Search This Blog


One last mistake greets Wilson on his way out

Apparently on the cusp of his declaring for the Louisiana governor’s race, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards cabinet member Shawn Wilson received an unwelcome parting gift that only adds to the ammunition against such a foray.

This week, the Department of Transportation and Development that Wilson departed shortly thereafter announced the results of bidding to build a new four-lane Jimmie Davis Bridge over the Red River connecting Shreveport and Bossier City and to retire the old two-lane structure into a linear park. This treatment came as a result of the span’s deteriorating condition and takeover by endangered birds, meaning neither extensive refurbishment of it nor its demolition could occur and requiring a new structure.

The winning bid of two came in a shade under $362 million. But the state estimated a cost of only $223 million, and with the lowest so far in excess of the state’s guess the whole process stops not only to conduct a review of the state’s numbers which may trigger starting the bid process over but also warns that more money likely will have to be corralled for this to come to fruition.


Consent decree support part of leftist gamble

Next week the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a Louisiana case that could have vast ramifications for how elective judicial districts are drawn, with potentially some unintended consequences for those seeking to change the system in a way that would boost Democrats’ presence on the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Chisom v. State of Louisiana fights the state’s effort to end the consent decree that forces the state to maintain a majority-minority state Supreme Court district. A district court ruled against this last year, maintaining that the state, represented by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, didn’t show that the problem of voter discrimination had been solved completely without the decree in effect and the situation – presence of the district creating significant malapportionment – hadn’t changed significantly to jettisoning the decree. (Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards by virtue of his position was party to the request, but he failed to participate in its defense.)

Landry had argued that three decades of having a black jurist serving in that district proved the problem of discrimination solved, in that a change from the previous geographically larger district that elected two members at-large in a majority-majority district with a large number of racial minority residents to splitting it essentially into two single-member districts, as the other five across the state were, had done the trick. Further, he argued the present arrangement sustained severe malapportionment, with a deviation spanning over 50 percent, that dissolving the decree could reduce substantially. But Democrat Pres. Barack Obama-appointed Louisiana Eastern District Judge Susie Morgan found the reason wanting, despite the fact that the SMD district as opposed to its MMD predecessor made it extraordinarily difficult not to have a M/M district, especially with districts not malapportioned.


Bossier officials finally in compliance, for now

At last, after a year both the Bossier Parish Police Jury and Parish Administrator Joe Edward “Butch” Ford got on the right side of the law.

Their legal missteps began early last year when the Jury promoted Ford from parish engineer to administrator, running afoul of the law in the process. State statute requires that the chief appointed officer of a parish also be a registered voter in the parish, and for nearly four decades Ford had been registered at a Caddo Parish address – facts surely inescapable to any juror.

Ford remained illegally employed for about 10 months, until just after this space published Oct. 19 details about the law and records showing Ford remained registered in Caddo when he changed it to a Bossier address on Oct. 21. This, however, created another problem in that state law mandates that a voter had to register at his homestead, if he had one, and Ford continued to declare his homestead at the Caddo address, a fact brought out in this space published Nov. 15. In fact, Ford’s Bossier registration address was at property apparently not owned by him nor was a declared homestead.


Panel jockeying reflects electoral politics

Intrigue, backtracking, if not hypocrisy all featured in the latest Louisiana State Bond Commission meeting driven by election year politics.

This special meeting was called to consider whether to institute a process that could ban financial institutions adhering to so-called environmental, social, and governance criteria in their investing and lending decisions from competing for state bond business. Both Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry and GOP Treasurer John Schroder, two SBC members, have spoken out publicly about the inappropriateness of the state using these firms for a variety of reasons, including conflicts with state law, higher costs for taxpayers, and their discriminatory behavior towards lawful business sectors including some large contributors to the state’s economy.

It didn’t follow through. Landry, who had a representative at the meeting, had led the charge to disqualify such firms, but didn’t find any backing. Republican Sen. Pres. Page Cortez took the lead to shoot down the proposal, saying while his polling of legislators showed sympathy for the goals of the proposal, at the same time they also didn’t like the idea that this would restrict free enterprise in a fashion and might drive up costs.


Sour grapes hopefully won't cost taxpayers

Sour grapes aren’t reason enough for taxpayers to make up for the choices made by whiny Louisiana university faculty members, and hopefully the legal system won’t put taxpayers on the hook to gratify them.

A couple of such individuals have filed suit to reverse their participation in the state’s optional retirement program (ORP) and force their transfer into the long-existing, heavily underfunded defined benefit program (DBP). This has come after legislation to accomplish the same has gone nowhere in the Legislature.

With good reason. The ORP takes both the employee’s portion of salary that goes to retirement, typically eight percent before taxes and matched by the state, and allows these to be invested by the employee in vehicles chosen by the state’s contracted investment advisers from which the employee typically has several choices. This may follow the employee to other employment and upon retirement then may be drawn like an individual retirement account from principal and investment earnings.