Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Louisina Political Buzz: Special Session, President Bush, New Orleans Elections, Energy

Legislative Call

Governor Blanco has issued the legislative call. Topping the list are Levee board consolidation, absentee voting, insurance matters, the merging of New Orleans´ government offices and formalizing the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Also on the legislative call was the Internet Wireless issue which New Orleans hired me to write and which I personally on my own (without New Orleans asking me to do so) asked Bayoubuzz readers to support. I believe this legislation to be critical for public safety and reconstruction. Also, as Bayoubuzz had urged weeks ago, the legislature will visit New Orleans area but Governor Blanco will give her speech from New Orleans.

Perhaps the most volatile issue on the call could be the consolidation of New Orleans City government. This issue involves jobs and institutions. At issue is the merging the civil and criminal courts, clerks and sheriffs and the municipal courts. Many believe that due to the lack of population those functions should be now simplified and made more cost-effective. With the New Orleans elections set, it will be interesting to see the candidates take position on these issues. Also, with candidates now apparently in the race, it will be important for them to stake there positions on these issues rather than wait until the legislature finishes up.

President Bush

With statewide elections approaching this fall, one of the major issues for candidates in Louisiana will be what they have done to help the Katrina and Rita efforts. On the republican side, already Bobby Jindal and Congressman Baker have come out strong requesting more federal support. Ironically, the number one opponent of further aid appears to be President Bush.

But, to the extent that he is acting (or perhaps not acting)—with the goal of punishing Governor Blanco or Mayor Nagin or to mold local Louisiana politics, he could cause untold damage to the state Republican party—which would be a shame. The President must remember the victims are the people of Louisiana who were harmed by federally controlled and built levees and we have virtually whole parishes ruined.

Offshore Leases

Earlier this week, Gov. Kathleen Blanco strongly suggested that she would not support future offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico unless Louisiana gets a share of the federal royalties generated by oil production there. Senator Vitter and Mary Landrieu attempted to get the general issue in the President’s State of the Union speech. Bush had put a time mark for being energy independent in the next twenty years. The act by Governor Blanco is clear indication that Louisiana wants its fair share especially given the fact that it is not getting it, nor has it ever received it in the past and we have paid the price.

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