affiliated companies have been active in donations to Louisiana politicians of both parties (although more often Democrats) for statewide, legislative, and local offices, but have concentrated local candidate giving in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

This may explain the more aggressive search for business Manchac recently has undertaken. As the merger was being negotiated, it offered its services to the Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District, and appears actively to be searching for other opportunities.


Avoid gouging LA taxpayers, ratepayers over wind

Rather than driving Louisiana energy customer bills sky high, the new Legislature and incoming Republican Gov. Jeff Landry Administration need to cut off at the pass special interests and rent seekers.

Regarding accelerating use of offshore wind-generated power to meet arbitrary goals applauded by climate alarmists, both Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and Democrat Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards haven’t had a good few months. Biden wanted 30 gigawatts of power capacity nationally from wind by 2030, and Edwards shot for 5 GW by 2035. At present, U.S. capacity stands at 150 MW at one location off of Rhode Island.

The story goes that these installations provide lots of jobs to build and few costs to maintain, staying out of almost everybody’s way. To jag along this development, Biden had a then-Democrat-controlled Congress lard up almost $11 billion dedicated to offshore wind expansion and dangle various tax credits from 10 to 30 percent for those involved in production and support of offshore wind power generation. Some states, but not Louisiana, added their own incentives.


Election results strengthen Seabaugh influence

Early voting has started for the Nov. 18 runoff elections for state and local offices in Louisiana, but that doesn’t need resolution to declare the biggest winner in northwest Louisiana elections this cycle: Republican state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, who is emerging as the region’s kingmaker.

Who will become state senator for District 31 in a couple of months in a far-flung district anchored in southern Bossier and Caddo Parishes, which together will have the plurality of population, and extending south. For a region, that is one of the higher-profile elected offices to attain, but more impressively is the strength Seabaugh showed at gaining it.

Known as an unwavering limited government conservative, that and his take-no-prisoners style of advancing his policy objectives has created many enemies on the political left and among get-along-go-along Republicans in name only. They banded to find a popular non-politician malleable enough to carry their water in retired collegiate basketball coach Republican Mike McConathy. Not only had his time on the hardwood in Bossier and Natchitoches Parishes built up considerable positive name recognition, but his father had served as Bossier school superintendent.


Edwards confirms bad policy new BESE must change

It’s tough to keep Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards from giving Louisiana the middle-fingered salute when he’s determined, and that’s why the new Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will have to fix the mess of its predecessor, amplified by Edwards.

Last month, BESE narrowly passed into regulation a new policy that relaxes graduation requirements by allowing for an appeal process for failure to achieve (very low) minimums on standardized testing. Of the few states that have this component in their requirements, Louisiana was the only one that didn’t have an appeals process for that component.

Now it does, but this has numerous deficiencies as part of a extremely subjective, nebulous process with little accountability. Those aspects were brought forth in a House Education Committee meeting after publication in the Louisiana Register. State law allows specified committees to perform oversight of specified kinds of regulations five to 30 days after the Register published, which may then veto the regulation in question.


Surplus start for Landry to dodge poison pills

The gift for incoming governor Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry is both not enough to help much with the trap set by spendthrifts leaving office in two months and a way to kickstart Louisiana towards better economic development possibilities, if Landry and new GOP legislative leaders plan well.

Last month, the required report seeking to close the books on the previous fiscal year showed a surplus for fiscal year 2023 of $330 million. That amount will be fine-tuned before the end of the year, and available for action by the new Legislature next year.

Sort of. Constitutionally, any surplus not in the current year can go only a half-dozen uses, and a portion gets taken right off the top mandatorily. A quarter goes to the Budget Stabilization Fund while a tenth goes towards paying off unfunded accrued liabilities in pension funds (this will increase to a quarter courtesy of a constitutional amendment passed last month, but starting with FY 2025).


Conservative LA govt to affect media environment

The old aphorism that you never should quarrel with somebody who buys ink by the barrel may become less and less valid with the ascension of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry to Louisiana governor next year.

Landry won outright the contest earlier this month and has hit the ground running. Among the things he has begun preparing for is influencing the new Legislature, set to have supermajorities of his party in both chambers, in its selection of leadership with which he is comfortable. Already his expressed preference for GOP state Sen. Cameron Henry appears to have landed Henry the Senate presidency for next term.

But there’s still a House speakership up for grabs, with multiple reports that Landry hasn’t stumped for a particular individual but did provide input, accepted by the chamber’s GOP, that it settle upon one candidate and that the membership vote only for that candidate when the time comes in early January. In fact, Landry’s transition office released a letter, signed by every Republican attempting to win that vote and Landry, agreeing to that. This will prevent a scenario such as in 2020 when a Republican-preferred Republican lost out to a Democrat-preferred Republican in the speaker’s contest, which diluted GOP efforts to enact a conservative agenda over the course of the term.

This story was reported succinctly from The Hayride website, known as a conservative opinion site whose articles also contain news. Almost simultaneously, about 11 hours after the letter was produced, a story on the subject appeared on the Louisiana Illuminator site, ostensibly a news site but which injects left-wing opinion into its designated news articles.

Except that story was much less complete and accurate about the events reported by The Hayride, written by its publisher Scott McKay. Julia O’Donoghue, who once covered state politics for the New Orleans Times-Picayune before it was subsumed into the Baton Rouge Advocate chain, authored that one, which only mentioned the apparent half-dozen speaker candidates – actually a later addition to the piece, where the original had mentioned only two – met with Landry, without any mention of an agreement or what it constituted or who was involved.

It's obvious what happened – the Hayride scooped the Illuminator because the speaker candidates kept O’Donoghue in the dark while alerting McKay, whom Landry also contacted. Landry generally is a fan of Hayride pieces for its analysis of Louisiana politics and the site is viewed widely by GOP legislators. By contrast, Illuminator pieces often attempt to criticize conservative issue preferences, sometimes being extremely selective in the information and data reported to slant stories if not making inaccurate assertions, to prop up a leftist agenda.

Landry’s campaign frequently gave many media outlets short shrift, particularly those it felt tending to inject bias against him particularly and Republicans and conservatives generally. He and his campaign generally ignored Illuminator attempts for information and sometimes stiffed the Advocate and Gannett newspapers as well. He only participated in one of several televised candidate forums organized by various media outlets and interest groups, apparently without harming his campaigning.

This isn’t that surprising as technology increasingly gives candidates and government officials the ability to cut out intermediaries like the media to go directly to voters and citizens, while preserving them the option to reward favored outlets with in-depth news and leaving others flailing. As the media environment has become harsher for survival of traditional outlets with readership declines, having a politician treating an outlet unfavorably has reversed the relationship. Instead of the media being able to savage officials who were uncooperative, now officials can starve the media of the information that grabs consumers with little penalty but which causes difficulty for the media they ignore.

Of course, the two channels can intertwine. On several occasions, Landry authored opinion pieces that appeared on The Hayride. And officials have the ability to cooperate selectively, as demonstrated since the election with Landry and other Republicans appearing more willing at least toanswer Illuminator inquiries.

Regardless, within weeks from now in Louisiana media outlets that traditionally have shown hostility towards a conservative agenda, whether confined to opinion pieces, may find their news gathering in the realm of politics significantly more challenging and operating at a disadvantage to outlets that have demonstrated more tolerance, if not affinity, for disseminating news and opinion that put conservative issue preferences in a favorable light. Actual reporting, not mere stenography of talking points released by leftist interests, might become more common among Louisiana’s media.