Sunday, July 27, 2008

If I Were President, Part 1 …

Vote for me, based on the following plank in my platform:

Energy Policy

Like it or not, despite all the projections of how much alternative energy we will be using over various time periods, our need for oil will be here for decades. There are those who say that today’s projects will not produce a drop of oil for 7-10 years. Well, if we had undertaken these projects 7-10 years ago we would be selling oil to the Middle East by now. If not, 7-10 years from now we will be having the same argument.

I consider myself an environmentalist, though some might disagree. Sure, this proposal might retard development of renewable energy, but we can level that out with tax subsidies to the alternative fuel developers while phasing out subsidies to the oil industry.

This approach might extend our dependence on oil, but at least it won’t be foreign oil. Still, attempts to make alternative energy economically feasible will go on, and when they succeed, the marketplace will show its preference for the “greener” source of energy.

Costs and risks involved, and problems of handling resulting waste will prevent any new nuclear power plants being built. Conservation will reduce some of our dependence on oil, but as an old mentor of mine said he’ll believe in the seriousness of the movement when the parking lot of a Sierra Club meeting is full of only bicycles.

This all may sound cynical, but it is realistic. Starting the process of producing more oil is sound from a national security standpoint, and from an economic standpoint.

I am from Louisiana so I have seen oil rigs from the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Newer techniques vastly reduce the unattractiveness of these rigs. Some of these techniques also remove the requirement that a rig be directly over the source of the oil.

So let’s produce a balanced approach to producing the oil where it is most plentiful. Even ANWR should be on the table.

Wait! I have one more major plank. Oh well, maybe next time.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jindal steps up again ...

The TP reports that "Jindal hacks budget earmarks," in a story by Jan Moller:

BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Bobby Jindal (pictured) used his line-item veto authority to cut more than $16 million in proposed state spending Monday, killing hundreds of earmarks added by legislators for projects in their districts and signaling a new aggressiveness in dealing with the state budget.

The 258 vetoes in House Bill 1, the state's nearly $30 billion operating budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year, is more than double the combined number of line-item vetoes in the past 12 years. Coupled with Jindal's veto of $9.3 million in spending from a previous budget bill, they suggest the new governor is serious about curbing a cherished legislative tradition of sprinkling the budget with items for constituents, often with little or no oversight.

While critics have long derided such earmarks as pork-barrel spending, defenders say they pay for critical needs that otherwise wouldn't be financed. Gone is money targeted for museums, church groups, festivals, youth programs, nonprofit groups and economic development initiatives, including millions of dollars for the New Orleans area.

"For too long, state government has spent and spent, with little regard for taxpayers' money," Jindal said. ". . . We are striving for an efficient state government that operates transparently, and wisely invests taxpayer money in state priorities."

But the vetoes could also serve to deepen the wound that Jindal opened when he killed a pay raise for legislators last month after promising lawmakers he would stay out of the matter.

More by Jan Moller:

Jindal's vetoes breeding 'distrust.' Lawmakers mull first override session

BATON ROUGE -- As lawmakers stewed over Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget vetoes and mulled whether to return for an unprecedented override session, several agreed Tuesday that the new administration must work hard to repair its relations with the Legislature.

Jindal used his line-item veto authority to chop about 250 legislative earmarks from the state budget this week. "Many of them who serve (in the Legislature), they serve for this very reason," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Michot, R-Lafayette. "They serve to be able to bring money back to their districts."

Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, who lost financing for a community center in the Treme area that has been in operation since 1976, said he thinks it is time for lawmakers to assert themselves and hold a veto override session. "I don't understand why it was cut," Murray said. "It serves the only hot meal some people get every day."

Jindal has said that although some of the projects were "worthy," they did not meet his criteria to be included in the state budget.

The 1970s-era state Constitution provides for an automatic five-day veto-override session each year, but it has never been held because lawmakers always vote to cancel it. If one is held this year, it would be scheduled from Aug. 2-6. It takes a two-thirds vote of each chamber to override a veto and a simple majority of just one chamber to cancel the veto session.

Should an override session be held, lawmakers could debate more than 260 cuts Jindal made to three budget bills, as well as the 23 bills Jindal has vetoed since lawmakers went home. Ballots on the session will go out today and must be returned by July 28 at midnight, House Clerk Alfred "Butch" Speer said.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Dollar Bill" Jefferson ...

Since being listed in the Congresspedia blogroll, we intend to report more often on the fall congressional campaign in Louisiana, primarily the 2nd district. Following is a profile of the incumbent, adapted from Wikipedia:

William Jennings Jefferson (pictured), born March 14, 1947, represents Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, which includes much of the greater New Orleans area. A Democrat, Jefferson has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991. He is Louisiana's first black Congressman since the end of Reconstruction.

In May 2006 Jefferson’s Congressional offices were raided, but he was re-elected later that year. On June 4, 2007, a federal grand jury indicted Jefferson on 16 charges related to corruption.

The corruption investigation began in mid-2005, after an investor alleged $400,000 in bribes were paid through a company maintained in the name of his spouse and children. The money came from a tech company named iGate, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, and in return, it is alleged, Jefferson would help iGate's business.

On 30 July 2005, Jefferson was videotaped by the FBI receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills in a leather briefcase at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia. Jefferson told an investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire, that he would need to give Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 "as a motivating factor" to make sure they obtained contracts for iGate and Mody's company in Nigeria.

A few days later, on 3 August 2005, FBI agents raided Jefferson's home in Northeast Washington and, as noted in an 83-page affidavit filed to support a subsequent raid on his Congressional office, "found $90,000 of the cash in the freezer, in $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers." Serial numbers found on the currency in the freezer matched serial numbers of funds given by the FBI to their informant.

In January 2006, Brett M. Pfeffer, a former aide to Jefferson, implicated him in a corruption scheme involving an Internet company being set up in Nigeria. Pfeffer was president of an investment company in McLean, Virginia. In return for political support for the deal, Jefferson had legal work directed toward his family's operations. It was also said that a daughter of his was put on retainer of the Virginia investment company to the tune of $5,000 a month. Jefferson also is said to have arranged for his family a 5% to 7% ownership stake in the Nigerian Internet company. Pfeffer pled guilty to charges of aiding and abetting bribery of a public official and conspiracy on 11 January 2006 in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. On May 26, he was sentenced to eight years, but was "cooperating in an ongoing probe and may be eligible for a sentence reduction afterward", according to a prosecutor.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jindal does the right thing ...

We are in New Orleans this week, so we’ll simply report some news and tell you about the visit next time. Pictured is the New Orleans symbol, the fleur de lis, wrapped in the hope ribbon.

AP, via The New Orleans Examiner, reports that:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed a bill that would have doubled salaries for the state's lawmakers.

The Republican had previously said he would not veto the bill even though he didn't agree with the raise. The veto came after several election recall petitions were filed against Jindal and other state legislators.

The pay raise has been sharply criticized by bloggers and talk-radio hosts.

The bill would have paid lawmakers $37,500 a year. The National Conference of State Legislatures says it would have made Louisiana legislators the highest-paid in the South and the 14th highest-paid in the country.

Jindal has been mentioned as a possible running mate for presidential candidate John McCain.
Meanwhile discussed some legislator responses:

Some Louisiana legislators are miffed about Governor Bobby Jindal's veto of their proposed pay raises. The governor says that from the beginning, he thought the raises were “excessive” and “unreasonable.” Now, some legislators say that's not true.

56 House members and 20 senators voted in favor of more than doubling their own pay. They put their reputations, and some say, their political futures, on the line for this vote, only to have Governor Jindal change his position and veto it in the final days. "I clearly made a mistake by telling the legislature that I would allow them to handle their own internal affairs and that I would stay out of this page," the governor says.

Senator Danny Martiny of Metairie says Jindal never stayed out of the legislature's business. He says the governor even told him on more than one occasion that their final pay raise proposal was reasonable. "The governor can say whatever he wants -- he knows darn well what he told people (lawmakers)," he says. Martiny says he would not have voted for the raise if the governor had worked against it. Some other legislators say the same.


jbv's Competitive Edge