Statesmen & Snollygosters is DIG Magazine’s weekly look at local and state politics. Any opinions expressed within are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the magazine as a whole. Agree or disagree with what you read? Do you know about an issue that bears discussion? Tell us on Twitter using #iDIGpolitics.
By Nick BeJeaux
You’d think that with all of Louisiana’s problems –and there are many – Congressmen and Congresswomen would devote their full attention to crafting and passing wise laws that ultimately improve our lives. For the most part, this is true, but occasionally useless laws are debated, approved and signed into law, wasting precious time.
In the same week, Jindal will have signed into law two separate bills that will close abortion clinics and mandate that at least five percent of all chairs in state facilities must have arm rests. The latter is an example of a legislative time waster (seriously, just buy the damn chairs), but the former will heavily play into the upcoming Senate seat race between Republican Candidate Bill Cassidy and 18-year incumbent Mary Landrieu, a Democrat.
The rivals more or less agree on a few issues, namely combating high flood insurance premiums, but this new law ripped open a vast chasm of disagreement between the two.
Landrieu ripped Jindal a new one in an interview with Politico, calling this implementation Jindal’s latest plug at the 2016 Presidency (which is true) and pointed out that the majority Republicans want abortion politics to be “all or nothing” (also true). Meanwhile, Cassidy used her remarks to underscore the obvious differences of opinion the two share on the issue. A medical doctor, Cassidy has consistently held pro-life values, while Landrieu has maintained an interestingly nuanced position on the issue of abortion.
A poll released by Planned Parenthood in February shows that the public’s opinion is actually more in line with Landrieu than Cassidy, and defy the tidy distinctions of “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” Only 33 percent, one in three, of Louisianans are in favor of hard-line, pro-life policy, while the remaining 67 percent is divided up between pro-choice voters and pro-life voters that support the Roe v. Wade verdict. That said, if abortion rights are to be the deciding factor in the Senatorial race, expect Landrieu to stay in office for another six years.
Locally, the most divisive issue in Baton Rouge is undoubtedly the push to incorporate the St. George area into a city. However, the latest steps against incorporation have drawn in some vultures.
Though it was done so legally, the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana, Baton Rouge General and Our Lady of Lake hospital has been challenged by Central City News editor and former politician Louis “Woody” Jenkins. He contends that the annexation is invalid because not every single property owner within the annexed areas consented to the annexation by way of petition. He also called the said annexation “unreasonable,” as it would put pressure on law enforcement to patrol the very halls of the Mall.
If every unreasonable act committed was met with a lawsuit, we’d all be up to our ears in court fees. Furthermore, Jenkins has a history of being unnecessarily belligerent. To the point, his motivations are selfish – that’s putting it mildly.
While not necessarily divisive, there will be a big fight over public transportation soon between the Metropolitan City Council and the Taxicab Control Board. The cause: Uber.
For the unaware, Uber is a venture-funded startup that provides public transportation through the use of a mobile app. Ping where you want to be picked up on a Google map, and the driver will meet you there. As great as it sounds, Uber’s operation started taking off across the globe this year and have met quite a bit of resistance.
Fearing that the private company would undercut them, a group of cab drivers in Paris attacked an Uber driver in January. On June 11, 2014 cab drivers across Europe blocked roads, drove at sluggish speeds and refused to take passengers to protest the fact that Uber does not pay the same fees and adhere to regulations placed on taxis.
Coincidentally during the Metro Council’s meeting on June 11, Councilmen John Delgado and Ryan Heck introduced an ordinance that would pave the way for companies like Uber to operate in Baton Rouge. There have already been grumblings from the TCB, bust so far that’s all they have done – no riots or protests yet. The Council will adopt or kill the ordinance during their next meeting on June 25.