Friday, November 21, 2014

Another collaborative anti-oppression / anti-bullshit voting guide, for New Orleans' runoff elections, December 6th!

Oh, you thought you voted enough this year?

Well, you got another chance coming up, friend!

On December 6th (or November 22nd-29th if you're time-management savvy / disenfranchised like that), you can vote on a whole new crop of candidates who ran for election just a few weeks ago! Also, a "school mill" thing.

Here's our take:

U.S. Senate

"Bill" Cassidy - Republican
Mary Landrieu - Democrat

Like we said before, both of these people are totally unacceptable representatives. They have deep ties to the oil and gas industries, which translates to a total lack of accountability to Louisiana's fragile ecosystems and the economies that rely on their sustenance. Landrieu recently exhausted herself  - unsuccessfully, thank Jesus - trying to get the Senate to pass the Keystone Pipeline. One's got a good record on things like reproductive rights and other social issues (that would be Mary), and the other (this would be Bill Cassidy), well, the best thing about him is that the Tea Party doesn't think he's conservative enough. Honestly, voting for the "lesser of two evils" is kinda a hard choice here. Vote or not.

Public Service Commission

Eric Skrmetta - Republican
Forest Bradley Wright - Republican

Skrmetta. Say it out loud. Skrrrrrmetta. Grrrrr. He's the current Commissioner, and served four years on the Natural Gas Committee and two years on the Electricity Committee. He's also a card-carrying lifetime member of the NRA and the Safari Club (Safari Club?). He has a few thoughts to share with the people of Louisiana:

  • One of his main goals is "giving companies the opportunity to be profitable";
  • Renewable energy resources (such as energy efficiency, solar and wind) "have failed" and "are unworkable in Louisiana";
  • "The free market usually handles the consumer wants." AAAAHHHHHHHHH TAKE IT BACK
This guy...We don't like him.

On the other hand, Forest Wright is a board member of Louisiana Green Corp, which provides construction job skills training for youth in our city. Wright says, "it is through engaged civic associations that the public can ensure the accountability essential to good governance," meaning he might provide more transparent leadership than Skrmetta. He's a supporter of solar energy investment, and thinks "the most important thing with natural gas pipelines is public safety." We kinda like this guy! Also, for some reason this commission is in charge of setting prices for towing cars in the city. Forest Wright wants to implement payment plans to help low-income folks pay for getting their cars back from the pound. Okay! Also, listen to this interview with the candidate himself. Vote for Forest Wright.

Domestic Judge, Division 2

Janet Ahern
Monique Barial

Janet Ahern has been working in family law for a long time. She says she'll make interpreter access a priority in her courtroom, for the non-English speakers among us. That's good.

But...we already said we like Monique Barial. She wants to set up systems that make it easier for low-income folks to get lawyers and pursue mediation for their disputes. She's hip to the fact that some people are scared to come to court, especially when they are confronting an abuser. Vote for Monique Barial.

Judge Juvenile Court, Section E

Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet
Desiree Cook-Calvin

Notttt really impressed with either. They both have insinuated that parents and teachers are to blame for juvenile criminality. Neither disputes that incarceration is a good idea for youth.

Charbonnet points to his five-month interim stint on City Council as evidence of his civic experience; he's also run unsuccessfully for several judgeships (including Traffic Court). We couldn't really find much information on this guy, but he says reasonable - if not patently obvious - things like, “The children that come in contact with the juvenile justice system here are not necessarily leaving better off than when they first came in.” He's also interested in a fiscal makeover of the court, which could be wonderful or terrible, depending.

Cook-Calvin says "the sorts of programs we need include educational, job training, job placement, mental health counseling, drug counseling, and other family support programs for both the young person and the family. We need to look at all the factors involved in a case and address the case holistically, and we need programs that keep children and families from coming back to court." Sounds better. Vote for Cook-Calvin, we guess?

Shall the Orleans Parish School Board (the "School Board") levy a tax of four and ninety-seven hundredths (4.97) mills on the dollar of the assessed valuation of property within the City of New Orleans assessed for City Taxation, (an estimated $15,540,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning in 2015, for the purpose of preservation, improvement and capital repairs of all existing public school facilities, to be levied and collected in the same manner as is set forth in Article VIII, Section 13(C)(Second) of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974; provided that said tax is to be levied each calendar year at a millage rate not in excess of the difference between 4.97 mills and any millage levied in such calendar year for any outstanding general obligation bonds of the School Board?

This would basically allot extra tax money for the long-term physical maintenance - think roofs, HVAC repair, etc. - of some schools in Orleans Parish.

You wish that we would just say, "Vote FOR this proposition," and leave it at that, because it is true that our schools need to be taken care of.

But we just can't leave it at that. We need to give you the dirty-on-the-dirty on what our well-meaning votes will do. Here it is:

Three of the seven Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) members voted AGAINST sending this millage to vote. Why? Tensions having to do with the Recovery School District (RSD).

RSD is one of the nastiest examples of opportunism following Katrina from which New Orleans became the nation's testing dish for widespread privatization of public education. Basically the state (as RSD) took over all the Orleans public schools following Katrina, and sold a lot of them to charter agencies to "fix" or "improve." RSD is controversially playing a long-term governance role, without being administered locally or by elected officials. 

Schools newly eligible to return to the control of the OPSB have been choosing to stick with RSD (via charter agencies) instead, which means the spending of this millage - aka taxpayers' money - would increasingly be under the control of the non-elected, non-local representatives at RSD.

We definitely don't want to create an opportunity for school budget looting. The Times-Picayune and the Urban League are for this millage. I guess we are too. Vote FOR this proposition. But then we read this article that explains that if this proposition passes, "the non-elected RSD would receive 90% of the funding ($13,986,000) of property tax revenue" without any requirement for transparency or accountability as to how the funds are disbursed.

Furthermore, RSD doesn't actually provide oversight for any OPSB schools anymore: "RSD has relinquished oversight of all schools in Orleans Parish schools that were once under its auspices to independent charter organizations, and does not educate children in Orleans Parish."

We just cannot be down with this foolishness. Don't let deceptive politics pirate our schools - Vote NO on this proposition.


  1. Thank y'all for this, really tho... But in the future can you format this more clearly?

    1. Thanks for checking us out - Sorry it didn't show up clearly for you! Please do check out for more elections information.