Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts

Thursday, June 19, 2014

BOBBY JINDAL - DICTATOR OF LOUISIANA

Igniting new controversy, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday he is ordering Louisiana out of the Common Core tests as part of a series of moves to drop the new academic standards after the Legislature refused to do so.

“We need to start this process over,” Jindal told reporters.

But state Superintendent of Education John White, who Jindal pushed for the job, took the unusual step of publicly charging that the governor is wrong on the law and that Common Core plans will continue for the 2014-15 school year.
Though I'm not a great fan of Common Core, what Jindal is about is disallowing intrusion by the feds in schools in Louisiana and allowing instructions in creationism, a 10,000 year young earth, and humans walking with dinosaurs in science classes because of pressure Christian fundamentalists including the likes of Tony Perkins and his Focus on the Family tribe. Also, students in some of the junk charter schools that the state supports with tuition vouchers will never pass the tests, but Jindal does not want anyone to know.

I hope his latest maneuver to throw out the tests without the approval of the State Superintendent of Education, John White, whom he appointed to great fanfare, and Chas Roemer, president of BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education), is illegal. I hope he does something illegal that has consequences, because Jindal is a virtual dictator, since even the usually supine state legislature would not vote to throw out Common Core, and he's determined to act on his own.

He's living a fantasy if he thinks he will be the candidate of the Republican Party, but, in the meantime, he is destroying the state. Since John White is defying Jindal at the moment, I would not be surprised if Jindal fired him.

Jindal is under great pressure from fundamentalist Christians like Tony Perkins and his gang. He graduated with a degree in biology from Brown University and was a Rhodes Scholar. Presumably, he knows the science, but he operates from pure personal lust to be president or, at the very least, vice-president of the US.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

CUPIDITY AND STUPIDITY


After waiting four days, Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday finally signed controversial legislation that provides an avenue for killing a coastal erosion lawsuit filed by a New Orleans-area levee board against 97 oil and gas companies.

In so doing, he dismissed warnings from some legal experts, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and some parish officials that the measure will imperil claims against BP arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Sneakily done on a Friday slow news day. And if that wasn't enough...
Jindal signed Senate Bill 469 just hours before dealing a second blow to the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, which sued the oil and gas companies for their destruction of wetlands, by replacing Tim Doody, the board’s longtime president and a supporter of the suit, with someone who has previously worked in the energy industry.
Just what we need on the board - a watchdog FOR the energy industry, rather than a watchdog for the welfare of the people of the state.

WORST GOVERNOR EVER!

The Louisiana Legislature is very much complicit in passing the legislation in the first place, but I give credit to some members for trying to introduce sanity into the process. The state will be decades in recovering from the depredations of Bobby Jindal, if we ever do.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

THE FREE MARKET IN LOUISIANA

If the free market is free, why do we have to pay companies to move to Louisiana?
The Port of New Orleans is set to regain its position as one of the main entryways for the billions of bananas imported to the United States each year, a windfall officials hope will create a few hundred new jobs and boost shipping container traffic in New Orleans by as much as 15 percent.
....

Jindal cited three types of incentives that eventually helped persuade the company to relocate. He said Louisiana will give Chiquita $11.3 million to help offset the company’s costs over the next 10 years. That grant will be performance-based, tied to the number of units the company actually ends up shipping through the port, with clawback provisions in case of shortfalls.
(My emphasis)
Chiquita Brands is the old United Fruit Company, which once owned the governments of several Central American countries.   My father was born in Honduras when his parents were visiting relatives there who worked for United Fruit.

Here's another.
AM Agrigen LLC, a Delaware company formed in 2013, has an option on 650 acres in St. Charles Parish as the site of a proposed $1.2 billion fertilizer plant.

LED said it began working with AM Agrigen on the project in October 2012. To secure the project, Louisiana offered the company a performance-based $5.6 million grant to offset infrastructure costs of the project. AM Agrigen would receive help from the state’s LED FastStart workforce training program and is expected to use the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.  (My emphasis)
Great care must be taken by fertilizer plants to prevent air pollution and soil pollution.  The plant will be located near the Mississippi River, the source of drinking water for a large population.  Should any of the chemical containers used in the manufacturing process spring a leak,  river water contamination would result.  Further there is the danger of explosion and fire unless fertilizer plants are duly inspected and held accountable for maintenance of equipment and safe working conditions.

Louisiana's history of weak regulation and oversight of manufacturers is less than encouraging for citizens who live near the the construction site of the plant, but I hope for the best.  I understand the need for well-paying jobs, but the jobs should not come at the cost of quality of life for those who live near the plant.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

SHAME ON YOU, GOVERNOR JINDAL AND MEMBERS OF THE LOUISIANA STATE LEGISLATURE

The State of Louisiana can't come up with the cash to fund the Greater New Orleans Community Health Connection program in New Orleans, which provides services to people and families with income that exceeds the limit for eligibility for Medicaid but who do not earn enough to purchase private insurance.
The population covered by GNOCHC falls within the income limits of the Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But that expansion, which would be fully paid for by the federal government in its early years, has been opposed by the Jindal administration, and an effort to get around the governor’s opposition was shot down in a state Senate committee last week.
Neither the governor nor the members of the state legislature care enough about the people who will lose access to health care to fund the program, nor will they allow Medicaid expansion. This policy of exclusion is either madness or group hardheartedness beyond what I can imagine. The so-called "good Christians" in the governor's office and in the legislature need to spend time reading the Gospels in the Holy Bible, which they recently considered making the official state book. Their neglect of the 240,000 citizens who could be helped by Medicaid expansion is shameful and downright immoral.

My nomination for official state book is A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, the title of which is also an apt description of the present governor and most, but not all, of the members of the state legislature. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SAME SEX COUPLES IN LOUISIANA SUE TO HAVE THEIR MARRIAGES RECOGNIZED

From Houma Today:
The Blanchards are a gay couple, married in Iowa last year, who live in Lafourche. They, along with two other gay couples, have sued the state claiming Louisiana’s refusal to recognize their marriage violates their constitutional freedoms.  
....

Driving through their Raceland subdivision past the single story, cookie cutter red brick homes, the Blanchards’ home would be difficult to distinguish from those of most bayou families. 
....

Courtney argued that those still resisting will be remembered in the same light as those who resisted civil rights for blacks. She added the couple feel nothing but love from their neighbors and others.

“We are accepted around here,” Courtney said. “My grandma knows, and she understands it. I would never imagine that kind of stuff.”
I wish the Blanchards and the other couples in Louisiana success in their litigation to have their marriages recognized.  In other states which do not allow same sex marriages, courts have ruled in favor of recognition.  If the litigation is successful, you'll hear hootin' and hollerin' from folks who disagree with the ruling, but recognition of the marriages is inevitable, and, if not now, then it will come, probably sooner, rather than later.  Seventeen states allow same sex marriages, and the number will surely grow.

The reporter paints a sympathetic picture of the Blanchard family, portraying them as "normal" and unthreatening, which I do appreciate, but I was amused at the description of their house as just like any other house in the neighborhood.  You'd never know from passing by that a family with a young child with two mommies lived there.  What are the expectations about the homes of lesbian and gay couples?   I have no idea.  Norman Bates' house in Psycho

Thursday, January 23, 2014

DAVID VITTER IN THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA

Many of you have already heard that Senator David Vitter will run for governor of the State of Louisiana. Oh joy! Are we lucky, or what? I choose, "Or what?" If you know me at all, you know I do not want David Vitter to be my governor.
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, released a scathing statement Tuesday about Vitter’s gubernatorial bid. Peterson, D-New Orleans, called Vitter an obstructionist and a failure. She questioned his ability to work across political lines. She assigned him a .000 batting average for the success of his legislation last year. What she didn’t mention was his sex scandal.
 Pretty much my opinion, too, and smart of Carter not to mention the scandal.

I expect that few voters in Louisiana are unaware of Vitter's association with a prostitution ring that continues to dog him 7 years later, and the opposition will very likely use against him what Vitter himself called a "serious sin". I hope most Democrats are as smart as Karen Carter and do not bring up the matter repeatedly, thus appearing to pile on, with the result that Vitter will get sympathy votes. He was reelected senator by a landslide, so the connection with the prostitution ring is not likely to sway voters in the election for governor one way or another.  And here I am talking about it, but I hope not to in the future.


With Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Treasurer John Kennedy, both Republicans, considering a run, either would be more acceptable to me than Vitter, with Dardenne as my preference between the two.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BOBBY JINDAL TWEETS


Only until the weak are born. If parents in Louisiana need help for the child after birth, well good luck with that. Gov. Jindal will not implement Medicaid Expansion, though it would not cost the state one cent for 9 years, and thereafter only 10% of the expenses of the programs.


The group that awarded Louisiana the "prize",  Americans United for Life, apparently does not follow up on the care given to the "weakest and most vulnerable among us" after they're born, or they would remind Gov. Jindal that babies, indeed all vulnerable human beings among us, need care throughout their lives after they're brought into the world.

At least one Louisiana state senator is trying to provide health insurance for low income people in Louisiana. 
State Sen. Ben Nevers said Tuesday that he would propose two constitutional amendments aimed at guaranteeing that low income Louisiana adults get basic health care coverage.

Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said he wants Louisiana voters to either authorize expansion of the state Medicaid program called for in the federal health care revamp or to provide health care coverage for residents whose income falls below the federal poverty level.
....

The Kaiser Commission estimates 242,000 Louisiana residents, who make too much for Medicaid but too little to purchase adequate insurance, would qualify for Medicaid coverage through the expansion. For an individual, 100 percent of the federal poverty level is $11,490. For a family of four, it’s $23,550. At 138 percent for an individual it’s $15,856 and family of four $32,499.

Nevers said people are ending up in hospital emergency rooms with serious illnesses because of lack of health care and that “cost all of us millions.”
There's no such thing as free emergency room care; someone pays.  I hope other legislators take note and support Sen. Nevers in his efforts to provide health insurance for those who cannot afford the premiums, since the governor refuses to address the problem.

And further, if you click the link, you will read about two success stories from people who were able to buy affordable health insurance through - Gasp! - the Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare.
'Tierney Brinkman, a New Orleans server and bartender, said she went without insurance for 10 years. “It’s not that I didn’t want it. I had a pre-existing condition,” said Brinkman, explaining she had lumps in her breast and breast cancer in her family. She said either no company would insure her or the monthly premiums were “well beyond my means.” That 10 years without coverage was “terrifying,” she said.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, Brinkman said she now has a quality plan with a low deductible: $108 a month.
Despite the horror stories, the ACA is working as it should to provide health insurance for those who previously could not obtain coverage or who paid very high premiums because of preexisting conditions.  Insurance, any insurance, is about spreading the risk throughout a large number of people.  For the young and healthy who say they don't need health insurance, I remind them that even among their age group, even if only a small number, some will be diagnosed with a medical condition that requires expensive treatment.  Further, no one is able to predict an accidental injury that would require long-term medical treatment.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

DON'T WANT TO WAIT? PAY EXTRA TO A PRIVATE COMPANY

Heading to a state motor vehicles office to get your driver’s license? A legislative report suggests you might want to bring a book or Kindle device and expect a wait.

Wait times at locations for the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles have shot up to as much as 1½ hours in some places as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration slashed staffing levels amid continuing state budget cuts, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office.

Here's the money quote.
OMV is rolling out a program that allows a public tag agent — a private business that processes vehicle title registrations — to also renew state driver’s licenses, for up to an extra $18 fee."
Reduce the number of state employees and, if citizens are annoyed by long waiting times, provide more convenient service by hiring a private, profit-making business, and make them pay extra for a service that the state should provide for all citizens in a timely manner. There you have it. Shrinking government and privatization in action. Thank you, Governor Jindal.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

LOUISIANA WILL LOSE OVER 1 BILLION BY REFUSING TO IMPLEMENT MEDICAID EXPANSION

States not expanding Medicaid under Obamacare will be collectively lose more than $35 billion in federal funds in 2022 alone, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund.
....

The Commonwealth Fund further explained the study's methodology as follows:
Federal funds that pay for state Medicaid programs are raised through federal general revenue collection—taxes paid by residents in all states—whether or not they participate in the program. Therefore, taxpayers in states not participating in the Medicaid expansion will bear a share of the overall cost, without benefitting from the program. Glied and Ma estimated the net loss of federal funds to states that do not expand Medicaid by using projected federal Medicaid spending in each state and calculating the federal Medicaid-related taxes paid by each state.
According to Healthrender, Louisiana stands to lose 1.566 billion dollars.  That's billions lost to the state budget that is often in arrears and requires last minute cuts in programs and institutions that have already been cut to the bone.

Almost certainly people in Louisiana will die from treatable diseases and conditions because of the lack of health insurance, either because treatment was started too late, or because treatment was inadequate.

So far as I can make out, Jindal refuses the money for the sake of furthering his political ambitions on the national scene.  He has campaigned around the country since he first assumed the office of governor in Louisiana.  His extensive travels for political purposes leave him little time in the state which he governs so incompetently.  Even so, Jindal has managed to destroy or maim multiple institutions and programs that took decades to build and will require generations to recover if the people of Louisiana ever have the will to elect governors who will build up rather than destroy.    

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WILL BOBBY JINDAL IMPLEMENT MEDICAID EXPANSION?

From blogger CenLamar: 
The Dumbest Decision in Contemporary Louisiana History

In less than thirty days, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will make a final decision on whether he wants to accept, according to a report published by his own Department of Health and Hospitals, as much as $25 billion from the federal government in order to guarantee and expand health care coverage for as many as 653,000 poor and working class Louisiana families and individuals.
....

"The fiscally, socially, ethically, and morally responsible thing to do would be to accept the Medicaid expansion dollars to which we are already entitled. The fiscally, socially, ethically, and morally responsible thing to do would be to champion and embrace the promise of lifting hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and fellow citizens out of despair and hopelessness, to provide them with the very basic opportunity to access affordable and quality health care. It is profoundly decent, but even more than that, it is also represents the single most important and transformative investment in Louisiana’s workforce in modern history."
What are the chances that Jindal will do the right thing?  Slim to none I'd say.  The governor wants to remain pure in the eyes of his Tea Party fans, and anything that involves a link with Obamacare would render him impure.  So what if hundreds of thousands of the poor and working class in Louisiana remain without health insurance?  The governor's ideology trumps health care.

A number of Republican governors have set aside ideology and implemented the Medicaid Expansion as a no-brainer because it will not cost the states a dime for nine years and then only 10% of the costs thereafter.   In addition, perhaps the governors may have been ashamed to so blatantly put their political ambitions above the welfare of the poor and low income people of their states.  Such a lack of compassion in a man who claims to be a Catholic Christian but chooses to ignore Roman Catholic social justice teachings about preferential treatment of the poor is puzzling to me.  Has he ever heard or read the words of Pope Francis?

How healthy are the people of Louisiana?  Are the citizens of the state so far above the rest of the country in good health that we do not need the Medicaid expansion?  Indeed not.  There we are in our usual place in the group of least-healthy states, tied for 49th place with three other states.

Click on the chart and map for larger views.

 


Monday, November 11, 2013

EMILINE "DOUCE" BOURGEOIS - OLDEST WOMAN MILITARY VETERAN IN LOUISIANA

Emiline Anne Bourgeois enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps on Feb. 10, 1945, a week after the U.S. 6th Army invaded Luzon island in the Philippines intent on liberating Manila from the Japanese. About six months later, she was there nursing wounded soldiers.

A Thibodaux native, she served her country through the end of World War II in the Philippines and a post-war, overseas assignment in occupied Germany.

She served stateside through the Korean War and the beginning of the Vietnam War era.

Bourgeois was honorably discharged as a major on Jan. 31, 1962, a rank few women attained back then.

Douce is an old friend and distant cousin. Two years ago, we celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends. The picture to the right shows Douce with her sister Cora Lee at her birthday party at a local restaurant.  Douce will be 102 years old on on Christmas Eve of this year.



Douce receiving communion from a lay minister dressed in her uniform, which is still a perfect fit.



Douce and I are related through the two brothers pictured in their Confederate uniforms. On the left is Paulin Adrien Ledet, Douce's grandfather, and on the right is François Amedee Ledet, my great-great-grandfather.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

STILL THE STUPID PARTY

A significant chunk of Louisiana Republicans evidently believe that President Barack Obama is to blame for the poor response to the hurricane that ravaged their state more than three years before he took office.
....

Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren't sure who to blame.
Republicans in Louisiana have not heeded Governor Jindal's advice to stop being the stupid party.  The poll results demonstrate a classic example of Louisiana Republicans' disregard for facts. Everything is Obama's fault.  Facts, dates, history, none of that matters. Unfortunately, it's not just Republicans in Louisiana who live in the unreality bubble.

People here and throughout the country cannot accept the fact that Obama is president, because he is black and because he is a Democrat, thus the birthers who blather endlessly about the invalidity of the president's birth certificate. Racism plays a large part in the disdain for Obama, but, if you observe the commentary about Hillary Clinton from certain quarters, you see it's not entirely about racism.

Indeed, Jindal himself has not followed his own good advice advice.  He spent $800,000 of state money trying to pass his program to eliminate state income taxes an impose a sales tax to replace the revenue which was wildly unpopular and went nowhere in the legislature.

The next debacle was the administration's attempt to fund private schools by using public school money, which prompted a lawsuit that cost the state who knows what amount of our tax money to defend the suit.  In the end, the Louisiana Supreme Court decided that the use of public school funds violated the Louisiana constitution, so Jindal had to scramble to find money that was already committed to pay tuition in private schools for low income families and return money to public schools.

And now the latest in the state's privatization of health care.
A private company that took over management of state behavioral health programs last year has not complied with contract terms, a state audit released Monday found.
The $354 million two-year contract with Magellan Health Services allows the state Department of Health and Hospitals to impose sanctions, but none have been, the Louisiana legislative auditor wrote.
The company doesn't pay claims in a timely manner.  A friend who is a psychologist told me that before he read the article, he know the company would be either Magellan or another company known for not paying claims on time.  Kathy Kleibert, head of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says:
The program has been successful, she said, by allowing DHH to expand access to care for more people and provide better service. It allowed DHH to increase the number of providers from 800 to 1,700.
All well and good, but if the providers don't get paid, they will not continue to provide services.  Duh. 

I'm sorry for us, the citizens of Louisiana, that Jindal and his cohorts have failed us in so many areas of governance, which leads me to the governor's latest poll numbers from Public Policy Polling.  Only 28% of voters in Louisiana approve of Bobby Jindal's performance, while 59% disapprove.  Three years ago Jindal's approval rating was at 58%, with 34% of voters disapproving of his performance.  The governor's numbers are sinking like a stone.

UPDATE: For more on Jindal's polling numbers see CenLamar

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BAYOU CORNE - THE COMMUNITY SWALLOWED BY A SINKHOLE.


About once a month, the residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, meet at the Assumption Parish library in the early evening to talk about the hole in their lives. "It was just like going through cancer all over again," says one. "You fight and you fight and you fight and you think, 'Doggone it, I've beaten this thing,' and then it's back." Another spent last Thanksgiving at a 24-hour washateria because she and her disabled husband had nowhere else to go. As the box of tissues circulates, a third woman confesses that after 20 years of sobriety she recently testified at a public meeting under the influence.

"The God of my understanding says, 'As you sow, so shall you reap,'" says Kenny Simoneaux, a balding man in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt. He has instructed his grandchildren to lock up the ammunition. "I'm so goddamn mad I could kill somebody."

But the support group isn't for addiction, PTSD, or cancer, though all of these maladies are present. The hole in their lives is a literal one. One night in August 2012, after months of unexplained seismic activity and mysterious bubbling on the bayou, a sinkhole opened up on a plot of land leased by the petrochemical company Texas Brine, forcing an immediate evacuation of Bayou Corne's 350 residents—an exodus that still has no end in sight. Last week, Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the company and the principal landowner, Occidental Chemical Corporation, for damages stemming from the cavern collapse.
The article by Tim Murphy at Mother Jones is excellent, one of the best of the accounts I've read of the events that led up to the sinkhole collapse, its increase in size, and the consequences that followed for the people who live or once lived in the area.  Since south Louisiana sits upon many hollowed-out salt caverns, which are often used to store natural gas and oil, with some of the oil containing radioactive materials, the question is not if, but when a similar disaster will happen.

Lax regulation and lack of oversight of the dangerous operations of oil and gas and chemical companies here in Louisiana contribute to the number of disasters.  When will we have had enough of the disasters to pass more rigorous safety regulations and provide timely inspections and stiffer penalties for companies who break safety rules?  When will we have had enough to get serious here in Louisiana about research and development in clean energy sources and provision of tax incentives for businesses that provide clean energy and for factories that manufacture equipment for use in supplying clean energy?  

I'm not holding my breath.


 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WHO WOULD EVER HAVE EXPECTED...?



BP officials are objecting to the state’s decision to close waters around Grand Terre to fishing after a 40,000-pound tar mat was unearthed in the surf just off the island.


Grand Terre is an uninhabited barrier island east of Grand Isle. The tar mat, which was 165 feet long by 65 feet wide, was about 85 percent sand, shells and water, and 15 percent oil. It was removed over a period of a few weeks.

The state issued the closure Friday, a few days after reports of the massive tar mat took off in the media. According to state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials, all commercial fishing is prohibited in closed waters off Grand Terre. Recreational fishing is limited to rod and reel fishing and charter boat tours.
....

BP claims the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issued the fisheries closure without explaining its reasons or offering data to show the closure is needed.
....

[Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert] Barham said that the state will continue to close fishing grounds when oil is discovered. He added that according to the most recent federal estimates, up to 1 million barrels of BP oil remains unaccounted for in the Gulf.
Hey!  The huge tar mat is only 15% oil.  What's the problem?

BP is impatient and wants to be done with its responsibility for the Maconda oil gusher, but - dammit! - oil keeps turning up in the Gulf.  When will the nightmare will be over for BP?  I expect long before the 1 million barrels are accounted for.  When will the nightmare be over in the Gulf of Mexico?  Who knows?  Maybe never.

Tony Hayward, BP CEO, on May 13, 2010, eight days after the Maconda well explosion.
The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.
The gift that keeps on giving.  Thanks, BP.

Photo from SierraActivist.

Monday, July 1, 2013

IT'S NOT THE GUNS - PARTS 6 AND 7

A teenager in Marrero died Sunday after being shot in what the shooter said was an accident.

Christian Cardon, 23, told investigators he didn’t know there was a bullet in the chamber of his new AR-15 semi-automatic rifle when he pulled the trigger early Sunday morning.

A single shot fired, striking 16-year-old Trey Stahl, of Marrero, in the neck, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.

Stahl was pronounced dead at the scene, Fortunato said.

Cardon, 23, 1718 Gulf Drive, Gretna, was booked into Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on one count of negligent homicide.
....

It was the second time in a week that a child has been killed in what authorities are calling accidental shootings.

Brandajah Smith, 5, shot herself in the head with a .38 caliber gun June 23 after her mother left her locked and alone in her house on North Galvez Street.

Brandajah’s mother, Laderika Smith, 28, a convicted thief and prostitute, was booked with second-degree murder in the child’s death.
....

Louisiana has the nation’s second-highest rate of childhood gun deaths, after Alaska. In 10 years, more than 1,000 children were killed by bullets in the state — 739 were murdered, 224 committed suicide and 89 were killed accidentally.
In a country with weak firearm laws and a state with some of the weakest gun laws in the country, is it any wonder that the accidental shootings are all too frequent?  The National Rifle Association blathers on about the mentally ill with access to guns, lack of enforcement of present weak gun laws, and the warning that enactment of stronger gun control laws will result in only criminals having guns.  But what's the NRA's solution for stupid and irresponsible people who own guns?  I'd guess the group would suggest their usual solution - more guns with fewer restraints.  How many deaths will it take to bring us to our senses?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

WHERE LOUISIANA'S VOUCHER MONEY GOES, OR IS OUR CHILDREN LEARNING?

Brilliant post by CenLamar exposing the lack of responsibility and oversight of the school voucher program, a pet project of Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent of Education, John White, part of a plan to destroy public education in Louisiana.
Yesterday, after more than a year of sustained criticism in the state, national, and even international media, Louisiana Superintendent John White (no relation) announced the Department of Education was banning the New Living Word School in Ruston, Louisiana from participating in the so-called Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (the SSEEP), more commonly known as the school voucher program. Under the direction of Governor Bobby Jindal and the majority Republican state legislature, Superintendent White is responsible for rolling out and implementing the most expansive school voucher program in the nation’s history, a program that potentially qualifies as many as 56% of Louisiana students.
Read it all, and weep for the children of Louisiana.  Note especially the leaked email from White to "muddy up the narrative," rather than deal with the revelations about the inadequacies of New Living Word School long before now.

Since the Louisiana State Legislature is responsible for enabling this type of scam, I blame them for supinely bowing before the governor to pass legislation allowing the mad voucher scheme to go forward.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

THAT'S OUR BOBBY

Funding for the disabled and arts programs fell out of the $25 billion state spending plan Friday with the stroke of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto pen.

The governor deleted $4 million aimed at whittling down a waiting list for home-based services for the developmentally disabled. Parents of disabled children pleaded with legislators during the session to shorten the list. Some could wait 10 years before receiving services.
....

After issuing the vetoes, the governor flew to California for Republican National Committee meetings.

Jindal also stripped money for children’s clinics, family violence programs and an organization that helps the disabled become more independent through technological tools.
Do your dirty work and run, Guvna.  You don't want to be in Louisiana, anyway.  The trail of wreckage you leave behind is so ugly that maybe even you don't want to look.  What's next once your term is up?  Since you have your eyes on a prize on the national scene, why not now?  Is there a powerful Republican out there who will make you an offer you can't refuse right at this moment?  Not every governor completes her/his term.  Take Sarah Palin.  I'm sure a good many people in Alaska thought, "Take Sarah Palin.  Please!" 

Friday, May 24, 2013

THE MIRACLE OF PRIVATIZATION

The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday.

That’s more than is in the current year’s budget — $955 million — for the state to operate the charity hospitals.

And more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.
Kristy Nicholls says that the state will benefit in the long run, but I'll hold my applause until a source outside the Jindal administration breaks down the figures. As you may or may not know, in Jindal's plan to ditch personal and business income taxes and make up the difference in sales taxes, the math did not compute. I'm not sure what method the administration uses, but the numbers don't always pan out as presented.  When Jindal realized that his tax plan was DOA in the Legislature, he withdrew the mess at the last minute.

Further on Medicaid expansion:
Even though governors and lawmakers in five Deep South states oppose a plan to cover more people through Medicaid under the health care overhaul, 62 percent of the people in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina support expanding the program, according to a new poll.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/21/4248364/public-in-deep-south-supports.html#storylink=cpy

The level of support for expanding Medicaid – the state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled – ranged from a low of 59 percent in Mississippi to a high of 65 percent in South Carolina, according to the poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a leading research and public policy think tank that focuses on African-Americans and other people of color.
....

But the five states in the poll, all led by Republican governors, have decided not to participate. Ironically, Mississippi and Louisiana rank dead last among all states in the overall health of their residents, according to America’s Health Ranking, an annual report by the United Health Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the insurer UnitedHealth Group.
There you have it.  The voice of the majority does not prevail, and many of the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi will go without health insurance, because their governors are ideologues who do not put the welfare of the citizens first.  Of course, when the governor has national ambitions, he has to keep one eye on the Tea Party and the other on Grover Norquist, with no third eye to look at the hardships he inflicts on the residents of his own state.

Thanks to Ann for the link to the poll.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/21/4248364/public-in-deep-south-supports.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"JINDAL SCRAPS TAX PLAN"

SOMETIMES WE WIN!

Gov. Bobby Jindal bowed to public sentiment Monday and shelved his plan to immediately eliminate income taxes and raise sales tax.

The governor admitted defeat on the first day of the legislative session during a speech to a joint gathering of the Louisiana House and Senate.

Jindal said he heard the complaints that he moved too fast and that his approach was not the best one.

House Democrats, religious leaders, public research groups, the business community and even the governor’s own accounting consultant found fault with his proposal to eliminate the state’s personal income and corporate taxes in favor of a higher state sales tax rate and a broadening of the sales tax base.

“Let me do something politicians don’t normally do,” Jindal said. “We’re going to adjust our course. We’re going to park our tax plan.”
Jindal's withdrawal of the plan demonstrates what citizens can accomplish by working together.  Hardly anyone except Jindal and his close advisers liked the tax plan, which was poorly crafted, with numbers that did not add up.   Perhaps Jindal and his inner circle have learned a lesson about opening up their planning process to outside advice, rather than operating in secrecy and holding plans close to the chest until the eleventh hour before the legislature convenes.  Still, Jindal and cohorts are crafty, so citizens must must remain vigilant and not let down the guard, for further nefarious schemes are likely to emerge.

The people of Louisiana have won only a reprieve from the negative consequences of Jindal's tax plan and are left with many problems still to be solved.  Political leaders in the state need to accept the reality of raising revenue to prevent further depredations on programs, institutions, and infrastructure than have already happened during the first term of the Jindal administration, but I doubt the will is there in either the governor or the legislature.  The repeated rounds of mid-year budget cuts because of faulty projections of revenue must be addressed to enable state programs and institutions to operate with a measure of stability.