Report from Louisiana: Politics as Usual in the Bayou State

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Report from Louisiana: Politics as Usual in the Bayou State

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.

Pat Austin Becker blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port and is the author of Cane River Bohemia. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25 and Twit­ter @paustin110.

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.

Pat Austin Becker blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.