Saturday, May 12, 2007

Idiot Wind

A few things jumped out at me this week in regards to the Legislative session currently underway in Baton Rouge.

This weeks Gambit Weekly highlighted several ethics reforms proposed in the State Legislature

Mandatory Ethics Training (HB 493 and SB 247). Many ethical violations are inadvertent. By requiring all elected and certain appointed officials to get training in ethics laws, such violations can be reduced.

They have a point, in that most ethics violations are minor and inadvertent, however they take up time and resources that could be spent go after “real” violations. As it stands there is no instruction of any kind. Simply making the Legislators familiar with some of the do’s and don’ts makes sense.

Personally I prefer to imagine it the same way James Gill suggests:

Imagine a Louisiana legislator staring glumly at a computer screen while some goody two shoes explained how to be ethical.

Seriously, LA Ethics 1 has put together an impressive array of proposed reforms that nearly everyone can get behind…Except for seasoned pols, and that’s the rub. But then, who would have believed that Levee board consolidation could have happened, a few years ago. The Times-Pic describes how some of the legislators feel about these efforts.

But the representatives took those actions only after weakening some of the measures and sharply questioning -- at times berating -- LA Ethics 1 members who came to the Capitol for "Ethics Day" and donned buttons bearing their organization's logo. Some of the same legislators alternated between arguing that some proposals go too far, while essentially mocking the effectiveness of other proposals they said don't go far enough.

Maybe this is a first rather naïve step, but making Ethics a capital letter issue the next election could begin the process of cleaning up some of the mess. LA Ethics 1 has an interface for contacting your Representatives and Senators, I would suggest you drop them a note and let them know how you feel.

Speaking of the mess, Cleo Fields has his eyes on some more cash (presumably, to stuff into his pants) as reported in the Times-Pic.

Angered by the continued delays in getting federal recovery dollars into the hands of hurricane victims, a state Senate committee on Thursday took out its frustrations on Gov. Kathleen Blanco's handpicked policy-making board.

"Their job was to put policies in place. They've done that. Now let's get money to the people," said Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge... The legislation would transfer the Recovery Authority's functions to the state's Office of Community Development, which has day-to-day responsibility for overseeing the troubled Road Home grant program.

His pants are not mentioned anywhere in the Bill, but somehow I think he might confuse “people” and “pants” they both begin with “p”, and Fields is a product of the Louisiana educational system. No matter what your opinion of the LRA, abolishing it and sending the cash to a Legislature-run committee is pretty much a guarantee that funding will be used for everything but recovery. Saturday’s Times-Pic editorial pulls no punches, it also neglects to mention Field’s pants:

Abolishing the LRA would be no more than a misguided way to score political points with constituents frustrated with the Road Home, while doing nothing to actually make the program work better. The responsible way to vote on this bill is a clear "no."

Finally, the The Advocate documents the hardships faced by our northern parishes after the heavy hand of gov’ment forced them to adopt the modern building codes.

Complaints that Louisiana’s mandatory building codes for residences impose high costs and hurt new housing development have led to legislation to change the code.

Reps. James Fannin, D-Jonesboro, and Taylor Townsend, D-Natchitoches, have also filed bills to change the code. Both of those measures would exempt central and northern Louisiana parishes from some of the codes, eliminating the requirement that new homes in those areas must be built to withstand winds of up to 110 mph.

Funny thing is, in Mississippi where Katrina made a direct hit, the disaster area extended farther north than the Louisiana-Arkansas line, let alone I-10. Hattiesburg, which is at approximately the same latitude as Alexandria saw 100 mph winds. Laurel, which is north of Hattiesburg saw 110 mph winds.

I would also point out that the code in question nearly all of the country and Canada mange to employ without undue burden. However this is Louisiana, and when our heritage and tradition of poorly constructed, easily destroyed homes is threatened, our legislators are ready to act.

We will see how these proposals progress. But the Louisiana State Legislature web site has contact information, their FAQ can tell you how to find out who your Rep is and how to contact them. It is worth bookmarking, you never know when the people may need to send a message of our own.


adrastos said...

Mmm, pie. Pie is everywhere in the blogosphere; some of it's terrestial but there's also pie in the sky at PGR.

Puddinhead said...

Just when I thought I'd finally been able to shake myself out of forming a mental image of Jaleel White everytime I hear the name "Cleo Fields"......LOL