By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I have spent the last twelve days on Spring Break and that comes to an end this week as I return to the classroom to finish out the last seven or so weeks of the school year. It’s been a glorious break and going back to reality is not really exciting me right now, but not much choice there.
Over the past couple of weeks we have travelled around Louisiana, talked to people, met new people, seen new places, had new adventures. Maybe it’s just the places I went or the people I’ve talked to, but we did not come across one single person who admitted to being a John Bel Edwards supporter.
I say that as this gubernatorial campaign begins to shape up and as we survey the field of contenders to replace Edwards; some say that field is weak and others contend we have two really good candidates to take Edwards down.
There are so many things about my home state that I love: the culture, the people, the food, the weather, the scenery, just to dust the surface. But the leadership? Not so much. The Hayride blog sums it up like this:
“Every public policy or economic metric we look at tells us Louisiana is absolutely falling apart, we appear to be on pace to lose as many as 100,000 of our citizens to net outmigration over the four years John Bel Edwards is governor, the leadership and governance of Louisiana’s key institutions – like, for example, LSU – has sunk to such appalling levels that even Edwards supporters … are publicly sounding alarms…”
Our politicians, as a rule, remain true to form. Consider John Alario, current President of the Louisiana State Senate, who has been in the legislature since 1972! That’s FOURTY-SEVEN YEARS, people. Alario is currently classified as a Republican but that’s only a matter of electoral convenience. Here is a piece I wrote about Alario in 2011 which outlines Alario’s back and forth dodging of term limits and aisle switching, among other things. It’s a pretty tangled story but you don’t stay in Louisiana politics for for an entire lifetime and not learn some tricks.
Anyway, John Alario is back in the rumor mill as preparing to aisle switch once again and run for his old House seat. Which party he will run under is yet to be determined:
And by the way, so you’ll know, this week’s political scuttlebutt circulating among state legislators is that John Alario is going to run for his old House seat that he was termed out of before he switched to the Senate and is now being termed out of that seat – and Alario is picking a handpuppet to run for Speaker next year while he readies to take over for Cameron Henry as chair of the Appropriations Committee. If you re-elect John Bel Edwards governor, therefore, you are going to get John Alario controlling the Louisiana House of Representatives and that will be the end of any semblance of legislative independence in Louisiana (which we have had for precisely three years in the modern history of the state).
And people just keep on re-electing him.
So. While I explore my state and sit in Cajun bars in the Atchafalaya swamp, eat crawfish in Breaux Bridge, watch baseball at Centenary College, celebrate the literary arts under Spanish Moss along Bayou Teche, and write books about Cane River legendary figures, our politicians are keeping their same tempo south of I-10, jumping aisles, making backroom deals, and doing their dead level best to keep this state at all the bottom of the good lists and the top of the bad ones. Our young people flee the state, our roads crumble, our coastline washes away.
Same old same old.