Is John Bel Edwards Trying To Reshape Louisiana?

A couple of items this week caught our notice, because they conform to something a veteran political observer who knows almost everything there is to know about Louisiana politics had suggested we look out for as John Bel Edwards’ second term began.

He said that since the Republicans had essentially wiped out Democrats in legislative races everywhere in the state where demographics don’t immediately dictate an outcome, Edwards’ ability to pass laws to shift Louisiana to the left is nil. But that wouldn’t mean Edwards would give up trying to shift the state to the left; he’d just go about it differently.

Remember when Edwards, in his first year as governor, tried to write LGBT protections into state contracts? That was an attempt to make policy in express contravention of Louisiana’s law as expressed by the Legislature, which is that LGBT people are not a protected legal class. There is no majority to make them one, and therefore state contracts can’t reflect different preferences than those of the legislature. Jeff Landry, Louisiana’s Attorney General, called Edwards on that and put a stop to it. Edwards sued Landry and lost.

So we already know that he’ll try to implement a left-wing agenda in places he thinks people won’t notice.

How could that look in a second term? Well, here’s one example.

Louisiana is joining most other states in creating a panel the Census Bureau recommends will help make sure residents are counted in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday that he has set up a “complete count committee.”

The committee aims to raise awareness of next year’s census and encourage people to respond to the questionnaires.

Census data determines how many members of Congress a state has and is used to divvy up significant sums of federal dollars that flow to states.

The numbers could be critical to Louisiana’s continued receipt of billions in federal money spent on health care, education and social services.

Seems pretty anodyne, no? Of course you want to get everybody counted in the census.

But who’s on this “complete count committee” that Edwards set up? We have the entire list of 23

  • Billy Nungesser, Lieutenant Governor
  • Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge
  • LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans
  • Nic Hunter, Mayor of Lake Charles
  • Jennifer Vidrine, Mayor of Ville Platte
  • David Butler, Mayor of Woodworth
  • Ronny Walker, Mayor of Ruston
  • Randal Gaines, Louisiana State Representative
  • Bernard LeBas, Louisiana State Representative
  • Regina Barrow, Louisiana State Senator
  • Richard Zuschlag, CEO of Acadian Ambulance
  • Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana
  • Mayra Pineda, President and CEO of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana
  • Ashley Shelton, Executive Director of the Power Coalition
  • Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education
  • Michelle Fazio-Brunson, President of Louisiana Early Childhood Association
  • Dr. Thea Ducrow, Executive Director of Louisiana State Nurses Association
  • Dr. Michael McClanahan, President of Louisiana NAACP
  • Craig Webre, Sheriff for Lafourche Parish
  • RaShad Bristo, Disability Leader
  • Sarah Berthelot, President and CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways
  • Mike Rome, President of Louisiana Council on Aging Association
  • Dr. Samuel Tolbert, Jr., President of National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.

There are some Republicans in that list, but they’re tokens, including Nungesser who is doing everything he can to cast himself as the Democrats’ Favorite Republican. But the majority of the “Complete Count Committee” are a collection of Democrat activists and left-wingers; it wouldn’t be totally unreasonable to suggest that this is, in large part, an effort to keep in business the Edwards get-out-the-vote apparatus which cranked out so much of the black vote for him against Eddie Rispone.

And that’s for the census. Why would you do that? Well, if you can count more people in communities which are uniformly Democrat than otherwise, you’ll show up in next year’s redistricting fight with ammunition suitable, you hope, to force the GOP majority in the Legislature to bend to your will and draw more Democrat-friendly – including majority-minority – legislative and other districts.

With a keen eye toward capturing one of the five Republican congressional districts.

Then there’s something else which caught our eye

COVINGTON, La. — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Medline Industries Inc. announced the company will build an 800,000-square-foot distribution center and create more than 460 new direct jobs in St. Tammany Parish, near Covington, with 170 new jobs created within two years of opening. The $53 million medical supply facility will be built on the north side of Interstate 12 at La. 21, and will replace a smaller Medline distribution center located between Covington and Goodbee.

With the project, Medline will retain 36 existing jobs while creating an additional 464 new direct jobs in the parish. The average annual salary of those Medline team members will be $37,400, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 611 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,070 new jobs in Southeast Louisiana.

“With excellent infrastructure on Interstate 12, and ready access to Interstates 10, 55 and 59, St. Tammany Parish is extraordinarily well-positioned to provide state-of-the-art logistics along the Gulf Coast and into the interior U.S.,” Gov. Edwards said. “We’re delighted that the largest privately held provider of medical supplies recognizes the value proposition that Louisiana delivers in logistics, workforce and business climate. This project will be a game-changer for St. Tammany Parish, with new opportunities for our people and economic diversification for our state.”

On the surface you’d look at this and say “Hey, that’s kinda cool. Four hundred sixty-four new jobs.”


You’d say that, and you’d be missing what’s going on here.

This is a fulfillment house, essentially. This is a bunch of $18-an-hour jobs taking stuff off shelves and putting it in boxes to be shipped out.

And St. Tammany Parish, where the median income is $66,539, has absolutely zero need for $18-an-hour jobs. None. It’s the richest place in the state. People making $37,400 per year are going to have a hell of a time finding a place they can afford to live in St. Tammany, seeing as though the median property value is $206,000.

Why would LED give these people $2.5 million in incentives to expand their small logistics facility in St. Tammany when the jobs they’re going to create make far less than what people already make in St. Tammany? The point of an economic development win is that it makes an area richer, not poorer.

The Medline facility would be a lot bigger win in Orleans Parish, where the median household income is $38,000, or in Washington Parish next door to St. Tammany, where it’s $32,000. Or in lots of places in North Louisiana. Or in North Baton Rouge, which is all but economically dead.

Instead you put it in Covington?

It’s almost like you’re trying to increase the number of Democrats in St. Tammany. It’s a Republican stronghold, after all, just like Jefferson Parish used to be a Republican stronghold.

Like you’re trying to reshape the state in order to help Democrats get elected.

We’ll keep watching this. It’s our bet we’ll find example after example in the coming days.



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