Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Another collaborative anti-oppression / anti-bullshit voting guide, for New Orleans' elections, October 24th!

Welcome to the latest edition of the Collaborative Anti-Oppression / Anti-Bullshit Voting Guide for New Orleans' elections on October 24th (early voting October 10th-17th)!

To review, the following is produced by a group of individuals who wish to confront the existing lack of accountability in the executive and judicial branches of Louisiana government, and in the election process more generally.

We did a lot of research, and we did a lot of talking with  our neighbors, friends, and allies. We found out that a lot of this stuff matters, and a lot of it prolly doesn't. We agreed on the following guidelines to make - or in some cases, decline to make - our recommendations:

• Commit to an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist agenda;
• Promote justice and advancement for people of color, poor people, immigrants, youth, people  affected by environmental degradation, and other marginalized populations in our communities;  prioritize the needs of these people above others;
• Favor the judicial candidates (especially the incumbents) less destructively inclined towards the lives of the poor and others caught in the dragnet of our punitive system;
• Be strategic about New Orleanians' specific needs being adequately addressed on the state and federal levels, especially with regard to environmental, economic, and healthcare concerns;
• Reject the influence of post-Katrina opportunism at all levels of government.

These guides start as working drafts, so expect updates as we continue to do research. Feel free to submit your contributions! Also, no one paid us to do this. We just care like that.

Vote early and vote often!

A note on the October 24 Elections: 

Toni Morrison recently said, "We used to be called citizens. Now we’re called taxpayers."

It's a bleak situation, kids.

Death and suffering have been the consequence of Bobby Jindal's violent ineptitude, so this is no idle vote. Not only are we replacing Jindal (finally!), but some of the most influential political positions are also transitioning. This is a pivotal time to make choices that will impact our access to healthcare, housing, and education.

Please don't feel like we've led you astray if you notice that some of these candidates don't appear on your ballot on Election Day. It depends on where you live. Also, some people drop out right before the race. Check the GeauxVOTE app to preview your ballot right before you head over to vote.

#1 Scott A. Angelle Republican
#2 Beryl Billiot No Party
#3 "Jay" Dardenne Republican
#4 Cary Deaton Democrat
#5 John Bel Edwards Democrat
#6 Jeremy "JW" Odom No Party
#7 Eric Paul Orgeron Other
#8 S L Simpson Democrat
#9 David Vitter Republican

We ignored all the candidates who did not participate in the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Coastal Issues Forum, because ya know New Orleans will be below water in the year 2100, and a candidate for Governor who ignores that just needs to sit in a corner for the next 85 years and be done. If only there were another forum through which to identify a shortlist of candidates that would respect reproductive justice, Black lives, a living wage, etc...

John Bel Edwards, we demand you anti that anti-abortion! Of these candidates, Edwards is the only one who ever resisted and outspokenly fought Bobby Jindal’s policies. Edwards is also likable for his participation in local community-based forums, during which he showed a dedication to healthcare, higher education, equal pay for women, and other social issues. He thinks we should end mass incarceration, which, duh, we should. He promised, "By the end of my first term, Louisiana will be the second most incarcerated state in the country," which would actually be an improvement. Oy, the aspiration!

Dardenne, now Lt. Governor, is the Gambit’s pick. He wants federal funds for Medicaid and talks up public education and funding for higher education. NOT LIKE HE DID ANYTHING ABOUT JINDAL’S PLUNDERING OF THE LATTER AND FLOUNDERING OF THE FORMER. He’s not into raising minimum wage or recognizing any issues with patriarchy and misogyny. Not into this one.

Vitter: I like receiving his emails because they are just so bad. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I laugh. Just. Don’t. Consider. This. Candidate.

Then there’s NRA and "Ducks Unlimited" member Angelle, who’s blatantly off-key when it comes to access to healthcare and other vital services that respect the dignity and human rights of his constituents. He - along with Vitter - refused to be interviewed by the Advocacy Center about his views on disability services. What a stand-up guy!

VOTE: A tepid endorsement for John Bel Edwards.

Lieutenant Governor
#10 Elbert Lee Guillory Republican
#11 Melvin L. "Kip" Holden Democrat
#12 "Billy" Nungesser Republican
#13 John Young Republican

Lieutenant Governor is second to the Governor’s Office. Don’t let that be forgotten when all the talk is about their role in - in Holden’s words - “getting out there to sell and promote Louisiana.” Heavy emphasis on Lieutenant Governor’s oversight of tourism and hospitality, Louisiana’s #2 industry, deeply distracts from the issues that are actually important to our communities. Louisiana’s investment in a tourism industry at the expense of other resources results in impoverished workers, income and housing inequality, low-quality education, and mass incarceration. It’s also one of the main sources of political tension between New Orleans and the rest of the State, in that for all the shit New Orleanians take for hosting major sporting and entertainment events, little tax revenue is directed back here where it is needed.

Guillory wants total control over women’s bodies. He created an unconstitutional bill to ban abortions that (thank the goddesses) never went anywhere. He claims as Lt. Governor he will act from a “bully pulpit” preaching family values. Hell NO.

Holden recruited major employers to the Baton Rouge area and expanded arts and culture in the Capitol city. He loves to dress up in costumes. He also may have sexually harassed an employee repeatedly, but she settled out of court with his agency, not him personally, so we'll never know for sure. What's Pro-Holden: Economic development for him is not totally extractive (oil/gas/etc)-industry-happy. What's Con-Holden: He’s from Baton Rouge, and probably doesn’t  want to do New Orleans any favors, but we want someone who has coastal Louisiana’s back as Lt. Governor. He's a mixed bag of nuts, as far as we're concerned.

Young cleaned up a corrupt Inspector General’s office in Jefferson Parish. He also would continue current Lt. Governor Dardenne’s practice of keeping high-salaried jobs in his office vacant as a cost-cutting measure. He says a bit about attracting large employers for economic development, and capitalizing on retirees enjoying our “mild” climate (um, hurricanes?). He’s boring, and that might have been the best option...except for his exuberance for the railroad rerouting project through Shrewsbury, Hollygrove, and Mid-City. One of our correspondents makes the point that this effort would literally expropriate playgrounds, businesses, and houses in communities largely composed of low-income households and people of color. Y'heard that? Young is gonna take away your playgrounds.

Billy Nungesser is the dysfunctional Plaquemines Parish President, one who hardly attended council meetings, and administrated without transparency.  While he “stood up for our coast” when Plaquemines got an ass-kicking from Hurricane Isaac in 2012, his choice in “running the parish like a business” sets us up for further environmental disaster. The Times-Pic says that in his cartoonish public figure role as “America’s Bubba,” at least Louisiana would garner attention/money on the national level. That's not good enough, Bubs!

VOTE: Holden, we guess.

Secretary of State
#14 "Tom" Schedler Republican
#15 "Chris" Tyson Democrat

This office controls ballots for elections, voting equipment, and also something mysteriously called "The Museum Division." This race is a matter of getting the incumbent out: Schedler has spent $1.3 million fighting lawsuits that attempt to address the racial and economic disparities in voter registration. He also has failed to upgrade Louisiana's voting machines in so many years that - according to challenger Chris Tyson - the manufacturer no longer produces replacement parts. Tyson, an LSU law professor, seeks to take us into the 21st century and keep us moving forward.

VOTE: Tyson

Attorney General
#16 Geraldine "Geri" Broussard Baloney Democrat (Her name is Baloney; that's not an editorial statement)
#17 James D. "Buddy" Caldwell Republican
#18 Isaac "Ike" Jackson Democrat
#19 "Jeff" Landry Republican
#20 "Marty" Maley Republican

Geri Broussard Baloney impressed our correspondent at the Justice & Beyond candidates forum. She promised to be accountable to the public, and also wants to get state money out of prisons and into more useful infrastructure, like higher education. She says we have to spend coastal restoration monies on - get this - coastal restoration. Fun fact: She has owned a funeral parlor.

VOTE: Geri Baloney!

#21 John Kennedy Republican
#22 Jennifer Treadway Republican

The Gambit endorses Kennedy. BUT OMG have you heard how backward this guy is? In his presentation to New Orleans’ Downtown Development District he recommended "Aggressive Stop and Frisk"! He called  New Orleanians "thugs" and said we need to get off the street to make way for richer, whiter people to move in. WTF Fuck that guy.

Jennifer Treadway makes jabs at Jindal's robbing of transportation funds. She further hits on some New Orleans heart with a response to the impending sale of Charity Hospital: “The Treasurer, as fiduciary to the taxpayers, should oversee any sale of public property to ensure the amount received is fair market value and not sold to a friend, relative or supporter of any political candidate who takes part in the sale.” Sounds about right.

VOTE: Treadway

Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry
#23 "Charlie" Greer - Democrat
#24 Adrian "Ace" Juttner - Green
#25 Jamie LaBranche - Republican
#26 Michael G. "Mike" Strain - Republican

This department generates close to the amount of money that oil&gas does for Louisiana, and its budget has been pillaged by the outgoing administration. Strain is the incumbent who has efficiently ridden out the budget cuts, but the challengers say they need more money. Greer wants to appeal to legislators for funding, LaBranche wants to grow plants for pharmaceuticals. Bee-keeping Green Party member Adrian “Ace” Juttner wants to legalize and produce marijuana like Colorado. Anti-prohibitionists that we are, how do we not vote for a beekeeper with a common-sense approach to marijuana?

VOTE: Juttner

Commissioner of Insurance
#27 "Jim" Donelon - Republican
#28 Donald Hodge, Jr. - Democrat
#29 Charlotte C. McDaniel McGehee - Democrat
#30 Matt Parker - Republican

This office oversees all kinds of insurance regulation in the state, the licensing of insurance companies, and compliance with relevant legislation such as the Affordable Care Act.

The incumbent Jim Donelon shills for insurance companies, claiming that the reason why it's hard for people to get health insurance is because the free market is being repressed by the federal government. If I had a dime for every time some rich corporate guy cried about the repressed free market, I could buy a dozen free markets. Go home, Jim Donelon.

Donald Hodge equally puts his faith in "competition," explaining that he would address the problem of uninsured Louisianans by, super-helpfully, "send[ing] out letters notifying families eligible to enroll [in health insurance] how to do so online or on the phone."

Auto repair shop owner Matt Parker calls out the current Commissioner Donelon for accepting over $100 million from the very insurance companies that this agency is supposed to regulate. Parker says he will "institute a much more aggressive complaint review process" to protect Louisiana residents from predatory insurance companies. Auto repair shops across the state have endorsed Parker, for what it's worth.

And hello there, Charlotte McDaniel McGehee, with her whole "The Commissioner of Insurance must put the public interest first" thing.  She sees a crucial place for "informed, educated people" in this office, as well as the need to "protect Louisiana people" from too-expensive automobile, health, and homeowners insurance.

VOTE: Parker or McGehee look alright.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, District 1
Lee Price Barrios
James “Jim” Garvey
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, District 2
#34 Kira Orange Jones Democrat
#35 Kara Tamara Washington Democrat

Our friends at United Teachers of New Orleans are supporting Lee Price Barrios and Kara Washington for BESE board. Barrios thinks that maybe there's more to education than standardized testing and business-motivated charter schools. She even said, "I would get rid of the high stakes testing system for all students," and "I will also move toward reducing and eventually eliminating most charters."

Lee Barrios and Kara Washington are also endorsed by an outfit known as FlipBESE. This lobby group seeks to unseat some of the more reactionary Board members, but is also virulently against Common Core, which is its own thing. But there’s no question the current BESE board majority is a matter of corporate-reform-bent bullshit (hello, non-local billionaire campaign contributors). Incumbent Kira Jones is a big Teach for America booster and ran a nasty personal-attacky campaign last go-round. Maybe things can be better with some new characters?

VOTE: Lee Price Barrios & Kara Tamara Washington

School Board District 1
Keith Barney - Democrat
Shawon Bernard - Democrat
John A. Brown, Sr. - Democrat

Keith Barney supports the concept of neighborhood schools, and "would give schools bonus points on their school performance scores for enrolling and maintaining a 65% or higher population of students who live within two miles of the school."

Shawon Bernard is a former teacher, current attorney, and parent of a public school student. She wants more transparency on student disciplinary measures, as well as schools' return to local control from the Recovery School District, which is "not accountable to taxpayers." 

John Brown stands for neighborhood schools and better student transportation, with the added interest in what can only be read as an extracurricular activity in custodial work: He would "explore incentives for students to maintain upkeep of their facilities."

VOTE: Leaning towards Shawon Bernard.

State Senate District 1
Sharon Hewitt
"Pete" Schneider


VOTE: Jury's still out. Anybody know anything about "Pete"?

State Senate District 4
Wesley Bishop
R. Erich Caulfield
Joseph "Joe" Swider

Wesley Bishop is a Tribune-endorsed Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus unicorn who's all about that gun control, equal pay for women, Medicaid expansion, and universal pre-kindergarten.

Caulfield is a smooth operator, a natural politician. Most of his campaign money is coming from California, for some reason. He did economic development work for the Obama administration.

Joe Swider is a Coroner Rouse-employed psychiatrist who tried to open a free clinic for drug-users, but Jindal's healthcare budget shut it down. One of his main platform ideas is to restore recess to public schools.

VOTE: Bishop?

State Senate District 7
Jeffery "Jeff" Arnold
Troy Carter
Leslie Ellison
Roy A. Glapion

Jeff Arnold seemed to be confused about what he was running for when asked about his support of disability rights:  "For 14 years I have supported Disability Issues and I plan on supporting them for the next 12 years as your Senator." Your term's for four years, dear.

Roy Glapion wins points for enthusiasm around issues of social equality, as evidenced by his creative use of punctuation: "YES!!! ...HARD WORK PAYS OFF!....for everyone! There are a tremendous amount of single women in America who are raising family's alone. Equal pay is a MUST!"

Word on the street tends to favor Troy Carter, but we really couldn't say one way or the other.

VOTE: Uhhh we dunno.

State Senate District 9
Conrad Appel
John LaBruzzo
Scott Songy

Scott Songy is paraplegic, and is specifically running in this race to "be an advocate for individuals with disabilities and better pay for people working hands on with them."

Meanwhile, John LaBruzzo wants people to prove how worthy they are to earn their pittance, perhaps not recognizing that mental health disabilities exist as well: "Instead of funding abled-bodied persons that decline to work, we should support our disabled citizens."

 VOTE: Jury's still out on this one.

State Representative District 94
Stephanie Hilferty
Nicholas J. "Nick" Lorusso

VOTE: Jury's still out on this one.

State Representative District 97
Joseph "Joe" Bouie Jr.
Eutis Guillemet Jr.
Keith Prevost

Bouie seems to be the only one of this bunch who has shown interest in restoring local control over public schools.

VOTE: Bouie?

State Representative District 99
Ray Crawford
"Jimmy" Harris
Markeita Prevost

Jury's still out on this one, though United Teachers of New Orleans and The Tribune like Jimmy Harris (for unspecified reasons. What is with the blind endorsements, people? We need some INFO.)

State Representative District 100
John Bagneris
Jason Hughes
Willie Jones
Shawn Lockett
Alicia Plummer Clivens

Jury's still out on this one, though United Teachers of New Orleans and The Tribune like Alicia Clivens (for unspecified reasons. What is with the blind endorsements, people? We need some INFO. Didn't I just say this?)

State Representative District 102
Gary Carter Jr.
Kenneth Cutno
"Skip" Gallagher
Kenneth P. Garrett Sr.
Anthony Ibert
Lourdes Moran

Jury's still out on this one, though United Teachers of New Orleans and The Tribune like Gary Carter (for unspecified reasons. What is with the blind endorsements, people? We need some INFO. I know I just said this. Why is it so fucking hard to find information about people who are gonna make decisions FOR ME LIKE I DON'T EVEN EXIST?!?!?!!? I just can't even deal right now.)

State Representative District 103
Leola Anderson
George Cavignac
"Ray" Garofalo
Casey Hunnicutt

Jury's still out on this one.

State Representative District 105
Alexis Catherine Billiot
Christopher J. "Chris" Leopold

Jury's still out on this one.

A note on Constitutional Amendments, from our friends at the Public Affairs Research Council:

"Since its implementation in 1974, the Louisiana Constitution has been amended 181 times. Louisiana has a long history of frequent constitutional changes. Too often, amendments are drafted for a specific situation rather than setting a guiding principle and leaving the Legislature to fill in the details by statute. Special interests often demand constitutional protection for favored programs to avoid future legislative interference, resulting in numerous revenue dedications and trust fund provisions. The concept of the constitution as a relatively permanent statement of basic law fades with the adoption of many amendments...One important consideration should always be whether the proposed language belongs in the Constitution."

CA NO. 1 (Act 473 - SB 202) - Budget and Transportation Stabilization Trust
Do you support an amendment to rename the Budget Stabilization Fund to the Budget and Transportation Stabilization Trust; to authorize the mineral revenue base to be increased every five years; to create the Budget Stabilization Subfund as a subfund in the Trust, to be funded with mineral  revenues until reaching a maximum balance of five hundred million dollars, to be appropriated and used when the state has a deficit; to create the Transportation Stabilization Subfund as a subfund in the Trust, to be funded with mineral revenues until reaching a maximum balance of five hundred million dollars, to be appropriated and used for planning, design, construction, and maintenance connected with the state highway program, with twenty percent dedicated for use by the Louisiana Intermodal Connector Program; and to provide for the interruption of deposits into the Budget Stabilization Subfund and the Transportation Trust Subfund the year that the state has a deficit and the following year with the resumption of deposit of mineral revenues in the Budget and Transportation Stabilization Trust thereafter? (Amends Article VII, Section 10(D)(2)(d), 10.3(A)(introductory paragraph) and (A)(2)(a)(introductory paragraph) and (b), and 10.5(B); adds Article VII, Section 10.3(A)(2)(c))

Flashback to when Gov. Bobby Jindal refused federal transportation monies, and guess what? Now the state and non-profits are the funders of local transportation projects such as road and infrastructure improvements. This amendment tries to appropriate additional money for transportation infrastructure by restructuring the state's existing Rainy Day Fund, which is a real thing that exists to stabilize the state's budget while adjusting for the volatility of the petrochemical industry.

The good thing about this amendment is that is makes it easier for the state to stabilize the budget without pinching money from other designated funds. It would protect some transportation money from legislative pillage. It doesn't raise taxes.

The bad thing about this amendment is that it is written fairly opaquely, and limits the legislature's ability to prioritize transportation project spending. It makes the Rainy Day Fund less flexible, and also places a static cap on the stabilization fund that may not be appropriate in the future.

All that considered, the stabilization fund has been underutilized (five times, ever), and may be due for a makeover. We think of it kind of like that $10 you need to keep in your checking account so it stays open. That $10 is not actually yours to spend. But if you split it into $5 you can't spend, and $5 you can maybe spend, that's a better thing, right? This amendment would split the stabilization fund in two. We don't really have a problem with that, especially if they're gonna use the money to fix our roads.

VOTE: Yes?

CA NO. 2 (Act 471 - HB 618) - Funds for Transportation
Do you support an amendment to authorize the investment of funds for a state infrastructure bank to be used solely for transportation projects? (Amends Article VII, Section 14(B))

Whether this amendment passes or doesn't, the State Infrastructure Bank can offer loans for transportation infrastructure, once it has deposits. Last year voters rejected a similar amendment that allows the State Treasurer to invest funds in an infrastructure bank, if such a bank were created. Such a bank exists, but it has no funding source. Once the bank has deposits, it can make loans for state bridge and roadway repairs. This amendment is annoying because it doesn’t make anything happen; it just offers a potential.

However, the bank would be under the control of a small board that can effectively sidestep the legislative appropriations process and the state's pre-vetted priority plan for infrastructure spending. In essence, a few special-interests-minded people are going to be able to make decisions about government money with very little oversight...kinda like how the entire government functions!

While we recognize that this amendment will feed the very bureaucracy that drives Louisiana's notorious ineptitude, we did advocate for this amendment the last time it was up for a vote. We are not giving up on our dream for light rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and other such transportation infrastructure that theoretically is enabled by this legislation.


CA NO. 3 (Act 472 - HB 518) - Fiscal Legislative Session
Do you support an amendment to allow any legislation regarding the dedication of revenue, rebates, and taxes to be considered during a fiscal legislative session? (Amends Article III, Section 2(A)(4)(b))

On odd-numbered years like this one, the Legislature hosts a fiscal session, which is defined strictly in the constitution so as to keep the Legislative session "efficient. Ha! I'm ROTFLing, on the actual legislative Floor!

This constitutional amendment tries to do away with the technical/procedural rules that determine what fiscal bills can be presented in what years, so theoretically the legislators could introduce fiscal bills whenever they deem them appropriate to address. Some say that the technical rules limit relevant debate; others say the technical rules are important to keep our elected officials organized and on track to not fuck the whole thing up. I say, don't we have other things to vote on?

VOTE: Yes or No. Moving on.

CA NO. 4 (Act 470 - HB 360) - Property Tax Exemption for Public Land/Property
Do you support an amendment to specify that the ad valorem property tax exemption for public lands and other public property shall not apply to land or property owned by another state or a political subdivision of another state? (Amends Article VII, Section 21(A))

This is the kind of legislation that truly vexes your anti-capitalist voting guide authors. It is a reactionary amendment that tries to boost little West Carroll Parish's claim to taxes owed by Tennessee for natural gas storage, despite an appeals court decision that denied such a claim. Huh?

The skinny is that other states have laws that say, for instance, if Louisiana wants to store its collection of Elvis memorabilia in Tennessee, Tennessee can tax Louisiana on the value of the property. On the other hand, Louisiana's like your mom when she says, "Yeah, you can keep your stuff in the attic, no charge." This generous approach - thanks, Mom! - means that West Carroll Parish misses out on $100,000 of tax dollars each year for storing another state's stuff. You don't want to do that to Carroll, do you? Voting for this amendment would keep Louisiana in line with similar legislation that exists in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, and theoretically would make it easier for local governments to maintain revenue sources.

However, it would add a constitutional amendment that is unclear and likely unnecessary. And that very same "making it easier for local governments to maintain revenue sources" bit actually means putting more money in the pockets of assessors and sheriffs across Louisiana. Fuck the sheriffs. Is this supposed "missing money" even enough to support any kind of worthwhile public initiative in West Carroll Parish? Why amend the Constitution for such a small issue that doesn't seem to benefit the general citizenry of Louisiana? Figure it out, Carroll.


French Quarter Economic Development District
Shall an increase of .2495% in the sales tax be levied within the boundaries of the French Quarter Economic Development District ("FQ EDD"), (the area bounded by the Mississippi River, the center line of Canal Street, the rear property line of the properties fronting on the lake side of North Rampart Street, and the rear property line of the properties fronting on the downriver side of Esplanade Avenue to the Mississippi River), to be collected on the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption and storage for use or the consumption of tangible personal property and sales of services within the boundaries of the FQ EDD for a period of five years, beginning January 1, 2016 and ending December 31, 2020 (an estimated $2 million reasonably expected at this time to be collected as a result of the incremental increase per year) for the purpose of funding enhanced and supplemental public safety services to facilitate economic development within the FQ EDD?

This amendment proposes an uptick in sales tax in the French Quarter that would specifically fund "enhanced security" in that district, in the form of full-time state troopers and other law enforcement agents. Ummmm, this kinda sounds like Sidney Torres wants other people to pay for his private fiefdom's golfcart army. Why don't we make a tax to fund streetlamps and a higher minimum wage, and maybe then we wouldn't need so much damn "security"?

VOTE: Fuck No


  1. Hello - Sam here from New Teachers' Roundtable. Just to clarify - we don't officially support or endorse candidates. United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO), our local teachers' union, has endorsed Lee Barrios and Kara Washington for BESE, and as members of UTNO we stand behind that decision. UTNO also has a full list of endorsements which I'd be happy to send to you. I would appreciate if you could edit the post to reflect that. Thanks!

    1. Sorry about that - Please do send the endorsements!

  2. Dardenne, like Angelle and Vitter, is for getting a waiver or expanding Medicaid. That is an expensive and time consuming process that will cost the state because the Federal reimbursement of 100% decreases to 95% in 2017 and 90% in 2020. Jindal's foolish rejection of the Medicaid expansion has already cost us too much.