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Name bill good to protect kids, reduce confusion

To date inexplicably hesitant to strengthen protections of children, this session the Louisiana Legislature need not whiff on a bill that not only does that, but that also calms fears of school employees and related personnel.

HB 81 by Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews would have school personnel address students by the names on their birth certificates, unless parental permission grants use of another, as well as use the pronoun associated with the student’s sex unless similar permission is granted. Even the pronoun consideration may be overridden if the alternate choice runs counter to the speaker’s religious or moral convictions.

This should come with welcome relief for school personnel. Emboldened by leftist politicians and media, the increasingly aggressive, even violent, eliminationist rhetoric and action emanating from transgender activist groups and followers puts at risk those who might commit spoken thoughtcrimes in the eyes of these special interests and draw their wrath. Only last year, a Kansas teacher was reprimanded and suspended for addressing a student by the student’s legal and enrolled name and forced her to conceal the student’s social transition from the student’s parents. Fortunately, she sought legal recourse and won a $95,000 judgment against school authorities. A law like HB 81 would remove worry from school personnel that they could face retribution for simply trying to communicate with students using the least ambiguous information about their names and the pronouns that apply.


Woke electoral wins in NO, LA may have crested

Woke may have crested among the electorate in Louisiana’s woke capital, if a couple of recent election results serve as indicators.

Earlier this year, Democrat state Rep. Royce Duplessis won a transfer to the state Senate in a battle with a colleague, Democrat state Rep. Mandie Landry. They vied to take the seat resigned last year by Democrat former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson after graft landed her in the big house. That New Orleans district by population had a slight black plurality but by voter registration a slight white plurality. Duplessis is black and Landry is white.

Both are considered “progressive” Democrats; i.e., largely rejecting the role of government as a corrective agent of alleged imperfections in a society and economy with policy designed to promote equality of opportunity by instead embracing wholesale systemic change by use of government power to promote equality of outcome. “Woke” is a further extension, a condition that places individuals into silos depending upon their characteristics and where an understanding has been reached that those contained in the white, particularly male, particularly believing that biology determines sex, particularly acting heterosexually, and particularly practicing traditional Christianity silo(s) act in accordance with an irredeemably noxious set of cultural values that oppress all others, using disproportionate and illegitimately gained power, requiring that expression of these values must be censored and those adherents to these identities must defer to the wishes and values of all others identifying differently.

For example, on criminal justice issues traditional liberal Democrats would focus on procedural matters to ensure fairness for the accused and convicted. Progressive Democrats would go further in imposing their policy preferences on the system, such as great reluctance to pursue capital punishment and charging suspects in a way that avoids alleged sentencing disparities for reasons other than facts of the crime. But woke Democrats would act to eviscerate the system itself because of its presumed built-in inequities, subverting it by means such as no/cashless bail, decisions to downgrade or not prosecute, and whether to accept or release prisoners according to various criteria.

Certainly “progressive” and “woke” are highly interrelated concepts. But one discriminating criterion is the significantly higher degree of systemic rejection that woke demands. This extends beyond just society and trickles down substantially into its substructures.

In electoral politics, this means perceptions of institutions like political parties and the transactional nature of political campaigns. More purely woke politicians are much more suspicious of working through existing parties and more hesitant to dilute their agendas with appeals to out-groups as part of their electoral strategy. Perhaps the best-known in Louisiana of them is Democrat Gary Chambers, who lost bids for the U.S. House and Senate yet drawing substantial support despite working entirely outside of the party apparatus.

These tendencies didn’t appear to be drawbacks to the 2020 and 2021 campaigns that brought woke New Orleans politicians, all Democrats, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, District Attorney Jason Williams, and Sheriff Susan Hutson, victories. Again using the policy area of criminal justice where all contribute in its administration, with voter assent each brought woke agendas to carrying out their legal duties.

But it didn’t work out for the Senate contest for the more woke of the two candidates, Landry. Duplessis was more willing to engage in transactional politics with interests opposed to the woke agenda, trying to placate them on at least some issues, and he more vigorously courted traditional organizations, of Democrats, blacks, and others. Importantly, his racial appeals centered on transactional benefits, not woke bromides. Enough voters responded to hand him a close win.

With his House seat now vacated, a special election was needed to fill that. A runoff between black Democrats ensued, led by community organizer Sibil Fox Richardson with small businessman Alonzo Knox not far behind.

Richardson, with a criminal background and whose post-prison efforts have focused on the incarcerated, articulated the more woke agenda while Knox, who once worked for various Democrat elected officials and has served in various local government-related positions, came off as the more mainstream, even as both articulated progressive issue preferences.

Perhaps indicating wokeism was losing steam as a distinguishing concept, some groups and politicians including Hutson more often aligned with woke agendas (including a group focusing on political engagement of former convicts) endorsed Knox while several party-oriented elected officials backed Richardson. In the runoff, Knox came out ahead.

It is a somewhat isolated set of cases, one part of New Orleans with considerable overlap. And a recent recall effort against Cantrell fizzled, but statute makes these difficult to succeed. Still, that the less extreme, even if relatively extreme, candidates won election might serve as the canary in the coal mine suggesting that wokeism has peaked. With regular legislative elections up to the plate this fall, that thesis will receive a much more comprehensive test.


Bad BC water deal illustrates insider influence

Increasing debate about an issue should clarify. Instead, whether intended by certain Bossier City policy-makers and Port of Caddo-Bossier allies, another round over the proposed water deal between the two made matters murkier than ever – perhaps as a tactic to push it across the goal line.

Earlier this week the Bossier City Council held an unprecedented repeat workshop over a plan to have the Port build a water distribution and waste treatment facility with ancillaries that would connect to Bossier City’s system. The Port would own it but the city would maintain and operate it while paying the equivalent of the principal and interest on the debt behind it by providing after expenses half-priced services to the Port’s clients up to the point of the total amount of that – from representations previously made by Port Executive Director Eric England around $62 million – where beyond that the city would collect the entirety, for 40 years.

The idea has been troubled from the start when Republican Councilor David Montgomery – who has received over $600,000 in commissions from the Port since 2008 for writing its insurance policies – first put the item on the Council’s agenda. It was continued from that meeting, a workshop held, after initial approval pulled off the agenda the next meeting, and then this workshop redux held, indicating majority resistance and minority insistence to keep it alive.


Bill subverts value of part-time legislative pay

On a scale grander than any Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority plan, no party state Rep. Joe Marino wants to create more swamp at the Capitol by turning state legislators into full-time employees that can disconnect from their constituents’ lives and degrade policy outcomes.

Marino’s HB 149 would induce huge pay raises for state legislators starting next year. Currently, except for a few leaders who make roughly twice that, legislators receive $16,800 a year, although adding in per diem payments and any from committee work or special sessions often doubles that or more. The bill would boost that base salary to $60,000 and send leaders’ up almost half again or double that – and all indexed for inflation.

Keep in mind that only a handful of states pay an equivalent of the median household income or higher to their state legislators where most, like Louisiana, define these public servants as part-time employees. Louisiana would join this upper tier at these levels of base salary.


Advocate could close NWLA local news gap

Substantial change may be on the way to Shreveport-area media if apparent plans by Louisiana’s largest newspaper come to fruition.

The Advocate, based in Baton Rouge but with papers also operating in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Lake Charles, looks to be poking around to publishing a version in Shreveport. Its publisher recently toured the area meeting with various individuals. One idea seemingly broached was to set up a fund to supplement area reporting, hoping to draw bucks from local individuals and corporations.

Already the Advocate has something like this in place, called the Louisiana Investigative Journalism Fund. It has a relationship with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, headed up by political operative Andy Kopplin who prior to this gig worked for Republican former Gov. Mike Foster, Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and Democrat former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. It allows for tax-free donations that the organization passes through and has attracted several high-profile donors plus a huge gift from the leftist Ford Foundation.