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BC to bus riders: take a hike, see the statue

The Jan. 24 meeting of the Bossier City Council provided a perfect summary of the last 25 years of city governance: building monuments instead of helping people.

It started off innocently enough, with a bid opening. When the city bids out business (much less often than it should according to best practices), interested bidders have theirs revealed to the Council publicly, and then the city makes the decision who to go with or, if just one qualifying one received, whether to rebid.

The project was to construct a statue of Walter O. Bigby, the politician for whom the northern extension of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway is named, at the completed roundabout. That decision was made over two years ago as Ordinance 165 of 2020 at its Dec. 15, 2020 meeting as holidays approached and Wuhan coronavirus restrictions remained in effect. The projected maximum bid was $330,000 and attracted several supplicants.


Looming short special session driven by politics

The short-but-sweet special session of the Louisiana Legislature to kick off next week came more from politics than any genuine need for urgency.

The very narrowly-defined call by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards leaves legislators only the option to choose how many of just-recognized excess dollars from last month’s Revenue Estimating Conference forecast to pour into a special fund designed to attract property insurers into the state. At the behest of Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, $45 million of the almost $925 million would go for this purpose.

The vehicle used will be an overhaul of an effort over 15 years ago in response to insurers either dissolving or refusing to write policies in the state after the hurricane disasters of 2005. A series of lesser storms over the past couple of years has triggered a similar situation and pushing at least 20 insurers out of the state, driving the population of the state-overseen nonprofit insurer Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to levels last seen in the aftermath of 2005 comprising about a tenth of all insured properties. Further, rates for Citizens clients on average will increase 63 percent.


Top spot race action ripples to lower LA offices

The flurry of activity surrounding Louisiana’s governor’s race has had an impact on other constitutional statewide offices up for grabs later in the year as well.

Long thought to seek the state’s top job, instead Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser opted to vie for reelection. That may not be a slam dunk, for GOP former Rep. John Fleming months ago declared his candidacy, after having said he would wait on Nungesser to decide who dithered until about a week ago.

While that may imply Fleming could abandon the effort, having gone a few months into it he well might keep going. He would pose a real challenge to Nungesser, who has alienated a good portion of state Republican activists over sniping with them about endorsements for Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry for governor as well as differences over key issues. Those disgruntled with Nungesser would give Fleming a long look, who has an impeccable conservatism record although the position largely is nonideological and who is flush enough to finance his own campaign.


Term limits beneficial for Bossier, LA govts

It’s a tall order given the power elites involved, but the Bossier Parish Republican Parish Executive Committee has launched some initiatives worthy of emulation statewide.

Last week, the PEC endorsed that the Bossier City Council convene a charter committee with the intent of installing a three-term limit to its members and the mayor’s office. This route requires city registered voter signatures equal to a third of the turnout in last mayoral contest, or 2,742 to place the matter in front of the Council where if it doesn’t ratify the result by a majority then the matter would go to referendum at the next scheduled election, where a majority in favor implements.

It also announced another petitioning project for parish voters requesting the same on Bossier Parish Police Jury members. As one of the 36 parishes in the state whose government operates without a charter, it functions under state law, requiring legislators to pass a law placing limits which would be unprecedented. It also called upon the Jury to resolve whether it endorses the idea.


Caddo debates criminalizing political dissent

The great Caddo Parish Commission showdown never materialized and maybe cooler heads eventually will prevail on free speech issues aggravated by thin-skinned commissioners.

Last Tuesday at a Commission work session’s end, local publisher John Settle and Democrat Commissioner Steven Jackson got into a verbal altercation. Witnesses say other commissioners and parish workers had to restrain Jackson after Settle made critical remarks about him, apparently referring to the recent arrest of Jackson for impersonating a police officer, which Settle believes may be related to extracurricular amorous activities of Jackson, who also faces issuance of a domestic protective order against him.

Shortly thereafter, on behalf of Democrat Commission Pres. Roy Burrell a letter was sent to a deputy with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office supposedly overseeing Commission security, in which he claimed commissioners were so worried about Settle’s alleged comportment at meetings that he would be banned from attending meetings henceforth. In particular, it claimed that he “has threatened Commissioners, regularly makes outbursts from his seat during the meeting, violates posted restricted area notices regularly, made comments that staff and commissioners [sic] intentionally uncomfortable, and his provocations have led to multiple physical confrontations in recent years both in and outside the chamber.”