Friday, 08 June 2012 12:23
by The Independent Editors
Dem rep: Jindal victories illusory
[Editor’s Note: The following letter to the editor was submitted by Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite.]
Gov. Jindal can claim victory in the just completed legislative session but — thank goodness — the facts prove otherwise.
As the session started, Democrats in the House of Representatives pronounced the governor’s retirement package dead on arrival. For the most part, we were right.
Of the six parts of his package, five failed. Drastically delaying the retirement age, dead. Increasing employees’ contributions, dead. Reducing the benefits of future retirees, dead. All but eliminating cost-of-living increases for retirees, dead. Trying to merge two retirement systems at no savings to the taxpayer, dead. They were all unwise, unfair and — for the most part — unconstitutional.
More importantly, most of those bills did nothing to reduce the state’s retirement debt by even a penny.
The governor’s scheme to create a “cash balance” benefit for new employees — a plan that would deny most employees dignity and security in retirement — did squeak though, but only because of a tortured twisting of House rules.
That’s how the governor won every “victory” he claims. He and his allies resorted to breaking rules, ignoring the constitution and other excesses like springing 47-page amendments onto 3-page bills without giving committee members time to even read the massive changes.
They hold up that conduct as fair and transparent. I would call it unworthy of our people.
The governor was a bit more successful with his education package but only after more flouting of the rules and rushing through massive and complicated legislation. On the last day of the session, the House approved the $3.4 billion plan that funds local school systems with 51 votes when — by a rule that the speaker of the House ignored — that legislation needed 53 votes to pass.
As many predicted, serious flaws in the governor’s education package are already being exposed. The education department has already approved for taxpayer-funded vouchers schools that don’t have the teachers, classrooms, books or equipment to teach hundreds of new students. More worrisome, many of these schools do not have any history of delivering educational excellence.
This is not about right or left; it’s about right and wrong. Just look at how Democrats and Republicans joined to oppose the flawed MFP legislation.
I and many of my colleagues work in Baton Rouge on behalf of Louisiana workers, Louisiana families and Louisiana students. This session, we saw the needs of our people lose out to the governor’s personal political ambitions.
Rep. John Bel Edwards Chairman, Louisiana House Democratic Caucus Amite, LA
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JUL 27 The news gets worse in the case of the 11th hour bill that added a bunch of money to the retirement income of State Police Commander Mike Edmonson. Blogger CB Forgotston says here that the annual increase was not $30K, it was more like $55K. Also, it was Jindal buddy Neil Riser who tacked the action onto another bill - something he didn't feel compelled to tell us until now. But here's the best part - Edmonson turned down the money on Friday.
JUL 28 Finally, someone has pointed out that the far-right people who scream at immigrant children are not acting as Jesus would. Blogger Robert Mann runs a comparison of the actions of these alleged "Christians" against what the Bible says about their Savior -- and they come up lacking. Big time.
JUL 27 Here's the first of four pieces from Minnesota Public Radio about the horrible legacy of Gilbert Gauthe, the pedophile who also was a priest and used his position to obtain victims. The story gets into the most shameful aspect of that time - the protection Gauthe received from the leaders of the church. This four-piece story promises to be more comprehensive than anything we've seen, because it is looking back from so far. Some of the information here has only been released recently.
JUL 28 This story in the Picayune is a hopeful, happy one for a change. It's about a young woman who faced family problems that led to her dropping out of school. But now, just a few years later, she's completed two programs aimed at troubled kids and has landed a job in the kitchen of a John Besh restaurant.
JUL 27 Columnist James Gill has something for the Baton Rouge Metro Council -- and they could probably use it. He's giving them a piece of his mind in this post, taking them to task for being too (dumb, homophobic, gutless?) hesitant to pass the so-called tolerance ordinance, which basically says you can't discriminate against gay people in that fair city.
JUL 27 When you're telling people they have lost their jobs, you have to be careful about how you do it. When more layoffs were announced last week to the employees of the Office of Group Benefits, apparently that wasn't handled well, blogger Tom Aswell argues in this post. He's also got some info on who gets to stay - and how much they make. (Spoiler alert: It's a lot.)
JUL 28 After three years of revisions, the proposed new zoning ordinance for the city of New Orleans is ready for public review, this post on NOLA Defender reports. The plan is available starting today on the city's website and in several locations in the city, NoDef reports.
JUL 27 Here's an interesting infographic from LaPolitics on getting negative in political campaigning. There are several people who might want to take note - but chances are, they can't help themselves.
JUL 25 If you're not aware, there's a conflict among pro-choicers and pro-lifers going down in New Orleans. Anti-abortionists are protesting in the city this week, but those who support access to abortion have also been active in the city as a result. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow takes a look at what's going on in this clip, posted on Gambit.
JUL 25 Education Superintendent John White probably shouldn't sign a long lease on anything in Louisiana, Blogger Lamar Parmentel writes, because our reformer in chief is now in a situation "from which no amount of his own bs jargon or political hatchet work can extricate him." Lamar thinks that White is going to have to quit, and probably sooner rather than later.
JUL 25 This post on the Wall Street Journal examines the case of a Metairie physician who is making millions by filing whistle-blower lawsuits. His suits accuse corporations of defrauding federal agencies like Medicare, and when he wins he gets whistle-blower rewards - in the tens of millions of dollars. (You can view the story using your Facebook account, but if you don't want to do that, here's an abbreviated version in the Advocate.)
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