Elections have consequences, and it’s good to see Louisiana’s elected conservative majority break from its typical pattern. By stamping its authority onto opponents to try to stop them from doing the wrong thing – even if that majority avers that’s not the intent – they’re imposing checks on the abuse of power by some of our worst state actors.
This rare display of power occurred during last week’s State Bond Commission meeting. Usually a sleepy affair, over the past few years it has become perhaps the most visible instrument by which Republicans, who control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices, have used to rein in the leftism of state Democrats led by their only official with power, Gov. John Bel Edwards – despite having huge majorities in both legislative chambers, which until this year largely have hesitated in throwing their weight around.
Most prominently, a couple of years ago it reined in anti-Second Amendment actions by changing its rules to penalize bidders for bond business that discriminated against firearms makers and sellers. Now, it has acted to prod Edwards’ sister-in-arms Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell into abandoning its useless and counterproductive Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policies.
Despite the fact that individuals vaccinated against it transmit the virus as readily as those not so and thus vaccination does not make unvaccinated people any safer in public, Cantrell imposed a vaccine passport on most forms of commerce and social gatherings in the city. In turn, this forced the New Orleans Saints to require the same for attendance at their home games in the Superdome, owned and operated by a state commission. Initially, no refunds would have come from ticket cancellation
However, the club changed this almost immediately to offer refunds, but it wouldn’t allow season ticket holders back into their existing priority placement if they wanted to resume season tickets in the future. Not long after the club announced this decision, the SBC met with two agenda items that would allow the team access to $28 million in borrowing capacity. But state Sen. Pres. Page Cortez successfully asked for delaying these until the next month’s meeting to gain clarity on this entry and ticketing policy.
The Republican majority on the SBC clearly wanted the Saints to rethink the issue, with the team caught in the middle as it has to follow city dictates. Understand that in American federalism local governments are creatures of state government whose sole purpose is to administer state policy in a decentralized fashion. So, when a local government tries to circumvent state policy, the state legitimately can use all means to force it into compliance. Thus, the Saints need to pressure Cantrell to drop the stupidity if they want to see stadium upgrades designed to benefit them.
The SBC GOP majority less blatantly piled the pressure on Edwards to do the same, by denying at the same meeting a number of projects in New Orleans from moving forward, delaying these also until next month. The member who proposed dropping these, GOP state Rep. Zee Zeringue, pointed out the most critical of the bunch, water and sewerage improvements, received permission, as did a few smaller ones. Also, a pair of related items for Lafayette also met with delay. Zeringue claimed New Orleans was getting too much of the pie as the reason for excising, when the Edwards Administration accused the delay as retribution for Cantrell’s policy.
Regardless of the real reason, it got Edwards’ attention. Only the Administration’s two representatives on the panel voted against the removals, with his counsel Matthew Block alleging with pushing back the bond sales that some projects – all very local, some going to non-government organizations – would miss deadlines and some contractors already were owed.
Cantrell should have a pretty good idea that ending the stupidity will ensure that those sales authorizations sail through next month, and if she doesn’t Edwards can tell her. The ball is in their court; they are the obstructionists who must change. And that will happen only if the SBC majority holds fast and continues to deny approval as long as Cantrell remains stubborn.
And it should expand its reach. Noxious policy similar to hers looks set to commence at state universities and even in many parts of state government, forcing on-site employees to receive vaccinations or proof of a negative test. Additionally, Louisiana State University is applying a similar policy as the Saints to its football games. Fine; delay any LSU bonded item until these kinds of orders are rescinded, or for any other part of state government as long as this inanity is in place.
It’s called tough love, to prevent injurious behavior to the state’s people and especially effective when you have to overcome regnant elements of power with unreasonable agendas. Too often the emergent, now installed, conservative majority in Louisiana government hasn’t gotten it together to put the state on the right course. The SBC actions need to continue, intensify, and expand into other policy-making functions controlled by Republicans, most principally the Legislature.