Report from Louisiana: Does Edwards lose based on early voting?

By:  Pat Austin

ARNAUDVILLE LA – We are traveling this week and find ourselves in Arnaudville, LA, once again; we are about an hour to the west of Baton Rouge and twenty minutes or so north of Lafayette, in Cajun country.

Early voting has ended across the state for the gubernatorial election, as well as other local races, and The Hayride blog has some interesting predictions about John Bel Edwards: he loses.  Really, it’s a very dramatic headline: The Early Voting Numbers Signal John Bel Edwards’ Defeat.  Really?!  Is that premature?

Pundit Jeff Sadow believes Edwards may be in trouble:

Democrats have averaged 39.26 percent total turnout while Republicans have averaged 43.59 percent. In terms of early voting over this span, those means respectively are 8.47 and 10.14. Thus, the ratio for Democrats, is 4.65; for Republicans, it’s 4.35. This shows in recent history that of those who vote Democrats in comparison to Republicans disproportionately don’t vote early, with early votes making up 21.5 percent of their total while for the GOP its early voters comprise 23 percent of that total.

At the same time, the early voting average higher Republican turnout of 1.67 percent is 2.6 times smaller than the average gap in total turnout that favors Republicans by 4.33 percent. With early 10/12/19 voting encompassing 13.16 percent of Democrats and 16.91 percent of Republicans, the gap more than doubled to 3.75.

Using the historical ratios, this means trouble for Democrats. That would imply a 64.68 percent turnout for Democrats and 73.56 for Republicans. Such lofty numbers won’t happen because of the trend to substitute early for election day voting, for which these ratios don’t compensate. However, comparatively these do point to a significant GOP advantage.

I’ve been most worried that a Republican split between Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone would give Edwards an outright win but Sadow (who is smarter than me) does not appear concerned.

And for whatever it’s worth, early voting numbers have been record-breaking across the state, which seems to indicate that it is not just local races pulling people to the polls.

The primary is next weekend, October 12, which is also LSU-Florida game day which could contribute to some of the early voting numbers, but certainly not all. 

As I’ve said often, John Bel Edwards has killed economic growth in this state, and his pathetic attempt to buy teacher votes with a $1,000 annual pay raise is a joke. By the time taxes and insurance come out each month my raise might buy lunch one day at Chick-Fil-A.

At this point, I don’t care who defeats Edwards, just as long as somebody does.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and Her Circle at Melrose Plantation (LSU Press). Follow her on Instagram @patbecker 25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Early Voting

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Saturday, my husband and I went downtown for early voting. The line snaked out the door and down the sidewalk and it stayed steady the entire day.  Saturday was the first day of early voting and apparently a lot of people wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. Of course, the LSU-Florida game is on October 12, the day of the primary, and maybe people are going to be out of town or otherwise occupied. 

Reports from across the state are consistent with what we saw in Shreveport. In New Iberia over 700 people turned out for early voting.

The gubernatorial race is what everyone is interested in. Current Governor John Bel Edwards (D) has two Republican challengers and both of those are too close in the polls to say either one is really ahead of the other.

What I am worried about it that they’re going to split the vote and Edwards will win outright without having to go to a runoff.

Edwards is just shy of 50% in most polls while the Republicans are both just above 20%.

Edwards has not been the worst governor we’ve ever had and as Democrats go, he’s pretty conservative on a couple of issues like gun control and abortion, but economically he has done real damage to the state through his alliances with trial lawyers. Companies are fleeing the state to avoid excessive litigation. There are no jobs here, no real industry, few Fortune 500 companies, and out children are running for the Texas border as soon as they graduate from college.  The outlook is grim.

Based on what I was hearing in the early voting line yesterday, there were a lot of Democrat votes cast yesterday. I know that’s far from official evidence, but I think this just might be one of those elections where every single vote counts.

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

Report From Louisiana Extra! Governor’s Election Heats Up with Miraculous Budget Surplus

Editor’s Note (DTG): While going through posts for the writers payday I found this post at the old blog in draft. For some reason it didn’t go up at the old blog, likely do to link issues. After reading it I’ve deemed it good enough to put up and pay for it, so slightly later than expected here via the last big of grief the old GoDaddy hosting site can give us is an election report from Pat Austin originally dated Sept 14th

The Washington Post has designated the Louisiana governor’s race as one of the top five governor’s races to watch in 2019-20.

John Bel Edwards has fairly high approval ratings (mid 50s) and is fairly adept at playing both sides of the line. He signed one of the strictest abortion bills in the country and he oversaw a massive Medicaid expansion. He probably feels fairly safe with the teacher vote because his paltry $1000-a-year raise allows him to say he gave the teachers their first raise in many years.

All in all, I think Edwards feels pretty safe.

His two Republican challengers, Eddie Rispone and Ralph Abraham, are splitting the Republican vote and it’s entirely possible that Edwards can stay comfy in his leather chair without having to worry about a runoff election. Should one of those two Republicans drop out, it might be a different story, but nobody is talking about that.

Adding more fuel to the gubernatorial debate stage will be the fact that now the governor’s office has miraculously discovered a budget surplus:

“Louisiana likely will have a $500 million budget surplus for the most recent fiscal year, significantly more than the $300 million initially thought, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration said Friday, setting off a new round of debate in the governor’s race over the state’s financial situation.

“Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told lawmakers in a joint budget hearing that the larger surplus will allow the state to pay for “dramatic needs” in infrastructure, including a $14 billion backlog in road and bridge projects, and the Edwards administration cast the news as proof the state has emerged from years of uncertainty with a stable budget.”

Louis Gurvitch at The Hayride would like to remind everyone of the facts: Here are the plain facts: “Taxes are way up, the state’s oil and gas industry is being destroyed by lawsuits and over-regulation, and Louisiana’s percentage increase in government spending is the highest in the nation! Don’t even bother to ask about the government reforms we were promised…”

Gurvitch speaks the truth. I love Louisiana, but we are not attracting new business with the excessive tax burden we have in this state, and we are indeed over-run by trial lawyers.

The primary is October 12. We will see then if Edwards stands alone or if he will go to a runoff.

Links:
https://beta.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/06/top-governors-races/?noredirect=on

https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/elections/article_284b8438-d4b5-11e9-a813-375cc60d6770.html

Report from Louisiana: Medical Marijuana Eases Blanco’s Last Days

Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco died August 18; she had been suffering from ocular melanoma.

Whether or not one agrees with her politics, pretty much everyone will concede that Governor Blanco was a class act. She was always gracious and kind, and her love for the state of Louisiana was never questioned. She caught a lot of heat during Hurricane Katrina, but no one ever questioned her love of the state or the city of New Orleans.

Last week The Advocate reports that toward the last days of her life Governor Blanco turned to medical marijuana for relief from the pain of her advanced disease.

Medical marijuana was made legal in Louisiana in the 1970s but it took until 2019 for all of the loopholes, regulation, and proper framework to be put in place. Now the drug is distributed as an oil by nine pharmacies throughout the state. It is legal in about thirty-three states in the U.S.

In July 2019, Blanco entered hospice care and by August was receiving medical marijuana. The drug was immediately effective on her and relieved her from the blackouts that she had from morphine. Her family insists that the oil returned a valuable quality of life to Blanco’s last days.

From The Advocate:

Blanco-Hartfield [Blanco’s daughter], put half a milliliter of oil under her mother’s tongue. “Within 60 seconds, her whole body relaxed,” Blanco-Hartfield said. “She smiled and a peacefulness came over her. It was amazing.”

The following day, Blanco-Hartfield gave her mother a mixture of two milligrams of crushed methadone that had been dissolved with a peppermint into water and half a milliliter of marijuana oil.

“All she had to do was let it go down her throat,” Blanco-Hartfield said. “By that night, she was smiling, eating, laughing and drinking. She could speak one-word commands. We never imagined we’d see that again. It made all the difference in the world that she no longer had to take the morphine.”

According to the family, Governor Blanco was able to rest comfortable, eat, and participate in important family events in her last days, and they believe that if the drug had been available sooner, Blanco may have even lived longer.

The drug remains very expensive, but if it does in fact provide such relief to terminal and to suffering patients, certainly it should be accessible.

Link to The Advocate story: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_1a4e44be-cb6a-11e9-8292-fb567939e0f0.html

Report from Louisiana: Locking Up Cell Phones

The new school year is now underway and with it come all of the typical classroom management issues that frustrate many teachers, especially at the middle and high school level.

One of those problems is cell phones. Since the cell phone has become as common as the Number 2 pencil teachers have been struggling to either incorporate the technology into the lesson or ban the devices altogether. There seems to be no middle ground as most teenagers simply can not deny the lure of social media or games on the phone.
It’s so much more entertaining to participate in an ongoing game of pool on the phone with a friend than listen to that history lecture.

In Bossier Parish, Louisiana, one high school English teacher used the first day of school to conduct an experiment: “Students measured how often they received notifications on their cell phones, from text messages, to phone calls, to news alerts, to Snapchat pings,” and by the end of the day there had been 868 distractions, or notifications, from student devices.

How can teachers compete against this?

Benton High School in Bossier City, Louisiana has found a way. The school purchased Yondr pouches, such as those used at some concerts. At the beginning of the school day students are required to put their phones in the pouch and there it stays until the end of the day when the pouches are unlocked as students leave the building. Students rent the pouches for the year and retain possession of the pouch/phone all day.

While teachers celebrate this development, students are nonplussed. Many feel like they are being punished for the sins of others.

As of now, two Bossier Parish schools are participating in this experiment, but teachers across the parish are hoping it catches on. The cell phone has moved beyond a classroom management problem. Many students pull out the phone and check messages simply as an automatic reflex these days and hey, while there, let’s take a cute selfie, and check that email, and check that new YouTube video real quick.

I’m curious to see how this pilot program works. I’m not clear on what happens if a student is caught with a second phone; many students have more than one phone and routinely carry a “throwdown phone” in case a teacher tries to take their device up.

It would all be much more ideal if students just had the willpower to keep the devices put away, but we are talking about teenagers and when many adults can’t even do this, how can we expect kids to?

Report from Louisiana: Fete Dieu du Teche

By: Pat Austin

ARNAUDVILLE, LA – I’m not Catholic by faith, but this is the coolest thing I’ve seen lately. Just beautiful.

Each year on August 15, Acadians participate in Fete-Dieu du Teche, which is “a 38-mile, all-day boat procession down the Bayou Teche that celebrates the arrival of the Acadians more than 250 years ago.” This year was the fifth year for the procession to travel Bayou Teche. While many communities host the feast of the Assumption procession by foot, this boat procession is believe to be fairly unique.
It is something to see.

As reported by the Lafayette Daily Advertiser:

“The procession of dozens of boats memorializes the Acadian’s exile from Canada and migration to south Louisiana.The feast is also important for Catholics, as the Blessed Virgin Mary is the patroness of Acadiana and its people.

Thursday morning began with a French Mass at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville. Along the way were four stops — behind St. Francis Regis in Arnaudville, behind St. Joseph Church in Cecilia, the Pavilion behind St. Bernard Church in Breaux Bridge and the park behind St. Joseph Church in Parks, before ending at the Old Market Street in St. Martinville.”

There is a Facebook page for the event where folks could watch live videos of the procession all day.

The day began at 8:00 a.m. with a Mass in French at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville and then proceeded down Bayou Teche with stops along the way with stops in designated towns for Rosary and Benediction.

The Catholic News Service explains:

“Having a Eucharistic procession by boat on the waters of the Teche rather than by foot in the streets makes a lot of sense,” said Father Michael Champagne, a priest of the Community of Jesus Crucified, who is the organizer of the event. “Fete-Dieu du Teche on the feast of the Assumption recalls our rich Acadian history and, in a way, reenacts the journey made by the Acadians 250 years ago.”

“The Acadians were persecuted for their Catholic faith and sent into exile from Nova Scotia. Many ended up settling in Louisiana. Champagne explained that having a boat procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of the Assumption involving priests, religious and laity is basically what happened in 1765.”

As the boats move down the river one can see the statue of Mary in front and priests and laity members in their vestments kneeling in the boats as they proceed from one town to the next, stopping to disembark and minister to crowds gathered on the banks.

It’s a powerful and moving thing to see.

I’m Episcopal by faith, (my husband calls it “Catholic-lite”) but no matter what faith you are, you can’t help but be moved by the sights and sounds of this procession.

Raw links for this post:
Photos of the procession: https://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/multimedia/photos/collection_88635440-bf89-11e9-9d1e-d3bd1ca3c33f.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share&fbclid=IwAR0ZUWt-1my401cPWnqQjGgIeJoVUQZ9Uzyi9Vjq2bS-FZYWx2UUj2ueac8#1

Lafayette Daily Advertiser: https://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2019/08/15/acadians-and-blessed-virgin-mary-celebrated/2003527001/?fbclid=IwAR2xpTPHHv0YVmiVLohUyeS9qIPIRV92PDC8JIoNGUIXUIaMqmm9-3KTolU

Crux: Catholic News Service: https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2019/08/03/eucharistic-boat-procession-to-mark-assumption-acadiana-history-faith/

Report from Louisiana: Back to School

Hold a kind thought for teachers in the next few weeks as we head back to school. In our district, we start tomorrow – two days of motivational and procedural in-service training (again) and then kids mid-week.

This will be year 24 for me and I’m pretty in-serviced out, if you know what I mean, and I’m still stinging from a really vicious and nasty election held in the spring in which a teacher pay raise was soundly defeated. Even though we are a top-performing district, we are still the lowest paid and that is clearly not likely to change. Nobody wants to raise any kind of taxes to support technology upgrades or pay teachers, and so our district is now hemorrhaging teachers to neighboring districts who pay 7k a year more.
At any rate, I’m still salty about it. It was pretty ugly and teachers were branded socialists and communists for wanting more money.

That being said, I’m still looking forward to the new school year and new students. It is hard to let go of my summer and those lazy mornings sleeping past 5:00 a.m., but the adjustment comes pretty quickly. In a week or two the routine will be established. Before you know it fall football is on the schedule and then the evenings start cooling off. Walmart is already making room for Christmas trees.

If you have school age kids, or even if you don’t, check to see if your local teachers need anything; lots of us have Classroom Wish Lists on Amazon because in most districts teachers purchase most of their own classroom supplies, especially in high poverty districts. I wish I had kept count of the boxes of tissue, the hoards of pens, pencils, and markers that I’ve bought, the dry erase markers and paper clips. When a new teacher walks into her classroom, more often than not, the only thing provided is furniture and students.

Most of us are pretty good people. Most of us are not acting inappropriately with the students and lots of us disagree with Common Core and scripted curriculum, but we do our dead level best to educate and care for your kids while they’re in our care in spite of government idiocracy.

Here’s to year twenty-four! Wish me luck.