Government & Politics
Jindal tax plan stalled as regular session opens — Associated Press | Gov. Bobby Jindal will have to jump hurdles and thread needles, perhaps at the same time, to get his tax swap plan passed.
While struggling to gain traction for his tax plan, Jindal has also run into continuing criticism for his budgeting tactics and his $24.8 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. Jindal’s budget proposal would close a $1 billion gap with patchwork funding criticized by conservative Republicans and the anticipation that LSU’s public hospitals would be privatized, an idea opposed by Democrats.
Behind Jindal’s tax plan, an old debate that still rages — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | As I noted last week, Jindal has embraced research and talking points from those who tout supply-side economic theories. This article takes a look at the economic debate as it applies to state budgets.
Some questions about Jindal’s big speech — Something Like the Truth | Blogger Robert Mann compiles 25 questions to consider during Jindal’s address to the Legislature. The political stakes for Jindal are immense: “The outcome of this session could also have a profound bearing on his presidential aspirations. Legislators could cripple his presidential campaign, or they could breathe new life into his hopes for the Oval Office.” If Jindal’s hopes for national office die in Baton Rouge — in the spring of 2013 — there will be innumerable political autopsies assessing whether Team Jindal bit off more than they could chew or overestimated their political muscle.
Editorial: Guns, drugs and videotape — Gambit | The editors contend that Sheriff Marlin Gusman discredited himself with his testimony at a federal court hearing regarding unconstitutional conditions at Orleans Parish Prison. “If the videos and hours of testimony about rapes, assaults and other abuses aren’t enough,” they write, “Gusman’s disingenuous testimony justifies appointing a [federal] receiver” to implement reforms.
The case for change at Orleans Parish Prison: Editorial — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The Times-Picayune’s editors have a similar view:
But it is the sheriff himself who clinches the argument that he is unfit to oversee reforms at the prison. Faced with evidence that his jail has been out of control for years, he still denies that anything is wrong. On the witness stand in U.S. District Judge Lance Africk’s courtroom, he said: “I think we’re doing pretty good without the consent decree.” Expert witnesses, Sheriff Gusman said at a press conference afterward, are “getting paid to come up with a statement. I’m here, I’m elected and I’m doing the job.” He clearly is not doing the job. What’s more, the job doesn’t even seem to interest him.
Justice for all, including juveniles: Catherine ‘Kitty’ Kimball | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The former chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court likes Jindal’s criminal justice reforms: “For our youth to be properly served, we need to refocus efforts on community programs addressing both public safety and effective treatment, rather than on the costly incarceration of youth. … I’m proud to say that the reform initiatives recently announced by Gov. Bobby Jindal are a huge step in that direction.”
As Big Drillers Move In, Safety Goes Up – WSJ.com | Is Big Energy safer? Yes, according to this article, which spotlights an interesting safety dynamic that occurs in offshore oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing: safety and environmental records improve when large companies buy out smaller ones. My sources in the oil patch attest to the pattern and say it follows their general experience (the Deepwater Horizon being an obvious exception).
Federal appeals court to hear climate change suit in New Orleans — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
A federal appeals court has agreed to review a three-judge panel’s ruling that a group of Mississippi coastal landowners can sue energy and chemical companies on allegations that linked greenhouse gas emissions to Hurricane Katrina. The lawsuit alleges that greenhouse gas emissions from energy and chemical companies contributed to global warming, caused sea levels to rise and added to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina.
Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake’s balance— The Washington Post | “It is the dawn of the super crab. Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators.” Worst of all, the super-crabs are bigger, but the growth is all in the shell— there’s not a corresponding increase in the amount of meat.
“Blackboard Wars” Torpedoes John McDonogh Charter’s Attendance — Lance Hill’s Blog Site | At his blog, Lance Hill highlights an overlooked fact in a charter school article: “The story reveals that attendance since the series aired has dropped to 50% and only 209 students have expressed an interest in attending the school next year—down 54% from the previous enrollment of 382.”
Mayoral Governance and Student Achievement: How Mayor-Led Districts Are Improving School and Student Performance — Thomas B. Fordham Institute | An analysis of 11 school districts “that were governed by some version of mayoral control from 1999 to 2010″ found that “mayoral-control districts have generally improved district-wide performance relative to average school-district performance statewide, though the results vary from place to place.” (via EducateNow)
Orleans Parish School Board discusses micromanagement at Houston training — The Lens | Education reporter Jessica Williams was in Houston to cover the OPSB’s training on proper governance. She reports that Cathy Mincberg, CEO of the Center for Reform of School Systems, “cautioned against micromanagement. The board’s power, she said, lies in its ability to hold others – such as the superintendent and its charter schools — accountable. ‘What you do when you try to manage is, you give away your power,’ she said.'”
Houston Rising—Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think – The Daily Beast | You don’t see many pro-sprawl pieces these days. I found this to be a thought-provoking, contrarian read: “These low-density, car-dominated, heavily suburbanized areas with small central cores likely represent the next wave of great American cities. … Houston has now surpassed New York as the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse metropolis.”
Should We Be Zoning With Crime in Mind? – The Atlantic Cities | A study finds “that blocks that include both residential and commercial zoning exhibit less crime than blocks that are zoned exclusively for commercial use.”