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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.