Government & Politics
Jindal budget would pull $102 million from dedicated state funds — The Lens | Gov. Bobby Jindal intends to sweep money from dedicated funds in order to reduce budget cuts to schools and hospitals. The Fiscal Hawks in the Legislature, among others, object to such gimmickry and believe the administration has become addicted to these annual funds sweeps.
Jindal is planning to sweep money sitting in dozens of dedicated funds into the state’s general operating budget. The money typically comes from fines or licensing fees, such as when someone applies for a concealed gun permit. Jindal has decided to tap about $102 million in those funds to avoid cutting the budget again this year.
forgotston.com — Records Law Catch-22 | Blogger C.B. Forgotston makes an intriguing proposal to streamline the process of requesting public records, suggesting that state documents should be labeled with the official public custodian who will handle the requests.
Two Senators Try to Slam the Door on Bank Bailouts – The New York Times | Sen. David Vitter has proposed legislation titled “Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act.” It is co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat. Times business columnist Gretchen Morgenson says, “It is a smart, simple and tough piece of work that would protect taxpayers from costly rescues in the future.” This American Banker article, however, maintains that the proposal is more radical than it first appears:
The recently unveiled Brown-Vitter bill goes beyond the goal of making the system safer. Make no mistake in its intentions: the bill seeks to break up the largest banks, removing their value from the U.S. and global economies, permanently. In the midst of the implementation of the largest financial regulatory overhaul in a generation, this proposal is a distraction for policymakers and regulators alike. Before examining the substance of the bill, the fact is it’s unlikely to gain traction in Congress because it is not bipartisan. It’s fringe-partisan. Frankly, most members of Congress aren’t ready for the extreme results of this type of proposal.
Washed away — The Advocate | Nearly 30 places in Plaquemines Parish, such as Yellow Cotton Bay, have literally washed away. The recent casualties of coastal loss are no longer listed on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charts.
Insurance cost hikes spark opposition — HoumaToday.com
In a bipartisan effort, Louisiana lawmakers say they’re pressuring FEMA to reexamine reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program that could significantly raise rates for many coastal residents. Republican Reps. Steve Scalise and Bill Cassidy and Democratic Rep. Cedric Richman have written letters to FEMA asking them to delay implementation of the reforms and to consider the effects steep cost increases could have on coastal residents.
Shell’s Arctic “Beer Can” Passes Federal Test In Puget Sound — KUOW | It’s good to see such oil-catch systems passing tests. Shell’s system tested in the Pacific is not the exact system as the one the Marine Well Containment Company consortium (led by Exxon, Shell and Chevron) has ready for use in the Gulf, but it’s relatively similar.
Neither Shell nor the federal government announced the results, but a Shell contractor successfully deployed Shell’s Arctic oil-spill containment system in Samish Bay in March. Crews from Superior Energy Services of Houston slowly lowered a 20-foot dome over the side of Shell’s Arctic Challenger barge and down into the 150-foot-deep water. They anchored the dome and used it to suck up sea water at a rate of about 2,000 gallons a minute. The dome system is supposed to do the same to oil and gas gushing from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean if a blown-out well cannot be capped.
Where to go next for New Orleans schools? Voters don’t know — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | A report on public perception of the local public education scene contains mixed results and little consensus. “An apparent major drop from 2011 in the number of people who think schools have improved since Katrina is misleading, said Cowen Institute lead researcher Debra Vaughan, because the two reports didn’t poll the same group of people.” The Cowen Institute report is called “K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye.”
Preschool Funding Reached ‘State Of Emergency’ In 2012: NIEER Report — Huff Post Politics | “States are drastically underfunding programs for their youngest learners now more than ever, according to a report released Monday, even as researchers and policymakers increasingly point to pre-school as a ladder to the middle class.” The full The State of Preschool 2012 report, by The National Institute for Early Education Research, has a breakdown of state preschool funding, enrollment and state spending per child for Louisiana, beginning on page 68.
DOE, already top-heavy with bloated unclassified payroll, to submit layoff plan to Civil Service Commission on Monday — Louisiana Voice | Blogger Tom Aswell claims three dozen Department of Education employees will be laid off today. He objects to cutting lower-level employees when there are so many highly compensated people at the top of the agency: “There are 54 employees of DOE and RSD who earn $100,000 or more per year for a total payroll of $6.7 million.” He goes on to list names and salaries.
The D.I.Y. Disaster Plan – Next City | “Left with little official help, residents here — along with hundreds of thousands of people in other flood-struck parts of Bangkok — sprang into action. They quickly improvised a series of informal networks, and repurposed existing ones, to perform the vital tasks normally carried out by the government in emergencies.”
How New York Is Reinventing the Phone Booth – Emily Badger – The Atlantic | New York City held a contest to rethink phone booths, which were in unexpectedly high demand after Hurricane Sandy.
Court overturns firing of NOPD officer who shot up his car — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “A panel of state appellate court judges voted 2-1 Wednesday to reverse an earlier decision upholding the dismissal of a New Orleans Police Department officer who fired his service weapon numerous times into his personal car while on duty. The main reason is one that by now is familiar for the NOPD: The department’s internal investigation into Patrick O’Hern took too long, violating his rights under the law.”
Violence as an Infectious Disease? A Program That Worked — Medscape Today | An epidemiologist “noticed that patterns of violence were similar to those seen in an infectious disease epidemic; the incidence is clustered by location and it comes in waves. Dr. [Gary] Slutkin then found that the most common predictor of violence was a preceding case of violence.”