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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.